The Bhagavad Gita, which together with the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras makes the ‘Prasthyana-traya', occupies a pre-eminent position among the holy triad. Popular across the globe, it has been translated into almost all major languages of the world. Delivered by Lord Krishna, the sermon on the battle-field (Gita) lays stress on everyone doing the duty without aspiring for the fruits thereof, explains the true nature of the soul and the Supreme Being, and delineates the different means for liberation — Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, and Prapatti. A treatise on good living, it advocates social tolerance, avoidance of mutual hatred, kindness to all living beings, and equanimity of mind. It does not bar enjoyment of the wordly pleasures that are not forbidden by the scriptures and are earned through righteous means.

What is special about the Gita is that it caters to the needs and tastes of people of all categories and ages. Its principles can be invoked and applied to all situations. Not surprisingly, the book serves as an important source material for studies in human resource development and as an unfailing guide to problem-solving methods in the present-day context.

Commentaries

Among the numerous commentaries written on the Gita, the chief are the ones by Sankara, Ramanuja, and Ananda Tirtha (Madhva), with glosses by their followers Anandagiri, Vedanta Desika, and Jayatirtha respectively. While Sankara's commentary is marked by extensive polemics, Ramanuja's and Madhva's are devotional in nature, with considerable significance attached to the Lord's enchanting form and divine qualities.

This book is an English translation of the Tamil commentary by the renowned scholar, Tirukkallam Narasimha Raghavachariar, on the first six chapters of the Gita. They deal with the eternal, imperishable nature of the soul, the nature of the Supreme Lord, the secret of His incarnations (avataras), the Karma Yoga, and the Jnana Yoga.

In this book, the text of the Gita verses as also those from ‘Gitartha Sangraha' — a terse commentary by Alavandar — is given in Sanskrit, along with English transliteration, followed by word-for-word meaning and summary, highlighting the important points found in the commentaries of Ramanuja and Vedanta Desika. At the end of each chapter, the relevant verse from Desika's ‘Gitartha Sangraham' (Tamil) is given along with its meaning and summary, and an appropriate anecdote. The salient points from the commentaries of Sankara and Madhva are also provided.

The translator, N. Jagannathan, has to be complimented not just for having been faithful to the original, but for having produced a work that can well pass for the original. The difficult, philosophical concepts have been explained clearly and in simple language.

The publication will be useful for the English-knowing readers to understand the true purport of the Gita as brought out by the Vaishnava acharyas.

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