by Bhalchandra Sitaram Sukthankar | 1935 | 327,828 words
The English translation of the Bhagavad-Gita Rahasya, also known as the Karma-yoga Shastra or “Science of Right Action”, composed in Marathi by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1915. This first volume represents an esoteric exposition of the Bhagavadgita and interprets the verses from a Mimamsa philosophical standpoint. The work contains 15 chapters, Sanskri...
The Śrīmad Bhagavadgītā is one of the most brilliant and pure gems of our ancient sacred books. It would be difficult to find a simpler work in Sanskrit literature or even in all the literature of the world than the Gītā, which explains to us in an unambiguous and succint manner the deep and sacred principles of the sacred science of the SELF (Ātman), after imparting to us the knowledge of the human body and the cosmos, and on the authority of those principles acquaints every human being with the most perfect and complete condition of the Self, that is to say, with what the highest- manhood is, and which further establishes a logical and admirable harmony between Devotion (bhakti) and Spiritual Knowledge (jñ naā ), and ultimately between both these and the duties of ordinary life enjoined by the Śāstras, thereby inspiring the mind, bewildered by the vicissitudes of life to calmly and, what is more, desirelessly adhere to the path of duty. Even if one examines the work looking upon it as a poem, this work, which simplifies to every reader, young or old, the numerous abstruse doctrines of Self-Knowledge in inspired language and is replete with the sweetness of Devotion plus Self-Realisation, will certainly be looked upon as an excellent poem. The preeminent worth, therefore, of a book which contains the quintessence of Vedic religion, uttered by the voice of the Blessed Lord can best only be imagined. It is stated at the commencement of the Anugītā, that after the Bhārata war was over, and Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna were one day chatting together, Arjuna conceiving the desire of hearing the Gītā again from the lips of the Blessed Lord, said to Śrī Kṛṣṇa:–"I have forgotten the advice you gave me when the war commenced; so, please repeat it to me." In reply the Blessed Lord said to him that even He could not repeat that advice in the same way, because on the previous occasion the advice had been given, when His mind was in the highest Yogic state (Śriman Mahābhārata Aśvamedha. 16, stanzas 10–13). Really speaking, nothing was impossible for the Blessed Lord, but His answer that it would be impossible for Him to repeat the Gītā, clearly reveals the excellent worth of the Gītā.
The fact that the Gītā is considered by all the different traditionary schools of the Vedic religion for over twenty-five centuries to be as venerable and authoritative as the Vedas themselves is due to the same cause; and on the same account, this work, which is as old as the Smṛtis, has been appropriately, though figuratively described in the Gītā-dhyāna as follows:–
sarvopaniṣado gāvo dogdhā gopālanandanaḥ |
pārtho vatsaḥ sudhīr bhoktā dugdhaṃ gītāmṛtaṃ mahat ||
That is:–"All the Upaniṣads are, so to say, cows, the Blessed Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is Himself the drawer of the milk (milk-man), the intelligent Arjuna is the drinker, the calf (which causes the flow of the milk in the cows), and (when these unprecedented circumstances have come about) the milk which has been drawn, is the Gītā-nectar of the highest order."
It cannot, therefore, be a matter of surprise that any number of translations, commentaries, or expositions of this work have appeared in all the vernacular languages of India; but, after the Westerners have got acquainted with Sanskrit, there have been made any number of translations of the Gītā into Greek, Latin, German, French, English etc., and this wonderful work has now come to be known throughout the world.
Not only does this work contain the quintessence of all the Upaniṣads, but the full name of this work is "Śrīmad Bhagavadgītā Upaniṣat". The enunciative words, convoying that the chapter is closed, which are used at the end of each chapter of the Gītā contain the words "iti Śrīmad Bhagavadgītāsu Upaniṣatsu Brahmavidyāyāṃ yogaśāstre Śrī- Kṛṣṇārjuna-saṃvade" etc. i.e., "thus the conversation between Śrī-Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna on the Karma-yoga science, (that is to say, on the science of the yoga based on the knowledge of the Brahman) in the Upaniṣad sung by the Blessed Lord." Although these enunciative words are not to be found in the original Bhārata, yet as we find them in all the editions of the Gītā, one may draw the inference that, that mode of enunciation must have come into vogue, when the Gītā was for the first time separated from the Mahābhārata for daily recital, that is to say, before any commentary was written on it; and I shall explain later on the importance of these words in determining the import of the Gītā from this point of view. For the present, it is necessary for us to consider only the words "bhagavadgītāsu upaniṣatsu". Although the word "Upaniṣat" is of the neuter gender in the Marathi language, yet as it is of the feminine gender in Sanskrit, so the idea "the Upaniṣad sung, that is, told by the Blessed Lord" is conveyed, in Sanskrit, by the expression "Śrīmad Bhagavadgītā Upaniṣat", a compound of an adjective and a noun in the feminine gender; and although the work is singular in number, yet as it has become customary to refer to it in the plural number by way of respect, one comes across the plural seventh-case-ended form of "Śrīmad Bhagavadgītāsūpaniṣatsu". Even in the commentary (bhāṣya) written by Śaṃkarācārya, we come across the expression "iti gītāsu" in the plural number with reference to this work. But in contracting the expression, the affixes or words used for indicating respect and also the common-noun at the end, indicative of a class, being dropped, the two first-case-ended singular words "Śrīmad Bhagavadgītā" and "Upaniṣat" have at first been changed into "Bhagavadgītā" and later on merely "Gītā", which is a feminine and extensively contracted form,–as has been the case with the names Kena, Kaṭha, Chāndogya etc., If the word "Upaniṣat" had not occurred in the original name, then the name of this work would have been contracted into the neuter form "Bhagavadgītaṃ" or merely "Gītāṃ" as has been the case with "Bhāgavataṃ" or "Bhārataṃ" or "Gopīgītaṃ", but as, instead of that, the word has remained in the feminine form as "Bhagavadgītā," or "Gītā," we must always take the word "Upaniṣat" as implied after it. The word "Anugītā" has been interpreted in the same way in the commentary of Arjunamiśra on the Anugītā.
But we find that the word "Gītā" is applied not only to the Bhagavadgītā of 700 verses but also in an ordinary meaning to many other works dealing with Spiritual Knowledge. For instance, in certain sundry chapters of the Mokṣaparva included in the Śāntiparva of the Mahābhārata, we find that the names Piṅgalagītā, Śaṃpākagītā, Mankigītā, Bodhyagītā, Vicakkhyugītā, Hāritagītā, Vṛtragītā, Parāśaragītā, and Haṃsagītā have been used and one part of the Anugītā in the Aśvamedhaparva has been called by the separate and special name of "Brāhmaṇagītā". Besides these, there are also numerous other gītās which are well-known, such as the Avadhūtagītā, Aṣṭāvakragītā, Īśvaragītā, Uttaragītā, Kapilagītā, Gaṇeśagītā, Devīgītā, Pāṇḍavagītā, Brahmagītā, Bhikṣugītā, Yamagītā, Rāmagītā, Vyāsagītā, Śivagītā, Sūtagītā, Sūryagītā, etc. Some of these exist independently, whereas the others are to be found in different Purāṇas. For instance, the Gaṇeśagītā, is to be found at the end of the Gaṇeśapurāṇa in the Krīḍā-khaṇḍa in the 138th to 148th chapters and one may say that it is a faithful copy of the Bhagavadgītā, with slight verbal differences. The Īśvaragītā is to be found in the first eleven chapters in the Uttaravibhāga of the Kūrmapurāṇa, and the Vyāsagītā starts in the next chapter. The Brahmagītā is to be found in the first twelve chapters of the latter portion of the fourth i.e., the Yajña-vaibhava khaṇḍa of the Sūta-Saṃhitā included in the Skandapurāṇa and the Sūtagītā is in the subsequent eight chapters. There is to be found a Brahmagītā different from this Brahmagītā of the Skandapurāṇa, in the 173rd to 181st stanzas of the latter half of the chapter on "Nirvāṇa", in the Yogavāśiṣṭha. The Yamagītā is of three kinds.
