He’s already retold the epic spiritual classics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. His are among the bestselling English editions, with 60,000 and 100,000 in print respectively, and have garnered ebullient praise from the media, academia and general public alike.
And now Krishna Dharma has retold the work closest to his heart in “Brilliant as the Sun: A Summary of Srimad Bhagavatam, the Complete Science of God.”
Released as an e-book for the Kindle and Kobo on March 28th, the work is a labor of love for its author, who has been a student of the monotheistic Vaishnava tradition since 1979.
Krishna Dharma, who works full-time as a community center manager in his native London, spent ten years devotedly writing the book during his spare time on evenings and weekends.
This despite the fact that it is unlikely to reach as wide an audience as his previous retellings, and is aimed primarily at those already following the Vaishnava tradition.
For the Bhagavatam is something of a different offering to Krishna Dharma’s previous works. Considered by its original author Srila Vyasadeva, who also wrote the Mahabharata, as the pinnacle of his achievements, it rejects all materially motivated religious activities straight from the outset and focuses only on the path of devotion.
“It’s not about telling a story – it’s about taking us progressively on an inner journey to discover ourselves, and ultimately, God,” says Krishna Dharma.
In terms of the writing processs, the Bhagavatam also presented different challenges.
“Initially I tried to do something in the same vein as the Mahabharat with it,” says the author. “But I soon realized that that wasn’t going to work. For one thing, the Srimad-Bhagavatam is much more philosophical, with long passages of prayers. And for another, it’s not a continuous narrative.”
In the end, Krishna Dharma decided to retain the same chapter titles and order of ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada’s multi-volume translation of the Srimad Bhagavatam.
He even integrated many points from Prabhupada’s commentary into his narrative, while summarizing the text – which does also contain many exciting stories -- in the same kind of vivid prose style he used in his Mahabharata and Ramayana.
The resulting book, which presents the first nine cantos of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, condenses the thousands-of-pages long esoteric scripture into 440 easy-to-read pages.
As well as being an absorbing standalone book, Krishna Dharma hopes that “Brilliant as the Sun” will help open the door to an often daunting work.
“A lot of devotees don’t read the Bhagavatam at all, and if they attempt to, they just find it too difficult,” he says. “They get bogged down after a short while, and give up. It’s a book that tends to grace their shelves, and gets looked at now and again for referring to something, but isn’t deeply delved into. So I felt that a book like mine would be useful to give devotees a feel for the Bhagavatam, where it’s going, how it develops and unfolds, so that they would be attracted to read Srila Prabhupada’s original to find out more.”
Because it shares the same chapter titles and order with Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad Bhagavatam, “Brilliant as the Sun” serves as an ideal study guide, allowing readers to effortlessly jump from Krishna Dharma’s easy-to-follow storyline to Prabhupada’s Bhagavatam for more detail, and then back again.
Already, Krishna Dharma has been delighted to hear feedback from readers including second generation devotees, who have expressed that the book has indeed inspired them to examine Prabhupada’s original work.
“Just finished Canto One and I am truly hooked,” wrote one reader. “Thank you to Krishna Dharma for bringing pure nectar to my commute and giving me a hankering taste for the text. I recommend to everyone!”
Brilliant as the Sun is currently available on Amazon in e-book form, and will be available in print from the UK’s Dharma Publications before the end of the year.
In the meantime Krishna Dharma is already working on a follow-up covering the final cantos of the Bhagavatam and focusing on Lord Krishna’s pastimes, which is likely to return to the more direct storytelling style of his previous books.
“It’s a wonderful experience, to associate so deeply with the Bhagavatam,” he says. “It really does uplift you, on a very profound level. The association with the Lord, which is there on every page, has helped me a lot in my spiritual life.”
He hopes it will help readers in theirs in the same way.
Brilliant As The Sun is available in e-book format for the Kindle and other devices here: http://www.amazon.com/Brilliant-As-The-Sun-Bhagavatam-ebook/dp/B00JF5X99K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1400010474&sr=8-1&keywords=brilliant+as+the+sun[ dharma ] [ krishna ] [ srimad-bhagavatam ]