Prabhupada. Bhagavad Gita As It Is
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The prime minister of India, Sri Atal Behari Vajpayee said in 1998: "Indians should be eternally grateful to the devoted spiritual army of Swami Prabhupada".
Prabhupada (1896-1977) founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in 1966. Late in life, when he was 68, he went to the West almost moneyless and promulgated traditions centred on Krishna. Adherents are known for singing the name of Krishna, as George Harrison in his "My Sweet Lord".
It was his guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura (1874-1937) who asked Prabhupada to spread the message of the Vaisnavist Sri Chaitanya in English. The name Prabhupada means literally "he who has taken the position of the Lord" (i.e, one who is representing Krishna).
Prabhupada authored about thirty books. Almost twenty of them have been published after his death. Here is A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's well-read translation of the Bhagavad Gita. Within the final twenty years of his life Prabhupada translated over sixty volumes of classic Vedic scriptures (such as the Bhagavad Gita) into English. His books have won praise from professors at colleges and universities like Harvard, Oxford, Cornell, Columbia, Syracuse, Oberlin, and Edinburgh for their authority, depth, and clarity.
In this version all diacritical marks are omitted. Comments are kept to a minimum. It is published with kind permission from the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. www.krishna.com.
Prabhupada tells in the preface to his translation:
In Los Angeles many fathers and mothers used to come to see me to express their feelings of gratitude for my leading the Krishna consciousness movement throughout the entire world. Some of them said that it is greatly fortunate for the Americans that I have started the Krishna consciousness movement in America. But actually the original father of this movement is Lord Krishna Himself, since it was started a very long time ago but is coming down to human society by disciplic succession. If I have any credit in this connection, it does not belong to me personally, but it is due to my eternal spiritual master, His Divine Grace Om Visnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya 108 Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja Prabhupada.
From His Introduction
In his introduction Prabhupada pays his respect to Krishna and the line of gurus before him. Capsules of great ideas follow:
My spiritual master opened my eyes with the torch of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him.
My dear Krishna, You are the friend of the distressed and the source of creation. You are the master of the gopis.
Bhagavad-gita is also known as Gitopanisad. It is the essence of Vedic knowledge and one of the most important Upanisads in Vedic literature.
Bhagavan designates Lord Sri Krishna as a great personality, but at the same time we should know that Lord Sri Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The Lord informs Arjuna that this system of yoga . . . was first spoken to the sun-god, and the sun-god explained it to Manu [cf. Man], and Manu explained it to Iksvaku, and in that way, by disciplic succession, one speaker after another, this yoga system has been coming down.
There are three classes of transcendentalists, namely the jnani, the yogi and the bhakta.
Bhagavad-gita is instructed to Arjuna especially because Arjuna was a devotee of the Lord . . . Arjuna was in a relationship with the Lord as friend.
Arjuna also says that the personality of the Lord is very difficult to understand.
The sincere student should also have a firm respect for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In Bhagavad-gita it is established that the Supreme Godhead, or Krishna, or Brahman, or the supreme controller, or Paramatma you may use whatever name you like is the greatest of all.
Lord Krishna says, mayadhyaksena prakritih suyate sa-caracaram: "This material nature is working under My direction.".
In every field of life we enjoy the results of our work, or we suffer the results. This is called karma.
The distinction between the jiva and the isvara will be explained in the Thirteenth Chapter.
The living entity forgets what to do.
The consciousness of the Lord is not materially affected. Lord Krishna says, mayadhyaksena prakritih [Bg. 9.10].
The stomach is the enjoyer . . . The central figure of creation and of enjoyment is the Supreme Lord.
Vedic knowledge . . . comes down, as is stated in Bhagavad-gita, by the parampara (disciplic succession). We have to receive knowledge from the proper source.
Arjuna decides to fight under the directions of the Lord when he says, karisye vacanam tava [Bg. 18.73]: "I shall act according to Your word.".