The first is to be found in the seventh chapter of the 3rd part (aṃśa) of the Viṣṇupurāṇa, the second one in the 381st chapter of the 3rd division (khaṇḍa) of the Agnipurāṇa and the third one in the 8th chapter of Nṛsimnapurāṇa. The same is the case with the Rāmagītā. The Rāmagītā which is in common acceptance in this part of the country is to be found in the fifth sarga of the Uttarakāṇḍa of the Adhyātma Rāmāyaṇa and this Adhyātma Rāmāyaṇa is looked upon as a part of the Brahmāṇḍapurāṇa. But there is also another Rāmagītā to be found in the work known as "Gurujñāna-vāsiṣṭhatattvasārāyaṇa" which is well-known on the Madras side. This book deals with Vedānta philosophy and is divided into three divisions (khaṇḍas) called the Jñāna, Upāsanā, and Karma. In the first eighteen chapters of the second part (pāda) called the Upāsanākāṇḍa, we find the Rāmagītā and in the first five chapters of the third part (pāda) of the third kāṇḍa, called the Karmakāṇḍa, we find the Sūryagītā. The Śivagītā is said to be in the Pātālakhaṇḍa of the Padmapurāṇa. But, in the edition of this purāṇa which has been printed in the Anandashrama Press in Poona, we do not find the Śivagītā. Pandit Jwalaprasad has stated in his book called Aṣṭādaśapurāṇadarśana (Survey of the eighteen Purāṇas) that it is to be found in the Gauḍīya Padmottarapurāṇa, and in the table of contents of the Padmapurāṇa which is given along with those of other Purāṇas in the Nāradapurāṇa, we find a reference to the Śivagītā. Besides these, the Haṃsagītā is to be found in the 13th chapter of the 11th skandha of the Śrī Bhāgavatpurāṇa and the Bhikṣugītā is to be found in the 23rd chapter of the same skandha,; and the Kāpileyopākhyāna contained in the chapters 23 to 33 of the third skandha, is also known as Kapilagītā. But I have seen an independent printed book by the name Kapilagītā. This Kapilagītā deals principally with the Haṭhayoga, and one finds it stated in it that it has been taken from the Padmapurāṇa; however, not only do we not find it in the Padmapurāṇa, but as we find in it in one place (4.7) such words as "Jaina" "Jaṅgama" (liṅgāita), and "Sophi" (a Mahomedan saint), we have to say that it must have been written after the Mahomedan rule commenced. As in the Bhāgavatpurāṇa, so also in the Devībhāgavata, we find a Gītā from the 31st to the 40th chapters of the seventh skandha, and as that gītā is supposed to have come out of the mouth of the Devi, it is called the "Devīgītā". Besides these, a summary of the Bhagavadgītā itself is to be found in the 380th chapter of the third khaṇḍa, of the Agnipurāṇa as also in the 247th chapter of the pūrvakhaṇḍa of the Garuḍapurāṇa. In the same way, although it is stated that the work "Yogavāśiṣṭha" was recited by Vaśiṣṭha to Rāma in the Rāma incarnation, yet we find a summary of the Bhagavadgītā, which was preached to Arjuna by the Blessed Lord in the subsequent Kṛṣṇa incarnation, reproduced in the last, that is, in the Nirvāṇa chapter, in which many verses are taken as they are from Bhagavadgītā, and it is given the name "Arjunopākhyāna" (Cf. Yoga-Vāśiṣṭha 6, Pū. Sarga. 52–58). I have stated above that the Śivagītā is not to be found in the Padmapurāṇa printed at Poona, but though that is so, yet a Bhagavadgītā-māhātamya is described from the 171st to the 188th chapters of the Uttarakhaṇḍa of this edition (of the Padmapurāṇa), and one chapter of this māhātmya is dedicated to each chapter of the Bhagavadgītā and it also contains traditionary stories about the same. There is besides one Gītā-māhātmya in the Varāhapurāṇa and it is said that there is also a third Gītā-māhātamya in the Śaiva or Vāyupurāṇa. But I do not come across it in the Vāyupurāṇa printed in Calcutta. A small chapter of nine verses called "Gītā-dhyāna" is to be found printed in the beginning of the printed editions of the Bhagavadgītā, but I cannot say from where it has been taken.
Nevertheless, the verse "Bhīṣmadroṇa-taṭā Jayadratha-jalā" (from these nine verses) is to be found, with slight verbal differences, at the very commencement of the recently published drama of Bhāsa called "Ūrubhaṅga". Therefore, it would seem that this Gītā-dhyāna must have come into vogue probably after the date of the dramatist Bhāsa. Because, it would be more proper to say that the Gītā-dhyāna has been prepared by borrowing different verses from different texts and writing some new verses, rather than to say that a wellknown dramatist like Bhāsa has taken that verse from the Gītādhyāna. As the dramatist Bhāsa lived before Kālidāsa, his date cannot at most be later than Śaka 300.
From what has been stated above, one can understand which and how many copies, and good or bad imitations; summaries and māhātmyas of the Gītā are to be found in the purāṇas. One cannot definitely say to what purāṇas some gītās like the Avadhūtagītā, the Aṣṭāvakragītā, etc., belong and if they do not form part of any purāṇas, then by whom and when they were independently written. Yet, if one considers the arrangement or the disposition of subject matters, in all these gītās, one will see that all these works must have been written after the Bhagavadgītā had come into, prominence and acquired general acceptance. Nay, one may even go further and say that these various gītās have been, brought into existence with the idea that the sacred literature of a particular sect or a purāṇa does not become complete unless it contains a gītā similar to the Bhagavadgītā. As in the Bhagavadgītā, the Blessed Lord first showed to Arjuna his. Cosmic Form and then preached to him the Divine Knowledge, so also is the case with the Śivagītā and Devīgītā, or the Gaṇeśagītā; and in the Śivagītā, Īśvaragītā, etc., we find many verses taken literally from the Bhagavadgītā. Considering the matter from the point of view of Spiritual Knowledge, these various gītās do not contain anything more than the Bhagavadgītā; but, what is more, the wonderful skill of establishing a harmony between the Realisation of the Highest
Self (adhyātma) and Action (karma) which is seen in the Bhagavadgītā, is not to be found in any one of these gītās. Somebody has subsequently written the Uttaragītā as a supplement to the Bhagavadgītā in the form of a conversation between Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna, in the belief that the Pātañjalayoga or the Haṭha-yoga or the Philosophy of Renunciation (saṃnyāsa) by Abandonment of Action (karma) has not been sufficiently well described in the Bhagavadgītā, and the Avadhūta, the Aṣṭāvakra and some other gītās are purely onesided, that is to say, they are only in support of the path of Renunciation; and the Yamagītā, Pāṇḍavagītā, and some other gītās are very small and purely devotional, like eulogistic hymns. It is true that the same is not the case with the Śivagītā, the Gaṇeśagītā and the Sūryagītā and they contain a skilful harmonising of Action and Spiritual Knowledge; yet, as that exposition in them has been more or less adopted from the Bhagavadgītā there is no novelty about them. Therefore, these paurāṇic stale gītās which have come into existence later on, fall into the shade before the profound and comprehensive brilliance of the Bhagavadgītā and the excellence of the Bhagavadgītā has been all the more established and enhanced by these imitation gītās; and the word "gītā" has come to mean Bhagavadgītā principally. Although the works Adhyātma Rāmāyaṇa and Yogavāśiṣṭha are more exhaustive, yet from their construction, they are evidently of a later date. The Gurujñānavāsiṣṭha-tattvasārāyaṇa of the Madras Presidency is a very ancient work according to some, but I am not of that opinion, because it contains a reference to 108 Upaniṣads and it cannot be said that all of them are ancient; and if one considers the Sūryagītā, we find in it a reference (see 3.30) to Qualified-Monism (viśiṣṭādvaita), and in some places the arguments too seem to have been adopted from the Bhagavadgītā (1.68), and therefore, one has to come to the conclusion that even this work was written much later on, possibly even after the date of Śrī Śaṃkarācārya.
Although there were many gītās, yet inasmuch as the Bhagavadgītā was of unquestionable excellence, as shown above, later philosophers, following the Vedic cult, thought it proper not to take much notice of the other gītās and to examine only the Bhagavadgītā and explain its import to their co-religionists. The examination of a work is of two kinds; there is the internal examination and the external examination. If one considers the book as a whole and extracts the inner meaning, the import, the implied meaning, or conclusions Bought to be proved by it, that is called the "internal examination". Considering where a particular work was written, who wrote it, what kind of language is used in it, to what extent good sense or sweetness of sound are to be found in it from the poetical point of view, whether the diction of it is grammatically correct, or it contains any old archaic constructions, what opinions, places or personages are mentioned in it, and whether or not such references enable you to determine the date of the work or the social conditions availing at the time when the work was written, whether the ideas in the book are original or are borrowed from someone else, and if borrowed, then which they are, and from whom they are borrowed, etc.–which is an exposition of the purely external aspects of the book,–is called the "external examination" of the work. Those ancient commentators who have written commentaries (bhāṣya) or criticisms (ṭīkā) on the Gītā have not given much attention to these external aspects. Because, considering these matters, while examining a supernatural work like the Bhagavadgītā, would, in their opinion, be like wasting time in merely counting the petals of an excellent flower, instead of admiring its scent, colour or beauty or in criticising the combs of a honey-comb full of honey; but following the example of Western critics, modern scholars are now devoting much attention to the external examination of the Gītā. One of these has counted the archaic constructions in the Gītā and come to the conclusion that this work must have been written at least a few centuries before the birth of Christ; and that, the doubt that the path of Devotion described, in the Gītā may have been adopted from the Christian religion (which was promulgated at a later date) is absolutely without foundation. Another scholar has taken it for granted that the atheistic opinions which have been mentioned in the 16th chapter of the Gītā, must, most probably, be Buddhistic, and come to the conclusion that the
Gītā must have come into existence after the date of Buddha. Another scholar says that as in the verse "brahma-sūtra padaiś-caiva" in the 13th chapter, the Brahma-Sūtras have been mentioned, the Gītā must have been written after the date of Brahma-Sūtras; on the other- hand, several others say that as the Gītā has undoubtedly been taken as an authority in some places at least in the Brahma- Sūtras, one cannot imagine that the Gītā was later than the Brahma-Sūtras. Still other scholars say that there could have been no time for Śrī Kṛṣṇa to recite the Bhagavadgītā of 700 stanzas to Arjuna on the battle-field during the Bhārata war. In the hurry and scurry of the war, the most that Śrī Kṛṣṇa could have told Arjuna would be about 40 or 50 very important and crucial verses or the import of them and that the expansion of these verses must have been made later on when the story of the war was recited by Sañjaya to Dhṛtarāṣṭra or by Vyāsa to Śuka or by Vaiśampayāna to Janamejaya, or by Sūta to Śaunaka, or at least when the original Bhārata was expanded by someone into the 'Mahābhārata'. When such an idea has taken root in the mind regarding the construction of the Gītā, scholars have taken to diving into the ocean of the Gītā and some scholars have declared seven and others twenty-eight or thirty-six or one hundred verses to be the original verses of the Gītā. Some have even gone to the length of saying that there was no occasion whatsoever for explaining to Arjuna the philosophy of the Brahman on the battle-field and that this excellent treatise on the Vedānta philosophy has been interpolated by someone later on into the Mahābhārata. It is not that these questions of external examination are totally useless. For instance, let us take the illustration of the petals of the flower or of the honeycomb which was mentioned above. In classifying vegetables, it is very necessary to consider the petals of their flowers; and it has now been proved mathematically that there are to be found combs for storage of honey in a honeycomb which are made with the idea of economising as far as possible the quantity of wax and thereby reducing as far as possible the surface area of the external envelopes or combs without in any way reducing the cubic contents of the comb in weight of honey, and that thereby the inherent skill and intelligence of the bees can be proved. Therefore, taking into account these uses of such examination, I too have in the appendix at the end of this book, considered some important points arising in the external examination of the Gītā. But those who want to understand the esoteric import of any book, should not waste time in these external examinations. In order to show the difference between those who understand the hidden message of Vākdevī and those who formally worship her, the poet Murārī has given a very excellent illustration. He says:–abdhir laṅghita eva vānarabhaṭaiḥ kiṃ tvasya gaṃbhīratāṃ I āpātālanimagnapīvaratanur-jānāti manthācalaḥ ॥
If one wants to know of the immense depth of the ocean, whom should he ask of it? It is true that on the occasion of the war between Rāma and Rāvaṇa, powerful and agile monkey warriors crossed the ocean without difficulty and reached Ceylon (Lanka); but how could these poor fellows have gained any knowledge of the immense depth of the ocean? The only one who can know truly of this depth is the great Mandarācala (Mandara mountain) rooted in pātāla, which was placed by the gods at the bottom of the ocean, in order to make of it a "manthā" or churner at the time of the churning of the ocean.
