The Essence of Bhagavad Gita
Rarely in a lifetime does a new spiritual classic appear that has the power to change people's lives and transform future generations. This is such a book.
The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita Explained by Paramhansa Yoganandashares the profound insights of Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, as remembered by one of his close and direct disciples, Swami Kriyananda.
This revelation of India's best-loved scripture approaches it from an entirely fresh perspective, showing its deep allegorical meaning and also its down-to-earth practicality. The themes presented are universal, including: how to achieve victory in life in union with the divine; how to prepare for life's "final exam," death, and what happens afterward; and how to triumph over all pain and suffering.
This book is itself a triumph. Swami Kriyananda worked with Paramhansa Yogananda in 1950 while the Master completed his commentary. At that time Yogananda commissioned him to disseminate his teachings worldwide. During his lifetime, Kriyananda lectured, taught, and wrote more than 140 books based on Yogananda's teachings.
The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, Kriyananda's eighty-sixth book, was one of the crowning achievements of his highly productive life. In this, his masterpiece, he declared, "Yogananda's insights into the Gita are the most amazing, thrilling, and helpful of any I have ever read."
What Others Are Saying
"It is doubtful that there has been a more important spiritual writing in the past 50 years than this soul-stirring, monumental work. Through a mind blessed with special clarity, Swami Kriyananda has brought us his most vivid memories of the explanations by Paramhansa Yogananda of the Bhagavad Gita, allowing us to hear with greater vibrancy than ever before the Melodies of the Divine. At last the "Lord's Song" is not a mystery to our mind, but music to our ears! What a gift! What a treasure! My personal gratitude to Swami Kriyananda shall be everlasting."
—Neale Donald Walsch, author of Conversations with God
"The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita is a brilliant text that will greatly enhance the spiritual life of every reader."
—Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit and Sacred Contracts
"Swami Kriyananda’s book is a jewel that is perfect for newcomers to the power and depth of the Bhagavad Gita and for those who draw daily upon its wisdom. I hold this book in my heart as a blessing to all and recommend it to every individual who intends to use his/her life to create a world of harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life."
—Gary Zukav, author of The Seat of the Soul and The Dancing Wu Li Masters
"This book is filled with deep wisdom and heartfelt counsel. It has the power to change your life."
—Bernie Siegel, MD, author of 101 Exercises for the Soul and Love, Medicine and Miracles
"Swami Kriyananda is a man of wisdom and compassion in action, truly one of the leading lights in the spiritual world today. His work and life of selfless service are an inspiration to us all. By cogently sharing with us what his own master, the sage Yogananda, taught about how to integrate this ancient yet timeless wisdom into contemporary life, the light he sheds on the verses of the classic Bhagavad Gita will help illumine the way of awakening for many years to come. I heartily recommend this work to every seeker of God, truth, and sacred living, and have read it with great interest myself."
—Lama Surya Das, Dzogchen Center, author of Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment and Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be
"Swami Kriyananda writes with the same spirit of compassion and intelligence displayed by his teacher, Paramhansa Yogananda. In this extraordinary book, he honors this lineage, showing with great mastery how this message is more relevant and compelling than ever."
—Dean Ornish, MD, author of Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease and Love & Survival
"This profound vision of the great yogi Paramhansa Yogananda opens a new window that lets the wisdom light of the Bhagavad Gita, the words of the Blessed One, shine as a source of sublime peace in the hearts of many."
—Tulku Thondup Rinpoche, author of The Healing Power of Mind, Boundless Healing, and Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth
"The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita by Paramhansa Yogananda (the first Indian Yoga master to establish his life work in the West) . . . is an exhaustive explanation of the Bhagavad Gita, sacred text to Hindus worldwide, in terms accessible to lay readers and religious scholars alike. Introductory chapters walk the reader through the origin and allegory of the Bhagavad Gita, but the bulk of The Essence of the Bhagavad Gitatakes the sacred text passage by passage and explicates at length the literal, spiritual, allegorical, cultural, and other implications. Written with particular care and clarification for readers who may be personally unfamiliar with ancient Indian history, Hindu belief tenets, and similar matters, The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita is enthusiastically recommended for public and college library shelves, as well as the personal shelves of any reader curious about what Hindu holy men have to say about this classic sacred text."
