Wednesday, November 23, 2005

BhagavadGunaDarpana - Vishnu Sahasranama

Vishnu Sahasranama stotra is composed by Veda Vyasa and occurs during the Anusasana Parvan (Section 149, verses 14 to 120) phase of the Mahabharatha. While the Srimad Bhagavad Gita signals the beginning of the Kurukshetra war, Sahasranama stotra marks the end of the war. The stotra begins when Bheeshma Pitamaha lies on the bed of arrows waiting for his time to depart. Yudhishtira approaches Bheeshma and asks him six questions, which any person, who seeks to know the true meaning of God, would ask. Instead of propounding his own theory on what he thinks about God and the means to attain god, Yudhishtira wisely asks the knowledgable Bheeshma. The whole Sahasranama Stotra from beginning to end is a conversation between Yudhishtira, Bheeshma and the narration of the conversation by Sanjaya to Dhirthirashtra (with some quotes from Arjuna and Krishna)

Among the 40 odd commentaries on the Anusasana Parvan, Sankara's is the first. Incidentally this is also Sankara's first ever commentary (under Govind Acharya's tutelage). While Sankara provides the advaitic stand point, Parasara Bhatta, a disciple of Ramanuja provides the Vishitadvaitha stand point with heavy counter arguments against the initial theory. Parasara's work is called BhagavadGunaDarpana. Sri Satyasandha Yatiswara provides the Dvaita commentary for the same episode. This post is my understanding of the scripture after reading the analysis of Vishnu Sahasranama Bhashya of Parasara Bhatta by Dr. S Padmanabhan in his doctoral thesis on Parasara Bhatta and his contribution to Vishishtadvaitha. Dr.Padmanabhan belongs to the Department of Sanskrit, University of Madras. BhagavadGunaDarpana is Parasara's life's work. Apart from this Parasara Bhatta is reputed to have written 5 master pieces on various aspects of God. This post focuses mainly on his Vishnu Sahasranama bhashya (commentary). While Sankara's work came about in the 6/7th century, it is difficult to place Parasara's works. Dr. Padmanabhan places it approximately after Ramanuja's passing away(1137) in the 12th century. Anyway moving on to the actualy commentary....

Vaishyampayana, Dhrithirashtra's narrator says -- "Yudhishtira , a righteous man(dharmana) asks Bheeshma (shaantanavam) 6 questions". Here, Parasara notes that Bheeshma interestingly replies to these questions in more or less reverse order. The 6 questions are -

Kimekam daivatham loke kim vapyekam parayanam
Sthuvantha kam kamarchanta prapnuyur manava shubam
Ko dharma sarva dharmanam bhavatha paramo mathaha
Kim japan muchyathé janthur janma samsara bandhanath

1) The first question without specifying any deity asks "Who(kim) is the supreme(ekam) deity(daivatam) in the world" ?
2) The second question talks about the supreme value/abode (parayaanam) for a man to pursue.
3) Parasara believes the third question asks for the easy means to acheive the highest goal. ( Whom should I praise (sthuvanthan)?)
4) The fourth question asks for the more difficult means to acheive the same goal. (Whom should I worship (archantaah)?)
5) The fifth question is - What is the highest heaven/fullest conception of an ideal endeavour/virtue for a man to pursue?
6) What is the proper japa and whom should it be directed at to release us from material bondage (bandanaath)?

Bheeshma Picks up the last question of Yudhishtira and says "according to me - he who praises the Lord with the 1000 names is above all others. The answer to the second question is given next - The object of worship is Purushottama (Krishna) - the highest being who can be approached through meditation, praise and adoration. While commenting on this answer, Parasara is the only commentator to talk about "anuraga" (pure love) to attain god. Bheeshma then answers the 5th question saying " in my considered view worshipping Lord Vishnu is the highest virtue for a man to pursue". Here Parasara brings out the meaning Bhaktiyoga by using quotations from other older works. Bheeshma then answers the other two questions saying that - attaining Lord Vishnu, the Brahman (word, unrelated to the caste - brahmins) of the Upanishads is the highest goal in life. The nature of Vishnu is explained by Bheeshma in brief as the sole cause of creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe. Bheeshma then re-iterates that the repitition of these 1000 names of the deity purifies one from all sins and removes sorrow.

Parasara seems to be an expert in etymology and seems to be capable of providing (while not actually doing so) 4 -5 meanings for each of the 1000 names. He also seems to have explained wonderfully what Bheeshma calls gaunani (derived from qualities and actions of the Lord) and vikhyatani (well known). It is important to note that any commentary on the prasthana-traya (Vedas, Upanishads and the Gita) and related works like the Sahasranama are always means to an end. Every commentator finds a pattern in these texts that supports his hypothesis of what/who god is and means of reaching god. The hypothesis that has least number of contradictions or vedic violations is an accepted hypothesis. Apart from providing the commentary, Parasara spends a lot of time arguing against the advaitic viewpoints on nirguna and saguna Brahman. He argues extensively that chanting the 1000 names could be a "higher" means to attain god and not necessarily a "lower" means to attain god. He lists the flaws on removal of avidhya that he notes while quoting evidences form various puranas. I am a fan of analogies and Parasara's use of spider and the web to explain material/effective cause & effect was very interesting (the Lord(spider) is the cause and we(web) is the effect. The web later dissolves by the spider's own saliva). His insistence on there being only one material and effective cause makes sense but at the same time difficult to follow. Most of the thesis (which has been released as a book by the Vishitadvaitha research center) is tough to follow. The English is complex ( I mean really complex when they start talking about sentinent and non-sentinent entities) and refers to many concepts in the Gita that were beyond me. While a basic introduction to bhakti yoga, the vedantha concepts would help to understand this book, it does not help all the way.

I am still very naescent on Vedanthic readings. However, from reading an English transalation of Githartha Sangraha (where Yamuna Muni introduces Vishitadvaitha for the first time) and an analysis of Parasara Bhatta's works - it seems to me that man began his quest for God from the days of Yudhishtira. Sankara, Ramanuja, Desika and Madhvachariyar have proposed theories, which I feel are much similar to the scientific theories on gravity, relativity, atomic model etc. Each person proposes a theory and the next generation constantly refines, corrects and develops on that (its just my feeling. I know that many needn't share this).
Note: From talking to various people on this issue and referring to various sources on Sahasranama, it appears that there are actually 1031 names and not 1000. The additional words are considered by experts to be adjectives for the respective nouns and not nouns themselves. Veda Vyasa uses masculine names to describe Lord.Vishnu, feminine names to indicate Vishnu's power and capabilities, and gender neutral terms are used to describe vedic attributes. Approximately 90 names are repeated with a couple of names occuring at least four times.
Disclaimer: I am a learner trying to keep a few baby steps into this vast domain. If there are elders/more knowledgable people reading this and find this post incorrect, please excuse me. I am trying to learn and crystallize my understanding by writing blogs on it. This way I not only disperse info but also understand it better in the process.


Anupadmaja said...

Bharath could you clarify something for me?

Why is Dhridhrashtra's narrator Yudhishtira? Mahabharath on tv said Dhridhrashtra's minister was his narrator during the war. Is this another period we are talking about?

[Just for fun:
And of course there is this silly question: If Yudhishtir is talking to Bhishma, how come he is narrating to Dhridhrashtra too?;) I guess its like Krishna showing the universe in his mouth leaving us wondering about where then are his mom and himself standing ;)]

I guess i dont need a disclaimer. My comment says volumes about how little i know in this subject :)

Hawkeye said...

the answer is "vaishampayana" (vidhuran) is dhirthirashtra's narrator. Where did I say that yudhishtra was dhirthirashtra's narrator?

