The Books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Srila Prabhupada receiving Macmillan Bhagavad-gita As It Is


The chief editor at the Macmillan Company said, “Bring in the manuscript tomorrow morning,” he said, “and we’ll publish it.”

The Books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Originally published in Back to Godhead No. 52
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust 1973
By Brahmananda Swami ISKCON East Africa

Part 5

Bhagavad-gita As It Is stands as a challenge to all the mental speculators who depart from the Gita’s central teaching of devotional service to the Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krsna. Even Mahatma Gandhi stands accused, since his ingenious metaphorical interpretation is simply designed to support his mundane political movement of nonviolence. In India Srila Prabhupada personally requested Gandhi to preach the Gita for what it teaches, Krsna consciousness, just as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja had personally requested the most famous Indian poet of his time, Rabindranath Tagore.

In the Gita’s Ninth Chapter Lord Krsna categorically advises Arjuna to surrender to Him and to love and worship Him only. He specifically uses the Sanskrit word mam, meaning “unto Me.” Yet one commentator, a renowned Indian philosopher and political leader, begins his commentary on this crucial verse, “It is not to Krsna that we have to surrender…” It is very clear that Krsna and Arjuna are standing on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra and that Krsna is telling Arjuna to surrender unto Him. But this scholar wants to turn the reader away from Krsna by insidiously implying that Krsna actually means to surrender to the eternal unmanifested essence within Himself. But Krsna didn’t say this. Significantly, Srila Prabhupada entitles his comments “purports,” not interpretations. In his purports he gives the actual significance of the verses. Srila Prabhupada informs all deluded scholars that because Krsna is absolute, there is no qualitative difference between His within and His without as there is with conditioned living entities like ourselves.

Only Srila Prabhupada can title his edition of the Gita “As It Is.” The reason why is readily understood from Krsna’s statement to Arjuna in the beginning of the Fourth Chapter regarding Arjuna’s qualification for receiving the teachings of the Gita. It is not that Arjuna was a great yogi, scholar or ascetic. Krsna said, “You are My devotee and My friend; therefore you can understand this science rightly.” As unusual as it may seem, Srila Prabhupada is virtually the only devotee of Krsna who has commentated on Bhagavad-gita. Krsna also disclosed that the Gita can only be understood by those who are in the line of authorized devotees and acaryas (teachers) known as parampara (disciplic succession). Of the four such successions, the line from Lord Brahma yet remains intact, and Srila Prabhupada is the thirty-second teacher in that line. Vedic knowledge is not unlike a family secret that has been carefully handed down through many generations. Even though the present family descendants were not personally present, they know precisely what took place generations ago.

After it was completed, the Gita manuscript was placed in our hands for publication. We approached several big New York publishers, but even with the help of the poet Allen Ginsberg, there was no success. However, Srila Prabhupada had some time previously recorded an album of the hypnotic Hare Krsna mantra, and we happened to receive an order for a copy from an executive at the Macmillan Company. Srila Prabhupada, who was in New York at the time, instructed me to deliver the album personally and inform them that we had books they might be interested to publish. In the executive office, I sat before a man in the accounting section who had nothing to do with publishing books. But then in stepped his colleague, a chief editor. I was introduced, and then I repeated Srila Prabhupada’s offer. Believe it or not, he was just looking to publish an edition of the Gita to fill out their religion section. “Bring in the manuscript tomorrow morning,” he said, “and we’ll publish it.”

“Excerpted from ‘Back To Godhead’ magazine, courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc., http://www.Krishna.com.”

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