This is perhaps my favorite cover of Back to Godhead Magazine. Always loved this picture of Krishna & Arjuna.
The following is a nice compilation of 108 quotes, taken from Srila Prabhupada’s books, lectures, letters, and conversations, on the importance of the 1972 Original Authorized Edition of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
This collection of quotes was compiled by Yasoda nandana Prabhu as his Vyasa-puja offering.
Our only purpose is to present this Bhagavad-gītā As It Is in order to guide the conditioned student to the same purpose for which Kṛṣṇa descends to this planet once in a day of Brahmā, or every 8,600,000,000 years. This purpose is stated in Bhagavad-gītā, and we have to accept it as it is; otherwise there is no point in trying to understand the Bhagavad-gītā and its speaker, Lord Kṛṣṇa. Lord Kṛṣṇa first spoke Bhagavad-gītā to the sun-god some hundreds of millions of years ago. We have to accept this fact and thus understand the historical significance of Bhagavad-gītā, without misinterpretation, on the authority of Kṛṣṇa. To interpret Bhagavad-gītā without any reference to the will of Kṛṣṇa is the greatest offense. In order to save oneself from this offense, one has to understand the Lord as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as He was directly understood by Arjuna, Lord Kṛṣṇa’s first disciple. Such understanding of Bhagavad-gītā is really profitable and authorized for the welfare of human society in fulfilling the mission of life. [Preface, Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Original 1972 Edition]
The Bhagavad-gītā is just like a cow, and Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is a cowherd boy, is milking this cow. The milk is the essence of the Vedas, and Arjuna is just like a calf. The wise men, the great sages and pure devotees, are to drink the nectarean milk of Bhagavad-gītā.
In this present day, man is very eager to have one scripture, one God, one religion, and one occupation. So let there be one common scripture for the whole world – Bhagavad-gītā. And let there be one God only for the whole world – Śrī Kṛṣṇa. And one mantra only – Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. And let there be one work only – the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
[Introduction to Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Original 1972 Edition]
“First of all, try to understand what you are.” That is the beginning of Bhagavad-gītā. It is no politics. It is knowledge, pure knowledge. Bhagavad-gītā is pure knowledge. The politicians take advantage of it. The sociologists, the so-called swamis, yogis, they take advantage of it and try to prove their all nonsensical theories. But it is not at all Bhagavad-gītā. Bhagavad-gītā as it is is pure knowledge, beginning with the first knowledge one has to understand, that he is not this body. Because this is the basic principle all ignorance: “I am this body.” “I am American,” “I am Indian,” “I am brāhmaṇa,” “I am this,” “I am that”—this is the basic principle. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu also says the same thing in a different way. He says, “I am not a brāhmaṇa, I am not a kṣatriya, I am not a vaiśya, I am not a śūdra, I am not a brahmacārī, I am not a gṛhastha, I am not a vānaprastha, I am not a sannyāsī.” These are negation. Then what is the positive? He says, gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ: (CC Madhya 13.80) “I am the servant of the servant of the servant of the gopī-bhartuḥ, Kṛṣṇa, who maintains the gopīs.” [Lecture on CC Adi-lila 1.3 — Mayapur, March 27, 1975]
Because Bhagavad-gītā is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, therefore people should…, people may not read all other Vedic literatures. Simply if he attentively and regularly reads and hears Bhagavad-gītā, gītā su-gītā kartavyā… And one should adopt this means by all means. Gītā su-gītā kartavyā kim anyaiḥ śāstra-vistaraiḥ. Because at the present age people are embarrassed with so many things that it is hardly possible to divert his attention in all the Vedic literatures. This one literature will do because it is essence of all Vedic literature, and especially spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. [Lecture on BG Introduction — New York, February 19-20, 1966]
So, we have got so many nice things, our Vedic literature, and they are all summarized in the Bhagavad-gītā. If we simply hear, by simply hearing Bhagavad-gītā as it is, then if we understand Kṛṣṇa, yasmin vijñāte sarvam idaṁ vijñātaṁ bhavati, then what happens? Iti māṁ yo ‘bhijānāti karmabhir na sa badhyate (BG 4.14). There is no more entanglement in the karma. Because so long we will be entangled in the karma, we will have to transmigrate from one body to another. And we do not know how long we have to rotate in this way. [Lecture on BG 4.14 — Bombay, April 3, 1974]
So therefore, inexperienced persons, they should not try to teach Bhagavad-gītā to others because he has no knowledge. This knowledge has to be received by paramparā system. Evam paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ (BG 4.2). So simply by academic career, by knowledge of ABCD, you cannot understand Bhagavad-gītā. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, bhakto ‘si priyo ‘si me (BG 4.3), without becoming bhakta… Therefore, Sanātana Gosvāmī has forbidden that “Don’t hear anything about Kṛṣṇa from a person who is not a Vaiṣṇava.” Avaiṣṇava-mukhodgīrṇa-pūta-hari-kathāmṛtaṁ śravanaṁ na karta… This is prohibited. You cannot hear. But this audience or the students, they also do not know that “Here is a rascal, he is not a devotee, he is not a Vaiṣṇava. Why shall we hear from him Bhagavad-gītā?” The first condition is bhakto ‘si. [Lecture on BG 1.44 — London, July 31, 1973]
“Anyone who has taken his birth as human being in India, Bhārata-bhūmi, first of all make your life successful.” Because you have got the standard, how to make life successful. Here is Bhagavad-gītā. Try to understand it, make your life successful, and then broadcast this message all over the world. That is paropakāra. So actually, India and India’s people, they are meant for paropakāra.[Cornerstone Laying — Bombay, January 23, 1975]
It is a system in India that if somebody’s invited to take prasādam, he takes something, some fruits, some sweetmeats, something, and offers to the Deity. Of course, that is distributed amongst the prasādam, but it is the system. When a, when a man goes to see a saintly person, or goes to a temple, he takes some fruit, as far as he, as he can acquire. So giving and taking, eating and feeding. Dadāti pratigṛhṇāti bhuṅkte bhojayate, guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati ca. Guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati. You have to hear Bhagavad-gītā and, if you have got any distress, you have got any confidential thing, you have to submit to Kṛṣṇa, “Kṛṣṇa, I am in suffering this way. I am fallen in this tossing ocean of material illusion. Kindly save me. I can understand now that I have no identification with this material world. I am simply put here.” Just like if I am put into the Atlantic Ocean, I have no identification with the ocean, but I am subjected to the tossing waves of the ocean, similarly, we are spiritual spark, fragmental part of Kṛṣṇa. Some way or other, we put into this material ocean, and there is tossing. So, I am being tossed. Don’t identify. Don’t try to solve the tossing. That is not possible. If you want to make solution of the tossing waves of the Atlantic Ocean when you are fallen there, it is useless foolishness. That is not possible. Don’t be foolish in that way. That will go on. That is Atlantic Ocean’s nature. You cannot stop it. You have to get out of it. [Lecture on BG 9.2-5 — New York, November 23, 1966]
Because, without being bhakta, nobody will understand Bhagavad-gītā. It is not possible. Bhagavad-gītā means to understand Kṛṣṇa. So, although everything is explained there, but it is on the bhakti line, not in any other line. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa says at the end, bhaktyā mām abhijānāti.[Lecture on SB 3.25.14 — Bombay, November 14, 1974]
Yes, it will help to read Bhagavad-gita but to have to hear from the realized person. Without the help of guru, if you read independently, you may be misguided.
That is the difference, hearing from devotees, the sound vibration coming from the realized person. Reading the book is the same thing . . . tattva-darsana—hearing from one who has seen the truth.
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated 13 April, 1976, and I have noted the contents with care. Concerning your questions: Yes, it will help to read Bhagavad-gita but to have to hear from the realized person. Without the help of guru, if you read independently, you may be misguided. Therefore, so many politicians, scholars, etc. not being guided by the parampara system, have simply misled the public. The Bhagavad-gita is the standard book of knowledge in India and many eminent persons like Gandhi, Aurobindo, Dr. RadhaKrishnan, etc. they tried to understand the Bhagavad-gita, but could not do it. They were themselves misled and on account of their big position they misled so many followers. Our system, the Vedic system, is to approach the right person and hear from him exactly as Arjuna listened from Krishna. Mental speculation will not help. Hearing is the main point. In the Bhagavad-gita, it is written, dharmaksetre kuruksetre . . . when you hear from a realized soul, a person who knows things, he’ll explain that Kuruksetra is a place where religious ritualistic ceremonies are performed from time immemorial, from the time before the Battle of Kuruksetra. But, if you read the books of some cunning politician, he’ll mislead you and you’ll learn that Kuruksetra means this body which is not actually the fact. That is the difference, hearing from devotees, the sound vibration coming from the realized person. Reading the book is the same thing . . . tattva-darsana—hearing from one who has seen the truth. Reading or hearing from the realized person there is no difference, but hearing the sound vibration from the realized soul is still more effective, better.
