The modern man in this present decade of the second half of the 20th century is greatly in need of an effective guide to light. He is groping. He sees only problems everywhere and no solutions are to be found anywhere. He does not know which way to turn, what course to adopt and how to move towards a better state of things. Therefore, his life is filled with restlessness, unhappiness and complication. The Bhagavad Gita contains words of wisdom and practical teachings that contain the answers to the above-mentioned condition of the present-day individual.
The Bhagavad Gita is a message addressed to each and every human individual to help him or her to solve the vexing problem of overcoming the present and progressing towards a bright future. This holy scripture is not just an “old scripture”, nor is it just a book of “religious teachings”, nor even a Hindu holy book. It transcends the bounds of any particular religion or race, and is actually divine wisdom addressed to mankind for all times, in order to help human beings face and solve the ever-present problems of birth and death, of pain, suffering, fear, bondage, love and hate. It enables man to liberate himself from all limiting factors and reach a state of perfect balance, innerstability and mental peace, complete freedom from grief, fear and anxiety. Within its eighteen chapters is revealed a human drama. This is the experience of everyone in this world, the drama of the ascent of man from a state of utter dejection, sorrow and total breakdown and hopelessness to a state of perfect understanding, clarity, renewed strength and triumph. Each discourse holds for you an invaluable new lesson and imparts a new understanding of yourself in a marvellous way.
The mystery of man, this world and God, is explained as perhaps nowhere else. The workings of your mind—the real problem to your welfare and happiness—how to overcome it, what the path to blessedness is, as also the path to perdition, the secret of self-mastery and the way to peace amidst your daily activities and duties—all these and more you
will find in this great treasure. It is yours by which to enrich your life. To the Western reader I would suggest that he carefully reads through the entire book once. Then he should commence it a second time. Upon the second reading he should adopt the method of
selectivity, not in reading but in what he takes from it. Such things as seem to be particularly Hindu and therefore, perhaps, not acceptable to him as a person of another faith, he can just pass by without being perturbed. But everything else that is of a purely philosophical, psychological, ethical and psychical nature,—all these he can grasp and assimilate fully. He will be wonderfully enriched and supremely blessed. His life will become new from that moment. All clouds will vanish. Light will fill the heart and mind. I assure him of this. This is the Gita. I commend this wonderful gift of God unto every man and woman, towards his or her supreme blessedness and highest welfare.
10th July, 1968 (Guru Purnima)
During the centuries in which Buddhism was establishing itself in the east of India, the older Brahmanism in the west was undergoing the changes which resulted in the Hinduism which is now the prevailing religion of India. The main ancient sources of information with regard to these Hindu beliefs and practises are the two great epics, the “Ramayana” and the Maha Mahabharata. The former is a highly artificial production based on legend and ascribed to one man, Valmiki. The latter, a “huge conglomeration of stirring adventure, legend, myth, history, and superstition,” is a composite production, begun probably as early as the fourth or fifth century before Christ, and completed by the end of the sixth century of our era. It represents many strata of religious belief.
The Bhagavad-Gita,” of which a translation is here given, occurs as an episode in the Maha-Bharata, and is regarded as one of the gems of Hindu literature. The poem is a dialogue between Prince Arjuna, the brother of King Yudhisthira, and Vishnu, the Supreme God, incarnated as Krishna, and wearing the disguise of a charioteer. The conversation takes place in a war-chariot, stationed between the armies of the Kauravas and Pandavas, who are about to engage in battle.
To the Western reader much of the discussion seems childish and illogical; but these elements are mingled with passages of undeniable sublimity. Many of the more puzzling inconsistencies are due to interpolations by later re-writers. “It is,” says Hopkins, “a medley of beliefs as to the relation of spirit and matter, and other secondary matters; it is uncertain in its tone in regard to the comparative efficacy of action and inaction, and in regard to the practical man’s means of salvation; but it is at one with itself in its fundamental thesis, that all things are each a part of one Lord, that men and gods are but manifestations of the One Divine Spirit.”