I always wanted to read Bhagavad Gita but didn't get time. Recently one of my friend suggested to read it.

I have the following questions:

  • Can anybody suggest me how to get started with Bhagavad Gita?

I know it is a sequence of dialogues between Arjuna and Lord Krishna. Do I have to go through the Mahabharata to understand Bhagavad Gita?

  • In which language should I read?

I know it was originally written in Sanskrit, but I'm not comfortable with it. Hindi or English would be fine.

  • How Bhagavad Gita will change my life?

I'm not too religious but have a deep respect for our ancient teachings.

  • 4
    how it will change your life? reading the life of avatar is like iron getting heated. The result is a permanent transformation of soul. Just as the iron upon heating becomes permanent magnetic, similarly upon reading the Gita or any other teachings or life of Avatar, is like soul getting permanent magnetic. There will be a irreversible change. There will be complete transformation. Read in whatever language is comfortable. There is no need for reading Mahabharata before, although it would only help if anything. All the best sir !!
    – Sai
    Feb 9, 2015 at 18:18
  • You must read in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is absolutely patterned. Every line of geeta consisting 16 letters, so you can recite the geeta by pausing yourself after each 8 letters.
    – xkeshav
    Feb 9, 2015 at 18:29
  • According to my understanding, more than reading Bhagavad Geeta its more important to understand Bhagavad Geeta. For understanding what is exactly kuru-kshetra and dharma-kshetra, what emotion does each and every character of Bhagavad Geeta belong to, hence the introduction, the 1st chapter of Geeta goes on explaining about the characters.
    – Hiren
    Feb 25, 2015 at 19:38
  • Please consider Paramhansa Yogananda's translation "God talks with Arjuna - The Bhagavad Gita" the knowledge will blow anyone's mind. This version is very useful especially if you are not a great devotee at present but would like to get the essence of it and subsequently become a devotee bookstore.yssofindia.org/product/… Amazing detail Nov 21, 2018 at 8:05
  • Nice question; maybe reading some introductory material to provide context would be helpful, then begin reading at the beginning, and read it in sequence; perhaps a complete Nonabridged Sanskrit / English interlinear version based on the c.1890s translation. Thank you :)
    – M H
    Nov 18, 2020 at 7:49

8 Answers 8


The Gita is one of the 3 pillars of modern Vedanta (the other two being the Upanishads and the Brahma-Sutras). There are many translations in many different languages. Read in the language that you are comfortable with. Chanting in Sanskrit is ok, but if you do not study it in a language that you understand, it is the same as a parrot mimicking human speech. Your aim is to to understand Krishna's message in the Gita, not to intone Sanskrit correctly.

Krishna says (Gita 18. 70-71):

And he who will study this sacred dialogue of ours--by him shall I have been worshiped through knowledge as a sacrifice; such is My judgement.

And the man who hears this, full of faith and free from malice--even he, liberated from sin, shall attain the happy regions of the righteous.

There are several ways to study the Gita;

First, a daily reading of either a chapter or the 24 verses/full chapter method. Many people do this in the morning as part of their morning daily devotions. Read without commentaries. There are 700 verses in the Gita, the 24 verse/full chapter method means you will complete 1 reading in 1 lunar month.

Second, study some commentary on the meaning of the Gita, but not as part of your daily reading.

Third, pick out those verses that have the most meaning to you. Make a list.

Fourth, memorize some or all of those verses.

Fifth, if you are ambitious, memorize the entire Gita.

Even more ambitious? Learn Sanskrit and read in Sanskrit.

A daily reading will give you strength and after many readings a deeper insight into its subtle meanings.

  • My friend told me start it with Chaprter -3. Is something special in Chapter-3
    – Atinesh
    Feb 11, 2015 at 2:57
  • 4
    Lord Krishna starts the Gita with Chapter 1. Feb 11, 2015 at 4:59
  • @SwamiVishwananda Swami ji 🙏🏼 , with great respect to you I want to clarify one thing that in 20 minutes of conversation how can there be 700 verses in the Gita. Now I know time stopped and all just sounds as childish as we see animation in Mahabharta. However there is a book is " रावण ईतिहास ", "महाभारत के कुछ रहस्य" there is another famous book related to ancient history is" अतित का दिग्धदर्शन " it has two parts part 1 and 2, awesome book as he himself was " ऋषि श्रृंगी " at the time of Ramayana. If you ever read these books kindly update us with the possible truth. Thanks
    – Ritesh.mlk
    Feb 21, 2017 at 8:55
  • Where do those English translations come from? Nov 16, 2019 at 15:41
  • Best is to imbibe supreme learning into long term memory by listening audio before sleeping: Jul 21, 2020 at 15:24

It's very nice that you want to start reading the Bhagavad Gita, one of the best scriptures that there is. You don't need much time to read it, a chapter a day starting from the first one is also enough and would require at most 15-20 minutes of your time. Now regarding your questions:

Do I've to go through the Mahabharata ?

