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THE BHAGAVAD GITA AS IT IS. Irwin Allen Ginsberg (1926 – 1997). disagreed with many of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's required rules and regulations, but often sang the Hare Krishna mantra publicly Hare Krishna mantra > ecstasy .

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Irwin Allen Ginsberg (1926 – 1997)
  • disagreed with many of A. C. BhaktivedantaSwami's required rules and regulations, but often sang the Hare Krishna mantra publicly
  • Hare Krishna mantra > ecstasy
  • an American poet and one of the leading figures of the counterculture
  • Non-violent political protest (e.g., against the Vietnam War)
  • Buddhism/Krishnaism

The Text (Bhagavad Gita) is awesome. The vision of the Universal Form (Chapter XI) is equal to any Sublime poesy of the West, superior in detailed image to Dante's final Cantos" Paradise vision

  • The purports, or explanations of Swami Bhaktivedanta are transparent and exquisitely detailed - expositions presented here for the first time to common public Western mind -  a storehouse of old age, experience, devotion, learning, scholarship, Hindu granny-wisdom, sincerity, gaiety, and sweet transcendental insight.

Preface to The Bhagavad Gita As it Is, 1968

  • Swami Bhaktivedanta comments upon the Gita from this point of view, and that is legitimate. More than that, in this translation the Western reader has the unique opportunity of seeing how a Krsna devotee interprets his own texts. It is the Vedic exegetical tradition, justly famous, in action. This book is then a welcome addition from many points of view. It can serve as a valuable textbook for the college student. It allows us to listen to a skilled interpreter explicating a text which has profound religious meaning.

It gives us insights into the original and highly convincing ideas of the GaudiyaVaisnava school. In providing the Sanskrit in both Devanagari and transliteration, it offers the Sanskrit specialist the opportunity to re-interpret, or debate particular Sanskrit meanings--although I think there will be little disagreement about the quality of the Swami's Sanskrit scholarship. And finally, for the nonspecialist, there is readable English and a devotional attitude which cannot help but move the sensitive reader.


In every chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna stresses that devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the ultimate goal of life. This same point is summarized in the Eighteenth Chapter as the most confidential path of knowledge. In the first six chapters, stress was given to devotional service: yoginamapisarvesam... "Of all yogis or transcendentalists, one who always thinks of Me within himself is best." In the next six chapters, pure devotional service and its nature and activity were discussed. In the third six chapters, knowledge, renunciation, the activities of material nature and transcendental nature, and devotional service were described.

…In the third part of Bhagavad-gita, devotional service was established by the example of past acaryas and the Brahma-sutra, the Vedanta-sutra, which cites that devotional service is the ultimate purpose of life and nothing else. Certain impersonalists consider themselves monopolizers of the knowledge of Vedanta-sutra, but actually the Vedanta-sutra is meant for understanding devotional service, for the Lord Himself is the composer of the Vedanta-sutra, and He is its knower. 18.1.


Not much importance given to the 11th Chapter

  • My dear Arjuna, he who engages in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of fruitive activities and mental speculation, he who works for Me, who makes Me the supreme goal of his life, and who is friendly to every living being -- he certainly comes to Me. Therefore, this verse is considered to be the essence of Bhagavad-gita11.55

Qualifications for teaching and understanding the Gita

Beyond the context of the text itself

Minor (1986,203): “Considers legitimate to interpret any verse in the light of the whole system found in the Gita whether it is explicitly mentioned in that verse of the Gita or not.”

Promulgation of Krishna Consciousness

Inculcation of a Vaishnava life style

Articulation of a Theology of Krishna

Krishna Consciousness is the fulfilment of religion


Promulgation of Krishna Consciousness

A person who has given up all desires for sense gratification, who lives free from desires, who has given up all sense of proprietorship and is devoid of false ego—he alone can attain real peace. 2.71

To become desireless means not to desire anything for sense gratification. In other words, desire for becoming Krsna conscious is actually desirelessness. To understand one's actual position as the eternal servitor of Krsna, without falsely claiming this material body to be oneself and without falsely claiming proprietorship over anything in the world, is the perfect stage of Krsna consciousness. One who is situated in this perfect stage knows that because Krsna is the proprietor of everything, everything must be used for the satisfaction of Krsna. Arjuna did not want to fight for his own sense satisfaction, but when he became fully Krsna conscious he fought because Krsna wanted him to fight. For himself there was no desire to fight, but for Krsna the same Arjuna fought to his best ability. Real desirelessness is desire for the satisfaction of Krsna, not an artificial attempt to abolish desires. The living entity cannot be desireless or senseless, but he does have to change the quality of the desires. A materially desireless person certainly knows that everything belongs to Krsna(isavasyamidamsarvam [Iso mantra 1]), and therefore he does not falsely claim proprietorship over anything. This transcendental knowledge is based on self-realization-namely, knowing perfectly well that every living entity is an eternal part and parcel of Krsna in spiritual identity, and that the eternal position of the living entity is therefore never on the level of Krsna or greater than Him. This understanding of Krsna consciousness is the basic principle of real peace


Therefore, O mighty-armed, one whose senses are restrained from their objects is certainly of steady intelligence.

