About the Book:
The Brahma-Yoga of the Gita has broken the limits of closed thinking and the artificial walls which are unfortunately maintained even now by the followers of the great Vedanta Schools. Its central teachings are: 1, that there will never emerge the illuminational direct and the concrete, blissful knowledge of Brahaman, unless one receives the Grace of God through a powerful God-realized Master; 2, that all kinds of altruistic works, penances, sacrifices, philosophic contemplation on virtues, and yogic postures, though a useful as means, will never be substitute for God-realization; 3, that what is nowa-days loosely talked about, an Anasakt-yoga or the Niskama Karma-yoga, can never be achieved without the ful-filment of the prior conditions of Asa-kti or attachment to God; 4, that Bhakti, Jnana (experience of God) and Vairagya are independent, and must grow together; 5, that experience of spiritual equality of all creatures before God must be the basis and the source of all other kinds of unity, equality and fraternity; and that 6, finally, man is only an instrument in the hands of God, and that his duty lies in participating in the nature of God and in his works, as also in leading the erring humanity towards fellow-felling, God-realization and the bliss of it.
About the Author:
Vishnu Hari Date is a familiar name in the modern philosophical world. He came into prominence with the publication of his Vedanta Explained, 2 vols., and the Yoga of Saints, which elicited the eloquent commendation from the eminent philosopher-saint, Prof. R.D. Ranade that, "it is a work which will command our respect, and it is the outcome of his own deep conviction and personal experience". Dr. Date began his career as his early 1932 as Professor of 4 Philosophy in the colleges at Belgam and Kolhapur. Subsequently he came over to Rajasthan in 1947 and was associated with Universities of Jodhpur and Jaipur. During this period many brilliant students had the privilege of working under him and got their Ph.D. He retired in 1963, as a Reader and Head of the Department of Philosophy, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur.
To understand reality behind the changing phenomena and to know how to participate in the nature of that Reality which one may call as the Atman, or the Brahman, or God are the two great problems which have engaged the attention of the philosophers and the saints in India from time immemorial. According to the Samkhya system of philosophy which is considered as the oldest of all, the creation of the universe is explained by means of two concepts, namely, the Prakrti and the Purusa. The Prakrti is considered as consisting of three gunas, and as being the only active principle, while the Purusa is regarded as the passive spectator. To a casual reader it may appear that this view is accepted by the Gita also (13.19). But this is not so. Prakrti is not accepted as an independent entity, but as the Power of God, known as Maya, and therefore dependent on God (7.12-14). The Vedantin of the Upanisadic period also does not seem to be completely free from believing, probably under the influence of the Samkhyas, that the Saguna Brahman, that is, Brahman qualified by Maya, like the Prakrti of the Samkhyas, was alone responsible for the entire show of the creation of the world, and that the Absolute or the Nirguna Brahman, like the Purusa of the Samkhyas, was in no way concerned with the fleeting show. The change which took place while passing from the Samkhya view to this view of the Vedanta can be said to be two-fold. The place of an independent and all powerful Prakrti, has, in the first place, been occupied by the dependent and obedient Maya; and that in the second place, as the change was only in the direction of monism, it was inevitable that, long before pure monism came to stay some sort of quasi-monism should have developed and existed side by side with the view of the Samkhyas during the long Upanisadic period. A concrete illustration of this, we get in the Svetasvatara Upanisad (IV. l0), where Maya is said to be the Prakrti, and the Lord of Maya (Mayin) as the highest God (Mahesvara). Corresponding however to the change in the nature of the Prakrti of the Samkhyas, there came about a change in the nature of the Purusa also. Prakrti changed into Maya, and so did Purusa into the Saguna Brahman or Mahesvara. In other words, there came about a rapprochement from both the ends of the ‘unbridgeable gulf of the dualism of the Samkhyas; and the monism that sprang up from this was one in which Maya acted as the permanent consort of the one Supreme God.
