When I bought myself yet another copy of Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, my brother queried humbly, “why do you keep on purchasing so many books over the same subject”? To which I replied with all collected spiritual wit “Maybe the Shlokas in books are verbatim pieces – The God’s Word, but what about the interpretation, translation, quotation and overall meaning which may be author’s own opinion or philosophy? And I can’t confine myself to the view of just a single person”. Thus, explanation of Shlokas being a subjective term, I personally consider it worthwhile to go through as many as of them (different versions) and pick the essence as per my own intuition.

Limited knowledge being expressed and explained in unlimited ways – this is probably a fact attributed with Bhagavad Gita too.

Lord Krishna’s discourses to Arjuna prior to the inevitable battle of Kurukshetra is being considered as the most revered, enlightening & divine doctrine since ages. And since then, the wisdom has been transcribed into myriad perspectives, interpretations & languages. Also, as I said above, since most of the transcriptions are interpretative in nature (explaining shlokas), referring through a multitude of books may come to an aid for those who want to do it holistically. But unlike me, those who would like to take a bibliographical dip into the universal truth and unravel its meaning without much of exhaustive readings, any single book listed below can be a path to nirvana.

Since the list is endless, I’m recommending my top picks here which I think are one of the best books written over it (the numbering don’t correspond to any ranking which as per me will be an unforgivable sin !)

Best Versions of Srimad Bhagavad Gita

1. Srimad Bhagavad Gita – Gita Press

Shrimad Bhagavad Gita Gita Press

Author:  –
Language: Hindi/English
Publisher: Gita Press

Being one of the largest publishers of Hindu Religious Texts, they have been with us since decades. Yes, Gita Press books are something which I personally reminisce as a Grandma’s piece which finds itself a respected place at home. Books with those signature Yellow Bindings are legacy with many Indian households! This particular edition of Gita comes to be the simplest and straightforward in terms of narration. Very legible and bold typography is yet another reason why I recommend it to many, especially elders. Other factors are the cheap price & easy availability of books from Gita Press which has been their trademark since they came into the being.

2. Srimad Bhagavad Gita : Sadhak Sanjivani – Gita Press

 Shrimad Bhagavad Gita Sadhak Sanjivani - Gita Press

Author: Swami Ramsukhdas
Language: Hindi
Publisher: Gita Press

This is for the one who would like to delve into the literary aspect of the Shlokas presented along with the detailed meaning of each – word by word. This would very much please Hindi readers who like to get the literal description of everything that is being written. If included in school curriculum, I’d personally pronounce this as a reference textbook!

Download Srimad Bhagavad Gita by Gita Press For Free!

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3. Bhagavad Gita: As It Is – Swami Prabhupada

Bhagavad Gita As It Is by Swami Prabhupada

Author: A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Language: English/Hindi
Publisher: The Bhaktivendanta Book Trust
Buy From: Amazon | Amazon India

As the title suggests, this is yet another esteemed version of Bhagavad Gita successfully which tries to be faithful to the original text. Published by BBT, this comes into nearly 60 languages. The book contains a good translation of the original message that was conveyed by the God itself without much of the wisdom jugglery. The emphasis has been laid on what exactly Lord meant and has been written As It Is. A best seller in its category too.

4. Bhagavad Gita As Viewed By Swami Vivekananda

Bhagavad Gita As Viewed by Swami Vivekananda

Author: Swami Vivekananda
Language: English
Publisher: Advaita Ashrama
Buy From: Amazon | Amazon India

Primarily a compilation which has been taken straight out from the 9 volumes of Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. I’m not only recommending it because of what has been written, but also because the one who has explained it – the greatest spiritual scholar of all time – Swami Vivekananda. Bigger than a booklet, this can be tagged as an easy read but with thought provoking write-ups.

