Bhagavad-gita-rahasya (or Karma-yoga Shastra)

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...

Appendix 1: The Gītā and the Mahābhārata

The statement made by me above that the Gītā, which supports Action, has been included in the Mahābhārata for sufficient reasons, and at a proper place, for morally justifying the lives of great persons like Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and that it must have been a part of the Mahābhārata, is fully confirmed if one considers the construction of these two books. But before entering into such a comparison, it is necessary to briefly consider the present form of these two books. Śrīmat Śaṃkarācārya has stated at the very outset in his commentary on the Gītā, that there are 700 stanzas in the Gītā; and we find the same number of stanzas in all the available editions of the book.

Out of these 700 stanzas, there is one stanza of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, 40 of Sañjaya, 84 of Arjuna, and 575 of the Blessed Lord. But the Gītā-Māhātmya (Eminence of the Gītā) of five and a half stanzas at the commencement of that chapter of the Bhīṣmaparva, which comes after the eighteen chapters of the Gītā are over, that is, of the 43rd chapter of the Bhīṣmaparva, in the edition of the Mahābhārata published at the Ganpat Krishnaji Press at Bombay, it is stated that:–

ṣatśatāni saviṃśāni ślokanāṃ prāha keśavaḥ |
arjunaḥ saptapañcāśat saptaṣaṣṭiṃ tu sañjayaḥ |
dhṛtarāṣṭraḥ ślokam ekaṃ gītāyā mānam ucyate ||

That is: "In the Gītā, there are 620 stanzas of Keśava, 57 of Arjuna, 67 of Sañjaya, and 1 of Dhṛtarāṣṭra", in all 745 stanzas.

These stanzas are to be found in the edition of the Mahābhārata printed by Mr. Krishnacharya, according to the reading adopted in the Madras Presidency; but we do not find them in the edition of the Mahābhārata printed in Calcutta; and Nīlakaṇṭha, who has written a commentary on the Bhārata, has said with reference to these five and a half verses, that "gauḍaiḥ na paṭhyante" (i.e., "they are not to be found in the Gauda, that is, Bengali, reading" ~Translator.). It would, therefore, appear that these five and a half stanzas have been interpolated into the Mahābhārata; but even if these five and a half stanzas are considered an interpolation, yet, it is not possible to say how these 45 stanzas, which are- in excess of the stanzas of the Gītā which are now available. were obtained by anybody. As the Mahābhārata is a very extensive treatise, it is possible to interpolate stanzas into it, or to take away existing stanzas; but the same is not the case with the Gītā. The Gītā was a text in daily recital, and there were formerly many people and there are still some people, who can repeat the whole of the Gītā by heart in the same way as the Vedas. We do not come across many variant readings in the present Gītā, and that is why the few variant readings which exist are well-known to the commentators. Nay, it may even be said that the Gītā has been made to contain exactly 700 stanzas, in order that nobody should be in a position to add to or take away from that number; then, how have 45 stanzas–and those too of the Blessed Lord–been included in the Gītā in the Bombay and the Madras editions of the Mahābhārata? The total number of stanzas attributed to Sañjaya and Arjuna is the same according to this arrangement, as in the present available editions of the Gītā, namely, one hundred and twenty-four; and as there is a likelihood of ten other stanzas being attributed to Sañjaya, on account of difference of opinion, just as the seventeen stanzas "paśyāmi devān", etc., in the eleventh chapter (11.15–31) have been so attributed, one can say that although the total of the stanzas attributed to Sañjaya and Arjuna may be the same, there might have been a difference in counting the respective stanzas attributed to Arjuna and Sañjaya. But, one cannot account for the 45 additional stanzas, that is, for 630, instead of the now available 575 stanzas attributed to the Blessed Lord. If it is said that a praise (stotra) or 'a description for purposes of meditation' (dhyāna) of the Gītā or some other similar subject has been included in this chapter, then, not only is such subject-matter not to be found in the Bombay edition of the Bhārata, but that edition has a Gītā of only 700 stanzas. Therefore, there is no alternative except to take as authoritative the present Gītā of 700 stanzas. This disposes of the Gītā. But if one considers the Mahābhārata, the difference in the matter of the Gītā is as nothing. There is a statement in the Mahābhārata itself that it contains a hundred thousand stanzas; but we do not come across that number of stanzas in the now available editions of the Mahābhārata, and the number of chapters in the various Parvas is also not according to the index given in the beginning of the Bhārata, as has been clearly proved by Rao Bahadur Chintamanrao Vaidya in his criticism on the Bhārata. In these circumstances, one has to take in hand only certain definite editions of these two treatises for purpose of comparison; and therefore, I have compared them by taking as authoritative the Gītā of 700 stanzas, which was accepted as authoritative by Śrīmat Śaṃkarācārya, and the edition of the Mahābhārata printed in Calcutta by Babu Pratapchandra Roy; and the references in this book to the stanzas quoted from the Mahābhārata are according to the above-mentioned edition of the Mahābhārata printed at Calcutta. If these verses have to be referred to in the editions printed by Krishnacharya according to the Bombay or Madras readings, they will be found either in advance of or subsequent to the place mentioned by me.

