The Bhagavad Gita: A Detailed Commentary

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Item Code: IDK844
Author: Swami Chidbhavananda
Language: English
Edition: 2023
ISBN: 8180851478
Pages: 1012
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.7
Weight 1.10 kg
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Book Description

Scriptures are indispensable to all religions. They save religions from mutation and from extinction. That faith which has no gospel for its guidance gets lost in a series of transformations. Finally it disintegrates and loses its individuality. But a faith that draws sanction and inspiration from a sacred book is able to hold its own. It has in such a holy document authoritative statements to encounter the opposition and meet the attacks of the heterodox. All the religions of the world that have endured the ravages of time and of transformation have their own scriptures for anchorage. That the Bible is the scripture of the Christians is well known even to those beyond the pale of the Christendom. The Quraan remains ever associated with the followers of the Islamic religion. The scripture of the enlightened utterances of the Buddha, known as the Dammapada. The followers of all the other important religions may also be said to be more familiar with their sacred books than with their kith and kin. But the case of the Hindu is different. Among the followers of different paths, he alone is bewildered in regard to this question. He does not know which book he may term his scripture. If a mention is made of the Vedas he confesses he has never had occasion to see or handle such books as these, let alone the question of getting acquainted with their contents. Many a Hindu, may mention with some hesitance this or that as the sacred book from which he draws inspiration and guidance. But one who is widely read in the Hindu lore wavers before making a pronouncement of this kind. This dilemma is due to the immensity of the Hindu scriptures. The popular conviction is that the Vedas are the direct or indirect sources of all the sacred books pertaining to Hinduism. Several portions of the Vedas are said to have become extinct in the march of time. But the cream of the Vedas in the Upanishads, and these have been piously guarded both against extinction and mutilation. All the systems of philosophy in India derive their inspiration and authority from these Upanishads. They are also called the Forest books because of the environment in which they became revealed to the sages, popularly known as Rishis. A synopsis and classification of the contents of the Upanishads goes by the name of the Brahma Sutras or the Vedanta Sutras. These Sutras are aphorisms elucidating the Vedanta Philosophy. These aphorisms are somewhat it is rather difficult to follow them. But the position of the third book called the Bhagavad Gita is different. It is the essence of the Upanishads, not in the sense it is all condensed into terse form, but in the sense that the Vedanta Philosophy is made easy of understanding. When the Upanishads are compared to cows, the Bhagavad Gita takes the position of their milk. When one has plenty of milk at one's disposal one need not undergo the laborious task of maintaining cows. One who has studied and understood the Bhagavad Gita may be said to have caught the cardinal teachings of the Upanishads.

These three books, namely the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita are called the Scriptural Trinity-Prasthanatrayam. They constitute the final authority on scriptural matters. There is no conflict of views among these three. The elucidation of the ultimate Reality and the means of realizing It are categorically stated in these books. If a question is raised as to which is the scriptural authority in Hinduism, the answer is: this trinity. There is not a single cardinal point in Hinduism that is not touched in these books. Elaborate treatment of particular aspects of spirituality such as Bhakti and Yoga may be found in other books. But they are explanations of what are pithily stated in the Scriptural Trinity. If ever a conflict arises between the statements in the Prasthanatrayam and other sacred books, the verdict of the former alone is traditionally accepted as final.


Enshrined in the Mahabharata

The Mahabharata or the Great Epic is held to be the fifth Veda. The Bhagavad Gita finds a place in this stupendous record of human activities, aspirations and achievements. Chapters twenty-five to forty-two of the Bhishma Parva constitute this immortal discourse. It contains, therefore, eighteen chapters. The verses number seven hundred. Among modern scholars there are those who hold that the Bhagavad Gita is an interpolation in the Mahabharata. But the internal evidence does not bear any testimony to this contention. Both in diction and in development of the subject there is homogeneity running all through. The philosophy of the Gita explained and expanded becomes the Mahabharata. Conversely, Mahabharata condensed into philosophy becomes Gita. What the heart is to the human body, the Gita is to this Great Epic. So any attempt to trace a separate origin to the Song Celestial serves no purpose.


God's grace versus Earthly Power

The period of exile was over for the Pandavas. They had faithfully fulfilled all the hard terms imposed on them for the sin of gambling. They were now entitled to get back the extensive empire legitimately belonging to them. But the covetous Kaurava cousins bluntly refused to part with even an inch of land Sri Krishna, the universally revered One, came to intervene as a mediator. He, the impartial One, pleaded with the Kauravas to be fair to the heirs-apparent to the throne. He even reminded them of the deadly consequences of a ruthless war if it should ensue. But greed born of blindness and covetousness would not see eye to eye with fairness. Persuading the usurpers to take time and reconsider, Sri Krishna, the well-wisher of all, returned to Dwaraka, his capital.

