“The Geeta: as a Chaitanyite reads it” by Tridandi Swami B.H. Bon, "INTRODUCTION BY TRIDANDI SWAMI B.H. BON"


Vedic Literature is vast. It has more than
often been difficult for the short-lived and blunt
intellect of the self-forgetful fettered jivas of this
Kali age to assimilate and digest the hidden
meaning and purposes of human life, implicitily
described therein. The Vedas are like a beautiful
flower-garland-the flowers of Karma, Jnana, Yoga,
and Bhakti being strung together with the thread of
a progressive thought that ultimately binds the two
ends at the Absolute. But what is this implicit
thread, readers of the Vedas have often missed to
catch. Some accepted Karma, some Jnana, some
Yoga and some Bhakti, wrongly believing that each
of these paths would lead them to the ultimate End.
The truth was that these were gradual steps, and
should be followed according to one's normal incli-
nation in a particular station in life.

There came a time in India when the country
was under a heat-wave of ambitious Karmins,
wrangling Jnanins, austere Yogins and ardent
Bhaktas, who all based their messages on the Vedas.
The result was that laity did not know what
was the right interpretation of the Scriptures.
Owing to the misidentification of these readers of
their real selves, they failed to grasp the Trans-
cendental Undivided Knowledge of the Vedas, and
their reading was like one's indigestion of food
which is swallowed without proper mastication.

It was, therefore, towards the end of Dwapara
and in the beginning of the Kali Age that the
Supreme Lord Sree Krishna was graciously pleased
to address His Own friend Arjuna, in order to teach
and save the fallen, on the only Path to the realisa-
tion of the Highest Bliss in life, independent for
ever of all unwholesomeness of the relativities of
mundane time and space. The Lord showed a
way how to get from the phenomenal world to the
Transcendental Realm. Thus this Address of
Sree Krishna to Arjuna in the Geeta became the
sum and substance of all the Four Vedas, the
Sruties, the Smrities and the Puranas.

It is divided into Eighteen chapters, which are,
in fact, from the Twenty-fifth to the Forty-second
chapters of the Bhishma-Canto of the Mahabharata.

The Geeta opens with a question by the old
politician and wordly-wise king Dhritarastra, who
was also blind. Sanjaya answers him in the follow-
ing seven hundred verses, but strangely enough, the
name of King Dhritarastra is never again mentioned
in the whole of the Geeta. When Dharma or
Absolute Duty is challenged by Karma or relative
duties, the result cannor possibly be conceived by
the physical and intellectual capacities of empiricists
who are blinded by self forgetfulness. The solu-
tion is given by Sree Krishna. The Pandavas from
the plane of Dharma (Dharmakshetra) , being
instructed by Sree Krishna, received the challenge
of the sons of Dhritarastra on the field of Karma
(Kurukshetra) and defeated them-the relative
duties in human life were subordinated to the
absolute duty of all souls.

The Geeta has shown a clear-cut way as to
how one should follow the gradual steps in one's
oneward march to the Destination of all human life,
according to the particular inclination and aptitude
of individuals in their abnormal existence of self-
forgetfulness, which should all harmoniously and
favourably be subservient to Unalloyed Devotion or
Bhakti, which is the normal nature of a freed soul.
The Summum bonum of life is the loving service
of the Godhead. Loving service of the Superme
Personality of God lies in self-dedication, which
is positive; selfishness is hellish, selflessness is
nagative, while unconditional self-surrendering is
positive and divine.

There are books which have laid stress on
Karma or Jnana, and have even gone to the extent
of holding the view that Karma and Jnana are the
highest paths to follow. But on a close analysis
we can understand their significance. Karma and
Jnana have been prescribed for those whose normal
tendencies in their abnormal existences are so
inclined on the relative physical and mental planes
respectively; while the Sruties and Smrities as
well as the Geeta have definitely established the
supremacy and positiveness of Unalloyed Devotion
or Bhakti to be the final Means to the Ultimate
End on the Plane of Transcendence, Where the
Means and the Ends are identical. Prema-Bhakti
is not tinged by the baseness of the rind of fruitive
Karma and the seed of dry Jnana. Prema-Bhakti
is like a sweet ripe fruit which has no rind and
no seed.

