The confidential purport of the Bhagavad-gita is that one's qualifications are determined according to one's nature, and that one should cultivate Krsna consciousness along with engaging in the duties prescribed for him according to his qualifications. This will award him spiritual advancement. There is no possibility for a conditioned soul to attain the Absolute Truth by giving up his natural social position.
Learned scholars who have seen the truth say that a spirit soul's propensity for relishing transcendental ecstasy is called unalloyed devotional service. Another name of this is love of God. Because the simple cultivation of knowledge is devoid of the propensity for relishing ecstatic love, it creates many anarthas. When cultivation of knowledge is aimed at devotional service, it is called devotional service mixed with jnana, and when the propensity of jnana is checked by an abundance of love of God, it is called pure devotional service.
Transcendental love of God is the essential characteristic of devotional service. Although it is difficult to comprehend for the conditioned souls, for those who have developed faith, it is easily realized. Only those who cultivate devotional service with a taste for it, giving up the propensity for posing dry arguments, understand the science of devotional service.
The living entities are eternal. Therefore, their propensities are eternal and their activities are also eternal. The activities of the conditioned souls are materially designated and the activities of the liberated souls are transcendental.
All activities of the conditioned souls are temporary and materially designated. And, all the activities of those who have never been conditioned by matter or who have become freed from the influence of matter are purely transcendental. The pure activities of the pure spirit souls are called bhakti, and the mundane activities of the conditioned souls are called karma. As long as the living entities remain in the conditioned stage, they will have to perform karma. The constitutional function of the living entities is to love the Supreme Lord. This is their natural propensity. Therefore, this propensity is also necessarily present in the conditioned souls. But, due to the prominence of godless activities, this propensity is now dormant. When aversion to the Supreme Lord is diminished by the association of devotees, the living entitles’ propensity for serving the Supreme Lord is awakened. When this service propensity becomes stronger, the desire for fruitive activities automatically is destroyed.
After graduating from Music and Art High School in 1964, Syamarani dasi became a student at New York City College, majoring in art and history. In 1966, at the age of 19, she met her spiritual master: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of ISKCON, and world-famous preacher of Krsna Consciousness, Vedic culture and the science of Bhakti-yoga.
Since 1966, she has painted over 200 paintings for Srila Prabhupada’s temples and books such as the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada invited her to paint in his quarters, and she was therefore able to get many personal instructions from him on how to paint the spiritual world.
Syamarani met Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja in 1992 and took shelter of his divine instructions. From that year on she has been serving under his guidance. Whenever she is not traveling and preaching around the globe, she resides in Vrindavan, India, where she paints and is one of the publishers of Srila Narayana Maharaja’s books.
She says that the glory of those paintings is that they were not a product of the artist’s imagination. Rather, it is that every detail came from scripture and her two self-realized gurus. They have guided the paintings through each step towards their manifestation.
The picture on the cover of this book depicts King Dhrtarastra hearing from Sanjaya about Sri Krsna and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kuruksetra. It is one of the five paintings that Syamarani made for Srila Narayana Maharaja’s Hindi edition of Sri Bhagavad-gita, which include the commentaries of Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura.
After offering my most respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who possesses unlimited spiritual energies, and who is the personification of eternal bliss, I begin to translate Bhagavad-gita into Bengali, for the purpose of increasing the happiness of saintly persons.
Vedic scriptures are vast. In some portions, there is discussion of religiosity; in some portions, fruitive activities are described; in some portions, the analytical study of the material world is advocated; and in some portions, devotional service to the Supreme Lord is elaborately described. The mutual relationship between these subjects is also described in those scriptures but it is extremely difficult for the narrow-minded people of Kali-yuga, who have short lives, to ascertain their respective qualifications and duties by studying these vast Vedic scriptures. Therefore, there is a need for a brief, simple, and scientific presentation of these scriptures.
