(Srila Prabhupada's original Bhagavad-gitas)
Prabhupāda: In our childhood we read one poetry that a boy has brought one bird, and the bird is talking with the boy. "My dear bird, you live with me. I shall give you very nice food. I shall talk with you," and so many things. But the bird says: "No, I want to go away. I want to go away." "No, I shall give you golden cage. You don't go away." So he says: "No, no. I don't like golden cage. I want freedom." So that was talk. So similarly, if a bird is kept in golden cage and if golden foodstuff is supplied to him, it is not happy. It is not possible.
Similarly, we are spirit soul. Any amount of material happiness will never make me happy. That is a fact. But due to our ill faith, we do not know what is happiness. Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇum (SB 7.5.31). They do not know what is the ultimate aim of life, what is the goal of life. They are trying to be happy with this matter, and the material happiness means sex life, and they are trying to squeeze the sex life in different ways. Yan maithunādi-gṛhamedhi-sukhaṁ hi tucchaṁ (SB 7.9.45). That is not possible. That is not possible. Therefore this Bhagavad-gītā yoga system, which is very old... forty millions of years before, ago, it was spoken. And before that it was also spoken. That is not stated here. Because it is eternal. Avyaya, purātanaḥ, old.
So who is qualified to understand Bhagavad-gītā? You can understand. Those who are not bhaktas, they can also understand superficially. Just like one has got the bottle of honey. If one thinks that "I have got the bottle of honey. Let me lick up the bottle," so licking the bottle, what taste he will get? The bottle has to be opened and see what is there. (laughter) And if a rascal thinks that "I am licking this bottle, I am eating honey, I am tasting honey," he's a rascal number one. Simply. So similarly, if one is not bhakta, if one is not Kṛṣṇa's devotee, that rascal cannot understand Bhagavad-gītā. Plainly. Plainly it is stated here.
First of all, try to become the devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Then try to understand what is Bhagavad-gītā—not by your scholarship or by your speculation. Then you'll never understand Bhagavad-gītā. If you have to understand Bhagavad-gītā, then you have to understand by the process as stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, not by your own mental speculation. This is the process of understanding. Bhakto 'si me sakhā ceti (BG 4.3). Bhakta means... who is bhakta? Bhakta means one who has revived his eternal relationship with God. Sarvopādhi-vinirmuktam (CC Madhya 19.170).
Now in this body I am thinking, "I am American." But how long I am American? I am American so long this body is there. That's all. I am thinking, "I am Indian." I am thinking, "I am brāhmaṇa," "I am this or that," whatever I may think. How long? So long this body is there. And the next life? If you get a dog body, then you'll think "I am dog." If you get a cat's body, then you'll think "I am cat."
So bhakta means not that superficial relationship. My relationship with the society, family, country or humanity, they're all superficial because my body is superficial. The real relationship is with Kṛṣṇa. Mamaivāṁśo jīva-bhūtaḥ (BG 15.7). "All these living entities are My part and parcel," Kṛṣṇa claims. Sarva-yoniṣu kaunteya sambhavanti mūrtayaḥ yāḥ (BG 14.4): "In each and every species of life, as many forms as there are, they're all My parts and parcels." Kṛṣṇa explaining like that.
So bhakta means when we revive our relationship how I am connected with Kṛṣṇa. Then he is bhakta. Then he is bhakta. That relationship is pervertedly reflected in this material world. That relationship. As somebody is related with Kṛṣṇa as master and servant, that is reflected here also. There is master and servant, but the both of them are cheating one another. The master is trying to exploit the servant, and the servant is trying to exploit the master. They are also forming unions, how to exact money from the capitalist, and the capitalist trying to exact this labor from the laborers. So here, that master and servant is there, but both of them are cheaters and cheated. That's all.
So if we really want to be master and servant, the supreme master is Kṛṣṇa, and you engage yourself in His service, you'll never be cheated. You'll never be cheated. You want to love. You love Kṛṣṇa as your husband or lover, you'll never be cheated. You love children. You love Kṛṣṇa as your child—just like Yaśodāmāyi accepted Kṛṣṇa as her child—you'll never be cheated. So the same relationship is there, but it is perverted reflection, and there is no happiness. But when we become bhakta or establish one's relationship with Kṛṣṇa... just like Arjuna. Arjuna is bhakta. What kind of bhakta? Bhakto 'si me sakhā, sakhā ceti (BG 4.3): "You are bhakta, at the same time My friend." So to become bhakta means either you become a friend of Kṛṣṇa or a servant of Kṛṣṇa or a lover of Kṛṣṇa or father of Kṛṣṇa or mother of Kṛṣṇa. In this way, there are so many. Or you become enemy of Kṛṣṇa, just like Hiraṇyakaśipu.
So this is the process of understanding Bhagavad-gītā. Therefore I am speaking from this Fourth Chapter. The secret of understanding Bhagavad-gītā is here, and if you follow these principle... just like when you purchase one bottle of medicine from the, I mean to say, drug shop, there is dose. Read, "This medicine is to be taken by this dose." If you follow the direction of the bottle label then you get benefit. Similarly, here is the direction: evaṁ paramparā-prāptam (BG 4.2). You have to understand Bhagavad-gītā from the disciplic succession, and that that it means one who is devotee. Devotee, a devotee... this disciplic succession, devotee. Otherwise there is no possibility. If that disciplic succession is something else than devotional service, then he cannot understand Bhagavad-gītā.
There are many practical experiences, and so many scholars, books we have studied, and their commentary is all nonsense because they are not bhakta. They try to understand Bhagavad-gītā simply by their academic qualification. That is not possible. That is not possible. If somebody is trying to Bhagavad-gītā by his academic qualification... what is the value of this academic qualification? It has no value in the presence of spiritual science. It is a different thing. It is to be understood in a different process.
So we shall discuss this Bhagavad-gītā how Arjuna understood. If... this is a clear fact mentioned here, that before Arjuna, before meeting Arjuna, the science of Bhagavad-gītā was lost. Here it is clearly said. Sa kāleneha yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa (BG 4.2). That was lost. Although it is eternal, still, because the paramparā system, or the disciplic succession, broke, therefore the real meaning or real purport of Bhagavad-gītā was not received. It was broken. Naṣṭa means the paramparā system broken. Therefore Kṛṣṇa is appointing Arjuna to understand because he is devotee and friend. So if you accept Bhagavad-gītā as Arjuna understood it, then you are directly hearing from Kṛṣṇa. That is the process.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Montreal, August 24, 1968)