From the Jacket
Indisputably one of the world’s best-known books, the Bhagavad Gita embodies the quintessence of classical Upanisadic philosophy, presented in the form of a dialogue between Krsna, the archetypal teacher, and Arjuna, the archetypal human being caught in the grip of a monumental crisis. For anyone like Arjuna who has ever paused to ponder the meaning of life, the world is as relevant today as it was when it was written.
By stripping away the manifold biases - both subtle and obvious - that have colored other commentaries, Gur Nitya has uncovered the perennial philosophy at the heart of this great classic. In an original, easy to understand format, his commentary divides each of the Gita’s eighteen chapters into three sections: the first elucidating the basic concepts involved; the second including Sanskrit text in Roman script along with the English meaning of each word or phrase and Nataraja Guru’s lucid and revolutionary English translation; and the third carrying explanatory notes and comments in the form of a dialogue between a teacher and student.
The breakthrough of this interpretation of the Gita is in its transcendence of sectarian dogma to reveal the work as a fully developed scientific psychology, whose keen insights and vivid reasoning can be readily appreciated by the 21st Century mind.
About the Author
Nataraja Guru (1895-1973) was the direct disciple of the great philosopher-poet-yogi Narayana Guru. He studied under Henri Bergson at the Sorbonne, where he took his doctorate in Educational Psychology. His scheme of correlation between science and mysticism amounts to an epochal advance in philosophy, and his translation of the Bhagavad Gita is accompanied by a brilliant commentary, which Guru Nitya acknowledges to have used freely.
A well-know poet, philosopher, mystic, psychologist and author, Nitya Chaitanya Yati is today one of the leading exponents of Advaita Vedanta and other systems of traditional Indian philosophy. He made his preliminary studies of India’s spirituality and culture by traveling for eight years as a sannyasi-mendicant-student. He sat at the feet of the best teachers in Kasi, Haridwar, Pancavadi and the Himalayan schools, and thereafter completed formal studies at several universities. While specializing in India’s inheritance of wisdom, he is fully versed in modern academic thinking as well, with special emphasis on the fields of psychology, sociology, biology and psycho-chemistry.
Guru Nitya is in the spiritual hierarchy of Narayana Guru, and is the direct disciple of Nataraja Guru. Together these three have brought a modern, scientific viewpoint to India’s treasury of wisdom.
Back of the Book
The Upanisads capture the quintessence of Indian spiritual wisdom - unfolding deep-set, highly perceptive reflections on human existence and how it is related to the mysterious cosmos. Authored by enlightened seers over the period of 1500-200 B.C., the Upanisadic message is a magnificent vision that raises human consciousness to sublime heights.
The Brhadaranyaka Upanisad is one of the ten major Upanisads. A dialectical narration that unabashedly stands up to the rational scrutiny of the modern mind, it is directed towards both the individual aspirant caught up in the dark morass of confusion and the philosophic thinker in search of rare pearls of wisdom from humanity’s treasury. Guru Nitya[‘s matchless commentary will enable the reader to discover the ancient seer’s timeless insights, to appreciate a fully-developed, integrated system of thought, and, most importantly, to learn to connect with what is real and enduring in his or her won essence. Schematically, the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad - a brilliant discourse from the Yajur Veda - is set out in three volumes, entitled: Madhu Kanda, Muni Kanda and Khila Kanda. The volume contains the commentary on the first two chapters of the Upanisad which are known as Madhu Kanda.
In his planned three-volume thorough-going, meticulously analytical commentary, Guru Nitya distills the wisdom teaching of the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad, Drawing on his intimate understanding of the human psyche, as well as both Eastern and Western philosophy, science, art and literature. Dwelling in turn on each of its 435 mantras, its poetic charm, myths, metaphors, images and symbols, Guru Nitya recreates and expands the Upanisadic vision of our own nature, human interaction, and the cosmos, and their relation to the unmoved essence of all.
With highly useful appendices and a comprehensive index, the commentary will hold an enduring appeal for both scholars and discerning readers.
Preface to the Second Edition
In the 1970’s, I was invited to teach the Bhagavad Gita in the United States at Portland state University and the First Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon. At that time, my Guru’s Bhagavad Gita translation and commentary, on which I had been relying heavily, was out of print. The need arose for me to give my own interpretation to my students who were growing in numbers. So I used my classes as an opportunity to give a fresh commentary on the verses. I would never have ventured to do so if I had not had the privilege of being both initiated and guided by the Guru himself in the “triple system” of the Brahma Sutras, the Upanisads, and the Bhagavad Gita.
In an original, easy to understand format, the commentary divides each of the Gita’s eighteen chapters into three sections; the first elucidating the basic concepts involved; the second including Sanskrit text in Roman script along with the English meaning of each word or phrase and Nataraja Guru’s lucid and revolutionary English translation; and the third carrying our explanatory notes and comments in the form of an assumed dialogue between a teacher and student.
Our several centers of the Gurukula around the globe and other discerning readers have been putting pressure on me to bring out a new edition of my commentary and D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd. Has agreed to do so. That is the immediate prompting for bringing out the present edition.
Our friends from the United States, Nancy Yeilding and Scott Teitsworth, volunteered to help in getting another edition with their moral support and I thought it a good augury to have a second edition.
Students of the Bhagavad Gita the world over will welcome the appearance of this commentary by Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati.
As spiritual leader of the Narayana Gurukula Movement, Nitya is the continuator of the Vedantin thought of Samkara, Narayana Guru and Nataraja Guru. However, he confounds any such categorization, as does the present volume.
The significant clue to his view of the Gita is found in the form he has chosen to give his commentary: that of a dialogue between Teacher and Student. The Gita itself is in the form of a samvada between Krsna and Arjuna, and in choosing the same structure for his comments, Nitya very clearly indicates his intention. His commentary is not directed to philosophers and scholars, but to every individual human being regardless of culture, who ponders the nature of his own relation to the Divine.
Arjuna’s purely human predicament on the battlefield of the Kurus is often viewed by philosophers as a mere fictional setting within which the lofty wisdom of the Gita is expounded. But in choosing such a setting, Vyasa unequi-vocably establishes the practical intention of the Gita. It is the human predicament which evokes the Gita, and it is the predicament of daily life that the Gita resolves.
In his commentary, Nitya never loses sight of this orientation. The illuminative dialogue between Teacher and Student is the clear reflection of thousands of such dialogues between Nitya and his disciples all over the world. Whether in India, Southeast Asia, Australia, Europe or the Americas, his relationship with his students is always the same. He never preaches doctrine; he does not espouse particular philosophical views; he utterly eschews any appearance of authority. Always he is the dear and compassionate friend, the humorous and unfailing guide in time of troubles.
It is as such a friend and guide that he appears here. Not to philosophize, but to help; not to pontificate, but to clarify.
This is not to say that the reader will find this commentary either “popular” or easy. Nitya’s deep compassion is accompanied by a powerful and profound intellect. The reader will find his own intelligence and understanding challenged at every turn. But he will find his own efforts repaid a thousand fold. In this volume Guru Nitya has established a bridge between the Divine Wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita and you-whoever you are, wherever you may be, whatever your condition. Accept this gift with gratitude and delight as from a dear friend.
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