Bhagavad Gita

Bhagavad Gita or gita (song) of Bhagavan (God) is a conversation between Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurushetra 5000 years ago when Arjuna was confused after seeing his family members on the opposite side and wanted to leave the battlefield and take sanyas (renunciation) to the Himalayas. Then Krishna answered Arjuna's all queries in exhaustive detail and this is what is known to the world today as Srimad Bhagavad Gita.

The meaning of Bhagavan is well described by renowned sage Parasara Muni in Vishnu Purana (6.5.47) - aishvaryasya samagrasya. This means one who has 6 opulence in full. The 6 opulence are wealth, beauty, knowledge, fame, strength and renunciation. You must read this if you want to know the internal meaning of 6 opulence of Krishna or Sri Bhagavan.

Bhagavad Gita is life's manual and usually, the general masses discuss it from a philosophical perspective. There is a thinking that all knowledge and every question is answered in the pages of this book. This is very correct and simply by reading Bhagavad Gita, many people all over the world have transformed their lives.

The banyan tree under which Bhagavad Gita was spoken is still there at Kurushetra. Krishna had appeared to establish dharma (religious principles) and reclaim conditioned souls to their eternal original identity as a constitutional part of Himself.

As inspired by Sri Vrindavan Dham and recalling the words of Rasika Acharyas, I will try to write as they inspire me from within. Also, as I have been mercifully blessed by Sri Vrindavan Dham to take residence here, and since our Queen of Vrindavan is our Swamini Srimati Radharani, I will make a humble attempt to write how Bhagavad Gita is related to Sri Radha, the original guru.

Bhagavad Gita
Number of Chapters 18
Number of Slokas (Verses) 700
Religion Hinduism
Spoken by Krishna
Also called as Song of God (Bhagavan)
Written by Ved Vyas
Part of Mahabharata
Language Sanskrit
Conclusion sarva dharmam parityajam (full surrender unto Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna)
Verse repeated twice Chapter 9 Text 35 and Chapter 18 Text 65
Authentic Version of Bhagavad Gita Written by Srila Prabhupada (in authentic line of Brahma Madhava Gaudiya parampara)

Situations that led to the narration of Bhagavad Gita by Krishna to Arjuna

Bhagavad Gita is the conversation (sanwad) between Krishna and Arjuna.

Arjuna is confused, doesn't want to fight in the battle after seeing his own brothers led by Duryodhana, dear grandfather Bhisma, his guru Dronacharya and several other family members with whom he has to battle it out for life. He is attached to the family bonds, relations and is unable to gather strength to pick up the bow and arrow. It's very easy to just say in mere words but when you relate it to your life, you will know of the moral dilemma of Arjuna.

With tears in eyes, he kneels before Krishna, confesses that he can't do this and surrenders to Krishna for guidance. Krishna is karunamayi (most merciful) and He always helps out His devotees in the way they approach Him. Krishna speaks the entire Bhagavad Gita in response to questions put forth by Arjuna about the actual meaning of life and very purpose of human birth.

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Also, it is to be noted that Arjuna is no ordinary. He is Nar of Nar Narayan incarnation of Krishna. He is Arjunia Gopi in Nitya-Goloka Vrindavan. He is fully realised inner servant of Lord who came to play his part in Krishna lila (which Krishna arranges to establish principles of dharma and to teach the world the confidential prema-bhakti which is intended to empower the soul to realise their eternal constitutional position as a part and parcel of Divine Couple Sri Radha and Sri Krishna).

The authentic version of Gita

Thousands of people have thousands of interpretations of Bhagavad Gita in their own thought process which is not necessarily complete and right. ln scriptures and texts, it's important to stick to what Krishna's pure Rasika devotees of Lord speak and teach to the world.

Krishna is only owned by His pure devotee, hence only pure Rasika Vaishnavas understand the inner mood of Lord. The descriptions below are mentioned from Bhagavad Gita As it is by Srila Prabhupada who is mahabhagavat acharya (pure Rasika Vaishnav) coming in the line of bonafide Brahma Madhava Gaudiya Vaishnav Samprayada. (You can read the complete life of Srila Prabhupada here).

Number of slokas

There are 18 chapters with 700 slokas (verses) in Bhagavad Gita.

