The Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita (Sanskrit भगवद्गीता, Bhagavad Gītā, "Song of God") is one of the most important Hindu scriptures. It is revered as a sacred scripture of Hinduism, and considered as one of the most important philosophical classics of the world. The Bhagavad Gita comprises 700 verses, and is a part of the Mahabharata. The teacher of the Bhagavad Gita is Krishna, Who is revered by Hindus as a manifestation of the Lord Himself, and is referred to within as Bhagavan—the Divine One. The Bhagavad Gita is commonly referred to as the Gita for short.
The content of the Gita is the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna taking place on the battlefield before the start of the Kurukshetra war. Responding to Arjuna's confusion and moral dilemma, Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and prince and elaborates on different Yogic and Vedantic philosophies, with examples and analogies. This has led to the Gita often being described as a concise guide to Hindu theology and also as a practical, self-contained guide to life. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi describes it as a lighthouse of eternal wisdom that has the ability to inspire any man or woman to supreme accomplishment and enlightenment. During the discourse, Krishna reveals His identity as the Supreme Being Himself (Svayam Bhagavan), blessing Arjuna with an awe-inspiring vision of His divine universal form.
The Bhagavad Gita is also called Gītopaniṣad, implying its having the status of an Upanishad, i.e. a Vedantic scripture. Since the Gita is drawn from the Mahabharata, it is classified as a Smṛti text. However, those branches of Hinduism that give it the status of an Upanishad also consider it a śruti or "revealed" text. As it is taken to represent a summary of the Upanishadic teachings, it is also called "the Upanishad of the Upanishads". Another title is mokṣaśāstra, or "Scripture of Liberation".
Date and text
The Bhagavad Gita occurs in the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata and comprises 18 chapters from the 25th through 42nd and consists of 700 verses. Its authorship is traditionally ascribed to Vyasa, the compiler of the Mahabharata. Because of differences in recensions the verses of the Gita may be numbered in the full text of the Mahabharata as chapters 6.25–42 or as chapters 6.23–40. According to the recension of the Gita commented on by Shankaracharya, the number of verses is 700, but there is evidence to show that old manuscripts had 745 verses. The verses themselves, using the range and style of Sanskrit meter (chhandas) with similes and metaphors, are written in a poetic form that is traditionally chanted.
The Bhagavad Gītā is later than the great movement represented by the early Upanishads and earlier than the period of the development of the philosophic systems and their formulation. The date and the author of the Gītā is not known with certainty and scholars of an earlier generation opined that it was composed between the 5th and the 2nd century BCE. Radhakrishnan, for example, asserted that the origin of the Gītā is definitely in the pre-Christian era. More recent assessments of Sanskrit literature, however, have tended to bring the chronological horizon of the texts down in time. In the case of the Gītā, John Brockington has now made cogent arguments that it can be placed in the first century CE.
Based on claims of differences in the poetic styles some scholars like Jinarajadasa have argued that the Bhagavad Gītā was added to the Mahābhārata at a later date.
Within the text of the Bhagavad Gītā itself, Krishna states that the knowledge of Yoga contained in the Gītā was first instructed to mankind at the very beginning of their existence.
Although the original date of composition of the Bhagavad Gita is not clear, its teachings are considered timeless and the exact time of revelation of the scripture is considered of little spiritual significance by scholars like Bansi Pandit, and Juan Mascaro. Swami Vivekananda dismisses concerns about differences of opinion regarding the historical events as unimportant for study of the Gita from the point of acquirement of Dharma.
The main theme of the Mahabharata is the exploits of two families of royal cousins, known as the Pandavas and the Kauravas, who were the sons of two brothers, Pandu and Dhritarashtra, respectively. Since Dhritarashtra was born blind, Pandu inherited the ancestral kingdom, comprising a part of northern India around modern Delhi. The Pandava brothers were Yudhishthira the eldest, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva. The Kaurava brothers were one hundred in number, Duryodhana being the eldest. When Pandu died at an early age, his young children were placed under the care of their uncle Dhritarashtra who usurped the throne.
The Pandavas and the Kauravas were brought up together in the same household and had the same teachers, the most notable of whom were Bhishma and Dronacharya. Bhishma, the wise grandsire, acted as their chief guardian, and the brahmin Drona was their military instructor. The Pandavas were endowed with righteousness, self-control, nobility, and many other knightly traits. On the other hand, the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra, especially Duryodhana, were endowed with negative qualities and were cruel, unrighteous, unscrupulous, greedy, and lustful. Duryodhana being jealous of his five cousins, contrived various means to destroy them.