One can curb the forces of sense gratification only by means of Krsna consciousness, or engaging all the senses in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. As enemies are curbed by superior force, the senses can similarly be curbed, not by any human endeavor, but only by keeping them engaged in the service of the Lord. One who has understood this -- that only by Krsna consciousness is one really established in intelligence and that one should practice this art under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master -- is called sadhaka, or a suitable candidate for liberation.2.68.



For the mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krsna, and to subdue it, I think, is more difficult than controlling the wind.

Such a strong mind is supposed to be controlled by the practice of yoga, but such practice is never practical for a worldly person like Arjuna. And what can we say of modern man? The simile used here is appropriate: one cannot capture the blowing wind. And it is even more difficult to capture the turbulent mind. The easiest way to control the mind, as suggested by Lord Caitanya, is chanting "Hare Krsna," the great mantra for deliverance, in all humility. 6.34

For fickle is the mind, impetuous, exceeding strong: how difficult to curb it! As difficult to curb the wind, I would say

  • The simile of the chariot (Katha Upanishad)

The self is the owner of the chariot,

The chariot is the body,

Soul is the body’e charioteer,

Mind is the reins (that curb it)

Sesnses, they say, are the (chariot’s) steeds,

Their objects are tract before them



“Work done as a sacrifice for Visnu has to be performed; otherwise work causes bondage in this material world. Therefore, O son of Kunti, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain free from bondage. Bg3.9

“Except action for the purpose of worship, this world is bound by actions”


Inculcation of a Vaishnava life style

Articulation of a Theology of Krishna

There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough.

There is no need for men to eat animals, because there is an ample supply of grains, vegetables, fruits and milk. Such simple foodstuff is considered to be in the mode of goodness according to the Bhagavad-gita. …Anyone who eats for sense pleasure, or cooks for himself, not offering his food to Krsna, eats only sin. 6.16

  • The demigods, being pleased by sacrifices, will also please you, and thus, by cooperation between men and demigods, prosperity will reign for all.
  • The demigods are empowered administrators of material affairs. The supply of air, light, water and all other benedictions for maintaining the body and soul of every living entity is entrusted to the demigods, who are innumerable assistants in different parts of the body of the Supreme Personality of Godhead…. Some of the yajnas are meant to satisfy particular demigods; but even in so doing, Lord Visnu is worshiped in all yajnas as the chief beneficiary. It is stated also in the Bhagavad-gita that Krsna Himself is the beneficiary of all kinds of yajnas: bhoktaramyajna-tapasam. 3.11

Unintelligent men, who do not know Me perfectly, think that I, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, was impersonal before and have now assumed this personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is imperishable and supreme.

In the Brahma-samhita it is stated that the Personality of Godhead cannot be understood simply by study of the Vedanta literature. Only by the mercy of the Supreme Lord can the Personality of the Supreme be known. Therefore in this verse it is clearly stated that not only are the worshipers of the demigods less intelligent, but those nondevotees who are engaged in Vedanta and speculation on Vedic literature without any tinge of true Krsna consciousness are also less intelligent, and for them it is not possible to understand God's personal nature. Persons who are under the impression that the Absolute Truth is impersonal are described as abuddhayah, which means those who do not know the ultimate feature of the Absolute Truth. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that supreme realization begins from the impersonal Brahman and then rises to the localized Supersoul -- but the ultimate word in the Absolute Truth is the Personality of Godhead. 7.24

Krishna Consciousness is the fulfilment of religion


bhaktya mam abhijanati


tato mam tattvatojnatva

visate tad-anantaram

One can understand Me as I am, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of Me by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God. 18.55

If anyone wants to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he has to take to pure devotional service under the guidance of a pure devotee

Devotional service is there, and as long as devotional service exists, there must be God, the devotee, and the process of devotional service. (ref. 14. 26)


There are many members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness who work very hard in their office or in the factory or some other place, and whatever they earn they give to the Society. Such highly elevated souls are actually sannyasis and are situated in the renounced order of life.

It is indeed impossible for an embodied being to give up all activities. But he who renounces the fruits of action is called one who has truly renounced. 18.11.



  • Hammering his message home, and this he did in an utterly uncompromising manner.
  • Inspires action, but paralyzes critical faculties. Criticism is faithless and destructive, if it is acknowledged at all. Sharpe (1985,145)
  • The scholar, the student of GaudiyaVaisnavism, and the increasing number of Western readers interested in classical Vedic thought have been done a service by Swami Bhaktivedanta. By bringing us a new and living interpretation of a text already known to many, he has increased our understanding manyfold; and arguments for understanding, in these days of estrangement, need not be made.

SrilaPrabhupada once explained during a 1974 morning walk in Los Angeles: "Somebody protested that ‘Your Krsna consciousness movement makes people dull,' but they have not seen the Vaisnava. There were two fights in Indian history. One was between Rama and Ravana and one was at Kuruksetra. And the hero in both was a Vaisnava. We are going to produce such Vaisnavas, not these dull rascals, sitting down. We don't want these Vaisnavas -- sitting-down rascals. We want Arjuna or we want no one. That is a Vaisnava.“ Bhurijana, Surrender Unto Me