“Ultimately, it is Krishna who is pleasing and all-attractive. He is the Supersoul of everything. And in order to give us this information, Krishna descends and tells us that the all-attractive center is He Himself. Without being an expansion of Krishna, nothing can be attractive.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 14)
Friend-One: You know how the Sanskrit meaning to the name “Krishna” is “all-attractive?”
F1: Well, I think I got a personal realization of that the other day.
F1: But in a way that you normally wouldn’t think. I mean obviously Shri Krishna Himself is attractive. Some of the paintings you see of Him are breathtaking.
F2: Yeah, for sure. I’ve been stunned by a few of them. It got to the point that I couldn’t stop staring. I guess those make for the best altar pictures.
F1: The thing I realized is that just as Krishna is attractive, so is devotion to Him.
F2: For sure. That’s what makes Radharani so special. She is in full Krishna consciousness. There is no hint of anything else in her. Even if she’s upset, it’s because of something she thought relating to Krishna. She is never free. This is why sometimes the gopis of Vrindavana tell Krishna to go away. They can’t get rid of Him from their minds, even if they try.
F1: They are pretty amazing. I understand why Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said that the worship of the gopis is the highest, the ideal example of devotion to God.
F2: So you see that in pictures too. I’ve had people tell me that they can see Radha’s pure devotion in a painting. They may not know everything about her, but they know that she loves Krishna so much.
F1: So you might like this, then. Krishna is all-attractive. So are Radha and the gopis. So is devotion to Him. And the realization I had – so is the book about Him.
F2: You mean the Krishna Book, the one authored by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada?
F1: Well, that’s attractive too, but I’m referring to the more famous book by the same author: Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
F2: Yeah, the translations and commentary are the best. There are Sanskrit sticklers who don’t like some of the translations, but there is no cheating involved. Prabhupada puts the synonyms first, the word for word translation. The English verse translation doesn’t matter so much after that, since it’s impossible to get the full meaning across from the original Sanskrit.
F1: See, you thought I was talking about the inside of the book. That’s interesting. What you said is true. There is no denying that for anyone who has read Bhagavad-gita As It Is with an open mind. But I’m referring to the outside.
F2: Like the cover and such?
F1: Yeah, just the whole presentation. I was sitting in someone’s home and they had it out on a side table. This was the first full edition published. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I marveled at how beautiful it was. The first thing that came to mind was “all-attractive.”
F2: Wow. That’s great. You know the effect is intentional, right?
F1: I realized that too. First off, anyone could have put the “As It Is” at the end of the title to their Bhagavad-gita book. I mean there are hundreds of translations. But only Prabhupada had the confidence or even the desire to add those three important words.
F2: Right. If you’re not following the final conclusion of the Gita, surrender to Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, you’ll think that your translation is as bona fide as anyone else’s. This is because your translation relies only on mental speculation, which any person can apply.
F1: And Prabhupada relies on the disciplic succession, which Krishna Himself speaks of in the Gita. He says to approach a guru to understand the truth. He does not say to mentally speculate on the matter and then reach a conclusion from within.
tad viddhi praṇipātena
upadekṣyanti te jñānaṁ
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.34)
F2: Yeah. The “As It Is” is from the authority of parampara. Thus there is no fear in applying that description.
F1: I got to thinking that no other book is so attractive. No other translation of the Gita, either, though that is just my opinion. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this beholder thinks that no other Bhagavad-gita book compares to Prabhupada’s. You can tell just by the outside.
F2: Since it looks so nice?
F1: Because it’s all-attractive like Krishna. It is just like Him. It is Him, if you think about it. Everything attractive in this world emanates from the all-attractive one. The book that displays that original attractiveness would best represent that person.
F2: I can’t argue with you. And the inside further substantiates your claim. You won’t find philosophy like that anywhere else. You won’t find every religion explained in a single book like that. In fact, each religion is trying to tell you that theirs is superior, without properly explaining everything about man and his tendencies and why the different species exist.
F1: Yeah, the five topics of the Bhagavad-gita make it a philosophy that is also all-attractive.
F2: The supreme controller, the living entities, material nature, time and karma – you won’t find these five things explained in a single work except for the Gita. Prabhupada and the disciplic succession explain these topics in a way that we’ll understand. We don’t live in the same culture that existed during the time the Bhagavad-gita was spoken to Arjuna. That is why we need things explained to us. That is the reason for the commentary.
F1: Yeah, and if you don’t see Krishna as the all-attractive, original being, your commentary won’t be valid. To present the Bhagavad-gita is to present Shri Krishna Himself, and I think Bhagavad-gita As It Is hits the mark.
What the purpose to translation writing,
When as all-attractive Krishna not sighting?
Bhagavad-gita to the Lord the same,
From Supreme words to Arjuna came.
From title and illustrative cover both,
Prabhupada’s book attractive the most.
And the same when looking inside,
No other place discussing topics five.