Preface

From my childhood, I have been connected to the Bhagavad-Gita, one way or another. My father (K. S. Krishna Tatachar, Sanskrit scholar and author) taught me the recitation of the Gita in the traditional, rigorous way. He would recite a line; I would hear it, see it (Sanskrit verses written in Kannada script), and repeat it twice. He would correct any mistakes in articulation and make me chant it until I got it perfectly right. I had to be attentive, otherwise the session would be prolonged. Nevertheless, I was filled with thoughts of playing cricket, hoping it wouldn’t rain and that my friend Lakshmisha would walk around so that my dad would let me go. But that wasn’t too common; my friend got dismissed more often than the session!

After I mastered the correct way of recitation, using the text as a guide, I would repeat the verses over and over again until I memorized them completely. Within a matter of one year, I could consistently repeat any verse ad lib. And so, by the time I was 9, I had memorized the entire 700 verses of the Gita.

The most thrilling moment with this rote memorization, ever fresh in my memory, was when I won the first prize in ‘Six Chapter Gita Recitation Contest’ at my school (National Middle School, Bangalore) in 1963. One of the judges of the contest was apparently so impressed that he added ten rupees of his own to the actual award amount of Rs. 29. I consider that as the most valuable ten rupees ever earned in my life since it was a blessing from HSV (Prof. H. S. Varadadeshikachar, who was to be my Sanskrit professor in college; today he is better known as H. H. Sri Rangapriya Swamy).

Before I left to the US in 1978, I requested my father to say a few words about the Gita, which I promptly recorded. In his brief talk, he said that Gita is a sarva anukoola shastra (a scriptural guide that suits everyone). That one phrase said it all. But I always wondered why even those who knew the Gita made life inconvenient for themselves and for others. Was that because of ‘something else’ (divisive ideas and traditional dogma) coming in the way? I kept reading every book on Gita I could lay my hands on; I might have read 50 versions by now. I found some new insight as well as ‘something else’, which was not always the same, but was always there, and in disguise at times. All through, I was trying to intuitively make sense, especially of some tricky verses which could be understood in multiple ways; in a way, I was trying to read Krishna’s mind.

In 1990, my brother K. Srinivas gifted me D. V. Gundappa’s discourse on Gita in Kannada, Jeevana Dharma Yoga (‘A manual for living’). This was a book first published in the ’70s, bringing national recognition to the author. I was happy to see that some of my own intuitive understanding was also echoed in DVG’s book.

My friend K. Vasudevan wanted to bring out an English translation of the Gita and asked me for a recommendation. I couldn’t think of one that I wholeheartedly liked. So in 2005, I began working on a translation, trying to keep out the ‘something else’. I had just completed a word-for-word translation to be published as a ‘one verse a day, self-study manual’ and shared the draft with a few, when the best happened. There came along my nephew, Hari Ravikumar, decades younger (only in age) as co-author with brilliant ideas, great depth, unique talents, insights, and style. He wanted to have a modern English version to make the book accessible to any person, from any culture, who wants to know about the Gita.

He put his mind, body, and soul to the cause with such great diligence and dedication that we have this book. I trust you will derive as much joy as we have derived in putting it together.

I’ve always felt unexplainable joy even while simply reciting verses of Gita. As we celebrate my father’s 108th birthday, certainly he couldn’t have given me a better gift than this. I must thank my dear wife Shailini for putting up with this ‘Gita-nut’, a title accorded to me by my kids! 

Koti Sreekrishna
Mason, Ohio, USA


In 2006 I wrote the poem Sthitapraj├▒a (‘the stable one’) inspired by my grandmother. At that time, my uncle Koti Sreekrishna was visiting India and I had shown it to him. He read it and immediately said that he’d like to include it in his Bhagavad-Gita translation. Little did I realize at that point that I would become such an integral part of the project. Working on this book has been so much fun that it has nearly yogified me.

When I wrote that poem I hadn’t read the Gita in detail and today when I look at it I realize that if I had to capture the essence of a text that I had never learned formally, it is because of a higher intuition, of which I am clueless. But certainly it is also because of the great people around me – my family, my gurus, my friends – who are always adding something, always inspiring, and always caring. They are, for me, the living Gita.

Hari Ravikumar
Bangalore, India


About This Translation
The translator’s task is to translate and not to interpret. But in places where the meaning is unclear, some interpretation creeps in. So, every translation is stained by the translator’s understanding and worldview. As translators our submission is that we have presented the Gita in the light of our own experiences, at the same time staying clear of the path connecting readers to the original text. We must mention, however, there is no equivalent to reading the Bhagavad-Gita in the original Sanskrit.