When the time came to crown Yudhisthira, the eldest of the pandavas as the prince, Duryodhana, through a crooked game of dice, exiled the Pandavas into the forest. On their return from banishment the Pandavas demanded the return of their legitimate kingdom. Duryodhana who had consolidated his power by many alliances, refused to restore their legal and moral rights. Attempts by elders and Krishna who was a friend of the Pandavas and also a well wisher of the Kauravas, to resolve the issue failed. Nothing would satisfy Duryodhana's inordinate greed.
War became inevitable. Both Duryodhana and Arjuna requested Krishna to support them in fighting the war, since he possessed the strongest army, and was revered as the wisest teacher and the greatest yogi. Krishna offered to give his vast army to one of them and to become a charioteer and counselor for the other, but he would not to touch any weapon nor to participate in the battle in any manner. While Duryodhana chose Krishna's vast army, Arjuna preferred to have Krishna as his charioteer. The whole realm responded to the call of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The kings, princes, and knights of India with their armies, assembled on the sacred plain of Kurukshetra. The blind king Dhritharashtra wished to follow the progress of the battle. The sage Vyasa offered to endow him with supernatural sight; but the king refused the boon, for he felt that the sight of the destruction of his near and dear ones would be too much for him to bear. Thereupon Vyasa bestowed supernatural sight on Sanjaya, who was to act as reporter to Dhritarashtra. The Gita opens with the question of the blind king to Sanjaya regarding what happened on the battlefield when the two armies faced each other in battle array.
The discourse on the Bhagavad Gita begins before the start of the climactic battle at Kurukshetra. It begins with the Pandava prince Arjuna, as he becomes filled with doubt on the battlefield. Realizing that his enemies are his own relatives, beloved friends, and revered teachers, he turns to his charioteer and guide, Krishna, for advice.
- Ishvara (The Supreme Controller)
- Jiva (Living beings/the individualized soul)
- Prakrti (Nature/Matter)
- Dharma (Duty in accordance with Divine law)
- Kaala (Time)
Krishna counsels Arjuna on the greater idea of dharma or universal harmony and duty. He begins with the tenet that the soul (Atman) is eternal and immortal. Any 'death' on the battlefield would involve only the shedding of the body, but the soul is permanent. Arjuna's hesitation stems from a lack of right understanding of the 'nature of things,' the privileging of the unreal over the real. His fear and hesitance become impediments to the proper balancing of the universal dharmic order. Essentially, Arjuna wishes to abandon the battle, to abstain from action; Krishna warns, however, that without action, the cosmos would fall out of order and truth would be obscured.
In order to clarify his point, Krishna expounds the various Yoga processes and understanding of the true nature of the universe. Krishna describes the yogic paths of devotional service, action, meditation and knowledge. Fundamentally, the Bhagavad Gita proposes that true enlightenment comes from growing beyond identification with the temporal ego, the 'False Self', the ephemeral world, so that one identifies with the truth of the immortal self, the absolute soul or Atman. Through detachment from the material sense of ego, the Yogi, or follower of a particular path of Yoga, is able to transcend his/her illusory mortality and attachment to the material world and enter the realm of the Supreme.
It should be noted, however, that Krishna does not propose that the physical world must be forgotten or neglected. Indeed, it is quite the opposite: one's life on earth must be lived in accordance with greater laws and truths, one must embrace one's temporal duties whilst remaining mindful of a more timeless reality, acting for the sake of service without consideration for the results thereof. Such a life would naturally lead towards stability, happiness and ultimately, enlightenment.
To demonstrate his divine nature, Krishna grants Arjuna the boon of cosmic vision (albeit temporary) and allows the prince to see his 'Universal Form' (this occurs in the eleventh chapter). He reveals that he is fundamentally both the ultimate essence of Being in the universe and also its material body, called the Vishvarupa ('Universal Form').
In the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna refers to the war about to take place as 'Dharma Yuddha', meaning a righteous war for the purpose of justice. In Chapter 4, Krishna states that he incarnates in each age (yuga) to establish righteousness in the world.
War as an allegory
There are many who regard the story of the Gita as an allegory; Swami Nikhilananda, for example, takes Arjuna as an allegory of Atman, Krishna as an allegory of Brahman, Arjuna's chariot as the body, etc.  Compare to this the chariot allegory found in the Katha Upanishad.
Mahatma Gandhi, throughout his life and his own commentary on the Gita, interpreted the battle as "an allegory in which the battlefield is the soul and Arjuna, man's higher impulses struggling against evil." Swami Vivekananda also said that the first discourse in the Gita related to war can be taken allegorically. Vivekananda further remarks, "this Kurukshetra War is only an allegory. When we sum up its esoteric significance, it means the war which is constantly going on within man between the tendencies of good and evil."