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Hawkeye, I thought I was a lone species who is interested in reading Upanishads and the Puranas, etc if I get time. Glad to have found your interest and good to read this stuff from you. Keep them coming.

Sowmya said...

Very nice post. Your post cleared some cobwebs in my head! Can you tell me where I can get the book "Vishnu Sahasranama Bhashya of Parasara Bhatta by Dr. S Padmanabhan". With all the Vedantic readings, if you don't find the right book, you end up with more cobwebs in your head than you started with. That is my experience.:-) A request - your views on visishtadvaita siddhanta??

Anonymous said...


Sanjaya is the one who is talking to King Dhritharashtra. He was able to witness every incident on the battlefield,including the Gitopedesha, as and when they happened. He could do that being empowered by a blessing endowed on him by his Guru, Sri Vyasa. For proof: Bhagavad Gita verses 18.74-18.78

Mahabharata on TV is just that. Don't take everything in it as factual.


I couldn't understand if the post was supposed to start a discussion on something or not... would be better if you clarified that.


Hawkeye said...


this could just be a fyi kind of post and could be something that kick starts a discussion. Your comments seems like you have something to offer.

i am willing to learn. so you can take it as a kickstart of discussion. the disclaimer is that - i dont want to argue because my knowledge is not extensive enough to begin an argument.

so your views are welcome but in terms of responses, i may not be able to come up with good counter args. but other readers might.

Hawkeye said...

also thanks for mentioning sanjaya..i just corrected an embrassing error :-)

Anonymous said...

Its hard enough to find people even willing to discuss about stuff like this... especially at a time when trying to be "hip" by rejecting our 'treasures' has become a fashion.

So rest assured... I am not looking for an argument either... just a healthy, interesting discussion.


Hawkeye said...



/* especially at a time when trying to be "hip" by rejecting our 'treasures' has become a fashion. */

i agree. i somehow get upset when people start giving their own definition of god and their trivial solutions on how to approach Him. to me that is neglecting the treasures also.

eagerly waiting for you to kick start discussions :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, what have I gotten myself in to? :P... ok. Lets start with the comment that Sowmya made:

" A request - your views on visishtadvaita siddhanta?? "

I am not familiar with that in detail. Care to post more on it?

You also said "I somehow get upset when people start giving their own definition of god and their trivial solutions on how to approach Him."

Alright... what would the good readers of the blog have to say towards this?

R said...

I read your post in a more detailed fashion and I saw you made some references to Parasara being good at etymology. So I thought I might add this too...

One of the reasons why there seems to be so much confusion in interpreting the vedic scriptures is because sanskrit words have the quality of multiple meanings depending on context and the user. A more extreme example would be the verse which starts with the word "Atmarama" in Bhagavatam. It has been recorded that it was given 64 unique explanations by Sri Chaitanya.

"Parasara is the only commentator to talk about "anuraga" (pure love) to attain god."

If my knowledge serves me right, I would not say that he was the 'only' one to put forth that method.

uknowme said...


right now i know only 1 thing.
God , to me appears now , as an abstract concept we have built around us to protect ourselves from others as you referred earlier in one of your posts....... emotional ventilation...remember ?????

Becoz when i asked death i never got it. so i dont think god exists. if he exists i shall get death ASAP. and after my death my soul will accept that god actually exists and my soul will be very happy......

Hawkeye said...


somebody has taken the pains to do the "who is god" research b4 us. the least we cud do is know what that is b4 developing our own theories.

uknowme said...

u r telling me that all the managers cannot practise managemenet because they are not qualified MBA's or they have not read all the management books b4 to actually do management. then atleast 80% of the managers in our area dont deserve to be managers.

Anonymous said...

This topic does not deserve a blog from you.

Hawkeye said...


why did u go to school or read text books?

R said...

@Uknowme: You DO NOT become an accomplished doctor, engineer or manager just by reading books or speculating your way through it. You need to go through a proper teacher in a proper institution and only after so many years of practise and trials, can you call yourself a good established professional. What amazes me is how people can do that without a single question, but when it comes to the aspect of spirituality, they somehow assume themselves to be in divine illumination, capable of understanding something that is trillions more complex than the most complex scientific theorem.

What you have stated is a mere speculation, devoid of any basis, though you are surely entitled to having your opinion.

@ The anon person leaving comments about deserving a blog and such:

How about giving some suggestions then, huh?

Anonymous said...

Out of topic:

two more happening things in outside practical world ......

1. South Africans Annihilating Indians in kolkata one day
2. Greg Chapell showing middle finger to indian reporters in kolkata.

chk them out.

uknowme said...


i never read text books except before exams :-) ...that too i did it as a burden because i have to clear exams....and i did them in distinction...unfortunately

r spirituality for me is --->

1. Try to See God in each and every human being
2. Control your anger as much as possible.
3. No Matter what always take the stand of good.
4. Forgive others as much as you can.... not to an extent of killing another human being...

then lord himself has taken an avatar to kill those who kill others.

Answer me one simple question...
I am not diverting but.... sonmewaht related to making a living...

How many people on earth today dont show thier anger on beggars who are also another living beings likes us

...or even for that matter who do wrong ....

many times i heard the word bastard being spelled out by people ... who talk about vishistadvaitha and other upanishads.....
do u support these people... ???

How many people live their life by their hearts ?

How many people have true intentions when they do things.

I dont mean to support mother teressa or for that matter i am not asking for social service ..

be pure... as much as you can..
and let the spirituality lead you from your pureness of purpose than from the cunningness and murkiness in each and every action that people who are in the mask of goodness do or speak.

I do understand this is impossible.Most of the times we compromise. We have to ... no choice... . otherwise we cannot survive....

then comes this concept called as god.. and emotional ventilation... to protect from others our bad actions.... where as we dont know that our pureness is in itself the first step towards the spirituality.

I am just 26. may be i am wrong here. i am not as learned as many of the people who read or write this blog. but this is the essence of all the upanishads and vedas had to teach may be.... i dont know... but this is what i believe and this is what i learnt practically....

R said...

@ Uknowme:

Age has nothing to do with maturity. I am only 24, if it would be of any help in reassuring you.

Let me try to answer you briefly.

a) The 4 pointers you have mentioned... every single one of them are explained in detail in our vedas. But they are all explained from with one focus point, which you have decided is a concept. To my knowledge, the essence of the vedas and upanishads reveal something much more complex than just a concept.

b) Regarding the begging thing... I agree. Most of the people simply ignore or get angry with beggars. But how many of those are genuinely helpless? Do you really believe giving them a rupee or so will be helpful? I started giving them food instead. (some threw it away right in front of me, shouting obscenities. Those are not genuine beggars, IMO.)

c) You ask the question "how many people..." a couple of times. How does it matter? This question arises, in my opinion, from preconceptions. You have decided by your experiences that these things define a spiritual person... like not saying the word "bastard" and such. I do not condone saying such things, but people are not perfect. You cannot judge them by just one word of theirs.

d) Compromise must be done. Very true. But only on the details, not on the principle. And THAT is very hard to do without proper guidance.

e) You say " i dont know... but this is what i believe and this is what i learnt practically....". Well, the least you can do is be open minded and see if what I have said makes sense.

uknowme said...


answer me this....

Bastard insults a woman. ( the other persons mother )
and a woman according to all these vedas , puranas and itihasas has been described as
"shakthi swarupini" ....
( shakthi's incarnation )
( does one needs to read all these things to understand this )

this is just an example. we use many words which insults woman each and every day. does insulting woman on one hand whom we treat as shakthi swarupini ... and spelling out the knowledge of vedas and itihasas go hand in hand.

Why do i need to still go deep and understand the complexities involved in vedas and itihasas when people ignore such a small thing in their day to day life.

i do understand we need to be open minded..... but i believe when talking about vedas and itihasas and the knowledge that we gain from them we need to be very careful to follow the basics taught in them.

