Sojourn of Arjuna Lyrics plagiarized?

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Sojourn of Arjuna Lyrics plagiarized?

Postby Jojobop » Tue Jul 21, 2015 12:59 am

I have always liked the song Sojourn of Arjuna, both the instrumental and the lyrics. I know it is said to be inspired by the Bhagavad Gita or even "a paraphrasing." However, I was recently reading an appendix of one translation of the Bhagavad Gita and realized I was reading some of the lyrics word for word for multiple sentences. According to the cover page the book was copyrighted in 1944 but I have no idea about the appendices themselves. The version I have is the 1995 Barnes & Noble version

Here are the excerpts from Bhagavad-Gita translated by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood:

"It is the way of Spiritual Growth. A man must go forward from where he stands. He cannot jump to the absolute; he must evolve towards it." [p. 126]

"It follows, therefore, that every action, under certain circumstances and for certain people, may be a stepping-stone to spiritual growth-if it is done in the spirit of non-attachment." [p 127]

"How can we prescribe our neighbor's duty when it is so hard for us to know our own? The pacifist must respect Arjuna. Arjuna must respect the pacifist. Both are going toward the same goal, if they are really sincere. There is an underlying solidarity between them which can be expressed, if each one follows, without compromise, the path upon which he finds himself. For we can only help others to do their duty by doing what we ourselves believe to be right. It is the one supremely social act." [p128]

I'm not sure who wrote the appendix, which is not part of the translation itself, or when it was written. But it is apparent that Future Man took many lines of the song directly from the book or vice versa. A cursory google search did not reveal any credit being given to a specific source.
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Re: Sojourn of Arjuna Lyrics plagiarized?

Postby SojournerOfTruth » Sat Aug 20, 2016 12:43 pm

I appreciate you finding the sources of these lyrics - I've always loved this song. I hope I'm not coming across as defensive, as it's possible I misinterpreted the intention of your post. Regardless, this is a marvelous work of poetry.

But is accusing the Flecktones of "plagiarism" really appropriate? Did they ever claim these to be original lyrics? I had always kind of assumed they were translated from the Gita. The song is a recitation of portions of this myth, set to music. It's poetry. They mainstreamed parts of a mythical/spiritual/moral text that is unappreciated by those outside Hinduism.

Here's a critique I received by a poetry expertI shared this with the Poet Laureate of Illinois-based group I belong to, and her comment was, "This is one of the most creative presentations of poetry I've ever heard. That the basis is of Hindu myth and spoken against very appropriate background music is exceptional and unique. In 30 years, I've never heard anything this beautifully powerful."
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Re: Sojourn of Arjuna Lyrics plagiarized?

Postby abboseo » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:08 am

SojournerOfTruth wrote:Side note -
I found the translation the OP referenced on Google Books. It's a wonderful read to begin with. More fascinating is if you search for the lyrics, this text puts them into context and offers a more spiritual interpretation.

This is a great web site. Good sparkling user interface and very informative blogs. I will be coming back in a bit, thanks for the great article. I have found it enormously useful.
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