From the Back of the Book:
The Bhagavad Gita, in this commentary is realized as a philosophical treatise of universal significance, having a bearing on the personal existence of each of us, as it is inseparably one with the existence of the whole.
Taking cognizance of the overall development of the thought in the text, it enunciates the first half as a visualization of the oneness of the total system of existence and life with one Absolute Reality; with the second half insightfully proclaiming the unity of every individual, while maintaining one's characteristics, with the Cosmic Form, the concrete version of the Absolute or Bhagavan. It elaborates how each of its chapters and even verses leads to the next one, all in line with the overall scheme of thought. Acknowledging Gita as a yoga-sastra (science of dialectics), it explicates how this methodological device strings together all the seemingly contradictory statements; revealing an ineffably uniting experience, befitting a scientifically and practically conceived non-dualism or advaita.
Though written as a short of varttika to Nataraja Guru's famous commentary on the Gita, this one is appreciable as an independent book, since it delves into the depth of each verse directly in the view of the core philosophical vision the Gita intends to communicate.
About the Author:
Swami Muni Narayana Prasad is the Guru and the Head of Narayana Gurukula, a guru-disciple foundation to all, irrespective of caste, gender, religion or nation, aimed at promoting the Science of the Absolute as restated by Narayana Guru. A disciple of Nataraja Guru and Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati, he has travelled widely teaching Indian Philosophy.
IT might appear odd if the founder of a spiritual movement and two
of his immediate successors wrote separate commentaries on the
same Vedantic text, as has happened in the Narayana Gurukula.
Nataraja Guru, our founder, wrote his famous Gita commentary,
which was first published in 1961. Here the parallels of ideas were
mainly from the West.
Guru Nitya Chaitanya Yati, his Successor, wrote a condensed
commentary in English and an elaborate one in Malayalam. While
following the line of thought of his Guru, the parallels used by Guru
Nitya, were from the East.
The present commentary written by Guru Nitya's successor,
rather than going into parallel streams of thought, prefers to try and
explore what is directly evident in the verses and chapters of the
Way back in 1951, while I was seventeen years old, I happened
to participate in a thirtytwo-day-long discourse on the Gita by a
renowned scholar. Though at that time I understood little, then, it
aroused in me an enthusiasm to undertake the learning of the Gita.
Afterwards, when I became a disciple of Nataraja Guru, his
commentary 'on the Gita, along with the philosophy of Narayana
Guru, marked the guidelines of my disciplehood. During all these
years and for almost two decades the longing to arrive at a clear
understanding of the Gita constantly welled up in my being.
It was only after the samadhi of Nataraja Guru, that I felt fully
satisfied in this regard. Nataraja Guru himself had nudged me
towards the core of the Gita not only through direct teaching, but
also by asking penetrating questions. These questions, which he
himself never answered, required long contemplation (in my case,
two decades!) to finally get answered.
I also had the opportunity to take down more than half of Guru
Nitya Chaitanya Yati's commentary in Malayalam. The Gita contains
a number of apparently paradoxical positions that require solution
before all the several details can be put together into a coherant
philosophical vision, and this was made easier with the help of
hints in Guru Nitya's commentary.
Thus I was aided in many ways in my attempt to understand
the Gita, and by way of further preparing myself to gain an overall
perspective, I gave a series of discourses on the Gita at different
places. Whenever I felt a lack of clarity or became unsure how to
proceed, the philosophy of Narayana Guru came to my rescue. The
present book is thus an outcome of the efforts I have described earlier.
It may be recalled here that Adi Sankara's immediate succeessors
had made further commentaries on those of their Guru. Such
successive commentaries are known as uarttikas (explanatory
supplements) and tikas (glosses), and the present commentary can
be treated as a uartika, though it can be read and understood
The commentary for each verse was written after discussions with a
group of senior research students of the.Narayana Gurukula, who
also took down the commentry. This dictation was given in
Malayalam, while I prepared the English version myself. The
Malayalam version was published in 2000 and was well received
by readers, and well reviewed by the press. Mrs. Kala of Bangalore
helped me with the editing of the book.
Messrs D.K. Printworld of New Delhi are rendering great
services to the cause of promoting the wisdom heritage of India.
They had always shown willingness to publish such commentaries
by including them in their series, "Rediscovering Indian Literary
Classics." Those who love wisdom will remain grateful to D.K.
