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The Bhagavadgita 1

The Bhagavadgita 1

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Published by: Satyendra Nath Dwivedi on Nov 24, 2009
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Book: Dr. S. RadhakrishnanSummary: Satyendra Nath DwivediPart 1Preface
The concepts of right and wrong do not belong to the sphere of science; yet it is,on the study of the ideas centering round these concepts, that human action andhappiness ultimately depend. The Bhagavad-Gita is a valuable aid for theunderstanding of the supreme ends of life.No translation of the Gita can bring out the dignity and grace of the original. Itsmelody and magic of phrase are difficult to recapture in another medium.Those who know Sanskrit can rise to a full comprehension of the meaning of theGita by pondering over the Sanskrit original. Those who do not know Sanskrit willget a fairly correct idea of the spirit of the poem from the beautiful Englishrendering by Sir Edwin Arnold. It is so full of ease and grace and has a flavour of its own which makes it acceptable to all but those who are scrupulous aboutscholarly accuracy.
INTRODUCTORY ESSAYChapter 1: Importance of the WorkThe Bhagavad-Gita is more a religious classic than a philosophical treatise
.Millions of Hindus, for centuries, have found comfort in this great book which setsforth in precise and penetrating words the essential principles of a spiritualreligion which are not contingent on ill-founded facts, unscientific dogmas or arbitrary fancies. With a long history of spiritual power, it serves even today as alight to all who will receive illumination from the profundity of its wisdom whichinsists on a world wider and deeper than wars and revolutions can touch. It is apowerful shaping factor in the renewal of spiritual life and has secured anassured place among the world’s greatest scriptures.The Gita is called an Upanishad, since it derives its main inspiration from thatremarkable group of scriptures, the Upanishads. Though the Gita gives us avision of the truth, impressive and profound, though it opens up new paths for the
mind of man, it accepts assumptions which are a part of the tradition of pastgenerations and embedded in the language it employs. It crystallizes andconcentrates the thoughts and feelings which were developing among thethinking people of its time.
Chapter 2: Date and Text
Its date may be assigned to the fifth century BC, though the text may havereceived many alterations in subsequent times. The eighteen chapters of the Gitaform Chapters 23 to 40 of ‘
’ of the ‘
Chapter 3: Chief Commentators
The Gita has been recognized for centuries as an orthodox scripture of the Hindureligion possessing equal authority with the Upanishads and the ‘
Brahma Sutra
and the three together form the triple cannon (‘
’). The teachers of Vedanta are obliged to justify their special doctrines by an appeal to these threeauthorities and so wrote commentaries on them expounding how the texts teachtheir special points of view.The Upanishads contain many different suggestions about the nature of theAbsolute and Its relation to the world. The Brahma Sutra is so terse and obscurethat it has been used to yield a variety of interpretations. The Gita gives a moreconsistent view and the task of the commentators, who wish to interpret the textsto their own ends, becomes more difficult.The commentary of Shankara (AD 788-820) is the most ancient of the existingones. Shankara affirms that Reality or Brahman is one without a second.Shankara holds that while action is essential as a means for purification of themind, when wisdom is attained action falls away. The aim of Gita, according toShankara, is the complete suppression of the world of becoming in which allaction occurs, though his own life is an illustration of activity carried on, after theattainment of wisdom.Shankara’s views were developed by Anandagiri (13
Century), Shridhara (AD1400) and Madhusudana (Sixteenth Century). The Maratha saints Tukarama andJnanaeshwar are great devotees though they accept Shankara in metaphysics.Ramanuja (Eleventh Century AD), in his commentary refutes the doctrine of theunreality of the world and the path of renunciation of action. Brahman the highestreality, is Spirit, but not without attributes. He has self-consciousness withknowledge of Himself and a conscious will to create the world and bestowsalvation on His creatures. The world is no deception or illusion but is genuineand real. The world is not only the body of God but His remainder.
Ramanuja develops in his commentary on Gita a type of personal mysticism. Inthe secret places of the human soul, God dwells but He is unrecognized by it solong as the soul does not acquire the redeeming knowledge. Ramanuja admitsthat the paths of knowledge, devotion and action are all mentioned in the Gita,but he holds that its main emphasis is on devotion.Madhava (1199-1276 AD) wrote two works on the Bhagavad-Gita, called the
’ and ‘
’. He attempts to derive from the Gita tenets of dualistic (‘
’) philosophy. He interprets the passage
that art thou
as meaning that we must give up the distinction between mineand thine, and hold that everything is subject to the control of God. Madhavacontends that devotion is the method emphasized in the Gita.Vallabha (AD 1476) develops what is called ‘Shuddhadvaita’ or pure non-dualism. The ego (‘jiva’) when pure and unblended by illusions and the SupremeBrahman are one. Souls are particles of God like sparks of fire and they cannotacquire the knowledge necessary for release except by the grace of theSupreme. Devotion to God is the most important means of obtaining release.Bhakti is truth associated with love.The Hindu tradition believes that the different views are complimentary. TheBhagavat says that the sages have described in various ways the essential truth.In a popular verse, Hanuman says:
“From the view-point of the body, I am Thy servant; from the view-point of theego, I am a portion of Thee; from the view-point of the self, I am Thyself.” 
God is experienced as Thou or I according to the plane in whichconsciousness centers
Chapter 4: Ultimate Reality
The Upanishads affirm the reality of a Supreme Brahman, one without a second,without attributes, who is identical with the deepest self of man.The Upanishads support Divine activity and participation in nature and give us aGod who exceeds the mere infinite and the mere finite. The theistic emphasisbecomes prominent in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad.
“He, who is one and without any colour (visible form), by the manifold wielding of His power, ordains many colours (forms) with a concealed purpose and into

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