Bhagavad Gita Review

The Bhagavad Gita actually begins and ends at Chapter 2 where Krishna tells all about the complete journey of the soul to Arjuna. He mentions that soul is satchinananda (eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss) but then onwards, Arjuna begins to enquire further in-depth details about the intricacies of soul, karma, birth and death.

Though, Arjuna asks this not for himself but for the general welfare of the society and people of Kali Yuga who need to be described in very much detail.

Then Krishna gives him insightful details of karma yoga, dhyana yoga, bhakti yoga, shows Arjuna His universal form, tells Arjuna about the modes of material nature, transcendental knowledge and eventually concludes all of it to Arjuna once again in last chapter (18). In the end, He gives the one line concluding statement of sarva dharmam parityajam (full surrender) and tells Arjuna that He has given all the knowledge, and now it is up to Arjuna to decide how to progress ahead.

The beauty of Krishna is that He never dictates on any living entity but gives all knowledge or path one is seeking, and also gives the free will to the devotee. It's tough to describe the magnanimity and mercy of Krishna. That is why Rasika Vaishnavas say that one should first know about the position of Krishna and best way to know about Krishna (after reading Bhagavad Gita) is to read the Krishna Book.

Every time you read Bhagavad Gita again and again, you get a new in-depth meaning as you progress ahead in Krishna Consciousness (spirituality). All answers unfold slowly step-by-step.

Chapters wise synopsis

Bhagavad Gita Chapter Wise Synopsis
Chapter 1 Establishes the scene where Arjuna is confused, wants to leave the battlefield and surrenders to Krishna for guidance.
Chapter 2 Krishna enlightens Arjuna about the soul. This is where Krishna spoke the entire essence of Bhagavad Gita but Arjuna questioned further to simplify all in detail for the later generations so that they can easily decipher the meaning.
Chapter 3 All details about karma yoga and how one should do their occupational duty without any attachment.
Chapter 4 Krishna instructs Arjuna about transcendental knowledge that includes hundreds of birth and how Krishna appears to establish dharma (religious principles). He also tells that many people take to the different process of self-realisation but the highest knowledge is to act in devotional service without being attached to the result.
Chapter 5 Here the aspect of a devotee working yet not accumulating any karma for it is stressed. This is because the devotee is just acting in Krishna Consionsess which is transcendental. The devotee in knowledge does not see himself as a doer but rather as an observer. He just sees himself as an instrument of Lord.
Chapter 6 This chapter of dhyana yoga talks about meditating and how it is very difficult to control the mind and steadily meditate. Krishna also tells the process of how one should bring the mind under their control and how to eventually meditate on Him (which is eventually the highest meditation).
Chapter 7 Krishna tells about Himself and gives the knowledge that it is He only who is the absolute truth. He also adds that only a few know Him in truth. He reveals inner details about His eternal position and tells Arjuna that those who know Him in truth are real Brahmanas and they don't forget Him even at the time of death.
Chapter 8 The method and process of attaining the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna are revealed in this chapter, and that is to remember Krishna at the time of death.
Chapter 9 This is the crux and most important chapter of Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna reveals all the important secrets to attain topmost perfection. He also discloses confidential details about Himself.
Chapter 10 Krishna tells about His opulence and qualities to Arjuna. He adds in the last verse of this chapter with just a single fragment, he pervades the entire universe.
Chapter 11 Krishna shows His universal form to Arjuna. After Arjuna sees the universal form of Krishna, he offers prayers and praises Krishna with the intention of telling to the world that it is Krishna who is the father of cosmic creation.
Chapter 12 The intricacies of devotional service are explained and how to be detached from everything in spite of working in devotional service.
Chapter 13 The knowledge of material nature, material body and how Krishna as Supersoul exists in entire nature is spoken by Krishna in this chapter. He also stresses on the point that a soul in its true consciousness (or original identity) is never entangled or confused in spite of being in a material body
Chapter 14 The three modes of material nature - mode of goodness, mode of passion and mode of ignorance are explained here. It is also mentioned that those in devotional service transcend these three modes of material nature.
Chapter 15 This chapter begins with Krishna stating that this world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world, exactly like a banyan tree that in on a shore reflects invertedly on the water surface. The reflection is nothing but an illusion and this ignorance and illusion can be cut by knowing Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Chapter 16 Krishna tells about two nature of sura (divine) and asura (demonic) qualities and how one needs to be sura (divine) and follow the scriptural injunction in the path of attaining the actual purpose of life (Krishna Consciousness)
Chapter 17 This chapter talks about the faith of how people worship, consume food, do penance, practice austerity and offer charity in different modes of nature (goodness, passion, ignorance) and how one needs to do everything for Krishna (sat) to be free from material entanglement.
Chapter 18 All the earlier points mentioned by Krishna are brushed up once again quickly. Then Krishna finally concludes the Bhagavad Gita by instructing to Arjuna to fully surrender unto Him, but leaves the last choice to Arjuna to use this knowledge to make a decision for himself.