Leave aside the complexities ... of vedas. dont u think women can be treated as next thing to god. they are the origin for each and every one of us. without them there is no further life at all. may be the man is reason for the life , but a woman bears it all the way 9 months experiencing the pains which are hard to bear even for a single day.

If not they be treated as god , cant we stop referring them in an insulting manner. if this can be done , i believe it goes a long and better way than reading all those things.

btw do u think u r being open minded. no , not at all. if u r really open minded and would have thought about this atleast once , u will never support the word that i mentioned above and the words that insult woman.

dont get an impression that i am a female chauvinist.i am a man and this is one of the contradictory things that i observed in our day to day life which people know , but has never given a thought.

if u still disagree with me ...
i think u r being more bookish and theoritical than applying the basic knowledge that everyone knows in your day to day life...
and who in my opinion are a kind of person who unless u understand each and every word of brilliant tutorials material for IAS , u cannot be successful in IAS :-)

R said...

"Why do I need to still go deep and understand the complexities involved in vedas and itihasas when people ignore such a small thing in their day to day life."

This is like saying "Why would I go and study engineering or medicine in detail when so many people are not using the Internet?"

"dont u think women can be treated as next thing to god. they are the origin for each and every one of us."

Going by your own idea, wouldn't that simply make it another venue for emotional ventilation? What good does it do? (Though, I do respect my mother to near revered status, but not 'as' God.)

All that I gather from your post is, "There are so many things people are not following, so why should 'I' spend time to know about vedas and such?". But my point is, we have to and can learn what ancient wisdom has to offer instead of resigning efforts to simply jumping to our own conclusions based on limited senses and experiences.

Close minded and bookish surely are not my characteristics... but yes, you are entitled to your opinion.

Hawkeye said...


social service - theosophy/ religion are independent things. i dont believe u have to do the former to be even related to the latter. i see it as stupidity.

if mother teresa did it. it is her style. there is no obligation for others to follow the same.

people who read upanishads are human beings too. they can secual desire, get angry, spit on the road, eat masala dosa, scract their armpits, pick on their nose.

reading and knowing about upanishads doesn't really preclude you from being a human being otherwise. if during the process of learning they understand that using the word "bastard" etc is incorrect they they should stop it thats it.

for the sake of ur it fair if we conclude that people who use ..whatever.. "bastard" etc stop using that and then get into reading stuff and people who dont use it anyway..just read stuff.

my basic point to you was - if you give your thoery on God etc off-hand with 2 minutes of thought and say this is god. i am less likely to care/believe than a person who has read a lot and has more logic in words.

yues! education is important because it is also developed from somebody's real life experience. so somebody who is educated and also has real life experiences is a better teacher for me than just somebody who is going to talk about "laughter" "happiness" hugging and all that crap

uknowme said...


u got me wrong.
anyways no more arguments.

i dont mean to show disrespect towards education nor disrespect towards acient wisdom... but i just tried to highlight the contradictory things that r happening in day 2 day life.

thats all.

r u referring munnabhai here ?

Anamika said...


Just curious. At the age of 24, how do you find time to enrich yourself with this topic? Is there a history or a basis to this interest or is it just plain curiosity?

R said...

@Uknowme: Hehe... I promised Bharath that I will not enter into an argument too. And I think I have kept it as much as possible. Hope everything will turn out well for you.

@Bharath(I spied your name on the blog somewhere :). Hope you don't mind me using it to address you)

"social service - theosophy/ religion are independent things"

Very true. This idea of social service associated with religion/spirituality is a modern concept of convenience and one which is NOT supported by any of the dvaita schools. Its not like they do not encourage social service, they just do it in a more... non-material.. way.


Hmm... there is no simple answer to your question. It just started as a desire to search for answers to some questions which are beyond the reductionist logic of science. Time is not a problem at all... if you like what you are doing... like how people spend hours upon hours watching cricket matches. :P

unkowme said...

r ,

Do u really know me ?

just to assure you that i dont mean to underestimate the value of education , ... my mother tongue as many of the bloggers here is not english.... but i am all ready to accept with you that it is the education thay makes a person explore several beautiful things created by god.

i dont know how u figured me out of the 42000 visitors to your site... but i think i am unique among all your friends. i am honoured :-)

R said...


"Do u really know me ?"

Why would you ask this question to me? Anyhow, the answer is 'no'. For that matter, I don't know anyone on this blog either... just stumbled across it.

Aswin Anand T.H. said...


There is a book "Living with the Himalayan Masters" by Swami Rama. Although the whole book is very good, the 2 chapters of Dattatreya & Adi Shankaracharya are real eye openers.

To know what vedas & upanishads really mean, see these 2 links
1. How we got the vedas
2. Significance of the Vedas

Suresh Ramani said...

on a tangential note: it is considered by some that sankara was dated back to a few hundred ADs by the English on purpose and the actual date was more in the BCs .. just another unproven theory such as the Aryan invasion ..

The "dating" of Sankara's work is of great significance though, depending on how you look at it, considering that Plato theorized about Dvaita and Advaita in 300 BC ..

the works of Plato is of great significance to the development of spirituality in Christianity - as saints such as Thomas Aquinas (roughly around 1200 AD) extended Plato's theories (which were lost to the western world for nearly a millenium and got it back thanks to the Muslims) to Dualism, Non-Dualism and Monism.

Makes for an interesting connection doesn't it?


Deepa said...

Good post hawkeye. Visit when you have time. Its a comprehensive website on Indian temples with no external links.

Ananth said...


I don't have much spiritual knowledge. If the Vishnu Sahasranama is just chanting a 1000 names of Vishnu, do YOU think it is a good thing to pursue? Is it because Bheeshma said and felt that way or do you know of other reasons. The reason I ask is because for a long time now, I have been thinking of chanting the VS but never quite came around to doing it, partly because of understanding slokas that carry a lot of meaning and messages relevant to me on a personal basis. I'd appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks.

Hawkeye said...


disclaimer: the key thing here is belief. so if you have belief things will flow logically. if you don't then you can just about question everything. there is no way i can alter/comment-on something as high-level as belief. thats purely personal.

/* If the Vishnu Sahasranama is just chanting a 1000 names of Vishnu, */

for some (or even many) the use of "just" would seem inappropriate. But you are entitled to your views. For those who think it adds value and is a big thing - it is worth their time/effort to do so.

/* do YOU think it is a good thing to pursue?*/

What I think really does not matter. I have never thought of myself (and almost all people I have interacted with) as people who are knowledgable/capable enough to formulate theories on God and approaches to God. I sort of glaze over when people say "this is what I think God is" and say a Rajinikanth like one-line common sense statement. To me that is someone excersing fundametal rights to talk and I don't object to it.

To me - What Bheeshma thinks and says matters a lot because (well for one he just doesnt throw a theory out for the fun of it while sleeping in his arrow bed).. he is known to be well read and wise (and there is a history behind his knowledge). That Vyasa chose to include this in his works is significant. (so this loops back to the "belief" part)

And in general i feel i am just learning and probably have miniscule knowledge about the whole thing. so while i am at this stage i really confirm first - develop knowledge - (if required) challenge status quo. so until "develop knowledge" phase isn't over, I do not make categorical conclusions about anything.

regarding your comment on personal relevance. so many things, which I initially thought were personally irrelvant became relevant. i was humbled by that. so in general i would decide what is relevant and what is not- very carefully.

i am so tempted to use galdalf'ish quotes but i resisted doing so.

R said...

This is for Ananth:

Srimad Bhagavad Gita
Chapter 3 verse 21

"Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues. "

Bheeshma is considered as one of the greatest leaders, a 'Srestha'. That is one reason why Bheeshma's choice is being and can be followed.

