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Books > Hindu > Bhagavad Gita (The Dialogue Between Sri Krsna and Arjuna)
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Bhagavad Gita (The Dialogue Between Sri Krsna and Arjuna)
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Fraught with feelings of self-doubt and hopelessness, a great warrior collapses in self-defeat, posing questions for his charioteer, just before the immense battle begins on the plain of Kuruksetra. It is as if there was an interruption of the epic story of the Mahabharata, which pauses dramatically for the dialogue between teacher, Sri Krsna, and his disciple, Arjuna, which is known as the Bhagavadgita. This dialogue has been handed down as part of the oral Vedic tradition in an unbroken line of knowledge for more than 5000 years. And despite such antiquity, Arjuna's questions remain just as relevant today, because the human sense of insufficiency and desire for fulfilment are timeless. Fortunately for Arjuna – and for all of us – the solution is also timeless. Sri Krsa teaches him the knowledge about the ultimate truth of the Self, the essential nature of the human being covering the topics of dharma (appropriate action to fulfil what must be done) and yoga (to do so unmoved by the results of such action), while keeping a vision of Isvara (the Cause and the Order that is the Universe) in order to attain moksa, final liberation from the human sense of limitation. With an unwavering dedication to the original Sanskrit and to the tradition of Advaita Vedanta, Gloria Arieira unfolds the beauty and clarity of the message that is the Bhagavadgita, the very knowledge of the Self that removed Arjuna's confusion, allowing him to rise to his feet once again.

 

About the Author

Gloria Arieira studied Vedanta. Sanskrit, Vedic chanting, and meditation in India between 1974 and 1978, under the guidance of Swami Dayananda Saraswati, at the Sansipani Sadhanalaya ashram in Mumbai, and Uttarkashi. Her pilgrimage has led her throughout the years to several temples and holy sites around India, including Gomukh, Gangotri, Badrinath – the cavern where Vyasa wrote the Mahabharata – and Jyoshimath, the center for study by none other than Sri Sankaa himself. For more than 30 years, she has taught Vedanta and Sanskrit regularly at her center for Vedic studies, Vidya Mandir, in Rio de Janeiro, as well as at other institutes throughout her native Brazil and in Portugal. She has translated and published many books on Vedanta into Portuguese.

 

Foreword

The Bhagavadgita is the most renowned Hindu text in the West. Bhagavat means "he who possesses wealth", meaning the Lord; the word Gitam, which is neutral, means "song". The compound word Bhagavadgita, where t converts to d for phonetic reasons, means "the Song of the Lord" and be-comes feminine, since it is a text that feeds our soul, as a mother feeds her child. In the West, for sake of clarity, the title is often separated into Bhagavad Gita. It is also often referred to as the Gita.

The very first translation to a Western language was the "Bhagavat-geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon", published in 1785 in London by Charles Wilkins, who had originally gone to India in 1770 as a writer and typographer of the East India Company. His facility for languages allowed him to learn Bengali and Persian quickly. In 1784, he moved to Varanasi, where he began studying Sanskrit with a pundit and dedicated himself to translating the Mahabharata (the epic poem of which the Gitya is part), which he did not conclude. He later created the first printing font for Devanagari (the characters traditionally used to write is Sanskrit), just as he had also created for Bengali and Persian. In 1808, he published the "Grammar of the Sanskrit Language".

The Wilkins translation of the Gita was then translated into French (1787) and German (1802), and had a great influence in European literature of the period, as well as increasing interest in Hindi philosophy.

The first translation directly from Ssanskrit into German, by Friedrish Schlegel in 1808, contained parts of the Gita. His brother, August, published the journal Indishe Bibliothek (1823-1830), which included translations of the Gita and the Ramayana (another eminent Hindu epic). These texts marked the beginning of Sanskrit studies in Germany, which later developed enormously, and the texts of Hinduism influenced the German writers and philosophers.

