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Bhagavad Gita, The

Product no.: 0-911206-09-4
It is the essence of Vedic knowledge and one of the most important Upanishads in Vedic literature.

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Publisher's Synopsis

Here the Lord informs Arjuna that this system of yoga, the Bhagavad-gita, was first spoken to the sun-god, and the sun-god explained it to Manu, and Manu explained it to Ikshavaku, and in that way, by disciplic succession, one speaker after another, this yoga system has been coming down. But in the course of time it has become lost.

Consequently the Lord has to speak it again, this time to Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra. After hearing Bhagavad-gita from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Arjuna accepted Krishna as param brahma, the Supreme Brahman. Every living being is Brahman, but the supreme living being, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the Supreme Brahman.

The Lord teaches through The Gita that if a man performs his duties, surrendering the fruit to God and discarding all selfish motives, he gains purity of heart and achieves ultimate liberation. It is knowledge of God that gives man the strength to face calmly and cheerfully the duties of life. The Gita shows the way to spiritualize life and illumine even its drab and grey phases with the radiance of the Spirit.

"The first really readable, authoritative English translation of one of the world's oldest and greatest religious classics."       ~Time

"No one who desires to grasp the spirit of religious aspiration of India can afford to remain unacquainted with this, The Lord's Song. It is, in a sense, the New Testament of Hinduism. It had an important message to a people whose religious ideal tended to be contemplative and mystical, who had the genius to reveal to the world that ultimate goal for thought and reverence sometimes called The Absolute, the One without a second. Its message was the meaning of action, the justification even of warfare in the light of union with the Ultimate."        ~William Ernest Hocking, Foreword

"There are in existence many English translations of the Bhagavad Gita. The present translator has profitably consulted two of these, one by D. S. Sarma and the other by A. Mahadeva Sastri. In addition, he has looked into Essays on the Gita by Sri Aurobindo. The works of Margaret E. Noble (Sister Nivedita) and Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy have proved useful in the writing of the story of the Mahabharata. He has also received invaluable help from Mr. Denver Lindley and Mr. Joseph Campbell, who revised the manuscript. It is a real pleasure to acknowledge the translator's indebtedness to them all.

Humanity is now passing through a critical stage of transition. Many branches of physical science, psychology, sociology, and humanism are placing every day at our disposal a wealth of facts of which hitherto we have been unaware. They need collation and synthesis in order to be useful to the life of the individual and society. There is also the primal antithesis between this world and the other world, between secular duties and spiritual values. Men are confused and picture life as full of shreds and patches. But they feel a profound need of seeing life as a seamless garment. To those who sincerely seek, the Bhagavad Gita may be a means of coordinating these apparently contradictory facts."         ~Nikhilananda, New York, 1943
Chapter Twelve



Arjuna said: Those devotees who, ever steadfast, worship You after this fashion, and those others who worship the Imperishable and Unmanifest-which of these have greater knowledge of yoga?

Ever steadfast-Always united with the Lord through actions performed for the Lord's sake. These devotees have the Lord alone for their support. They constantly meditate on His manifested Universal Form and work as His instruments, surrendering the results to Him.

After this fashion-Referring to the last verse of the preceding chapter (XI, 55).

Those others etc.-Referring to the sannyasis, who renounce all desires and actions in order to realize their oneness with Brahman.

Worship-The word is used here in the sense of meditation or contemplation. It is obvious that worship implying a subject and object cannot be applied to the aspirant seeking the Knowledge of Brahman.

Unmanifest-Inapprehensible by the senses, since Brahman is devoid of all upadhis, or limiting adjuncts.

Aspirants can meditate on the Godhead in two ways. The devotees of the Impersonal Brahman regard It as the incomprehensible, indefinable, formless, relationless, actionless, featureless, attributeless, and transcendental Absolute. The devotees of the Personal God regard the Godhead as the Lord of the universe, the Supreme Person, the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, the omniscient and omnipresent Lord, endowed with the Universal Form and possessed of the great powers of yoga. The Absolute never puts on any form, abstains from all action, enters into no relation with the universe, and is eternally silent and immutable; but the Personal God is our Lord and Master, the Source and Origin of all beings, immanent in all things, manifest in both nature and living beings as their inmost Self. Both these aspects of the Godhead have been described by Krishna in the Gita, though with an emphasis on the Impersonal aspect in Chapters Two through Ten. The eleventh chapter deals with the Universal Form of the Godhead and ends with an exhortation to Arjuna to worship It as the Lord of the universe. Now Arjuna asks which of the two methods of worship is better: meditation on the Impersonal or worship of the Lord through work and love.


Swami Nikhilananda, a direct disciple of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi, was born in a small Indian village in 1895 and was ordained a monk of the Ramakrishna Order in 1924. After spending several years in the Himalayan monastery of his Order, during which time he made a study of Hinduism and other systems of philosophy and religion, he was sent to America in 1931.

He founded the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York in 1933 and was its spiritual leader until his passing away in 1973.

Commentary Shankara
Translator Nikhilananda, Swami
Book Type Hardcover
Page Count 386 pp.
Publisher Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center 1992
Platinum Medal

Platinum Medal


Platinum Medal Essential Reading

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