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Bhagavad Gita Solvency Suggestions

The Bhagavad Gita now consists of 700 Sanskrit verses divided into 18 chapters. From about 85 verses in the first Mahabharata epos (Jaya of Vyasa), the Bhagavad Gita grew over the centuries into 700 verses in Dr Sinha's view. The Gita is a part of Book 6 of the Mahabharata ("Great Epic of the Bharata Dynasty"), which is a very long poem. The Gita section in it is in the form of a dialogue which some say are the single most important religious text of Hinduism.

The epic Mahabharata with the Bhagavad Gita in it is traditionally ascribed to Sage Vyasa (Vyasa means "Compiler"). He is also known as Krishna Dvaipayana and Veda-Vyasa. He might have flourished around 1500 BC, in Vedic times.

Theories as to when and how the Gita was made, differ a lot. There is an ancient core of the Mahabharata epos of which the Gita is a slender part). This core epos, Jaya, consists of about 8,800 stanzas attributed to Vyasa. There is a bigger nucleus too, the Bharata, of some 24 000 stanzas, and then the long poem, Mahabharata of 100,000 stanzas. Some scholars hold that the Jaya, Bharata and Mahabharata speak of three main stages of formation down the centuries (A. D. Pulsaker, in Radhakrishnan 1962, 30, 51). The oldest preserved parts of the text are thought to be not much older than around 400 BCE, though the origins could be between the 8th and 9th centuries BCE. The text might have reached its final form by the fourth century CE) (WP, "Mahabharata")

Moreover, the Bhagavad Gita as it has grown and come down to us, may be regarded as an effort at combining fairly differing ideas, some of which are found in Vedic literature.

Many Gita commentaries and translations have been added with widely differing views on the essentials. As a result, there are thousands on thousands of pages about what may have once started as a slender poem.

A jungle of words - can it be dealt with well? Maybe. A wise person tries to get through it unharmed without being bitten by something bad. How? By studying what methods of meditation help us go easily beyond words and concepts. It is called transcending.

Also worth knowing: Attachment to a lot of the Gita phrases may be of little worth in the light of something Adi Shankara wrote:

Wisdom Study of the scriptures is fruitless as long as Brahman [God] has not been experienced. And when Brahman has been experienced, it is useless to read the scriptures. [Shankara)

When the Great Reality is not known, the study of the scriptures is fruitless. When the Great Reality is known, the study of the scriptures is also fruitless. [The same, reworded]

Regardless of that, Shankara wrote a Gita commentary too. Getting full of Reality does not bar the making of lots of scriptures, then. Also, Shankara's activities and words (above) suggest that study of some scriptures is not completely useless up to a certain level. Good education is ideally for something like that. But after all, a good deal of Gita detachment is fit and may work for good. The Gita repeatedly advocates detachment, vairagya too (see 6.35; 13.9; and 18,52). Some illustrations may work even better - who knows?

The Story of Gunanidhi

Gunanidhi was the very handsome son of a Vedic scholar, but he turned to gambling, playing, and wild, unritual conduct. His mother covered for him so that his honoured father knew nothing about what went on.

When Gunanidhi was nineteen, his mother told him to turn his attention to good learning and to feel ashamed of his wickedness - drinking, having prostitutes, stealing, lying, base gambling, and so on - or his unruly foolishness would backfire on his parents. She hoped he would marry a sixteen old girl instead.

His father was told about him at last, and found out that missing objects in the home had been stolen by their son, and said to his wife, "I marry again!"

Gunanidhi had to leave home. He moaned to himself while sitting at the foot of a tree, watching the setting sun, "A wealthy man fears thieves; I have nothing."

As he was sitting there, a devotee of the Lord came out of the city to offer food in worship of the Lord a in a temple nearby, for it was a night for that. Gunanidhi could smell sweet puddings and thought: "It is good these devotees go to sleep after offering eatables to Shiva. I shall then eat puddings and sweets in the night."

