New York Times – GLENN KATES – Dec 23, 2011
A Russian group’s demands that the Bhagavad Gita be labeled “extremist” and banned has prompted outrage in India and terse discussion between diplomats from both countries. Go to story
Classic text of universal knowledge
Everyone in India knows Bhagavad-gita, and not only in India, throughout the whole world Bhagavad-gita is very well known and widely read book of knowledge. I have traveled all over the world. In every country there are different language, translations of Bhagavad-gita, and in Japanese countries there is Bhagavad-gita, in Muslim countries there is Bhagavad-gita. So Bhagavad-gita is the universal book of knowledge, and our Krishna consciousness movement is based on this Bhagavad-gita. We have not manufactured anything. The same thing, which is very, very old, at least from historical point of view it is five thousand years old, but from scriptural point of view it is more than forty millions of years old. So our Krishna consciousness movement is based on this Bhagavad-gita, because it is full of krishna-samprashno. … The Bhagavad-gita should be read very widely, and should be understood very widely. That is the only source of auspicity for the human society. But don’t misrepresent it. It has become a fashion now to misrepresent, comment on Bhagavad-gita according to one’s whims. That is very dangerous. That is very dangerous. Bhagavad-gita should be read, should be understood as prescribed in the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna says, in the Fourth Chapter, evam parampara-praptam imam rajarshayo viduh [Bg. 4.2]. The Bhagavad-gita should be understood by the line of disciplic succession of authorized acharyas.
excerpt from purport, Bhagavad-gita 1.1:
Bhagavad-gita is the widely read theistic science summarized in the Gita-mahatmya (Glorification of the Gita). There it says that one should read Bhagavad-gita very scrutinizingly with the help of a person who is a devotee of Sri Krishna and try to understand it without personally motivated interpretations. The example of clear understanding is there in the Bhagavad-gita itself, in the way the teaching is understood by Arjuna, who heard the Gita directly from the Lord. If someone is fortunate enough to understand Bhagavad-gita in that line of disciplic succession, without motivated interpretation, then he surpasses all studies of Vedic wisdom, and all scriptures of the world. One will find in the Bhagavad-gita all that is contained in other scriptures, but the reader will also find things which are not to be found elsewhere. That is the specific standard of the Gita. It is the perfect theistic science because it is directly spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna.
The topics discussed by Dhritarashtra and Sañjaya, as described in the Mahabharata, form the basic principle for this great philosophy. It is understood that this philosophy evolved on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, which is a sacred place of pilgrimage from the immemorial time of the Vedic age. It was spoken by the Lord when He was present personally on this planet for the guidance of mankind.
Liberation from the concept of bodily life
“First of all try to understand what you are.” That is the beginning of Bhagavad-gita. It is no politics. It is knowledge, pure knowledge. Bhagavad-gita 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-gita. Bhagavad-gita 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 brahmana,” “I am this,” “I am that”—this is the basic principle.