This book is an English translation of “Pravachana Sudha” Nectar of Discourses – on the Seenth Chapter of the Bhagvad Geeta, a compilation of talks given in Hindi by Swami Maheshwaranand Giri Mahamandaleshwar more than fifty years ago in Sannyas Ashram, Vile Parle, Mumbai, India. The book is a uniqe mine of literary jewels replete with quotations from all the Vedas,numerous Upnishads scriptures such as the Bhagwat and Ramayana, and works of poet saints in Hindi and Gujarati. Swami Maheshwaranand was a scholar prolific writer, a scholar, great story tailor and speaker of his time. He left his body in 1971. All speakers on the Gita in India have a copy of this book in their reference library. The original book went through several editions and is currently out of print. Swami Maheshwaranand Giri’s available Hindi books are available from Sannyas Ashram.
In the prehistoric age writing books was not customary. The means of teaching and learning was speaking and listening. This was known as the Guru-disciple tradition. Since the scholars in our ancient Vedic religion belonged to this noble tradition, they faithfully adhered to this practice. That is why one of the names of the Vedas is Shruti - or that which is heard. As time passed, the practice of hearing became that of writing down; no one is able to specify that period with certainty. But one thing is definite: that the books such as the Vedas, Brahma Sutras, Upanishads, Gita were written about five thousand years ago. From this it is understood that the act of writing down the knowledge received is also quite ancient. During that time, knowledge was written in terms of aphorisms. Then gradually the aphorism form transformed into poetry and became simpler. The composition of that period was in Sanskrit language alone. The author's only intention in recording knowledge in book form was to make the beneficial wisdom understood by the sages last for a long time for the benefit of the forthcoming generations of the human race. That is why huge treatises came into existence, and doctrines were established through the medium of books.
In the ancient times a book was written in a cryptic and very abstruse style of Sanskrit. It was difficult to read and understand. Only scholars could understand it. Therefore in order to make the aphorisms and poems accessible, Acharya Shankar wrote explanatory commentary on them in simple Sanskrit and also composed hymns of praise. Thus a Vedantic practice of making difficult writings of spiritual aphorisms and poetry simpler for the understanding of seekers was established by the venerable Shankaracharya. In the same Vedic tradition, about seventy years ago Mahamandaleshwar Swami Maheshwaranandji Maharaj was installed in the ancient ashram of Suratgiri Bangla of Haridwar. Furthering the tradition of great sages and sannyasis, with very deep contemplation, he first wrote Sanskrit commentaries on the Vedas in an illustrative style. Swamiji also had expertise in giving simple discourses in the same illustrative style. In his discourses he explained the most difficult subjects in a simple language so that everyone could understand. Once during Chaturmas in Sannyasa Ashram, Vile Parle, Mumbai, Shri Swamiji Maharaj was giving discourses on the Seventh Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita. The discourse was extremely simple as well as profound. Explanations were so beautiful that one listener felt that such explanations would never be obtained again, and should be made available to seekers in the future; and he wrote the discourses down and published them as a book in Hindi. The book was entitled Pravachan Sudha where the word 'sudha' means 'celestial nectar'; reading the discourses in this book seekers will be transformed like people who sip celestial nectar, and will become rejuvenated and energetic. This Pravachan Sudha is now being presented to you in English. It has been translated into English by Shri Umesh Nagarkatte assisted by his wife Chitra.
Once you taste this nectar any other nectar will taste insipid. This is the propitious blessing of great beings.
This book is an English translation of "Pravachana Sudha" - Nectar of Discourses - on the Seventh Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, a compilation of talks given in Hindi by Swami Maheshwaranand Giri Mahamandaleshwar more than fifty years ago in Sannyasashram, Vile Parle, Mumbai, India. The book is a unique mine of literary jewels replete with quotations from all the Vedas, numerous Upanishads, scriptures such as the Bhagawat and Ramayana, and works of poet aints in Hindi and Gujarati. Swami Maheshwaranand was a scholar, prolific writer, a great story teller and speaker of his time. He left his body in 1971. All speakers on the Gita in India have a copy of this book in their reference library. The original book went through several editions and is currently out of print.