According to this logic of the poet Murārī, we must now take into account only the words of those scholars and learned persons who have churned the ocean of the Gītā in order to draw out its moral. The foremost of these writers is the writer of the Mahābhārata. One may even say that he is in a way the author of the present-day Gītā. I will, therefore, in the first place shortly explain what is the moral involved in the Gītā according to the writer of the Mahābhārata.
From the fact that the Gītā is called "Bhagavadgītā" or "the Upaniṣad sung by the Blessed Lord" one sees that the "advice given in the Gītā to Arjuna is principally of the Bhāgavata religion, that is to say, of the religion promulgated by the Bhagavan, because, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is known by the name "Śrī Bhagavān" usually in the Bhāgavata religion. It is stated in the commencement of the fourth chapter of the Gītā (4.1–3) that this religion was nothing new, but was something which had been preached by the Bhagavān to Vivasvān and by Vivasvān to Manu and by Mann to Ikṣvāku.
And in the exposition of the Nārāyaṇīya or Bhāgavata religion at the end of the Śāntiparva of the Mahābhārata, after the tradition of the Bhāgavata religion in the various incarnations of Brahmadeva, that is, during the various kalpas has been described, it is stated in the description of the Tretāyuga out of the present life of Brahmadeva, that:–
tretāyugādau ca tato Vivasvān Manave dadau |
manuś ca lokabhṛtiyarthaṃ sutāyekṣvākave dadau |
ikṣvākuṇā ca kathito vyāpya lokānavasthitaḥ ॥
(Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 348.51–52).
i.e., "The Bhāgavata religion has been traditionally handed down by Vivasvān to Manu and by Manu to Ikṣvāku".
These two traditions are consistent with each other (see my commentary on Bhagavadgītā 4.1). And in as much as the traditions of two different religions cannot be the same, one comes to the necessary conclusion, on seeing this unity of traditions, that the Gītā religion and Bhāgavata religion must be one and the same. But this matter does not depend on inference alone.
Because, in the exposition of the Nārāyaṇīya or Bhāgavata religion which is to be found in the Mahābhārata itself, Vaiśaṃpāyana has described the summary of the Gītā to Janamejaya in the following words:–
That is; "Oh excellent king, Janamejaya! this magnificent Bhāgavata religion together with its ritual was described by me to you concisely on a former occasion namely, in the Harigītā, that is, in the Bhagavadgītā."
And in the second foilowing chapter, it is clearly stated that this exposition of the Nārāyaṇīya religion:–
samupoḍheṣvanīkeṣu Kurupāṇḍavayor mṛdhe |
arjune vimanaske ca gītā Bhagavatā svayam ||
(Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 348. 8).
From this it follows beyond doubt that the word "Harigītā" in this place means the Bhagavadgītā and nothing else. Thus, the preceptorial tradition of these two religions is the same.
This "Bhāgavata" or "Nārāyaṇīya" religion which has been twice mentioned in the Gītā as being the subject matter of exposition, has the other names of "Sātvata" or "Ekāntika" religion, and where that religion is being expounded in the Mahābhārata, its two-fold quality is described thus:–
nārāyaṇaparo dharmaḥ punarāvṛttidurlabhaḥ |
pravṛttilakṣaṇaś caiva dharmo Nārāyaṇātmakaḥ ||
(Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 347.80–81)
And then it is clearly explained how this religion is Energistic.
The word "Energism" (pravṛtti) is understood in popular acceptance as meaning, performing desirelessly the duties which pertain to one's status" in life, according to the arrangement of the four castes, without taking up Asceticism (saṃnyāsa). It, therefore, follows that the sermon given in the Gītā to Arjuna is of the Bhāgavata religion and, in as much as that religion is Energistic, it also follows that the writer of the Mahābhārata looked upon that advice also as Energistic. Nevertheless, it is not that the Gītā. contains only the Energistic Bhāgavata religion.
Vaiśaṃpāyana has further said to Janamejaya:–
yatīnām cāpi yo dharmaḥ sa te pūrvaṃ nṛpottama |
kithito Harigītāsu samāsavidhikalpitaḥ ||
(Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 348.53).
That is: "this Bhāgavata religion and side hy side with it (cāpi) the renunciatory religion of ascetics (saṃnyāsi) together with the relative ritual has, excellent King, been explained hy me to you before in the Bhagavadgītā".
Still, although the renunciatory religion has in this way been mentioned in the Gītā side hy side with the energistic religion of Action, yet the tradition of the Gītā religion of Manu, Ikṣvāku etc. which has been mentioned in the Gītā does not at all apply to the renunciatory religion; it is consistent only with the tradition of the Bhāgavata religion. It, therefore, follows from the statements referred to above that according to the writer of the Mahābhārata, the advice which has been given to Arjuna in the Gītā relates principally to the Energistic Bhāgavata religion traditionally handed down from Manu to Ikṣvāku etc., and that it contains a reference to the renunciatory path of ascetics only as a side reference. That this progressive or Energistic Nārāyaṇīya religion in the Mahābhārata and the Bhāgavata religion of the Bhāgavata-Purāṇa are fundamentally one and the same, will be seen to be quite clear from the statements made by Pṛthu, Priyavrata, Prahlāda and other devotees of the Blessed Lord or from the other descriptions of the path of Desireless Action which are to be found elsewhere in the Bhāgavata (Bhāgavata. 4.22.51–52; 7.10.23 and 11.4.6). But the true purpose of the Bhāgavata-Purāṇa is not to justify the Energistic principles in favour of Action contained in Bhāgavata religion. This justification is to be found in the Mahābhārata or principally in the Gītā. But, it is stated in the earlier chapters of the Bhāgavata, that while justifying these principles, Śrī Vyāsa forgot to define the moral value of the devotional aspect of the Bhāgavata religion, and as Desireless Action (naiṣkarmya) by itself is useless without Devotion (Bhāgavata. 1.5.12), the Bhāgavata-Purāṇa had to be subsequently written to make up for this deficit. From this, the real import of the Bhāgavata-Purāṇa becomes quite clear; and on that account, the Energistic aspect of the Bhāgavata religion has not been as forcefully emphasised in the Bhāgavata as the devotional aspect of devotion to the Blessed Lord, which has been explained by the recitation of numerous stories. Nay, the writer of the Bhāgavata says that all yoga of Energism (Karma-Yoga) is useless in the absence of Devotion (Bhāg 1.5.34). Therefore, the Bhāgavata-Purāṇa which lays stress on Devotion is not–although it relates to the Bhāgavata religion–as useful for determining the moral laid down in the Gītā, as the Nārāyaṇīya Upākhyāna of the Bhārata itself which contains the Gītā; and if the Bhāgavata-Purāṇa is made use of for that purpose, then one must do so, bearing clearly in mind, that both the object and the time of the Bhārata and the Bhāgavata are quite different. The various questions as to what were the original forms of the renunciatory religion of monks and of the Energistic Bhāgavata religion, what the reasons were for this difference, in what respects the form of the original Bhāgavata religion has changed in present times etc. will be considered later on in detail.
