The Srimad Bhagavad Gita is a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, narrated in the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharata. It comprises eighteen discourses of a total of 701 Sanskrit verses. A considerable volume of material has been compressed within these verses. On the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Sri Krishna, during the course of His most instructive and interesting talk with Arjuna, revealed profound, sublime and soul-stirring spiritual truths, and expounded the rare secrets of Yoga, Vedanta, Bhakti and Karma. All the teachings of Lord Krishna were subsequently recorded as the Song Celestial or Srimad Bhagavad Gita by Bhagavan Vyasa for the benefit of humanity at large. The world is under a great debt of gratitude to Bhagavan Vyasa who presented this Song Celestial to humanity for the guidance of their daily conduct of life, spiritual upliftment and Self-realisation. Those who are self-controlled and who are endowed with faith can reap the full benefit of the Gita, which is the science of the Soul. In all the spiritual literature of the world there is no book so elevating and inspiring as the Gita. It expounds very lucidly the cardinal principles or the fundamentals of the Hindu religion and Hindu Dharma. It is the source of all wisdom. It is your great guide. It is your supreme teacher. It is an inexhaustible spiritual treasure. It is a fountain of bliss. It is an ocean of knowledge. It is full of divine splendour and grandeur. The Gita is the cream of the Vedas. It is the essence of the soul-elevating Upanishads. It is a universal scripture applicable to people of all temperaments and for all times. It is a wonderful book with sublime thoughts and practical instructions on Yoga, devotion, Vedanta and action. It is a marvellous book, profound in thought and sublime in heights of vision. It brings peace and solace to souls that are afflicted by the three fires of mortal existence, namely, afflictions caused by one’s own body, those caused by beings around one, and those caused by the gods. The Gita contains the divine nectar. It is the wish-fulfilling gem, tree and cow. You can milk anything from it. It is a book for eternity. It is not a catch-penny book, with life like that of a mushroom. It can be one’s constant companion of life. It is a vade-mecum for all. Peace, bliss, wisdom, Brahman, Nirvana, Param Padam and Gita are all synonymous terms. The Gita is a boundless ocean of nectar. It is the immortal celestial fruit of the Upanishadic tree. In this unique book you will find an unbiased exposition of the philosophy of action, devotion and knowledge, together with a wonderfully woven synthesis of these three. The Gita is a rare and splendid flower that wafts its sweet aroma throughout the world. If all the Upanishads should represent cows, Sri Krishna is their milker. Arjuna is the calf who first tasted that milk of wisdom of the Self, milked by the divine Cowherd for the benefit of all humanity. This milk is the Bhagavad Gita. It solves not only Arjuna’s problems and doubts, but also the world’s problems and those of every individual. Glory to Krishna, the friend of the cowherds of Gokula, the joy of Devaki! He who drinks the nectar of the Gita through purification of the heart and regular meditation, attains immortality, eternal bliss, everlasting peace and perennial joy. There is nothing more to be attained beyond this. Just as the dark unfathomed depths of the ocean contain most precious pearls, so also the Bhagavad Gita contains spiritual gems of incalculable value. You will have to dive deep into its depths with a sincere attitude of reverence and faith. Only then will you be able to collect its spiritual pearls and comprehend its infinitely profound and subtle teachings. The Bhagavad Gita is a unique book for all ages. It is one of the most authoritative books of the Hindu religion. It is the immortal song of the Soul, which bespeaks of the glory of life. The instructions given by Sri Krishna are for the whole world. It is a standard book on Yoga for all mankind. The language is as simple as could be. Even a man who has an elementary knowledge of Sanskrit can go through the book. The teachings of the Gita are broad, universal and sublime. They do not belong to any cult, sect, creed, age or country. They are meant for the people of the whole world. Based on the soul-elevating Upanishads—the ancient wisdom of seers and saints—the Gita prescribes methods which are within the reach of all. It has a message of solace, freedom, salvation, perfection and peace for all human beings. The study of the Gita alone is sufficient for daily Swadhyaya (scriptural study). You will find here a solution for all your doubts. The more you study it with devotion and faith, the more you will acquire deeper knowledge, penetrative insight and clear, right thinking. The Bhagavad Gita is a gospel for the whole world. It is meant for the generality of mankind. It was given over five thousand years ago by Lord Krishna to Arjuna. None but the Lord Himself can bring out such a marvellous and unprecedented book which gives peace to its readers, which helps and guides them in the attainment of supreme bliss, and which has survived up to the present