PRAYING TO SRI GURU, the Vaisnavas and Bhagavan and begging for their merciful blessings, I proceed to write the foreword to this present edition of Srimad Bhagavad-gita. In undertaking such an endeavour, the causeless mercy and auspicious blessings of the disciplic succession of spiritual masters in the line of Sri Rupa Gosvami and Srila Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura are our sole aid and shelter.
Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti published its first edition of Srimad Bhagavad-gita on 6 September 1977, by the auspicious desire and blessings of my Sri Gurupada-padma, nitya-lila-pravista om visnupada astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. That edition included the Gita-bhusna commentary of the brilliant sun among vedanta-acaryas, Sri Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusanapada, as well as an elucidating translation entitled Vidvad-ranjana by nitya-lila- pravista om visnupada Sri Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura. Following that, on 3 October 1990, Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti published an abridged pocket edition, consisting of only the Sanskrit verses and their Bengali translations.
Several editions of 5rimad Bhagavad-gita were published under the editorship of jagad-guru nitya-lila-pravista om visnupada astottara- sata Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada. Some included Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusanapada's Gita-bhusana commentary, some Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's Sarartha-varsini commentary, and some Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's translations entitled Vidvad-ranjana and Rasika-ranjana. Later, various editions were published in Bengali by different mathas, temples and missions in the line of Srila Prabhupada Sarasvati Thakura. An Assamese edition was published in Tejapura, Assam, and some English editions were published in Calcutta and Tamil Nadu. A Hindi edition of Srimad Bhagavad-gita with the commentaries of Srila Cakravarti Thakura or Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusanapada had not yet been made available. Consequently, the Hindi-speaking populace both in India and the whole world was therefore bereft of such an edition of this jewel-like book.
It is for this reason that my Godbrother pujyapada Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, the vice-president and general editor of Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, is publishing this present edition of Srimad Bhagavad-gita with its Sanskrit verses, an anvaya (word-for-word), verse translations and the Sarartha-varsini commentary of the great preceptor, sri-gaudiya-vaisnava-acarya Sri Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. He is also presenting a simple, comprehensible commentary known as Sarartha-varsini Prakasika-vrtti. Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti will remain eternally grateful and indebted to him for this. By deeply studying this book, the virtuous, intelligent readers will certainly receive supreme benefit and bliss.
At the end of his preface to the Gita, jagad-guru om visnupada Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura comments,
"Unfortunately, most of the commentaries and Bengali translations of Srimad Bhagavad-gita published to date are written by the advocates of the doctrine that the living entity and the Supreme Lord are non-different in every respect (abheda-brahmavada). Only a few publications contain commentaries and translations that are in line with pure devotion to Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The commentaries of Sankaracarya and Anandagiri are full of absolute monism (abheda-brahmavada), or the doctrine that the living entity is non-different from the Absolute Truth. The commentary of Srila Sridhara Svami, though not full of brahmavada, consists of a scent of the Rudra sampradaya's doctrine of purified non-dualism (sampradayika suddhadvaita). Some statements in the commentary of Sri Madhusudana Sarasvatipada support bhakti, but its final instruction and essence expound abaeda-brahmavada; or monistic liberation. The commentary of Sri Ramanujacarya is completely in accordance with bhakti, but those who taste pure bhakti-rasa cannot derive ever-increasing bliss from it.
"In our country, no commentary was available that follows Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's philosophy of inconceivable oneness and difference (acintya-bhedabheda). Therefore, to facilitate the pure devotees' relish of rasa and to benefit faithful people, I took great pains to procure the commentary of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu's devout follower, the most erudite Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Mahasaya, the crest jewel among devotees'
"I have now published the Gita with this commentary as well as with a Bengali verse translation named Rasika-ranjana. The commentary, written by Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana Prabhu, which also follows the teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu, consists mainly of philosophical conceptions. Srila Cakravarti Thakura's commentary, however, is full of both philosophical conceptions and the mellow of pure love (pritirasa). I have published the commentary of Srila Cakravarti Thakura, because his conceptions are simple to comprehend and his Sanskrit language straightforward. The general reader will therefore be able to understand it easily."