In Sri Aurobindo's view, Krishna was a historical figure, but his significance in the Gita is as a "symbol of the divine dealings with humanity"; while Arjuna typifies a "struggling human soul." However, Aurobindo rejects the interpretation that the Gita, and the Mahabharata by extension, is "an allegory of the inner life, and has nothing to do with our outward human life and actions": “ ...That is a view which the general character and the actual language of the epic does not justify and, if pressed, would turn the straightforward philosophical language of the Gita into a constant, laborious and somewhat puerile mystification....the Gita is written in plain terms and professes to solve the great ethical and spiritual difficulties which the life of man raises, and it will not do to go behind this plain language and thought and wrest them to the service of our fancy. But there is this much of truth in the view, that the setting of the doctrine though not symbolical, is certainly typical... ”
Overview of chapters
The Gita consists of eighteen chapters in total:
- 1. Arjuna requests Krishna to move his chariot between the two armies. When Arjuna sees his relatives on the opposing army side of the Kurus, he loses courage and decides not to fight.
- 2. After asking Krishna for help, Arjuna is instructed that only the body may be killed as he was worried if it would become a sin to kill people (including his gurus and relatives), while the eternal self is immortal. Krishna appeals to Arjuna that as a warrior he has a duty to uphold the path of dharma through warfare.
- 3. Arjuna asks why he should engage in fighting if knowledge is more important than action. Krishna stresses to Arjuna that performing his duties for the greater good, but without attachment to results is the appropriate course of action.
- 4. Krishna reveals that he has lived through many births, always teaching Yoga for the protection of the pious and the destruction of the impious and stresses the importance of accepting a guru.
- 5. Arjuna asks Krishna if it is better to forgo action or to act. Krishna answers that both ways may be beneficent, but that acting in Karma Yoga is superior.
- 6. Krishna describes the correct posture for meditation and the process of how to achieve samadhi.
- 7. Krishna teaches the path of knowledge (Jnana Yoga).
- 8. Krishna defines the terms brahman, adhyatma, karma, atman, adhibhuta and adhidaiva and explains how one can remember him at the time of death and attain his supreme abode.
- 9. Krishna explains panentheism, "all beings are in me" as a way of remembering him in all circumstances.
- 10. Krishna describes how he is the ultimate source of all material and spiritual worlds. Arjuna accepts Krishna as the Supreme Being, quoting great sages who have also done so.
- 11. On Arjuna's request, Krishna displays his "universal form" (Viśvarūpa), a theophany of a being facing every way and emitting the radiance of a thousand suns, containing all other beings and material in existence.
- 12. Krishna describes the process of devotional service (Bhakti Yoga).
- 13. Krishna describes nature (prakrti), the enjoyer (purusha) and consciousness.
- 14. Krishna explains the three modes (gunas) of material nature.
- 15. Krishna describes a symbolic tree (representing material existence), its roots in the heavens and its foliage on earth. Krishna explains that this tree should be felled with the "axe of detachment", after which one can go beyond to his supreme abode.
- 16. Krishna tells of the human traits of the divine and the demonic natures. He counsels that to attain the supreme destination one give up lust, anger and greed, discern between right and wrong action by evidence from scripture and thus act rightly.
- 17. Krishna tells of three divisions of faith and the thoughts, deeds and even eating habits corresponding to the three gunas.
- 18. In conclusion, Krishna asks Arjuna to abandon all forms of dharma and simply surrender unto him. He describes this as the ultimate perfection of life.
Message or the summary of the Gita
Several scholars and philosophers have tried to summarise the central teaching of the Bhagavad Gita.
The Gita centers on the revelation of Vaishna monotheism, offering the alternative of just war, even against relatives provided the aggression is in the "active and selfless defence of dharma", to the pacifist Hindu concept of non-violence.  Some commentators have attempted to resolve the apparent conflict between the proscription of violence and ahimsa by allegorical readings. Gandhi for example took the position that the text isn't concerned with actual warfare so much as with the "battle that goes on within each individual heart". Such allegorical or metaphorical readings are derived from Theosophical interpretations due to Subba Row, William Q. Judge and Annie Besant. Stephen Mitchell has attempted to refute such allegorical readings.
Scholar Radhakrishnan writes that the verse 11.55 is the "the essence of bhakti" and the "substance of the whole teaching of the Gita"— “ He who does work for Me, he who looks upon Me as his goal, he who worships Me, free from attachment, who is free from enmity to all creatures, he goes to Me, O Pandava. ”
Scholar Steven Rosen summarizes the Gita in four basic, concise verses:  “
" I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from me. The Wise who fully realize this engage in my devotional service and worship me with all their hearts." (10.8) "My pure devotees are absorbed in thoughts of me, and they experience fulfillment and bliss by enlightening one another and conversing about me." (10.9) "To those who are continually devoted and worship me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to me." (10.10) "Out of compassion for them, I, residing in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance." (10.11) ”
Ramakrishna said that the essential message of the Gita can be obtained by repeating the word several times, "'Gita, Gita, Gita', you begin, but then find yourself saying 'ta-Gi, ta-Gi, ta-Gi'. Tagi means one who has renounced everything for God."