[Letter to Punjabi Premanand — Bombay 16 April, 1976]
That means “I first of all spoke to the sun-god.” Now if you take that duration, it will be some millions of years before it was spoken. These things are stated in the Bhagavad-gītā. So apart from that statement, from historical point of view, since the days of Mahābhārata, yes, Battle of Kurukṣetra… Bhagavad-gītā was spoken in the Battle of Kurukṣetra. From historical point of view, it is five thousand years old. So, this Bhagavad-gītā teaching is coming from, at least, from five thousand, since five thousand years. So, it is older than any other scripture in the world. So you try to understand as it is, without any unnecessary commentary. You do not… There is no use of commentary. The words are sufficient to give you enlightenment, but unfortunately, people take advantage of the popularity of Bhagavad-gītā, and they try to impress under the shelter of Bhagavad-gītā their own philosophy or own idea. That is useless. You try to understand Bhagavad-gītā as it is; then you will get this entitlement, enlightenment, that Kṛṣṇa is the center of all activities. And if you become Kṛṣṇa conscious, then everything will be perfect, all problems will be solved. Ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpanam (CC Antya 20.12). These things are there, and actually, they are happening. Our students are feeling, they are actually doing that. So, we shall request you to read this Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, so your feelings of international spirit will be perfect and you’ll be happy, and wherever you preach this cult, they will be also happy. And that will be very nice thing. [Lecture to International Student Society — Boston, December 28, 1969]
Our determination is to preach the Bhagavad-gita strictly on that parampara system as it is recommended in the Bhagavad-gita.In the last portion of the Bhagavad-gita the necessary qualification of understanding the Bhagavad-gita is clearly stated. According to this formula of qualification one who does not accept Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead—is unable to understand the Bhagavad-gita. [Letter to Jugalkishore Birla — Bombay 26 August, 1958]
We may not have many followers. We don’t care for that. We don’t want these nonsense followers, many thousands. What they will do? But if we can turn one man into Kṛṣṇa consciousness perfectly, he can do tremendous work in the world. That is our principle. We don’t want nonsense. So this is the principle of understanding Bhagavad-gītā.[Introduction to Bhagavad-gita As It Is — Los Angeles, November 23, 1968]
We are always in problem, puzzle, and when something better is proposed to the materialistic person, that “You take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, you’ll be happy,” he sees nimittāni viparītāni, just opposite. “What this Kṛṣṇa consciousness I shall happy? My family is in trouble or I have got so many problems. What this Kṛṣṇa consciousness will help me?” Nimittāni ca viparītāni. This is material condition of life. Therefore, it requires time, little time to understand. That is Bhagavad-gītā. The same Arjuna, he is now finding, nimittāni ca viparītāni. When he will understand Bhagavad-gītā, he will say, “Yes, Kṛṣṇa, what You are saying, it is right. It is right.” [Lecture on BG 1.30 — London, July 23, 1973]
Therefore this Bhagavad-gītā yoga system, which is very old… Forty million of years before, ago it was spoken. And before that it was also spoken. That is not stated here. Because it is eternal. Avyaya, purātanaḥ, old. So, who is qualified to understand Bhagavad-gītā? You can understand. Those who are not bhaktas, they can also understand superficially. Just like one has got the bottle of honey. If one thinks that “I have got the bottle of honey. Let me lick up the bottle,” so licking the bottle, what taste you will get? The bottle has to be opened and see what is there. (laughter) And if a rascal thinks that “I am licking this bottle, I am eating honey, I am tasting honey,” he’s a rascal number one. Simply. So similarly, if one is not bhakta, if one is not Kṛṣṇa’s devotee, that rascal cannot understand Bhagavad-gītā. Plainly. Plainly it is stated here. First of all, try to become the devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Then try to understand what is Bhagavad-gītā. Not by your scholarship or by your speculation. Then you’ll never understand Bhagavad-gītā. If you have to understand Bhagavad-gītā, then you have to understand by the process as stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, not by your own mental speculation. This is the process of understanding. [Lecture on BG 4.1 — Montreal, August 24, 1968]
So, don’t try to understand Bhagavad-gītā from persons who are under the influence of kāla—past, present, future. Don’t try to understand Bhagavad-gītā from so-called rascal philosophers, commentators, and… They will write Bhagavad-gītā in a distorted way. Somebody will say, “There was no Kṛṣṇa. There was no Mahābhārata.” Somebody says, “Kṛṣṇa stressed on this point,” “Kṛṣṇa stressed on that point.” Somebody will say, “Kṛṣṇa stressed on karma, karma-kāṇḍa.” Somebody will say on jñāna, and somebody will say yoga. There are so many editions of Bhagavad-gītā. [Lecture on BG 4.2 — Bombay, March 22, 1974]
Anukūla means favorable. If you think of Kṛṣṇa in various ways favorably—how to serve Kṛṣṇa, how to decorate Kṛṣṇa, how to give Kṛṣṇa a nice place for residential quarter, temple, how to preach Kṛṣṇa’s glories—in this way, if you think, that is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā. That is first-class bhakti, how to serve Kṛṣṇa. Just like Arjuna he changed his all decision. (microphone rattling) (aside:) You can take it that side. Arjuna was thinking not to fight, but when he heard very minutely, listened Kṛṣṇa’s instruction, he changed his decision. “No, Kṛṣṇa wants it. Kṛṣṇa wants this fight, so I shall do this.” This is kṛṣṇānuśīlanam, cultivating Kṛṣṇa consciousness, not his decision. His decision was not to fight. A Vaiṣṇava does not want to kill anybody. That is natural tendency. Suhṛdaḥ sarva-dehinām: (SB 3.25.21) “A Vaiṣṇava is friend of everyone.” So Arjuna was Vaiṣṇava, a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Naturally, he was not inclined to kill and gain the fight. So, he declined, that “I will not fight.” But after hearing Bhagavad-gītā, he decided that “Kṛṣṇa wants to fight. He wants me…” Nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savyasācin. “He says so far that ‘These people who have assembled here, they are already killed. That is My plan. You simply take the credit of becoming victorious over them.’ “[Lecture on SB 3.26.46 — Bombay, January 21, 1975]
Nārāyaṇa does not speak personally, but Kṛṣṇa, or Vāsudeva, does, as in Bhagavad-gītā for example. Therefore, to follow the direction of Bhagavad-gītā means to surrender unto Kṛṣṇa, and to surrender in this way is the highest perfection of bhakti-yoga. [Srimad Bhagavatam 6.1.19, Purport]
Although Lord Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He taught His disciple and devotee Arjuna how to lead a life ending in going back home, back to Godhead (tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so ‘rjuna (BG 4.9)). All teachings—political, economic, social, religious, cultural and philosophical—are to be found in Bhagavad-gītā. One only has to follow them strictly. The Supreme Personality of Godhead also comes as Lord Caitanya just to play the part of a pure devotee. Thus, the Lord teaches us in different ways just to make our lives successful, and Svāyambhuva Manu requests us to follow Him. [Srimad Bhagvatam 8.1.16, Purport]
We are opening so many branches. The idea is that people should get chance of hearing about the Supreme Lord, either by chanting this mahā-mantra or… This is also chanting. What I am speaking before you from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or Bhagavad-gītā, that is also chanting. This is also kīrtana. Kīrtana means describing. So you can describe the glories of the Lord either by musical instruments or by chant, singing, or you can describe the glories of the Lord by reading from authoritative scripture. Both of them are called kīrtana. This, this Bhāgavata reading is also described as kīrtana by Śukadeva Gosvāmī. [Lecture SB 01.05.14 – New Vrindaban, USA,18th June 1969]
So, so Bhagavad-gītā is transcendental subject matter. It does not depend on the qualification of the student. Anyone. Anyone can understand Bhagavad-gītā provided he agrees to understand according to the principles. That’s all. [Lecture on BG 10.1 — New York, December 30, 1966]