What had fascinated Wilkins, the brothers Schlegel, and countless other Westerners before and afterwards was the facility with which the Gita speaks to the hearts of men. Arjuna's questions and self-doubt, as well as the best way to proceed with his life, are the very same questions of each and every one of us. The barriers of time and space are immediately as we feel ourselves in the place of Arjuna, paying attention to the explanations of Krsna.

Some academics place the composition of the Gita between the 5th and 2nd centuries BC. Others, based on differences in literary style, argue that the Gita had been added to the Mahabharata afterwards. The authorship of the Mahabharata, and thus the Gita, has been attributed to Vyasa. This preoccupation with establishing dates and authors is typical of the Western culture, since we see the individual as separate from the Whole.

Hinduism has an oral tradition of transmitting knowledge from one generation to the next with incredible precision over thousands of years. The Brahmins taught their children from an early age to recite the Vedas by heart in the exact meter and precise intonation. The four Vedas (Rg, Yajur, Sama and Atharva) are called Sruti," that which has been heard". Only much later in history were texts written with a stylus on banana leaves.

The beginning part of each Veda, called Karma Kanda, deals with actions and their results. The final part, called Jnana Kanda, covers the topics of knowledge of the individual, the absolute, and the relationship between the two. This latter part of the Vedas is comprised of the Upanisads, Which is collectively called Vedanta, which means the end of the Vedas.

The Gita was composed after the Vedas, therefore it is part of the category called Smrti, "that which is remembered", but its importance in terms of revealing knowledge places it at the same level of the Vedas, thus it is called the 5th Veda. It is as much a philosophical treatise – as far as it covers the individual, the Absolute, and the relationship between the two – as it is a practical guide to everyday life, with instructions on how to act, how to deal with the mind, how to meditate, etc.

The Gita is like a mother who welcomes us as we are with words of comfort regarding our limitations. It seems to come into our lives by chance – if you believe things actually happen by Chance.

In my case this chance happened in 1966, when I was doing an interchange program in the United States, where I found a copy in the library of the school I was attending. It was a paperback edition with an introduction by Aldous Huxley, famous writer at the time. I knew nothing of Hinduism, but I quite liked Huxley; I has read some of his books.

In his introduction, Huxley explained what he called Perrennial Philosophy, which found expression, sometimes partial, sometimes complete, in different ways and in different cultures, be it in Vedanta, in the Hebrew prophecies, in the Tao, in the dialogues of Plato, in Gospel of St. John, in the Buddhist Mahayana theology, in the Persian Sursian Sufis, in the Christian Mystics of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

According to Huxley, the Gita is the most systematic expression of Perennial Philosophy. This introduction captivated me and I brought a copy of this edition back with me to Brazil.

For many years I read this book, little by little, at times with an irresistible attraction, at times hindered by cultural and religious baggage. I was often confused by the many passages that aare apparently contradictory.

Only in 1979, when I began studying Vedana with Gloria Arieira, was I able to finally recognize the true greatness of the Gita.

Gloria had just returned from India, where she had been studying Vedanta for four and half years Swami Dayananada, under the traditional method, in Sansipani Sadanalaya, Bombay today Mumbai. She had also studied Sanskrit in depth, allowing her to translate the texts she would teach to her students directly from Sanskrit into Portuguese.

The Gita may be interpreted in different way, according to the diverse traditions of Hinduism. The tradition that Gloria represents is called Advaita Vedanta, or Non-Dualism, which was systematized by Sanskara (7th Century, AD). He commented on all the verses of instruction in the Gita (Chapters 2 to 18, since the first is just a list of warriors preparing for battle), explaining word for word, clarifying all doubts apparent contradictions.

There are other traditions, notably those of Ramanuja (11th Century, AD), of Visista Advaita Vedanta, Qualified Non-Dualism and of Madhva (12th Century AD) of Dvaita Vedanta, or Dualism. This later tradition is represented by the Hara Krishna movement, which has translated the Gita into more than 50 languages.