I have so far dealt with what the moral of the Gītā is according to the writer of the Mahābhārata himself. Let us now see what the purport of the Gītā is according to those persons who have written commentaries (bhāṣya) and criticisms on the Gītā. Among these commentaries and criticisms, the bhāṣya on the Gītā, of Śrī Śaṃkarācārya is considered to be the most ancient. But there is no doubt that there had been numerous other commentaries or criticisms on the Gītā before that date. These commentaries, however, are not now available and therefore, there are now no means for determining in what way the Gītā was interpreted in the interval between the date of the Mahābhārata and the birth of Śaṃkarācārya. Nevertheless, it is quite clear from the references to the opinions of these earlier critics which are to be found in the Śāṃkarabhāṣya itself (Gītā Śāṃkarabhāṣya Introductions to Chap. 1 and 3) that the commentators who had come before Śaṃkarācārya had placed, an Energistic interpretation on the Gītā, as combining Action with Spiritual Realisation, that is to say, to the effect that every man who had acquired spiritual knowledge had nevertheless to continue performing the duties pertaining to his particular status in life so long as he lived–as had been done by the writer of the Mahābhārata. But as this doctrine of the Vedic Karma-Yoga was not palatable to Śaṃkarācārya, he has in the commencement of the Bhāṣya, in the introduction, clearly stated that he had written the Bhāṣya with the sole intention, of refuting that opinion and of explaining what the esoteric moral of the Gītā was according to himself. As a matter of fact, this is exactly what the word "bhāṣya" means. The two words "commentary" (bhāṣya) and "criticism" (tīkā) are, it is true, often used as being synonymous. But ordinarily "tīkā" means explaining the plain meaning of the original work and making the understanding of the words in it easy; but the writer of the "bhāṣya" does not remain satisfied with that; he critically and logically examines the entire work and explains what its purport is according to his opinion and how that work has to be interpreted consistently with that purport. That is the nature of the Śāṃkarabhāṣya on the Gītā. But the different way in which the Ācārya has interpreted the moral of the Gītā requires the previous history to be shortly mentioned before one understands the underlying reason for it. The Vedic religion was not purely ritualistic (tāntrika) and the Upaniṣads had minutely considered even in very ancient times, the deep underlying import of it. But as these Upaniṣads have been written by different ṛṣis at different times, they contain various kinds of thought and some of them are apparently mutually contradictory. Bādarāyaṇācārya has reconciled these inconsistencies and he has in his Brahma-Sūtras harmonised all the Upaniṣads; and on that account, the Vedānta-Sūtras are considered to be as authoritative on this matter as the Upaniṣads themselves. These Vedānta-Sūtras are also known by the other names of "Brahma-Sūtras" or "Śārīraka-Sūtras". Yet the consideration of the philosophy of the Vedic religion does not end here. Because, as the spiritual knowledge in the Upaniṣads is primarily ascetical, that is renunciatory, and as the Vedānta-Sūtras have been written only with the intention of harmonising the Upaniṣads, we find nowhere even in the Upaniṣads any detailed and logical exposition of the Energistic Vedic religion. Therefore, when as stated above, the Energistic Bhagavadgītā for the first time supplemented the philosophy of the Vedic religion it became, as a supplement to the religious philosophy in the Vedas and in the Upaniṣads, a work as authoritative and acceptable as both; and later on, the Upaniṣads, the Vedānta-Sūtras and the Bhagavadgītā acquired the collective name of "Prasthānatrayī" (the Trinity of Systems). "Prasthāna-trayī" means the three principal authoritative works or pillars of the Vedic religion which systematically and scientifically expounded the two paths of Renunciation (nivṛtti) and Energism (pravṛtti). When once the Bhagavadgītā came in this way to be included in the "Prasthāna-trayī" and the sovereignty of this "Prasthānatrayī" came to be firmly established, all religious opinions or cults which were inconsistent with these three works or which could not find a place in them, came to be considered as inferior and unacceptable by the followers of the Vedic religion. The net result of this was that the protagonist Ācāryas of each of the various cults which came into existence in India after the extinction of the Buddhistic religion, such as, the Monistic (advaita), the Qualified-Monistic (viśiṣṭādvaita), the Dualistic (dvaita) and the Purely Monistic (śuddhādvaita) cults with the super- added principles of Devotion (bhakti) or Renunciation (saṃnyāsa) had to write commentaries on all the three parts of the Prasthāna-trayī (and, necessarily on the Bhagavadgītā also), and had somehow or other to prove that according to these three works, which had become authoritative and acceptable as Scriptures long before those cults came into existence, the particular cult promulgated by them was the correct cult, and that the other cults were inconsistent with those Scriptures. Because, if they had admitted that these authoritative religious treatises would support other cults besides those propounded by themselves, the value of their particular cult would to that extent suffer and that was not desirable for any of these protagonists. When once this rule of writing sectarian (sāṃpradāyika) commentaries on the Prasthāna-trayī supporting a particular doctrine came into vogue, different learned writers began to propound in their criticisms their own interpretations of the moral of the Gītā on the authority of the commentaries pertaining to their particular doctrine and such criticisms began to gain authority in those particular sects. The commentaries or criticisms which are now available on the Gītā, are more or less all of this kind, that is to say, they are written by Ācāryas pertaining to diverse sects; and on that account, although the original Bhagavadgītā propounds only one theme, yet it has come to be believed that the same Gītā supports all the various cults. The first, that is the most ancient of these cults is that of Śrī Śaṃkarācārya, and from the point of view of philosophy, that cult has become the one most accepted in India. The first Śaṃkarācārya was born in the year 710 of the Śālivāhana era (788 A. D.) and in the 32nd year of his age, he entered the caves (Śaka. 710 to 742.) i.e. 788–820 A.D.
The Ācārya was a superman and a great sage and he had by his brilliant intellectual power refuted the Jain and the Buddhistic doctrines which had then gained ground on all sides and established his own Non-Dualistic (advaita) doctrine; and, as is well-known, he established four monasteries (maṭha) in the four directions of India for the protection of the Vedic religion contained in the Śrutis and Smṛtis and for the second time in the Kali-Yuga gave currency to the Vedic renunciatory doctrine or cult of Asceticism (saṃnyāsa). Whatever religious doctrine is taken, it naturally falls into two divisions; one is the philosophical aspect of it and the other, the actual mode of life prescribed by it. In the first part, the meaning of Release (mokṣa) is usually explained in a scientific and logical way after explaining what conclusions must be drawn as to the nature of the Parameśvara after a proper consideration of the material body (piṇḍa) in its relation to the Cosmos (brahmāṇḍa); in the other part, there is an explanation of how a man has to lead his life in this world, so that such mode of life should become a means for obtaining that Release (mokṣa). According to the first of these, that is to say, according to the philosophical aspects of the doctrine, Śaṃkarācārya says that (1) the multiplicity of the various objects in the world, such as, "I", "You, or all the other things which are visible to the eye, is not a true multiplicity, but that there is in all of them a single, pure, and eternal Highest Self (Parabrahman), and various human organs experience a sense of multiplicity as a result of the Illusion (māyā) of that Parabrahman; (2) the Self (Ātman) of a man is also fundamentally of the same nature as the Parabrahman; and (3) that it is not possible for anyone to obtain Release (mokṣa) except after the complete Realisation (jñāna) or personal experience of this identity of the Ātman and the Parabrahman. This is known as Non-Dualism (advaita-vāda), because, the sum and substance of this doctrine is, that there is no other independent and real substance except one pure selfenlightened, eternal, and Released Parabrahman; that the multiplicity which is visible to the eyes is an optical illusion or an imaginary experience resulting from the effect of Illusion (māyā); and that Māyā is not some distinct, real, or independent substance, but is unreal (mithyā); and, when one has to consider only the philosophical aspect of the doctrine, it is not necessary to go deeper into this opinion of Śrī Śaṃkarācārya. But that does not end there. Coupled with the
Non-Dualistic philosophy there is another proposition of the Śāṃkara doctrine relating to the mode of life, that, although it is necessary to perform the Actions pertaining to the state of a householder in order to acquire the capacity of realising the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman by the purification of the mind, yet it will be impossible to obtain Release unless one discontinues those actions later on and ultimately gives them up and takes up saṃnyāsa (asceticism); because, in as much as Action (karma) and Knowledge (jñāna) are mutually antogonistic like light and darkness, the knowledge of the Brahman does not become perfect unless a man has entirely conquered all root tendencies (vāsanā) and given up all Actions. This second proposition is known as the Path of Renunciation (nivṛtti-mārga), or because in this path one ultimately gives up all Actions and remains steeped in Knowledge or Realisation, it is also called "saṃnyāsa-niṣṭha" (the Path of Renunciation) or "jñānaniṣṭha" (the Path of Realisation). It is stated in the Śāṃkarabhāṣya on the Upaniṣads and on the Brahmasūtras that not only the Non-Dualistic philosophy but also the Path of Renunciation that is to say, both the aspects of the cult of Śaṃkara have been preached in those books; and in the Bhāṣya on the Gītā, definite conclusion has been drawn that the teaching of the Bhagavadgītā is the same (Gītā Śāṃkarabhāṣya Introduction; and Brahmā-Sū. Śāṃ. Bhā. 2.1.14); and as authority for that he has quoted such sentences from the Gītā as "jñānagniḥ sarva karmāṇi bhasmasāt kurute" i.e., "all Action (karma) is reduced to ashes in the fire of jñāna" (Bhagavadgītā 4.37) and "sarva karmākhilaṃ Pārtha jñāne parisamāpyate" all Actions culminate in Realisation (jñāna)" (Bhagavadgītā 4.33). In short, the Śāṃkarabhāṣya has been written in order to show that the teaching of the Gītā is consistent with that particular Vedic path which–after proving it to be the most excellent one–was recommended by Śaṃkarācārya, after he had refuted the Buddhistic doctrines and further, to show that the Gītā is not in favour of the combination of Knowledge with Action, which was prescribed by the previous commentators: and to show that the Blessed Lord has in the Gītā preached to Arjuna the doctrine of the Śāṃkara cult, that Action is only a means of acquiring Knowledge and is inferior and that Release is ultimately obtained only by Knowledge combined with Renunciation of Action. If there had been any commentary on the Gītā before the date of Śaṃkarācārya. interpreting it as favouring Asceticism, such a commentary is not now available.
Therefore, we must any that the first attempt to deprive the Gītā of its Energistic form and to give it a Renunciatory doctrinal form was made by the Śāṃkarabhāṣya. Those commentators on the Gītā who came after Śrī Śaṃkarācārya and who followed his doctrines, such as, Madhusūdana and others, have in this matter principally adopted the procedure of the Ācārya. Yet, later on, there came into existence another queer idea, namely that the principal sacred canon enunciated in the Chāndogyopaniṣad, namely, "TAT TVAM ASI " i.e., "THAT (Parabrahman) ART THOU (Śvetaketu) ", which is one of the sacred canons of the Non-Dualistic cult, is the canon which has been expatiated upon in the eighteen chapters of the Gītā, but that the Blessed Lord has changed the order of the three parts of that sacred canon and taken "tvam" first and "tat" after that and "asi" last, and He has in this new order impartially allotted six chapters of the Gītā to each of these parts equally! The Paiśāca-bhāṣya on the Gītā does not pertain to any particular doctrine but is independent and it is believed to have been written by Hanumān i.e., by Māruti. But such is not the case. This Bhāṣya has been written by the philosopher Hanumān, who has also written a criticism on the Bhāgavata and it supports the path of Renunciation and in it, in some places, interpretations have been copied verbatim from the Śāṃkarabhāṣya. In the same way, the older or modern Marathi translations of or commentaries on the Gītā principally follow the Śāṃkarabhāṣya; and the English translation of the Bhagavadgītā by the late Kashinath Trimbak Telang, published in the Sacred Books of East Series brought out by Professor Max Müller, is stated by him at the end at the introduction to that translation, to be as far as possible consistent with Śrī Śaṃkarācārya and the commentators of his school.