The Supreme Lord and His transcendental abode are both sanatana.
Sanatana-dharma does not refer to any sectarian process of religion. It is the eternal function of the eternal living entities in relationship with the eternal Supreme Lord.
The rendering of [very intelligent] service is sanatana-dharma.
The Supreme Lord is the reservoir or storehouse of all pleasure.
"That supreme abode of Mine . . . Those who reach it never return to this material world.".
Unfortunately, the less intelligent deride Him because He comes as one of us and plays with us as a human being. But because of this we should not consider the Lord one of us. .
Bhagavad-gita does not advise us to go to any of the planets in this material world.
In the Fifteenth Chapter . . . the material world is described as a tree whose roots are upwards and branches are below.
The Bhagavad-gita (8.6) also explains the general principle that makes it possible to enter the spiritual kingdom simply by thinking of the Supreme at the time of death.
"Arjuna says, "The mind is restless and unsteady." (Bg. 6.33), and is told, "The yogi who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me is united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all." (Bg. 6.47 extract). Also: "He who meditates on Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Arjuna, is sure to reach Me." (Bg. 8.8).
Modern man has struggled very hard to reach the moon, but he has not tried very hard to elevate himself spiritually.
Even human beings in the lowest status of life can attain the Supreme, if one adopts principles that work well toward that end, says Prabhupada.
Dhritarastra said; O Sanjaya, after my sons and the sons of Pandu assembled in the place of pilgrimage at Kuruksetra, desiring to fight, what did they do? [1.1].
Sanjaya said; O King, after looking over the army arranged in military formation by the sons of Pandu, King Duryodhana went to his teacher and spoke the following words. [1.2].
O my teacher, behold the great army of the sons of Pandu, so expertly arranged by your intelligent disciple the son of Drupada. [1.3].
Here in this army are many heroic bowmen equal in fighting to Bhima and Arjuna: great fighters like Yuyudhana, Virata and Drupada. [1.4].
There are also great, heroic, powerful fighters like Dhristaketu, Cekitana, Kasiraja, Purujit, Kuntibhoja and Saibya. [1.5].
There are the mighty Yudhamanyu, the very powerful Uttamauja, the son of Subhadra and the sons of Draupadi. All these warriors are great chariot fighters. [1.6].
But for your information, O best of the brahmanas, let me tell you about the captains who are especially qualified to lead my military force. [1.7].
There are personalities like you, Bhisma, Karna, Kripa, Asvatthama, Vikarna and the son of Somadatta called Bhurisrava, who are always victorious in battle. [1.8].
There are many other heroes who are prepared to lay down their lives for my sake. All of them are well equipped with different kinds of weapons, and all are experienced in military science. [1.9].
Our strength is immeasurable, and we are perfectly protected by Grandfather Bhisma, whereas the strength of the Pandavas, carefully protected by Bhima, is limited. [1.10].
All of you must now give full support to Grandfather Bhisma, as you stand at your respective strategic points of entrance into the phalanx of the army. [1.11].
Then Bhisma, the great valiant grandsire of the Kuru dynasty, the grandfather of the fighters, blew his conchshell very loudly, making a sound like the roar of a lion, giving Duryodhana joy. [1.12].
After that, the conchshells, drums, bugles, trumpets and horns were all suddenly sounded, and the combined sound was tumultuous. [1.13].
On the other side, both Lord Krishna and Arjuna, stationed on a great chariot drawn by white horses, sounded their transcendental conchshells. [1.14].
Lord Krishna blew His conchshell, called Pancajanya; Arjuna blew his, the Devadatta; and Bhima, the voracious eater and performer of herculean tasks, blew his terrific conchshell, called Paundra. [1.15].
King Yudhisthira, the son of Kunti, blew his conchshell, the Ananta-vijaya, and Nakula and Sahadeva blew the Sughosa and Manipuspaka. That great archer the King of Kasi, the great fighter Sikhandi, Dhristadyumna, Virata, the unconquerable Satyaki, Drupada, the sons of Draupadi, and the others, O King, such as the mighty-armed son of Subhadra, all blew their respective conchshells. [1.16-18].