If one compares the Gītā of 700 stanzas and the edition of the Mahābhārata printed by Babu Pratapchandra Roy at Calcutta, it will firstly be seen that it is stated in many places in the Mahābhārata itself that the Bhagavadgītā is a part of the Mahābhārata. The first of these references is in the index given in the second chapter of the Ādiparva.

There is first a statement, where the various Parvas have been described, that

pūrvoktaṃ bhagavadgītāparva bhīṣmavadhas tataḥ
  (Śriman Mahābhārata Ā. 2. 69);

And afterwards in enumerating the chapters and the stanzas in the 18 parvas, there is a clear reference to the Bhagavadgītā in the description of Bhīṣmaparva as:

–kaśmalaṃ yatra pārthasya vāsudevo mahāmatiḥ |
mohajaṃ nāśayāmāsa hetubhir mokṣadarśibhiḥ ||

That is, "in which treatise, Vāsudeva has removed the dejection of Arjuna, due to Ignorance, by showing him the Path which leads to Release".

In the same way, in the first chapter of the Ādiparva, where Dhṛtarāṣṭra is explaining his growing despair regarding the success of Duryodhana and others, starting each stanza with the words "yadā śrauṣaṃ", it is stated that "when Arjuna became confused, and Kṛṣṇa showed to him His Cosmic Form, I despaired of victory" (Śriman Mahābhārata Ā. 1.179). After these three references in the Ādiparva, it again became necessary to refer to the Gītā in describing the Nārāyaṇīya religion at the end of the Śāntiparva. The four names Nārāyaṇīya, Sātvata, Ekāntika, and Bhāgavata are synonymous; and this chapter explains the devotional energistic path preached by Ṛṣi Nārāyaṇa or by the Blessed Lord to Nārada in the Śvetadvīpa. (Śān. 334. 351). The underlying principle of this Bhāgavata religion is, that by worshipping Vasudeva in solitude, and by carrying on one's duties in the world according to one's religion, one attains Release; and I have already shown in previous chapters that it has also been maintained in the Bhagavadgītā, that the Karma-Yoga is superior to the Path of Renunciation. In describing the tradition of this Nārāyaṇīya doctrine, Vaiśaṃpāyana says to Janamejaya that this doctrine had been preached to Nārada by Nārāyaṇa Himself, and that the same doctrine has been "kathito HARIGĪTĀSU samāsavidhi kalpataḥ" (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 346. 10), i.e., "mentioned in the Harigītā or the Bhagavadgītā".

It is also stated later on in the eighth stanza of the 348th chapter, that:

samupoḍhe ṣvanīkeṣu kurupāṇḍavayor mṛdhe |
arjune vimanaske ca gītā bhagavatā svayam ||

That is, "these rites of the solitudinal (ekāntika) Nārāyaṇīya doctrine, were taught by the Blessed Lord to the dejected Arjuna on the occasion of the war between the Kauravas and the Pāṇḍavas";

And the tradition of the Nārāyaṇīya doctrine in that war has been given there; and it is again stated that this path, as also the path of ascetics, that is, the Path of Renunciation, have both been mentioned in the HARIGĪTĀ (Śriman Mahābhārata Śān. 348. 53). Besides these six references in the Ādiparva and the Śāntiparva, there is also one more reference to the Bhagavadgītā in the Anugītā parva included in the Aśvamedhaparva. Some days after the Bhāratī war was over, and Yudhiṣṭhira had been placed on the throne, when Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna were one day sitting together, and Śrī Kṛṣṇa had said to Arjuna: "It is no more necessary for me to stay here; I wish to go to Dvārakā", Arjuna said to Him, that he had forgotten what Śrī Kṛṣṇa had preached at the commencement of the war, and requested Him to preach the same thing again (Aśva. 16). Then, to satisfy this request, Śrī Kṛṣṇa preached the Anugītā to Arjuna before going to Dvārakā. In the beginning of this Anugītā, the Blessed Lord has Himself said that: "It is your misfortune that you have forgotten the advice which I gave to you in the commencement of the war. It is impossible for Me to repeat the same advice in the same way again, and therefore I will tell you instead something else" (Śriman Mahābhārata Aśva. Anugītā 16.9–13); and some of the chapters of the Anugītā are similar to those of the Gītā. The Gītā has thus been referred to SEVEN times in the Mahābhārata, including this reference. Therefore, it follows from the intrinsic evidence in the Mahābhārata itself, that the Bhagavadgītā is a part of the present Mahābhārata.