Among modern commentators, Mahatma Gandhi must be highlighted. He considered the Gita his greatest inspiration, although he often cited the Bible, especially the Sermon on the Mount, and the Koran. In 1929, he wrote a translation of the Gita in Gujarati, his native language, which was translated to English in 1935 by Mahadev Desi, his secretary, and then from there to many other languages. Curiously, Gandhi had started his study of the Gita during his stay in England (1888-1819) to law school. Until that time, Gandhi has shown no special interest in religion, but two vegetarian brothers that he had met were members of the Theosophical Society. They told him about the Gita, since they were reading a translation by Edwin Arnold, and invited him to study the Gita in the original Sanskrit. Ganshi confessed that he had little knowledge of the Gita that his Sanskrit was weak, but decided to study with them. It was a revelation: he found the book immeasurably valuable. Gandhi saw in the Gita an allegory, where the battlefield is the human soul and Arjuna is the higher impulse to fight against evil.

All these traditions deserve respect; the best one being that which speaks directly to you heart.

 

Preface

The Vedic tradition is unique and incomparable. It is part of the patrimony of humanity for its approach on the various facets of human life and society. It is only within this tradition that the specific themes of dharma and moksa have been encountered with such depth and profoundness. In the Vedic literature these words, as well as others, such as sannydsa, and therefore sannydsin (one who lives a life of sannydsa), are unique and difficult to be translated.

"That which sustains something or someone" is called dharma in Sanskrit and it has three different meanings. Dharma is the role of each and every one of us, for as long as we have been included as individuals into various and different relationships. It is also the understanding and practice of ethics, of universal values. Lastly, dharma is the essential and immutable nature of everything. Revealing dharma, and inspiring the human being to follow it, is the object of the Vedas.

Moksa is the human being's liberation from the constant feeling of limitation and insufficiency. This liberation can be attained by the understanding that the Self is eternal and limitless. The Vedas demonstrate that the cause of suffering is due to the ignorance of the true nature of the Self. Revealing this knowledge of the Absolute - the essential nature of the human being, the Creator and the Universe all at once - is the main objective of the Vedas. Nothing can be found in any other sacred text that compares with the clarity, the logic and the profoundness of the Vedas with regard to the dilemma of the human being and its solution.

The Vedic society is divided into stages of life, or varna: brahmacarin {the student}, 9rhastha {the married householder}, vanaprastha {one retired from family duties} and sannydsin {the renunciate}. The scnnydsin is one who leaves aside all ordinary duties, dedicating oneself to studies, meditation and teaching. It involves total dedication to a life of self-knowledge and to the renunciation of everything else. Nevertheless, if one - after completing much study - is prepared for and desirous of a life of total dedication to self-knowledge, even if from young age, one may go through a ritual and become a sannydsin.

Since the Vedas are very particular in enjoining human beings to contribute to society and to its orderly maintenance, these stages of life were ordained to be strictly followed by everyone. In order to enjoy a harmonious society, one must do one's duty, dharma. Naturally, one may satisfy one's own desires, but only when such desires are not in opposition to dharma.

Thus, according to the Vedas, being a "drop-out" from society was not an option. Only an individual who has gone through all the three stages of life is entitled to leave aside all duties and dedicate oneself entirely to self-knowledge and a life of meditation - and it is role of society to support this individual in doing so.

A sunnydsin lives a life of sannydsc. Often this word is translated as and confused with a "mendicant" because this individual does not formally work, neither does this person receive a salary: all such an individual possesses has been given to him by society; whereas a mendicant in Western society is quite different: this person is often seen as rebellious or forfeiting. In Vedic society, all are happy to have a sannydsin among its members, since such an individual is committed to truth, to a quiet contemplative life, and to help and to inspire other members of society. From this standpoint, this individual is far from being a "drop-out".

Sannyasa is also called tyaga, which means renunciation. In the Vedas, renunciation is emphasized as a means for self-knowledge, but it is not just as simple as giving up or dropping out: it requires an emotional maturity, a preparation of the mind, and an analysis of one's utmost goal in life - besides the resolute certainty of how to reach this goal. This kind of renunciation is associated to the desire for moksa, which is freedom from the sense of limitation which can only be acquired through knowledge of oneself as being complete and not separate or different from lsvara, the cause of the universe.