According to Swami Vivekananda, "If one reads this one Shloka —क्लैब्यं मा स्म गमः पार्थ नैतत्त्वय्युपपद्यते । क्षुद्रं हृदयदौर्बल्यं त्यक्त्वोत्तिष्ठ परंतप॥ — one gets all the merits of reading the entire Gita; for in this one Shloka lies imbedded the whole Message of the Gita."— “ Do not yield to unmanliness, O son of Pritha. It does not become you. Shake off this base faint-heartnedness and arise, O scorcher of enemies! (2.3) ”
Mahatma Gandhi writes, "The object of the Gita appears to me to be that of showing the most excellent way to attain self-realization" and Gandhi writes that this can be achieved by selfless action—"By desireless action; by renouncing fruits of action; by dedicating all activities to God, i.e., by surrendering oneself to Him body and soul." Gandhi called Gita, The Gospel of Selfless Action.
In a heterogeneous text, the Gita reconciles facets and schools of Hindu philosophy, including those of Brahmanical (orthodox Vedic) origin and the parallel ascetic and Yogic traditions. It had always been a creative text for Hindu priests and Yogis. Although it is not strictly part of the 'canon' of Vedic writings, almost all Hindu traditions draw upon the Gita as authoritative. For the Vedantic schools of Hindu philosophy, it belongs to one of the three foundational texts Prasthana Trayi (lit. "three points of departure"), the other two being the Upanishads and Brahma Sutras.
"[T]he authority and influence of the Bhagavad Gita is such that...It has been called "India's favourite Bible", and with its emphasis on selfless service it was a prime source of inspiration for Mahatma Gandhi." Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the founder of Gaudiya Vaishnavism has also been inspired by the Gita.
J. Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist and director of the Manhattan Project, learned Sanskrit in 1933 and read the Bhagavad Gita in the original, citing it later as one of the most influential books to shape his philosophy of life. Upon witnessing the world's first nuclear test in 1945, he later claimed to have thought of the quotation "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds", verse 32 from Chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita.
Traditionally the commentators belong to spiritual traditions or schools (sampradaya) and Guru lineages (parampara), which claim to preserve teaching stemming either directly from Krishna himself or from other sources, each claiming to be faithful to the original message. In the words of Hiriyanna, "[The Gita] is one of the hardest books to interpret, which accounts for the numerous commentaries on it - each differing from the rest in an essential point or the other."
Different translators and commentators have widely differing views on what multi-layered Sanskrit words and passages signify, and their presentation in English depending on the sampradaya they are affiliated to. Especially in Western philology, interpretations of particular passages often do not agree with traditional views.
The oldest and most influential medieval commentary was that of the founder of the Vedanta school of extreme 'non-dualism", Shankara (788-820 A. D.), also known as Shankaracharya (Sanskrit: Śaṅkarācārya). Shankara's commentary was based on a recension of the Gita containing 700 verses, and that recension has been widely adopted by others. There is not universal agreement that he was the actual author of the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita that is attributed to him. A key commentary for the "modified non-dualist" school of Vedanta was written by Ramanujacharya (Sanskrit: Rāmānujacharya), who lived in the eleventh century A.D. Ramanujacharya's commentary chiefly seeks to show that the discipline of devotion to God (Bhakti yoga) is the way of salvation. The commentary by Madhva, whose dates are given either as (b. 1199 - d. 1276) or as (b. 1238 - d. 1317), also known as Madhvacharya (Sanskrit: Madhvācārya), exemplifies thinking of the "dualist" school. Madhva's school of dualism asserts that there is, in a quotation provided by Winthrop Sargeant, "an eternal and complete distinction between the Supreme, the many souls, and matter and its divisions." Madhva is also considered to be one of the great commentators reflecting the viewpoint of the Vedanta school.
In the Shaiva tradition, the renowned philosopher Abhinavagupta (10-11th century CE) has written a commentary on a slightly variant recension called Gitartha-Samgraha.
Other classical commentators include Nimbarka (1162 AD), Vallabha(1479 AD)., while Dnyaneshwar (1275-1296 AD) translated and commented on the Gita in Marathi, in his book Dnyaneshwari.