BARATH said...

It is good to know the meaning. Though the name says it is Vishu's sahasranama, I always wondered what Bheesma, Yudhistra had to do with this.

In fictions, the narration in the form of dialogues is the most effective way to convey stuff without losing the reader's interest. Now we know where they stole the idea ;)

/* Sankara, Ramanuja, Desika and Madhvachariyar have proposed theories, which I feel are much similar to the scientific theories on gravity, relativity, atomic model etc.*/

I am tempted to extrapolate on this, but this is not the right blog for that. Very interesting analogy. Kudos!

Anonymous said...

Hi B

Nice to see you are broadening your horizons beyond MASH, cricket and Aishwarya Rai, in that order. You are very close to becoming a member of the 'society':) Next, I am looking forward to your comments on Carnatic music. Recruiting marathon at W has drawn to a close, finally. Now, on to the finals.


Hawkeye said...

yow War,

recruiting marathon in Mich has also almost closed. next week is finals.. 'janavary' closed list will tell the story :-)

'karnataka music' is still some years ahead.

Rajesh said...

Your disclaimer for this post is like

Kayena vaacha manasenthrivaivaa..."

Please post the difference between Adhvaitham and Vishsit- Advaitam

Anonymous said...

Well, I have been reading the post & the ensuing comments with great interest. Since this is a 'declared' discussion I thought I will explain the distinction between Advaitam(AD) & Vishistadvaitam(VAD)using my paltry knowledge.....

Basically AD & VAD are two different schools of Vedanta. Before the differences, it has to be stressed that all schools of Vedanta advocate Self-Realisation as life's ultimate ideal and the different schools arose in an attempt to construct a consistent theory based on the Upanishads, Brahmasutras & The Bhagavadgita without internal contradictions.

The Differences arise in two main aspects:
1. The nature of the Supreme Soul (in easy terms, God)and the ensuing epistemlology & metaphysics
2. The path towards reaching the Supreme Soul(God) which is Self-Realisation.

Advaitam on 1. The Supreme Soul has no dualities and is without any qualities( NIRGUNAM ) and can be known & realised as a quality-less Abstract.
Vishistadvaitam on 1. The Supreme Soul has no dualities and yet has qualities(attributes) by which we can know & realise it.
Advaitam on 1. The world is issued forth from the Supreme Soul by Maya(variously interpreted as falsity, illusion, ignorance) but Maya itself is inexplicable.
Vishistadvaitam on 1. The world and all the individual spirits in it are the attributes or qualities of the Supreme Soul & form the Supreme Soul's body.

Advaitam on 2. Self realisation can happen only by following the path of knowledge(jnana marga). Even if we follow the path of action(Karma marga) and the path of love(Bhakti Marga) eventually it should lead to jnanamarga before self realisation occurs.
VAdvaitam on 2. Realisation can happen only through Bhakti. Knowledge by itself cannot lead to it. Karma marga(action) leads to jnanam(knowledge) and knowledge perfected, made steady & constant is Bhakti. Further V.advaitam says Man as a finite being cannot be perfect in action, knowledge or Bhakti, so the way to Self realisation (or realisation of the Supreme soul, which is the same) is by surrending one's self completely to God instead of relying on oneslf alone.(prapatti, Saranagati)

Within this, those who believe that the Lord will take care of us like a cat cares for its kitten by picking it up from danger & depositing it in a safe place, belong to the Tenkalai sect.
Those wgo believe that we have to hold on to the Lord to be saved, like a monkey-kid holds on to it mother, belong to the Vadakalai sect.

These are the basic differences with various other differences arising from the above two. I hope it helped.


kindly excuse any errors - my knowledge is limited & do comment further.

bhattathiri said...


Mind is very restless, forceful and strong, O Krishna,
it is more difficult to control the mind than to
control the wind ~ Arjuna to Sri Krishna
The ancient (nearly 5000 years old) Indian
philosophy of keepiing mind and body for the well
being, has entered the managerial, medical and
judicial domain of the world. Today it has found its
place as an alternative to the theory of modern
management and also as a means to bring back the right
path of peace and prosperity for the human beings. One
of the greatest contributions of India to the world is
Holy Gita which is considered to be one of the first
revelations from God. The Bhagavad-Gita is the
essence of Vedic Literature and a complete guide to
practical life. It provides “all that is needed to
raise the consciousness of man to the highest possible
level.” , reveals the deep, universal truths of life
that speak to the needs and aspirations of everyone.
Arjuna got mentally depressed when he saw his
relatives with whom he has to fight.( Mental health
has become a major international public health concern
now). To motivate him the Bhagavad Gita is preached in
the battle field Kurukshetra by Lord Krishna to Arjuna
as a counseling to do his duty while multitudes of men
stood by waiting . It has got all the management
tactics to achieve the mental equilibrium and to
overcome any crisis situation. The Bhagavad Gita can
be experienced as a powerful catalyst for
transformation. Bhagavad gita means song of the
Spirit, song of the Lord. The Holy Gita has become a
secret driving force behind the unfoldment of one's
life. In the days of doubt this divine book will
support all spiritual search.This divine book will
contribute to self reflection, finer feeling and
deepen one's inner process. Then life in the world can
become a real education—dynamic, full and joyful—no
matter what the circumstance. May the wisdom of loving
consciousness ever guide us on our journey. What makes
the Holy Gita a practical psychology of transformation
is that it offers us the tools to connect with our
deepest intangible essence and we must learn to
participate in the battle of life with right
The Holy Gita is the essence of the Vedas,
Upanishads. It is a universal scripture applicable to
people of all temperaments and for all times. It is a
book with sublime thoughts and practical instructions
on Yoga, Devotion, Vedanta and Action. It is profound
in thought and sublime in heights of vision. It brings
peace and solace to souls that are afflicted by the
three fires of mortal existence, namely, afflictions
caused by one’s own body (disease etc), those caused
by beings around one (e.g. wild animals, snakes etc.),
and those caused by the gods (natural disasters,
earth-quakes, floods etc).

Mind can be one's friend or enemy. Mind is the cause
for both bondage and liberation. The word mind is
derived from man to think and the word man derived
from manu (sanskrit word for man).
"The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O
Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living
entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the
material energy."
There is no theory to be internalized and applied in
this psychology. Ancient practices spontaneously
induce what each person needs as the individual and
the universal coincide. The work proceeds through
intellectual knowledge of the playing field(jnana
yoga), emotional devotion to the ideal(bhakti yoga)
and right action that includes both feeling and
knowledge(karma yoga). With ongoing purification we
approach wisdom. The Bhagavad Gita is a message
addressed to each and every human individual to help
him or her to solve the vexing problem of overcoming
the present and progressing towards a bright future.
Within its eighteen chapters is revealed a human
drama. This is the experience of everyone in this
world, the drama of the ascent of man from a state of
utter dejection, sorrow and total breakdown and
hopelessness to a state of perfect understanding,
clarity, renewed strength and triumph.
Introduction Management has become a part and
parcel of everyday life, be it at home, in the office
or factory and in Government. In all organizations,
where a group of human beings assemble for a common
purpose, management principles come into play through
the management of resources, finance and planning,
priorities, policies and practice. Management is a
systematic way of carrying out activities in any field
of human effort.
Its task is to make people capable of joint
performance, to make their weaknesses irrelevant, says
the Management Guru Peter Drucker. It creates harmony
in working together - equilibrium in thoughts and
actions, goals and achievements, plans and
performance, products and markets. It resolves
situations of scarcity, be they in the physical,
technical or human fields, through maximum utilization
with the minimum available processes to achieve the
goal. Lack of management causes disorder, confusion,
wastage, delay, destruction and even depression.
Managing men, money and materials in the best possible
way, according to circumstances and environment, is
the most important and essential factor for a
successful management.
Management guidelines from the Bhagavad Gita There
is an important distinction between effectiveness and
efficiency in managing.
· Effectiveness is doing the right things.
· Efficiency is doing things right.
The general principles of effective management can
be applied in every field, the differences being more
in application than in principle. The Manager's
functions can be summed up as:
· Forming a vision
· Planning the strategy to realise the
· Cultivating the art of leadership.
· Establishing institutional excellence.
· Building an innovative organisation.
· Developing human resources.
· Building teams and teamwork.
· Delegation, motivation, and communication.