When once in this way, doctrinal commentaries on the Gītā and on the other two works out of the Prasthāna-trayī began to be written, the same course was later on followed by persons holding other doctrinal views. About 250 years after the coming to existence of the Śāṃkara tradition which maintained the theory of Illusion (māyā). Non-Dualism (advaita) and Renunciation (saṃnyāsa), Śrī Rāmānujācārya (born Saka 938 i.e., 1016 A. D.) founded the Qualified-Monism (viśiṣṭādvaita) tradition; and in order to substantiate that cult he also, like Śrī Śaṃkarācārya has written independent commentaries (bhāṣya) on the Prasthāna-trayī including, of course, the Gītā. This school is of the opinion that the doctrines of the Unreality of Illusion (māyā) and Non-Dualism laid down by Śaṃkarācārya were not correct and that although the three principles of Consciousness (jīva), Cosmos (jagat) and Īśvara were independent, yet in as much as jīva, i.e., consciousness (cit), and the Cosmos (which is acit i.e., unconscious) were both the body of one and the same Īśvara, therefore, the cit-acit-bodied Īśvara was one and one alone and that out of this subtle 'cit' and 'acit' in the body of the Īśvara, the gross cit and the gross acit or the numerous forms of Life and the Cosmos came into existence later on; and Rāmānujācārya says that from the philosophical point of view, this is the doctrine which has been enunciated by the Upaniṣads and the Brahma-Sūtras (Bhagavadgītā Rāmā. 2.12; 13.2). One may even say that the works of Rāmānujācārya were responsible for the Qualified-Monism doctrine finding its way into the Bhāgavata religion; because, the previous exposition of the Bhāgavata religion to be found in the Mahābhārata and in the Gītā is seen to be on the basis of the Non-Dualistic cult. As Rāmānujācārya belonged to the Bhāgavata religion, he ought to have naturally realised that the Gītā enunciated the Energistic path of Karma-Yoga. But as at the date of Rāmānujācārya, the Karma-Yoga of the original Bhāgavata religion had practically come to an end and it had acquired a Qualified-Monistic (viśiṣṭādvaita) form in its philosophical aspect, and principally a Devotional form from the point of view of the mode of life, Rāmānujācārya drew the further conclusions that although jñāna, karma and bhakti (Devotion) are all three referred to in the Gītā, yet the doctrine enunciated in the Gītā is in essence Qualified-Monistic from the point of view of philosophy, and of Devotion to the Vāsudeva from the point of view of mode of life; and that the Path of Action (karma-niṣṭhā) was something which led to Path of knowledge (jñāna-niṣṭhā) and was not something independent (Bhagavadgītā Rā. Bhā. 16.1 and 3.1). But although Rāmānujācārya had effected a change in the cult of Śāṃkara by substituting the Qualified-Monism for Non-Duality and Devotion for Renunciation, yet if Devotion is looked upon as the highest duty of man from the point of view of mode of life, then the lifelong performance of the worldly duties pertaining to one's particular status, becomes an inferior mode of life; and on that account the interpretation put on the Gītā by Rāmānujācārya must also be looked upon as in a way in favour of Renunciation of Action. Because, when once the mind has become purified as a result of an Energistic mode of life, and man has attained Realisation (jñāna), whether he, thereafter, adopts the fourth stage of life and remains steeped in the contemplation of the Brahman or he is steeped in the unbounded loving worship of the Vāsudeva is just the same from the point of view of Action (karma); that is to say, both are Renunciatory. And the same objection applies to the other cults which came into existence after the date of Rāmānujācārya. Although Rāmānujācārya may have been right in saying that the theory of the Non-Reality of Illusion is wrong and that one ultimately attains Release only by devotion to the Vāsudeva, yet looking upon the Parabrahman and the Conscious Ego (jīva) as ONE in one way, and different in other ways is a contradiction in terms and an, inconsistency. Therefore, a third school which came into existence after the date of Śrī Rāmānujācārya, is of the opinion, that both must be looked upon as eternally different from each other and that there never can be any unity between them, whether partial or total, and therefore, this school is known as the Dualist school. The protagonist of this school was Śrī Madhvācārya, alias Srīmadānandatīrtha. He died in Śaka 1120 (1198 A.D.) and according to the Madhva school, he was then 79 years old. But Dr. Bhandarkar has in the English Book "Vaiṣṇavism, Śaivism, and other sects" recently published by him, established on the authority of stone inscriptions and other books (see page 59) that Madhvācārya must be taken to have lived from Śaka 1119 to 1198 (1197 to 1276 A. D.). Madhvācārya has shown in his commentaries on the Prasthāna-trayī (which includes the Gītā) that all these sacred books are in favour of the theory of Duality. In his commentary on the Gītā, he says that although Desireless Action has been extolled in the Gītā, yet Desireless Action is only a means and Devotion is the true and ultimate cult, and that when once one has become perfect by following the Path of Devotion, whether one thereafter performs or does not perform Action is just the same. It is true that there are some statements in the Gītā such as, "dhyānāt karmaphalatyāgaḥ" i.e., the abandonment of the fruit of the action (i.e. Desireless Action) is superior to the meditation on the Parameśvara (i.e., Devotion) " etc. which are inconsistent with this doctrine; but, says the Mādhvabhāṣya on the Gītā, such sentences are not to be understood literally but as mere expletives and unimportant (Bhagavadgītā Mā. Bhā. 12.30). The fourth school is the school of Śrī Vallabhācārya (born in Śaka 1401 i.e., 1479 A. D.) This is also a Vaiṣṇava School like those of Rāmānuja and Madhvācārya. However, the opinions of this school Regarding the Conscious Ego (jīva) A Cosmos (jagat), and Īśvara are different from the opinions of the Qualified-Monism or the Dualistic Schools. This school accepts the doctrine that the
Conscious Ego (jīva) when pure and unblinded by Illusion (māyā) and the Parabrahman are one, and are not two distinct things; and that is why, this school is known as the pure NonDualistic (śuddhādvaita), school. Nevertheless this School differs from the Śāṃkara school on account of the other doctrines pertaining to it, namely that, the Conscious Ego (jīva) and the Brahman cannot be looked upon as one and the same in the same sense as done by Śrī Śaṃkarācārya but that the various Souls are particles of the Īśvara, like sparks of fire; that the Cosmos, which is composed of Illusion, is not unreal (mithyā) but Illusion is a Force which has separated itself from the Īśvara at the desire of the Parameśvara, that the Conscious Ego (jīva) which has become dependent on Illusion, cannot acquire the knowledge necessary for obtaining Release except by divine pleasure; and that, therefore, Devotion to the Blessed Lord is the most important means of obtaining Release. This pleasure of the Parameśvara is also known by the other names of 'puṣṭi,' 'poṣaṇa' etc. and, therefore, this cult is also known as 'puṣṭi-mārga'. In the books of this school on the Gītā, such as the Tattvadīpikā And others, it is laid down that in as much as the Blessed Lord has, after first preaching to Arjuna the Sāṃkhya philosophy and the Karma-Yoga, ultimately made him perfect by treating him with the nectar of the philosophy of Devotion, Devotion but above all, the Devotion included in 'puṣṭi-mārga'–which entails the abandonment of home and domestic ties–is the most concentrated moral of the Gītā and that on that account the Blessed Lord has in the end given the advice:–"sarvadharmān parityajya māmekaṃ śaraṇaṃ vraja"–i.e., "give up all other religions and surrender yourself to Me alone" (Bhagavadgītā 18.66). Besides these, there is another Vaiṣṇava cult, entailing the worship of Rādhākṛṣṇa, which was promulgated by Nimbārka. Dr. Bhandarkar has established that this Ācārya lived after the date of Rāmānujācārya and before the date of Madhvācārya; that is to say about Saka. 1084 (1162 A. D.) he opinion of Nimbārkācārya regarding the Conscious Ego (jīva), the Cosmos (jagat) and the Īśvara is, that although these three an different from each other, yet the existence and activity of the Conscious Ego (jīva) and of the Cosmos are not independent but depend upon the desire of the Īśvara; and that the subtle elements of the Conscious Ego (jīva) and of the Cosmos are contained in the fundamental Īśvara. In order to prove this doctrine Nimbārka has written an independent bhāṣya on the Vedānta-sūtras, and Keśava Kaśmīri Bhattācārya, who belongs to this school has written a commentary on the Bhagavadgītā called 'Tattvaprakāśikā' and has shown in it that the moral laid down by the Gītā is consistent with the doctrines of this school. In order to differentiate this school from the Qualified-Monism school of Rāmānujācārya, one may refer to it as the Dual-Non-Dual (dvaitādvaita) school. It is quite clear that these different Devotional sub-cults of Duality and Qualified-Monism which discard the Śaṃkara doctrine of Māyā have come into existence because of the belief that Devotion, that is, the worship of a tangible thing, loses foundation and to a certain extent becomes forceless, unless one looks upon the visible objects in the world as real. But one cannot say that in order to justify Devotion, the theories of Non-duality or of Illusion have to be discarded. The saints in the Mahārāṣṭra have substantiated the doctrine of Devotion without discarding the doctrines of Illusion and Non-Duality; and this course seems to have been followed from before the time of Śrī Śaṃkarācārya. In this cult, the doctrines of Non-Duality, the illusory nature of things, and the necessity of abandonment of Action which are the concomitant doctrines of the Śaṃkara cult are taken for granted. But the advice of the followers of this school, such as the Saint Tukaram, is that Devotion is the easiest of the means by which Release in the shape of realising the identity of the Brahman and the Ātman, can be