This Bhagavad-gītā, they are now reading as it is. Latest report is, in London we are selling fifteen thousand copies per month. So, they are taking interest, because it is presented as it is, Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, no rascal interpretation, “This meaning is this, this meaning that.” What authority you have got to make like that? Try to understand Bhagavad-gītā as it is. Then you’ll be benefited.[Lecture on BG 13.16 — Bombay, October 10, 1973]
Suppose you hear something of the Bhagavad-gītā, and it appeals to you, or even does not appeal to you. Just try to think over: “What Bhagavad-gītā says? How Swamiji has discussed this matter?” Apply your arguments. Apply your logic. Don’t take it as a sentiment or as a blind faith. You have got reason; you have got arguments; you have got sense. Apply it and try to understand it. Neither it is bogus. It is scientific. [Lecture on BG 4.11-12 — New York, July 28, 1966]
Actually, Bhagavad-gītā is to be discussed amongst the devotees. So, our hard task is that first of all we have to make one devotee and then let him understand Bhagavad-gītā, our double task. Because nobody wants to become devotee. So, we are canvassing door to door, country to country, village to village, “Sir, please come in our temple. We shall give you nice prasādam. You simply chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and hear something about Kṛṣṇa.” So still, people will not come. Still, they will not come. We have to canvass. We have to do so many things. That is the influence of māyā. Māyā is so strong that unless one is very much determined, māyā will be very strong for him. [Lecture on SB 1.15.27 — New York, March 6, 1975]
So if you want to understand Bhagavad-gītā, then we must understand in the same way as the person who directly heard from. This is called paramparā system. Suppose I have heard something from my spiritual master, so I speak to you the same thing. So, this is paramparā system. You cannot imagine what my spiritual master said. Or even if you read some books, you cannot understand unless you understand it from me. This is called paramparā system. You cannot jump over to the superior guru, neglecting the next ācārya, immediate next ācārya. [Lecture on SB 1.15.30 — Los Angeles, December 8, 1973]
So if we understand Bhagavad-gītā, as Kṛṣṇa…, as Arjuna understood. that is perfect. That is Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. And if you try to understand Bhagavad-gītā as some rascal commentator says, then you are reading somebody else; rubbish. There’s no meaning. You’re simply wasting your time. He may be such scholar, such big politician, like this. In our country, big politician, they have commented; big, big yogis, they have commented; big, big scholars they have… They’re all useless. Take it: useless. If you read such commentary of Bhagavad-gītā, it is simply waste of time. If you actually want to study Bhagavad-gītā, then as Arjuna understands. Arjuna directly listened from Kṛṣṇa. [Lecture on SB 1.15.30 — Los Angeles, December 8, 1973]
Prabhupāda: Satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-samvido bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ (SB 3.25.25). Rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ. Unless you discuss Bhāgavata, Bhagavad-gītā, with sat-saṅga, devotees, it does not become relishable. Therefore, he’s not attached. Tad-vāg-visargo janatāgha-viplavaḥ. In another verse…. Na yad vacaś citra-padaṁ harer yaśo pragṛṇīta karhicit (SB 1.5.10). He may read one literature very decoratively written, very interesting, but there is no discussion about the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Yad vacaḥ citra-padam, very decorative. Na yad vacaś citra-padaṁ harer yaśo pragṛṇīta karhicit: (SB 1.5.10) “But there is no glorification of the Lord.” Tad vāyasaṁ tīrtham: “Such kind of literature is enjoyable by such persons who are like crows.” [Morning Walk — January 8, 1977, Bombay]
So far, we are concerned in the Krishna consciousness movement, we are preaching the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna is the Supreme Person even before all demigods including Lord Visnu even, and of course Lord Siva. Our fundamental principle is the teaching of the Bhagavad-gita. Those persons who cannot understand this on account of particular modes of nature, such persons require further education, and until such time is fulfilled, we are helpless. To an animal in the modes of ignorance, how can we preach? Then we are helpless.[Letter to Satsvarupa — Bombay 3 November, 1974]
Regarding your philosophical question, if the Bhagavad gita is part of Mahabharata which is considered smrti, how can we claim Bhagavad gita to be GITOPANISAD, or one of the Upanisads which are sruti? Actually, because the Gita is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead it is sruti. But people take it as smrti because it is part of the Mahabharata. We take it as sruti as far as we are concerned. The purport of sruti is to make one advanced in understanding the Absolute Truth. Here the Absolute Truth is explaining personally, therefore the Gita should be taken as sruti. But they take it as smrti because it is part of the Smriti (Mahabharata). In one sense it is both sruti and smrti.[Letter to: Acyutananda — Paris,14 June, 1974]
That is devotee, who can answer any question. Everything is discussed in the Bhagavad-gītā. Everything, complete knowledge. Now in Bhagavad-gītā. Room Conversation — August 11, 1973, Paris]
I thank you so much for having nicely appreciated the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. This book should be read by all of my students at least one chapter per day, and in kirtana class it should be discussed sloka after sloka. Practically, we have tried to explain in this book all of the basic principles of Krishna Consciousness. If you can simply cram Bhagavad-gita then you will surely become a very good preacher. [Letter to Hamsaduta — Los Angeles 3 January, 1969]
There is Vedic literature that gives proof of Lord Parasurama driving out the ksatriyas. We do not take these mundane histories as authority. Regarding the dating of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the Battle of Kuruksetra took place at the beginning of Kali yuga, and Kali yuga has passed more than 5,000 years. The Bhagavad-gita was also spoken at the beginning of the fight, so we take it as 5,000 years ago. From the Bhagavad-gita we learn it was spoken by the sun god millions of years ago. We take this as authority. If you don’t accept my authority, then I don’t accept your authority. That is the way of evidence, to accept the Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Vedic literature. The calculation is that the Kali yuga is 432,000 years, out of which we have passed 5,000 years. [Letter to: Bahu Rupa, —Vrindaban,1 September, 1975]
The teachings of the Bhagavad-gita are so potential that if it is practiced seriously, it can bring in a new life and civilization. Now you have established a Gita Pratisthan, so do it very seriously. [Letter to RamaKrishnaji — Honolulu 14 May, 1976]
Prabhupāda: …for propagating our mission because the state is inclined to take the teachings of Bhagavad-gītā. They have found that this is the wisest (indistinct). Take advantage of this opportunity and (indistinct) in schools, colleges, for teaching (indistinct). They have already translated Bhagavad-gītā, they have got very good results…[Room Conversation — February 28, 1973, Jakarta]
Prabhupāda: There is no future. It is already gone. (laughter) The future is already there. And what do you want more future? A man was beaten with shoes, and again he said that “He has threatened me, to insult me.” So, if he is beaten with shoes, then what insult remains to be done again? So, Hinduism now finished. Now take to the process of Kṛṣṇa’s order, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja (BG 18.66). Teach this teaching of Bhagavad-gītā to the whole world. Not only Hinduism; Christianism, and Muslimism, everything’s gone. And even it is not gone, Kṛṣṇa says, ” Give up all this nonsense.” Sarva-dharmān parityajya (BG 18.66). “Give up Hinduism, Muslimism, Christianism. Simply surrender unto Me.” That is to be preached all over the world, and that is being effective. So, if the Hindus are interested in Bhagavad-gītā, which was spoken in the Hindustan, in the land of Hindus, they must seriously take to this instruction of Kṛṣṇa and combine together and preach all over the world and make others benefited and themselves benefited. That is the only way. There is no other second way.