Sannyasa, moksn and dharma are words particular to the Vedas, and we decided to maintain them in Sanskrit, in order not to present an opportunity for misunderstanding by fixing a single word as a translation.

There are four Vedas: Rg, Sama, Yajur and Atharva - each of which can be divided into two parts. The first part teaches rituals and mantras, revealing appropriate and inappropriate actions according to one's role in life - denominated dharma and adharma, respectively - as well as their corresponding positive consequences, punyam, or negative consequences, papam. The Vedas emphazise that the human being is free to choose his or her actions, but the individual is bound to the results of his or her choices.

The second part of the Vedas is called Vedanta, and it is here where the dialoguess between gurus and their disciples can be found in what is called the Upanisnds. Vedanta states that the actions of human beings are done in pursuit of four objects, known as purusdrthas in Sanskrit: artha, security; kama, pleasure; dharma, a better future (in both this and the next life}; and moksa, the liberation from the sense of limitation and need. This latter object is considered the puramc-purusdrth«, the final objective of human life.

Vedanta teaches us that the essential truth of all and everything is but one. Eternal and ever-present, it is the very nature of the subject. The sense of mortality and the feeling that something is missing, which is shared by all human beings, is due to the ignorance of one's true nature. Therefore, the solution to this fundamental problem is self-knowledge. And to acquire knowledge, a means of knowledge, a prnmdncm, is necessary.

Vedanta is a means of knowledge in the form of words. It reveals the indivisible identity among jtva, the individual; ISvara, the cause of the Universe; and jag at, the world. The phrase that best summarizes this teaching is "tat tvam asi", or "you are that", meaning that jiva is equal to Isvara. The pupil, after a process of studying, reflection and contemplation, realizes: aham Brahma asmi - I am the limitless Brahman. This realization is what is called moksn, and it is the highest goal of human life.

The Bhagavadgita - although not part of the Vedas - has the same value as an Upani?ad and is therefore often called "the 5th Veda", since it contains the same knowledge and is presented in the same format as the Vedas. The Gita can be found in the epic Mahabharata, which is incomparable work - not only for the sheer size of it - but for its understanding of the problems facing humanity and the individual mind, as well as how to solve them. It has been said that what cannot be found in the Mahabharata simply cannot be found anywhere.

The oral tradition has a saying about Gita:
gita sugita kartavya kim anyairy sastravistaraih I

Meaning, 'Grtii, which is well sung and taught (by' master Sri KT$1).a), must be studied. What need is there study other texts?'

Besides the study of atman, the Self, and its identity w the Absolute, Brahman (which is not separate from the U verse), the Bhagavadgftii discusses in detail the lifestyle t prepares an individual for a clear understanding of t self-knowledge. This way of life is called yoga.

The teacher of the Gfta is Sri Krsna).a and the disciple Arjuna. The Gftii is divided into three parts, just as the pre ously mentioned mahavakya: "tat tvam asi" ("You are 'Iha The first part of the Gfta refers to tvam - you; the second p deals with tat, which is Isvara - That which is Everythi the third part is asi - the identity between the two. The three parts of the Gfta are divided into six chapters each, a total of 18 chapters. The Gfta's 700 verses are part of 1 Mahabharata, the longest epic ever written.

The Gfta is the most famous text of the Vedic traditi The words of Srf Krsna can reach each and everyone, gardless of culture, since its subject matter is universal and the teaching easily understood.






Contents

 

Foreword VII
Preface XV
Translator's note XXI
Acknowledgements XXVII
Introduction XXXI
Chapter 1 1
Chapter 2 25
Chapter 3 57
Chapter 4 79
Chapter 5 99
Chapter 6 115
Chapter 7 137
Chapter 8 157
Chapter 9 175
Chapter 10 195
Chapter 11 215
Chapter 12 247
Chapter 13 265
Chapter 14 289
Chapter 15 305
Chapter 16 321
Chapter 17 335
Chapter 18 349
Epithets of Arjuna 391
Epithets of Sri Krsna 393
References 395

 

Sample Pages
















Bhagavad Gita (The Dialogue Between Sri Krsna and Arjuna)

