Shrimadh Bhagvad Gita Rahasya

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Shrimadh Bhagvad Gita Rahasya, popularly also known as Gita Rahasya or Karmayog Shashtra, is a 1915 Marathi language book authored by Indian social reformer and independence activist Bal Gangadhar Tilak while he was in prison at Mandalay, Burma. It is the analysis of Karma yoga which finds its source in the Bhagavad Gita, the sacred book for Hindus.[1] According to him, the real message behind the Mahabharata's Gita is to act or perform, which is covered in the initial parts rather than renounce, which is covered in the later parts of the epic Gita.[2] He took the Mimamsa rule of interpretation as the basis of building up his thesis.[3]

This book consists of two parts. The first part is the philosophical exposition and the second part consists of the Gita, its translation and the commentary.

The book was written by Tilak in pencil with his own handwriting while being imprisoned at the Mandalay jail from 1908 to 1914. The more-than-400 pages of script was written in less than four months and is hence in itself considered as "remarkable achievement".[4] Although the writing was completed in the early years of his term, the book was only published in 1915, when he returned to Poona.[5] He defended the ethical obligation to the active principle or action, even violent action including killing, as long as that was selfless and without personal interest or motive.[6]

In a speech on his Gita Rahasya Tilak said "Various commentators have put as many interpretations on the book, and surely the writer or composer could not have written or composed the book for so many interpretations being put on it. He must have but one meaning and one purpose running through the book, and that I have tried to find out". He finds the message of the subservience of all yogas to Karmayoga or the yoga of action rather than the yoga of sole knowledge (jnanayoga) or of devotion (bhaktiyoga).[7]

Books on it[edit]

Various authors have written books based on Tilak's Gita Rahasya and have also translated it into other languages.

  • A Gist of Mr. Tilak's Gita-Rahasya Or Karma-Yoga-Shastra, Etc.[8]
  • Introduction to The Gita-rahasya: Or The Fundamentals of Life and Living[9]



  1. ^ "Bal Gangadhar Tilak". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  2. ^ Mishra, Anil. Reading Gandhi. Pearson Education India. p. 163. ISBN 8131799646. 
  3. ^ Amaresh Datta (1988). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: devraj to jyoti. Sahitya Akademi. pp. 1423–. ISBN 978-81-260-1194-0. 
  4. ^ Amaresh Datta (1988). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: Vol 2. Sahitya Akademi. p. 1423. ISBN 8126011947. 
  5. ^ Stanley A. Wolpert (1962). Tilak and Gokhale: Revolution and Reform in the Making of Modern India. University of California Press. p. 263. 
  6. ^ Bhatt, Chetan (2001). Hindu Nationalism Origins, Ideologies and Modern Myths. Oxford: Berg Publishers. p. 34. ISBN 9781845209865. 
  7. ^ Ortiz, edited by Gaye Williams; Joseph, Clara A.B. (2006). Theology and Literature Rethinking Reader Responsibility. (1st ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 136–137. ISBN 9781403982995. 
  8. ^ VĀMANA MALHAR JOSHĪ (1916). A Gist of Mr. Tilak's Gita-Rahasya Or Karma-Yoga-Shastra, Etc. 
  9. ^ Introduction to "The Gita-rahasya": Or "The Fundamentals of Life and Living". Kamala Press. 1936. 

External links[edit]