“When love of God deteriorates into lust, it is very difficult to return to the normal condition. Nonetheless, Krishna consciousness is so powerful that even a late beginner can become a lover of God by following the regulative principles of devotional service. So, from any stage of life, or from the time of understanding its urgency, one can begin regulating the senses in Krishna consciousness, devotional service of the Lord, and turn the lust into love of Godhead—the highest perfectional stage of human life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 3.42 Purport)
“I know that you recommend reading Bhagavad-gita As It Is for anyone interested in spiritual life. If they are free of dogmatic insistence, sentimental attachment, and blind faith, they will find that book revealing. It might change their life overnight, in fact.
“After all, any person can take a book and a savior and declare everyone not in allegiance to be a sinner. Condemn them to a hellish existence for all of eternity if they don’t obey. No logic or reasoning necessary. No particulars into the exact nature of the surrender. A public declaration is enough. It could be semi-public, as in regularly visiting a house of worship.
“You compare sanatana-dharma, the science of self-realization, to an active, living engagement. It is the discipline which best corresponds with the unique intelligence of the human being. I want to know if there is a specific book targeted for beginners. What if Bhagavad-gita is too difficult to understand at first?
“Should the book be broken down into sections? Is there an introductory work in case someone is not ready to go through hundreds of pages in one sitting? What if they find the language too intimidating?”
The potency of the acharya is such that there can be life-changing information within a single page. If you consume only one verse, in a single day, with a few minutes of interaction, you could be well on your way towards enlightenment.
न स्वर्गं नापुनर्-भवम्
मर्त्यानां किम् उताशिषः
na svargaṁ nāpunar-bhavam
martyānāṁ kim utāśiṣaḥ
“The value of a moment’s association with a devotee of the Lord cannot even be compared to the attainment of heavenly planets or liberation from matter, and what to speak of worldly benedictions in the form of material prosperity, which is for those who are meant for death.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.18.13)
Associating with the book is akin to associating directly with the people speaking. Their words are written on the page. There is the original Sanskrit shloka spoken by Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The author has kindly translated into a modern language, so as to forward the information in a way that can be somewhat understood.
Then there is the commentary portion. This is not based on speculation. Rather, it continues a tradition of worship and understanding from enlightened souls. Shri Krishna explains that the person who has seen the truth can impart it to others. They are known as a tattva-darshi.
तद् विद्धि प्रणिपातेन
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं
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)
Even a person who is not well-versed in reading, due to age or other circumstances, can derive meaning, inspiration, enlightenment, enthusiasm, further inquisitiveness, and so forth. They can associate with a single image, such as the one depicting the changing bodies.
देहिनो ऽस्मिन् यथा देहे
कौमारं यौवनं जरा
धीरस् तत्र न मुह्यति
dehino ‘smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
We should notice this principle already, with the pictures separated by significant durations. I look totally different in my childhood years, to the point that someone would not recognize me without outside assistance.
In old age, the face begins to deteriorate. It is no longer fresh and vibrant in appearance, as it was during youth. Then there is the guaranteed end of death, which I witness for countless others. I have heard about the same for people who lived in the past. It will happen for me some day; time never retreats in its steady march against the individual. The approach begins at the time of birth.
In this way, any person can benefit from association with the actual book. Another work is not necessary, though there is no harm in trying to explain, expand upon, or glorify Bhagavad-gita, Krishna, Arjuna, or anyone who sincerely follows the teachings.
Sanatana-dharma matches the individual at the core level, which means a person can turn their fortunes around at any time. Even if it is seemingly too late, with death approaching, there is the chance to become fully enlightened and be rescued from repeated birth and death; such is the mercy of the all-attractive one and those who bravely travel the three worlds spreading His glories.
Never too late,
For intention to state.
Subtly or explicitly so,
That no more in rebirth to go.
Rather to Vaikuntha-dhama,
Done with krodha and kama.
Found in shastra in every page,
Meeting with wise and generous sage.