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Commentaries on the Gita

The Gita has attracted the attention of several ancient and medieval teachers who have written commentaries and glosses on it in Sanskrit. In the Advaita Vedanta tradition Sankara (A. D. 788-820) comes first. In fact, his is the earliest of the extant commentaries. Ramanuja (A. D. 1017-1137), Madhva (A. D. 1197-1276), Nimbarka (12th century A. D.) and Vallabha (A. D. 1473-1531) are the other great acharyas or teachers who have written commentaries on the Gita. Anandagiri (A. D. 1200), Vedanta Desika (A. D. 1268- 1370) and Jayatirtha (13th century A. D.) have written glosses on the commentaries of Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva respectively. Mention may also be made of the commentaries of Sridhara (15th century A. D.), Madhusudana (A. D. 1525-1632) and Raghavendra (A. D. 1598-1671) who have made some original contributions to the Gita literature.


Q1. Can I read Bhagavad Gita during periods?

Yes, women can read the Bhagavad Gita even during their menstrual cycle. It is not recommended for them to engage in the direct services of the Lord but since reading scriptures (Shastra Adhyayan) is an important limb of spirituality, it should be practiced every day without fail. Of course, bodily hygiene should be maintained if you want to read the Gita. If taking a bath is not possible, you must at least wash your hands and feet properly.

Q2. Who writes commentary on Bhagavad Gita?

According to the Vedic injunctions, only those who are well-versed in the subject matters of the scriptures, who know the essence of all Vedic knowledge, and who are devotees of the Supreme Lord Vishnu or Krishna are eligible to spread the spiritual knowledge amongst others. Lord Krishna tells Arjun in the Bhagavad Gita that this secret knowledge is received through the chain of disciplic succession. Therefore, those who come in this line of succession write a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita and present it in an unadulterated way.

Q3. How many commentaries are there on Bhagavad Gita?

There are more than 50 commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita which is considered the most confidential knowledge and the essence of all Vedic knowledge. There are 18 chapters and 700 verses (shlokas) in the Gita. The commentators, who are generally the devotees of the Supreme Lord (Vishnu or Krishna), write their commentaries on each Shlokas, explaining its meaning without any adulteration. By reading the explanation, the context of the verses is understood properly.

Q4. What is the main moral lesson of Gita?

The Bhagavad Gita is full of nectar and lessons. But the essence of all the teachings of the Gita is to surrender unto the Supreme Lord Krishna without any calculations or fear. Only the Supreme Lord is our true well-wisher. He is situated in everyone’s hearts as Paramatma (Super soul). In order to get out of the cycle of repeated births and deaths and to cross the ocean of material nescience, the individual soul is only dependent on the causeless mercy of the Supreme Lord (the controller of everything). Therefore, Lord Krishna tells Arjun to take the shelter of His lotus feet and be freed from all sinful reactions.

Q5. Who wrote the first commentary on Bhagavad Gita?

The knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita (the most confidential) was received by the saintly Kings through the line or chain of disciplic succession. However, in course of time, the succession was broken and the transcendental knowledge was lost and misunderstood among people. It is believed that Adi Shankaracharya in 800 AD wrote the first commentary on the Bhagavad Gita and presented it in a simpler way among common people.