In modern times notable commentaries were written by Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi, who used the text to help inspire the Indian independence movement. Tilak wrote his commentary while in jail during the period 1910-1911, while he was serving a six-year sentence imposed by the British colonial government in India for sedition. While noting that the Gita teaches possible paths to liberation, his commentary places most emphasis on Karma yoga. No book was more central to Gandhi's life and thought than the Bhagavadgita, which he referred to as his "spiritual dictionary". During his stay in Yeravda jail in 1929, Gandhi wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita in Gujarati. The Gujarati manuscript was translated into English by Mahadev Desai, who provided an additional introduction and commentary. It was published with a Foreword by Gandhi in 1946. Mahatma Gandhi expressed his love for the Gita in these words:
I find a solace in the Bhagavadgītā that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount. When disappointment stares me in the face and all alone I see not one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavagītā. I find a verse here and a verse there and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming tragedies - and my life has been full of external tragedies - and if they have left no visible, no indelible scar on me, I owe it all to the teaching of Bhagavadgītā.
Other notable modern commentators include Sri Aurobindo, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and Swami Vivekananda, who took a syncretistic approach to the text.
Swami Vivekananda, the follower of Sri Ramakrishna, was known for his commentaries on the four Yogas - Bhakti, Jnana, Karma and Raja Yoga. He drew from his knowledge of the Gita to expound on these Yogas. Swami Sivananda advises the aspiring Yogi to read verses from the Bhagavad Gita every day. Paramahamsa Yogananda, writer of the famous Autobiography of a Yogi, viewed the Bhagavad Gita as one of the world's most divine scriptures. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, wrote Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is-a commentary on the Gita from the perspective of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. In 1965, the modern sage Maharishi Mahesh Yogi published his own commentary of the Gita and proclaimed his technique of Transcendental Meditation to be the practical procedure for experiencing the field of absolute Being described by Lord Krishna.
- Pandit, Bansi. Explore Hinduism. p. 27.
- Hume, Robert Ernest (1959). The world's living religions. p. 29.
- Nikhilananda, Swami. "Introduction". The Bhagavad Gita. p. 1.
- "Bhagavan". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://www.vedabase.net/b/bhagavan. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita
- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; On The Bhagavad Gita; A New Translation and Commentary With Sanskrit Text Chapters 1 to 6, Preface p.9
- The phrase marking the end of each chapter identifies the book as Gītopanishad. The book is identified as "the essence of the Upanishads" in the Gītā-māhātmya 6, quoted in the introduction to Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, A.C. (1983). Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. Los Angeles: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. http://vedabase.net/bg. .
- Thomas B. Coburn, "Scripture" in India: Towards a Typology of the Word in Hindu Life, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 52, No. 3 (Sep., 1984), pp. 435-459. JSTOR 1464202
- Tapasyananda, p. 1.
- Nikhilananda, Swami (1944). "Introduction". The Bhagavad Gita. Advaita Ashrama. p. xxiv.
- Swarupananda, Swami (1909). "FOREWORD". Srimad-Bhagavad-Gita. http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbg/sbg03.htm.
- Radhakrishnan, S. (2002). "Introductory Essay". The Bhagavad Gita. HarperCollins. pp. 14–15.
- Vivekananda, Swami. "Lectures and Discourses ~ Thoughts on the Gita". The Complete works of Swami Vivekananda. 4. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Complete_Works_of_Swami_Vivekananda/Volume_4/Lectures_and_Discourses/Thoughts_on_the_Gita.
- The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) electronic edition. Electronic text (C) Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune, India, 1999.
- Gambhiranda (1997), p. xvii.
- Juan Mascaro; Simon Brodbeck (2003). "Translator's introduction to 1962 edition". The Bhagavad Gita. Penguin Classics. p. xlviii.
- Zaehner, Robert Charles (1973). The Bhagavad-Gita. Oxford University Press. p. 7. "As with most major religious texts in India, no firm date can be assigned to the Gītā. It seems certain, however, that it was written later than the 'classical' Upanishads with the possible exception of the Maitrī which was post-Buddhistic. One would probably not be going far wrong if one dated it at some time between the fifth and the second centuries B. C."
- John Brockington, The Sanskrit Epics (Leiden, 1998)
- C. Jinarajadasa (1915). "The Bhagavad Gita". Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras. India. http://www.theosophical.ca/BhagavadGitaCJ.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-24. "…an analysis of the epic shows at once by differences of style and by linguistic and other peculiarities, that it was composed at different times and by different hands"
- For a brief review of the literature supporting this view see: Radhakrihnan, pp. 14-15.
- Bhagavad Gita Chapter 4, Text 1: vivasvan manave praha, manur ikshvakave 'bravit
- Mascaro, Juan; Simon Brodbeck. The Bhagavad Gita. p. xlviii. "Scholars differ as to the date of the Bhagavad Gita; but as the roots of this great poem are in Eternity the date of its revelation in time is of little spiritual importance."