· Reviewing performance and taking
corrective steps when called for.
Thus, management is a process of aligning people and
getting them committed to work for a common goal to
the maximum social benefit - in search of excellence.
The critical question in all managers’ minds is how
to be effective in their job. The answer to this
fundamental question is found in the Bhagavad Gita,
which repeatedly proclaims that “you must try to
manage yourself.” The reason is that unless a manager
reaches a level of excellence and effectiveness, he or
she will be merely a face in the crowd.
Old truths in a new context The Bhagavad Gita,
written thousands of years ago, enlightens us on all
managerial techniques leading us towards a harmonious
and blissful state of affairs in place of the
conflict, tensions, poor productivity, absence of
motivation and so on, common in most of Indian
enterprises today – and probably in enterprises in
many other countries.
The modern (Western) management concepts of vision,
leadership, motivation, excellence in work, achieving
goals, giving work meaning, decision making and
planning, are all discussed in the Bhagavad Gita.
There is one major difference. While Western
management thought too often deals with problems at
material, external and peripheral levels, the Bhagavad
Gita tackles the issues from the grass roots level of
human thinking. Once the basic thinking of man is
improved, it will automatically enhance the quality of
his actions and their results.
The management philosophy emanating from the West,
is based on the lure of materialism and on a perennial
thirst for profit, irrespective of the quality of the
means adopted to achieve that goal. This phenomenon
has its source in the abundant wealth of the West and
so 'management by materialism' has caught the fancy of
all the countries the world over, India being no
exception to this trend. My country, India, has been
in the forefront in importing these ideas mainly
because of its centuries old indoctrination by
colonial rulers, which has inculcated in us a feeling
that anything Western is good and anything Indian is
The result is that, while huge funds have been
invested in building temples of modem management
education, no perceptible changes are visible in the
improvement of the general quality of life - although
the standards of living of a few has gone up. The same
old struggles in almost all sectors of the economy,
criminalisation of institutions, social violence,
exploitation and other vices are seen deep in the body
The source of the problem The reasons for this
sorry state of affairs are not far to seek. The
Western idea of management centres on making the
worker (and the manager) more efficient and more
productive. Companies offer workers more to work more,
produce more, sell more and to stick to the
organisation without looking for alternatives. The
sole aim of extracting better and more work from the
worker is to improve the bottom-line of the
enterprise. The worker has become a hireable
commodity, which can be used, replaced and discarded
at will.
Thus, workers have been reduced to the state of a
mercantile product. In such a state, it should come as
no surprise to us that workers start using strikes
(gheraos) sit-ins, (dharnas) go-slows, work-to-rule
etc. to get maximum benefit for themselves from the
organisations. Society-at-large is damaged. Thus we
reach a situation in which management and workers
become separate and contradictory entities with
conflicting interests. There is no common goal or
understanding. This, predictably, leads to suspicion,
friction, disillusion and mistrust, with managers and
workers at cross purposes. The absence of human values
and erosion of human touch in the organisational
structure has resulted in a crisis of confidence.
Western management philosophy may have created
prosperity – for some people some of the time at least
- but it has failed in the aim of ensuring betterment
of individual life and social welfare. It has remained
by and large a soulless edifice and an oasis of plenty
for a few in the midst of poor quality of life for
Hence, there is an urgent need to re-examine
prevailing management disciplines - their objectives,
scope and content. Management should be redefined to
underline the development of the worker as a person,
as a human being, and not as a mere wage-earner. With
this changed perspective, management can become an
instrument in the process of social, and indeed
national, development.
Now let us re-examine some of the modern management
concepts in the light of the Bhagavad Gita which is a
primer of management-by-values.
Utilisation of available resources The first lesson
of management science is to choose wisely and utilise
scarce resources optimally. During the curtain raiser
before the Mahabharata War, Duryodhana chose Sri
Krishna's large army for his help while Arjuna
selected Sri Krishna's wisdom for his support. This
episode gives us a clue as to the nature of the
effective manager - the former chose numbers, the
latter, wisdom.
Work commitment A popular verse of the Gita
advises “detachment” from the fruits or results of
actions performed in the course of one's duty. Being
dedicated work has to mean “working for the sake of
work, generating excellence for its own sake.” If we
are always calculating the date of promotion or the
rate of commission before putting in our efforts, then
such work is not detached. It is not “generating
excellence for its own sake” but working only for the
extrinsic reward that may (or may not) result.
Working only with an eye to the anticipated
benefits, means that the quality of performance of the
current job or duty suffers - through mental agitation
of anxiety for the future. In fact, the way the world
works means that events do not always respond
positively to our calculations and hence expected
fruits may not always be forthcoming. So, the Gita
tells us not to mortgage present commitment to an
uncertain future.
Some people might argue that not seeking the
business result of work and actions, makes one
unaccountable. In fact, the Bhagavad Gita is full of
advice on the theory of cause and effect, making the
doer responsible for the consequences of his deeds.
While advising detachment from the avarice of selfish
gains in discharging one's accepted duty, the Gita
does not absolve anybody of the consequences arising
from discharge of his or her responsibilities.
Thus the best means of effective performance
management is the work itself. Attaining this state of
mind (called “nishkama karma”) is the right attitude
to work because it prevents the ego, the mind, from
dissipation of attention through speculation on future
gains or losses.
Motivation – self and self-transcendence It has
been presumed for many years that satisfying lower
order needs of workers - adequate food, clothing and
shelter, etc. are key factors in motivation. However,
it is a common experience that the dissatisfaction of
the clerk and of the Director is identical - only
their scales and composition vary. It should be true
that once the lower-order needs are more than
satisfied, the Director should have little problem in
optimising his contribution to the organisation and
society. But more often than not, it does not happen
like that. (“The eagle soars high but keeps its eyes
firmly fixed on the dead animal below.”) On the
contrary, a lowly paid schoolteacher, or a
self-employed artisan, may well demonstrate higher
levels of self-actualisation despite poorer
satisfaction of their lower-order needs.
This situation is explained by the theory of
self-transcendence propounded in the Gita.
Self-transcendence involves renouncing egoism, putting
others before oneself, emphasising team work, dignity,
co-operation, harmony and trust – and, indeed
potentially sacrificing lower needs for higher goals,
the opposite of Maslow.
“Work must be done with detachment.” It is the ego
that spoils work and the ego is the centrepiece of
most theories of motivation. We need not merely a
theory of motivation but a theory of inspiration.
The Great Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore
(1861-1941, known as "Gurudev") says working for love
is freedom in action. A concept which is described as
“disinterested work" in the Gita where Sri Krishna
“He who shares the wealth generated only after
serving the people, through work done as a sacrifice
for them, is freed from all sins. On the contrary
those who earn wealth only for themselves, eat sins
that lead to frustration and failure.”
Disinterested work finds expression in devotion,
surrender and equipoise. The former two are
psychological while the third is determination to keep
the mind free of the dualistic (usually taken to mean
"materialistic") pulls of daily experiences. Detached
involvement in work is the key to mental equanimity or
the state of “nirdwanda.” This attitude leads to a
stage where the worker begins to feel the presence of
the Supreme Intelligence guiding the embodied
individual intelligence. Such de-personified
intelligence is best suited for those who sincerely
believe in the supremacy of organisational goals as
compared to narrow personal success and achievement.
Work culture An effective work culture is about
vigorous and arduous efforts in pursuit of given or
chosen tasks. Sri Krishna elaborates on two types of
work culture – “daivi sampat” or divine work culture
and “asuri sampat” or demonic work culture.
· Daivi work culture - involves
fearlessness, purity, self-control, sacrifice,
straightforwardness, self-denial, calmness, absence of
fault-finding, absence of greed, gentleness, modesty,
absence of envy and pride.
· Asuri work culture - involves egoism,
delusion, personal desires, improper performance, work
not oriented towards service.
Mere work ethic is not enough. The hardened criminal
exhibits an excellent work ethic. What is needed is a
work ethic conditioned by ethics in work.
It is in this light that the counsel, “yogah karmasu
kausalam” should be understood. “Kausalam” means skill
or technique of work which is an indispensable
component of a work ethic. “Yogah” is defined in the
Gita itself as “samatvam yogah uchyate” meaning an
unchanging equipoise of mind (detachment.) Tilak tells
us that acting with an equable mind is Yoga.
(Bal Gangadhar Tilak, 1856-1920, the precursor of
Gandhiji, hailed by the people of India as "Lokmanya,"
probably the most learned among the country's
political leaders. For a description of the meanings
of the word "Yoga", see foot of this page.)
By making the equable mind the bed-rock of all
actions, the Gita evolved the goal of unification of
work ethic with ethics in work, for without ethical
process no mind can attain an equipoise. The guru, Adi
Sankara (born circa 800 AD), says that the skill
necessary in the performance of one's duty is that of
maintaining an evenness of mind in face of success and
failure. The calm mind in the face of failure will
lead to deeper introspection and see clearly where the
process went wrong so that corrective steps could be
taken to avoid shortcomings in future.
The principle of reducing our attachment to personal
gains from the work done is the Gita’s prescription
for attaining equanimity. It has been held that this
principle leads to lack of incentive for effort,
striking at the very root of work ethic. To the
contrary, concentration on the task for its own sake
leads to the achievement of excellence – and indeed to
the true mental happiness of the worker. Thus, while
commonplace theories of motivation may be said to lead
us to the bondage or extrinsic rewards, the Gita’s
principle leads us to the intrinsic rewards of mental,
and indeed moral, satisfaction.
Work results The Gita further explains the theory
of “detachment” from the extrinsic rewards of work in
· If the result of sincere effort is a
success, the entire credit should not be appropriated
by the doer alone.
· If the result of sincere effort is a
failure, then too the entire blame does not accrue to
the doer.
The former attitude mollifies arrogance and conceit
while the latter prevents excessive despondency,
de-motivation and self-pity. Thus both these
dispositions safeguard the doer against psychological
vulnerability, the cause of the modem managers'
companions of diabetes, high blood pressure and
Assimilation of the ideas of the Gita leads us to
the wider spectrum of “lokasamgraha” (general welfare)
but there is also another dimension to the work ethic
- if the “karmayoga” (service) is blended with
“bhaktiyoga” (devotion), then the work itself becomes
worship, a “sevayoga" (service for its own sake.)
Along with bhakti yoga as a means of liberation, the
Gita espouses the doctrine of nishkamya karma or pure
action untainted by hankering after the fruits
resulting from that action. Modern scientists have now
understood the intuitive wisdom of that action in a
new light.