5. God Talks with Arjuna : The Bhagavad Gita – Paramahansa Yogananda

God Talks With Arjuna by Paramhansa Yogananda

Author: Paramahansa Yogananda
Language: English
Publisher: Yogoda Satsanga Society
Buy From: Amazon | Amazon India

His book, “Autobiography of a Yogi” which is designated as one of the 100 Most Important Spiritual Books of the 20th Century was a compelling reason for me to go with this one too. In a set of two volumes, this book guides efficiently in all the 18 lessons with impeccable approach & meticulous effort. All the verses are immaculately deciphered with easy translations.

6. The Bhagavad Gita – Swami Nikhilananda

The Bhagavad Gita by Swami Nikhilananda

Author: Swami Nikhilananda
Language: English
Publisher: Advaita Ashrama
Buy From: Amazon | Amazon India

An accomplished writer and thinker, Swami Nikhilananda, the direct disciple of Holy Mother Sarda Devi is also credited for other literary works and translation of Spiritual texts. The preface reads “The aim of this new translation of the Bhagavad Gita is to present the book to the English-speaking public of the Western world as a manual of Hindu religion and philosophy “. Unlike other books, which sports Verses & Explanation simultaneously, this is merely a direct translation.

7. The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi – M K Gandhi

The Bhagavad Gita According to Gandhi

Author: M K Gandhi
Language: English
Publisher: Orient Publishing
Buy From: Amazon | Amazon India

A concise yet potent description of the devotional scripture in words of Mahatma Gandhi. This too contains all the 18 lessons which were a conversation between Nar & Narayana. The book though contains no Sanskrit verses but is a direct translation of them followed by eventual summaries. Its simple language and the explanation that follows is the key feature of this book.

8. Bhagavad Gita: A Handbook of Students – C Rajagopalachari

Bhagavad Gita by C Rajagopalachari

Author: C Rajagopalachari
Language: English
Publisher: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
Buy From: Amazon | Amazon India

I personally recommend this to everyone. An interpretation rather than a translation, C Rajagopalachari, a scholar par excellence has done full justice to the Gospel. I admit it to have bought it for the sake of having complete trilogy from Rajaji (Ramayana & Mahabharata among others), but this is a worthy read for those who want to get into the scripture which is a guiding star to humanity.

9. Shrimad Bhagavad Gita – Ramesh Menon

Shrimad Bhagavad Gita by Ramesh Menon

Author: Ramesh Menon
Language: English
Publisher: Rupa Publishers
Buy From: Amazon | Amazon India

When reading any translated works in English, I have a personal discomfort of language sometimes being too theatrical followed by vintage English especially when addressing each other. After coming across Mahabharata – A Modern Rendering, which seemed to be very practical in conversation with typical storytelling approach, I was sure that Gita by the same author will not disappoint me too. A must read for modern readers with all the nectar of scripture scholastically preserved.

10. The Bhagavad Gita – Eknath Easwaran

 

Author: Eknath Easwaran
Language: English
Publisher: Nilgiri Press
Buy From: Amazon | Amazon India

My personal favorite out of all those English editions of the scripture in concern. First-time readers may find it very lucid, simple and easy to understand. The format that the book follows makes it a charm to read. And it’s the sheer brilliance of literal wizardry that catapults it to be the bestselling translation. Other titles from the same author like Essence of the Bhagavad Gita & The Bhagavad Gita For Daily Living (3 Volume Set) also makes up for a complementary read.

11. The Bhagavad Gita – Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Bhagvad Gita by Sarvepalli RadhakrishnanAuthor: Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Language: English
Publisher: Harper Collins
Buy From: Amazon | Amazon India

Simple, succinct, lucid & enlightening! Dr. Radhakrishnan churns out the prose to the readable premise which may both attract first time and seasoned readers. The books also tend to be very straightforward without much of word mincing which sometimes takes away all the joy while reading any scriptural works. If asked to compile the list of top 5, this will be a definite pick.