[Answers to a Questionnaire from Bhavan’s Journal — June 28, 1976, Vrndavana]
Prabhupāda: That means you are not intelligent. That is the proof. “Beyond your intelligence”—that means your intelligence is not yet perfect. You’re lacking in brain. (aside:) I see so many workers simply loitering. They are doing nothing. What can be done? So many. Simply they are taking money. Doing nothing. I see. There is nobody to see. They take advantage. Seventy-five percent of the workers, they are doing nothing. But the Gītā explains that within this body there is something. Not body itself is moving, but dehinaḥ asmin dehe. Within this body there is the real power, dehī, who has got this body. That is there. And because he is there, the body is changing. They cannot understand. No brain, exactly like the dogs and cats. The dog cannot understand that “Within my body, I am.” They cannot. Therefore, you are no better than dogs. And actual fact is you are not this body. You are within this body. It is a dress. In so many ways Bhagavad-gītā teaches, but you have no brain. Then where is brainwashing? You have no brain to understand your real position. [Room Conversation — February 17, 1977, Mayapura]
As clearly stated in Bhagavad-gītā, tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti: (BG 4.9) such a person, simply by engaging in Kṛṣṇa consciousness or understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, becomes quite fit to return home, back to Godhead. Even those who are obsessed with material desires may also come to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead so steadily that they go back to Godhead.[Srimad Bhagavatam 6.16.39, Purport]
The instructions of Bhagavad-gītā and the descriptions of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam are so pleasing that almost anyone suffering from the threefold miseries of material existence will desire to hear the glories of the Lord from these books and thus benefit on the path of liberation. Two classes of men, however, will never be interested in hearing the message of Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam—those who are determined to commit suicide and those determined to kill cows and other animals for the satisfaction of their own tongues.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 10.1.4, Purport]
Vidhunoti means washing. Washing. As you are hearing the message of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam or Bhagavad-gītā, the process is vidhunoti, washing. Actually, it is brainwashing—but for good. Washing is not bad. (laughter) That these rascals, they do not know. They are thinking, “Oh, you are making me purified? Oh, you are very dangerous.” [Lecture on SB 7.9.8 — Mayapur, February 28, 1977]
There is a Bengali verse, kṛṣṇa ye bhaje se baḍa catura? Yes. Unless one is very wise and intelligent, he cannot become a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. The first-class intelligent class of men surrenders to Kṛṣṇa. Just like Arjuna. Arjuna, after understanding Bhagavad-gītā, he replied to Kṛṣṇa, kariṣye vacanaṁ tava (BG 18.73), “Yes, I’ll do.”
[Nectar of Devotion — Vrndavana, October 17, 1972]
Now so many people are explaining Bhagavad-gītā. If you ask him, “Who is your guru?” he has no guru. He’s himself guru. So, you, what he can understand Bhagavad-gītā? It is not possible. So, try to understand Bhagavad-gītā from the bona fide person and follow the principles, rules and regulation, and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. Your life will be successful. [Lecture on Brahma-samhita, Lecture — Bombay, January 3, 1973]
So, this is culture. You may do your business. Just like Arjuna: Arjuna was doing his business. He was a fighter, kṣatriya, but he did not forget his culture, hearing Gītā from the master. That is culture. If you simply do business and do not cultivate your spiritual life, then it is useless waste of time. Śrama eva hi kevalam (SB 1.2.8), the śāstra says. Svanuṣṭhitasya dharmasya saṁsiddhir hari-toṣaṇam (SB 1.2.13). Ataḥ pumbhir dvija-śreṣṭhā varṇāśrama-vibhāgaśaḥ. So our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is being spread up that “Do not forget your cultural life.” We do not say that you stop your business and become a sannyāsī like me and give up everything. We do not say. Neither Kṛṣṇa said that. Kṛṣṇa never said Arjuna that “You give up your business.” “You are kṣatriya. You are declining fighting. Oh, it is very abominable. You should not say like that. You must fight.” That was Kṛṣṇa’s instruction. So similarly, we Kṛṣṇa conscious people, we are also advising everyone that “You do not give up your business.” Caitanya Mahāprabhu said also: sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhiḥ. Caitanya Mahāprabhu never said that “You give up your position.” Position, giving up is not very difficult. But to cultivate spiritual knowledge, that is required. [Lecture at Bharata Chamber of Commerce ‘Culture and Business’ — Calcutta, January 30, 1973]
The spirit of Bhagavad-gītā is mentioned in Bhagavad-gītā itself. It is just like this: if we want to take a particular medicine, then we have to follow the directions written on the label. We cannot take the medicine according to our own whim or the direction of a friend. It must be taken according to the directions on the label or the directions given by a physician. Similarly, Bhagavad-gītā should be taken or accepted as it is directed by the speaker himself.
[Introduction to Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Original 1972 Edition]
From the teachings of the Bhagavad-gītā we learn very clearly that Arjuna in the beginning did not want to fight with his brothers and relatives. But after understanding the Bhagavad-gītā, when he dovetailed his consciousness with the superconsciousness of Kṛṣṇa, it was Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A person in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness acts by the dictation of Kṛṣṇa, and so Arjuna agreed to fight the battle of Kurukṣetra. [Lecture — Seattle, October 11, 1968]
We are trying to understand Bhagavad-gītā as it is. Our, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is to preach Bhagavad-gītā. We have not invented something, but we are preaching Bhagavad-gītā as it is, without any malinterpretation. Therefore, because we are presenting pure Bhagavad-gītā, people are accepting it very quickly.[Pandal Lecture — Bombay, March 31, 1971]
I am publishing Bhagavad-gītā As It Is because in the market there were so many Bhagavad-gītā misinterpreted, but that is not the process of presenting Bhagavad-gītā. Bhagavad-gītā should be presented as it is. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is simply said that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But most books which you have seen in English lang…, they are trying to make minus Kṛṣṇa. That is their attempt. [Sri Vyasa-puja — Hamburg, September 5, 1969]
The people are irreligious and do not perform the sacrifices recommended in Bhagavad-gītā. Yajñād bhavati parjanyaḥ: (BG 3.14) by the performance of sacrifice, clouds form and rain falls. Due to sufficient rainfall, there is sufficient production of food. Guided by the brāhmaṇas, society should follow the principles of Bhagavad-gītā. Then people will become very happy.
[Srimad Bhagavatam 5.5.23, Purport]
So, this Bhagavad-gītā should be read by every individual person to know the science of God. It is a great science. God is not a fiction or an imagination, as people take it. Not always, but in human society, everywhere in civilized human society there is some conception of religion, and the purpose of executing religious faith means to understand God. There is no other purpose of any religion. If in any religion the understanding of God is lacking, that is not first-class religion. [Lecture on BG 7.1 — Sydney, February 16, 1973]
Kṛṣṇa said, imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ proktavān aham avyayam (BG 4.1). Kṛṣṇa said to the sun-god Vivasvān. And so He said, “The sun-god transferred the teaching to his son Manu, and Manu transferred the teaching to Mahārāja Ikṣvāku.” Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam (BG 4.2). In this way, the point is that the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā was especially taught to the royal order because they would know. They should know. Because a king is supposed to be representative of God, nara-deva. King is addressed as nara-deva
[Lecture on BG 2.2-6 — Ahmedabad, December 11, 1972]
Bhagavad-gītā never says that “you don’t require to eat. You simply breathe air and practice yoga.” No. But we must eat neither more, nor less. That is recommended. Yuktāhāra-vihārasya. We should not eat more, nor less. And nirāśīḥ. Nirāśīḥ means desireless of extravagance. Now we are desiring for sense gratification more and more. That is not wanted.[Lecture on BG 4.21 — Bombay, April 10, 1974]
So, this theory, that separating the material elements by which this material body is formed, if they are broken or they are sent back to their original position, then we are free from all distresses, material… But we, at least those who are following this Bhagavad-gītā, this philosophy does not say that the material body is all in all. Beyond this material body, there is spirit, and the symptom of that spirit is understood by consciousness. Consciousness. That is the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā. [Lecture on BG Lecture Excerpts 2.44-45, 2.58 — New York, March 25, 1966]
My only request is that all of you try to chant this Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra and, if possible, read Kṛṣṇa book, Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. Don’t read Bhagavad-gītā where the attempt is to kill Kṛṣṇa. [Lecture on BG 7.1 — Calcutta, January 27, 1973]
He is none but the same original Kṛṣṇa. He has come to teach us the same philosophy as He did while teaching Arjuna Bhagavad-gītā, but this time He has come as a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Similarly, another authority, Rūpa Gosvāmī, understood Him, that “Here is Kṛṣṇa, and He is the most munificent incarnation, because Kṛṣṇa, in order to give Himself to the devotee, demanded full surrender. And here Caitanya Mahāprabhu, without any demand, He is not only giving Kṛṣṇa but the love of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, He is namo mahā-vadānyāya kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya.” So Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Lord, is affectionate towards us because we are all sons. We are rotting in this material way of life. So, He comes Himself, as He is. He comes as a devotee. He leaves His instruction in the Bhagavad-gītā. Again, He advises His devotees to preach the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā. So, He is always anxious to enlighten the human being how to go back to home, back to Godhead. [Philosophy Discussion on Soren Aabye Kierkegaard]
Prabhupāda: Niyataḥ. You should read Bhagavad-gītā so thoroughly for everything. That is good lawyer. Good lawyer means in the court, immediately give reference to the judge, “My Lordship, such and such law, under section…this is there.” He’s a good lawyer. Good lawyer means he immediately gives reference to the section on which he’s talking. Immediately judgement is there. If there is previous authority and it is recorded in the lawbook, then he doesn’t require to argue anymore, the evidence is there. Even in other court, if some judgement is there, they’ll be accepted. This is the law. So, a good lawyer means he gives references from different courts, the judgement makes easier. Instead of proceeding for a long time, he gives reference—”Here is the judgement, you see,” and immediately… [Room Conversation — June 24, 1976, New Vrindaban]
Prabhupāda: Yes, duty is already prescribed, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja (BG 18.66). You have read Bhagavad-gītā? So, this is the duty. “You give up all other duties, you simply take to Me, surrender unto Me.” This is duty. All other duties, they are temporary, and this is real duty, to surrender to God. If you think that “I am giving up all other duties, my family duties, my community duty, my national duty and so many…” Because you may think like that, that “Giving up all duties, I simply become Kṛṣṇa conscious…,” as Arjuna was thinking. But Kṛṣṇa gives you assurance, ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ: (BG 18.66) “Don’t worry, I shall give protection. If you think that by giving up all other duties you’ll be sinful, so I give you assurance that I shall give you all protection.” It is clearly stated. So, this is the only duty, how to surrender to Kṛṣṇa and become His perfect devotee. This is the only duty. [Evening Darsana — July 8, 1976, Washington, D.C.]