—Midwest Book Review
"As seemingly always, Swami Kriyananda has produced another gem of wisdom and compassion in The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita. In his own unique way he has captured the wisdom and the clarity of the Gita in this profoundly moving story within one of the greatest stories ever told. If you haven't read the Gita before, this will open your heart and mind to its teachings as it was revealed to Kriyananda's teacher Paramhansa Yogananda and told movingly by the great Yogi's disciple. I loved reading this."
—Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D., physicist, aka Dr. Quantum, author of Dr. Quantum's Little Book of Big Ideas and The Yoga of Time Travel
"Swami Kriyananda has eloquently made the divine work and teachings (the practical application of Kriya Yoga) of Paramhansa Yogananda available in our daily lives. This book will definitely help the reader to achieve inner bliss and complete the four pillars of life: dharma, artha, kama, and moksha. It is a great work that should be a part of one's daily practice."
—Vasant Lad, MASc. founder of the Ayurvedic Institute, author of Textbook of Ayurveda
"People are confused about the ultimate destination of human life and existence. Where did we come from, why are we here, and where does this life lead to? Swami Kriyanandaji is the most experienced philosopher that could help us understand how the Bhagavad Gita answers these questions. Through The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, people will be introduced to self-realization and God-realization, thus helping them to discover their divine nature and potential. As a society reaches this understanding, the walls of discrimination, confusion, and hatred will crumble. As a result, a world with pure knowledge of peace and consciousness will thrive.”
—Bikram Choudhury, Founder and President of Bikram’s Yoga College of India
"Great souls, great minds, and even greater wisdom combine here to open doors to the evolution of consciousness and spirit. Not in recent times has there been a work in which the very Presence of the illumined teachers have been rendered so present and available. This book is a gift to our time from once and future times. The very reading of it quickens the soul as it enlightens the path that humanity may take”.
—Jean Houston, author of JumpTime and A Passion for the Possible
"This brilliant new commentary on the Bhagavad Gita unlocks its depthless wisdom with striking clarity and focus for a modern audience. Intended as a primer for all spiritual paths, its appeal extends to yoga practitioners, Buddhists, and anyone seeking universal, non-sectarian spiritual truths. Kriyananda shares fresh perspectives on Yogananda’s interpretations of India’s best-loved scripture, and he gives the reader a host of practical ways to triumph over pain and suffering to achieve lasting happiness. As one reviewer wrote, 'I feel as though the world is on the verge of receiving a priceless gift. [This book] comes as a thrilling reassurance that salvation is not so difficult after all.'"
—East West Magazine
"Kriyananda, a lifelong disciple of the influential guru Yogananda, affirms his claim as an authoritative student of his master with this work. Western students can certainly use all the help they can get in understanding the cultural specifics of the Bhagavad Gita in order to appreciate this story of universal questions asked of God on the eve of a battle."
"The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita presents a refreshing new vision of this ancient classic that is particularly relevant to the contemporary mind. The book, reflecting the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, perhaps the greatest Yoga guru ever to reside in the Western world in the twentieth century, offers much important insight relative to the challenges of the spiritual life today and how to meet them in a clear and comprehensive manner."
—David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri), founder of the American Institute of Vedic Studies, author of Yoga and the Sacred Fire and Yoga and Ayurveda
"In this inspiring new edition of the Bhagavad Gita, Swami Kriyananda skillfully brings an ancient teaching of eternal truth into the light of modern understanding through his careful recalling of Paramhansa Yogananda's words as well as his own diligent scholarship."
—Vyaas Houston, founder of the American Sanskrit Institute
"Recasting the message of the Bhagavad Gita, the timeless scripture of India, Swami Kriyananda captures the essence of a yogic tradition that his master, Paramhansa Yogananda, embodies."
—Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD, Spiritual Head, Himalayan Institute
"Swami Kriyananda truly captures the depth of the scriptures and the voice of his Guru in The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita. Only a yogi who is the direct descendent of an authentic lineage with in-depth experiences of yoga can truly reveal the hidden secrets and mystical messages of the scriptures that are often missed in the interpretation of philosophers, pundits, and psychologists. This commentary provides insightful teachings for true seekers and practitioners of yoga."
—Yogi Amrit Desai, founder, Amrit Yoga Institute
"The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita will appeal to committed practitioners of yoga and people of all faiths searching for meaning in the world, as well as peace of mind."
"On the eve of war, a despairing soldier calls out to God for guidance—and God responds. Paramhansa Yogananda, one of the best-loved saints of modern times, helps us understand God’s answer. Yogananda’s insights are stunning, unexpected, and profoundly wise. This is the Bhagavad Gita as we’ve never seen it before. Highly recommended!"
—Linda Johnsen, author of Daughters of the Goddess: The Women Saints of India
"This truly appears to be a masterpiece; a monumental work . . . . The very existence of this book will fill the mind of whoever reads it with awe and wonder. It will prove to be a reliable source of insight into some of the greatest questions humans have ever asked about the nature of the world—and of life, death, and consciousness. The Bhagavad Gita, here in a uniquely authoritative version, is truly a scripture for all mankind".
—Prof. Ervin Laszlo, PhD, nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, president of the Club of Budapest International, advisor to UNESCO, author of Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos
"This is one of the most deeply satisfying books I have ever read. Never before have I heard spiritual truths explained so clearly and winningly. The central questions of our existence are answered with extraordinary insight and usefulness. The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita lovingly reveals the secrets essential for uniting our lives with the vastness of Spirit."
—Joseph Cornell, founder of Sharing Nature Worldwide, author of Sharing Nature with Children and Listening to Nature
"God’s song is sweet from all lips. But it’s ineffably sweet when sung by a master like Yogananda to a disciple like Kriyananda who, in turn, sings it for modern students in the current style."
—Hart de Fouw, author of Light on Life: An Introduction to the Astrology of India and Light on Relationships
"This book is galvanizing! I’ve taught many patients in my medical practice simple yoga and meditation exercises to reduce their stress and anxiety levels. Frequently, they’ll come back to me wanting to learn the philosophy and spiritual teachings that are behind these incredibly beneficial Yoga techniques. At last, I have the perfect book to recommend as their next step. Beautifully written and—most importantly, for people like my patients—filled with HOPE, these Gita commentaries of Paramhansa Yogananda are spiritually awakening yet eminently understandable for the neophyte. Even those who have studied yoga teachings for a lifetime will undoubtedly find this book deeply insightful and spiritually thrilling."
—Peter Van Houten, MD, co-author of Yoga Therapy for Overcoming Insomnia and Yoga Therapy for Headache Relief
"Very inspiring! The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita reveals the vision of a yogi. Swami Kriyananda’s words are fresh, lucid and yet very sublime. They flow joyously like the Ganges toward the ocean of God-realization."
—Swami Nikhilananda, Regional Head, Chinmaya Mission, Delhi, author of The Art of Forgiveness
"This is not just another ordinary explanation of the Bhagavad Gita. It stands on par with the grand commentaries of this classic as given by the three great masters, Shankaracharya, Madhvacharya, and Ramanujacharya. This voluminous book of over six hundred pages contains not just the essence of the Bhagavad Gita but also the essence of Hinduism or the Sanatana Dharma. We can only be grateful to Swamiji for having given this jewel of Wisdom and Discrimination to us. He has written many books, but this is possibly the “chudamani” or crest jewel of his life."
—Mata Devi Vanamali, Vanamali Ashram, Rishikesh, author of Sri Devi Lila: The Play of the Divine Mother and The Play of God: Visions of the Life of Krishna
"This book is a tribute to India’s great spiritual contributions to the world as explained by the great Guru Paramhansa Yogananda to his brilliant disciple Swami Kriyananda, for the benefit of millions of spiritual seekers."