Conciliation seemed well nigh impossible. Vigorous mobilization started on either side. Finally, the rivals had recourse to the very Person who came to mediate. Being omniscient Sri Krishna could know that they were both hastening to seek his help. In his turn he hastened to stage a setting befitting the occasion. In his bed chamber he posed a slumber. A solitary chair was placed behind his head. Arjuna was the first to enter. He could have occupied that seat; but he did not do so. He preferred to stand reverentially beside the Lord's feet until he woke up. Duryodhana, the head of the uncompromising Kauravas, appeared next. With characteristic arrogance he occupied the vacant chair. Now Sri Krishna woke up. If was but natural that his eyes should fall first on Arjuna. Then followed an eventful conversation between them, in which help was promised to the Pandavas. The presence of Duryodhana in the chamber was then made known to the Lord who was still in a reclining posture on the cot. He sat up, turned round and welcomed that sworn enemy of the Pandavas. In his turn Duryodhana also sought help from Kesava. Strangely enough he was also assured help. Sri Krishna's entire manpower and material resources were placed on one side, and he himself unarmed offered to be on the other side, Now the belligerent brothers were allowed to choose between the two, each according to his inclination. Arjuna's choice fell on Sri Krishna, solitary and unarmed though he was. Now the other applicant breathed a sigh of relief because he could get exactly what he wanted. He believed entirely in armament and mobilization; whereas Arjuna and his brothers subordinated power of arms and prowess of man to God's grace. The consequences of these differing choices are too well known to require elucidation. Those who believed exclusively in the sinews of war and in earthly possessions perished along with them. But those who surrendered themselves to the will of God and acted for His glory gained both the here and the hereafter.


Life based with Problems

Until he made his appearance on the battlefield Arjuna was actually panting for a deadly encounter with the wicked. He was erstwhile a stranger to doubts and despair. Just as an arrow darts through a cobweb, he had easily waded through several meshes in life. The caliber he was made of knew no problem that could not be solved. Even the combat that he was once obliged to have with Mahadeva, the Great God was no strain to him. Vijaya or born-conqueror as he was, he was wont to take all issues easy. He had not for a moment stopped to ponder over the conviction was that the man who dared to oppose him opposed righteousness itself. Impatiently he asked Sri Krishna to drive his car in between the two arrayed armies so that he might have a glance at those who were on the side of the sinful warmongers. The unswerving Charioteer took this opportunity to put to test the valour as well as the power of understanding of this accredited 'bull among men.' He drove the chariot just in front Bhishma the grandsire and Drona the revered preceptor. They were both, till then, persons worthy of veneration to Arjuna. Was it possible to switch on to a counter attitude at a moment's notice? Arjuna was between the horns of a dilemma. He became perplexed. To fight or to flee was the question which he could not decide. Life always gristles with problems of varying magnitude. They are as incessant as waves on the sea. Individuals solves them, each according to his discernment and ability. This process of surmounting problems constitutes progress in life. But sooner or later a major crisis crops up, proving itself insurmountable. Valour and worldly wisdom are of no avail to meet it. Self-knowledge inspired by Divine Grace alone can equip a person to overcome the crisis. Arjuna, magnificently equipped as he was for the battle of life, now found himself unequal to the challenge of the situation. He was therefore now obliged to seek that enlightenment which would help him probe into the mystery of life and tide over the difficulty.