Scientists at the US National Institute of Mental
Health in Bethesda, found that laboratory monkeys that
started out as procrastinators, became efficient
workers after they received brain injections that
suppressed a gene linked to their ability to
anticipate a reward.The scientists reported that the
work ethic of rhesus macaques wasn't all that
different from that of many people: "If the reward is
not immediate, you procrastinate", Dr Richmond told LA
(This may sound a peculiarly religious idea but it
has a wider application. It could be taken to mean
doing something because it is worthwhile, to serve
others, to make the world a better place – ed.)
Manager's mental health Sound mental health is the
very goal of any human activity - more so management.
Sound mental health is that state of mind which can
maintain a calm, positive poise, or regain it when
unsettled, in the midst of all the external vagaries
of work life and social existence. Internal constancy
and peace are the pre-requisites for a healthy
stress-free mind.
Some of the impediments to sound mental health are:
· Greed - for power, position, prestige and
· Envy - regarding others' achievements,
success, rewards.
· Egotism - about one's own accomplishments.

· Suspicion, anger and frustration.
· Anguish through comparisons.
The driving forces in today's businesses are speed
and competition. There is a distinct danger that these
forces cause erosion of the moral fibre, that in
seeking the end, one permits oneself immoral means -
tax evasion, illegitimate financial holdings, being
“economical with the truth”, deliberate oversight in
the audit, too-clever financial reporting and so on.
This phenomenon may be called as “yayati syndrome”.
In the book, the Mahabharata, we come across a king
by the name of Yayati who, in order to revel in the
endless enjoyment of flesh exchanged his old age with
the youth of his obliging youngest son for a thousand
years. However, he found the pursuit of sensual
enjoyments ultimately unsatisfying and came back to
his son pleading him to take back his youth. This
“yayati syndrome” shows the conflict between
externally directed acquisitions (extrinsic
motivation) and inner value and conscience (intrinsic
Management needs those who practise what they preach
“Whatever the excellent and best ones do, the
commoners follow,” says Sri Krishna in the Gita. The
visionary leader must be a missionary, extremely
practical, intensively dynamic and capable of
translating dreams into reality. This dynamism and
strength of a true leader flows from an inspired and
spontaneous motivation to help others. "I am the
strength of those who are devoid of personal desire
and attachment. O Arjuna, I am the legitimate desire
in those, who are not opposed to righteousness," says
Sri Krishna in the 10th Chapter of the Gita.
In conclusion The despondency of Arjuna in the
first chapter of the Gita is typically human. Sri
Krishna, by sheer power of his inspiring words,
changes Arjuna's mind from a state of inertia to one
of righteous action, from the state of what the French
philosophers call “anomie” or even alienation, to a
state of self-confidence in the ultimate victory of
“dharma” (ethical action.)
When Arjuna got over his despondency and stood ready
to fight, Sri Krishna reminded him of the purpose of
his new-found spirit of intense action - not for his
own benefit, not for satisfying his own greed and
desire, but for the good of many, with faith in the
ultimate victory of ethics over unethical actions and
of truth over untruth.
Sri Krishna's advice with regard to temporary
failures is, “No doer of good ever ends in misery.”
Every action should produce results. Good action
produces good results and evil begets nothing but
evil. Therefore, always act well and be rewarded.
My purport is not to suggest discarding of the
Western model of efficiency, dynamism and striving for
excellence but to tune these ideals to India's
holistic attitude of “lokasangraha” - for the welfare
of many, for the good of many. There is indeed a moral
dimension to business life. What we do in business is
no different, in this regard, to what we do in our
personal lives. The means do not justify the ends.
Pursuit of results for their own sake, is ultimately
self-defeating. (“Profit,” said Matsushita-san in
another tradition, “is the reward of correct
behaviour.” – ed.)
A note on the word "yoga".
Yoga has two different meanings - a general meaning
and a technical meaning. The general meaning is the
joining together or union of any two or more things.
The technical meaning is “a state of stability and
peace and the means or practices which lead to that
state." The Bhagavad Gita uses the word with both


Let us go through what scholars say about Holy Gita.

