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Editorial 7

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Editorial nr. 7


Bhagavad Gita translation by Gottfried de Purucker


The Bhagavad Gītā, literally the Lord’s song, is a poem of 18 small chapters inserted in the largest epic ever written in human history – as far as we know, of course. It plays more than 5000 years ago in the North of India, in the middle of a great war in which millions perished within a few weeks.

But this Gītā (song) is not about war with weapons. It is about the inner challenges of every human being. However old it is, until almost the end of the eighteenth century it was known by highly educated people in India only. One of the reasons for this is no doubt because, when read exoterically, the text seems to stimulate a soldier to kill his enemy and brethren. Nowadays one is generally aware that it should be seen as the inner choices and struggles that have to be made by an aspirant to occultism and nobler life. It faces a number of the most fundamental doubts and unclarities the human mind can have. I the last century it has become the possibly most famous and respected poem in the world and has been translated into uncountable languages. It has been a source of inspiration for many millions the world over of whatever religious or social background, and it is written in such a way that it can be an understood as an inspiration for the formally uneducated, but at the same time is still a challenge for great philosophers and statesmen. It was, for example, a daily source of inspiration for Mahatma Gandhi. It is a book of life and for life, for the present and for our future.

Probably there is no book in the world which explains the purpose of life, reincarnation, karma and yoga clearer than this little work. If this would be the only book one ever reads or listens to in one’s life it would very useful and perhaps more essential than a thousand other books.

There are many translations on the market and for free on internet. The one we present on this website is a simple one, make without effort to embellish the text, straightforward, and made by a person who had a deep insight and understanding of the subject. Gottfried de Purucker, who lived until 1942, was one of the most prolific esoteric writers to have been active within the modern Theosophical movement, and links to all his works are to be found on this site. His translation was however never published beyond a small magazine called Lucifer in the early 1930’s because it was never fully edited by the translator himself.

The version posted by us is a copy of a handwritten copy of his translation. Though clearly written, we can not exclude the possibility that minor mistakes may have crept in. Because in a few cases the English was a bit dated, and the translator did not use the modern accepted transliteration of Sanskrit terms, we have added a modernized version edited by ourselves. In this modernized version the translation remains, apart from a few substituted words, exactly the same as the original, without any ‘interpretations’ from our side.

Another American Theosophist, Geoffrey Avery Barborka, composed a very good glossary of gods and heroes and crucial Sanskrit terms which occur in the Bhagavad-Gītā. We have posted this work, after correcting the diacritics, as an alphabetic glossary on this site, and made a link directly from the text of the Gītā to each of these terms in the glossary. Thus lucidity and depth was added to the meaning of the Gītā.

You can connect to the following links:

Bhagavad Gītā translated by G. de Purucker, general foreword

Original version – Table of Contents

Modernized version – Table of Contents

Gods and Heroes of the Bhagavad-Gītā: index