Notable Books

Notable Books 36

The Bhagavad Gita: A Guide to Navigating the Battle of Life (A New Translation and Commentary), Ravi Ravindra, Shambhala, Boulder, 2017, Pages xi + 302, $19.95

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I have nothing but very high praise for Dr. Ravi Ravindra’s newest book. I have reviewed Ravi’s book in Notable books before and always found them very readable, inspirational, and a worthy addition to anybody’s bookshelf. This new translation and commentary may be his best. I will leave it up to the scholars as to how well his translation is handled. However, I can safely say that this book is one of the best commentaries that I have read.

I have at least ten various copies of The Gita on my book shelf. Two of them are without commentary, but the other eight offer all levels of interpretation and clarifications. I have learned that essentially all authors have a motive and/or an agenda when they are writing their commentary. I sense that Ravi’s motive was to be as clear in his presentation as he could be. Perhaps his agenda was to reach far and wide to make this so. I see Sri Aurobindo, Gurdjieff (via Madame de Salzmann), Krishnamurti, Cloud of Unknowing, Jesus, numerous Biblical references, Albert Einstein plus others to support his narrative. I also felt that Ravi’s background in science gave his commentaries a feeling of gravitas. This material must have been ‘classroom tested’ as it came across so smoothly.

The Appendix is a brief storyline of the Mahabharata war with the major players. One item that was extremely useful for me was a short glossary of frequently used Sanskrit and Pali Words. I found myself referring to this list often.

I have taken many notes from this book. I close this review with only two, but you will find yourself filling you journal with many others.

“Time … has no hold on the spiritual principle in the body-mind.”

“Life is struggle; and none of us has a choice about participating in the battle of life. The real question is how to be a good warrior engaged in the battle and at the same time to discover and connect with the Krishna deep within ourselves, One who is above the battle.”


Invited Book Review by John Sameluk

Normally, I follow the New Book Review with an Older Book Review. This review is from a long-time Theosophical friend, John Sameluk, who was on the staff at Olcott (headquarter of the TS in America) when I was involved with the Theosophical Research Institute and the Educational Committee. Dora Kunz was National President at that time and was a driving force behind these endeavors. Frequently, John would join us during our long weekend meetings and made important contributions. As many of you know, Dora was a student of CWL and being around her as John was, it was a great source of hearing some of the stories and discussions about those early historical days. This is why he felt it important to invite this review. Also, Dr. Robert Ellwood wrote the foreword and adds seriousness to the message. I truly appreciate John’s contribution.

CWL Speaks: C.W. Leadbeater’s Correspondence concerning the 1906 Crisis in the Theosophical Society, Pedro Oliveira, Olive Tree Publications (February 2018), 311 pages. The price in Australian dollars is AUD$40.00 (US$32) including postage.

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Pedro Oliveira has proven himself to be a true Theosophist. CWL Speaks is a valiant defense of one who was unjustly attacked. Robert Ellwood’s excellent foreword offers guidance to the reader relative to the historical, cultural, and psychological framing of the correspondence contained in this compilation.

So why should any student of theosophy today read Mr. Oliveira’s book? Obviously, to learn the truth.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. It is a road well paved! Those who metaphorically burned C.W. Leadbeater at the stake did so with the very best intentions. Those who continue today to throw fuel upon the fire that keeps the dugpas warm at night do so with the very best intentions

Mr. Oliveira’s book is a labor of love. This book, which is a compilation of CWL’s correspondence concerning the 1906 crisis in the Theosophical Society, is available for purchase from Oliver Tree Publications. The web address for those interested is

In a letter to Fritz Kunz (Dora Kunz’s husband), which is included in the book on page 143, CWL writes: “You know that I have at least never done anything of which my friends need be ashamed.”

My personal admiration for CWL’s total commitment and dedication to Theosophy stems from my great good fortune of having known Fritz and Dora when she served as National President of the American Section. Probably no one in this world knew CWL better than they.

I think the value of this book is to call out attention, as Theosophists, to the never-ending struggle we face with the dragon of darkness that forever challenges us upon our journey toward the light.

A brief biography of Charles Webster Leadbeater (1854 – 1934) is included upon the back cover of the book.

I wish to extend my appreciation to Ralph Hannon for agreeing to include this review in Notable Books.


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