But, as the course of doubts is uncontrolled, some persons are not satisfied even by these seven references, and they inquire why it may not be said that these references were themselves also interpolated into the Mahābhārata afterwards; and thus their doubt as to whether or not the Gītā was a part of the Mahābhārata still remains. This doubt has its origin in the idea that the Gītā deals only with the Knowledge of the Brahman. But, as I have already shown that this idea itself is incorrect, this doubt should, strictly speaking, not remain. Nevertheless, instead of depending solely on this evidence, I shall now show, by reference to other evidence also, that this doubt is unfounded. When there is a doubt whether or not two works were written by one and the same author, literary critics consider two matters in the first place, namely, SIMILARITY OF DICTION and SIMILARITY OF MEANING. Out of these, similarity of diction includes not only the words themselves, but also the composition. Considering the matter from this point of view, one must see to what extent the diction of the Gītā is similar to the diction of the Mahābhārata. But as the Mahābhārata is a very extensive work, the diction in it varies according to the occasion. For instance, if one refers to the description of the fight between Karṇa and Arjuna in the Karṇaparva, it will be seen that the diction in this parva is different from the diction of the other parts of the Mahābhārata. Therefore, it is difficult to definitely say whether or not the language of the Gītā is similar to the language of the Mahābhārata. But if one considers the matter in a general way, then, as Mr. Kashinath Trimbak Telang[1] says, the language and the metrical arrangement of the Gītā is archaic (arm) or ancient. For instance, Kashinathpant has shown that the meanings in which the words 'anta' (Bhagavadgītā 2.16), 'bhāṣā' (Bhagavadgītā 2.54), 'Brahma' (= prakṛti. Bhagavadgītā 14.3), 'Yoga' (= Karma-Yoga), and the consonant 'ha' used for completing the meter (Bhagavadgītā 2.9) etc. have been used in the Gītā, do not appear to have been used in the same sense in the poems of Kālidāsa etc.; and we come across the form '"namaskṛtvā" in stanza 11.35, and a compound like "satya ahaṃ" in stanza 11.45, though as variant readings, which are contrary to the grammar of Pāṇinī. Also in the phrase "senānīnām ahaṃ skandaḥ" (Bhagavadgītā 10. 24), the sixth case (possessive) form "senānīnām" is not correct according to Pāṇinī. The late Mr. Telang has not given detailed illustrations of archaic metrical construction. But I think that he has called the metrical arrangement of the Gītā 'archaic' (arm) with special reference to the 36 stanzas in the eleventh chapter, which contain the description of the Cosmic Form (Bhagavadgītā 11.15–50). In each stanza, out of these 36, there are eleven letters to a line. But there is no meter which is consistently followed, and we find that if one line is in the indravajrā meter, the second is in the upendravajrā, the third in the śālinī, and the fourth one in a different meter altogether; and there are thus eleven different meters to he found in these 36 verses, that is, 144 lines. Nevertheless, each line contains only eleven letters, and the rule seems to he followed that the first, fourth, eighth and the last two letters are long (guru) and the sixth one is usually short (laghu); and therefore, an inference may be drawn that these stanzas have been written in the triṣṭupa metre used in the Ṛg-Veda or in the Upaniṣads. We do not come across odd-numbered meters of eleven letters to a line like this in any poem of Kālidāsa. In the Śākuntala, the stanza: "amī vediṃ paritaḥ kḷptadhiṣṇyāḥ" is in this meter. But Kālidāsa himself has described this meter as 'Ṛk.-chanda' that is, a meter used in the Ṛg-Veda. Prom this it is clear that the Gītā was written when archaic meters were in vogue.

We come across similar archaic words and "Vedic metres in other places in the Mahābhārata. But another convincing proof of the similarity of diction of the two books is the similar stanzas to be found in the Mahābhārata and in the Gītā. Examining all these stanzas in the Mahābhārata and ascertaining correctly how many of them are to be found in the Gītā is a very difficult task. Yet, in reading the Mahābhārata, I found stanzas in it which are either word for word similar to the stanzas in 4he Gītā, or are similar but with slight verbal alterations, and these are not a few in number. This easily solves the question? of the similarity of language or diction.

We find the following stanzas or semi-stanzas either word for word the same or with only one or two words different in the Gītā and in the Mahābhārata (Calcutta edition):–