Kṛṣṇa knows everything, past, present and future. That is also explained in the Fourth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā, where Kṛṣṇa said that “Long, long ago I spoke this philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā to the sun-god.”[Lecture — Bombay, March 19, 1972]
Prabhupāda: And that will give you guidance. Read Bhagavad-gītā as it is, word for word. But don’t misinterpret and spoil. The rascals misinterpret and spoil the whole Bhagavad-gītā. That is the difficulty(?). You cannot misinterpret Bhagavad-gītā. Then it will be spoiled. If you get Bhagavad-gītā as it is, you are benefited. And if you misinterpret, then you spoil. So generally, they misinterpret. Everyone speaks on Bhagavad-gītā, but he misinterprets.
Guest (1): You’ve made it very clear, Prabhupāda. I want to thank you for that. I like your purports as much as Kṛṣṇa’s actual words, because now I can understand it.
Prabhupāda: Therefore, we are presenting Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. Otherwise, for the last so many years—I am speaking in Western countries—so many swamis, so many yogis come, they speak on Bhagavad-gītā but misinterpret. So not a single devotee was there. And now Bhagavad-gītā is presented as it is, and so many devotees are coming. [Evening Darsana — July 11, 1976, New York]
Prabhupāda: That is special advantage of this age. People are very much fallen from spiritual standard, and to fall down from the spiritual standard means to spoil the humanity. There is no education on this point. That is Vedic culture. Most of them, they do not believe that there is soul, spirit soul, and human life is meant for understanding it and make progress on that platform. Most of them, they do not know. There is no education, I think so. Everyone reads Bhagavad-gītā, mostly, but they do not understand the first lesson. Dehino ‘smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā, tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ (BG 2.13). Nobody understands. What is your understanding about this transmigration of the soul? [Garden Conversation — October 14, 1976, Chandigarh]
We are speaking the same thing. As it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā. We don’t misinterpret. We don’t spoil the whole Bhagavad-gītā. We don’t do this mischief. Sometimes people, they say, “Swamiji, you have done wonderful.” But what wonderful? I am not a magician. My only credit is I have not spoiled the Bhagavad-gītā. I have presented as it is. Therefore, it is successful. [Lecture on BG 2.23 — Hyderabad, November 27, 1972]
My Spiritual Master, Om Visnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja Prabhupada, sometimes used to say that if after selling all of my property I can convert one person to Krishna Consciousness factually, then I shall think my mission is successful. Similarly, I am also thinking like that after reading your letter that if I could induce even one person to Krishna Consciousness through my publication, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, then I shall think my labor is successful. So, I am very much encouraged to read your letter, and I have received many such letters from others also, so I am very hopeful.[Letter to R. Chalson — New Vrindaban 12 June, 1969]
Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā, na ca tasmān manuṣyeṣu kaścin me priya-kṛttamaḥ (BG 18.69): “One who is doing this humble service of preaching work, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, nobody is dearer than him to Me.” So, if you want to become recognized by Kṛṣṇa very quickly, you take up this process of becoming spiritual master, present the Bhagavad-gītā as it is, your life is perfect. [Lecture Festival Appearance Day, Sri Vyasa-puja – London,22nd August,1973]
As soon as we chant Hare Kṛṣṇa or chant Bhagavad-gītā or Bhāgavata, so He is present immediately by His vibration. He’s absolute. Therefore, try to remember His words of instruction; you’ll not feel separation. You’ll feel that He is with you. So, we should associate by the vibration, and not by the physical presence. That is real association.
[Lecture on SB 7.9.12 — Montreal, August 18, 1968]
One of my Godbrothers went to London, and he was talking with Lord Zetland, Marquis of Zetland. So, Marquis of Zetland inquired, “Well, Swamiji, can you make me a brāhmaṇa?” “Yes, we can make you brāhmaṇa.” “How?” “Now, you just give up illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling.” “Ohhh, it is impossible. This is our life. This is our life, to have boyfriend and girlfriend and drinking and meat-eating and gambling. If we give up all this, then where is our life?”
Therefore, we require tapasya. This is tapasya. Here is only four simple things. And if you ask anybody give up drinking tea, oh, you will find a thunderbolt. Thunderbolt. “Oh, what you are speaking? I shall give up tea-drinking?” “At least, you are a sannyāsī.” “No, I have to drink tea in the morning, at least, so big cup. (laughter) And then smoking gāñjā. And I become God.” This is going on. This is going on. Therefore, it is warned: “Don’t talk this, the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā, to the rascals who has no austerities, who has no devotion, who is not prepared to hear.” But the servant of Kṛṣṇa, they take all risk for Kṛṣṇa’s sake.
[Lecture on BG 18.67-69 — Ahmedabad, December 9, 1972]
Now, to act in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the devotional service, you can understand it, how happily it is done. Now, take for example what we are doing here. We are singing, we are dancing, we are taking nice prasādam offered to Kṛṣṇa and chanting and discussing Bhagavad-gītā philosophy. Oh, these are the processes. These are the processes. We are not meant for any stringent rules and regulation or gymnastic or breathing control, so many things, as they are described and they are performed by many different sections. But here it is very easy and happily done. Everyone wants to dance. Everyone wants to sing. Everyone wants to eat. Through this formula—dancing, singing and eating Kṛṣṇa prasāda and hearing philosophical discussion, transcendental topics from Bhagavad-gītā—so don’t you think it is very happy? Susukham. And whatever we acquire, it is permanent. Whatever knowledge you acquire, that is permanent. That is not going to be finished with the finish of your body. It is such a nice thing. So, we are trying to impart this philosophy in your country. [Lecture on BG 8.28-9.2 — New York, November 21, 1966]
Just like Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, they are called kṛṣṇa-kathā. Bhagavad-gītā is the kathā, or words, spoken by the Lord Himself. Therefore, it is kṛṣṇa-kathā—kṛṣṇaḥ sva-kathāḥ (SB 1.2.17), the words spoken by God Himself. Similarly, this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is also kṛṣṇa-kathā. [720326 – Lecture SB 01.02.06 – Bombay]
Whatever knowledge we get from Bhagavad-gītā, we should not think that it is sentimentalism or fanaticism. No. They’re all vijñānam, science. Jñānaṁ vijñāna-sahitaṁ yaj jñātvā: “If you become well versed in this confidential part of knowledge, then the result will be mokṣyase aśubhāt.”[Lecture on BG 8.28-9.2 — New York, November 21, 1966]
We cannot compare that Kṛṣṇa’s body and my body, this body, material, is the same. That is condemned in the Bhagavad-gītā, avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā (BG 9.11): “Those who are fools, rascals, they deride at Me, thinking Me as ordinary human being.” Just like there are atheist class, Māyāvādī class, they think that they are as good as Kṛṣṇa. Such foolish proposition.
