As the Gita contains subtle and profound teachings, you should study it under a qualified
teacher, one who is established in the Absolute. Only when studied with great and intense faith,
single-minded devotion and purity, will the truths contained therein be revealed unto you like a fruit
on the palm of your hand. Good commentaries written by realized sages will also be of immense
help to you.
Worldly-minded individuals, however intellectual they may be, cannot grasp the essential
teachings of the Gita. They enter into unnecessary discussions and useless debates. They cavil and
carp at the teachings. Such ignorant people say: “There is no intimate connection between the
verses. They are thrown in a disorderly manner. There is a great deal of repetition.” If they study the
book with reverence and faith under a qualified teacher all their doubts would vanish. They will
realize that there is a close connection between the verses in all the chapters. Repetitions in the Gita
and the Upanishads are useful repetitions. They are best calculated to create a deep and indelible
impression in the mind of the aspirant.
Lord Krishna speaks from different levels of consciousness. In the Gita the word
“Avyaktam” sometimes refers to primordial Nature and sometimes to the Absolute Para Brahman
also. Therefore, the help of a teacher is necessary if you wish to know the right significance of the
In the Kathopanishad the term “brick” is used to denote the gods. In the Hatha Yogic texts it
is stated: “At the junction of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga there is a young virgin”. The esoteric
meaning of this is that there is the Sushumna Nadi between the Ida and the Pingala. So, without the
help of a Guru, you will not be able to understand the proper meaning of the verses of the Gita. You
will be like the man who brought a horse to one who asked for saindava while taking food. The
word saindava means salt as well as horse!
Essence of the Gita
The Gita again and again emphasis’s that one should cultivate an attitude of non-attachment
or detachment. It urges repeatedly that an individual should live in the world like water on a lotus
leaf. “He who does actions, offering them to Brahman and abandoning attachment, is not tainted by
sin as a lotus leaf by water”—V.10.
Attachment is due to infatuation. It is the offspring of the quality of Rajas. Detachment is
born of Sattwa. The former is a demoniacal attribute, the latter a divine one. Attachment is born of
ignorance, selfishness and passion and brings with it death; detachment is wisdom and brings with
it freedom. The practice of detachment is a rigorous discipline. You may stumble like a baby who is
just learning to walk, but you will have to rise up again with a cheerful heart. Failures are not
stumbling-blocks but steppingstones to success.
Try to dwell always in your own Self. Abide in your centre. Think of the Self constantly.
Then all attachments will die automatically. Attachment to the Lord is a potent antidote to
annihilate all worldly attachments. He who has no attachments can really love others, for his love is
pure and divine. “Therefore, without attachment do thou always perform action which should be
done; for, by performing action without attachment man reaches the Supreme”
The Srimad Bhagavad Gita is a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, narrated in the
Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata. It comprises eighteen discourses of a total of 701 Sanskrit
verses. A considerable volume of material has been compressed within these verses. On the
battlefield of Kurukshetra, Sri Krishna, during the course of His most instructive and interesting
talk with Arjuna, revealed profound, sublime and soul-stirring spiritual truths, and expounded the
rare secrets of Yoga, Vedanta, Bhakti and Karma.
All the teachings of Lord Krishna were subsequently recorded as the Song Celestial or
Srimad Bhagavad Gita by Bhagavan Vyasa for the benefit of humanity at large. The world is under
a great debt of gratitude to Bhagavan Vyasa who presented this Song Celestial to humanity for the
guidance of their daily conduct of life, spiritual upliftment and Self-realisation. Those who are
self-controlled and who are endowed with faith can reap the full benefit of the Gita, which is the
science of the Soul.
The Gita Jayanti (birthdate of the Gita) is celebrated throughout India by the admirers and
lovers of this unique book on the 11th day (Ekadashi) of the bright half of the month of Margasirsha
according to the Hindu almanac. It was the day on which the scripture was revealed to the world by
In all the spiritual literature of the world there is no book so elevating and inspiring as the
Gita. It expounds very lucidly the cardinal principles or the fundamentals of the Hindu religion and
Hindu Dharma. It is the source of all wisdom. It is your great guide. It is your supreme teacher. It is
an inexhaustible spiritual treasure. It is a fountain of bliss. It is an ocean of knowledge. It is full of
divine splendour and grandeur.
The Gita is the cream of the Vedas. It is the essence of the soul-elevating Upanishads. It is a
universal scripture applicable to people of all temperaments and for all times. It is a wonderful book
with sublime thoughts and practical instructions on Yoga, devotion, Vedanta and action. It is a
marvellous book, profound in thought and sublime in heights of vision. It brings peace and solace to
souls that are afflicted by the three fires of mortal existence, namely, afflictions caused by one’s
own body, those caused by beings around one, and those caused by the gods.