Jagad-guru Srila Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada comments, "Even though there are countless expositions, commentaries, and translations of this book in many languages, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura still composed his Sarartha-varsini commentary, which follows the Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava conceptions. He did this especially for the rasika Gaudiya devotees. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura is fourth in disciplic succession from Srila Narottama Thakura and is the guardian and preceptor of the Gaudiya Vaisnava dharma in its intermediate period. This verse about him is most famous:
He is known by the name Visvanatha, the Lord of the universe, because he indicates the path of bhakti, and he is called Cakravarti (he around whom a circle, or assembly, turns) because he always remains in the assembly (cakra) of pure devotees.
"All Gaudiya Vaisnavas know something about Srila Cakravarti Thakura, In particular, those who study the Srimad-Bhagavatam, discuss the Gita and study, teach and deliberate upon the Gaudiya scriptures will surely, to some extent, be aware of his transcendental brilliance. Few authors have appeared among the Gaudiya Vaisnava preceptors who have written as extensive Sanskrit works and commentaries as Srila Cakravarti Mahasaya.
"In the year 1706, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura was very old. He sent his student, gaudiya-vedantacarya, the highly erudite Sripada Baladeva Vidyabhusana, and his disciple, Sri Krsnadeva, to a philosophical assembly in Jaipur. Great misfortune had befallen the members of the Gaudiya sampradaya there because they had forgotten their sampradayika identity and had disregarded Vaisnava Vedanta. To dissipate that misfortune, Sripada Baladeva Vidyabhusana composed an independent treatise on the Brahma-sutra in accordance with the thoughts of the Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya. In this way he rendered a most distinguished service to the sampradaya, which greatly pleased Srila Cakravarti Thakura, This was the second of Srila Cakravarti Thakura's great accomplishments in preaching Vaisnava dharma. It is also a shining example of an approved rectification performed by a non- seminal brahmana and Vaisnava acarya."
SRIMAD BHAGAVAD-GITA is composed by Sri Srimad Krsna Dvaipayana Vedavyasa, the universal teacher and an incarnation of Bhagavan. It constitutes eighteen chapters of Bhisma-parva (Chapters Twenty-five to Forty-two) of his vast epic, Sri Mahabharata.
Svayam Bhagavan Sri Krsna has given very valuable and fundamental instructions to His eternal associate and dear friend Arjuna for the benefit of all human beings, to help them cross the ocean of material existence and attain His lotus feet. To enable deluded conditioned souls like us to pass beyond the delusion of the external, material energy (maya), He made His eternal associate, Arjuna, become as if enchanted by maya so that he would ask questions that correspond to the various eligibilities of the deluded living entities. Sri Krsna then answered those questions Himself, thereby dispelling all kinds of doubts and defining the means by which the living entities can be systematically freed from the delusion of maya.
Srimad Bhagavad-gita is also known as Gitopanisad. It is the essence of all Vedic knowledge and the most significant Upanisad in Vedic literature. Those who constantly study this book with faith, under the shelter of the spiritual master, saintly persons and Vaisnavas will be able to ascertain its true import easily. As a result, they will transcend the ocean of material existence and attain transcendental devotion to the lotus feet of Sri Krsna. In this way, they will become eligible to attain pure love for Him. Of this there is not the slightest doubt.
Nowadays, it is observed that the great thinkers and venerated gentlemen of India revere Srimad Bhagavad-gita. Members of all disciplic lineages (sampradayas) also show great honour and faith in the Gita. Even many celebrated politicians have shown faith in this monarch of books, and philosophers from all countries of the world have lauded it profusely.
