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Advaita for the 21st Century

Mundane Distortions in the
Divine Discourse

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B S Murthy

Bhagvad-Gita: Treatise of Self-Help
Verses in Contemporary Idiom sans Interpolations

For the complete text, go to the Vedanta Spiritual Library website.

Part II

Part I

Chapter 11: Owing to the improbability of their being, slokas 9-14, make an amusing read. Sloka 3 states that Krishna grants Arjuna the divine sight required to espy His Universal Form. Of course, the ESP that Vyasa granted Sanjaya (sloka 75, chapter 18) might have enabled him to monitor the goings on at the battleground in order to appraise the blind king, Dhrutarashtra, about the same. Thus, only from Arjuna�s averments could have Sanjaya gathered what he was divining of the Universal Form, which obviously was beyond his (Sanjaya's) own comprehension. But slokas 10-14 would have him describe the Universal Form as though he himself was witnessing the same, even before Arjuna utters a word about it. In this context, it is worth noting that the Lord made it clear in sloka 52, �Ever craved gods �n angels too / Just to behold what thee beheld.' Thus, the Universal Form that was seen by Arjuna surely was beyond the scope of Sanjaya's ESP and hence, slokas 9-14 that picture beforehand what Arjuna would witness later on are clear interpolations. Contrast this with the parallel situation in slokas 50-51, when the Lord reassumes His human form, but handled differently by Sanjaya. Sloka 29 which seeks to emphasize what was already pictured in sloka 28, albeit with not so appropriate a simile, could be but an interpolation.

Chapter 13: One might notice that sloka 10, advocating asceticism to which Krishna is opposed, doesn't gel with the rest, either contextually or philosophically, and thus should be seen as an interpolation. Sloka 22, which states that the Supreme Soul lay in beings as a sustainer, consenter, enjoyer and overseer, contravenes its very nature expostulated in slokas 16-18, Chapter 15. Besides, as can be seen, it affects the continuity between sloka 21 and sloka 23 of this chapter. Sloka 30, akin to sloka 15, is an irrelevant interpolation.

Chapter 14: In this chapter that details the three human proclivities - virtue, passion and delusion - sloka 3, sloka 4 and sloka 19 that deal with the Nature and the Spirit are digressive interpolations.

Chapter 15: Sloka 9, sloka 12, sloka 13, sloka 14 and sloka 15 being digressions are clearly interpolations.

Chapter 16: Sloka 19 which implies that the Supreme Spirit condemns to hell those who hate Him is an obvious interpolation that contravenes Krishna�s affirmative statement in sloka 29, Chapter 9, and other such averred in many a context in this text.

Chapter 17: Slokas 11-13 that deal with the virtuous, the passionate and the deluded in ritualistic sense and slokas 23-28 concerning Om, Tat, Sat and Asat of the Vedic hymns are clear interpolations for reasons the reader is familiar with. However, slokas 7-10 that deal with the food habits of the virtuous, the passionate and the deluded would pose a problem in determining whether or not they are interpolations. Can eating habits be linked to the innate nature of man in an infallible manner? Perhaps, some future research and analysis might resolve the universality or otherwise of this averment, and till then, it is appropriate to reserve the judgment on these.

Chapter 18: One can note that sloka 12 breaks the continuity between sloka 11 and sloka 13 with hyperbolic averments and sloka 56 combines what is stated in the preceding and the succeeding slokas, and thus both are seemingly interpolations. Slokas 41-48 that describe the allotted duties of man on the basis of his caste are clearly interpolations. In essence, the discourse until sloka 40 is about the human nature and how it affects man. As can be seen, the duties on caste lines detailed in the said interpolations have no continuity of argument. As in earlier chapters, the text acquires continuity if only these verses are bypassed. Sloka 61 avers that the Supreme dwells in humans and deludes them all by his maya. This is contrary to what is stated in sloka 14, Chapter 5: �It�s his nature but not Spirit / Makes man act by wants induced.' Thus, sloka 61 clearly is an interpolation as it contravenes the neutrality of the Supreme Spirit in the affairs of man affirmed throughout by Lord Krishna.

For those who may like to see how the Gita reads if the above cited 110 slokas are bypassed, the same are summarized as under.

Chapter 3: slokas 9�18, sloka 24 and sloka 35 (12 slokas); Chapter 4: slokas 11-13, slokas 24-32 and sloka 34 (13 slokas); Chapter 5: sloka 18 and sloka 27-29 (4 slokas); Chapter 6: slokas 10-17 and slokas 41-42 (10 slokas); Chapter 7: slokas 20-23 (4 slokas); Chapter 8: sloka 5, slokas 9-14 and slokas 23-28 (13 slokas); Chapter 9: sloka 7, slokas 15-21, slokas 23-25, and slokas 32-34 (14 slokas); Chapter 11: slokas 9-14 and sloka 29 (7 slokas); Chapter 13: sloka 10, sloka 22 and sloka 30 (3 slokas); Chapter 14: slokas 3-4 and sloka 19 (3 slokas); Chapter 15: sloka 9 and slokas 12-15 (5 slokas); Chapter 16: sloka 19 (1 sloka); Chapter 17: slokas 11-14 and slokas 23- 28 (10 slokas); and Chapter 18: sloka 12, slokas 41-48, sloka 56 and sloka 61 (11 slokas).

One may like to go read the Bhagvad-Gita: Treatise of Self-Help in verse sans the above or hear the audio rendition of the same hosted at gatewayforindia.com.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012