The Gita contains the divine nectar. It is the wish-fulfilling gem, tree and cow. You can milk
anything from it. It is a book for eternity. It is not a catch-penny book, with life like that of a
mushroom. It can be one’s constant companion of life. It is a vade-mecum for all. Peace, bliss,
wisdom, Brahman, Nirvana, Param Padam and Gita are all synonymous terms.
The Gita is a boundless ocean of nectar. It is the immortal celestial fruit of the Upanishadic
tree. In this unique book you will find an unbiased exposition of the philosophy of action, devotion
and knowledge, together with a wonderfully woven synthesis of these three. The Gita is a rare and
splendid flower that wafts its sweet aroma throughout the world.
viiIf all the Upanishads should represent cows, Sri Krishna is their milker. Arjuna is the calf
who first tasted that milk of wisdom of the Self, milked by the divine Cowherd for the benefit of all
humanity. This milk is the Bhagavad Gita. It solves not only Arjuna’s problems and doubts, but
also the world’s problems and those of every individual. Glory to Krishna, the friend of the
cowherds of Gokula, the joy of Devaki! He who drinks the nectar of the Gita through purification of
the heart and regular meditation, attains immortality, eternal bliss, everlasting peace and perennial
joy. There is nothing more to be attained beyond this.
Just as the dark unfathomed depths of the ocean contain most precious pearls, so also the
Bhagavad Gita contains spiritual gems of incalculable value. You will have to dive deep into its
depths with a sincere attitude of reverence and faith. Only then will you be able to collect its
spiritual pearls and comprehend its infinitely profound and subtle teachings.
The Bhagavad Gita is a unique book for all ages. It is one of the most authoritative books of
the Hindu religion. It is the immortal song of the Soul, which bespeaks of the glory of life. The
instructions given by Sri Krishna are for the whole world. It is a standard book on Yoga for all
mankind. The language is as simple as could be. Even a man who has an elementary knowledge of
Sanskrit can go through the book.
There are numerous commentaries on the Gita at the present time. A volume can be written
on each verse. A busy man with an active temperament will be greatly benefited by the commentary
of Sri Gangadhar Lokamanya Tilak, entitled Gita Rahasya. A man of devotional temperament will
be attracted by Sri Sridhara’s commentary, and a man of reason by that of Sri Shankara.
The Gita is like an ocean. Sri Shankara, Sri Ramanuja and Sri Madhava dived into it and
gave accounts of their interpretation and established their own philosophy. Anyone can do the same
and bring out the most precious pearls of divine knowledge and give their own interpretation. Glory
to the Gita! Glory to the Lord of the Gita!
The teachings of the Gita are broad, universal and sublime. They do not belong to any cult,
sect, creed, age or country. They are meant for the people of the whole world. Based on the
soul-elevating Upanishads—the ancient wisdom of seers and saints—the Gita prescribes methods
which are within the reach of all. It has a message of solace, freedom, salvation, perfection and
peace for all human beings.
This sacred scripture is like the great Manasarovar lake for monks, renunciates and thirsting
aspirants to sport in. It is the ocean of bliss in which seekers of Truth swim with joy and ecstasy. If
the philosopher’s stone touches a piece of iron even at one point, the whole of it is transformed into
gold. Even so, if you live in the spirit of even one verse of the Gita, you will doubtless be transmuted
into divinity. All your miseries will come to an end and you will attain the highest goal of
life—immortality and eternal peace.
The study of the Gita alone is sufficient for daily Swadhyaya (scriptural study). You will
find here a solution for all your doubts. The more you study it with devotion and faith, the more you
will acquire deeper knowledge, penetrative insight and clear, right thinking.
viiiThe Bhagavad Gita is a gospel for the whole world. It is meant for the generality of
mankind. It was given over five thousand years ago by Lord Krishna to Arjuna.
None but the Lord Himself can bring out such a marvellous and unprecedented book which
gives peace to its readers, which helps and guides them in the attainment of supreme bliss, and
which has survived up to the present time. This itself proves clearly that God exists, that He is an
embodiment of knowledge, and that one can attain perfection or liberation only by realising God.
The world is one huge battlefield. The real Kurukshetra is within you. The battle of the
Mahabharata is still raging within. Ignorance is Dhritarashtra; the individual soul is Arjuna; the
indweller of your heart is Lord Krishna, the charioteer; the body is the chariot; the senses are the
five horses; mind, egoism, mental impressions, senses, cravings, likes and dislikes, lust, jealousy,
greed, pride and hypocrisy are your dire enemies.
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.”