To make this book available for non-Hindi speaking philosophers and seekers of Truth around the world was the desire of Swami Nityanand Saraswati, head of Shanti Mandir Ashrams around the world, a successor to Swami Muktanand Paramhansa of Ganeshpuri, India. He has closely worked with the late Swami Brahmanand Giri, successor of Swami Maheshwaranand, and also with Swami Vishweshwaranand Giri, successor of Swami Brahmanand, the current head of Sannyasashram. In June 1994 during Swami Brahmanand's visit to the United States, Swami Nityanand requested the would-be translator, who had received his earlier training under Swami Muktanand and his two successors, to translate the book. A few months before this request, Swami Nityanand had giventhe book to the would-be translator to read, which the latter found very fascinating. It took the translator five years to finish the assigned work. Care has been taken to maintain the spirit of the original work and to render a word-to- word translation. An accomplished editor and scholar has meticulously edited the translation.
Subject Matter: As the readers go through the book, they will come across convincing yet humorous stories. They will come to appreciate the richness, logic, and devotion of the spiritual Indian way of life and philosophy of the Vedas. The book gives the reader training in how to experience the Self in the five elements and everywhere else at every moment. It enlightens the reader with the message of the Seventh Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, which is the indirect and direct knowledge of the eternal, pure, omniscient, free Self, as the warp and woof of the universe, which the reader can experience through a sincere practice of its teaching in daily life. As a result the reader can live a joyful, carefree, simple, contented life in this world that appears increasingly complex for most people.
Lord Shrikrishna describes to Arjuna the three spiritual practices to attain the goal of attaining the Self, and tells him about the indirect and direct knowledge in the first two verses, and in the rest of the verses, fulfills his promise of imparting that knowledge to him. He shows that mind, intellect, ego, and the five elements that make perception or creation of the universe possible are His nature. He discusses that the five pure senses such as smell, the primordial sound Om, maya, the universe and its creatures, and the three qualities of which the universe is composed and to which the individual reacts, are all not different from Him. He describes His four types of devotees, who escape maya. He asserts that the Knower-devotee is his favorite, as one having the direct knowledge, and is one with Him. Even though He clearly shows that He Himself is everything in the previous verses, the one who recognizes this fact is a rare being. There are devotees of other deities who settle for temporary worldly goals, whose faith and fruits He Himself offers through those deities. The veil of yoga-maya covers His nature, so people are deluded. They do not know His infinite omniscient nature. So they get caught up in dualities and the Pravacana Sudha (Nectar of Discourses) cycle of sorrow and happiness, birth and death. But those who perform meritorious actions, surrender to the Self, and become knower-devotees, become one with the Self, and become free of old age and death. The Lord says that He is All-pervasive influence, Presiding Deity, and Principal Sacrifice, thus leading to the eighth chapter.
A summary of the contents of the book follows the preface. About the Translator: The translator, Umesh Nagarkatte, and his wife Chitra, have been disciples of Swami Muktanand Paramhansa since 1972. They worked closely with Swami Muktanand studying and translating the works of saints and scriptures, from 1976 till Swami Muktanand's mahasamadhi in 1982. Some of the works translated included the Rudram and Narada Bhakti Sutras into English, as well as Nasruddin Stories and early Christian stories from English into Hindi. They also worked on several projects with Swami Muktanand's two successors until 1985, and currently work with successor Mahamandaleshwar Swami Nityanand Saraswati. Umesh has translated Lalita Sahasranam and undertakes numerous other translation projects that arise from time to time.
Umesh is professor of mathematics in the City University of New York and holds a Ph. D. in Number Theory from Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has published more than ten philosophical articles in English and Marathi in magazines in India and USA.
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