This work is inspired by Sri Sureshvaracharya’s Naishkarmya Siddhi (Chapter 1, v. 6, line 2) with the single-minded purpose of: “Svabodhaparishudhyartham brahmavinnikshaashmasu” (To clarify my understanding of Brahmavidya–like using the goldsmith’s stone to test the purity of gold)
Given the perfection of the language, and having enjoyed studying works in Samskrita with my teachers, I am now able to read it–to a limited extent. Using existing translations by masters, (see Acknowledgements) this is a translation within the limitations of the author.
If this work serves any purpose other than a translation, it is the grace of the lineage of my Guru, Swami Chinmayananda.
Using the following references:
The Holy Geeta, Swami Chinmayananda
Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai, 1960.
The Bhagavad Gita: with the Commentary of Sri Sankaracharya, translated by Alladi Mahadeva Sastry, first published in 1897.
Version used published by Samata Books, Madras, 1977.
Gita Supersite of IIT Kanpur: (www.gitasupersite.iitk.ac.in)
Hindi translation by Swami Tejomayananda
English commentary by Swami Sivananda
English translation by Swami Sivananda
English translation by Purohit Swami
English translation by Swami Gambhirananda
English translation of Sri Shankaracharya’s Sankara Bhashya by Swami Gambhirananda
English translation by Dr. S. Sankaranarayanan
Swami Brahmananda, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai.
Some verse translations have been used verbatim or closely verbatim (if I have changed one word to simplify the language) from the existing English translations mentioned above. If this is the case, they are attributed against that verse.
In the course of their dialogue, Sri Krishna and Arjuna refer to each other by many names. The first time the name appears a meaning is provided in parentheses. Thereafter the name appears as is, with (Sri Krishna) or (Arjuna) in parentheses.
In the course of the translation, some words are placed within parentheses to complete the content of the sentence.
The 701 verses of Bhagavad Gita are written in two poetic metres: Anushtup chandas (8 syllables per quatrain; 32 syllables per verse) and Trishtup chandas (11 syllables per quatrain; 44 syllables per verse). Changes in poetic metre are indicated in the translation.
Where a thought is continued from one verse into another, an ellipsis (…) has been used at the end of the first verse and at the beginning of the following verse.
If there is reference to the context of a previous verse, the previous chapter and verse are provided in parentheses. (e.g.–See 5.13)
Certain sequences of verses in Bhagavad Gita can stand alone as individual compositions. These are indicated in the translation (see Chapter 2 and Chapter 12).
There are some terms in Samskrita that are used in their original or are difficult to translate. They have been explained here.
Brahman: that which is the substratum for all that is manifest and unmanifest. Many terms are used to refer to Brahman and have been capitalized to indicate their use–Consciousness, Self, That, Supreme, Knowledge, It, Reality, Infinite Bliss, Absolute
Atma: the lower self–jivaatma–when Brahman becomes conditioned as an individual soul
Paramaatma: the Higher Self–Brahman, that unconditioned Totality
Prakriti: Nature, manifested matter, the material cause of the universe
Purusha: the individual soul
Yoga: union of mind and body–the means to a steady mind
Karma yoga: the performance of actions in the spirit of yagna (see below)
Yagna: selfless-effort (when an action is performed in the spirit of selfless dedication)
Sannyaasi: he who has renounced the fruits of his actions
Yogi: he who has a steady mind
Jnaana: Knowledge (indirect knowledge)
Vijnaana: Wisdom–direct knowledge; when that knowledge becomes one’s own experience
Vaasanas: tendencies–accumulated from birth to birth
Gunas: the three temperaments of all beings in nature–sattva, rajas, tamas
Sattva: Purity (“Good”)
Rajas: Passion for action (“Passionate”)
Tamas: Inertia (“Dull”)
(Quotes above are descriptions of Swami Chinmayananda)
Maaya: Divine illusion of phenomena
Maam: literally “me”. Sri Krishna uses this term to refer to his Eternal Unmanifest existence. So when comprehending the meaning of verses in which he refers to this existence as “Me” it is to be understood as Brahman and not as the manifest form of Sri Krishna, Arjuna’s charioteer and teacher.
Dharma: Principle of Life; Law of Being (Swami Chinmayananda)
Samsaara: Cycle of life and death (often referred to as Ocean of Samsaara)
Tyaaga: Relinquishing, giving up, abandonment
Mana: the mind–a flow of thoughts
Buddhi: the intellect which is the discriminating factor
Chitta: that repository of memories based on which the mind and intellect act
Ahankaara: the ego