Prize Winning Gita

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Bhagavad-gita: A Photographic Essay, written by Srila Prabhupada disciple Visakha Dasi, and published by Torchlight, has won a bronze medal at this year’s Independent Publisher Book Awards.
The “IPPY” Awards, held annually for the past sixteen years and sponsored by the Jenkin’s Group, were designed to bring increased recognition to the innovative and creative, yet often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers.
Amongst a total of 3,907 entries, Visakha’s book—a summary study of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is in simple, accessible language—won in the inspirational/spiritual category.
Visakha, whose poetic, inventive photography in the book illustrates the Gita’s many analogies, received a plaque and a bronze medal from the IPBA, who congratulated her, calling her presentation of the ancient wisdom text ‘a very cool book.’
While she wasn’t able to attend the May 23rd award ceremony in New York, Visakha was touched by this affirmation of her work.
“Although I had spent four years of consistent effort putting Bhagavad-gita: A Photographic Essay together, and spent some of my own money on it, some criticized the book for having lower quality paper and photos that were too contrived,” she says. “So it was very fulfilling to receive this, and to know that people were acknowledging the Gita’s message—of devotional service to a personal God—as worthwhile.”
This is not the first time Torchlight, which aims to promote the culture and religion of India and is staffed by ISKCON devotees, has been awarded for its efforts. Its edition of the epic Mahabharata, retold by Krishna Dharma Dasa, was a finalist for the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award, while its children’s book Where’s Hanuman was a finalist in last year’s Indie Excellence Awards.
One of Torchlight’s main goals is to present spiritual knowledge in a way that is accessible to the mainstream, and Visakha certainly hopes that her book—which she says presents Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita ‘without hiding anything’—will reach many.
“Prabhupada’s message to the world is that the human form of life is extremely rare and valuable, and shouldn’t be wasted in mundane endeavors that don’t help us progress spiritually,” she says. “And there’s a crying need for that message in today’s world. Our rampant material desires are causing us to destroy the planet by using up its natural resources faster than it can replenish them. And they’re causing us to destroy ourselves, too—we’re not finding the happiness we’re looking for, and instead the rate of depression and stress-related diseases are increasing exponentially.”
“The Gita teaches us how to lessen the material desires that are consuming us, and how to be satisfied with a more simple, spiritual life,” Visakha concludes.
“That way we can reduce the depression and stress, find some happiness in this life, and reach our natural state of eternal anxiety-free joy and service to God. What could be more important than that?”

By Madhava Smullen for ISKCON News on 9 Jul 2011