The blowing of these different conchshells became uproarious. Vibrating both in the sky and on the earth, it shattered the hearts of the sons of Dhritarastra. [1.19].
At that time Arjuna, the son of Pandu, seated in the chariot bearing the flag marked with Hanuman, took up his bow and prepared to shoot his arrows. O King, after looking at the sons of Dhritarastra drawn in military array, Arjuna then spoke to Lord Krishna these words. [1.20].
Arjuna said; O infallible one, please draw my chariot between the two armies so that I may see those present here, who desire to fight, and with whom I must contend in this great trial of arms. [1.21-22].
Let me see those who have come here to fight, wishing to please the evil-minded son of Dhritarastra. [1.23].
Sanjaya said; O descendant of Bharata, having thus been addressed by Arjuna, Lord Krishna drew up the fine chariot in the midst of the armies of both parties. [1.24].
In the presence of Bhisma, Drona and all the other chieftains of the world, the Lord said, Just behold, Partha, all the Kurus assembled here. [1.25].
There Arjuna could see, within the midst of the armies of both parties, his fathers, grandfathers, teachers, maternal uncles, brothers, sons, grandsons, friends, and also his fathers-in-law and well-wishers. [1.26].
When the son of Kunti, Arjuna, saw all these different grades of friends and relatives, he became overwhelmed with compassion and spoke thus. [1.27].
Arjuna said; My dear Krishna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up. [1.28].
My whole body is trembling, my hair is standing on end, my bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning. [1.29].
I am now unable to stand here any longer. I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I see only causes of misfortune, O Krishna, killer of the Kesi demon. [1.30].
I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle, nor can I, my dear Krishna, desire any subsequent victory, kingdom, or happiness. [1.31].
O Govinda, of what avail to us are a kingdom, happiness or even life itself when all those for whom we may desire them are now arrayed on this battlefield? O Madhusudana, when teachers, fathers, sons, grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law and other relatives are ready to give up their lives and properties and are standing before me, why should I wish to kill them, even though they might otherwise kill me? O maintainer of all living entities, I am not prepared to fight with them even in exchange for the three worlds, let alone this earth. What pleasure will we derive from killing the sons of Dhritarastra? [1.32-35].
Sin will overcome us if we slay such aggressors. Therefore it is not proper for us to kill the sons of Dhritarastra and our friends. What should we gain, O Krishna, husband of the goddess of fortune, and how could we be happy by killing our own kinsmen? [1.36].
O Janardana, although these men, their hearts overtaken by greed, see no fault in killing ones family or quarreling with friends, why should we, who can see the crime in destroying a family, engage in these acts of sin? [1.37-38].
With the destruction of dynasty, the eternal family tradition is vanquished, and thus the rest of the family becomes involved in irreligion. [1.39].
When irreligion is prominent in the family, O Krishna, the women of the family become polluted, and from the degradation of womanhood, O descendant of Vrisni, comes unwanted progeny. [1.40].
An increase of unwanted population certainly causes hellish life both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. The ancestors of such corrupt families fall down, because the performances for offering them food and water are entirely stopped. [1.41].
By the evil deeds of those who destroy the family tradition and thus give rise to unwanted children, all kinds of community projects and family welfare activities are devastated. [1.42].
O Krishna, maintainer of the people, I have heard by disciplic succession that those who destroy family traditions dwell always in hell. [1.43].
Alas, how strange it is that we are preparing to commit greatly sinful acts. Driven by the desire to enjoy royal happiness, we are intent on killing our own kinsmen. [1.44].
Better for me if the sons of Dhritarastra, weapons in hand, were to kill me unarmed and unresisting on the battlefield. [1.45].
Sanjaya said; Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief. [1.46].
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