obtained:–"if you want to reach the Īśvara, then this is the easiest way" (Tukā. Gā. 3002.2); and they say that the path of Devotion based on Non-Duality is the principal moral of the Gītā in as much as the Blessed Lord himself has first told Arjuna that "kleśodhi-katarasteṣām avyaktāsaktacetasām" (Bhagavadgītā 12.5), i.e., "concentrating the mind on the Intangible Brahman is more difficult" and subsequently told him that: "bhaktāstetīva me priyāḥ" i.e., "my devotees are most beloved of me" (Bhagavadgītā 12.20). The summing up of the Gītā. which has been made by Sridhar Svāmī in his commentary on the Gītā. (Bhagavadgītā 18.78) is of this kind. But, the most valuable work relating to this school, though in the Marathi language, is the Jñāneśvarī. In this work it is stated that the Doctrine of Karma is dealt with in the first four out of the 18 chapters of the Gītā, the Doctrine of Devotion in the next seven and the Doctrine of Jñāna in the subsequent chapters and Jñāneśvara himself has at the end of his book said that he has written his commentary "after consulting the Bhāṣyakāras (Śaṃkarācārya)." But, as Jñāneśvara Maharaja had the wonderful skill of expounding the meaning of the Gītā, by numerous beautiful illustrations and comparisons and also, as he has propounded the doctrines of Desireless Action and principally the doctrine of Devotion in a much better way than Śrī Śaṃkarācārya, the Jñāneśvarī must be looked upon as an independent treatise on the Gītā. Jñāneśvara Maharaja himself was a yogī. Therefore, he has written a very detailed commentary on that verse in the sixth chapter of the Gītā which deals with the practice of the Pātañjala Yoga, and in it he has said that the words of the Blessed Lord at the end of the chapter namely: "tasmādyoyī bhavārjuna"...i.e., "therefore, Oh Arjuna, become a Yogi, that is, become proficient in the practice of the Yoga" show that the Blessed Lord has declared the Pātañjala Yoga to be the 'pantharāja' i.e., the most excellent of all paths. In short, different commentators have interpreted the Gītā in their own ways by first declaring the Energistic path of Action (Karma-Yoga) preached by the Gītā to be inferior, that is to say, merely a means for Realisation (jñāna), and then going on to say that the Gītā has preached the various philosophical doctrines, as also the highest duties from the point of view of Release, which are prescribed, by their respective schools, such as:–Non-Dualism based on the doctrine of Illusion, coupled with Renunciation of Action; or Qualified-Monism based on the reality of Illusion, coupled with Devotion to the Vāsudeva; or Dualism, coupled with worship of the Viṣṇu; or pure Nondualism, coupled with Devotion; or the Non-Dualism of the Śaṃkara cult, coupled with Devotion; or Pātañjala yoga, coupled with Devotion; or Devotion pure and simple; or Yoga pure and simple; or Realisation of the Brahman pure and simple,–all of which are paths of Release, based on Renunciation. No one says that the Bhagavadgītā looks upon the Karma-Yoga as the most excellent path of life. It is not that I alone say so. Even the well-known Marathi poet Vāman Pandit is of the same opinion. In his exhaustive commentary on the Gītā, in the Marathi language known as YathārthaDīpikā, he first says:–"But Oh, Blessed Lord, in this Kali-yuga each one interpretes the Gītā according to his own opinion", and he goes on to say:–"Everyone on some pretext or other gives a different meaning to the Gītā but I do not like this their doing, though they are great; what shall I do, Oh, Blessed Lord?" This is his complaint to the Blessed Lord. Seeing this confusion of the diverse opinions of the commentators, some scholars say that in as much as these various traditionary doctrines of Release are mutually contradictory and one cannot definitely say that any particular one of them has been recommended by the Gītā, one has to come to the conclusion that the Blessed Lord has on the battle-field at the commencement of the war described individually, precisely, and skilfully all those various means of attaining Release–and specially, the three paths of Action (karma), Devotion (bhakti), and Realisation (jñāna) and satisfied Arjuna in whose mind there had arisen a confusion about these diverse means of attaining Release. It is true that some commentators do maintain that these descriptions of the various means of Release are not several or unconnected with each other, but the Gītā has harmonised them with each other; and finally, there are also to be found others who say that although the teaching of the Brahman in the Gītā is apparently easy, yet the true import of it is very deep and no one can understand it except from the mouth of a preceptor (Bhagavadgītā 4.34.), and that though there may be numerous criticisms on the Gītā, yet, there is no other way to realise the true meaning of it, except from the mouth of a preceptor.
These numerous interpretations of the Bhagavadgītā, namely, the Energistic interpretation consistent with the Bhāgavata religion made by the writer of the Mahābhārata and the other purely Renunciatory ones made by several later Ācāryas, posts, yogis, or devotees of the Blessed Lord, consistently with the different traditionary schools to which they respectively belonged, are likely to cause confusion and one will naturally ask whether it is possible that all these mutually contradictory interpretations can be put on one and the same work; and if it is not only possible but even desirable, then why so? No one can entertain any doubt that these various Ācāryas who wrote the commentaries were learned, religious and extremely pureminded. Nay, one may even say that the world has not to this day produced a philosopher of the calibre of Śrī. Śaṃkarācārya. Then why should there have been such a difference between him and the later Ācāryas? The Gītā is not such a pot of jugglery, that any one can extract any meaning he likes out of it. The Gītā had been written long before these various schools of thought came into existence, and it was preached by Śrī Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna not to increase his confusion but to remove it; and it contains a preaching of one definite creed to Arjuna (Bhagavadgītā 5.1, 2), and the effect of that advice on Arjuna has also been what it ought to have been. Then, why should there be so much confusion about the teaching of the Gītā? This question seems a really difficult one. But the answer of it is not as difficult as would appear, at first sight. Suppose, looking at a sweet and nice food-preparation, one says that it is made of wheat, and another one says it is made of ghee and a third one says, it is made of sugar, according to his own taste; then, which one of them will you call wrong? Each one is correct in his own way and ultimately the question what that food-preparation is, remains unsolved. Because, as it is possible to mix wheat, clarified butter, and sugar and to prepare from them various kinds of eatables such as 'ladūs', 'jilebi', 'ghīwar' etc. the particular eatable cannot be sufficiently defined by saying that ghee or wheat or sugar is the principle element in it. Just as when the ocean was churned, though one person got nectar, another one got poison, and others got Lakṣmī, Airāvata, Kaustubha, Pārijāta, and other articles, yet the real nature of the ocean was not thereby fixed, so also is the case of the commentators who have churned the ocean of the Gītā on a doctrinal basis, or one may even say that just as, the same Śrī, Kṛṣṇa Bhagavāna who had entered the Durbar at the time of the assassination of Kaṃsa, appeared to various persons in different forms, that is, he appeared to athletes like adamant and to women like the God of Beauty (Madana) and to parents like their own son etc. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatpurāṇa 10. Pū. 43.17), so also although the Bhagavadgītā is one and the same, people following different cults see it in a different light. Whatever religious cult may be taken, it is quite clear that ordinarily it must be based on some authoritative religious text or other; otherwise that cult will be considered to be totally without authority and will not be acceptable to people. Therefore, however numerous the different cults of the Vedic religion may be, yet with the exception of a few specified things, such as, the Īśvara, the Conscious Ego and the Cosmos and their mutual interrelations, all other things are common to all the various cults; and therefore, in the various doctrinal commentaries or criticisms which have been written on our authoritative religious texts, ninety per cent of the statements or stanzas in the original work are interpreted in more or less the same way. The only difference is as regards the remaining statements or doctrines. If these statements are taken in their, literal meaning, they cannot possibly be equally appropriate to all the cults. Therefore, different commentators, who have propounded different doctrines, usually accept as important only such of these statements as are consistent with their own particular cult, and either say that the others are unimportant, or skilfully twist the meanings of such statements as might be totally inconsistent with their cults, or wherever possible, they draw hidden meanings or inferences favourable to them- selves from easy and plain statements, and say that the particular work is an authority for their particular cult. For instance, see my commentary on Gītā 2.12 and 16; 3.19; 6.3 and 18.2. But it will be easily seen that laying down in this way that a book has a particular purport, and examining in the first place, without prejudice, the whole of the work, and drawing its implied purport without insisting that one's own cult is propounded by the Gītā, or on any such other thing, are two totally different things.
If one gives up the doctrinal method of determining the purport of a book as faulty, one must show what other means there are for determining the import of the Gītā. There is an old and more or less generally accepted rule on this matter in the form of a verse of the Mīmāṃsā writers, who were extremely skilful in determining the meanings of a particular book, chapter, or sentence.
