The Bhagavadgita- As A Synthesis (An Old and Rare Book)
|Author:||M. R. Yardi|
|Publisher:||Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune|
|Other Details||9.00 X 6.00 inch|
The Bhagavadgita, the Divine Song, has rightly found a place among the world's classics. It has been translated Into Indian languages (1412 translations), into English (273 translations) and other languages (191 translations). In the catelogue of the British Museum there is a reference to Ms No. 5651 with a condensed version of the Gita ascribed to Abul Fazl, a scribe in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Scholars also ascribe to him a separate Persian version of the Gita, which contains the full text. Dara Shukoh, eldest son of the Mughal Emperor Shahajaban, translated the Gita in 1656 The Gita was translated from Sanskrit into English by Sir Charles Wilkins, the first Librarian of the East India Company (later India Office Library). Waren Hastings, a soldier statesman with little reputation for learning, said that the Gita and the Indian scriptures "will survive when the British Dominion In India shall have long ceased to exist"
The Gita had a profound influence on contemporary Indian philosophical thought. It incorporated the Sankhya, Yoga and Pancaratra systems into Vedanta and provided the germ for later development of the Bhagavata Dharma. The two chief works of Mahayana Buddhism seem deeply indebted to the teaching of the Gita.
The Gita declares that God-realisation is the final aim of human life and that this could be attained through the practice of yogic discipline. However, the existence of God is not susceptible of direct proof. One of the arguments usually advanced is that this belief is, with a few exceptions, universally held. The great German philosopher Kant was the first to point out that the concepts of time, space and causation exist only in their application to sensuous experience and do not belong to external world. He also held earlier that like these concepts the idea of God was also inherent in the mind of man. In his critique of Pure reason, be has shown the invalidity of intellectual proofs of God such as the ontological, the cosmological and the physico theological, but he accepted in the Critique of Practical Reason the moral proof of God as the dispenser of the recompense of works. Later be regarded this moral proof also as untenable. Kant, however, advanced the teleological argument in his last critique to prove the existence of God."
A stanza in the Bhagavata-Purana (X. 43. 17: Mallanam asanir nrnam naravarah strinam amaro murtiman...), which beautifully illustrates the Uilekha-alamkara of the rhetoricians (bahubhir bahudhollekhad ekosyollekha ucyate Candraloka 5. 19), describes how Krsna simultaneously appeared differently to different persons. Whenever I think of the Bhagavadgita (BG) I am reminded of this stanza, for, the BG also has, through the ages, appealed differently to different sorts of people. It is, therefore, not surprising that the BG has evoked an amazing variety of interpretations and doctrinal emphases. In its usual colophons (which, however, do not occur in the critical edition and which Shri Yardi also has chosen not to include in his edition), the BG is characterized as embodying the Mystic-teachings (upanisads) imparted by Lord Krsna Himself (bhagavadgita) through his dialogue with Arjuna (Krsnarjunasamvada), the Brahman-lore (brahmavidya), and the Yoga-precept (yogasastra). It is, accordingly, claimed that whosoever studies the BG thoroughly need not bother himself about the prolixity of other Sastric writings: gita sugita kartavya kim anyaiḥ sastravistaraih (MBh. Crit. Ed. 6. 113). In the history of the religio-philosophical literature of India, the BG has thus come to assume a uniquely influential position. It is indeed said to be the most seminal of all Hindu scriptures.
The present edition of the BG by Shri M. R. Yardi, which he has aptly entitled Bhagavadgita as a Synthesis, follows the usual pattern of such works. It opens with an exhaustive Introduction (146 pages) which is followed by carefully edited Text and lucid Translation (I sorely missed the corner-references to chapter and stanza which should have been given on each page!) and explanatory notes. In view of the prolific commentarial literature which has been produced on the BG, it becomes particularly incumbent upon a critical student first to unlearn much of it. One needs to begin with concerning oneself with what the BG itself says and not what others say it says. It is, therefore, highly reassuring to be told by Shri Yardi that he has attempted to discover the true message of the Gita unencumbered by the different interpretations of its illustrious commentators ".
The Bhagavadgita is a superb philosophical poem which embodies the quintessence of the Upanisadic teaching. It has exercised and will continue to exercise the greatest influence on the Hindu minds as the revealed word of God. It has served as the prime authority on moral instruction and as a philosophical and religious text. It appeals to both the mind and the heart. It declares unequivocally that the formless God who appeals to the intellectual is the same as the Personal God, who appeals to the emotional. It affirms that God-realisation is the supreme end of human life and that it can be attained through dedication to knowledge (jnananistha). It lays down three paths of God-realisation, the path of knowledge for the ascetic and the intellectual, the path of action for the activist and the path of devotion for the emotionally-inclined. But it also makes it clear that whatever path one chooses initially, one ultimately attains the knowledge of God, which culminates in supreme devotion.
The Gita does not form part of the scriptures, but the Upanisads, the Gita and the Brahmasutra form the triple canon (prasthana-trayi) of Hindu religion, and are regarded as authoritative on the fundamental tenets of Vedanta. Any teaching, which does not conform to these tenets, is considered heterodox and not worthy of notice. On the other hand, those who have studied this triple Canon and have written commentaries on them are called Acaryas and held in high regard by the Hindus. Our great religious leaders have written commentaries on them to demonstrate that they contain or support their particular doctrines. The earliest commentary on the Gita, which is available now, is that of Sri Sankaracarya (seventh century A. D.). He, however, refers to some prima facie views held by a predecessor, who is commonly acknowledged to be Bodhayana. Sri Sankara was followed by a succession of Acaryas, who have interpreted the Gita according to their own schools of thought. Among them are Sri Ramanuja, Sri Nimbarka and his follower Keshava Kashmiri, Sri Madhvacarya, Sri Vallabhacarya and Madhusudana. The Gita also has brought about a synthesis among the doctrines of Vedanta, Sankhya-yoga and Pancaratra systems, which were prevalent in its times. One could almost say without exaggeration that the Gita was the first ecumenical effort' to bring these different philosophical systems under the banner of Krsna Vasudeva, who came to be accepted as an incarnation of the Supreme God. The commentators of the Gita, however, lost of the fact that the Gita had tried to synthesize the prevailing systems that vied with one another to establish that their own interpretation conveyed the sole message of the Gita. An attempt has, therefore, been made to discover the true message of the Gita unencumbered by the different interpretations of its illustrious commentators.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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