After the end of Dvapara-yuga, even intelligent people became incapable of understanding the actual purport of the Vedic literature. Hence, some of them considered karma, some of them considered yoga, some of them considered jnana some of them considered tarka (argument), and some of them considered cultivation of impersonal knowledge as the goal of life. As a result, many incomplete and unauthorized philosophies came into being in the land of India, creating various disturbances, just as undigested food creates a disturbance within the stomach.
Just before these disturbances became prominent in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the most merciful Absolute Truth, Lord Krsnacandra, revealed this Srimad Bhagavad-gita, which is the essence of all Vedic literature and the only means to attain liberation from material existence, to His dear friend, Arjuna. Therefore, Bhagavad-gita is to be considered like the crest jewel among all the Upanisads.
Pure devotional service to Lord Hari is the eternal duty of all living entities-this has been clearly instructed in the Bhagavad-gita. Some mental speculators conclude that the Bhagavad-gita is a literature that supports the philosophy of impersonalism. Their false arguments are established on the basis of the commentary given by Srimad Sankaracarya, who appeared by the instruction of the Supreme Lord to preach such a philosophy.
In some literatures, karma or jnana have been ascertained as the ultimate goal of life. Actually, this was done only for the benefit of people who are qualified for such paths and nothing more. Just to strengthen their faith, these practices have been described as the ultimate goal of life. Otherwise, such persons might give up the process that is appropriate for them and instead, whimsically accept something concocted. That would certainly harm the followers of such paths. That is why karma has been described as the best path in the karma-sastra and jnana has been described as the best path in the jnana-sastra. However, those literatures that describe the superiority of devotional service, compared to karma and jnana, and at the end, prescribe unalloyed love of God, are extremely beneficial for all living entities.
The Upanisads, the Brahma-sutras, and the Bhagavad-gita are all pure devotional scriptures. Yet, according to the need, karma, jnana, and mukti have also been elaborately described, but as far as the ultimate goal of the living entities is concerned, pure devotional service and nothing else has been instructed.
The readers of the Bhagavad-gita can be divided into two classes, One class can be called the gross seers of the truth, and the other class can be called the subtle seers of the truth. The gross seers come to conclusions simply by employing the external meanings of words, and the subtle seers search for the actual purport of the meanings. After studying the entire Bhagavad-gita, the gross seers conclude that following varnasrama-dharma is the eternal activity of the soul and that is why, after hearing Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna engaged in his profession of fighting. Therefore, they conclude, that engaging in fruitive activities based on the principle of varnasrama is the aim of the Bhagavad-gita.
The subtle seers, however, are not satisfied by such a mundane conclusion, they either conclude that knowledge of the impersonal Brahman, or pure devotional service, is the purport of the Bhagavad-gita. They say that Arjuna’s engagement in fighting is simply an example of his steadiness in his performance of his prescribed duties and not the ultimate purport of the Bhagavad-Gita. According to their nature, the living entities engage in their respective activities and by doing so, they gradually attain spiritual knowledge. Unless one perform action, one’s life cannot be maintained, and if one’s life is not properly maintained, attaining the Absolute Truth becomes difficult. Therefore, as far as the attainment of spiritual knowledge is concerned, there is a distant relationship between karma and varnasrama-dharma, and spiritual knowledge, Until one is freed from material bondage, such a relationship is unavoidable.
According to Arjuna’s nature, it was most befitting that, as a ksatriya, he should fight. Although Arjuna faithfully stuck to his duty of fighting, it is understood that a self-realized person may leave home, like Uddhava, after hearing the Bhagavad-gita. So, the confidential purport of the Bhagavad-gita is that one’s qualifications are determined according to one’s nature, and that one should cultivate Krsna consciousness along with engaging inn the duties prescribed for him according to his qualifications. This will award his spiritual advancement. There is no possibility for a conditioned soul to attain the Absolute Truth by giving up his natural social position.
Now, the question may be raised: Was the great Vaisnava, Arjuna, not a self-realized soul? The answer is that, although Arjuna was a self-realized soul, so that he could assist the Lord in His pastimes in this material world, he appeared as a ksatriya. His temporary nature was that of a ksatriya. Keeping an eye on this nature, the Supreme Lord taught everyone about the importance of remaining situated in one’s prescribed social position.
