There have been a number of English translations of the Gita, from the first effort of Charles Wilkins, in India, in 1785, up to the present time. Some are very good, others indifferent, and others actually misleading and causing confusion. Some of these translations have evidently been made by persons inclining to certain schools of philosophy and the meaning, as colored by their own philosophical glasses, while most satisfactory to them and their followers, is distracting to those outside the pale, who have had the opportunity of comparing the various editions.
This particular edition, issued by us, is not a new translation, but rather a compilation from the best of the various good translations of Hindu and English translators, some of which are now out of print, or inaccessible to the general public. The compiler has endeavored to give the spirit of the teachings, in a plain, practical, understandable form, adapted to the requirements and needs of the English speaking reader, although such a presentation has often necessitated the sacrifice of any attempt at literary merit. In fact this book makes no claim whatsoever to literary style. It merely seeks to carry the Message contained within its pages, in plain words and simple form, to those who are ready for it.
Here is an excerpt from the ‘The Bhagavad Gita’:
Then spake, again, Krishna, the Blessed. Lord, unto Arjuna, the Prince of
the Pandus, saying:
“Hearken unto my words, O Prince. Truly say I unto thee, that he, who
performeth honorably and to the best of his ability, such Action as may
appear to him to be plain and righteous Duty, remembering always that
he has naught to do with the reward or fruits of the Action, is both a
Renouncer of Action, and also a Performer of the Service of Right Action.
More truly is he an Ascetic and Renouncer than he who merely refuses to
perform Actions; for the one hath the spirit of the doctrine, while the
other hath grasped merely the empty shell of form and letter. Know thou
such Intelligent Right Action as Renunciation; and also know that the
best of Right Action without Intelligent understanding of the
renunciation of results is not Right Action at all.
“In the earlier stages of the path, Right Action is taught as the most
merit-gaining plan; while to the same man, when he hath attained
Wisdom and Understanding of the Doctrine, and hath also freed himself
from attachment even unto Right Action, then to him Calm Meditation
and Serene Peace of Mind is called the better. To each is given, according
to his needs and stage of unfoldment. When a man frees himself from
attachment to the Fruits of Action; Action itself; or the objects of the
sense-world – then hath he reached the highest stage of Right Action.