[July 9, 1971 – Lecture Isopanisad 4 – Los Angeles]
As it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita; yad yad acarati sresthas, tad tad evetaro janah, sa yat paramanam kurute, lokas tad anuvartate (BG 3.21). “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.“. Your donation to this movement and your becoming the Patron Member is a very great thing, and it will ensure others who will also follow in your footsteps.
[Letter to Sri Raj Kapoor written from Vrndavana, 26th August 1975]
You should read Bhagavad-gita As It Is carefully verse to verse and word to word, and you will be benefited, and if you have any difficulty to understand anything I shall be very glad to have your inquiry. [Letter to Frederico Lourenco written from Mayapur,14th Octover 1974]
There is no such thing as Hindu dharma. No. There is no such word in the whole Vedic literature. You won’t find in the Bhagavad-gītā or Bhāgavata as Hindu dharma. There is one word as Bhāgavata-dharma, but there is no such word as Hindu dharma. This Hindu dharma or Hindu… This is creation by our neighbor, Indian neighbor, the Middle-East Muhammadans. They gave the name, Indian people, as “Hindu.” “Hindu” means… There is one river, Sindhu.
[Lecture SB 02.02.05 – New York, March 5, 1975]
So Bhagavad-gītā means to understand what is God, the science of God. And God Himself is speaking about Himself. Otherwise it is not possible to understand what is God. So, if we carefully understand the ślokas and the passages mentioned in the Bhagavad-gītā, we can understand what is God. And the human form of life is meant for understanding God. He has no other business. In the lower bodies, less than human form of body… According to Darwin’s theory, the human form of body comes from monkey. But the evolution is accepted in the Vedic literature but not like Darwin’s. The evolution, again according to Vedic scripture, is that the living entity is different from the body, and the living entity is passing through many forms of body. [Lecture on BG 2.11 — Rotary Club Address — Hotel Imperial, Delhi, March 25, 1976]
Bhagavad-gītā is based on philosophy, this system, Kṛṣṇa-bhakti. Bhagavad-gītā means Kṛṣṇa-bhakti, devotion to Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is Bhagavad-gītā. Bhagavad-gītā, the teaching is man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru (BG 18.65). This is Bhagavad-gītā. “Always think of Me.” Kṛṣṇa conscious, pure and simple. Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru (BG 18.65). Everywhere Kṛṣṇa stressed on His personality. Aham ādir hi devānām: (BG 10.2) “I am the origin of all the devatās.” Mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya (BG 7.7).
[Lecture on BG 13.8-12 — Bombay, September 30, 1973]
So, in this Bhagavad-gītā the subject matter is comprehending five different truths. The first truth is what is God. It is the preliminary study of the science of God. So that science of God is explained here. Next, the constitutional position of the living entities, jīva. Īśvara and jīva. The Lord, the Supreme Lord, He is called īśvara. Īśvara means controller, and jīva, the living entities are… Jīvas, the living entities, they are not īśvara, or the controller. They are controlled. Artificially, if I say that “I am not controlled, I am free,” this is not the sign of a sane man. A living being is controlled in every respect. At least, in his conditioned life he is controlled. So in this Bhagavad-gita the subject matter comprehends about the īśvara, the supreme controller, and about the controlled living entities and prakṛti, the nature, the material nature. And next, the time, or duration of existence of the whole universe, or this manifestation of the material nature, and the duration of time, or the eternal time, and karma. Karma means activity. Everything, the whole universe, whole cosmic manifestation is full of different activities. The living beings especially, they are all engaged in different activities. So, we have to study from the Bhagavad-gītā, īśvara, what is God, jīva, what are these living entities, and prakṛti, what is this cosmic manifestation, and how it is controlled by time, and what are these activities? [660219-20 – Lecture BG Introduction – New York]
Dharma, there are many dharmas. Especially nowadays there is Hindu dharma, Mussulman dharma or Christian dharma, or Sikh dharma, Arya dharma, this dharma, hundreds and thousands. But in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, in the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, it is declared, dharmo projjhita-kaitavo atra, atra śrīmad-bhāgavate: “In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam all rascaldom, cheating type of religion, is kicked out.” This is bhāgavata-dharma. Bhāgavata-dharma means bhagavān, bhāgavata-śabda. From bhagavān the word bhāgavata has come. So bhāgavata-dharma means relationship with God, Bhagavān. Therefore, you will see in the Bhagavad-gītā, it is Bhagavad-gītā means the dharma or the religious principle preached by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore Bhagavad-gītā is bhāgavata-dharma. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. That is bhāgavata-dharma. So, dharma means bhāgavata-dharma. Any other dharma which does not teach anything about God, that is cheating, kaitava.
[Lecture on SB 7.6.1 — Vrndavana, December 2, 1975]
From Brahma, we have got these Vedas, Vedic knowledge. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa is the original spiritual master. Aham evāsam agre. Before creation, Kṛṣṇa was there. Aham ādir hi devānām (Bg 10.2). Kṛṣṇa is the origin of all the devas. Devas means Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Maheśvara, then all other demigods. So, in this way, Kṛṣṇa is the original spiritual master. Just like He’s the spiritual master of Arjuna. So, study of Bhagavad-gītā means if you follow the footprints of Arjuna, then you are also as good as Arjuna. Not as good; I mean to say, that your knowledge is perfect. Perfect in this sense: that Arjuna accepted Kṛṣṇa as Paraṁ Brahma; you accept Kṛṣṇa as Paraṁ Brahma; then your study of Bhagavad-gītā is perfect. And if you make your so-called erudite scholarship, commentary, “It is not to Kṛṣṇa,” then you are spoiled. Your life is spoiled, your study is spoiled. Sādhu-mārga-anugamanam. [The Nectar of Devotion — Vrndavana, November 13, 1972]
Prabhupāda: No, teachings of Bhagavad-gītā means Kṛṣṇa. That is the folly of the so-called scholars. They want to study Bhagavad-gītā without Kṛṣṇa. Just like one wants to play Hamlet without Hamlet. (French, mentions Śaṅkara) Śaṅkara has accepted Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Does he know that, that Śaṅkara has accepted Kṛṣṇa the Supreme Personality? (French) [Room Conversation with Roger Maria leading writer of communist literature — June 12, 1974, Paris]
Prabhupāda: They make modernized meaning of Bhagavad-gītā. That is insanity. Do you agree or…
Reporter (1): What would you regard to be the essence of Bhagavad-gītā?
Prabhupāda: Bhagavad-gītā means that there is God, and we are part and parcel of God. God is great, and we are very tiny, small, fragmental portion of God. In quality we and God are the same, just like a drop of ocean water is qualitatively the same as the big ocean.
[Conversation with News Reporters — March 25, 1976, Delhi]
Where is their knowledge of Bhagavad-gītā? And misleading all, writing commentary, “Bhagavad-gītā means nationalism, nonviolence,” protesting that “If Kṛṣṇa is fighting, I don’t want that Kṛṣṇa, even I am extricated from the Hindu society.” Gandhi has said. Bhagavad-gītā should be according to his whims. If you can change the verdict of Bhagavad-gītā, then why you take Bhagavad-gītā? Is that authority? If you…, government gives you some law. If you say, “No, no, I don’t like this item. I… It should be like this,” then is that law, that “I’ll take Bhagavad-gītā…”? All these rascals are doing that.[Room Conversation — April 13, 1977, Bombay]
Bhagavad-gītā is the entrance. Then Bhāgavata is graduate and Caitanya-caritāmṛta… This is the step by step. But if one is sincere everything becomes revealed. He does not commit mistake. [Room Conversation — August 16, 1976, Bombay]
There is no use of interpretation. Interpretation is required when you cannot understand one statement. In the law court if one statement is ambiguous then two parties argue on it. “I think it is this,” “I think…” But when it is clear there is no question of interpretation. Unfortunately, the Bhagavad-gītā is being interpreted by unauthorized persons unnecessarily, and people are kept into darkness. We are trying to protest against this process.
