The Gita Sastrartha Viveka is an original work by Sri Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati on the Bhagavadgita. The author has himself explained in the Introduction the object with which he has written it. It is, as its name implies, an attempt to analysis the teachings of Sri Krishna Bhagavan in the light of Sankara’s Commentary. Thus two birds have been killed with the one stone, for while the Gita teachings have been shown to form a harmonious whole in consonance with the Upanishad doctrine, Sankara’s system itself has been clarified and put in a nut-shell, to the exclusion of incorrect and conflicting interpretations as well as misrepresentations. In conjunction with the Swamiji’s sub-commentaries on the Upanishad Bhashyas and the Sutra-Bhashya, this penetrating analysis and pellucid exposition of the Gita-Bhashya, is sure to create a more living interest among Pundits and Scholars in the study of the genuine teachings of Sankara.
The Working Committee of the Karyalaya is highly grateful to the Swamiji for adding one more precious work to the list of his Sanskrit writings, the right of publishing which he has made over to the Institution. The printing of the present work has been possible’ solely through the generous financial help of some devotees who prefer to remain anonymous. We hereby record our heart-felt gratitude to these and all others who have rendered assistance one way or the other in this connection.
The Bhagavadgita, or the ‘Lord’s Song’ as it has been called, has suffered from the very popularity it has gained in the literary world. In proportion to the number of languages into which it has been translated and the numerous new commentaries that have sprung up besides the varieties of expositions that have been making their appearance almost every year, our ability to spot and appreciate the genuine Gita teaching seems to be thinning out more and more. The great Sankaracharya whose Bhashya on the work is the most ancient one yet available, has had to bend under the weight of the increasing number of sub-commentaries and newer and newer interpretations.
My aim in writing the present work, however, is not concerned with these differences and conflicts of interpreters. I only wanted to make an experiment and see whether it be not possible to make Sankara explain himself independently of the assistance offered by glossators and whether it be not practicable to get a system of Gita teaching by an analysis of the work purely on the basis of the self-explanatory Bhashya. I now find that it is not only feasible! but also the only means of arriving at the conclusive teaching of the Gita as regards both spiritual discipline and enlightenment Only this way, at least that is what I have come to believe, the several tenets are to be felt to be in perfect unison” and form an intelligible whole serving as a guide on the path to aspirants for enlightenment and realization of their true Self. The reader, of course, has to, judge for himself and see how far this conclusion of mine is appealing to his own heart.
And now for the teaching itself. Sankara says that the Bhagavadgita is a Smrti containing the quintessence of all Vedic teaching (समस्तवेदार्थसारसंग्रहभूतम्), and he confirms this view of his in the Sutra-Bhashya also, for even where Badarayana appeals to a Smrti in general terms (e.g. स्मृतेश्व १-२-६, स्मरन्ति च ४-१-१०) the Sankara-Bhashya adduces” specific slokas from the Gita. This view has the sanction of Sri Krishna himself who appeals to the Vedas and the Vedanta tradition in the Gita (p. 46). This fact is of great importance to the seeker of Truth here; for unlike the other Darsanas, the Gita according to Sankara, based as it is on the Upanishads, never appeals to perception and other canons of right knowledge (Pramanas) but to the Sastric knowledge and universal intuition (ज्ञानं विज्ञानसहितम् Bhg. 7- 2, 9-1).I have therefore cited the relevant Upanishad Texts in foot-notes wherever the Gita appears merely to echo the Sruti without striving to prove facts. This accounts for Sankara’s following the traditional custom of styling this sacred work as the Gita-Sastra, implying thereby that it is based upon Sastra or the Veda only (pp. 1,5,48).
I have given my reason for considering the colophon at the end of each chapter of the Gita as not really forming part of the text (p. 3). Nevertheless, this tailpiece to be found in most of the printed books contains a valuable description of the nature of the contents of the Gita. when it characterizes the work as Brahma-Vidya (knowledge of Brahman), and Yoga-Sastra (the Science of the Yogas), for notwithstanding the loud protestation of the dualistic schools of Vedanta to the contrary, the Bhagavadgita is really Brahma-Vidya in the strict sense of the term that is to say, it closely follows the Upanishads when it declares’ in unmistakable terms that Brahman is the very Self residing in the heart of each creature (अहमात्मा गुडाकेश सर्वभूताशयस्थित:, Bhg. 10-20), and conversely the individual soul in all the bodies, is really the Divine Being (क्षेत्रज्ञ चापि मां विद्धि, 13-2). For further details regarding the Divinity as understood by the author of the Gita, the reader is referred to the Chapter XVIII (in Bhagavat-tattva-viveka) of the present work.
As for the other epithet Yoga-sastra it should be observed that on the right understanding of the term ‘Yoga’ depends what we would regard as the essential teaching of this holy scripture concerning the means to final release from life’s bondage. According to Sankara ultimate resting in the intuition of Reality, with the metaphysical renunciation of all empirical activity is what is called Yoga’, while the secondary ‘Yogas’, to wit, the. Karma Yoga, the Dhyana Yoga, and the Bhakti Yoga, are so called because they directly or indirectly lead to this Yoga par excellence (pp.18, 23). “In particular, according to the Gita, each and every ‘Yoga’ becomes entitled to be called by that name only in so far as it is somehow related to Bhagavan or the Divine Being (p. 129).
It should be especially noted that the terms ‘Yoga’ and ‘Sankhya’ do not bear the same connotation in the Gita as they do in the schools of philosophy ordinarily known by these names. I have therefore drawn the attention of the reader to this fact at the very outset (Chapters IV and V) so as to wean away his mind from the usual prejudice against the Gita which has led some thinkers to surmise that this scripture is a mixture’ of these Darsanas with a sprinkling of Vedanta. Further ‘in order to convince the beginner that the Gita, in spite of its frequent use of Sankhya and Yoga terms, has altogether its own system to offer, I have in the Appendix compared and contrasted it with these two Darsanas with reference to some important particulars of doctrine.
A special feature of the present work is that a considerable portion of it is devoted to discriminate the several shades of meaning of certain important technical terms interspersed throughout, a clear grasp of which alone can enable one to distinguish the several doctrines here propounded. The fairly exhaustive Index at the end is intended to strengthen and prepare the intellect of the beginner for this line of enquiry.
[I regret very much that a number of printing and other errors have remained uncorrected in the body of the book owing especially to my being engrossed in the preparation of a larger work and frequent unavoidable absence from the station during the time this was in the press. I remember with special gratefulness and Narayana Smaranams the services rendered by Br. Sri Parakkaje Subrahmanya Bhatta, Vedanta Siromani, who has prepared the errata list given at the end of this edition. The errors will of course be expunged from a future edition if the book is, destined to have one.]
I hope that this humble analysis of the Gita, teaching in accordance with Sankara’s Bhashya will rouse the curiosity of the reader and stimulate him to take to a more diligent study of that sacred work as also of the classical works of that ancient Acarya with special reference to his views on the Gita. My labour in producing a pioneer work of this kind will have been amply rewarded if Bhagavan Narayana’s grace produces this effect upon the minds of even a small number of those that happen to dip into this booklet.
The right of printing and publishing the work has been completely made over, as in the case of my previous writings, to the Adhyatma Prakasha Karyalaya, Holenarsipur.
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