Item Code:
NAL356
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
2016
ISBN:
9788120840126
Language:
Sanskrit Text With Transliteration and English Translation
Size:
8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Pages:
375
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 475 gms
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$30.00   Shipping Free
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About the Book

Fraught with feelings of self-doubt and hopelessness, a great warrior collapses in self-defeat, posing questions for his charioteer, just before the immense battle begins on the plain of Kuruksetra. It is as if there was an interruption of the epic story of the Mahabharata, which pauses dramatically for the dialogue between teacher, Sri Krsna, and his disciple, Arjuna, which is known as the Bhagavadgita. This dialogue has been handed down as part of the oral Vedic tradition in an unbroken line of knowledge for more than 5000 years. And despite such antiquity, Arjuna's questions remain just as relevant today, because the human sense of insufficiency and desire for fulfilment are timeless. Fortunately for Arjuna – and for all of us – the solution is also timeless. Sri Krsa teaches him the knowledge about the ultimate truth of the Self, the essential nature of the human being covering the topics of dharma (appropriate action to fulfil what must be done) and yoga (to do so unmoved by the results of such action), while keeping a vision of Isvara (the Cause and the Order that is the Universe) in order to attain moksa, final liberation from the human sense of limitation. With an unwavering dedication to the original Sanskrit and to the tradition of Advaita Vedanta, Gloria Arieira unfolds the beauty and clarity of the message that is the Bhagavadgita, the very knowledge of the Self that removed Arjuna's confusion, allowing him to rise to his feet once again.

 

About the Author

Gloria Arieira studied Vedanta. Sanskrit, Vedic chanting, and meditation in India between 1974 and 1978, under the guidance of Swami Dayananda Saraswati, at the Sansipani Sadhanalaya ashram in Mumbai, and Uttarkashi. Her pilgrimage has led her throughout the years to several temples and holy sites around India, including Gomukh, Gangotri, Badrinath – the cavern where Vyasa wrote the Mahabharata – and Jyoshimath, the center for study by none other than Sri Sankaa himself. For more than 30 years, she has taught Vedanta and Sanskrit regularly at her center for Vedic studies, Vidya Mandir, in Rio de Janeiro, as well as at other institutes throughout her native Brazil and in Portugal. She has translated and published many books on Vedanta into Portuguese.

 

Foreword

The Bhagavadgita is the most renowned Hindu text in the West. Bhagavat means "he who possesses wealth", meaning the Lord; the word Gitam, which is neutral, means "song". The compound word Bhagavadgita, where t converts to d for phonetic reasons, means "the Song of the Lord" and be-comes feminine, since it is a text that feeds our soul, as a mother feeds her child. In the West, for sake of clarity, the title is often separated into Bhagavad Gita. It is also often referred to as the Gita.

The very first translation to a Western language was the "Bhagavat-geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon", published in 1785 in London by Charles Wilkins, who had originally gone to India in 1770 as a writer and typographer of the East India Company. His facility for languages allowed him to learn Bengali and Persian quickly. In 1784, he moved to Varanasi, where he began studying Sanskrit with a pundit and dedicated himself to translating the Mahabharata (the epic poem of which the Gitya is part), which he did not conclude. He later created the first printing font for Devanagari (the characters traditionally used to write is Sanskrit), just as he had also created for Bengali and Persian. In 1808, he published the "Grammar of the Sanskrit Language".

The Wilkins translation of the Gita was then translated into French (1787) and German (1802), and had a great influence in European literature of the period, as well as increasing interest in Hindi philosophy.

The first translation directly from Ssanskrit into German, by Friedrish Schlegel in 1808, contained parts of the Gita. His brother, August, published the journal Indishe Bibliothek (1823-1830), which included translations of the Gita and the Ramayana (another eminent Hindu epic). These texts marked the beginning of Sanskrit studies in Germany, which later developed enormously, and the texts of Hinduism influenced the German writers and philosophers.