GĪTĀ (Chapter. Sloka), Sloka MAHĀBHĀRATA (Parva. Chapter. Sloka).
1.9, nānā śāstra praharaṇā etc. (semi-stanza) Bhīṣma-parva 51.4. As in the etc. Gītā, Duryodhana is again describing his army to Droṇācārya.
1.10, aparyāptaṃ etc. (whole stanza) Bhīṣma. 51. 6.
1.12–19, (Eight stanzas) Bhīṣma. 51. 22–29. The stanzas- are just the same as in the Gītā, with slight, verbal alterations.
1.45, aho bata mahat pāpaṃ etc. (whole stanza) Droṇa. 197.50. Same as in the Gītā, with slight verbal alterations.
2.19, ubhau tau na vijānītaḥ etc. (semi-stanza) Śānti. 224.14. In the Balivāsava-saṃvāda, with verbal alterations; and in the Kaṭhopaniṣad (2.18).
2.28, avyaktādīni bhūtāni etc. (whole stanza) Strī. 2.6; 9.11. Instead of 'avyakta', the word. 'abhāva' is used; rest is the same.
2.31, dharmyād dhi yuddhāc chreyo etc. (semi-stanza) Bhīṣma. 124. 36. Bhīṣma says the same words to Karṇa.
2.32, yad drcchayā etc. (whole stanza) Karṇa. 57.2. Instead of 'Pārtha', the word 'Karṇa' is used in the conversation between Duryodhana and Karṇa.
2.46, yāvān artha udapāne etc. (whole stanza) Udyoga. 45.26. Has appeared with slight verbal alterations in the Sanatsujātīya chapter.
2.59, viṣayā vinivartante etc. (whole stanza) Śānti. 204.16. Has appeared word for word in the conversation between Manu and Bṛhaspati.
2.67, indriyāṇāṃ hi caratāṃ etc. (whole stanza) Vana. 210.26. Has appeared with slight verbal alterations in the conversation between the Brahmin and the Hunter; and there is also the 'rūpaka' (simile) of the chariot in the earlier portion.
2.70, āpūryamāṇam acalapratiṣṭhaṃ etc. (whole stanza) Śānti. 250.9. Has appeared word for word in the Śukānupraśna.
3.42, indriyāṇi parāṇy āhuḥ etc. (whole stanza) Śānti. 245.3 and 247.2. Has appeared with slight verbal alterations twice in the Śukānupraśna; but this stanza is originally from the Kaṭhopaniṣad (Kaṭhopaniṣad 3.10).
4.7, yadā yadā hi dharmasya etc. (semi-stanza) Vana. 189.27. Has appeared word for word in the Mārkaṇḍeyapraśna.
4 31, nāyaṃ loko 'stya Śānti. 267.40. Has appeared
yajñasya etc. (semi-stanza) in the Gokāpilīya chapter, and the whole chapter deals with the Yajña.
4. 40, nāyaṃ loko 'sti na paro etc. (semi-stanza) Vana. 199. 110. Has appeared word for word in the Mārkaṇḍeya-samasyā-parva
5.5, yat sāṃkhyaiḥ prāpyate sthānaṃ etc. (whole stanza) Śānti. 305.19 and 316.4. Has appeared in these two places with slight verbal alterations in the conversation between Vaśiṣṭha and Karāla and between Yājñavalkya and Janaka, respectively.
5.18, vidyā vinaya saṃpanne etc. (whole stanza) Śānti. 238.19. Has appeared word for word in the Śukānupraśna.
6.5, ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhuḥ etc. (semi-stanza of the next stanza) Udyoga. 33.63, 64. Has appeared word for word and half in the Viduranīti.
6.29, sarvabhūtastham Śānti. 238. 21. In the
ātmānaṃ etc. (semi-stanza) Śukānupraśna, and also in the Manu-Smṛti (Manu-Smṛti12.91), Īśāvāsyopaniṣad (Īśāvāsyopaniṣad 6) and literally in the Kaivalyopaniṣad (Kaivalyovaniṣad 1.10).
6.44, jijñāsur api yogasya etc. (semi-stanza) Śānti. 235. 7. Has appeared with slight verbal alterations in the Śukānupraśna.
8.17, sahasra yuga paryantam etc. This stanza has been given in the Gītā without first explaining what 'yuga' means. Śānti. 231.31. Has appeared literally in the Śukānupraśna; and the method of computation of a 'yuga' has also been mentioned previously. This has appeared with slight verbal alterations also in the Manu-Smṛti (Manu-Smṛti 1.73).
8. 20, yah sa sarveṣu bhūteṣu etc. (semi-stanza) Śānti. 339. 23. Has appeared twice with slight verbal alterations in the Nārāyaṇīyadharma.
9.32, striyo vaiśyas tathā etc. (whole stanza and half of the nest stanza) Aśva. 19. 61 and 62. These verses have appeared with' slight verbal alterations in the Anugītā.
13.13, sarvataḥ pāṇipādaṃ (whole stanza) Śānti. 238. 29. and Aśva. 19.49. This stanza has appeared, word for word in the Śukānupraśna and in the Anugītā as also in other places. It is originally from the Śvetāśvataropaniṣad (Śvetāśvataropaniṣad 3.16).
13.30, yada bhūta pṛthag bhāvaṃ etc. (whole stanza) Śānti. 17. 23. The same words have been addressed by Yudhiṣṭhira to Arjuna.
14.18, ūrdhvaṃ gacchanti sattvasthā etc. (whole stanza) Aśva. 39. 10 This stanza has appeared word for word in the conversation between the disciple and the preceptor in the Anugītā.
16.21, trividhaṃ narakasy edam (whole stanza) Udyoga. 32.70. Has appeared etc. word for word in the Viduranīti,
17.3, śraddhāmayo yaṃ puruṣaḥ etc., (semi-stanza) Śānti. 263. 17. Has appeared in the portion on Devotion in the conversation between Tulādhāra and Jājali.
18.14, adhiṣṭhānaṃ tathā kartā etc., (whole stanza) Śānti. 347. 87. Has appeared word for word in the Nārāyaṇīya-dharma.