If one considers that subject with a simple mind, one can understand how pathetic is the conditional life of the living entities. Certainly, there is a need for the conditioned souls to follow some means to graduate from their conditional state of existence to a superior, liberated state. To be situated in that superior, liberated state is the ultimate goal of life, or prayojana. The process by which this ultimate goal of life is attained is called abhidheya.
Among many persons who are conversant with the knowledge of the scriptures, some consider performing sacrifice, some consider undergoing austerities, some consider presenting dry arguments, some consider performing pious activities, some consider practicing renunciation, some consider practicing yoga, some consider fighting for a religious cause, some consider worshiping the Supreme Lord, some consider following religious principles, some consider undergoing atonement, and some consider giving charity as the best process for attaining the goal of life. In this way, there became innumerable unscientific processes. Later on, some of these processes became extinct. Eventually, the rest of the processes were categorized as karma, jnana, and bhakti.
Through spontaneous self-realization and pure consideration, it has been concluded that the eternal existence of a living entity is spiritual. When the spirit soul becomes conditioned by matter, he is born from the womb of a mother. It is only by the inconceivable energy and supreme will of the Lord that a spirit soul exhibits such an embodied life, in contact with matter. This is incomprehensible to human intelligence.
There are two types of living entities-liberated living entities and conditioned living entities. The liberated living entities are further divided into two classes. Some of them were never conditioned. In other words, they are eternally liberated. And, some of them have become liberated from their conditional state. Both types of liberated living entities are beyond the jurisdiction of the scriptural injunctions. The discrimination of karma, jnana, and bhakti is applied only to the conditioned living entities. These distinctions have nothing to do with the liberated living entities. In the conditional state of the living entities, love of God becomes transformed and takes the shape of either karma or jnana. Sadhana-bhakti is the third form of that transformation. Actually, the transformation in the form of Sadhana-bhakti is the symptom of the conditioned soul’s healthy stage, and the other two forms, namely karma and jnana, are symptoms of his diseased condition.
As long as one has a material body, the performance of karma is unavoidable. Whatever karma one performs in order to maintain his life, among such activities, those that harm others are known as sinful karma, and there are four types of karma-physical, mental, social, and spiritual. Every karma is associated with a respective, practical fruit, just as the result of eating is the maintenance of the body, and the result of marriage is the begetting of children. Practical fruits are easily seen, but if one sees from a scientific point of view, one can conclude that the ultimate fruit of all such activities is satisfaction. If we scrutinize further, we can understand that to obtain the service of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, while gradually becoming freed from all material suffering, is the ultimate satisfaction.
The ultimate purpose of the living entities’ activities is to become situated in devotional service to the Lord. Any activities devoid of devotional service must be considered as Godless. Although the living entities become conditioned, their constitutional position is spiritual. Therefore, it is natural for them to cultivate knowledge. Another name for pure knowledge is spontaneous Samadhi. By cultivating knowledge, the living entities come to the understanding that this material world is insignificant, and merging into the existence of Brahman is also insignificant. Therefore, devotional service along is the ultimate goal of jnana. The insignificant fruit of karma is material enjoyment, and the insignificant fruit of jnana is liberation.
And, the ultimate fruit of both karma and jnana is devotional service. If cultivation of knowledge is not aimed at attaining devotional service, then such knowledge is adulterated and Godless. And, if cultivation of knowledge is aimed at attaining devotional service, it is called sadhana-bhakti.
Many people think that devotional service is not eternal, and that devotional service is the mature stage of karma progressing to jnana. But, such a conclusion is faulty. Learned scholars who have seen the truth say that a spirit soul’s propensity for relishing transcendental ecstasy is called unalloyed devotional service. Another name of this is love of God. Because the simple cultivation of knowledge is devoid of the propensity for relishing ecstatic love, it creates many anarthas. When cultivation of knowledge is aimed at devotional service, it is called devotional service mixed with jnana, and when the propensity of jnana is checked by an abundance of love of God, it is called pure devotional service.