12. My Gita – Devdutt Pattanaik

Author: Devdutt Pattanaik
Language: English/Hindi
Publisher: Rupa Pubications India
Buy From: Amazon

Devdutt Pattnaik has not re-written Gita, he has re-written the rules that how mythology should be written, spoken & talked about. ‘My Gita’ by this celebrated author is a simplistic presentation of the subject. The book opens up with introductory notes and diagrams to make the explanation more lucid and clear which both layman and other readers will appreciate. Not only that, Devdutt also renames all those 18 chapters according to the message & morales packed with each. Tiny but terribly simple is what that defines this book. Have it!

Other Read-worthy Mentions:

Though I’m yet to procure these books, but they seemed to be very promising (courtsey: online previews and ebooks)

The Bhagavad Gita – A Walkthrough for Westerners (Jack Hawley)
The Teaching of the Bhagavad Gita – Swami Dayananda (not to be confused with Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati)
The Bhagavad Gita (Penguin Classics) – Juan Mascaro
Relevant works of Sri Aurobindo

Do let me know of your favorite pick or suggest, if any, which you think is the best version of the Gita.

Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya …
Blessings !!!

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19 COMMENTS

  1. You left one out which you might like, I do not know if you have read it already but it’s one of the famous ones. “Essays on Geeta by Aurbindo Ghosh”

    Question: May I share it, in other groups of on FB? Thnaks

  2. Well Done!! Superb thought…and a splendid blog.
    Across the globe the “Principles” laid in it have acclaimed ephemeral in nature .I have not read so many explanatory books BUT have listened to various SATSANG (Solemons) on it since my Childhood. Based on those along with some personal Interpretations I Propose few Crux of entire 700 SHLOKAS embedded in 18 ADHYAYAS.

    1) A general inference mostly ignored is “Whenever U find yourself in a Dilema in
    Jeevan Kurukhetra seek for a Mentor and Dedicate Yourself..U come out with
    the fllying colors

    2) Never be a Mentor until you find the follower fully dedicated for your Guidance.
    If You go trough the Book Carefully no Guidelines/Suggestions is given by Sri
    Hari untill 07th Shlok of 2nd ADHYAYA…(Here itself Arjun SUrrendurs himself
    to Sri Krishna)

    3) Once U start mentoring U need to go by all means as per the Circumstances…
    (14th ADHYAYA…only Krishna appears in His Viraat Roop).

    4) Last but not the least it teaches how to lead a life with ethics and principle
    while performing our necessary duties.

    There are few more with me which I would be sharing in next writing…
    Open Criticism/Comments are highly appreciated as feedback.

    • You have justified my initially line that reads “Limited knowledge being expressed and explained in unlimited ways …” There are only few Talismans of life, if followed properly, can lead you to Moksha.

  3. The Geeta is a divine song conveying spriritual gospel revealed by Lord Krishna 5200 years ago to his beloved disciple – Arjun. The Geeta is a poetic dialogue between a divine teacher and a dedicated disciple.

    There is only one Geeta in this universe. Where are different Geeta? More than five thousand years ago the civilization was smouldering in the violent inferno of hatred. Large armies of Kauravas and Pandavas stood facing each other for war. Amidst them Lord Krishna sermonised the Geeta, but there were only two listeners. One was Arjun, while other listener was Sanjay who was listening from afar. They both were blessed with divine vision and comprehension – the former was blessed by Lord Krishna whereas the latter was gifted by Ved Vyas. There are only two listeners, whereas ears and eyes of others were open, but none could listen or observe anything. Those millions of eyes and ears didn’t have the power or capacity to perceive or understand it.

    What were the inner feelings and emotions of Shri Krishna when he preached the Geeta? All inner feelings can not be expressed in words. Some can be told, some are expressed through the body language, and the rest are to be realized and experienced by a seeker through devotion. Only after attaining the state which Shri Krishna had been in, an accomplished teacher understand what Geeta says. He simply does not reiterate verses of the geeta but, in fact, gives expressions to the inner meaning of the Geeta. It is possible to see the same picture which was there when Shri Krishna preached the Geeta. He therefore, sees the real meaning, can show it to us, can evoke the inner feelings and teachings that would lead us on the path of Enlightenment.

