“Irina Gajjar has written a clear and contemporary version of one of the most important scriptures of the world’s wisdom traditions. The Gita is an important contribution and will help us all to have a deeper insight into the path of enlightenment.”
“The Gita: A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture is a must for Hindus, for persons who wish to understand Hindu values, and for philosophers who question the meaning of human existence in a universal context.”
—Dr. Stefan Thomke (Harvard University)
As Arjun stood in his chariot looking over the two armies, he said to God, “I will not fight” and laid his bow and arrows on the ground.
God said, “Only the soul is real and the soul can never be killed. For this reason, Arjun, rise and conquer your enemies.”
The Bhagavad Gita guides the lives of Hindus today as it has since its creation over 2,500 years ago.
This translation illuminates the power and meaning of the Gita. Dr. Gajjar shows Hinduism to be “. . . like the ocean into which many rivers flow—the waters in the ocean are always changing, but the ocean stays the same.”
Dr. Gajjar’s work is a true translation and directly conveys the messages written on Sanskrit text facing each page. The English prose is beautiful and reads like poetry, harmonizing with the cadence of the Sanskrit verses.
About the Translator and Illustrator
Irina Gajjar—linguist, philosopher, scholar, attorney—speaks English, Gujarati, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, and French and has studied Sanskrit in India for 10 years. Irina’s husband, Navin Gajjar, created the handwritten Sanskrit text and the traditional Indian art motif.
Prelude: The Mahabharata
1: Arjun’s Sadness
2: God Answers Arjun
3: God Explains Right Action
4: The Sword of Knowledge
5: The Two Paths
6: Self Control
7: Knowing God
9: The Holy Secret
10: God’s Glories
11: God Shows Himself to Arjun
12: Loving God
13: The Body and the Spirit
14: Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas
15: The Excellent Spirit
16: Good and Evil
17: Three Kinds of Faith
18: Giving Yourself Up to God
Truth is clear, poetic and concise. These qualities define classic works of philosophy, mythology and religion which nourish the soul and the intellect. From this perspective, one of humanity’s greatest classics is the Bhagavad Gita, or Gita, the Hindu gospel. In the Gita, God enables those with faith, symbolized by Arjun, to know Him and answers universal questions asked by believers, agnostics and philosophers. Since Sanskrit is a complex language, it can be difficult to preserve the essential clarity of the questions and answers in translation. The Gita: A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture is a simple yet accurate English language Gita which strives to capture this clarity.
I have purposefully kept my work free of commentary. It is written from the perspective of a linguist and a student of Hinduism, not as a theorist promoting a particular viewpoint. The Gita is intended for people of all ages and levels of sophistication. The inconsistencies and ambiguities in the text exist in the Sanskrit and are left to the readers to analyze if they choose to do so. Terms which do not lend themselves to facile translation have been explained in a glossary so as not to interrupt the flow of the text.
Like the Sanskrit original, The Gita is written in blank verse. To maintain the flow and rhythm in English, the verses do not always correlate. However, each English page on the right corresponds to the Sanskrit on the left.
Feminine and masculine pronouns have been used interchangeably as have the words man and woman. In the Sanskrit, the term “man” and the masculine are used generically to represent the human race. The mission of this work has been to reincarnate the Gita as an English work using English structure. Only in this way can the beauty, depth and logic of the Sanskrit original survive translation.
The words of God spoken in the Gita are placed in context through a brief introduction entitled “Origins.” This section gives a concise history of the Bhagavad Gita and of the culture in which it was born and matured, a culture which it continues to dominate today with flexible strength.
The Gita was conceptualized to address young readers, but after the work was completed, it became clear that no modification could make it more appropriate for a broader, more learned audience. I tried from the beginning to make this English Gita flawless and to avoid added complexity or artifice. Thus, I think it fills a void in the history of world literature and religion.
Chapter 1: Arjun’s Sadness
King Dritarashtra asked Sanjay:
Oh Sanjay, what did my sons,
the Kauravas, and the sons of my brother
Pandu, the Pandavas, do standing on
the holy field of Kurukshetra all
ready and anxious to fight each other?
When the Pandavas’ army was all ready,
your son, Prince Duryodhana,
saw them and said:
The mighty army of the Pandavas is prepared!
It is strong. But in our own army
there are heroes just as brave as the Pandavas.
Our own heroes are just as
strong as Bhim and Arjun.
Our army is unconquerable.
Then the glorious old uncle Bhishma
roared like a lion and
blew on his conch to cheer
Prince Duryodhana on.
Then conches, drums and trumpets blared
forth and there was a great noise.
Then Arjun of the Pandavas blew
on his heavenly conch in reply.
Arjun sat in a glorious chariot
pulled by white horses.
Lord Krishna himself was Arjun’s charioteer.
Lord Krishna also blew a conch;
Bhim did too.
King Yudishtir, Nakul, and Sahadev
all blew their conches as well.
And there was a terrible sound
echoing through heaven and earth
and it tore the hearts of Dritarashtra’s sons,
and made them afraid.
At this moment, Arjun, Pandu’s son,
lifted up his bow
and spoke to Lord Krishna,
Lord Krishna, place my chariot between the
Keep it there until I have seen
all the warriors and decided against whom
Then Sanjay continued:
Arjun saw both armies.
He saw in both armies
his uncles and teachers and cousins
and brothers and sons and grandsons and friends.
Seeing all his relations ready
to fight against him, he felt very sorry and sad.
In his sadness Arjun said to Lord Krishna:
Oh Krishna, I see my relations here ready
to fight and my legs shake.
My mouth is dry.
My hair is standing on end.
My bow is dropping out of my hand.
My skin is burning.
My mind is spinning. I cannot stand up.
And I cannot see any use in this war.
What is the use of killing my relatives in
Oh Krishna, I do not want victory,
or a kingdom or pleasures.
What use are these three things?
Oh Krishna, I do not want to kill my relatives
even though they may kill me.
Oh Krishna, what joy can there be in killing
They are my family.
Only sin can come to us for killing.
It is wrong to kill Kauravas.
They are our cousins.
How can we ever be happy again
after killing our own relations?
Even if they do not understand this, we do.
We know that it is a sin to kill our own family.
Our family will be ruined.
Our women will become bad.
Our caste will become mixed.
Our race will be destroyed.
It would be better for me
if I let Dhritarashtra’s sons kill me.
Arjun spoke those words on the battlefield.
His mind was full of sorrow.
He put down his bow and arrows
and sat down sadly
in the back corner of his chariot.