The living entities are eternal Therefore, their propensities are eternal and their activities are also eternal. The activities of the conditioned souls are materially designated and the activities of the liberated souls are transcendental. Due to their contact with matter, the living entities are awarded material designations. Because of their material pride, they consider their material body as their self and everything in relationship to their body as belonging to them.
All activities of the conditioned souls are temporary and materially designated. And, all the activities of those who have never been conditioned by matter or who have become freed from the influence of matter are purely transcendental. The pure activities of the pure spirit souls are called bhakti, and the mandane activities of the conditioned souls are called karma. As long as the living entities remain in the conditioned stage, they will have to perform karma. The constitutional function of the living entities is to love the Supreme Lord. This is their natural propensity. Therefore, this propensity is also necessarily present in the conditioned souls. But, due to the prominence of godless activities, this propensity is now dormant. When aversion to the Supreme Lord is diminished by the association of devotees, the living entities’ propensity for serving the Supreme Lord is awakened. When this service propensity becomes stronger, the desire for fruitive activities automatically is destroyed.
The activities of human beings are not devoid of knowledge. Whatever human beings do, they do with knowledge. Cultivation is the life of knowledge. Cultivation is also an activity. That is why people with gross intelligence think that karma and jnana are equal. But, from the analytical point of view, the characteristics of karma and jnana are separate. Although karma, jnana, and bhakti appear to be similar, there is a gulf of difference between them.
Devotional service is of two kinds-unalloyed devotional service and mixed devotional service. Unalloyed devotional service is independent and devoid of the tinge of karma or jnana. This is also known as transcendental love of God. Mixed devotional service refers to devotional service that is mixed with karma, devotional service mixed with jnana, and devotional service mixed with both karma and jnana. Karma, jnana, and bhakti are different from one another.
The Bhagavad-gita consist of eighteen chapter. Among them, the first six chapters deal with karma, the middle six chapters deal with bhakti, and the last six chapters deal with jnana. Yet, ultimately, the supremacy of devotional service has been established. Devotional service is most confidential. And yet, because it is the life of karma and jnana, it has been placed between the chapters dealing with karma and jnana.
Such pure devotional service has been established in the Bhagavad-gita as the ultimate goal of the living entities. The most confidential instruction of the Bhagavad-gita is to give up all varieties of religion and surrender to the Supreme Lord. We hope that the readers will repeatedly study this book with devotion-filled hearts and thus make their lives successful.
Unfortunately, most of the commentaries and translations of the Bhagavad-gita are composed by persons who follow the philosophy of impersonalism. A commentary or translation of the Bhagavad-gita based on devotionals service is almost unavailable. The commentaries of Sankaracarya and Anandagiri are full of impersonalism. Although the commentary of Sridhara Svami is not based on impersonalism, it has a scent of the sectarian philosophy of suddhadvaita. The commentary of Sri Madhusudana appears to be full of devotion-nourishing words, but when it comes to the ultimate conclusion, it is not very beneficial.
The commentary of Sri Ramanuja is fully based on devotional service. However, unless a commentary on the Bhagavad-gita based on the teachings of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu’s acintya-bhedabheda philosophy is composed in our country, the happiness of those who relish pure devotional service will not be enhanced. Therefore, we have carefully composed a translation with small commentary called Rasikaranjana, based on the commentary of Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura, who was a staunch follower of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
There is also a Bhagavad-gita commentary based on Sriman Mahaprabhu’s teachings written by Sri Baladeva Vidyabhusana. The commentary of Baladeva is meant for careful consideration, and also full of the mellows of ecstatic love.
We have tried to write this Rasikaranjana commentary in simple language. We have tried to avoid using difficult words but there might be some, due to unavoidable circumstances. In order to display their expertise in using difficult words in their translations, like the Sanskrit commentators, the previous translators of the Bhagavad-gita have made their translations incomprehensible. We have tried to avoid this fault. If the readers are pleased with our translation of the Bhagavad-gita, then in the future, we will publish many Vedic literatures, such as a Vedanta-sutra commentary and an Upanisad commentary, in this same manner, based on devotional service.
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