While we present just the translation in simple language, in some places we had to include additional notes at the bottom of the verse. We have put the verse number in superscript at the beginning of a verse for those who are familiar with the text and would like to compare with the original.

We have retained the original Sanskrit terms for words that we could not translate easily into English. Since those terms might be unfamiliar, we have explained them the first instance they appear in a given chapter.The Gita uses many names and epithets for Krishna and Arjuna. We have avoided translating those where we felt they did not add any value.

In the Gita, all pronouns are masculine. Our translation has retained that in places where it was not possible to have a neutral term. This should not be treated as gender bias but as a convention, just like how the moon is feminine in Spanish or the sun is masculine in French. So, for example, verse 3:21 could have well been: ‘A great woman sets an example by her actions. The whole world follows the standard that she sets.’

After initial conflicts between British and American English spellings, we chose to go with the latter.

Acknowledgments
This book would not be in your hands but for the help, encouragement, advice, critique, blessings, and wholehearted support of many people – from our own family members and friends to complete strangers (who have now become good friends). Our sincere thanks to every one of them. It would be impossible to list out everyone who helped shape this work but we owe special gratitude to a few.

Twenty-six remarkable and diverse individuals from different cultures, age-groups, professions, and dispositions reviewed the manuscript and shared their wisdom and experience, which has made this book what it is. The complete list of reviewers appears at the end of this note.

Aditya J., our editor, spent endless hours (very often late into the night) reading, analyzing, simplifying, and reshaping the text.

Ashok U., our illustrator, toiled for months before we finalized the superb sketches that you see in the book. We were inspired by his patience and tenacity to ensure that he gave us only the best. Ashok illustrated most of the book, but Shanti Karri and Naethra Sreekrishna also contributed a few lovely sketches.

Shatavadhani R. Ganesh, PhD, a great Sanskrit scholar of our time, was so kind as to go through the final manuscript and check for any failings in our translation; we were delighted and reassured when he mentioned that we had captured both the letter and the spirit of the Gita in our book.

Kanchan B. A. enriched the book design and layout with her fresh ideas and great sense of aesthetics.

Narayanan Srinivasan, one of the reviewers, went beyond what we had requested him; he worked closely with us re-working some critical verses, helped manage our Facebook page, and brainstormed on issues that we raised in our blog.

K. Vasudevan, Naresh Keerthi, M. S. Krishna, Arun Prasad, Malur Vasan, and Prateek Ranganathan gave us wonderful insights and suggestions for improvement. Though the Gita evokes different responses from each of them – ranging from rapturous love to mild contempt – they all helped significantly enhance this book.

Roy Prasad, Anshuman Borah, Divya Tyam, Anirudh Chandrakant, and Avishek Chakravarti offered lots of creative ideas for the book. Jyotsna Pattabiraman, Linda Spencer, Deepta Rangarajan, S. Swaminathan, and Jaikar Mohan enlightened us on the aspects of publishing, business, and marketing. Meeta Gangrade, Sartaj Singh Anand, Vinay Kumar, Siddarth Ramamohan, and Arun Ramanuj gave several tips on how best we can use the latest technology in connection with the book.

M. P. Ravindra, PhD and S. Revathikumari, PhD not only shared ideas but also gifted Bhagavad-Gita books by contemporary authors. Narayana Kulkarni, Hema Ravikumar, and Prathigna Poonacha helped with their contacts, shared their views, and often spoke about the book.

Corky and Holly Siegel, Patricia Smith, and Ashish and Elizabeth Khokar gave sage advice and motivation all through.

Special thanks to Dr. L. Subramaniam, Kavita Krishnamurti and their wonderful family for always inspiring, encouraging, and supporting.

Needless to say, amidst all the great things that others have contributed, any shortcomings in the book are solely our own and in no way reflect on our reviewers or advisors.

Koti Sreekrishna
Hari Ravikumar

List of Reviewers
B. Ranganayakamma, MS
Senior Mechanical Engineer and Production Planner, Science & Engineering Services
Formerly Scientist, Defence Research and Development Organization
Clarksville, MD, USA

Balazs Szeless, Dipl. Ing.
Rotarian, Rotary Club of Ferney-Voltaire
Formerly Mechanical Engineer, CERN, Geneva
Sopron, Hungary

Chandra Shekhar, PhD
Science Writer
Formerly Computer Scientist, University of Maryland
Princeton, NJ, USA

G. Sudesh Kumar, PhD
Director, SGS India Pvt. Ltd.
Green Technologies and Sustainability Expert
Gurgaon, India

Gabriel Minder, PhD
Member, Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences
Liaison, WHO-Rotary Clubs against Avoidable Blindness
Formerly Head, Management Information Services, CERN, Geneva
Former UN Consultant for Trade Development
Geneva, Switzerland

