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Bhagavad-gītā As It Is

Bhagavad-gītā is also known as Gītopaniṣad. It is the essence of Vedic knowledge and one of the most important Upaniṣads in Vedic literature. Of course there are many commentaries in English on the Bhagavad-gītā, and one may question the necessity for another one. This present edition can be explained in the following way. Recently an American lady asked me to recommend an English translation of Bhagavad-gītā.

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa)

The conception of God and the conception of Absolute Truth are not on the same level. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam hits on the target of the Absolute Truth. The conception of God indicates the controller, whereas the conception of the Absolute Truth indicates the summum bonum or the ultimate source of all energies. There is no difference of opinion about the personal feature of God as the controller because a controller cannot be impersonal. Of course modern government, especially democratic government, is impersonal to some extent, but ultimately the chief executive head is a person, and the impersonal feature of government is subordinate to the personal feature. So without a doubt whenever we refer to control over others we must admit the existence of a personal feature. Because there are different controllers for different managerial positions, there may be many small gods. According to the Bhagavad-gītā any controller who has some specific extraordinary power is called a vibhūtimat sattva, or controller empowered by the Lord. There are many vibhūtimat sattvas, controllers or gods with various specific powers, but the Absolute Truth is one without a second. This Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam designates the Absolute Truth or the summum bonum as the paraṁ satyam.

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta

The word caitanya means “living force,” carita means “character,” and amṛta means “immortal.” As living entities we can move, but a table cannot because it does not possess living force. Movement and activity may be considered signs or symptoms of the living force. Indeed, it may be said that there can be no activity without the living force. Although the living force is present in the material condition, this condition is not amṛta, immortal. The words caitanya-caritāmṛta, then, may be translated as “the character of the living force in immortality.”

Nectar of Instruction

The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is conducted under the supervision of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. The Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, or Bengali Vaiṣṇavas, are mostly followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, of whom the Six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana are direct disciples. Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī was the leader of all the Gosvāmīs, and to guide our activities he gave us this Upadeśāmṛta (The Nectar of Instruction) to follow. As Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu left behind Him the eight verses known as Śikṣāṣṭaka, Rūpa Gosvāmī gave us Upadeśāmṛta so that we may become pure Vaiṣṇavas.

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