time. This itself proves clearly that God exists, that He is an embodiment of knowledge, and that one can attain perfection or liberation only by realising God. The world is one huge battlefield. The real Kurukshetra is within you. The battle of the Mahabharata is still raging within. Ignorance is Dhritarashtra; the individual soul is Arjuna; the indweller of your heart is Lord Krishna, the charioteer; the body is the chariot; the senses are the five horses; mind, egoism, mental impressions, senses, cravings, likes and dislikes, lust, jealousy, greed, pride and hypocrisy are your dire enemies. Harmony in the Gita Man is a composite of three fundamental factors, namely, will, feeling and cognition. There are three kinds of temperament—the active, the emotional and the rational. Even so, there are three Yogas—Jnana Yoga for a person of enquiry and rational temperament, Bhakti Yoga for the emotional temperament, and Karma Yoga for a person of action. One Yoga is as efficacious as the other. The Bhagavad Gita formulates the theories of the three paths without creating any conflict among them. It harmonises most wonderfully the philosophy of action, devotion and knowledge. All three must be harmoniously blended if you wish to attain perfection. You should have the head of Sri Shankara, the heart of Lord Buddha and the hand of King Janaka. The three horses of this body- chariot—action, emotion and intellect—should work in perfect harmony. Only then will it move smoothly and reach the destination safely and quickly. Only then can you rejoice in the Self, sing the song of Soham, be in tune with the Infinite, hear the soundless voice of the Soul and enjoy the sweet music of the eternal Self. The central teaching of the Gita is the attainment of the final beatitude of life—perfection or eternal freedom. This may be achieved by doing one’s prescribed duties of life. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: “Therefore, without attachment, constantly perform action which is duty, for, by performing action without attachment, man verily reaches the Supreme”. The Gita is divided into three sections, illustrative of the three terms of the Mahavakya of the Sama Veda—“Tat Twam Asi—That Thou Art”. In accordance with this view, the first six discourses deal with the path of action or Karma Yoga, that is, the nature of “Thou”. It is called the Twam-pada. The next six discourses explain the path of devotion, the nature of “That”. This is called the Tat-pada. The concluding six discourses treat of the path of knowledge, the nature of the middle term “Art”. Hence, it is called the Asi-pada, which establishes the identity of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. The eighteen discourses are not woven in a discordant manner. Each one is intimately or vitally connected with its precedent. Arjuna became very despondent. Lord Krishna’s opening remarks in the second discourse, which bespeak of the immortality of the soul, open his eyes and give him strength and courage. Arjuna then learns the technique of Karma Yoga and renunciation of the fruits of actions. He learns the methods of controlling the senses and the mind and practising concentration and meditation. This is followed by a description of the various manifestations of the Lord in order to prepare him for the vision of the Cosmic Form. Arjuna experiences the magnificent Cosmic Vision and understands the glorious nature of a liberated being. He is then given knowledge of the Field and the Knower of the Field, the three Gunas and the Purushottama. His knowledge is completed by an explanation of the divine attributes, the three kinds of faith and the essence of the Yoga of renunciation. Just as a student is coached in a university, Arjuna is coached by Krishna for the attainment of knowledge of the Self in the spiritual university. Arjuna had various kinds of doubts; Lord Krishna cleared them one by one. He pushed Arjuna up the ladder of Yoga from one rung to the next. Eventually, Arjuna placed his foot on the highest rung, attained the supreme knowledge of the Self and exclaimed in joy: “O my Lord! My delusion has been destroyed. I have attained knowledge through Thy Grace. I am firm. All my doubts have now vanished in toto. I will act according to Thy word”. You can become a liberated sage by annihilating the ego and the currents of likes and dislikes; by annihilating desires and cravings and destroying their residual potencies. Thus, you can rest in your true essential nature as Existence- Knowledge-Bliss Absolute and still be active in the affairs of the world. Now you will not be bound by your actions since the idea of doership has been destroyed by the attainment of knowledge of the Self. This is the keynote of the Gita. Glory, glory to the Gita! Glory to Lord Krishna, who placed the Gita before men of this world to attain liberation! May His blessings be upon you all! May the Gita be your centre, ideal and goal! Blessed is the man who studies the Gita daily! Twice blessed is he who lives in the spirit of the Gita! Thrice blessed is he who has realised the knowledge of the Gita or attained Self- knowledge! Om Tat Sat! Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti! Sri Swami Sivananda Sivananda Ashram Rishikesh India