Cause of lust and how to conquer it

This is well described in Chapter 3, Text 36-43 of Bhagavad Gita

Arjuna had asked Krishna on why one is impelled to do sinful activity even though one doesn't want to. Krishna answers this by stating that is is only due to lust that one commits sinful activities. This lust arises there because of association with the material world and it impels one to act in such a manner.

He further states about the intricacies of lust from Text 38-41. 

In the Text 42 and 43, Krishna mentions that soul is higher than senses, material world, mind, intelligence and one who transcends this and comes to spiritual intelligence platform where they see themself as an eternal soul, then for them, this lust is conquered easily!

Happiness in different modes of material nature

In Chapter 14 of Bhagavad Gita, the three modes of material nature (goodness, passion, ignorance) are described in detail.

In Chapter 18, Text 37-39 again, happiness in all these three modes are mentioned from a very deep perspective for sincere seekers. They are as follows:

  • Happiness in Mode of Goodness: Happiness which is initially like poison but ends with nectar. For example - Spiritual activities where you have to burn initially and go against your conditioning to do the right things. It's tough in the beginning but as one dives and makes spiritual advancement, it feels very nice and blissful.
  • Happiness in Mode of Passion: Happiness which appears pleasurable in beginning but ends at poison. For example - Engaging in objects or activities related to satisfaction of senses. Just imagine any friendship or buying a new phone for your own pleasure. After some point, you feel that your apparent friend doesn't understand you and that new phone is now old and you want the latest model with more features. The same thing that used to provide happiness become irritating now.
  • Happiness in Mode of Ignorance: This is happiness which is an illusion in both beginning and concluding. For example - sleeping where you don't know anything but just are happy that you slept. It holds no meaning.

One should engage in devotional activity and transcend all these three modes. Intelligent men take to activities that are in the mode of goodness.

By embracing happiness in the mode of goodness, one can slowly dive further spiritually and transcend above all these three modes of material nature and eventually realise their eternal constitutional identity as a spirit soul who is satchidananda (eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss).

Perverted Reflection

Chapter 15 of Bhagavad Gita tells that this material world is an inverted reflection of the spiritual world. The example given here is that of the banyan tree situated on the banks of a river or pond, whose reflection on the water surface is inverted. Similarly, the material world is inverted and what is highest here is lowest in the spiritual world.

The inner meaning of what is highest here is lowest in the spiritual world is that lust is highest here in the material world and is the lowest in the spiritual world. Lust doesn't exist in the spiritual world.

There is pure love (parishudh prema) in the spiritual world which inverts in the form of lust in the material world. By loving devotional service and chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra, one can revive their eternal position as the spirit soul who is eternally pure and free of lust.

The Most Important chapter of Bhagavad Gita

Chapter 9 of Bhagavad Gita is considered as the most important chapter. As the middle stuffed portion is considered as the most important part of a sandwich, similarly the 9th chapter lies exactly in between the 18 chapters of Bhagavad Gita, and hence is considered as the most important chapter by a lot of devotees. 

All the essence is right there in the last few texts of Chapter 9 of Bhagavad Gita.

Chapter 18 of Bhagavad Gita quickly runs through the previous 17 chapters and is also very very important.

Chapter 2 is where Bhagavad Gita actually begins and ends but it requires deep spiritual realisation and regular chanting of Hare Krishna maha-mantra to actually able to understand and appreciate it.