In this way, it is seen that 27 whole stanzas and 12 semistanzas appear sometimes word for word the same, and sometimes with slight verbal differences both in the Mahābhārata and in the Gītā; and if a more thorough examination is made, there is a likelihood that one may come across many other stanzas and semi-stanzas which are common to both. If one wishes to see in how many places there are common combinations of two words or three words, or of quarter portions of a stanza, which are common to the Mahābhārata and to the Gītā, the above-mentioned list will have to be considerably increased"[2].

But, if we leave aside the similarity of words, and consider merely the question of similarity of stanzas in the above list, we cannot but say that the Mahābhārata and the Gītā must, have been written by the same hand. Considering the matter with reference to the different chapters, we see that out of the above-mentioned 33 stanzas, 1 comes in the Mārkaṇḍeya-praśna, J in the Mārkaṇḍeya-samasyā, 1 in the Brahmin-Hunter conversation, 2 in the Viduranīti, 1 in the Sanatsujātīya, 1 in the Manu-Bṛhaspati conversation, 6-J- in the Śukānu-praśna, 1 the Tulādhāra-Jājali conversation, 1 in the Vaśiṣṭha-Karāla and Yājñavalkya-Janaka conversation, 11 in the Nārāyaṇīya- dharma, 2i in the Anugītā, and the rest in the Bhīṣma, Droṇa, Karṇa, and Strī parvas; and in almost all these places, these stanzas have come at proper places with reference to the anterior and posterior contexts and are not interpolations. Nay, some of these stanzas seem to have been taken into the Gītā by way of summarising. For instance, in order to understand the stanza "sahasra yuga paryantam" etc. (Bhagavadgītā 8.17), it would have been necessary to define the words 'varṣa' and 'yuga'; and in the Bhārata (Śān. 231) and the Manu-Smṛti, this stanza has been given after first defining these words. But in the Gītā, this stanza has been mentioned without defining 'yuga' ete. Considering the matter from this point of view, it cannot be said that these stanzas could have been adopted from the Gītā into the various chapters of the Mahābhārata; and it is improbable that all these stanzas have been taken into the Gītā from all those various chapters. Therefore, one is bound to come to the conclusion that the writer of the Gītā must have been the same as the person who wrote these chapters. I must also mention here that, just as, many stanzas from the Manu-Smṛti find their way into the Mahābhārata,[3] so also can we trace to the Manu-Smṛti, the whole of the stanza "sahasra yuga paryantam" (8.17)

In the Gītā, with slight verbal alterations; and the semi-stanza,

śreyān svadharmo viguṇaḥ paradharmāt svanuṣṭhitāt
  (Bhagavadgītā 3.35 and Bhagavadgītā 18.47)

With the alteration that instead of 'śreyān', the word 'varaṃ' has been used; and the semi-stanza,

sarva bhūtasthaṃ ātmānam"
  (Gī. 6.29),

With the variation

sarva bhūteṣu cātmanaṃ
  (Manu-Smṛti 1.73; 10.97; 12.91).

In the Anuśāsanaparva of the Mahābhārata, there is even a clear reference to the ManuSmṛti in the words "manunā bhihitaṃ śāstraṃ" (Anu. 47. 35).

If instead of considering the similarity of words, one considers the similarity of meaning, the same conclusion is fortified. I have in previous chapters shown the similarity between the Karma-Yoga of the Gītā and the Energistic Bhāgavata or Nārāyaṇīya religion. It is true that the genesis of Saṃkarṣaṇa from Vasudeva, Pradyumna from Saṃkarṣaṇa, Aniruddha from Pradyumna, and Brahmadeva from Aniruddha, being the genesis of the visible world mentioned in the Nārāyaṇīyadharma (Śān. 339. 71, 72) has not been adopted in- to the Gītā. There are besides other differences between the religion of the Gītā and the Nārāyaṇīya religion.

But, although the idea of the four-fold (catur-vyūha) Parameśvara is not accepted by the Gītā, yet, if one considers the propositions of the Gītā that,

(i) the devotion to the singular (eka-vyūha), Vasudeva is the 'king of paths'; that

(ii) whatever other deities are worshipped, that amounts to the worship of Vasudeva; that

(iii) devotees are of four kinds; that

(iv) devotees of the Blessed Lord must perform their duties according to their religion, and keep going the cycle of Yajñas; and that

(v) it is not proper to take to Renunciation (saṃnyāsa) etc., one comes to the conclusion that the Gītā religion is the same as the Bhāgavata religion; and as I have stated before, the tradition of Vivasvān-Manu-Ikṣvāku is common to both.

