Warren Hastings served as the first Governor General of Bengal from 1772 to 1785. The British rulers had a persistent interest in propagating Christianity among the Indian population, aiming to influence them through religious principles.
During his tenure in India, Warren Hastings encountered the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred text written in Sanskrit.
Unfortunately, he could not comprehend its contents due to the language barrier.
In his quest to find someone capable of explaining the Bhagavad Gita, he came across Charles Wilkins, a resident of Benaras who possessed a deep understanding of the Gita, Veda, and Upanishads.
Warren Hastings approached Charles Wilkins with a request to translate the Bhagavad Gita into English. This translation was eventually published by a British Press in 1785, marking the first English rendition of the Bhagavad Gita. The book was titled “Bhagavat Gita: A Dialogue of Krishna and Arjuna.”
In the book’s preface, Warren Hastings expressed his admiration for the Bhagavad Gita, stating, “Long after the British flag no longer flies under the sun, the beauty of the Bhagavad Gita will continue to provide solace, compassion, and peace to all of humanity.”
The British queen, upon learning of Warren Hastings’ involvement with the Bhagavad Gita, reacted with anger and removed him from his duties in India, compelling his return to London.
The book rapidly gained fame and became a global bestseller. Within five years of its publication, the Bhagavad Gita was translated and published in various languages, including German, French, Italian, and many others.
Numerous Western and Central countries established centers for the study of Sanskrit to further translate, understand, and explore the wisdom concealed within Indian scriptures.
This is how the world came to learn about the invaluable treasures of the Bhagavad Gita, Vedas, Upanishads, and other Indian scriptures, ultimately bestowing upon India global recognition as a land of wisdom and greatness.