Hence, one should read Bhagavad Gita from Chapter 1 to Chapter 18 smoothly. There are a lot of devotees who during their initial journey literally couldn't resist themselves from reading Bhagavad Gita every available moment from the day they received it (You can find the FREE PDF Bhagavad Gita download link below).

Sloka (verse) that comes twice

The verse 18.65 and 9.35 are repeated twice to emphasise on this very crucial secret to attain topmost spiritual perfection and to revive eternal constitutional position of the soul as a part and parcel of Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna.

In both verses, Krishna is telling Arjuna to always remember Him and worship Him. The importance is on remembrance. Krishna assures that if one remembers Him without fail, then they are assured to go back to Him and there should be no doubt about this.

This remembrance is thickened and the seed is sown once one takes to the chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra with all sincerity. If you are a sincere desperate seeker of Vrindavan Prema Rasa and the inner confidential aspects related to it, do read this very inner meaning of Hare Krishna Mahamantra here.

How Krishna gives free will to the soul?

In 18.63, Krishna tells Arjuna that He has given all knowledge for Arjuna to deliberate and think, and now it is up to Arjuna to eventually take a final call using this knowledge, make a decision and eventually act.

Arjuna signifies every reader who reads Bhagavad Gita. Once they have been instructed about the real purpose of life to actually remember Krishna (18.65) at all times, it is up to the reader to interpret and take a call if they want to go the long way, be entangled in the material world or take to the blissful process of Krishna Consciousness.

Krishna gives the route but doesn't impose this and the last choice is up to the seeker to take whatever way.

Interesting fact

Bhagavad Gita As It Is is the third manuscript that Srila Prabhupada wrote. The first manuscript got stolen on a train journey. The second one was sold by his wife to a trader in exchange for tea packets when he was out of his home.

This is the third commentary that Prabhupada had translated. It was eventually published by MacMillan Publishers in the USA for the first time after Srila Prabhupada had taken the journey to US on the cargo ship Jaladuta in 1965 at the age of 70 to preach Hare Krishna Mahamantra to the world on the instruction of his Guru Maharaj Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur.

This Bhagavad Gita translated by Srila Prabhupada has been distributed to over 500 million people globally in the past 50 years.

Is Radharani there in Bhagavad Gita?

For the new seekers and readers, it is impossible to find Srimati Radharani in Bhagavad Gita. As one inches closer in spiritual life by simply following ABCDE of spiritual life, they begin to realise the depth of the spiritual treasure and how every action of Krishna is related to Sri Radha.

Now, talking about Radharani, She is not there on the external level in Bhagavad Gita (for a new seeker), but Srila Viswanath Chakravarti Thakur has written a commentary that has Radharani and mood of vrajvasis (residents of Vrindavan) in every verse of Bhagavad Gita!

Check the inner meaning of Keshav (as Vishwanath Cakravarti Thakur describes it when Arjuna addresses Krishna as Keshav). This will answer a major part of this question of Sri Radha in Bhagavad Gita.

Krishna does everything for Sri Radha but it requires special mercy of Sri Vrindavan Dham and Rasika Vaishnavas to understand and appreciate this statement. 

As regards to any particular mention, the very last sentence of Bhagavad Gita talks about internal potency (Hladini Sakti or pleasure potency) of Krishna, who is none other than Radha. You can read all the inner confidential details of Radharani and internal potency here.

Conclusion of Bhagavad Gita

The conclusion of Bhagavad Gita is sarva dharamam parityajam (18.66).

Here, Krishna says to Arjuna to abandon all dharma and just simply surrender unto Him fully. He promises that doing so, one will attain Him for sure.

The inner meaning of this is something which I leave up to the readers to find by searching for it themselves. You can also get a clue to it by reading this post: How should beginner's approach spirituality?

There is a strong reason behind not explaining this statement here as it is something a sincere seeker understands best while experiencing their journey and desperately finding the real answers. The answers, process and clues have been mentioned in the link that I have given. If you want a proper post on this, lemme know in the comment section below or reach me via Vraj Vrindavan Instagram (DM).

However, what I would highly advice is to read the meaning of Hare Krishna Mahamantra to decode this concluding statement of Bhagavad Gita (if you are really seeking to go deep and find some concrete answers).

Download Bhagavad Gita PDF or read online

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