Why ‘Bhagavad Gita As It Is’?

Know the uniqueness of ‘Bhagavad-gita As It Is’ and the importance of receiving the knowledge of the Gita from an authentic source.

The Bhagavad-gita, also known as the song of God, is the world’s most widely acknowledged and respected book of practical wisdom, coming from the most ancient and profound body of knowledge – the Vedas. It appears in the epic poem Mahabharata, written approximately 5,000 years ago by the great sage Vedavyasa.

The Moral Dilemma

The situation is a profoundly moving one, involving a grief-stricken Arjuna questioning Lord Sri Krishna about the morality of killing his relatives and friends to win an earthly kingdom. Krishna addresses life’s profound aspects—identity, purpose, and true happiness. He unveils His cosmic plan, removing Arjuna’s doubts and strengthening his resolve to follow Krishna’s guidance.

Krishna wanted to address the whole of humanity and provide solutions to our problems through Arjuna. Irrespective of the circumstances we live in, we all face confusion and doubt due to the pangs of birth, death, old age, and disease. Hence, we must understand it rightly.

Why so many versions?

One common challenge when approaching the Bhagavad-gita is the availability of numerous versions. How does one determine which one to read? Lord Krishna states:

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ
proktavān aham avyayam
vivasvān manave prāha
manur ikṣvākave ’bravīt

The Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, said: I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvān, and Vivasvān instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikṣvāku. (Bhagavad-gita 4.1)

evaṁ paramparā-prāptam
imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ
sa kāleneha mahatā
yogo naṣṭaḥ paran-tapa

This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost. (Bhagavad-gita 4.2)

From these verses, we can understand that what Krishna teaches us is science passed down since time immemorial to guide us, not blind sectarian faith. When this message gets corrupted due to the influence of time, there is a necessity to reteach it. To understand the Bhagavad-gita, one must approach a bona fide spiritual master, coming in disciplic succession, meaning teaching with the same intent as Krishna. One must also be a devotee of Krishna and not be envious of Him being the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Publication of Bhagavad-gita As It Is

bhagavad gita
Srila Prabhupada, Founder-Acharya of ISKCON, noticed the society obtaining the knowledge of Gita from unauthorized sources, lacking the original meaning due to authors’ personal interpretations. In response, he wrote a commentary with the parampara understanding, which Krishna imparted to Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra.

Srila Prabhupada gives the analogy of taking medicine according to the doctor’s prescription, not interpreting the directions as per one’s own imagination. Hence, he called his commentary “Bhagavad-gita As It Is”.

Bhagavad-gita As It Is was first published as an abridged edition in 1968 by Macmillan Publishers in New York, followed by an unabridged edition in 1972. It has since been translated into more than 60 languages and distributed in the millions worldwide through ISKCON’s own publishing house, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT).

The Impact of Bhagavad-gita As It Is

Before the release of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, many versions of the Gita existed, and individuals reading them weren’t necessarily becoming devotees of Lord Krishna. With the publication of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, millions of copies have been distributed, inspiring people to embrace Lord Krishna’s teachings seriously, resulting in a meaningful and happier lives.

The academic community also expresses great admiration for Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is.


“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 University

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

“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 unauthorised ‘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

“…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 come.”
Dr. Shaligram Shukla
Professor of Linguistics, Georgetown University

Through the blessings of pure devotees like Srila Prabhupada, we can gain insight into life’s purpose, the reason behind the creation of the world by the Lord, and the ultimate objective of our existence.
With this great fortune available for our benefit at our disposal, we should take advantage of Lord Krishna’s teachings and make our lives successful.

Related Links: Five Topics of Bhagavad Gita | Glories of Reading Bhagavad gitaGita JayantiSupport Bhagavad Gita distribution | Buy Bhagavad Gita online

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