COMPLETE EDITION with original Sanskrit text, Roman transliteration, English equivalents, translation and elaborate purports His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupäda Collier Books A Division of Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. NEW YORK Collier Macmillan Publishers LONDON To ÇRÉLA BALADEVA VIDYÄBHÜÑAËA who presented so nicely the “Govinda-bhäñya”commentary on Vedänta philosophy
The Bhagavad-gétä is the best known and the most frequently translated of Vedic religious texts. Why it should be so appealing to the Western mind is an interesting question. It has drama, for its setting is a scene of two great armies, banners flying, drawn up opposite one another on the field, poised for battle. It has ambiguity, and the fact thatArjuna
Copyright © 1998 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust Int'l. All Rights Reserved.
and his charioteer Kåñëa are carrying on their dialogue between the two armies suggests the indecision of Arjuna about the basic question: should he enter battle against and kill those who are friends and kinsmen? It has mystery, as Kåñëa demonstrates to Arjuna His cosmic form. It has a properly complicated viewof the ways of the religious life and treats of the paths of knowledge, works, discipline and faith and their interrelationships, problems that have bothered adherents of other religions in other times and places. The devotion spoken of is a deliberate means of religious satisfaction, not a mere outpouring of poetic emotion. Next to the Bhägavata-puräëa, a long work from South India, the Gétä isthe text most frequently quoted in the philosophical writings of the Gauòéya Vaiñëava school, the school represented by Swami Bhaktivedanta as the latest in a long succession of teachers. It can be said that this school of Vaiñëavism was founded, or revived, by Çré Kåñëa-Caitanya Mahäprabhu (1486-1533) in Bengal, and that it is currently the strongest single religious force in the eastern part ofthe Indian subcontinent. The Gauòiya Vaiñëava school, for whom Kåñëa is Himself the Supreme God, and not merely an incarnation of another deity, sees bhakti as an immediate and powerful religious force, consisting of love between man and God. Its discipline consists of devoting all one’s actions to the Deity, and one listens to the stories of Kåñëa from the sacred texts, one chants Kåñëa’s name,washes, bathes, and dresses the mürti of Kåñëa, feeds Him and takes the remains of the food offered to Him, thus absorbing His grace; one does these things and many more, until one has been changed: the devotee has become transformed into one close to Kåñëa, and sees the Lord face to face. Swami Bhaktivedanta comments upon the Gétä from this point of view, and that is legitimate. More than that, inthis translation the Western reader has the unique opportunity of seeing how a Kåñëa devotee interprets his own texts. It is the Vedic exegetical tradition, justly famous, in action. This book is then a welcome addition from many points of view. It can serve as a valuable textbook for the college student. It allows us to listen to a skilled interpreter explicating a text which has profoundreligious meaning. It gives us insights into the original and highly convincing ideas of the Gauòiya Vaiñëava school. In providing the Sanskrit in both Devanagari and transliteration, it offers the Sanskrit specialist the opportunity to re-interpret, or debate particular Sanskrit meanings—although I think there will be little disagreement about the
Copyright © 1998 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust Int'l.All Rights Reserved.
quality of the Swami’s Sanskrit scholarship. And finally, for the nonspecialist, there is readable English and a devotional attitude which cannot help but move the sensitive reader. And there are the paintings, which, incredibly as it may seem to those familiar with contemporary Indian religious art, were done by American devotees. The scholar, the student of Gauòéya...