“One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.55)
भक्त्या माम् अभिजानाति
यावान् यश् चास्मि तत्त्वतः
ततो मां तत्त्वतो ज्ञात्वा
bhaktyā mām abhijānāti
yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ
tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā
“I get it that you want to be the cool guy. You want to stand out. It is a way to gain distinction, to be different from everyone else. There is some logical basis to the claim, I will have to admit.
“I am referring to the supporter of the book entitled Bhagavad Gita As It Is. This is a translation and commentary on the sacred Sanskrit text of the same name. The ‘as it is’ part has been added. The author, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, is taking a subtle jab at other publications relating to the same work.
“In other words, these other translations are really Bhagavad Gita As It Is Not. The conclusions are derived from mental speculation. The principles presented have no basis in authority. There is no connection to proper disciplic succession.
“Shri Krishna both mentions the etiquette and adheres to it. Many of the teachings to Arjuna include the concept of ‘it is said.’ This shows that Krishna is not making anything up, even though He is supposedly the origin of everything.
न हि देहभृता शक्यं त्यक्तुं कर्माण्यशेषत: ।
यस्तु कर्मफलत्यागी स त्यागीत्यभिधीयते ॥
na hi deha-bhṛtā śakyaṁ
tyaktuṁ karmāṇy aśeṣataḥ
yas tu karma-phala-tyāgī
sa tyāgīty abhidhīyate
“It is indeed impossible for an embodied being to give up all activities. Therefore it is said that he who renounces the fruits of action is one who has truly renounced.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.11)
“You would have to admit that Bhagavad Gita As It Is tends to stand out. The weight of popularity is on the other side, with the translations based on mental speculation. Are you saying it is a giant conspiracy theory, that everyone colluded to make sure that the teachings of Krishna would be polluted? How can you so easily dismiss the other publications?”
The teaching within the Vaishnava tradition is that the majority of the population within the material world are something like inmates in a prison facility. The walls are high and difficult to scale. For this reason, the superintendent is known as Durga.
The material world features rebirth, through various species. It is like a reformatory experience, but only for those who want it. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that someone lacking training from parampara would give a distorted presentation of Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic texts.
How could they possibly understand transcendence when mired in sense gratification? When not understanding the properties of the individual, the influence of time, the workings to karma, and the superior position of the Supreme Lord, Ishvara, there is no chance at arriving at the proper conclusion to such a powerful presentation.
Krishna did not choose someone at random. The expert teacher spoke to the most qualified disciple. The disciplic succession was broken at the time. Arjuna was to revive it.
स एवायं मया ते ऽद्य
योगः प्रोक्तः पुरातनः
भक्तो ऽसि मे सखा चेति
रहस्यं ह्य् एतद् उत्तमम्
sa evāyaṁ mayā te ‘dya
yogaḥ proktaḥ purātanaḥ
bhakto ‘si me sakhā ceti
rahasyaṁ hy etad uttamam
“That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend; therefore you can understand the transcendental mystery of this science.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.3)
There is the commonly referenced admonition from a parent to a child. The child wants to follow some behavior, and their primary justification is the popularity from peers. The parent might respond as such:
“If all of your friends were to jump off a bridge, would you follow them? If everyone is taking an experimental injection, that will destroy the immune system, with unknown ingredients, to stop a disease that your body will almost certainly fight off otherwise, are you going to follow them? If everyone else decides to skip school and forego an education, you will do the same?”
A person should consider themselves fortunate for receiving that timeless wisdom. If heard in the proper chain of authority, it is no different than being in Krishna’s association. As the Latin proverb says, the written word remains. Because Krishna is Absolute, there is no difference between the upadesha and the person itself. Hearing Bhagavad-gita through authority is like worshiping Krishna, through the offering of intelligence.
अध्येष्यते च य इमं
धर्म्यं संवादम् आवयोः
इष्टः स्याम् इति मे मतिः
adhyeṣyate ca ya imaṁ
dharmyaṁ saṁvādam āvayoḥ
iṣṭaḥ syām iti me matiḥ
“And I declare that he who studies this sacred conversation worships Me by his intelligence.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.70)
Like next to Him seated,
Through words of wisdom repeated.
Since Absolute is He,
From upadesha to see.
Regardless what others to believe,
Since through maya to conceive.
Conclusion that towards Krishna go,
For perfection of life to know.