The Bhagavadgita - P Lal

The Bhagavadgita

The Bhagavadgita is an epochal classic of Indian spirituality and universally acknowledged as one of the great books of world literature. Written as a part of the great epic Mahabharata, this intensely spiritual work is also a masterpiece of Sanskrit poetry.

The theme of the Gita is the war within, the struggle for self-mastery that every human being must wage, to live a life that is meaningful, fulfilling and worthwhile.

It has been translated into every major language of the world — French, Italian, Greek, Spanish, German, Japanese, Russian — and into English by several formidable scholars. Of all the English renderings of The Bhagavadgita, P. Lal's version fully preserves the dignity and grace of the original; it performs the exceptional feat of keeping the Gita fully alive in a western language.

Shorn of scholarly verbosity and sophisticated interpretations, this is a devoted work of literary beauty with moral and spiritual worth which readers will find deeply moving.

Book Reviews

"An extremely handsome book! The most clear-headed account of the Bhagavadgita." — R K Narayan

"How refreshing to have a brilliant scholar who translates and explicates simultaneously! An important literary document." — The Hindustan Times

"This work is comparable with the translation done by Swami Prabhevanand and Christopher Isherwood." — The Sunday Statesman

"P. Lal does not merely translate, he transcreates, and in this edition, we get a readable rendering in contemporary diction of the Gita." — Ananda Bazar Patrika

"An illuminating transcreation of the Gita which brings the most systematic scriptural exposition of the Vedanta philosophy closer to the ordinary perplexed men and women of today. Of all the English versions, this easy flowing transcreation of the Gita is refreshing and makes a fascinating study." — The Hindu


Purushottam Lal was born in Kapurthala, Punjab, and arrived in Calcutta (now Kolkata) as a young child. Educated at St. Xavier's College, he started teaching there after he graduated in 1953. By the time he retired, after four decades of teaching, he had become a legendary teacher, remembered for lectures that went beyond the syllabus and his willingness to nurture young student writers. After retirement he continued his academic career as an honorary professor at St Xavier's and as a visiting professor at several universities abroad, including as Professor of Comparative Literature, Hofstra University New York, Ohio University, University of Illinois, Albion College and Western Maryland College amongst others.

He established the now legendary Writers Workshop but his energies were also devoted to a translation into English – a 'transcreation', as he preferred – of the 1,00,000 shlokas of the world's longest poem, the Mahabharata, including its most famous and meditative section, the Bhagavadgita, in which Arjuna is steeled for his fight by the god Krishna.

He was honoured with the Padma Shri award in 1970.

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