No, you don't need to go through the Mahabharata to read the Gita. Unless you want to know the details of the characters mentioned in the first chapter of the Gita, going through the Mahabharata is not required.

In which language should I read it?

You read it in any language you are most comfortable with. But one fact is that when the original work is translated to any other language by different persons variations do occur. So original is always the best followed by translations done by saints.

How it will change my life?

Reading Gita will not change your life unless you try to put into practice the things you learn from it. Nevertheless, Gita being the summary of the Upanishads contains unmatching knowledge and philosophy understanding which will give you happiness and peace. The second chapter of the Gita is very important as it speaks of the eternal soul dwelling in the body; and this knowledge of the soul is the starting point of all spiritualism.

If you are a spiritual seeker of you really give your mind to it, the discussion between Shri Krisha and Arjuna is so interesting that you will try to read and finish it in one go. But even after reading it, it will take time until you realize and understand it correctly.

Since you are comfortable with Hindi, I would suggest reading Gita Sadhak Sanjivani by Swami Ramsukh Das. I find that very good for any spiritual aspirant. If you just want to read the English translations you can do so at here. But just note that Bhagavad Gita - As it is was primarily meant for westerns who were not familiar or literate about our philosophy and religious tradition. Hence, it is not that knowledge rich, but good for beginners.

Also if you have an Android phone you can install this Gita App which contains translations from different saints including Sankaracharya, Sivananda, Ramsukh Das and many others. This one is very good if you want to just read the Gita verses in your desired language without reading purport, explanations etc.

  • My friend suggested an android app by 'Prateek Arora'
    – Atinesh
    Feb 10, 2015 at 4:53
  • @Atinesh Umm...sorry no idea. You can try both and keep the one you like. I have used the one I mentioned and I find it very good.
    – Be Happy
    Feb 11, 2015 at 4:41
  1. You dont have to read the entire Mahabharata but knowing the back-story will help.

  2. The gita traditionally is started from a different chapter than the first. The first is Arjuna vishada yoga and there is a belief that gitA parayana should not be started with this yoga.

  3. You can read the translations into English or Hindi. Look for Gita Gnyana Yagnas in your locality. Samskrta Bharati conducts these in addition to Chinmaya Mission. Check them out FWIW.

  4. What do you hope to get out of reading the Gita? In general, any deeply philosophical work, if one has the yoga, will shake one to their roots and at the very least make one re-examine their life.


In my humble opinion,

Srimad Bhagavath Gita is a nectarian, wonderful and most miraculously blissful pond of knowledge which guides the suffering to understand basic questions of life, such as :

  1. Who am I?
  2. Who is God?
  3. What is the relationship of Almighty God with me?
  4. What is the purpose in life?
  5. Are there many Gods or is God one?
  6. How should one act in his life to be achieve the goal of life?

For the question,

Can anybody suggest me how to get started with it? I know it's a sequence of dialogues between Arjuna and Lord Krishna. Do I've to go through the Mahabharata in order to understand Bhagavad Gita?

It is not necessary to read mahabharatha to understand the Gita. Gita literally means the song of God. It is sung by the supreme God to all living entities and as such can be read by any person in any walk of life at any point of time without any prior information. However it is very much necessary to read the bhagavad gita IN PROPER ORDER. we cannot skip one chapter or start from a middle chapter. That would be like skipping first grade and studying Quantum physics. Please read in the order in which Srimad Bhagavad Gita has been sung by the Lord.

In which language should I read ?