That verse is as follows:
upakramopasaṃhārau abhyāso 'pūrvatā phalam |
arthavādopapattī ca liṅgaṃ tātpariyanirṇaye ||
The Mīmāṃsā writers say that if one has to find out the purport of any particular writing, chapter, or book, then the seven things mentioned in the above verse are necessary (i.e., liṅga). and all these seven things have got to be considered. The first two out of these are 'upakramopasaṃhārau', which mean the beginning and the end of the book. Every writer starts writing a book with some motive or other in his mind; and when that particular object has been achieved, he completes his book. Therefore, the commencement and the end of the work have first to be taken into account in determining the purport of the book. Geometry has defined a straight line as a line which goes from the point of commencement straight to the last point without swerving above or below or to the right or to the left. The same rule applies to the purport of a book. That purport which is properly fixed between the beginning and the end of the book and does not leave or divert from either of them, is the proper purport of it. If there are other roads for going from the beginning to the end, all those roads must be considered as crooked roads or bye-paths. When the direction of the purport of a work has in this way been fixed with due consideration for the commencement and the end, one should see what things are told repeatedly in it, that is to say, of what things an 'abhyāsa' has been made. Because, whatever thing is intended by the writer of a book to be proved, he shows numerous reasons in support of it on numerous occasions and refers to it as a definite proposition over and over again, saying each time:–"therefore, this thing is proved", or, "therefore, this particular thing has got to be done", The fourth and the fifth means for determining the purport of the work are the new-ness (apūrvatā) and the effect (phala) of it. 'Apūrvatā' means something new. Unless the writer has something new to tell, he is usually not induced to write a new book; at any rate, that used to be so when there were no printing presses. Therefore, before determining the purport of a book one has in the first instance to see what it contains which is new, particular, or not previously known. In the same way. if some particular result has been achieved by that writing or by that book, that is to say, if it has had some definite effect, then one must also take into account that result or effect. Because, in as much as the book has been written with the express intention that that particular result or effect should be achieved, the object of the writer becomes clearer from the effect which has been achieved. The sixth and the seventh means are 'arthavāda' and 'upapatti '. 'Arthavāda ' is a technical term of the vyavasāyātmikā school (Mīmāṃsā-Sūtras 1.2.1–18). Although the thing about which a statement is to be made or the fact which is to be proved is fixed, the writer nevertheless, deals with many other things as occasion arises, whether by way of illustration or by way of comparison in the course of the argument, and whether for showing consistency or for showing the similarity or the difference, or in order to support his own side by showing the faults of the opposite side, or for the sake of grace or as an exaggeration, or by way of stating the previous history of the question, or for some other reason, with the idea of supplementing the argument, and sometimes without any reason whatsoever. The statements, which are made by the writer on such occasions, are given by way of glorification merely or of further elucidation or are only supplemental, though they might not be totally irrelevant to the subject-matter to be proved; and therefore, it is not certain that such statements are always true.
One may even say that the writer is not particularly careful to see whether or not the statements made in the arthavāda, are literally true; and therefore, one is not justified in looking upon the statements made in an arthavāda, as authoritative, that is to say, as indicating the conclusions arrived at by the writer with reference to the various subject-matters in it. Looking upon them as pure glorifications, that is to say, as hollow, irrelevant, or mere praise, the Mīmāṃsā writers call them 'arthavāda', and they do not take into account these statements in determining the final conclusion to be drawn from the work. Even after all this, one has still to sea ultimately the upapatti. 'Upapatti' or 'upapādana' is the name given to the refuting of all things which would prove the contrary case and the subsequent logical and systematic martialling of things, which support one's own case when you are proving a particular point. When the two ends being the upakrama and the upasaṃhāra, have once been fixed, the intervening line can be defined by the consideration of the arthavāda and the upapatti. As the arthavāda shows you what subject matter is irrelevant or merely auxilliary, the man who attempts to determine the conclusion of the book, does not touch the several bye-paths when once the arthavāda has been determined; and when once all the bye- paths have been abandoned and the reader or the critic takes to the correct path, the ladder of upapatti like the wave of the sea pushes him forward from stage to stage further and further from the beginning until at last he reaches the conclusion. As these rules of determining the purport of a book laid down by our ancient vyavasāyātmikā writers are equally accepted by learned persons in all countries, it is not necessary to further labour their usefulness or necessity.
Here someone may ask:–Did not the various Ācāryas, who founded the various cults, know these rules of Mīmāṃsā? And, if one finds these rules in their own works, then what reason is there for saying that the purport of the Gītā drawn by the Mīmāṃsā school is one-sided? To that, the only answer is, that once a man's vision has become doctrinal, he naturally adopts that method by which he can prove that the cult which he follows is the cult established by authoritative religious treatises. Because, doctrinal commentators start with this fixed pre-conceived notion regarding the purport of a book, that if it yields some purport, inconsistent with their own doctrine, that purport is wrong, and that some other meaning is intended; and though some rule of the vyavasāyātmikā logic is violated when they attempt to prove that the meaning, which in their opinion is the proved correct meaning has been accepted everywhere, these commentators, as a result of this fixed pre-conviction are not in the least perturbed thereby.
The works Mitākṣarā and Dāyabhāga etc. which deal with the Hindu Law, attempt to harmonise the Smṛti texts on this principle. But the books of Hindu Law are not unique in this respect. Even, the numerous sectarian writers belonging to the numerous subsequent sects, of Christian and Mahomedan religions, twist in the same way the original works on those religions namely the Bible and Quran, and it is on the same principle that the followers of Christ have ascribed meanings to some of the sentences in the Old Testament of the Bible, which are different from those given to them by the Jews. Nay, wherever the number of the authoritative treatises or writings on any subject is fixed in advance and one has to subsequently justify one's own position on the basis of these limited authoritative books, the same method of determining the meaning of any book is seen to be followed. This also accounts for the way in which present-day legislators, pleaders or judges, very often twist one way or the other, former authoritative or legal treatises. If such be the case with purely worldly matters, what wonder is there that divergent commentaries based on different traditions have been written on the Upaniṣads and the Vedānta-Sūtras and side by side with them, on the third book out of the Prasthānatrayī, namely, the Bhagavadgītā? But if one leaves aside this doctrinal method, and pays a little attention to the upakrama, upasaṃhāra etc., of the Bhagavadgītā, it will be seen that the Blessed Lord preached the Gītā to Arjuna at the critical moment before the Bhārata war was actually started, when the armies of both sides had formed themselves into ranks on the Kurukṣetra and were on the point of opening the fight, and that He has done so with the idea of inducing Arjuna,–who had become dejected and was on the point of renouncing the world,–to perform his duties as a warrior by preaching to him the gospel of the Brahman. When Arjuna began to see who had come to fight with him taking the part of the unjust Duryodhana, he saw the old ancestor Bhīṣma, the preceptor Droṇācārya, the preceptor's son Aśvatthāman, the Kauravas (who though antagonistic were yet his cousins), and his next-of-kin, relations, friends, maternal uncles, paternal uncles, brothersin-law, kings, princes, etc.; and realising that in order to win the kingdom of Hastināpura, he would have to kill these people and thereby incur the greatest of sins like the destruction of one's own clan, his mind suddenly became dejected. On the one hand, the religion of the warrior was saying to him:–"Fight!", and on the "other hand, devotion to his ancestors, devotion to his preceptors, love for his brethren, affection for his relatives, and other natural laws were pulling him backwards. If he fought, it would be a fight with his own people, and thereby he would incur the terrible sin of killing his ancestors, preceptors, relatives etc.; and if he did not fight, he would be failing in his duty as a warrior; and when in this way he was between the frying-pan and the fire, he was in the same position as a person caught between two fighting rams! He was indeed a great warrior, but when he was suddenly caught in the moral net of righteousness and unrighteousness, he felt faint, his hair rose on end, the bow in his hand fell down and he suddenly flopped down in his chariot, crying: "I shall not fight!", and ultimately the distant feeling of his duty as a warrior was overcome by the naturally more proximate feeling of love for his brethren and he in self-deception began to think to himself:–"It would be better to beg in order to fill the pit of the stomach, rather than that I should win the kingdom by committing such terrible sins as killing ancestors or preceptors or brethren or relatives or ex-terminating even the whole clan. It does not matter one whit if my enemies, seeing me unarmed at this moment, come and cut my throat, but I do not wish to enjoy that happiness which is steeped in the blood of my own relatives killed in warfare, and burdened with their curses. It is true the warriorreligion is there, but if on that account I have to incur such terrible sins as killing my own ancestors, brethren, or preceptors, then, may that warrior- religion and warriormorality go to perdition. If the other side, not realising this, have become cruel in heart, I ought not do the same thing; I must see in what consists the true salvation of my Self, and if my conscience does not consider it proper to commit such terrible sins, then, however sacred the warrior-religion may be, of what use is it to me in these circumstances?" When in this way his conscience began to prick him and he became uncertain as to his duty (dharma-saṃmūḍha) and did not know which path of duty to follow, he surrendered himself to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who preached the Gītā, to him and put him on the right path; and when Arjuna, wanted to back out of the fight, fearing that it would entail the death of Bhīṣma and others–though it was his duty to fight–Śrī Kṛṣṇa made him take up the fight of his own accord. If we have to extract the true purport of the teaching of the Gītā, such purport must be consistent with this 'upakrama' (beginning) and 'upasaṃhāra' (conclusion). It would have been out of place here for Śrī Kṛṣṇa to explain how Release could be obtained by Devotion or by the Knowledge of the Brahman or by the Pātañjala-yoga, which were purely renunciatory paths or paths entailing asceticism and abandonment of Action. Śrī Kṛṣṇa did not intend to send Arjuna to the woods as a mendicant by making a saṃnyāsin of him, filling his mind with apathy (vairāgya), nor to induce him to go to the Himalayas as a yogin wearing a loin cloth (kaupīna) and eating the leaves of the nim-tree. Nor did the Blessed Lord intend to place in his hands cymbals and a drum and a harp instead of bow and arrow? and to make him dance again like Bṛhannalā before the entire warrior community of India, on the sacred field of the Kuru, steeped in the beatific happiness of loudly reciting the name of the Blessed Lord with supreme devotion, to the tune of those musical instruments. The dance which Arjuna had to make on the battle-field of Kuru, after having finished his period of remaining incongnito (ajñātavāsa) was of quite a different nature. When the Blessed Lord was preaching the Gītā, He has in numerous places, and showing reasons at every step and using the conjunction 'tasmāt' i.e., 'for this reason'–which is an important conjunction showing the reason–said:–"tasmād yudhyasva Bhārata"–i.e., " there- fore, Arjuna, fight" (Bhagavadgītā 2.18), or "tasmād uttiṣṭha Kaunteya yuddhāya kṛtaniścayaḥ"–i.e., "therefore, determine to fight and rise (Bhagavadgītā 2.37), or "tasmād asaktaḥ satataṃ kāryaṃ karma samācara"–i.e., "therefore, give up attachment, and do your duty" (Bhagavadgītā 3.19), or, "kuru karmaiva tasmāt tvaṃ"–i.e. "therefore, perform Action" (Bhagavadgītā 4.15), or "tasmāt......... mām anusmara yudhya ca"–i.e., "therefore, think of me and fight" (Bhagavadgītā 8.7); "the doer and the causer of everything is I myself, and you are only the tool; and therefore, fight and conquer your enemies" (Bhagavadgītā 11.3); "it is proper that you should perform all Actions, which are your duties according to the Śāstras" (Bhagavadgītā 16.24)–all which is a preaching definitely Energistic; and in the eighteenth chapter of the upasaṃhāra (conclusion), He says again:–"you must do all these duties" (Bhagavadgītā 18.6), as His definite and best advice; and ultimately asking Arjuna the question:–"Oh, Arjuna, has your self- deception, duo to ignorance, yet been removed or not? " (Bhagavadgītā 18.72),
He has taken an acknowledgment from him in the following words:–
naṣṭo mohaḥ smṛtir labdhā tvatprasādān mayācyuta |
sthito 'smi gatasaṃdehaḥ kariṣye vacanaṃ tava ||
I.e., "my doubts and my ignorance about my duties, have now been removed; I shall now do as You say".