I offer this Life's Pilgrimage Through the Gita, as a guide to spiritual
aspirants who look for guidance in the Gita.
Prostrations at the feet of my two direct gurus, and the long line
of previous gurus!
INDIA has always been glorified for her wisdom tradition. The Sanskrit
name of India, 'Bharata,' itself means "one who delights in
effulgence" (bha meaning effulgence, and rata, the one who delights
in). What is the essential content of this wisdom? It is necessary to
know that which is essentially real in one's being; only then will
one be able to lead a happy life. One should know that one's existence
is inseparable from the existence of the whole, and one's life is
inseparable from the life of the whole. This awareness makes life
meaningful and free of fetters. This is the essential content of wisdom,
and the ultimate goal of life.
This wisdom, more a vision than a systematized philosophy, first
found expression in the Upanisads, The gems of this vision, scattered
all through the various Upanisads, were collected, collated and
systematized as a critically, appreciable school of thought by
Badarayana in his Vedanta-Sutras. also known as Brahma-Sutras,
Uttara-Mimamsa-Sutras or Sariraka-Mimamsa-Sutras. Badarayana's
goal was to ensure logical plausibility to the philosophical problems,
directly and indirectly resolved in the Upanisads. The Bhagavad-
Glla, on the other hand, re-presents the same philosophy of life -
the Advaita Philosophy - as the one and final absolute solution to
all conflicting life situations. One's own life, its peculiarities, and
dilemmas are all perceived as part of the overall wheel of life -
prakrti or nature - which rolls on moving by its inherent creative
urge. This perception brings about a peaceful life, and gives one the
boldness to face dilemmas with undeterred firmness, and-an absolute
sense ,of freedom and detachment. The Gita, in enabling its student
to transform a non-dual vision of Reality into this kind of life, gives
an experience far different from any kind of certainty through
The Gita fulfils the need for universality. National, religious and
other barriers are rendered irrelevant under the force of its vision,
and this has gained the Gita universal acceptance. It cuts across all
boundaries, even as the Hindus continue to treat it as their most
The Gita has been translated into almost all the world languages,
sometimes many translations appearing in the same language. Each
new translation hopes to be closer to the original. Countless
commentaries on the Gita have appeared through the ages. Though
not much is known about the commentaries prior to Sankara, a large
collection of varying nature, emerging after Sankara, is now available.
However, often, though the insights are profound, the feeling still
continues that something more remains hidden, and this is what
urges people into creating new commentaries. Some of these
commentaries appeared to support particular ideologies or ideals,
with proponents of certain schools of thought choosing to interpret
it in ways that supported their philosophy. What the commentators
often find difficult or even forget, is being true to the vision and
intention of the original author, Vyasa. This point was underscored
by Nataraja Guru in his commentary on the Gita.
Nataraja Guru's guiding principle in his work was to be fully true to
the spirit of Vyasa's intentions. He kept as a central point the fact
that the Gita calls itself a yoga satsra (the science of yoga). Krsna
himself off and on points out that he relies on yoga-buddhi (the method
of yoga). Yogi, yukta, yogarudha, yogayukta, yogayuktatma are some of
the terms he uses to identify those who understand his teaching.
Nataraja Guru pointed out that this yoga-buddhi is, in essence, not
different from the "dialectics" of Western thought, used from the
time of Socrates. Plato characterized "dialectics" as the coping stone
of wisdom. The Gita, in the same tone, declares that its ultimate
teaching is "that wisdom, attaining which, nothing more remains to
The characteristic of having opposing facets is, in general,
present in all life situations, e.g., pain and pleasure, heat and cold,
success and failure, gain and loss. It is comparable to the two poles
of a magnet, one defining the other. Like a magnet, life situations too
have their own polar opposites. In real life, this creates a number of
dilemmas; the way out is realizing the one Reality underlying such
opposites. This has the advantage that the opposite poles became
means to know the one neutral Reality. Not only do we then discover
what Reality is, but we also become aware that the dilemma was, in
the first place, caused by our wrongly judging apparent facets for
reality. Moreover, this intuitive awareness enables us to face all
conflicting situations with a firmness hitherto unknown. This is the
vision that the Isa Upanisad is pointing to., when it says,
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