    Rev. Shri Paramahansji Maharaj’ was also an enlightened teacher of such an exalted spritual state and the implication of his words and blessings to grasp the inner feelings of the Geeta itself is the ‘Yatharth Geeta’

  4. I started in my class VII with a Sankara-Ramanuja-Madhwa Bhagavad Geetha that I found in an old relative’s discarded collection.
    The book was already moth-eaten by the time I laid my hands on it. Its
    pages had turned yellow and flaky. I had to use plenty of cello-tape to
    keep the pages from coming off in pieces. This was around 1981. I used to recite it not because I enjoyed it, but because my grandmother gave me Rs.10/-
    whenever I completed one recitation. Looking back, I feel it is
    pointless to make children recite Bhagavad Geetha. It may only serve as
    a mnemonic excercise if done so, and at that age it is impossible for a
    child to grasp its philosophical meaning. As a kid, I used to wonder
    how three different scholarly men could differ so much on the purport of
    each sloka, and who was right. Each one of them translated as if they had an agenda to
    it, and the same applies to most of the later translaters (my apologies
    for being blasphemous). Later I read several translations in Telugu (my
    mother tongue) as well as in English. Swami Sukha Bodhananda of
    Kalahasthi in the 1980s had written a voluminous translation in Telugu,
    which had a number of coloured images, and I used to like it for its imagery as a child. Much later, I read a slender translation by Christopher Isherwood (with a forward by Aldous Huxley),
    named “The Song of God,” and it remained with me for quite sometime.
    Geetha Press version is voluminous, well written, and sold to the public
    at a very low price. But I feel it concentrates more upon the theology
    rather than the philosophy of Geetha. Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad
    Geetha (“Bhagavad Geetha As It Is”) again looked to me as if it was
    written with a single point agenda of promoting ISKCON’s theology (Lord
    Krishna residing at Goloka Brindavana along with his consorts being the
    Supreme Godhead, and Vishnu being his avatar etc.). The only
    translation and interpretation that somewhat satisfies a rational and
    critical mind is that of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. But Dr. Radhakrishnan’s
    work does not extent to all the chapters of Bhagavat Geetha. I have now
    ordered Ramesh Menon’s Bhagavad Geetha, after having glanced through
    his Mahabharatha and wondering how beautiful his prose is.

  5. Hi amit.. it was so gud to see u having so many gita books..
    My babuji has this Collection of 18 volumes for 18 chapters on geeta published by bagaria charitable truest.. have picture of the cover page and the inside page .. hari bhakti bhavan copyright..but now i am unable to find it anywhere.. so thot to write u if u could help me
    Thanx a lot
    Ruchi

  6. @Pavan Kumar Kamaraju: What is your opinion on “god talks with arjuna: the bhagavad gita” by paramahansa yogananda ???

    Thanks in Advance!

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  8. Dear Amitji
    I m ardent lover of lord Sri Krasna n I read various commentaries by the readers of Bhagwad Gita , I was reading through it coz even I jus started reading it though only hve a copy of the it by Srila Parbhupada n I read ur explanation that read all of them but take the essence by intuition which i agree with as i think it non biased
    i feel they all lead to one place n that is our beloved lord
    so its immaterial who ‘s the translator as the author is Krasna
    pls correct me if i m wrong

  9. Great post ….even I love to read commentaries by different author…on Gita with different flavour for the same verse….Bhagvat Gita from Ramkrishna Mission are very nicely written….the Gospel of Sri Rankrishna By Rankrishna mission is yet another great book I have ever read…i recommend for sincere devotees to read it as it will clear their toughest spiritual doubt ….in simple way…

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