[Lectures: Bhagavad-gita Lectures: Bg 13: Lectures: Bhagavad-gita 13:22 — Hyderabad, August 17, 1976]
Whole Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is meant for this, to get out of this material stage-playing. We are playing in a stage under different bodies. Just like in a stage, we play—somebody is playing the part of a king, somebody is playing the part of a queen, and so many things—similarly, we are, on the material stage, playing different parts, but we are all living entities, pure soul.[Lecture Excerpt — Los Angeles, January 13, 1969]
On the whole, the Godless world situation is not very satisfactory. People in this part of the world are feeling for this vacancy, but they do not know how to solve this problem. They think that by making people Godless they will solve the question—this is a utopian hope which will never be fulfilled. The Godless leaders of the society are blind themselves and their followers are also blind. So blind men leading blind men has no meaning. But practically I have experienced that this Krishna Consciousness Movement or to present the philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita as it is can solve all problems of the world. It is specifically the responsibility of the Indians after realizing the philosophy themselves, and I think if such realized souls go to various parts of the world and preach this Krishna Consciousness Movement in every nook and corner of the world, there will be a great renaissance. I would therefore request you to give your serious attention to this Krishna Consciousness Movement and help me as far as possible.
[Letter to Hanuman Prasad Poddar — Los Angeles 5 February, 1970]
Everyone is trying to avoid the principle of devotional service. It is only we, the Kṛṣṇa conscious persons, we are advocating the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā, man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru (BG 18.65). Kṛṣṇa says that “Always think of Me.” These karma-vādīs, they will say, “Why shall I waste my time thinking of Kṛṣṇa? If I do my duty nicely then I will get good result. Why shall I be devotee of Kṛṣṇa?” This is their argument.
[Lecture on BG 2.26-27 — London, August 29, 1973]
The plan of God is laid down by God Himself in the teachings of Bhagwat Geeta. The primary principles of such plan is to distinguish first between spirit and matter. We have heard so many times, the Pacifists speaking of spiritualism as the basis of world peace and we think it is our duty to say something of spiritualism as we find it in the Bhagwat Geeta.
Shree Krishna the Author of the great Indian philosophy Bhagwat Geeta, has elaborately discussed materialism vis-a-vis spiritualism. From Him we can learn that material Nature of which we are now apparently made of, is different from the spiritual Nature of which we are actually the parts and parcels. He has stressed most vehemently in the beginning of the Bhagwat Geeta that the living entity is eternal and does not annihilate on the annihilation of the outward covering of gross body and subtle mind. [Solution of Present Crisisses By Bhagwat Geeta (Back to Godhead,1952)]
Brahmin means to be clean—inside by always chanting the Lord’s glories, and outside by regular bathing. Brahmin also means pandit, so they must be able to support their preaching by quoting shastric references. Particularly, they should study Bhagavad-gita, Sri Isopanisad, Nectar of Devotion and Nectar of Instruction as well as all the small paperbacks. [760118 – Letter to Yasomatinandana written from Mayapur]
Jñāna-yajña, this philosophical discussion, logical discussion of the aim of life from authorized books like Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, if we have discussion, this is called jñānamaya-yajña, with knowledge, jñānamaya-yajña.[Lecture on BG 4.24-34 — New York, August 12, 1966]
It is already there. It is already there. You kindly take it… You understand. The difficulty is you do not understand even a line of Bhagavad-gītā. Still, you say that you are student of Bhagavad-gītā. This is difficulty. [Evening Darsana — May 9, 1977, Hrishikesh]
Guest: One of the major criticisms today of most religions are their irrelevance to tackling the social problems or immediate external problems. You talked about things beyond the self. In the Bhagavad-gītā I think you have references such as Arjuna being told not to become attached to the fruit of his actions, but act. Can you give us some idea of, more specific idea, of the principles which would guide one’s action while trying to develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness?
Prabhupāda: That principle is stated as the ultimate instruction of Bhagavad-gītā, that sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja(BG 18.66). We have got two kinds of religion. One is called, what is called, pravṛtti. Pravṛtti means we are inclined, because we have got this material body, we are inclined to material activities. That is called pravṛtti-mārga. Indriyāṇi parāṇy āhur (BG 3.42). This body means senses. So, because so long we are absorbed in this bodily concept of life, then we try to give comforts to the senses, sense gratification. This is one stage. So dharma means occupation. People are engaged in various types of occupational duties for sense gratification. Sometimes in religion they say you’ll go to heaven. What is that heaven? That is also sense gratification. You’ll live so long years, you’ll have so many beautiful wives and so many things, so many things. All flowery language. What is the basic? Sense gratification. That’s all. This is one way. Another way is nivṛtti-mārga. When one has seen perfectly that “This process of sense gratification cannot give me actual happiness,” then they began to give it up. Just like the Māyāvādī philosophy. They say brahma-satyaṁ jagan mithyā: “This world is false.” Just like in your country, a section of youngsters, they’re disgusted with this materialistic way of life. They have taken to the hippies’ path. Why? It does not give satisfaction, but they do not know the right way. They have taken a wrong way, hippies. So, this is called accepting and rejecting. So Kṛṣṇa says, “You have to give up all this nonsense accepting and rejecting. You have to take to Me, then you’ll be happy.” Sarva-dharmān. Sarva-dharmān means some religious occupation is for sense gratification and some religious occupation is rejection of this material world. So, we have to give up both these, the acceptance and rejection. We have to accept the Kṛṣṇa’s path, Kṛṣṇa consciousness. “Surrender unto Me.” Then we’ll be happy. [Lecture to International Student Society — Boston, December 28, 1969]
You have neglected. My charge is that you have neglected. Bhagavad-gītā is there. Bhagavad-gītā is spoken in India. Bhagavad-gītā is there. I think every home has got a Bhagavad-gītā. But you do not study; you neglect it. That is your fault. [ Interview – Hyderabad, August 17,1976]
Don’t deviate from the instruction of Kṛṣṇa. Very directly, bhagavān uvāca, directly Bhagavān is speaking. You take advantage of it. There is solution of all problems of the world if you refer to Bhagavad-gītā. Any problem you present, there is solution, provided you take the solution.[Lecture on BG 7.1 — Fiji, May 24, 1975]
ne should not take shelter of any other instructions, for Bhagavad-gītā gives direct instructions on how to fulfill the aim of human life. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa therefore says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: (BG 18.66) “Give up all other processes of religion and simply surrender to Me.” Even if one does not accept Lord Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, His instructions are so exalted and beneficial for humanity that if one follows His instructions one will be saved. [Srimad Bhagavatam, 6.7.14, Purport]
The word śāstra refers to the scriptures, particularly the Vedic books of knowledge. The Vedas-Sāma, Yajur, Ṛg and Atharva—and any other books deriving knowledge from these Vedas are considered Vedic literatures. Bhagavad-gītā is the essence of all Vedic knowledge, and therefore it is the scripture whose instructions should be especially accepted. In this essence of all śāstras, Kṛṣṇa personally advises that one give up all other duties and surrender unto Him (sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja (BG 18.66)). [Srimad Bhagavatam 6.5.20, Purport]
Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam (SB 1.3.28). If you don’t accept Kṛṣṇa as God, that is your business. But Kṛṣṇa is God. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. Īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ (Bs. 5.1). Īśvara, god… There are many gods, but the Supreme God is Kṛṣṇa.
Guest (1): The whole problem… We have not read Bhagavad-gītā.
Prabhupāda: Yes. So now read it. No, it is better late than never. You have never read Bhagavad-gītā; now read it. The movement is there for this purpose. Now read it.
[Room Conversation — January 27, 1977, Bhuvanesvara]
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: (reading) “There are no authentic answers to these questions.”
