At their first meeting, in 1922, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati requested
Srila Prabhupada to broadcast Vedic knowledge in English. In the years
that followed, Srila Prabhupada wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad-
gild, assisted the Gaudily Martha in its work, and, in 1944, started
Back to Godhead, an English fortnightly magazine. Single- handedly,
Srila Prabhupada edited it, typed the manuscripts, checked the galley
proofs and even distributed the individual copies. The magazine is
now being continued by his disciples all over the world.
In 1950 Srila Prabhupada retired from married life, adopting the
varjnaprastha (retired) order to devote more time to his studies and
He travelled to the holy city of Vrndavana, where he lived in humble
circumstances in the historic temple of Radha-Damodara. There he
engaged for several years in deep study and writing. He accepted
the renounced order of life (sannyasa) in 1959. At Radha-Damodara
temple, Srila Prabhupada began work on his life's masterpiece: a
multivolume commentated translation of the eighteen-thousand
BASICS OF BHAGAVAD-GITA
verse Srimad-Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana). He also wrote Easy
Journey to Other Planets.
After publishing three volumes of the Bhagavatam Srila Prabhupada
came to the United States, in September 1965, to fulfill the mission
of hi spiritual master. Sub equity, His Divine Grace wrote more
than fifty volumes of authoritative commentated translations and
summary studies of the philosophical and religious classics of India.
When he first arrived by freighter in New York City, Srila Prabhupada
was practically penniless. After almost a year of great difficulty, he
established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, in
July of 1966. Before he passed away on November 14, 1977, he had
guided the Society and seen it grow to a worldwide confederation of
more than one hundred asramas, schools, temples, institutes, and farm
In 1972 His Divine Grace introduced the Vedic system of primary and
secondary education in the West by founding gurukula school in Dallas,
Texas. Since then his disciples have established similar schools
throughout the United State and the rest of the world.
As the great Pandava warrior Arjuna finds himself bewildered at the
onset of the war with his cousins - the Kauravas, his dear friend
and guide - Krsna, dispels his illusions with a clear explanation of
spiritual truths, and indeed, also of this world.
Despite the popularity of the Bhagavad-Gita and its numerous
translations and editions, it remains a mysterious text, hard for most
people to understand. The reason is that the e editions mostly take
the reader away from the speaker of the text - Lord Krsna.
The very term "Bhagavad-Gita" meaning "Song of God" indicates that
the speaker, Krsna, is God. But many commentators give some imaginary
interpretation for this simple truth by saying, for example. that it is
not Krsna who is speaking but rather it is "the unborn within Krsna"
that is speaking, thus rendering a completely different meaning than
the one stated and intended by the speaker.
The message of the book needs to be understood directly, or as it is,
rather than through such speculative interpretations. A direct approach
makes the text simple and the real meaning easily emerges. A speculative
approach, however scholarly the commentator may be, can only take
the reader away from the real meaning, thus leading to confusion.
So, when Krsna says in the Bhagavad-Gita. "I am the Supreme",
there is no need for speculation. We take that statement to mean
exactly what it says that Krsna is Supreme that is all? It is as
simple as that.
It is based on this principle that His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of the International Society
for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), wrote his translation and
commentary of the Bhagavad-Gita. Deliberately and appropriately,
he titled it "Bhagavad-Gita As It Is", to indicate that he followed the
direct approach. This makes the book easy to understand and brings
out the essence of Lord Krsna's me sage of devotion clearly.
This book, "Basics of Bhagavad-Gita" is based on the "Bhagavad-Gita As
It Is" in particular and the teachings of Srila Prabhupada in general.
We have preferred to adopt a thematic approach in this book that
you now hold in your hands. What exactly is this 'thematic approach'?
It is an approach where the subject matter is presented concept-wise,
rather than chapter-wise.
There are many concepts given in the Bhagavad-Gita and it is
essential to understand them properly and clearly. However, these
concepts are spread throughout the book with Lord Krsna referring
to them according to the questions Arjuna asks. To make it easier for
the reader, we have, thus put together these concepts, drawing from
different sections of the book.
As you read the Table of Contents, you will see how this categorization
of concepts has been done.
We have also, from time to time, made references to certain ideas and
theories that are prevalent in the modern age and analyzed them from
the perspective of the Bhagavad-Gita.
• Bhagavad-Gita is a classic of timeless wisdom, the summumbonum of spiritual truth. It has deeply influenced the thinking
of generations of philosophers, theologians, educators, scientists
and authors all over the world.
• Bhagavad-Gita was spoken five thousand years ago by Lord Krsna
to His friend and devotee, Arjuna. This great historical event occurred
before the onset of the Mahabharata war between the Kauravas and
the Pandavas on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, in northern India.
• Bhagavad-genii originally appears in the form of 700 Sanskrit verses, as
an episode of the Mahabharata, a great historical epic, in which it
occupies chapters 25 through 42 in the Bhima Parva. The author of
Mahabharata is the great sage Vyasadeva, "the literary incarnation of
God". Vyasadeva, after completing the four principal Vedas, the
Upanishads and the Vedanta-sutra, decided to compile the Purar.tas
and the Mahabharata for the benefit of common people who could not
sufficiently assimilate the lofty philosophical teachings of the earlier works.
• Bhagavad-Gita is the essence of all Vedic knowledge and is one
of the most important Upanisads in Vedic literature.
of his prescribed duties as a katriya (warrior), whose duty is to fight
for a righteous cause in a holy war, decides, for personally motivated
reasons (illusion), not to fight.
Lord Krsna, who has agreed to act as the charioteer of Arjuna's
chariot, sees His friend and devotee in illusion and perplexity. He
then proceeds to enlighten Arjuna regarding his immediate ocial
duty (Varna dharma) as a warrior and more importantly, his eternal
duty or nature (Sanatana-dharma) as a spiritual soul.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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