What had fascinated Wilkins, the brothers Schlegel, and countless other Westerners before and afterwards was the facility with which the Gita speaks to the hearts of men. Arjuna's questions and self-doubt, as well as the best way to proceed with his life, are the very same questions of each and every one of us. The barriers of time and space are immediately as we feel ourselves in the place of Arjuna, paying attention to the explanations of Krsna.

Some academics place the composition of the Gita between the 5th and 2nd centuries BC. Others, based on differences in literary style, argue that the Gita had been added to the Mahabharata afterwards. The authorship of the Mahabharata, and thus the Gita, has been attributed to Vyasa. This preoccupation with establishing dates and authors is typical of the Western culture, since we see the individual as separate from the Whole.

Hinduism has an oral tradition of transmitting knowledge from one generation to the next with incredible precision over thousands of years. The Brahmins taught their children from an early age to recite the Vedas by heart in the exact meter and precise intonation. The four Vedas (Rg, Yajur, Sama and Atharva) are called Sruti," that which has been heard". Only much later in history were texts written with a stylus on banana leaves.

The beginning part of each Veda, called Karma Kanda, deals with actions and their results. The final part, called Jnana Kanda, covers the topics of knowledge of the individual, the absolute, and the relationship between the two. This latter part of the Vedas is comprised of the Upanisads, Which is collectively called Vedanta, which means the end of the Vedas.

The Gita was composed after the Vedas, therefore it is part of the category called Smrti, "that which is remembered", but its importance in terms of revealing knowledge places it at the same level of the Vedas, thus it is called the 5th Veda. It is as much a philosophical treatise – as far as it covers the individual, the Absolute, and the relationship between the two – as it is a practical guide to everyday life, with instructions on how to act, how to deal with the mind, how to meditate, etc.

The Gita is like a mother who welcomes us as we are with words of comfort regarding our limitations. It seems to come into our lives by chance – if you believe things actually happen by Chance.

In my case this chance happened in 1966, when I was doing an interchange program in the United States, where I found a copy in the library of the school I was attending. It was a paperback edition with an introduction by Aldous Huxley, famous writer at the time. I knew nothing of Hinduism, but I quite liked Huxley; I has read some of his books.

In his introduction, Huxley explained what he called Perrennial Philosophy, which found expression, sometimes partial, sometimes complete, in different ways and in different cultures, be it in Vedanta, in the Hebrew prophecies, in the Tao, in the dialogues of Plato, in Gospel of St. John, in the Buddhist Mahayana theology, in the Persian Sursian Sufis, in the Christian Mystics of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

According to Huxley, the Gita is the most systematic expression of Perennial Philosophy. This introduction captivated me and I brought a copy of this edition back with me to Brazil.

For many years I read this book, little by little, at times with an irresistible attraction, at times hindered by cultural and religious baggage. I was often confused by the many passages that aare apparently contradictory.

Only in 1979, when I began studying Vedana with Gloria Arieira, was I able to finally recognize the true greatness of the Gita.

Gloria had just returned from India, where she had been studying Vedanta for four and half years Swami Dayananada, under the traditional method, in Sansipani Sadanalaya, Bombay today Mumbai. She had also studied Sanskrit in depth, allowing her to translate the texts she would teach to her students directly from Sanskrit into Portuguese.

The Gita may be interpreted in different way, according to the diverse traditions of Hinduism. The tradition that Gloria represents is called Advaita Vedanta, or Non-Dualism, which was systematized by Sanskara (7th Century, AD). He commented on all the verses of instruction in the Gita (Chapters 2 to 18, since the first is just a list of warriors preparing for battle), explaining word for word, clarifying all doubts apparent contradictions.

There are other traditions, notably those of Ramanuja (11th Century, AD), of Visista Advaita Vedanta, Qualified Non-Dualism and of Madhva (12th Century AD) of Dvaita Vedanta, or Dualism. This later tradition is represented by the Hara Krishna movement, which has translated the Gita into more than 50 languages.

