the book

A Modern Interpretation of Lokmanya Tilak’s Gita Rahasya


the story

The Divine Hand poked me first about this mission when I visited Mandalay in Myanmar in 2005 and came to know that the Lokmanya had been imprisoned at the Mandalay jail from 1908 to 1914. It was here that the Lokmanya wrote more than 400 pages of the book, ‘Gita Rahasya’, in pencil, on the stationery provided by the jailor, who was awed by his radiating brilliance and indomitable spirit.

I wrote ‘Fifth Race’ (Menaka Prakashan, 2011). Seen in retrospect, it was a sort of preparation for me to take up later, the writing of ‘Transcendence’. Dr. Kalam departed a month after the release of ‘Transcendence’ in July 2015, with instructions for me to write a book after internalizing the ideal of Ekantik Dharma, central to the Swaminarayan theology. After deep reflection, I decided to first study Lokmanya Tilak’s ‘Gita Rahasya’, to know the nuances of Vishishtadvaita (Non-dualism of the Qualified).

I actually started writing this book after returning from the cremation of Pramukh Swamiji Maharaj on August 17, 2016. Lokmanya opened the ‘Gita Rahasya’ with the words of Saint Tukaram, a 17th-century poet-saint of the Bhakti movement in the state of Maharashtra, “I only repeated the words already uttered by saints. How else can an insignificant man like me know?” This applies to me even more. 

Lokmanya Tilak is perhaps the first and the brightest national political icon of modern India. In 1908, the British exiled the Lokmanya in faraway Mandalay in Burma. During this time, the Lokmanya reflected upon the fact that the Indian nation could not be constructed on the basis of the old framework of the esoteric Vedic mantras and the highly philosophical Upanishads. They lacked clarity and a singled-out conclusion. Lokmanya Tilak decided to make the Shrimad Bhagavad Gita, known to all sections of India, the cornerstone of the Indian freedom struggle and churned out the ideal of Activism as the basis to fight the British. 

The world has changed significantly in the last 100 years, but the mission of explaining what is right remains unchanged. Lokmanya very passionately concluded the preface of the ‘Gita Rahasya’ by writing, “I am placing this philosopher’s stone (Raja-guhya) of the Vedic tradition into the hands of the readers. The observance of this tradition, even to a small extent, delivers a person from great difficulties.” What more could anybody want? The universal rule is that nothing happens unless something is done. Nothing that exists is uncaused. The Gita was not preached as a pastime. It was revealed by the Blessed Lord in order to render advice as to the true duty of virtuous human beings in worldly life.

This book is offered with affection to all those who take pride in being born in India and who have a hope for this civilization. The book has been translated into Marathi and was released on February 15, 2019, by Pujya Mahant Swamiji Maharaj, the Spiritual Head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha at Pune.


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