Readers of the Geeta may be divided into two
groups : The exoteric and the esoteric. The former
are busy with the merits of the Book, while the latter
are earnestly desirous of entering into the depth of
the intended Teachings of Sree Krishna. It is for
this reason that the superficial readers of the Geeta
hold that Karma, enjoined by the Shastras and pre-
scribed for Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and
Sudras as well as for Brahmacarins, Grihastas,
Vanaprasthas and Sannyasins, is eternal ; that
Arjuna followed the Varna-dharma of a Kshatriya
by giving battle to his enemies, and that therefore
Karma was the object-lesson of Sree Krishna. But
to the serious readers of the Geeta, this view is
untenable, and they consider it to be too gross and
superficial an approach to the great Geeta. They
hold either Brahma-Jnana-Knowledge of the
Absolute, or Para-Bhakti-Unalloyed Devotion, to
be the real purpose of the Geeta. According to the
esoteric reading of the Geeta, Arjuna's acceptance
of fighting as a Kshatriya was only an example of
one's adherence to the relative duties in a particular
station of life; but Sree Krishna's ultimate teaching
was to adjust all the relative duties to the absolute duty
of unconditionally surrendering to the Wishes
of the Supreme Lord.

In this world it is but wisdom to act according
to one's normal tendencies in the abnormal state of
existence ; otherwise life would be unbearable and
unprogressive. The innate function of an individual
soul in its normal realisation of its eternal aptitudes
should not be misidentified with the normal inclina-
tions of a fettered entity in its abnormal state of
being engrossed in the physical body of flesh and
blood and the subtle body of mind, intelligence and
perverted ego. Karma is, therefore, essential in
order to have a smooth living. Karma, when rightly
directed and its fruits dedicated to the Supreme
Receiver of every object, helps true understanding
and right perspective of the phenomenal objects, as
well as further enkindles in the individual the fire
of pure Knowledge of the Transcendental World ;
this Jnana wakens the dormant nature of the pure
soul, which is Bhakti or loving service to the
Transcendental Personality of the Godhead.

Karma and the relative duties with reference to
the body and the mind have distant relation to
Undivided Knowledge. Bhakti is the direct function
of the soul. So long as individual entities are not
freed from the shackles of worldly affinities, Karma
and Varna-dharma are unavoidable. The duty of
giving battle to his enemies was incumbent on
Arjuna as a Kshatriya by birth, which he per-
formed ; but Arjuna as an individual soul surrender-
ed himself unconditionally to the Wishes of Sree
Krishna, the Supreme Lord. The one was his
absolute duty, while the other was his relative duty.
His relative duty of Karma was subordinated to his
absolute duty of Bhakti or self-dedication.

The real teaching of the Geeta therefore is that
one should follow Karma according to one's rights
and abilities in a particular station and stage of
life in which he is placed in his state of bondage,
while his ulterior aim of life should be to realise his
reciprocal relationship with, and the eternal function
towards, the Supreme Lord Who is ever beyond the
reach of man's physical and mental senses as well as
objects of phenomena.

Our present engrossed state of existence within
the four walls of the limitations of mundane time
and space is not palatable indeed. It is certainly
wise to aspire after a life eternal in an atmosphere
of divine bliss in the kingdom of God, Which is a
perfect system, instead of being enchained by the
ties of worldliness and changebilities. This eternal
and ever progressive blissful life should be the End
in view. To achieve an eternal End, the Means
need necessarily be eternal-a changable Means
leads one to an uncertain End.

Various means have been laid down by various
teachers with the aim of attaining to the eternal
flow of felicity in the heart of the soul. Some have
described sacrificial rites, some have prescribed
Yoga and concentration of the mental faculties and
physical senses, some have eulogised logical wrang-
lings, some have stressed upon piety, austerities,
abnegation, others have given importance to
the worship of and prayers to God, performance of
one's duties, self-dedication etc.-as the Means to
the same End. But on close examination, we can
divide all these various paths mainly into three prin-
ciples of Karma, Jnana and Bhakti. All these
different paths as means to an end, though profes-
sing to attain the same end, do not really lead one to
the same conclusion-in fact, every path has its
particular end to reach, quite distinct from the rest.
Ends which are apparently similar in nature need
not be identical-a glow worm and a spark
are similar in appearance, but they are not the

All souls are animate eternal beings with no
beginning and no end, like the Godhead. Souls
can neither be created nor can they be destroyed.
They are identical in nature, in essence with God,
and at the same time distinct from Him. Like the
rays of the Sun, the souls are many and God is One;
they are infinitesimal separated parts of the
Godhead and therefore liable to be overpowered
by the influence of Maya, while God is always the
Lord of Maya. The birth of an individual soul is
nothing else but being imprisoned within the four
walls of time and space, the prisoner's dress being
the physical and mental bodies and the fetters the
chains of worldly affinities. How and why these
transcendental entities come in contact with
mundane existence is beyond human conception-
the way to explain this anomaly is to ascribe
it to the inscrutible Will and Wishes of God.