Among modern commentators, Mahatma Gandhi must be highlighted. He considered the Gita his greatest inspiration, although he often cited the Bible, especially the Sermon on the Mount, and the Koran. In 1929, he wrote a translation of the Gita in Gujarati, his native language, which was translated to English in 1935 by Mahadev Desi, his secretary, and then from there to many other languages. Curiously, Gandhi had started his study of the Gita during his stay in England (1888-1819) to law school. Until that time, Gandhi has shown no special interest in religion, but two vegetarian brothers that he had met were members of the Theosophical Society. They told him about the Gita, since they were reading a translation by Edwin Arnold, and invited him to study the Gita in the original Sanskrit. Ganshi confessed that he had little knowledge of the Gita that his Sanskrit was weak, but decided to study with them. It was a revelation: he found the book immeasurably valuable. Gandhi saw in the Gita an allegory, where the battlefield is the human soul and Arjuna is the higher impulse to fight against evil.

All these traditions deserve respect; the best one being that which speaks directly to you heart.

 

Preface

The Vedic tradition is unique and incomparable. It is part of the patrimony of humanity for its approach on the various facets of human life and society. It is only within this tradition that the specific themes of dharma and moksa have been encountered with such depth and profoundness. In the Vedic literature these words, as well as others, such as sannydsa, and therefore sannydsin (one who lives a life of sannydsa), are unique and difficult to be translated.

"That which sustains something or someone" is called dharma in Sanskrit and it has three different meanings. Dharma is the role of each and every one of us, for as long as we have been included as individuals into various and different relationships. It is also the understanding and practice of ethics, of universal values. Lastly, dharma is the essential and immutable nature of everything. Revealing dharma, and inspiring the human being to follow it, is the object of the Vedas.

Moksa is the human being's liberation from the constant feeling of limitation and insufficiency. This liberation can be attained by the understanding that the Self is eternal and limitless. The Vedas demonstrate that the cause of suffering is due to the ignorance of the true nature of the Self. Revealing this knowledge of the Absolute - the essential nature of the human being, the Creator and the Universe all at once - is the main objective of the Vedas. Nothing can be found in any other sacred text that compares with the clarity, the logic and the profoundness of the Vedas with regard to the dilemma of the human being and its solution.

The Vedic society is divided into stages of life, or varna: brahmacarin {the student}, 9rhastha {the married householder}, vanaprastha {one retired from family duties} and sannydsin {the renunciate}. The scnnydsin is one who leaves aside all ordinary duties, dedicating oneself to studies, meditation and teaching. It involves total dedication to a life of self-knowledge and to the renunciation of everything else. Nevertheless, if one - after completing much study - is prepared for and desirous of a life of total dedication to self-knowledge, even if from young age, one may go through a ritual and become a sannydsin.

Since the Vedas are very particular in enjoining human beings to contribute to society and to its orderly maintenance, these stages of life were ordained to be strictly followed by everyone. In order to enjoy a harmonious society, one must do one's duty, dharma. Naturally, one may satisfy one's own desires, but only when such desires are not in opposition to dharma.

Thus, according to the Vedas, being a "drop-out" from society was not an option. Only an individual who has gone through all the three stages of life is entitled to leave aside all duties and dedicate oneself entirely to self-knowledge and a life of meditation - and it is role of society to support this individual in doing so.

A sunnydsin lives a life of sannydsc. Often this word is translated as and confused with a "mendicant" because this individual does not formally work, neither does this person receive a salary: all such an individual possesses has been given to him by society; whereas a mendicant in Western society is quite different: this person is often seen as rebellious or forfeiting. In Vedic society, all are happy to have a sannydsin among its members, since such an individual is committed to truth, to a quiet contemplative life, and to help and to inspire other members of society. From this standpoint, this individual is far from being a "drop-out".

Sannyasa is also called tyaga, which means renunciation. In the Vedas, renunciation is emphasized as a means for self-knowledge, but it is not just as simple as giving up or dropping out: it requires an emotional maturity, a preparation of the mind, and an analysis of one's utmost goal in life - besides the resolute certainty of how to reach this goal. This kind of renunciation is associated to the desire for moksa, which is freedom from the sense of limitation which can only be acquired through knowledge of oneself as being complete and not separate or different from lsvara, the cause of the universe.

