The Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is is a translation and commentary of the Bhagavad Gita by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly known as the Hare Krishna movement. This translation of Bhagavad Gita emphasizes a path of devotion toward the personal God, Krishna. It was first published in 1968 in English by Macmillan Publishers, and is now available in nearly sixty languages. It is primarily promoted and distributed by followers of ISKCON.
For each verse, the book (in complete editions) includes the Devanagari script, a Latin transliteration, word-for-word Sanskrit-English meanings, and English translation. An extensive commentary by Prabhupada is given throughout, based on various Gaudiya Vaishnava works, including: Ramanuja Bhasya (in Sanskrit); Sarartha-varsini-tika (Sanskrit) by Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura; Gita-bhusana-tika (Sanskrit) by Baladeva Vidyabhushana; and Bhaktivinode Thakur's Bengali commentaries.
The narrative in the Bhagavad-Gītā concerns a dialogue between Lord Krishna and a mighty warrior named Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. In the narrative, Lord Krishna has descended to earth to aid Arjuna in his battle against Kauravas and their army. Lord Krishna assumes the role of Arjuna's chariot driver and aids him in the battle and reveals to Arjuna several divine truths about human existence in the material plane, the true nature of the supreme personality of God, and the method of eternal progression and release from the earthly cycles of death and rebirth through the practice of bhakti yoga. The narrative teaches that achieving Krishna consciousness and attaining the inner realization that all life is a manifestation of the eternal energy of Krishna will release an individual soul from the cycles of reincarnation (death and rebirth). The narrative culminates with Krishna revealing to Arjuna his universal form which encompasses all life and material existence. One notable event in the narrative is when Arjuna gazes at the opposing army and sees his relatives fighting for the opposing army, he is filled with grief and remorse that he must kill his own flesh and blood. In reply, Krishna reveals his true form to Arjuna and tells him that it does not matter if his relatives die in the battle today because they will eventually die anyway, and that Arjuna's duty to the supreme lord and his own self-realization transcends his material attachments to his relatives. The central message of the text is that nothing ever truly dies and that all life is in a continual cycle of death and rebirth, and that one has a duty to the process of self-realization and progression in order to manifest the supreme personality of God and achieve Krishna Consciousness, thereby escaping the eternal cycles of death and rebirth.
The book advocates the path of bhakti toward Krishna, who is seen as the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. It establishes that Krishna is not an incarnation, but the cause of all causes and source of all incarnations. He is even the cause of Vishnu. It teaches the loving service of the transcendental personality of the Lord.
Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is is written in the tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Followers of the Vedas regard the Bhagavad Gita as the essence of the Vedic knowledgeand the Upanishads, and consider the book authoritative and literally true.
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