There are many translated versions available in ENGLISH, HINDI. But it is also necessary to understand that anyone who has written the translation must come through specific parampara otherwise the translation is not authentic. (This link might be helpful : bhagavad-gita.org/DiscipleSuccession/)

There are a few versions available in English are good/ understandable, websites are as follows:

This is a fantastic source where the explanations given by prominent acharyas in a valid parampara are provided for each verse:


This is another good site, which provides great translations and purports: asitis.com

Some hard copy sellers: http://www.madhwakart.com/shop/geeta-bhashya/ http://www.flipkart.com/bhagavad-gita/p/itme3dhz4eztwyw5?pid=9789171494375&otracker=from-search&srno=t_1&query=bhagavad+gita&ref=c9533ce6-43b7-479b-9b62-28089eabaaea

In my opinion the other Bhagavad gita translations that I've read were not as fulfilling/ understandable as the above two and as such I am quoting the ones I could understand ( The second one even has a supportive word by word sanskrit to english translation, which most others read but I don't) . Also many books have their own philosophy into the translations which completely changes the meaning of the Gita.

How will Bhagavad Gita change my life?I am not too religious but believe in things that makes sense.

If Bhagavad Gita is heard (or read) by a faithful person from a Guru who is self realized, then it will be all auspicious for the reader. And one of the main focal points to have while reading is the faith. And believe me, the Bhagavath Gita makes total sense, in a way nothing much else in the world can make sense.

  • Hello and welcome to Hinduism.SE. We understand that you are trying to help other users by suggesting them to read a particular book, but your answer sounds spammy as you are posting links to other website which is not accepted. So I'll be deleting your answer, if you have any knowledge over this, write in your own words and flag your answer for undelete.
    – Mr. Alien
    Feb 28, 2015 at 15:27

Swami Vishwananda's answer explained very well.

My suggestion-

For Grihast persons, best way is to imbibe supreme learning into long term memory by listening an audio chapter before sleeping, it will even help sound sleep and consistency in learning the Divine truth better.

Link to the audio chapters in English- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bhagavadgita.english

Note: Above is a suggestion especially for those who can't devote daily time for satsang and gain knowledge therein(which is best) to get divine shelter as well.


The easiest way to read bhagavad gita is to have online Sanskrit dictionary. Don't follow any translator unless it makes logical sense. Try to give different meanings to each word and get the various meanings.

What I suggested is a bit difficult. But, in this way, you will get 100s of angles of understanding gita. If you stick yourselves only to already available translation you will miss other meanings.

Pick the meaning appropriate to your mentality and apply it in your life.

Hope it helps!!


"Reading" Gita is easy. It is available in several languages. However, to understand and use its knowledge to improve the life is the task most Hindus and Indians do not put in practice. For several of us this book has become a historical document. I live in USA, and hear people including Americans read and understand and discuss it in English only. Yet the message and its philosophy is practiced widely. There is a "Gita Super Site" by KanpurIIT which has translations and discussions by several scholars. This site, https://www.gitasupersite.iitk.ac.in/ is worth visiting. It also provides reading/recitation of shlokas.


Late to the party, but here's a non answer:

Don't read the Gita.

Yes, you read it right - don't read Gita on your own.

Gita is considered to be the essence of the Upanishads, and Upanishads should never be studied independently. Mundaka Upanishad (1.2.12) says:

परीक्ष्य लोकान्कर्मचितान्ब्राह्मणो निर्वेदमायान्नास्त्यकृतः कृतेन । तद्विज्ञानार्थं स गुरुमेवाभिगच्छेत्समित्पाणिः श्रोत्रियं ब्रह्मनिष्ठम् ॥ १२ ॥

(The gist of which is - after realizing that the world and worldly pleasures can never give everlasting happiness, be humble and approach a Guru who is competent and well versed in the Vedas).

Krishna himself says in Gita 4.34

तद्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया | उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिन:

(Which essentially means be humble and serve a Guru, who will then impart the knowledge to you)

If you really want to get the benefit out of studying Gita, go to a Guru, if possible in person (so you can ask questions), or use any of the umpteen resources of living Gurus available online (again, so you can correspond with them with your questions/doubts).

A few online lectures are listed below (they may not have been available 8 years ago, when the question was actually asked :-), but I'm posting them here for the benefit of others):

Gita is a voluminous work, and explaining each shloka with context takes time. So, be prepared to have a lot of patience. But in the end, a true spiritual seeker will enjoy the journey and feel it was all worth it, and will then want to go further and study the original Upanishads, again under the guidance of a Guru.

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