Soon the young man entered the holy of holies in the temple to steal the food left. The lamp was burning very dimly in there. To see the puddings clearly he tore a piece of cloth from his lower garment (dhoti) and put that piece in the lamp as a wick. Then he gleefully took plenty of the sweets offerend to Shiva and hurried out. But he stamped on someone lying in the dark temple yard, and then ran for his life. He was caught, though, and killed by the watchmen.

The angels of Death were on the spot at once with nooses and clubs and bound him. But at that very moment ministering angels of the Lord appeared and said the boy could not be punished.

The angels of Death protested, "This is a wicked Brahmin. If he has anything at all to his credit, leat us hear it."

But the angels said, "The Lord's ideas of proper conduct are rarified and subtle (fine). This young man kept the lamp lit by adding a wick to it at night. He also happened to listen to the names of the Lord, though inadvertently. Waiting for food he witnessed proper worship and observed a fast with his mind well focused (on food). Let him go to highest heaven, then, and enjoy great pleasures. He has become a great favourite of the Lord."

And the boy went along with the angels to enjoy all sorts of pleasures. Let all who seek happiness realise this, says the Siva Purana. [Shastri 2001, 1:255-65]

"Don't believe anything you are told, due to great hopes," is also something hold fast to. The young man did not show any greed for merits, and did not hanker wildly for conventional esteem and the like, unlike so many secret robbers:

The Plunderers Who Go About as Religious

There was a goldsmith who kept a jewelry shop. He looked like a great devotee, with beads round his neck, rosary in his hand, and the holy marks on his forehead. And people trusted him and came to his shop on business. They thought that, being such a pious man, he would never cheat them.

Whenever a party of customers entered the shop, they would hear one of his craftsmen say, "Kesava! Kesava!'

Another would say after a while, "Gopal! Gopal!'

Then a third would mutter, "Hari! Hari!'

Finally someone would say, "Hara! Hara!'

These are different names of God. Hearing so much chanting of God's names the customers thought that this goldsmith must be a very superior person. But what was the goldsmith's true intention? The man who said " Kesava! Kesava!" meant to ask, "Who are these? - Who are these customers?'

The man who said "Gopal! Gopal!" conveyed the idea that the customers were merely a herd of cows. That was the estimate he formed of them after the exchange of a few words.

The man who said "Hari! Hari!" asked, "Since they are no better than a herd of cows, then may we rob them?"

He who said "Hara! Hara!" gave his assent, meaning by these words, "Do rob by all means, since they are mere cows!" (Ramakrishna 1974)

A supreme lesson: Where sinners cry "God, God!" and similar in public and pose as religious, expect some robbery is being prepared if it is not going on.

In The Forest of the World

Once a man was going through a forest, when three robbers fell upon him and robbed him of all his possessions.

One of the robbers said, "What's the use of keeping this man alive?" So saying, he was about to kill him with his sword.

The second robber interrupted him, saying, "Oh! no! What is the use of killing him? Tie his hand and foot and leave him here."

The robbers thereupon bound his hands and feet and went away.

After a while the third robber returned and said to the man, "Ah, I am sorry. Are you hurt? I will release you from your bonds." After setting the man free, the thief said, "Come with me. I will take you to the public high way."

After a long time they reached the road. At this the man said, "Sir, you have been very good to me. Come with me to my house."

"Oh, no!" the robber replied. "I can't go there. The police will know it." (Ramakrishna 1974)

Sri Ramakrishna tells how three gunas (qualitites) work: They are bandits in the forest of the world as far as they rob a man of the Knowledge of Great Truth. We could say: Tamas wants to falsify him. Rajas binds him to intrigues. Sattva rescues him somewhat, but not completely.

Though the three gunas are no parts of the world in itself, they are much used in Indian philosophy, including a Bhagavad Gita chapter added long after Vyasa's Jaya of 10,000 verses.