Thus, when thought-ferment of the free Upanisadic period was being crystallized into an harmonious combination of monism and dualism, and when the endeavour of the Bhagavadgita also was to hamstring in advance the conflicting and unfruitful tendencies of the Indian thought to run into different but opposing channels of the scholastic period, what unfortunately happened actually afterwards was that the synoptic view of some of the more catholic Upanisads was lost sight of, and then with the mingling of the orthodox and unorthodox currents of thought there, came about various permutations and combinations of philosophical views about man, world and God. The richness in variety was certainly a gain; but along with it, grew enormously the confusion due to prejudice, prepossession and half-baked thoughts. Even the Vedantic schools, which arose in the melee did not only not succeed in bringing about harmony, but only ended in accentuating the differences and in creating huge walls between themselves. The followers of even the great Acaryas went a step further in hardening the differences, and so could not see face to face their opponents. Like the Brahma-Sutras and the Upanisads, the Bhagavadgita also became only a new weapon in their hands by which they thought they could vanquish their opponents. The ethico-psychological method of finding that the metaphysical truth is nothing but a counterpart of meditative experience, which was the chief concern of the Upanisads and therefore of the Bhagavadgita also, has been neglected since then, and what has been brought to the forefront is only the speculative way of finding it out by means of formal logic. Naturally, to the question, what is the central topic in the Bhagavadgita? Duty for duty’s sake; achieving of the social good by being active throughout one’s life; self-sacrifice for the purpose of self-realization; propitiation of deities by means of penance, sacrifice and charity; leading the life according to the rules of castes and asramas; resorting to Yoga in order to attain the asamprajnata Samadhi; philosophic contemplation upon the nature of the Absolute in order to go beyond the three gunas; thinking always that one is identical with Brahman; meditating upon the symbols of Brahman such as, the Sun, the moon, etc.; to achieve the moral virtues one after another; all such and several other answers can be given to that single question. But all this, we think, will only bewilder the intellect; especially so, on the background of some kind of miserable plight in samsara as it occurred in the case of Arjuna. What the Gita offers as a remedy is not a multitude of them, some of which are merely speculative, some hazardous or dangerous, and some others attractive and useful to some extent, though ultimately elusive and unreal. The most real and the only effective remedy it offers is the teaching regarding the Brahma-jnana and the way to realize it, And in doing so, the Gita has cut across all the above-mentioned philosophical views of life and reality, has accepted the good points in them all, and has woven a fabric of spiritual knowledge which is not only novel and unique, but also a harmonious synthesis of them all. This we call the Brahma-yoga of the Gita. It alone will put an end to all the miseries and ignorance of man enabling him to realize more and more of the bliss and peace of Brahman.
Here, therefore, is the book ‘Brahma-yoga of the Gita’, which aims at throwing open the gates of spiritual life not only to the followers of the Hindu faith, but also to all those who aspire to know and to practise and to participate in the life Divine. It will instruct the untutored, correct and carry conviction to those who are confused by divergent opinions, and create a sort of inquiring faith in those who are unbelievers or agnostics for no special reason of their own. Taking its stand on the sure foundation of the unique but universal mystical experience of the saints in general, it has broken the limits of closed thinking and the artifical walls which are unfortunately maintained by the followers of even the great Vedanta schools. Its central teachings are :- (1) that with morality on the one hand, and with surrender and spiritual discipline on the other, one can rise higher and higher on the path of God-realization; (2) that there will never emerge the illuminational, direct and the concrete knowledge of Brahman and its bliss, unless one receives the grace of God through a powerful God-realized Master, and continues to receive it throughout his spiritual journey afterwards; (3) that all kinds of altruistic works, penances, sacrifices, philosophic contemplation on virtues, and yogic postures, though useful as means, will never be a substitute for God-realization; (4) that what is now-a-days loosely talked about, as Anasakti-yoga or the Niskama Karma-yoga, that is, the doing of works without attachment to their fruits, can never be achieved without the fulfillment of the prior conditions of Asakti or attachment to God and the realization of God to some extent at least, and the consequent renunciation of the desires which form the motives of actions; (5) that Bhakti, Jnana (experience of God) and Vairagya are interdependent, and must grow together; (6) that experience of spiritual equality of all creatures before God must be the basis and the source of all other kinds of equality and fraternity; (7) that with God-realization alone there would come about the recognition of the unity of man, God and the world, and of the experience that God is both personal and impersonal, as also the origin, the sustainer and the destroyer of the universe; and that (8) finally, man would come to, know that he is only an instrument in the hands of God, and that his duty is to participate in the nature of God and in his works, as also to lead the erring humanity towards fellow-feeling, God-realization and the bliss of it, and the consequent cessation of grief, infatuation and ignorance.