—Swami Gokulananda, Head of the Ramakrishna Math in New Delhi, author of: Swami Vivekananda—The Ideal of the Youth
"Again we experience the heartfelt knowledge of Paramhansa Yogananda, this time bringing to life the compassion of Sri Krishna and the Bhagavad Gita. Through Swami Kriyananda’s deep relationship and passion for both his Guru and the Gita, the teachings of this Sacred Scripture dance from the ancient to the golden present, showering us with Divine Wisdom and inspiration on countless levels."
—Nischala Joy Devi, author of The Healing Path of Yoga and The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s perspective on the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras
"Swami Kriyananda had the privilege of spending more than 60 years attuning his consciousness to that of his great guru Sri Paramhansa Yogananda. Hence he could recollect . . . the words of his great master and give fresh insight into the Master’s own masterpiece, making matters simpler, clearer, logical, and appealing to [all], both in the East and West. He has also succeeded in making relevant cross-references to contemporary thoughts and scriptures of other religions including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism."
—D.R. Kaarthikeyan, former Director of CBI and National Human Rights Commission of India, and former Director General, Central Reserve Police Force of India
"[T]his commentary is a must for anyone on the spiritual path. One feels Swamiji alongside, as a friendly guide through this book."
—Ashok Arora, Advocate, Supreme Court of India
"The inspiration one draws from Swamiji’s soul-stirring insight [into] the Gita can make every one of us perform better in our daily lives. Swamiji’s interpretation highlights the universality of the Teachings of the Gita."
—Adesh Jain, President, International Project Management Association (IPMA), Switzerland
"This rich, yet simplified explanation of Geeta has made the words of 'The Holy Scripture’ simple. One can feel the power of the Divinity, which guided Swami Kriyananda . . . . Reading his words, one feels like going into deep meditation and traveling into the world within—into the world of silence."
—Robbin Ghosh, Senior Advisor and Proprietor, Victorious Kidss Educares, Pune, India
"A revolutionary Gita . . . . For the first time the deep truths in the Gita are revealed with extreme simplicity in words that are clear and understandable, a far cry from the myriad interpretations which are obscure and convoluted."
—Satish Koshal, Principal Consultant, TATA Consultancy Services, India
"The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita is not so much a book as it is an expression of God’s love! Paramhansa Yogananda’s great spiritual vibrations manifest themselves fully in the honest work of his faithful disciple, Swami Kriyananda. Subtle concepts of truth are explained with great ease and clarity of thought through an effortless flow of simple words. The beautiful allegorical nature of the Gita stands unveiled in sincere and heartfelt explanations, no doubt deriving from Swamiji’s own personal experiences, but with no personal desire save to fulfill his guru’s dream: 'Millions will find God through this work.’
"This book’s very simplicity makes it easily understood, hence most valuable—a practical handbook covering every aspect of the ardent seeker’s search, and presenting ways to overcome obstacles at every level: so comprehensive that no stone is left unturned; dark recesses on the path are illumined with such clarity that no doubts or questions remain. A must for all those struggling to raise their consciousness, it comes as a thrilling reassurance that salvation is not so difficult after all, that what is required is simply to offer up everything to God with persistent and devoted sincerity, until the inner light is finally revealed."
—Ashima Singh, Delhi fashion designer, Ashima-Leena Collections
"The Gita is a handbook for living the spiritual life and this particular interpretation and explanation offers guidance of tremendous depth.
"The meanings of the Gita are given through the soul of well-known and loved Paramhansa Yogananda. . . . The Gita is explained in ways that are meaningful to people living in this century, facing the challenges of the modern world. No area of life is left out. Many people have attempted to translate and explain the Gita, but what we are given is not always translatable to living in today's world.
"If you find yourself drawn to the Gita in any way, you owe it to yourself to get this book. Read it once for an overview. Then plan on studying it and applying it for the rest of your life."
—Krysta Gibson, New Spirit Journal