- Vivekananda, Swami. "Thoughts on the Gita". The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. Advaita Ashrama. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Complete_Works_of_Swami_Vivekananda/Volume_4/Lectures_and_Discourses/Thoughts_on_the_Gita. "One thing should be especially remembered here, that there is no connection between these historical researches and our real aim, which is the knowledge that leads to the acquirement of Dharma. Even if the historicity of the whole thing is proved to be absolutely false today, it will not in the least be any loss to us. Then what is the use of so much historical research, you may ask. It has its use, because we have to get at the truth; it will not do for us to remain bound by wrong ideas born of ignorance."
- Nikhilananda, Swami (1944). Introduction. p. xiii.
- Rama, Swami (1985). Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita. Himalayan Institute Press. p. 10.
- Nikhilananda, Swami (1944). Introduction. pp. xiv-xv.
- Nikhilananda, Swami (1944). Introduction. p. xvi.
- Rama, Swami (1985). Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita. Himalayan Institute Press. p. 11.
- Rama, Swami (1985). Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita. Himalayan Institute Press. p. 12.
- Nikhilananda, Swami (1944). Introduction. p. vii.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Introduction". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://bhagavadgitaasitis.com/introduction/en1. Retrieved 2008-01-14. "The subject of the Bhagavad-gita entails the comprehension of five basic truths"
- Ramanuja's translation BG 2.12 "...you have always existed. It is not that 'all of us', I and you, shall cease to be 'in the future', i.e., beyond the present time; we shall always exist. Even as no doubt can be entertained that I, the Supreme Self and Lord of all, am eternal, likewise, you (Arjuna and all others) who are embodied selves, also should be considered eternal."
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter 12: Devotional Service". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://bhagavadgitaasitis.com/12/en1. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter 3: Karma Yoga". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://bhagavadgitaasitis.com/3/en1. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter 6: Dhyana Yoga". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://bhagavadgitaasitis.com/6/en1. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter 2:Summary (containing jnana)". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://bhagavadgitaasitis.com/2/en1. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "B-Gita 8.10 Bhagavad-gita As It Is, verse 8.10". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://vedabase.net/bg/8/10/ B-Gita 8.10. Retrieved 2008-01-14. "by the strength of yoga, with an undeviating mind, engages himself in remembering the Supreme Lord in full devotion, will certainly attain to the Supreme"
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter 11:Universal Form". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://bhagavadgitaasitis.com/11/en1. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Verse 4.8". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://bhagavadgitaasitis.com/4/8/en1. Retrieved 2008-01-14. "to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear"
- "Arjuna represents the individual soul, and Sri Krishna the Supreme Soul dwelling in every heart. Arjuna's chariot is the body. The blind king Dhritarashtra is the mind under the spell of ignorance, and his hundred sons are man's numerous evil tendencies. The battle, a perennial one, is between the power of good and the power of evil. The warrior who listens to the advice of the Lord speaking from within will triumph in this battle and attain the Highest Good." Nikhilananda, Swami (1944). "Introduction". The Bhagavad Gita. p. 2.
- Gandhi, Mohandas K., The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi Berkeley Hills Books, Berkeley 2000
- Fischer, Louis: Gandhi: His Life and Message to the World Mentor, New York 1954, pp. 15-16
- Vivekananda, Swami. "Sayings and Utterances". The Complete works of Swami Vivekananda. 5. p. 416.
- Aurobindo, Sri (1995). "The divine teacher". Essays on the Gita. Lotus Press. p. 15. ISBN 0914955187.
- Aurobindo, Sri (1995). "The human disciple". Essays on the Gita. Lotus Press. p. 17-18. ISBN 0914955187.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Verse 6.47". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://bhagavadgitaasitis.com/6/47/en1. Retrieved 2008-01-14. "And of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me -- he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion."
- Gambhirananda (1998), p. 16.
- Gambhiranda (1997), p. xx.
- Radhakrishnan 1993, p. 119
- Radhakrishnan 1993, p. 120
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Verse 5.11". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://vedabase.net/bg/5/11. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- Radhakrishnan 1993, pp. 125-126
- Cornille, Catherine, ed., 2006. Song Divine: Christian Commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita." Leuven: Peeters. p. 2.
- For quotation and summarizing bhakti as "a mode of worship which consists of unceasing and loving remembrance of God" see: Sampatkumaran, p. xxiii.
- Radhakrishan(1970), ninth edition, Blackie and son India Ltd., p.211, Verse 6.47
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Verse 8.15". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://vedabase.net/bg/8/15. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Verse 12.6". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://vedabase.net/bg/12/6. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Verse 14.26". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://vedabase.net/bg/14/26. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Verse 18.65". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://vedabase.net/bg/18/65. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Verse 18.66". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://vedabase.net/bg/18/66. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Verse 13.31". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://vedabase.net/bg/13/31. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. "Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Verse 13.35". Bhaktivedanta VedaBase Network (ISKCON). http://vedabase.net/bg/13/35. Retrieved 2008-01-14.