Prabhupāda: There is. Kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ‘sya. Read Bhagavad-gītā. Kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo ‘sya. Here is authentic answer. Why he’s giving that…? That means you are not in proper leadership. If you… Just explain that if you infect cholera disease, germ, you must suffer. That is nature’s law. Similarly, kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgaḥ asya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu. Now you can change the kāraṇa, the cause. Māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye ‘pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ (BG 9.32). And you can neutralize it. Māṁ ca avyabhicāreṇa bhakti-yogena yaḥ. Quote this. Everything is there in Bhagavad-gītā. [Room Conversation about Harijanas — April 10, 1977, Bombay]
This point we have discussed last night that everyone can see God. To see God is not very difficult job. There are so many points described in the Bhagavad-gītā. For the devotees, those who are serious about seeing God, they can see God. God is present everywhere. And God Himself, Kṛṣṇa, is describing, raso ‘ham apsu kaunteya prabhāsmi śaśi-sūryayoḥ (BG 7.8).[The Nectar of Devotion — Vrndavana, October 19, 1972]
“Give up all varieties of religiousness, and just surrender unto Me; and in return I shall protect you from all sinful reactions. Therefore, you have nothing to fear.” This verse is actually the essence of the whole Bhagavad Gita. [Letter to Niranjana written from Honolulu, May 5,1972]
The writing of Vaiṣṇava literatures is not a function for ordinary men. Vaiṣṇava literatures are not mental concoctions. They are all authorized literature meant to guide those who are going to be Vaiṣṇavas. Under these circumstances, an ordinary man cannot give his own opinion. His opinion must always correspond with the conclusion of the Vedas. Unless one is fully qualified in Vaiṣṇava behavior and authorized by superior authority (the Supreme Personality of Godhead), one cannot write Vaiṣṇava literatures or purports and commentaries on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Bhagavad-gītā. [Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya Lila, 24.326, 1975 Edition]
Do not waste your time with this study of monkeys. What will you learn by this? Better to hear from Lord Krishna Himself in Bhagavad-gita than to waste your time in this way. [Letter to Susan Newman written from Berkeley, July 18, 1975]
Prabhupāda: Free choice. What is preordained? You are here of your free choice. If you like, you can sit down and talk with me, and if you don’t like, then you can go. That is your free choice. Free choice makes destiny; if I act in goodness, then my future is good. And if I act badly, my future is bad. That is destiny. Man is the architect of his own destiny. If you are educated, your future is nice, and if you remain foolish, then your future is bad. Future destiny depends on present action. This life is an opportunity to make the next life, and if we behave like human beings, then in our next life we will go back home, back to Godhead. But if we behave like animals, then in the next life we will take animal bodies. That’s all. All this is very nicely described in Bhagavad-gītā. The conclusion is that human beings are meant for understanding God, but if we waste our time understanding dog, and if we become attached to dog, then we will become dogs in our next life. And if we are attached to God, we become like God, in our next life. The choice is ours. [Interview with the New York Times — September 2, 1972, New Vrindaban]
I went to your country for spreading this information of Krishna Consciousness & you are helping me in my mission although I am not physically present there but spiritually I am always with you. Our procedure is very simple and consistent. We chant, we read from Bhagavad-gita & Srimad-Bhagavatam and we distribute prasadam.[Letter to Nandarani, Krsna Devi, Subala, Uddhava — Delhi 3 October, 1967]
vayaṁ tu na vitṛpyāma uttama-śloka-vikrame
yac chṛṇvatāṁ rasa-jñānāṁ svādu svādu pade pade.
“One can never be satiated even though one continuously hears the transcendental pastimes of Kṛṣṇa, who is glorified by Vedic hymns. Those who have entered into a transcendental relationship with Kṛṣṇa relish in every step descriptions of the pastimes of the Lord.” Thus, Arjuna is interested to hear about Kṛṣṇa, specifically how He remains as the all-pervading Supreme Lord.
Now as far as amṛtam, nectar, is concerned, any narration or statement concerning Kṛṣṇa is just like nectar. And this nectar can be perceived by practical experience. Modern stories, fiction and histories are different from the transcendental pastimes of the Lord in that one will tire of hearing mundane stories, but one never tires of hearing about Kṛṣṇa. It is for this reason only that the history of the whole universe is replete with references to the pastimes of the incarnations of Godhead. For instance, the Purāṇas are histories of bygone ages that relate the pastimes of the various incarnations of the Lord. In this way the reading matter remains forever fresh, despite repeated readings. [BG 10.18, Purport, Original Macmilllan 1972 Edition]
The mission of human life, as described in the Bhagavad-gītā, is to surrender unto the Supreme Lord and become His devotee, but the Māyāvāda philosophy misleads one to defy the existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and pose oneself as the Supreme Lord. Thus, it has misguided hundreds and thousands of innocent men. [Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi Lila, 7.120, Purport, 1975 Edition]
One has to know how this body is constituted, the materials of which this body is made, under whose control this body is working, how the changes are taking place, wherefrom the changes are coming, what the causes are, what the reasons are, what the ultimate goal of the individual is, and what the actual form of the individual soul is. One should also know the distinction between the individual living soul and the Supersoul, the different influences, their potentials, etc. One just has to understand this Bhagavad-gītā directly from the description given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and all this will be clarified. But one should be careful not to consider the Supreme Personality of Godhead in every body and individual soul to be the jīva. This is something like equalizing the potent and the impotent.[BG 13.4, Purport, Original Macmilllan 1972 Edition]
A common man with all the four defects of human frailty is unable to teach that which is worth hearing. The Gītā is above such literature. No mundane book compares with the Bhagavad-gītā. When one accepts Kṛṣṇa as an ordinary man, the Gītā loses all importance. The Māyāvādī argues that the plurality mentioned in this verse is conventional and that it refers to the body. But previous to this verse such a bodily conception is already condemned. After condemning the bodily conception of the living entities, how was it possible for Kṛṣṇa to place a conventional proposition on the body again? Therefore, individuality is maintained on spiritual grounds and is thus confirmed by great ācāryas like Śrī Rāmānuja and others. It is clearly mentioned in many places in the Gītā that this spiritual individuality is understood by those who are devotees of the Lord. Those who are envious of Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead have no bona fide access to the great literature. The nondevotee’s approach to the teachings of the Gīta is something like bees licking on a bottle of honey. One cannot have a taste of honey unless one opens the bottle. Similarly, the mysticism of the Bhagavad-gītā can be understood only by devotees, and no one else can taste it, as it is stated in the Fourth Chapter of the book. Nor can the Gītā be touched by persons who envy the very existence of the Lord. Therefore, the Māyāvādī explanation of the Gītā is a most misleading presentation of the whole truth. Lord Caitanya has forbidden us to read commentations made by the Māyāvādīs and warns that one who takes to such an understanding of the Māyāvādī philosophy loses all power to understand the real mystery of the Gītā. If individuality refers to the empirical universe, then there is no need of teaching by the Lord. The plurality of the individual soul and of the Lord is an eternal fact, and it is confirmed by the Vedas as above mentioned. [BG 2.12, Purport, Original Macmilllan 1972 Edition]
Prabhupāda: Arabic countries also, our men from Jerusalem. Jerusalem. That is an Arabic country. We send to Pakistan also, but due to this war, the American Embassy, they asked us to go away. They are going again, Bangladesh. We have got Russia branch, and we are negotiating with China also. So, because you are here, you have taken the importance of Bhagavad-gītā, why not do it rightly and propagate nicely? That is our proposition.
[Room Conversation 1-JAKARTA – February 27, 1973]
When a jiva tattva becomes specifically empowered by the Lord, he is called saktyavesa avatara. Lord Buddha and Lord Jesus Christ were in this group of saktyavesa avatara.. But they were not in conditioned state when they appeared; they came to teach here.
You should all read very carefully Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita, and you should be able to answer all questions like this, and only in rare cases approach me. But it is important that our students must be able to answer all questions for becoming preachers. [Letter to Aniruddha — Los Angeles 14 November, 1968]
I beg to thank you for your kind appreciation of my humble preaching activities. Please continue to read Bhagavad-gita As It Is. You will derive all spiritual benefit from it. Also, if you can find the time, I will request you to visit our Temple in Juhu, Hare Krishna Land. [Letter to Sri Pillai — Calcutta 15 January, 1976]
“All the devotees connected with this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement must read all the books that have been translated (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā and others); otherwise, after some time, they will simply eat, sleep and fall down from their position. Thus, they will miss the opportunity to attain an eternal, blissful life of transcendental pleasure.” [Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 25.278: Purport by Srila Prabhupada, 1975 Edition]
The presentation of 108 quotes is now complete. To conclude, it is very important for all of us to realise the nectar of these original books and spread them across the world for the benefit of the humanity.
“This mission has been established simply on the publishing and distribution of my books. So, get them translated and published as soon as possible”.(Srila Prabhupada Letter 26/7/75)