These souls are either freed or engrossed.
Those who are not shackled to the chains of Maya
are the freed, while those who misidentify their
eternal selves with the physical body and subtle
mind are the engrossed.

The freed souls are of two kinds-those who are
eternally free from mundane bondage, and those
fettered souls who have attained to the stage of
self-realisation. Both these self-realised souls are
beyond the scope of the Scriptures. The scriptural
injunctions on the distinctive conceptions of Karma,
Jnana and Bhakti are synthesised and harmonised
on the plane of transcendence of the Mukta-the
freed. But they have their special application to
the particular stage of life of the fettered jivas or
souls. Karma, Jnana and Bhakti merge into the
stream of Divine Love or Prema with the Muktas,
while Karma and Jnana are gradual steps in life to
the fettered which lead them to Bhakti. In the
engrossed stage of individuals when Karma and
Jnana attempt to challenge Bhakti and try to take
an independent stand, they are soon diagnosed to
be delirious symptoms of the self-forgetful
unhealthy souls ; Bhakti is the sign of their normal

In the Geeta there are eighteen chapters.
Karma is described in the first six chapters, Bhakti
in the middle six chapters, and Jnana is explained
in the last six chapters. Having described them
separately, Bhakti has again been finally established
to be the Highest Means to the Highest End.
Karma and Jnana are like two bye-lanes which
meet the Main Road of Bhakti from either side.
Bhakti is therefore described in the middle
six chapters. Bhakti is the life, Karma and Jnana are,
as it were, its gross and subtle bodies respectively.
The final teaching of Sri Krishna to Arjuna is
given towards the end of the eighteenth chapter
when the Lord says :

"Forsake all socio-religious systems
Of caste and stations in earthly life,
Renunciation of Karma or action.
Abandonment of the fruitive Karma,
Rigid austerities in order to control the inner
and outer senses,
Meditation, concentration of attention,
Obdience to the grandeur and lordliness of
And all such things that have been told before
In order to gain knowldge of Brahman and
Shun them all,
Take absolute refuge in Me, Who am the
Highest Divinity-
The Supreme Lord of all gods.
Then I shall deliver thee
From all the bondage of this world
As well as from offences and all sins and
That may arise from thy abandonment of all
those duties,
That are enjoined the by the Scriptures."

This is the most secret teaching of the Geeta.
This great truth cannot be understood by those who
are blinded by the vanities of high lineage, immense
opulence, vast erudition and beauties of youth.

In this volume I have made an attempt to put
in English an explanatory translation of the Geeta
on the basis of the philosophy and teachings of
Sri Krishna-Chaitanya, Who was born at Sri
Mayapur in the district of Nadia in Bengal in 1486
A.C. There are, no doubt, other translations of the
Geeta, but they are based on the monistic com-
mentary of Sri Sankara, whereas I have tried to
give a running explanation of the important verses,
or otherwise giving an English rendering of the
ordinary verses, according to the commentaries of
Sri Viswanatha Chakravartty, Valadeva Vidya-
bhusan and Srila Thakur Bhakti Vinode, the pioneer
of the revival of the Bhakti-cult in Bengal in the
present century. There has not been a single
attempt till now to put in English an explanation
of the Geeta as a Vishnuvite in general and a
Chaitanyite in particular read it. In presenting
this English explanatory translation of the Geeta
according to the interpretations of Vaisnava
teachers to the English reading public, my only
motive is to serve the wishes of my Master
Paramahansa Srila Saraswati Goswami, who is no
more in this world.