- For example, the first line of the Bhagavad Gita is dhṛtarāşţra uvāca, which occurs immediately after the last line of the preceding chapter in the full Sanskrit text of the Mahabharata: | 6.23.1 dhṛtarāşţra uvāca | 6.23.1a dharmakşetre kurukṣetre samavetā yuyutsavaḥ || Source: Electronic text (C) Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune, India, 1999. Electronic edition downloaded from: .
- Chidbhavananda, p. 33.
- Sivananda, p. 3.
- Tapasyananda, p. 13
- Radhakrishnan, p. 79.
- Zaehner, passim.
- Sivananda, p. xvii.
- Sargeant, p. xix.
- "Strength founded on the Truth and the dharmic use of force are thus the Gita's answer to pacifism and non-violence. Rooted in the ancient Indian genius, this third way can only be practised by those who have risen above egoism, above asuric ambition or greed. The Gita certainly does not advocate war; what it advocates is the active and selfless defence of dharma. If sincerely followed, its teaching could have altered the course of human history. It can yet alter the course of Indian history." Michel Danino, "Greatest Gospel of Spiritual Works" in New Indian Express (10 December 2000).
- Steven J. Rosen, Krishna's Song (2007), ISBN 9780313345531, pp. 22f.
- Radhakrishnan, S (1974). "XI. The Lord's Transfiguration". The Bhagavad Gita. HarperCollins. p. 289.
- Rosen, Steven; Graham M. Schweig. "The Bhagavad-Gita and the life of Lord Krishna". Essential Hinduism. p. 121.
- Isherwood, Christopher (1964). "The Story Begins". Ramakrishna and his Disciples. p. 9.
- Vivekananda, Swami. "Thoughts on the Gita". The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. 4. Advaita Ashrama. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Complete_Works_of_Swami_Vivekananda/Volume_4/Lectures_and_Discourses/Thoughts_on_the_Gita.
- Gandhi, M.K. (1933). "Introduction". The Gita According to Gandhi. http://www.wikilivres.info/wiki/The_Gita_According_to_Gandhi/Introduction.
- James A. Hijiya, "The Gita of Robert Oppenheimer" Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 144, no. 2 (June 2000). 
- See Robert_Oppenheimer#Trinity for other refs
- "Karma Capitalism". Business Week. The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.. 2006-10-30. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_44/b4007091.htm. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
- Singh pp.54-55
- For Shankara's commentary falling within the Vedanta school of tradition, see: Flood (1996), p. 124.
- Dating for Shankara as 788-820 AD is from: Sargeant, p. xix.
- Zaehner, p. 3.
- Gambhirananda (1997), p. xviii.
- Flood (1996), p. 240.
- For classification of Ramanujacharya's commentary as within the Vedanta school see: Flood (1996), p. 124.
- Gambhirananda (1997), p. xix.
- Sampatkumaran, p. xx.
- Dating of 1199-1276 for Madhva is from: Gambhirananda (1997), p. xix.
- For classification of Madhva's commentary as within the Vedanta school see: Flood (1996), p. 124.
- For classification of Abhinavagupta's commentary on the Gita as within the Shaiva tradition see: Flood (1996), p. 124.
- Singh p.55
- For B. G. Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi as notable commentators see: Gambhiranda (1997), p. xix.
- For notability of the commentaries by B. G. Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi and their use to inspire the independence movement see: Sargeant, p. xix.
- Stevenson, Robert W., "Tilak and the Bhagavadgita's Doctrine of Karmayoga", in: Minor, p. 44.
- Stevenson, Robert W., "Tilak and the Bhagavadgita's Doctrine of Karmayoga", in: Minor, p. 49.
- Jordens, J. T. F., "Gandhi and the Bhagavadgita", in: Minor, p. 88.
- For composition during stay in Yeravda jail in 1929, see: Jordens, J. T. F., "Gandhi and the Bhagavadgita", in: Minor, p. 88.
- Desai, Mahadev. The Gospel of Selfless Action, or, The Gita According To Gandhi. (Navajivan Publishing House: Ahmedabad: First Edition 1946). Other editions: 1948, 1951, 1956.
- A shorter edition, omitting the bulk of Desai's additional commentary, has been published as: Anasaktiyoga: The Gospel of Selfless Action. Jim Rankin, editor. The author is listed as M.K. Gandhi; Mahadev Desai, translator. (Dry Bones Press, San Francisco, 1998) ISBN 1-883938-47-3.