In the same way, the Vedānta or the Spiritual Knowledge expounded in the Gītā is consistent with the Knowledge of the Brahman as mentioned in the Sanatsujātīya, the Śukānu-praśna, the Yājñavalkya-Janaka conversation, or the Anugītā, as will be appreciated by anyone who reads those chapters. Just as the Gītā, while accepting the 25 Fundamental Elements of KāpilaSāṃkhya philosophy, and the doctrine of the efflorescence of the constituents (guṇotkarṣa), yet accepts as Eternal, a further Element beyond Prakṛti (Matter) and Puruṣa (Spirit), so also has it been maintained in detail, in the Vaśiṣṭha-Karāla-Janaka conversation, and in the Yājñavalkya-Janaka conversation in the Śāntiparva that there is a '26th' Element beyond the 25 Elements, and that one does not obtain Isolation (kaivalya) unless one has acquired the Knowledge of that '26th' Element. It is not that this similarity of thought appears only with reference to Karma-Yoga and Spiritual Knowledge; but there are many chapters to be found in the Mahābhārata which correspond with the other subsidiary subjects in the Gītā. For instance, in the beginning of the first chapter of the Gītā, Duryodhana has described both the armies to Droṇācārya, and he has again given the same description later on in the 51st chapter of the Bhīṣmaparva to Droṇācārya. There is in the beginning of the Śāntiparva, a dejection expressed by Yudhiṣṭhira, which is similar to the dejection experienced by Arjuna in the latter part of the first chapter of the Gītā; and when there was occasion to kill Bhīṣma and Droṇa by 'Yoga'. Arjuna has again uttered similar words of dejection (Bhīṣma. 97.4–7 and 108.88–94). Arjuna has said in the beginning of the Gītā that it was no use obtaining victory if he were to kill those very persons for whom that happiness was to he acquired (Bhagavadgītā 1.32, 33); and later on, after all the Kauravas had been killed in the war, Duryodhana has given expression to the same sentiment (Śalya. 31.42–51). As in the beginning of the second chapter, two different paths, namely, the Sāṃkhya and the Karma-Yoga have been mentioned, so also have two paths been described not only in the Nārāyaṇīyadharma, but also in the Jāpakopākhyāna, and the JanakaSulabhā conversation in the Śāntiparva (Śān. 196 and 320); and the ideas expressed in the third chapter that Karma (Action) is superior to akarma (Inaction), and that if one does not perform Action, he will not find even food to eat, are expressed in the beginning of the Vanaparva by Draupadī to Yudhiṣṭhira (Vana. 32); and the same ideas have been repeated again in the Anugītā. The idea that Brahmadeva created the Yajna and human beings at the same time etc., which appear in the Gītā, appear also in other places in the Śāntiparva, besides in the descriptions of the Nārāyaṇīya religion (Śān. 267), and also in the Manu-Smṛti; and the idea that there is no sin in performing Action according to one's own religious duties, has also appeared in the Tulādhāra-Jājali conversation, and in the Brahmin-Hunter conversation (Śān. 260–283 and Vana. 206–215). Besides this, the little information which the Gītā contains regarding the creation of the Cosmos, in the seventh and eighth chapters, is similar to the description of such creation given in the Śukānupraśna in the Śāntiparva (Śān. 231); and the information regarding the various physical postures (āsanas) prescribed in the Pātañjala-Yoga, which appears in the sixth chapter of the Gītā is again repeated in detail in the Śukānupraśna (Śān. 239), and later on in the 300th chapter of the Śāntiparva and also in the Anugītā (Aśva. 19). The description of ordinary and best things given in the conversation between the preceptor and the disciple (Aśva. 43 and 44), and the description of the manifestations of the Blessed Lord given in the tenth chapter of the Gītā, may without the slightest doubt be said to be exactly the same in meaning. It is stated in the Mahābhārata that the Cosmic Form which was shown by the Blessed Lord to Arjuna, was also shown by Him to Duryodhana and others at the time of previous conciliatory efforts, and to Uttanka, after the war was over, when Śrī Kṛṣṇa was going back to Dvārakā; and also that it was shown by Nārāyaṇa to Nārada, and by Dāśarathī Rāma to Paraśurāma. (U. 130; Aśva. 55; Śān. 339; Vana. 99). It is true that the description of the Cosmic Form given in the Gītā, is more detailed and beautiful than the descriptions in all these four places; but considering the matter from the point of view of similarity of subject, there is nothing new in the description in the Gītā, as will be clearly seen by anybody who reads these various descriptions. There are to be found descriptions in the Anugītā (Aśva. 36–39), and also in other places in the Śāntiparva (Śān. 285; and 300–311) as to how diversity comes into being in the world as a result of the sattva, rajas, and tamas constituents, what the characteristic features of these constituents are, and how all the activity is of these constituents and not of the Ātman, which are similar to the descriptions in the 14th and 15th chapters of the Gītā. In short, although the description of certain things given in the Gītā may be more exhaustive, having regard to the occasion where it appears in the Gītā, and although the arrangement, of those various subjects may also be different in the Gītā, yet, we come across ideas in the Mahābhārata which are more or less the same as those in the Gītā, but are spread out in some place or other; and I need not say that with this similarity of ideas, there is also to some extent a similarity of diction. The similarity in the matter of the month of Mārgaśīrṣa is indeed astounding. As this month has been given primary importance in the Gītā, as is shown by the words "māsānāṃ mārgaśīrṣo 'ham" (Bhagavadgītā 10.35), so also, where there was twice occasion to mention the names of months with reference to fasting in the Anuśāsanaparva of the Mahābhārata, the counting of the months has been started with Mārgaśīrṣa (Anu. 106 and 109). The ideas of Self-Identification, or of universal good, as also the difference between the Materialistic, Intuitionist, and Meta- physical aspects, and the description of the Devayāna and the Pitṛyāṇa paths taken after death, which appear in the Gītā, have also appeared several times in the Mahābhārata; but as this has been dealt with in great detail in the previous chapters, I shall not repeat the same subject-matter here.