  Introduction 1
  The Scriptural Trinity – Enshrined in the Mahabharata – God's grace versus Earthly Power – Life based with Problems – Allegory – Life and Message Inseparable – Sages Nara and Narayana – Intended for People of Arjuna's type – Why preached on the Battle-field? – Who recorded? – Gospel of slaughter – Book of dissension and disruption – Change-over from the Pleasant to the Good – The Bhagavad Gita Upanishad – Brahma Vedya – Yoga Sastra – Method of Teaching – Sruti and Smriti – Exposition of the Sentence Sublime – Commentaries – The best among the Commentaries – Classification of the Commentaries – Vedanta – The way of Sri Krishna – Definition of God – The Scripture Universal.  
  Gita Dhyanam 67
Chapter I The Despondency of Arjuna 75
  Dhrtarashtra's Query – Sanjaya Defines the Arrays – Arjuna's Impatience – Arjuna Beholds the Venerable Ones – Arjuna's Conflict – Arjuna's Fallacy.  
Chapter II The Yoga of Knowledge 114
  The Message of Strength – Arjuna Declines to Fight against the Revered Ones – Spiritual Anguish – The Harbinger of Grace – Consistency is Yoga – Atman is immortal – Nature of Death – Feelings Pertain to Body – The Real and the Unreal – Be not Attached to Karma – Rebirth of the Embodied – Atman is super-mundane – The Materialistic Standpoint – Atman Transcends Mind and Speech – Swerve not from Duty – Transform Karma into Karma yoga – The Way of the Worldly – The Key to Yoga – The Enlightened Defined.  
Chapter III The Yoga of Action 210
  Arjuna's Doubt – Jnana Yoga and Karma Yoga are Complementary – The Greatness of Yajna – The Wheel of Life – Atman is Beyond Action – What the Spiritual Aspirant ought to do – How to Root out the Ego – Spiritual Practices Conforming to Dispositions – The Origin of Sin.  
Chapter IV The Yoga of Renunciation of Action in Knowledge 270
  Master and Disciple Lineage – The Advent and Acts of the Incarnation – Diverse Means to the Same End – Fruit of the Worship of the Minor Deities – The Four Grades of People – The Philosophy of Action – Varieties of Sacrifices – The Supremacy of Knowledge – Doubt is Derogatory.  
Chapter V Sanyasa Yoga 324
  Karma yoga is Karma sanyasa – Karma Pertains to Prakriti and not Purusha – Same-sightedness Ensues from Knowledge – Bliss of Brahman Different from Sense-pleasure.  
Chapter VI The Yoga of Meditation 356
  Karma yoga is Karma sanyasa – The Favourable Environment – The Method – The Criterion for Progress – Progress in Yoga – Perfection in Yoga – The Restive Mind has to be Resisted – The Fate of the Imperfect Yogi – Yoga is Unparalleled.  
Chapter VII The Yoga of Knowledge and Realization 413
  Prakriti-Low and High – The Is-ness in the Elements and Beings is Iswara – The Excellences in Beings come from God – The Maya of the Three Gunas – Four Types of Virtuous Men – The Votaries of Minor Gods – The Characteristics of Iswara – The Discerning and the Non-discerning.  
Chapter VIII The Yoga of the Imperishable Brahman 451
  The Worship of Ishwara – How the Yogi Relinquishes the Body – The State of Non-return – Brahma, the Creator's Standard of Time – Immortality – The Paths of Light and Darkness – Be Ever a Yogi.  
Chapter IX The Yoga of Sovereign Science and Sovereign Secret 484
  The Relationship between Saguna Brahman and Prakriti – The Ways of the Ignorant – The Ways of the Devoted – Iswara is Everything – The Way of the Enjoyment-seekers – Man Gets What He Seeks – Worship of Iswara is the Easiest – The Neutral Iswara is the Votary's Own.  
Chapter X The Yoga of Divine Manifestations 525
  Iswara the Sources of Everything – The Knowledge of Vibhuti fosters Devotion – The Buddhi-yoga – Bliss Evident in God's Glories – The Vibhutis Defined – The Essence of the Vibhutis.  
Chapter XI The Yoga of the Vision of the Cosmic Form 579
  Arjuna's Supplication – The Divine Eye – Iswara's Cosmic Form – The Cosmic Vision Defined – The Lord Embodied as Time – Arjuna Praises the Lord – Arjuna Pleads for the Vision of Gentle Form – Arjuna's Blessed Privilege – The Wonted Serene Form – The Message of the Cosmic Form.  
Chapter XII The Yoga of Devotion 641
  Brahman-with and without Attributes – The Worship of Saguna Brahman – The Devotee's Divine Traits.  
Chapter XIII The Yoga of the Discrimination of the Kshetra and the Kshetrajna 669
  Prakriti and Purusha Constitute Everything – The Vehicles of Revelation – The Constituents of Kshetra – Self-culture – Brahman Defined – The Effect of Evolving in Wisdom – One Appearing as the Many – Bhakti Evolves into Jnana – Prakriti and Purusha are Eternal Verities – The Seed of the Mundane Life – Brahma-jnana Dispels the Delusion of Birth – The Four Yogas – Gaining in Unity is Mukti – Karma Pertains to Prakriti – Brahman is Self-sufficient.  
Chapter XIV The Yoga of Division of the Three Gunas 719
  Jnana aids Mukti – The Process of Birth – The Functions of the Gunas – The Symptoms of the Gunas – Transcending the Gunas is Mukti – Definition of the one who has Transcended the Gunas.  
Chapter XV The Yoga of the Supreme Self 749
  The Tree of Life – Cut the Tree to get Moksha – The Competent Ones – The Supreme Abode – Jivatman Defined – The Divine Eye – The Immanence of the Paramatman – The Facets o Brahman.  
Chapter XVI The Yoga of Division Between the Divine and the Demoniacal 779
  The Divine Traits – The Demoniac Traits – The Effects of the Two Traits – The Demoniacal ways – The Fall of the Asuras – Liberation from the Asura Fetters – Scripture is the Guide.  
Chapter XVII The Yoga of the Threefold Sraddha 803
  Confidence Graded – The Three Kinds of Food – The Three Types of Worship – The Threefold Austerity – The Threefold Gift – Demerits Turned into Merits.  
Chapter XVIII The Yoga of Liberation by Renunciation 840
  Sanyasa and Tyaga Explained – Tamasika and Rajasika Tyagas are Purposeless – Tyaga of Sattvika Nature is Indispensable – The Components of Karma – Atman is Inaction – The Three Gunas give Impetus to Karma – The Fourfold Caste Explained – Karma Yoga is Karma Sanyasa – Egoism is Harmful – All Karma belongs to Iswara – Freedom of Enquiry into Truth – The Category of Self-surrender – Competency for Following the Gita – The Dawn of Knowledge – Sanjaya's Conclusive Statement.  
  The Greatness of the Gita 985
  Index to First Lines 993
  Index to Topics 1005

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