- Quotation from M. K. Gandhi. Young India. (1925), pp. 1078-1079, is cited from Radhakrishnan, front matter.
- For Sri Aurobindo, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and Swami Vivekananda as notable commentators see: Sargeant, p. xix.
- For Sri Aurobindo as notable commentators, see: Gambhiranda (1997), p. xix.
- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, On The Bhagavad Gita; A Translation and Commentary With Sanskrit Text Chapters 1 to 6, Chapter Two, Verse 42, p. 129 and pp. 470-472
- Clarke, John James (1997). Oriental enlightenment. Routledge. pp. 58-59. http://books.google.com/books?id=qdoyw_6Y3cYC&pg=PA58.
- Winternitz, Volume 1, p. 11.
- What had previously been known of Indian literature in Germany had been translated from the English. Winternitz, Volume 1, p. 15.
- Tommasini, Anthony (April 14, 2008). "Fanciful Visions on the Mahatma’s Road to Truth and Simplicity". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/14/arts/music/14saty.html. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
- Tommasini, Anthony (November 7, 2008). "Warrior Prince From India Wrestles With Destiny". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/07/arts/music/07arju.html. Retrieved 2009-10-16.
- Chidbhavananda, Swami (1997). The Bhagavad Gita. Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam.
- Easwaran, Eknath (2007). The Bhagavad Gita. Nilgiri Press. ISBN 9781586380199.
- Easwaran, Eknath (1975). The Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living Volume 1. Berkeley, California: The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation. ISBN 9780915132171.
- Easwaran, Eknath (1979). The Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living Volume 2. Berkeley, California: The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation. ISBN 9780915132188.
- Easwaran, Eknath (1984). The Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living Volume 3. Berkeley, California: The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation. ISBN 9780915132195.
- Gambhirananda, Swami (1998). Madhusudana Sarasvati Bhagavad Gita: With the annotation Gūḍhārtha Dīpikā. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama. ISBN 81-7505-194-9.
- Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43878-0.
- Gambhirananda, Swami (1997). Bhagavadgītā: With the commentary of Śaṅkarācārya. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama. ISBN 81-7505-041-1.
- Keay, John (2000). India: A History. Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-3797-0.
- Minor, Robert N. (1986). Modern Indian Interpreters of the Bhagavadgita. Albany, New York: State University of New York. ISBN 0-88706-297-0.
- Radhakrishnan, S. (1993). The Bhagavadgītā. Harper Collins. ISBN 81-7223-087-7.
- Sampatkumaran, M. R. (1985). The Gītābhāṣya of Rāmānuja. Bombay: Ananthacharya Indological Research Institute.
- Sargeant, Winthrop (2009). The Bhagavad Gītā: Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-1-4384-2841-3.
- Singh, R. Raj (2006). Bhakti and Philosophy. Lexington Books. ISBN 0739114247.
- Sivananda, Swami (1995). The Bhagavad Gita. The Divine Life Society. ISBN 81-7052-000-2.
- Tapasyananda, Swami (1990). Śrīmad Bhagavad Gītā. Sri Ramakrishna Math. ISBN 81-7120-449-X.
- Vivekananda, Swami (1998). Thoughts on the Gita. Delhi: Advaita Ashrama. ISBN 81-7505-033-0.
- Winternitz, Maurice (1972). History of Indian Literature. New Delhi: Oriental Books.
- Zaehner, R. C. (1969). The Bhagavad Gītā. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-501666-1.
- Bhagavad Gita] at the Open Directory Project
- Original text
- Translations and Commentaries
- 1890 translation by William Quan Judge
- 1900 translation by Sir Edwin Arnold
- The Gita According to Gandhi by Mahadev Desai of Mahatma Gandhi's 1929 Gujurati translation and commentary
- 1942 translation by Swami Sivananda
- 1971 translation by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada entitled Bhagavad Gita As It Is with Sanskrit text and English commentary.
- 1988 translation by Ramananda Prasad
- 1992 translation and commentary by Swami Chinmayananda
- 1993 translation by Jagannatha Prakasa (John of AllFaith)
- 2001 translation by Sanderson Beck
- 2004 metered translation by Swami Nirmalananda Giri
- Six commentaries: by Adi Sankara, Ramanuja, Sridhara Swami, Madhusudana Sarasvati, Visvanatha Chakravarti and Baladeva Vidyabhusana (all in sanskrit)
- Essays on Gita by Sri Aurobindo
- Gita Supersite Original text, with several accompanying translations or commentaries in Sanskrit, English, or Hindi
- Recitation of verses in Sanskrit (MP3 format)
- Bhagavad Gita (As It Is) Complete produced by The International Society for Krishna Consciousness
- Bhagavad Gita in 6 Languages