Whether one considers the similarity of diction, or the similarity of subject-matter, or the six or seven references to the Gītā, which we find in the Mahābhārata, one cannot but come to the conclusion that the Gītā is a part of the Mahābhārata, and that the same man who wrote the Mahābhārata as it now exists, must also have written the Gītā as it now exists. But, I have seen people attempting to disregard all those proofs, and to dispose of them with scant respect in some way or other, and to prove that the Gītā is an interpolation. But, in my opinion, the line of reasoning adopted by these critics, who treat external evidence as no evidence, and who yield to the domination of the demon of doubt in their hearts, is illogical, and therefore, unacceptable. If it could not be reasonably explained why the Gītā should be a part of the Mahābhārata, it would be a different matter. But, when it is proved, as has been stated in the beginning of this Appendix, that (i) the Gītā is not a purely devotional treatise, or one which deals purely with Vedānta; that (ii) it was necessary to preach the Activistic Gītā, in order to explain the principles of Morality, or the undercurrents which guided the lives of exemplary great' men, as described in the Mahābhārata, and that (iii) there was no better place, even from the poetic view-point, for placing the Gītā, than the place in which it appears in the Mahābhārata, one comes to the necessary conclusion that the Gītā has been included for proper reasons and at the proper place in the Mahābhārata, and that it is not an interpolation. The Rāmāyaṇa is also an excellent and a universally respected archaic epic like the Mahābhārata; and in it also the principles of veracity, filial duty, maternal duty, regal duty etc., have been cleverly explained with reference to the various incidents in it. But, as it was not the original intention of Vālmīki to make that epic "replete with many incidents, full of numerous doctrines regarding Morality and Immorality, and capable of giving to everybody exemplary illustrations of properly moral lives", it goes without saying that the importance of the Mahābhārata is greater than that of the Rāmāyaṇa, from the point of view of the decisions contained in them respectively with reference to Morality and Immorality, the Doable and the Not-Doable, and Ethics. The Mahābhārata is not merely an epic or merely a history, but it is a Samhita (summary) dealing with delicate situations of Duty and Non-Duty; and if such a religious epitome does not contain the scientific and logical description of the Philosophy of Karma-Yoga, where else could it come? Such an exposition could certainly not have been included in a treatise which deals merely with Vedānta. An epitome of religion is certainly the most proper place for it; and if the writer of the Mahābhārata had not so included it, this immense book, which, deals with religious and moral duties–which is in fact the fifth Veda–would to that extent have remained incomplete. The Bhagavadgītā has been included in the Mahābhārata in order to fill up this gap, and it is our great good fortune that India found an excellent Jñānin and a noble soul like the writer of the Mahābhārata, who was as proficient in worldly affairs as in Vedānta, for sponsoring the subjectmatter of Karma-Yoga.

Though it has thus been proved that the present Bhagavadgītā is a part of the present Mahābhārata, yet, this matter must be dealt with in greater detail. We understand the words 'Bhārata' and 'Mahābhārata' as synonymous; but, as a matter of fact, those two works are different from each other. Considering the matter grammatically, any book which would contain a description of the illustrious deeds of the kings of the Bhārata clan could properly be called 'Bhārata'. The etymology of the words 'Rāmāyaṇa' and 'Bhāgavata' is the same; and on that account, any book which contains a description of the Bhāratī war would be sufficiently identified by being called 'Bhārata', however extensive it were. The Rāmāyaṇa is not a small work; then why is it not called 'Mahā-Rāmāyaṇa'?; and why should the Bhārata be called 'Mahā-Bhārata'? It is stated at the end of the Mahābhārata that the work has been given the name 'Mahābhārata' on account of its two features of, (i) greatness (mahatva) and of (ii) dealing with the Bhārata clan (bhāratatva), (Svargā. 5.44). But if we take the mere literal meaning of the word 'Mahābhārata', it means 'the big Bhārata'; and if this meaning is accepted, the question whether there was a 'small' Bhārata and whether such a small Bhārata did not contain the Gītā, naturally arises. There is a statement in the Ādiparva of the present Mahābhārata, that the Mahābhārata consists of 24000 stanzas, not taking into account the sub-chapters (upākhyāna), (Ā. 1. 01); and it is said later on that this was originally known as 'Jaya' (Ā. 62.20). The word 'Jaya' seems to intend to convey the idea of the 'victory' (jaya) of the Panda vas in the Bhāratī war; and if that meaning is adopted, it will be seen that the book called 'Jaya' originally contained only a description of the Bhāratī war, and that several sub-chapters were added later on to this historical book, so as to make of it the large work known as the 'Mahābhārata', which dealt both with history and with Ethics.