Prof. Huilan Ying, MA
College of International Studies, Zhejiang University
Hangzhou, China

Javier Lorca Espiro, MS
Electronics Engineer and Physicist
Assistant Professor, Universidad de La Frontera
Jazz Pianist and Multi-instrumentalist
Temuco, Chile

Dr. Jwala Prasad, MD
Anaesthesiologist, The Christ Hospital of Cincinnati
Yoga practitioner and teacher
Student of Jainism, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, and Umaswamy’s Tattvartha Sutra
Cincinnati, OH, USA

K. Srinivas, BS
Retired Manager, State Bank of Mysore
Scholar and Critique of Hindu epics and scriptures
Bangalore, India

Prof. M. G. Prasad, PhD
Stevens Institute of Technology
Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Board Member, Hindu University of America
Author and Playwright (Topics in Hinduism)
Hoboken, NJ, USA

Prof. M. K. Sridhar, PhD
Reader, Canara Bank School of Management Studies, Bangalore University
Executive Director and Member-Secretary, Karnataka Knowledge Commission
Bangalore, India

M. R. Srinivasan, PhD
Member and Former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, Govt. of India
Founder Chairman, Nuclear Power Corporation
Former Member, Planning Commission, Govt. of India
Ootacamund, India

M. V. Ravikumar, PhD
Management Consultant and Mentor
Member, Indian Management Association
Past President, Consortium of Electronics Industries in Karnataka
Bangalore, India

Narayanan Srinivasan, MS
Senior Manager, Accenture
Project Management Professional (PMP) with focus on Business Intelligence
Writer and Blogger (http://lokakshemam.blogspot.com/)
Dallas, TX, USA

Preeti Srinivasan
Book Reviewer
Thiruvannamalai, India

Prof. Roddam Narasimha, PhD
Aerospace Scientist and Fluid Dynamicist
Engineering Mechanics Unit, JNCASR
Fellow of the Royal Society
Former Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies
Former Director, National Aerospace Laboratories
Bangalore, India

Prof. S. Jayaraman, MBA
Professor, Human Resources Management, International School of Business and Media
Former Group Head, Investment Research and Information Services
Formerly Divisional Manager, Tata Metaliks
Associate Member, Institution of Engineers
Pune, India

Shana Kaloyanova, MA
Senior Lawyer, Coeler Legal
Formerly Junior Lawyer, Ernst and Young
Formerly Stagiaire, German Construction Industry Federation
Sofia, Bulgaria

Shanti Karri, MA
Faculty, Galen College of Nursing, Cincinnati
Former Instructor, Department of Sociology, University of Cincinnati
Former Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission Candidate
Painter, Writer, and Poet
Cincinnati, OH, USA

Shekhar Borgaonkar, PhD
Senior Researcher, HP Labs India
Student of various new age spiritual movements across the world
Bangalore, India

Srikanth Vasudevan, MS
Manager, Aerospace Programs, Orbital Research Inc.
Senior Member, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Cleveland, OH, USA

Tanja Schulze, MA
Program Director, The Melton Foundation
Member, Young SIETAR
Former Tutor, Institute of Intercultural Business Communication
Leipzig, Germany

V. Prasanna Bhat, PhD
Independent Corporate Advisor
Certified Associate of Indian Institute of Bankers
Member, Indian Management Association
Winner of National Awards for Excellence in Organizational Research
Former Advisor, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency
Former Managing Director, ITCOT
Chennai, India

Varun Prakash, BE
Aerospace Engineering Student, University of New South Wales
Design Engineer, Virtual Logic Systems Pvt. Ltd.
Formerly Mechanical Engineer, Mahindra and Mahindra
Canberra, Australia

Vaslav Markevitch
AMA Diploma - American Management, Dallas, Texas
Climate and Water Specialisation, Marco Vinci Research
Formerly Official Spokesman ICRC, International Committee of Red Cross and Middle East Mission Delegate
Promotion Manager of Technicon Corp. International Division, Tarrytown, New York
Deputy to Director of Information, Dept. United Nations Geneva
Deputy to Director of IATA for Civil Aviation Development and Budget
Senior Associate Consultant, Technomic Marketing Consultants (Chicago) in charge of Europe and Middle East areas for Aviation and Electronics
Member of American Association for the Advancement of Science
Geneva, Switzerland and Montepulciano (SI), Italy

Prof. Vinay Kumar, PhD
Formerly Professor of Chemistry, Northern Kentucky University
Cincinnati, OH, USA

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