And it is not that this acknowledgment was merely orally given by Arjuna, but thereafter, he did really fight and in the course of the fight arising on that occasion, he has actually killed Bhīṣma, Karṇa, Jayadratha, and others as occasion arose. The objection taken to this by some is that:–the advice given by the Blessed Lord preached Realisation (jñāna) based on Renunciation (saṃnyāsa), or Yoga or Devotion, and that that was the principal subject-matter of proof; but that as the war had already started, the Blessed Lord has here and there briefly praised in His preaching the worth of Action and allowed Arjuna to complete the war which had been started; that is to say, the completion of the war must not be looked upon as the central or the most important factor but something which was auxilliary or merely an arthavāda. But by such a spineless argument, the upakrama, upasaṃhāra and phala of the Gītā is not satisfactorily accounted for. The Blessed Lord had to show the importance and necessity of performing at all costs the duties enjoined by one's dharma while life lasts, and the Gītā has nowhere advanced any such hollow argument as the one mentioned above for doing so; and if such an argument had been advanced, that would never have appealed to such an intelligent and critical person like Arjuna. When the prospect of a terrible clan-destruction was staring him in the face, whether to fight or not, and, if fighting was the proper course, then how that could be done without incurring sin, was the principal question before him; and however much one tries to do so, it will be impossible to dismiss, as an arthavāda, the definite answer given to this principal question in the following words, namely:–"Fight with a disinterested frame of mind," or "Perform Action". Doing so would amount to treating the owner of the house as a guest. I do not say that the Gītā has not preached Vedānta, or Devotion or the Pātañjala Yoga at all. But the combination of these three subjects which has been made by the Gītā must be such that thereby Arjuna, who was on the horns of a terrible dilemma of conflicting principles of morality, and who had on that account become so confused about his proper duty as to say:–"Shall I do this, or shall I do that? ", could find a sinless path of duty and feel inclined to perform the duties enjoined on him by his status as a warrior. In short, it is perfectly clear that the proper preaching in this place would be of Energism (pravṛtti) and that, as all other things are only supporting Energism, that is, as they are all auxiliary, the purport of the Gītā religion must also be to support Energism, that is, to support Action. But no commentator has properly explained what this Energistic purport is and how that implied moral can be authoritatively based on Vedānta philosophy. Whichever commentator is taken, he totally neglects the upakrama of the Gītā, that is, its first, chapter and the concluding upasaṃhāra, and the phala, and becomes engrossed in discussing from a Renunciatory point of view how the preaching in the Gītā about the Realisation of the Brahman or about Devotion support their respective cults: as though it would be a great sin to link together a permanent union between Knowledge and Devotion on the one hand and Action (karma) on the other! The doubt mentioned by me was experienced by one of these commentators who said that the Bhagavadgītā must be interpreted keeping before one's eyes the life of Śrī Kṛṣṇa himself; and the Non-Dualistic philosopher Paramahaṃsa Śrī Kṛṣṇānanda Svāmi, who has recently died at Kāśi (Benares) has in the short Sanskrit monograph written by him on the Gītā entitled Gītārtha-parāmarṣa made the definite statement that: "tasmāt gītā nāma Brahmavidyāmūlaṃ nītiśāstraṃ"–i.e., " therefore, the Gītā is the philosophy of Duty, that is, the philosophy of Ethics based on the science of the Brahman (brahmavidyā)" The German philosopher Prof. Deussen, in his work called The Philosophy of the Upaniṣads has given expression to the same thoughts in one place with reference to the Bhagavadgītā, and several other Eastern and Western critics of the Gītā have expressed the same opinion. Nevertheless, none of these persons have thoroughly examined the Gītā or attempted to clearly and in detail show how all the statements, deductions, or chapters in it can be explained as being connected together on the basis of the philosophy of Energism (karma). On the other hand, Prof. Deussen has said in his book that such a conclusion would be very difficult to justify. Therefore, the principal object of this book is to critically examine the Gītā, in that light and to show the complete consistency which is to be found in it. But before I do so, it is necessary to deal in greater detail with the nature of the difficulty experienced by Arjuna as a result of his having been caught on the horns of the dilemma of mutually contradictory ethical principles, for otherwise, the readers will not realise the true bearing of the subject-matter of the Gītā. Therefore, in order to understand the nature of these difficulties in the shape of having to decide between Action and Inaction and to explain how a man on many occasions becomes non-plussed by being caught in the dilemma of "Shall I do this, or shall I do that?", we shall now first consider the numerous illustrations of such occasions, which are come across in our sacred books and especially in the Mahābhārata.
Footnotes and references:
This verse means that one should first offer obeisance to Nārāyaṇa, to Nara, the most excellent among men, to Devī Saraśvatī, and to Vyāsa and then begin to recite the "Jaya", that is, the Mahābhārata. The two Ṛṣis Nara and Nārāyaṇa were the two components into which the Paramātman had broken itself up and Arjuna and Śrī Kṛṣṇa were their later incarnations, as has been stated in the Mahābhārata (Śriman Mahābhārata U. 48.7–9 and 20–22; and Vana. 12.44–46). As these two Ṛṣis were the promulgators of the Nārāyaṇīya or the Bhāgavata religion, consisting of Desireless Action, they are first worshipped in all the treatises on the Bhāgavata religion. In some readings, the word 'caiva' is used instead of 'Vyāsa' as in this verse, but I do not think that is correct; because, although Nara and Nārāyaṇa were the promulgators of the Bhāgavata religion, yet I think it only proper that Vyāsa, who wrote both the Bhārata and the Gītā, which are the two principal works relating to this religion, should also be worshipped in the beginning of the book. "Jaya" is the ancient name for the Mahābhārata.
Moat of the above-mentioned Gītās and also several other Gītās (including the Bhagavadgītā) have been printed by Mr. Hari Raghunath Bhagwat.
At present, there is one Gītā which consists only of seven verses, namely, the following:–(1) "Om ityekākṣaraṃ Brahma etc." (Bhagavadgītā 8.13); (2) "sthāne hṛṣīkeśa tava prakīrtyā etc." (Bhagavadgītā 11.36) (3) "sarvataḥ pāṇīpādaṃ tat" etc. (Bhagavadgītā 13.13); (4) "kaviṃ purāṇamanuśāsitāram" etc. (Bhagavadgītā 8.9). (5) "ūrdhva mūlamadhaḥ śākhaṃ" etc. (Bhagavadgītā 15.1); (6) "sarvasya cāhaṃ hṛdi saṃniviṣṭo etc." (Bhagavadgītā 15.15); (7) "manmanā bhava madbhakto etc." (Bhagavadgītā 18.65); and there are various other abbreviated editions of the Gītā based on the same sample.
In my opinion, the date of the first Śaṃkarācārya must be pushed back by at least 100 years, and I have given my reasons for doing so in the Appendix.
The several commentaries on the Gītā by the Ācāryas of the various cults and the important criticisms pertaining to those cults in all fifteen, have been recently published at the Guzrathi Printing Press. This book is very useful for studying the opinions advanced by the various commentators side by side.
If the statements made in the arthavāda are consistent with the actual state of things, it is called 'anuvāda,' if inconsistent it is called 'guṇavāda', and if it is neither, it is called 'bhutārthavāda'. 'Arthavāda' is a common word and these are the three sub-divisions of arthavāda according to the truth or false-hood of the statements made in it.
These rules of determining the import of a book are seen to be observed even in English Courts of justice. For instance, if it is not possible to understand any particular judgment, such, meaning is decided by considering the result (phala) of that judgment, namely, the Decree or order passed on it; and if the judgment contains any statements which are not necessary for determining the point at issue, these statements are not taken as authorities for the purpose of later cases. Such statements are known as "obiter dicta" or "useless statements", and strictly speaking this is one kind of "arthavāda".
The name of this commentator and some extracts from his commentary were communicated to me many years ago by a respectable scholar, but I cannot trace that letter anywhere in the confusion of my papers; and I have also forgotten the name of the commentator; so I have to beg this respectable scholar to communicate that information lo me again if he chances to read this book.
Prof. Deussen's The Philosophy of the Upaniṣads, P. 362, English Translator. 1906.