This conclusion is fortified by the specific reference to two different works named, 'Bhārata' and 'Mahābhārata', in the incantation relating to oblations to Ṛṣis to be found in the Āśvalāyana-gṛhya-sūtras, which runs as:–

"sumantujaimini - vaiśampāyana - pailasūtra - bhāṣya - bhārata - mahābhārata - dharmācāryaḥ"
  (Ā. Gṛ. 3.4.4).

When the 'little Bhārata' had thus been included in the 'Mahābhārata', the 'little Bhārata' ceased to exist as an independent work, and it was naturally believed that only one work, namely the 'Mahābhārata' was the Bhārata. Even in the present version of the Mahābhārata, there is a statement that the Bhārata was first recited by Vyāsa to his own son Śuka, and afterwards to his other disciples (Ā. 1.103); and it is clearly stated that the five disciples Sumantu, Jaimini, Paila, Śuka, and Vaiśampāyana wrote five distinct Bhārata-Samhitas or Mahābhāratas (Ā. 63. 90); and there is a story that out of these five Mahābhāratas, Vyāsa retained only the Mahābhārata of Vaiśampāyana, and the Aśvamedhaparva out of the Mahābhārata of Jaimini. This explains why the names Sumantu etc., appear before the mention of the words 'Bhārata- Mahābhārata' in the incantation about oblations to Ṛṣis. But it is not necessary to enter so deep so into that subject-matter here. The conclusion which has been drawn by Rao Bahadur Chintamanrao Vaidya in his criticism on the Mahābhārata, after considering this subject-matter, is in my opinion correct; and therefore, it is quite enough if I say here that the present version of the Mahābhārata is not the original Mahābhārata, but that there were various editions of the Bhārata and the Mahābhārata; and that the present Mahābhārata is the form it ultimately acquired. It cannot be said that the first original Bhārata out of these did not contain the Gītā. It is quite clear that the writer of the Mahābhārata has written the present Gītā on the authority of former works, just as the Sanatsujātīya, the Viduranīti, the Śukānupraśna, the Yājñavalkya-Janaka conversation, the Viṣṇu-sahasranāma, the Anugītā, the Nārāyaṇīya-dharma and other chapters were so written, and that it was not written independently. At the same time, it cannot be definitely said that the writer of the Mahābhārata did not make any change in the original Gītā. From what has been stated above, anybody will come to the conclusion that the present Gītā of 700 stanzas is a part of the present Mahābhārata, that both have been compiled by the same hands, and that the present Gītā, has not been subsequently interpolated by anybody into the present Mahābhārata. I will say later on what in my opinion is the date of the present Mahābhārata, as also what I have to say regarding the original Gītā.

Footnotes and references:


The translation of the Bhagavadgītā made by the late Mr. Kashinath Trimbak Telang, has been published in the Sacred Books of the East Series Vol. VIII, edited by Prof. Max Müller. To this translation, a critical dissertation has been added by him by way of introduction in the English language. The references made to- the opinions of the late Mr. Telang in this Appendix are (with one exception) to this introduction.


If one considers the whole of the Mahābhārata from this point of view, there will be at least a hundred similar portions of stanzas; but I will mention only a few out of them here: kiṃ bhogair jīvitena vā (Bhagavadgītā 1.32); naitat tvayy upapadyate (Bhagavadgītā 2.3); trāyate mahato bhayāt (2.40); aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham (2.66); utsīdeyur ime lokāḥ (3.24); mano durnigrahaṃ calam (6.35); mam ātmā bhūtabhāvanaḥ (9.5); moghāśā moghakarmāṇaḥ (9.12); samohaṃ sarvabhūteṣu (9.29); dīptānalārkadyutim etc. (11.17); sarva bhūtahite ratāḥ (12.4); tulya nindā stutiḥ (12.19); saṃtuṣṭo yena kenacit (12.19); samaduḥkhasukhaḥ svasthaḥ (14.24); trividhā karmacodanā (18.18); nirmamaḥ śānto (18.53); brahmabhūyāya kalpate (18.53); etc., etc.,


Prof. Bühler has, in his translation of the Manu-Smṛti, published in the Sacred Books of the East Series (Vol. XXV, pp. 533, et seq.), included a list of the stanzas from the Manu-Smṛti which are to be found in the Mahābhārata.

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