There are several Sanskrit commentaries on
the Geeta, the oldest available is that of Sree
Hanuman. The more commonly read commenta-
ries are those of Sri Sankara, Sri Ramanuja,
and Sri Madhwa and Sri Valadeva. We hear of
the "Geeta-tatparya" of Yamunacharya before the
time of Sri Ramanuja. The commentaries of
Sridhara Swami known as "Subodhini tika", and the
"Gitarth-Vivarana" of Sri Vallabha and the "Geeta-
tatparya" of his son Sri Vitthala are also famous
amongst scholars. The "Amrita-tarangini" of Sri
Pursottama is also widely read. "Tattva-prakasika"
of Keshava Kashmiri belongs to the Nimbarka
School. The "Geeta-bhasya-vivechana" of Sri
Ananda Giri and the commentary of Sri Madhu-
sudana Saraswati belong to the pantheistic school.
Besides these, the names of the following commen-
tators of the Geeta are also fairly well known :
Arjuna Misra, Chaturbhuja, Janardana Bhatta,
Devabodh, Devaswami, Nandakishore, Narayana-
Sarbajna, Nilakantha, Chaturdhara, Paramananda
Bhattacharya, Jajnanarayana, Ratnagarbha, Laksh-
mana Bhatta, Bimalbodh, Vaisampayana, Srinivas-
acharya, Madhyamandir, Varadraj, Vyasatirtha,
Satyabhinava Yati, Angesvarapal, Krishnacharya,
Keshava Bhatta, Jayatirtha, Jayarama, Raghaven-
dra, Ramananda Tirtha, Vidyadhiraj, and others.

But amongst this galaxy of commentators on
the Geeta, the commentary of Sri Viswanatha
Chakravartty is most lucid and soul-stirring as
well as greatly valued by the Vaishnava Schools.
To the readers of Bhagavatam, the name of
Viswanatha is well-known, because of his simple
and yet forceful commentaries on these great works.
All his commentaries are overflowed with the
nectar of Divine Love for the Supreme Lord. Sri
Viswanatha Chakravartty comes in the preceptorial
order of the Gaudiya School, whose disciple was
Valadeva Vidyabhusan, who wrote "Govinda-
Bhasyam" of the Brahma Sutras. Viswanatha
was born in a Brahmin family in the Nadia district,
sometimes towards the close of the 16th century.
There are few in the Gaudiya School who wrote so
many volumes of Sanskrit Books as Sri Viswanatha
-he left a vast Vaisnava literature behind him.
In this volume I have based my explanation mainly
on his commentary.

It is hoped that this new explanation of the
Geeta in English, based on the Chaitanya philosophy
and unalloyed devotion and transcendental Love
or Prema to the Supreme Personality of Sri
Krishna, will throw light on the Vaishnava outlook
of approach to the teachings of Lord Krishna to
Arjuna in the great book of the Hindus.

A Chaitanyite reads the Geeta with the eyes
of unalloyed devotion, beautified with the collirium
of Divine Love. If this volume will help to waken
a love for God in the heart of the readers, I shall
feel that I have been able to render some service to
my Master.

I beg to take the opportunity to express my
sincere gratitude to Miss Sara de Laredo who
revised and polished my English rendering. I am
thankful to my friend Swami B.P. Tirtha who
helped me in understanding some of the verses.
I have also the pleasure of acknowledging the
kindness of Mr. E.G. Schulze and Sri Pyarimohan
Brahmachari, Bhakti-Shastri, Karukovid, who took
great pains in typing the manuscript copy.

Morvi State Guest House,
Morvi, Kathiwar.
The 15th March, 1938


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Pranam to Swami Bon

"I make my obeisances with deep and loving devotion for ever and ever to my Gurudev, who is known by the name of Srimad Bhakti Hriday Bon, who being attracted by the lotus-feet of Radha-Madhab is for ever and ever immersed in the perennial stream of supramundane joy emanating therefrom.

I bow down again and again with loving devotion to my Gurudev who is a wandering Tridandi mendicant and erudite Vaishnava (who) is always following in the wake of Sri Rupa; I make my obeisances in all humility, at all times with sincere loving devotion to my Gurudev who resides happily in the
Kunja (bower) allotted to him by Shrimati Radhika, the dearest Divine Consort of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna who is Rasa epitomized, who has taken to the way of Bhakti in consonace with the teachings of Sri Chaitanya - nay, whose whole pattern of life is moulded on the teachings and precepts of Sri Chaitanya."