"No work in all Indian literature is more quoted,
because none is better loved, in the West, than the
Bhagavad-gita. Translation of such a work demands not
only knowledge of Sanskrit, but an inward sympathy
with the theme and a verbal artistry. For the poem is
a symphony in which God is seen in all things. . . .
The Swami does a real service for students by
investing the beloved Indian epic with fresh meaning.
Whatever our outlook may be, we should all be grateful
for the labor that has lead to this illuminating

Dr. Geddes MacGregor, Emeritus Distinguished Professor
of Philosophy University of Southern California

"The Gita can be seen as the main literary support for
the great religious civilization of India, the oldest
surviving culture in the world. The present
translation and commentary is another manifestation of
the permanent living importance of the Gita."

Thomas Merton, Theologian

"I am most impressed with A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada's scholarly and authoritative edition of
Bhagavad-gita. It is a most valuable work for the
scholar as well as the layman and is of great utility
as a reference book as well as a textbook. I promptly
recommend this edition to my students. It is a
beautifully done book."

Dr. Samuel D. Atkins Professor of Sanskrit, Princeton

"As a successor in direct line from Caitanya, the
author of Bhagavad-gita As It Is is entitled,
according to Indian custom, to the majestic title of
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
The great interest that his reading of the
Bhagavad-gita holds for us is that it offers us an
authorized interpretation according to the principles
of the Caitanya tradition."

Olivier Lacombe Professor of Sanskrit and Indology,
Sorbonne University, Paris

"I have had the opportunity of examining several
volumes published by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust and
have found them to be of excellent quality and of
great value for use in college classes on Indian
religions. This is particularly true of the BBT
edition and translation of the Bhagavad-gita."

Dr. Frederick B. Underwood Professor of Religion,
Columbia University

"If truth is what works, as Pierce and the pragmatists
insist, there must be a kind of truth in the
Bhagavad-gita As It Is, since those who follow its
teachings display a joyous serenity usually missing in
the bleak and strident lives of contemporary people."

Dr. Elwin H. Powell Professor of Sociology State
University of New York, Buffalo

"There is little question that this edition is one of
the best books available on the Gita and devotion.
Prabhupada's translation is an ideal blend of literal
accuracy and religious insight."

Dr. Thomas J. Hopkins Professor of Religion, Franklin
and Marshall College

"The Bhagavad-gita, one of the great spiritual texts,
is not as yet a common part of our cultural milieu.
This is probably less because it is alien per se than
because we have lacked just the kind of close
interpretative commentary upon it that Swami
Bhaktivedanta has here provided, a commentary written
from not only a scholar's but a practitioner's, a
dedicated lifelong devotee's point of view."

Denise Levertov, Poet

"The increasing numbers 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."

Dr. Edward C Dimock, Jr. Department of South Asian
Languages and Civilization University of Chicago

"The scholarly world is again indebted to A. C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Although Bhagavad-gita
has been translated many times, Prabhupada adds a
translation of singular importance with his

Dr. J. Stillson Judah, Professor of the History of
Religions and Director of Libraries Graduate
Theological Union, Berkeley, California

"Srila Prabhupada's edition thus fills a sensitive gap
in France, where many hope to become familiar with
traditional Indian thought, beyond the commercial
East-West hodgepodge that has arisen since the time
Europeans first penetrated India.
"Whether the reader be an adept of Indian spiritualism
or not, a reading of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is will
be extremely profitable. For many this will be the
first contact with the true India, the ancient India,
the eternal India."

Francois Chenique, Professor of Religious Sciences
Institute of Political Studies, Paris, France
"It was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small
or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice
of an old intelligence which in another age and
climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same
questions which exercise us"
Emerson's reaction to the Gita

"As a native of India now living in the West, it has
given me much grief to see so many of my fellow
countrymen coming to the West in the role of gurus and
spiritual leaders. For this reason, I am very excited
to see the publication of Bhagavad-gita As It Is by
Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. It will help
to stop the terrible cheating of false and
unauthorized 'gurus' and 'yogis' and will give an
opportunity to all people to understand the actual
meaning of Oriental culture."

Dr. Kailash Vajpeye, Director of Indian Studies Center
for Oriental Studies, The University of Mexico
"The Gita is one of the clearest and most
comprehensive one, of the summaries and systematic
spiritual statements
of the perennial philosophy ever to have been done"

"It is a deeply felt, powerfully conceived and
beautifully explained work. I don't know whether to
praise more this translation of the Bhagavad-gita, its
daring method of explanation, or the endless fertility
of its ideas. I have never seen any other work on the
Gita with such an important voice and style. . . . It
will occupy a significant place in the intellectual
and ethical life of modern man for a long time to

Dr. Shaligram Shukla Professor of Linguistics,
Georgetown University

"I can say that in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is I have
found explanations and answers to questions I had
always posed regarding the interpretations of this
sacred work, whose spiritual discipline I greatly
admire. If the aesceticism and ideal of the apostles
which form the message of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is
were more widespread and more respected, the world in
which we live would be transformed into a better, more
fraternal place."

Dr. Paul Lesourd, Author Professeur Honoraire,
Catholic University of Paris

"When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect about how
God created this universe everything else seems so

Albert Einstein

"When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me
in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the
horizon, I turn to Bhagavad-gita and find a verse to
comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the
midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on
the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from
it every day."

Mahatma Gandhi

"In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous
and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita, in
comparison with which our modern world and its
literature seem puny and trivial."

Henry David Thoreau

"The Bhagavad-Gita has a profound influence on the
spirit of mankind by its devotion to God which is
manifested by actions."

Dr. Albert Schweitzer

"The Bhagavad-Gita is a true scripture of the human
race a living creation rather than a book, with a new
message for every age and a new meaning for every

Sri Aurobindo

"The idea that man is like unto an inverted tree seems
to have been current in by gone ages. The link with
Vedic conceptions is provided by Plato in his Timaeus
in which it states 'behold we are not an earthly but a
heavenly plant.' This correlation can be discerned by
what Krishna expresses in chapter 15 of

Carl Jung

"The Bhagavad-Gita deals essentially with the
spiritual foundation of human existence. It is a call
of action to meet the obligations and duties of life;
yet keeping in view the spiritual nature and grander
purpose of the universe."

Prime Minister Nehru

"The marvel of the Bhagavad-Gita is its truly
beautiful revelation of life's wisdom which enables
philosophy to blossom into religion."

Herman Hesse

"I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-gita. It was
the first of books; it was as if an empire spoke to
us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene,
consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in
another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed
of the same questions which exercise us."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

"In order to approach a creation as sublime as the
Bhagavad-Gita with full understanding it is necessary
to attune our soul to it."

Rudolph Steiner

"From a clear knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita all the
goals of human existence become fulfilled.
Bhagavad-Gita is the manifest quintessence of all the
teachings of the Vedic scriptures."

Adi Shankara

"The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of
spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. It
is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries
of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its
enduring value is subject not only to India but to all
of humanity."

Aldous Huxley

"The Bhagavad-Gita was spoken by Lord Krishna to
reveal the science of devotion to God which is the
essence of all spiritual knowledge. The Supreme Lord
Krishna's primary purpose for descending and
incarnating is relieve the world of any demoniac and
negative, undesirable influences that are opposed to
spiritual development, yet simultaneously it is His
incomparable intention to be perpetually within reach
of all humanity."


The Bhagavad-Gita is not seperate from the Vaishnava
philosophy and the Srimad Bhagavatam fully reveals the
true import of this doctrine which is transmigation of
the soul. On perusal of the first chapter of
Bhagavad-Gita one may think that they are advised to
engage in warfare. When the second chapter has been
read it can be clearly understood that knowledge and
the soul is the ultimate goal to be attained. On
studying the third chapter it is apparent that acts of
righteousness are also of high priority. If we
continue and patiently take the time to complete the
Bhagavad-Gita and try to ascertain the truth of its
closing chapter we can see that the ultimate
conclusion is to relinquish all the conceptualized
ideas of religion which we possess and fully surrender
directly unto the Supreme Lord.

Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati

"The Mahabharata has all the essential ingredients
necessary to evolve and protect humanity and that
within it the Bhagavad-Gita is the epitome of the
Mahabharata just as ghee is the essence of milk and
pollen is the essence of flowers."

Yoga has two different meanings - a general meaning
and a technical meaning. The general meaning is the
joining together or union of any two or more things.
The technical meaning is “a state of stability and
peace and the means or practices which lead to that
state." The Bhagavad Gita uses the word with both
meanings. Lord Krishna is real Yogi who can
maintain a peaceful mind in the midst of any crisis."

Mata Amritanandamayi Devi.

Prajnanam Brahma
Consciousness is Brahman
(Aitareya Upanishad 3.3, of Rg Veda)

Other Translations: Brahman is pure consciousness;
Brahman is knowing; Brahman is intelligence

In the sentence, ‘Prajnanam Brahma’ or Consciousness
is Brahman, a definition of Reality is given. The
best definition of Brahman would be to give expression
to its supra-essential essence, and not to describe it
with reference to accidental attributes, such as
creatorship etc. That which is ultimately responsible
for all our sensory activities, as seeing, hearing,
etc., is Consciousness. Though Consciousness does not
directly see or hear, it is impossible to have these
sensory operations without it. Hence it should be
considered as the final meaning of our mental and
physical activities. Brahman is that which is
Absolute, fills all space, is complete in itself, to
which there is no second, and which is continuously
present in everything, from the creator down to the
lowest of matter. It, being everywhere, is also in
each and every individual. This is the meaning of
Prajnanam Brahma occurring in the Aitareya

Ayam Atma Brahma
This Self is Brahman
(Mandukya Upanishad 1.2, of Atharva Veda)

Other Translations: Brahman is this Self; This Self
is Brahma

The Mahavakya, ‘Ayam Atma Brahma’ or ‘This Self is
Brahman,’ occurs in the Mandukya Upanishad. ‘Ayam’
means ‘this,’ and here ‘thisness’ refers to the
self-luminous and non-mediate nature of the Self,
which is internal to everything, from the Ahamkara or
ego down to the physical body. This Self is Brahman,
which is the substance out of which all things are
really made. That which is everywhere, is also within
us, and what is within us is everywhere. This is
called ‘Brahman,’ because it is plenum, fills all
space, expands into all existence, and is vast beyond
all measure of perception or knowledge. On account of
self-luminosity, non-relativity and universality,
Atman and Brahman are the same. This identification
of the Self with Absolute is not any act of bringing
together two differing natures, but is an affirmation
that absoluteness or universality includes everything,
and there is nothing outside it.**

Tat Tvam Asi
Thou art that
(Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7, of Sama Veda,
Kaivalya Upanishad)

Other Translations: That is how you are; That art

In the Chandogya Upanishad occurs the Mahavakya,
‘Tat Tvam Asi’ or ‘That thou art.’ Sage Uddalaka
mentions this nine times, while instructing his
disciple Svetaketu in the nature of Reality. That
which is one alone without a second, without name and
form, and which existed before creation, as well as
after creation, as pure Existence alone, is what is
referred to as Tat or That, in this sentence. The
term Tvam stands for that which is in the innermost
recesses of the student or the aspirant, but which is
transcendent to the intellect, mind, senses, etc., and
is the real 'I' of the student addressed in the
teaching. The union of Tat and Tvam is by the term
Asi or are. That Reality is remote is a
misconception, which is removed by the instruction
that it is within one’s own self. The erroneous
notion that the Self is limited is dispelled by the
instruction that it is the same as Reality.**

Aham Brahmasmi
I am Brahman.
(Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10, of Yajur Veda,
Mahanarayana Upanishad)

In the sentence, ‘Aham Brahmasmi,’ or I am Brahman,
the ‘I’ is that which is the One Witnessing
Consciousness, standing apart form even the intellect,
different from the ego-principle, and shining through
every act of thinking, feeling, etc. This
Witness-Consciousness, being the same in all, is
universal, and cannot be distinguished from Brahman,
which is the Absolute. Hence the essential ‘I’ which
is full, super-rational and resplendent, should be the
same as Brahman. This is not the identification of
the limited individual ‘I’ with Brahman, but it is the
Universal Substratum of individuality that is asserted
to be what it is. The copula ‘am’ does not signify
any empirical relation between two entities, but
affirms the non-duality of essence. This dictum is
from the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad.**

Karma, Bhakti, and Jnana are but three paths to
this end. And common to all the three is renunciation.
Renounce the desires, even of going to heaven, for
every desire related with body and mind creates
bondage. Our focus of action is neither to save the
humanity nor to engage in social reforms, not to seek
personal gains, but to realize the indwelling Self
Swami Vivekananda (England, London; 1895-96 )

"Science describes the structures and processess;
philosophy attempts at their explaination.-----
When such a perfect combination of both science and
philosophy is sung to perfection that Krishna was,
we have in this piece of work an appeal both to the
head annd heart. " ____________Swamy Chinmayanand on

I seek that Divine Knowledge by knowing which
nothing remains to be known!' For such a person
knowledge and ignorance has only one meaning: Have you
knowledge of God? If yes, you a Jnani! If not, you are
ignorant.As said in the Gita, chapter XIII/11,
knowledge of Self, observing everywhere the object of
true Knowledge i.e. God, all this is declared to be
true Knowledge (wisdom); what is contrary to this is
Sri Ramakrishna .
Maharishi calls the Bhagavad-Gita the essence of
Vedic Literature and a complete guide to practical
life. It provides “all that is needed to raise the
consciousness of man to the highest possible level.”
Maharishi reveals the deep, universal truths of life
that speak to the needs and aspirations of everyone.
Maharshi Mahesh Yogi
The Gita was preached as a preparatory lesson for
living worldly life with an eye to Release, Nirvana.
My last prayer to everyone, therefore, is that one
should not fail to thoroughly understand this ancient
science of worldly life as early as possible in one’s
--- Lokmanya Tilak
I believe that in all the living languages of the
world, there is no book so full of true knowledge, and
yet so handy. It teaches self-control, austerity,
non-violence, compassion, obedience to the call of
duty for the sake of duty, and putting up a fight
against unrighteousness (Adharma). To my knowledge,
there is no book in the whole range of the world’s
literature so high above as the Bhagavad-Gita, which
is the treasure-house of Dharma nor only for the
Hindus but foe all mankind.
--- M. M. Malaviya


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Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for this post, Bharath.

Karthik Srinivas

Anonymous said...

I had a question that has been gnawing at me for some time now. When Krishna reveals his terrific wondrous form to Arjuna, how come Sanjaya is also able to see that? As it has been mentioned in the Gita itself Krishna tells Arjuna that he is able to see this form only because he has given Arjuna the divine eye. How is it then that Sanjaya is able to describe this form of Vishnu in his narration? I would really appreciate it if someone could clear my doubts.

Sharmila Krishnamurty

Wanderer said...

A friend showed me way to your blog. Enjoyed the post on thairsaadham a lot.

I am looking for a translation of Bhagawad Guna Darpana in English or Telugu. Which language is yours in? Where did you get it from?

Please post on the poetic aspect of Sri Ranganatha Stotram if you find time.

I am a ComplexNumber said...

I agree with R that "anuraga" pure love of God is also mentioned by Sri Krishna Chaitanya. The followers of such Raga mode of approach to the lord are called raganuga.
Infact Gaudiya vaishnavism, GV (by Chaitanya) is preaching exactly that as highest realization. Having a personal relation with God. But it is abused by ISKCON and their dysfunctional way of life and by their mis interpretations of GV.