Since ancient times, many commentaries have been written on Srimad Bhagavad-gita. Famous among them are the commentaries of prominent monists (advaitavadis), such as Sri Sankaracarya, Sri mad Anandagiri and Sri Madhusudana Sarasvati. Most people study and lecture from these commentaries alone. Some people conclude their study of the Gita with the following commentaries: the principle of specialized monism by visistadvaitavadi Sri Ramanujacarya, the principle of purified monism by suddhadvaitavadi Sridhara Svami, or the principle of pure dualism by suddha-dvaitacarya Sriman Madhvacarya. Furthermore, at present some people also conclude their study with the interpretations of political personalities like Lokamanya Tilaka, Gandhiji and Sri Aravinda. Most people, however, do not receive the good fortune to deeply study the commentary of the proponent of the devotional school of Vedanta established by Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu, sri gaudiya-vedantacarya Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana, who is proficient in cintya-bhedabheda-siddhanta (the principle of inconceivable difference and non-difference), nor the commentary of Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, the crest jewel of Gaudiya Vaisnava preceptors.
The Seventh Gosvami of the Sri Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya and the best among the followers of Sri Rupa Gosvami, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, published in Bengali two editions of the Gita with two different elucidations on its translations, which are based on the import of Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's and Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana's commentaries. His explanations are fundamental and full of beautiful conclusions that follow the rupanuga conception and that are conducive to suddha-bhakti. The transcendental benefit bestowed upon mankind by these two great editions is indescribable. Through his elucidations, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura establishes the eternality, universality and supremacy of bhakti, thereby bestowing the greatest benefit upon those journeying to the kingdom of suddha-bhakti.
THIS EDITION of Srimad Bhagavad-gita is a translation of the Hindi edition presented by of our most beloved Srila Gurudeva, nityalila-pravista om visnupada astottara-sata Sri Sri mad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. It contains a translation of the Sarartha-varsini-tika (commentary that is a shower of essential meanings), which was composed by the eminent Gaudiya Vaisnava acarya Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. That commentary is further elucidated by Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja in his own purport, the Sarartha-varsini Prakasika-vrtti (that which illuminates Sarartha-varsini). He often concludes his exposition with excerpts from the charming commentary of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura named Rasika-ranjana (that which gives joy to those expert in relishing transcendental mellows).
During his manifest pastimes in this world, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Sri Krsna Himself, the speaker of the Gita, demonstrated in His life and precepts the very pinnacle of devotion, which naturally comprises the zenith of the Gita's teachings. Because Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura is Sriman Mahaprabhu's intimate devotee, he is qualified to reveal the deeper imports of Sri Krsna's message therein. To give the reader insight into the intricacy, depth and beauty of the conversation between Sri Krsna and Arjuna, Srila Cakravarti Thakura has employed the traditional style of purva-pahsa, meaning 'objection and resolution of doubt', which creates a continuous flow of questions and answers, thus linking all of the Gita's verses like jewels strung on a necklace. His purports therefore possess the uniqueness of revealing Sri Krsna's inner intention in instructing Arjuna. And they also reveal the doubts that arose in the mind of Arjuna that prompted his questions. The reader is therefore privy to the intimacy of their conversation and is more able to comprehend the reason for the succession of verses.
Moreover, in his commentary, Srila Cakravarti Thakura has revealed that the very essence of Srimad Bhagavad-gita is the four seed verses known as catuh-sloki-gita (Gita 10.8-II). He explains that within these four verses, Sri Krsna bestows bhakti-yoga characterized by spontaneous devotion, which is His exceptional grace upon the living entities. This essence also flows throughout the Gita's other key verses. It would not be possible to discern this without his guidance or the revelation of esteemed Gaudiya commentators like him.
Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja's dedication to disseminating the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His intimate followers such as Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura is unsurpassed. His renowned and endearing speciality (vaisistya) is his inherent unalloyed devotion to the most refined Gaudiya conceptions in the line of Srila Rupa Gosvami, which signifies his perfect alignment with his noble preceptors. It is not possible for him to leave such conceptions for a fraction of a moment, and therefore, it follows that they suffuse all of his Gita purports.
This edition has only come about by the causeless mercy of Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja and Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, Only if they are pleased will we deem our efforts a success. We humbly beg our respected readers to overlook any errors and be patient with any shortcomings in our endeavour to present the words of such illustrious Vaisnava acaryas.
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