〰ೞ⬯ೞ〰

Summary

  • Get beyond many words; learn Transcendental Meditation - for it works best among tested methods according to many research findings. It may be combined with study also.
  • Watch out that no one doctrinates you by largely unfit reverential talk and claims on a too loose foundation. You should get a Gita without lengthy commentaries first, and then leave it a lot for the sake of happy meditation.
  • Don't believe everything you are told and which is put in the mouth of Krishna in retrospect. You may get some help toward that by studying how the Bhagavad Gita was formed over centuries. Dr. Sinha's groundbreaking book may serve as an eye-opener.
Good luck.


Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavad-gita cultivation and development, Literature  

Chidbhavananda, Swami. 2010. The Bhagavad Gita: Original Stanzas - split up Reading - Transliteration Word for Word Translation - a Lucid English Rendering and Commentary.Tirupparaithurai: Sri Ramakrishna Taopvanam. ⍽▢⍽ A lot of added words.

Fosse, Lars Martin, tr. 2007. The Bhagavad Gita: The Original Sanskrit and an English Translation. Woodstock, NY: YogaVidya.com.

Ganguli, Kisari Mohan, tr. 1883-96. The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa. 18 Parvas (Books). 12-volumed reprint ed. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. ⍽▢⍽ If you want to read a literal Mahabharata translation without comments, this one works. The original publisher was Pratap Chandra Roy, a Calcutta bookseller with a printing press. A more readable, complete translation in the public domain is at sacred-texts.com, and its 5816 pages in one volume is at archive.org. The Bhagavad Gita spans chapters 2340 of the sixth parva (book) of this vast and varied treasure-trove of the past.

Gambhirananda, Swami. 1984. Srimad Bhagavad Gita: With the Commentary of Sankaracharya. Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama. ⍽▢⍽ A lot of added words.

Johnson, W. J., tr. The Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation. Reissue ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Krishnananda, Swami. 2014. Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. Rishikesh: The Divine Life Society. ⍽▢⍽ Many added words.

Nikhilananda, Swami. 1952. The Bhagavad Gita: Translated from the Sanskrit, with Notes, Comments, and Introduction. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center. ⍽▢⍽ Rather good.

Patton, Laurie L., tr. 2008. The Bhagavad Gita. London: Penguin Classics. ⍽▢⍽ Blank verse.

Prabhupada, Srila, tr., comm. 1998. Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. Alachua, FL: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. ⍽▢⍽ A lot of added words and the risk of getting doctrinated.

Prabhupada, Srila, tr., comm. 2011. Srimad Bhagavad-gita. 3rd ed. Vrindavana: Gaudiya Vedanta Publications. ⍽▢⍽ A lot of added words. Fit for doctrination.

Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, main ed. 1962. The Cultural Heritage of India. Vol. 2. 2nd ed. Calcutta: Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture.

Ramakrishna: Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna. 5th ed. Madras: Ramakrishna Math, 1974.

Rosen, Steven J. 2007. Krishna's Song: A New Look at the Bhagavad Gita. London: Praeger.

Sands, William: 2013. Maharishi's Yoga: The Royal Path to Enlightenment. Fairfield, IA: Maharishi University of Management Press. ⍽▢⍽ The surprise.

Sargeant, Winthrop, tr. 2009. The Bhagavad Gita. A Twenty-fifth-Anniversary Ed. Albany NY: State University of New York.

Shastri, J. H. ed. 2002. Siva Purana. Part 1. Reprint ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ⍽▢⍽ Stories and teachings hailing Siva.

Sinha, Phulgenda. 1987. The Gita as It Was: Rediscovering the Original Bhagavadgita. Paperback ed. La Salle, Ill: Open Court Publishing Company. ⍽▢⍽ Useful corrective.

Sivananda, Swami. 2000. Bhagavad Gita. Shivanandanagar: Divine Life Society. ⍽▢⍽ Good.

van Buitenen, Johannes Adrianus Bernardus. The Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2013. ⍽▢⍽ Translating the Bhagavad Gita is difficult - that should stand out. The text forms part of van Buitenen's widely acclaimed translation into the Mahabharata (as far as he reached).

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