It was forty-five years ago that I began my study of the Bhagavadgita as a reaction against the one-sided views and pre-conceived notions of many a scholar and commentator regarding the message of the Lord, Krsna. Five years later, I scribbled out a rough outline of the main points in the Gita and showed them to my teacher of Philosophy, Prof. R. D. Ranade of the University of Allahabad, with whom I was staying then after my M.A. and who a few years later became my spiritual guide also. ‘Be not in hurry to go to the Press, read the Gita carefully a hundred times, and then publish your writing’, was the counsel he gave me then, notwithstanding his appreciation of what I had written. Since then, I think I have obeyed him in spirit, though not perhaps in letter. I read 15 commentaries in Sanskrit, and a few more in Marathi and English, as also several books and articles during the last forty years and kept on jotting my own comments. A thoroughgoing serious study of the whole of the material once again was done by me during the last seven years, after my retirement from the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur; and I am now glad to say that my book ‘Brahma-yoga of the Gita’, instead of being a precursor of Professor Ranade’s posthumous work ‘Bhagavadgita, Philosophy of God-realization,’ has been almost a fitting commentary on it. So, with a view to enable the students and readers, in general, in understanding the main theme of the Bhagavadgita, namely, the Brahma-vidya and the way to achieve it, I have written, before commencing my commentary, first a few pages containing Adhyaya-wise essentials of the Brahmayoga and then an introductory chapter, namely, ‘A view in Advance’. And then at the end of the volume I have also added a topical Index. Now, I can say with humility and confidence that my work has been the gist, as if, of the main teachings of the five great Acaryas of Vedanta and of their followers, as also of the teachings of Jnanesvara, and of the saints in general. I am proud, I feel, I have got the blessing of them all.
Naturally, in the first place, with deep gratitude I place my head on the feet of all those who have benefitted me spiritually and taught me to keep myself very close to experience and reason, and not to get myself contaminated by superstition, traditional ignorance, and sectarian consideration. To the University Grants Commission, Delhi, who gave me financial aid for carrying on my research for three years, during 1964-1967, I am greatly indebted. I cannot be too thankful to Mr. Hansraj Mehta, Audit officer, who on account of his sheer love for spiritual life went through the entire manuscript of the book and helped me by correcting it in several places, and by giving me very valuable suggestions. Impelled by a similar yearning of his own Mr. Kanhiya Lal Joshi, B.Com., LL.B., helped me a good deal in getting the work typed with utmost joy. To him also, I am exceedingly thankful. What these two gentlemen have done for me voluntarily and joyfully only makes me learn that in the hands of God, any instrument, broken or otherwise, work very well. I am immensely thankful to Mr. Jagannath Vyas, M.A., and to Dr. Mohanlal Sharma, M.A., Ph.D. for helping me in preparing the Index and correcting the proofs. To my wife, Malatibai and to the my daughter Vimal, M.A., I must express my thankfulness for their help in reading out to me the manuscript again and again and for inserting the Sanskrit verses in their proper places.
Messrs. Munshiram Manoharlal, the well-known Oriental Publishers of New Delhi and Mr. Devendra Jain, the incharge of the Publishing Department, have put me under deep obligations to them for having generously come forward to publish the book and for having done it so neatly and well. The Printers, ‘The Indian Press Private Ltd., Allahabad’, have done their job very nicely, and so, they too deserve my heart-felt thanks.
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