Bhagavadgita versions and translations

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed Feb 2 09:59:09 CST 2000

There are some really horrible translations out there.  If you can you
should try to read the Gita in Sanskrit.  It's not as difficult as it may
seem.  The language of the Gita is quite simple and free of the verbal
fireworks of kavis like Bharavi or Magha.

Both the Gita by itself and with the Bhashya of Shankaracharya are
available from many places.  I have the edition put out by
Mahamandaleshwar Swami Maheshanandagiri, with the Bhashya and the tika of
Swami Anandagiri.

Swami Madhusudana Saraswati wrote famous a commentary called
Gudarthadipika which is really useful for understanding Bhakti from the
Advaita viewpoint.

Swami Shankarananda Saraswati, who was a Jagadguru Shankaracharya of
Shringeri two or three generations before Swami Vidyaranya wrote a short
but concise tika called Shankaranandi.

If you must use a translation and you know an Indian language such as
Gujarati, or Hindi or Tamil, that would be better than English simply
because the authors of such translations are usually more in touch with
tradition.  The Gita Press of Gorakhpur prints editions in all the major
languages and they are cheap and widely available.

Amongst English translations, I think the one by the late Prof. J.A.B. Van
Buitenen is the most scholarly.  However he thought the Vishishtadvaita
interpretation of the Gita was more accurate so in places he has
translated along those lines.  A.G. Krishna Warrier has translated the
Shankarabhashya.  It was published by the Theosophical Society,
Adyar.  The first time I ever read the Gita was in the translation of
Swami Shivananda and I still think it is a pretty good introduction.

When dealing with translations perhaps a good idea is two read a couple of
them side by side to compare the translators interpretations.  That should
help filter out bias or misunderstanding on their part.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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