Sannyasa, moksn and dharma are words particular to the Vedas, and we decided to maintain them in Sanskrit, in order not to present an opportunity for misunderstanding by fixing a single word as a translation.

There are four Vedas: Rg, Sama, Yajur and Atharva - each of which can be divided into two parts. The first part teaches rituals and mantras, revealing appropriate and inappropriate actions according to one's role in life - denominated dharma and adharma, respectively - as well as their corresponding positive consequences, punyam, or negative consequences, papam. The Vedas emphazise that the human being is free to choose his or her actions, but the individual is bound to the results of his or her choices.

The second part of the Vedas is called Vedanta, and it is here where the dialoguess between gurus and their disciples can be found in what is called the Upanisnds. Vedanta states that the actions of human beings are done in pursuit of four objects, known as purusdrthas in Sanskrit: artha, security; kama, pleasure; dharma, a better future (in both this and the next life}; and moksa, the liberation from the sense of limitation and need. This latter object is considered the puramc-purusdrth«, the final objective of human life.

Vedanta teaches us that the essential truth of all and everything is but one. Eternal and ever-present, it is the very nature of the subject. The sense of mortality and the feeling that something is missing, which is shared by all human beings, is due to the ignorance of one's true nature. Therefore, the solution to this fundamental problem is self-knowledge. And to acquire knowledge, a means of knowledge, a prnmdncm, is necessary.

Vedanta is a means of knowledge in the form of words. It reveals the indivisible identity among jtva, the individual; ISvara, the cause of the Universe; and jag at, the world. The phrase that best summarizes this teaching is "tat tvam asi", or "you are that", meaning that jiva is equal to Isvara. The pupil, after a process of studying, reflection and contemplation, realizes: aham Brahma asmi - I am the limitless Brahman. This realization is what is called moksn, and it is the highest goal of human life.

The Bhagavadgita - although not part of the Vedas - has the same value as an Upani?ad and is therefore often called "the 5th Veda", since it contains the same knowledge and is presented in the same format as the Vedas. The Gita can be found in the epic Mahabharata, which is incomparable work - not only for the sheer size of it - but for its understanding of the problems facing humanity and the individual mind, as well as how to solve them. It has been said that what cannot be found in the Mahabharata simply cannot be found anywhere.

The oral tradition has a saying about Gita:
gita sugita kartavya kim anyairy sastravistaraih I

Meaning, 'Grtii, which is well sung and taught (by' master Sri KT$1).a), must be studied. What need is there study other texts?'

Besides the study of atman, the Self, and its identity w the Absolute, Brahman (which is not separate from the U verse), the Bhagavadgftii discusses in detail the lifestyle t prepares an individual for a clear understanding of t self-knowledge. This way of life is called yoga.

The teacher of the Gfta is Sri Krsna).a and the disciple Arjuna. The Gftii is divided into three parts, just as the pre ously mentioned mahavakya: "tat tvam asi" ("You are 'Iha The first part of the Gfta refers to tvam - you; the second p deals with tat, which is Isvara - That which is Everythi the third part is asi - the identity between the two. The three parts of the Gfta are divided into six chapters each, a total of 18 chapters. The Gfta's 700 verses are part of 1 Mahabharata, the longest epic ever written.

The Gfta is the most famous text of the Vedic traditi The words of Srf Krsna can reach each and everyone, gardless of culture, since its subject matter is universal and the teaching easily understood.






Contents

 

Foreword VII
Preface XV
Translator's note XXI
Acknowledgements XXVII
Introduction XXXI
Chapter 1 1
Chapter 2 25
Chapter 3 57
Chapter 4 79
Chapter 5 99
Chapter 6 115
Chapter 7 137
Chapter 8 157
Chapter 9 175
Chapter 10 195
Chapter 11 215
Chapter 12 247
Chapter 13 265
Chapter 14 289
Chapter 15 305
Chapter 16 321
Chapter 17 335
Chapter 18 349
Epithets of Arjuna 391
Epithets of Sri Krsna 393
References 395

 

Sample Pages
















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