About the Book:
This compilation begins with a search for the historicity of the Gita. The period arrived at with the calculations based on the Indian Almanac's year for the commencement of the Kali Yuga and the immediately preceding Mahabharata War as per the pronouncement of Sri Krsna In HIs last moments that the Kaliyuga "is to come" on the one hand and the finding of the Institute of Scientific Research recently (September 2015) appeared in the Press on the other agree with the period 5000 years ago from now. In addition to this. the archaeological evidence from the excavations at Hastinapura. Indraprastha (Delhi) and Kurukshetra are considered for this subject. Attention is drawn to the established time of the Indus Valley Civilization which also falls in the period 5000 years ago from now. A possibility of the parallelism of the Divine Song and the Indus Valley CIvilization IS hinted in view of Its overseas enterprises with its advanced urban life-patterns.
Polemics on the Gita during 2014-15 are traced and are appropriately dealt With at every possible context with examples. As many parallels as possible are drawn from The Holy Bible and The Holy Qur-'aan to explain the similarities in the range of thought expressed by Sri Krsna on the one hand and Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad on the other to prove the futility of conversion attempts. With a view to make the work as compact as possible, Devanagari script is avoided and transliteration is done with the only necessary diacritics preserving the pronunciation as in the source. Ordinary lettering in bold type is preferred to italic for the verses since the former is found eye-friendly. High-sounding words and high-flown language style are avoided. Simple and direct expressions, preserving the basic idea, are adopted for the general reader.
About the Compiler:
Born on 15 July 1942, he was initiated by his mother into devotion to God at the tender age. Amarakosam, children's illustrated Ramayanam, Maha-bharatam and Bhagavatam and other such devotional books were the staple home-reading. The weekly Saturday afternoon's bhajan sessions in the elementary school reinforced his attention to God. While In teens he participated in and led the every-day evening bhajans in the village- temples of Sri Rama Since his 20s, he took to reading the Gita. some-times reacting and some-times admiring the divine plane. That is the basic qualification for taking up this divine- ordained exercise in the late evening of his life.
As for the academic qualifications, he holds a first class university-first Masters' and a PhD in History from Sri Venkateswara University. Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. Taught post- graduate classes, guided research for over three decades in his parent university besides the Hyderabad Central University and the Dravidian University Kuppam, serving as Head of the Department of History at the first and the last-mentioned institutions as well as chairman Board of Studies for the post-graduate courses. Handled Orientation/Refresher courses for college and University teachers. Published sixty-plus research papers in the proceedings volumes of the professional bodies and published and edited fifteen post-graduate and research level books.
The child-hood reading of the Amarakosam provided a taste for Sanskrit. However, his base in that language is moderate with an optional subject at the graduate level. His fascination for the Gita for more than half century and the several rounds of reading the Gita Makarandamu (Telugu) by Sri Vidya Prakasanandagiri Svamulu enabled him to work on this compilation. The adverse comments on the Gita by a section of writers during 2014-15 ignited his little mind to respond with the help of the treatises cited in the preface.
There are commentaries in English on Srimad Bahagavad Glta. Why another English version? English is for as extensive readership as possible globally. At the time of typing this draft, we are past mid- 2015. We have read in the press during the past one year unkind cuts on this Divine Song. Journalists feel they are the "know-at-all" people. "Belittling [the] Indian way seems fashionable. They get away with it because they hardly ever have to face those who are knowledgeable." The following is an excerpt from a write-up published in an English daily from South India on 5 November 2014:
"Mythological stories that boast of our [Indians'] proficiency in genetics and plastic surgery are without any basis and against the spirit of our constitution. Glorifying our past without any basis is of no use .... "
" ... the French surgeon who performed the first ever case of plastic surgery in modern times was asked about his feat. His simple reply: He had the notes of Susruta [the noted first Indian plastic surgeon] in front of him and did not deviate from them."
Both these versions appeared the same day. The unexpected fitting reply seems to have incensed the denigrator of "the Indian way". Just thirty-five days thereafter, another write-up from the same person appeared in the columns of the same paper (10 December 2014). An excerpt:
"There is no philosophical basis or scientific explanation that the Gita provides solutions to many of our problems. When medical science and Psychology have made tremendous advances and help us live a healthy and good life, there is no need to go back to the religious scriptures for this .... "
Reply from the Mahatma:
"When doubts engulf, problems approach and despondency arises, I open the Bhagavad Gita. Any of the verses therein consoles me .... " Rest of the remarks find response at appropriate places in this work. It seems such denigrators made it a point to go for such writing at every possible point of time.
A half page article "Gita, Gandhi and Gadse" by a journalist appeared in the press on 30 January 2015. Its nutshell: Both Mahatma Gandhi and Nathuram Gadse read the Bhagavad Gita but one became martyr and the other a murderer. An explanation to this appears in this compilation at a proper place.
When one journalist denigrated the Bhagavad Gita, an opinion supporting him appeared on 3 November 2014 from an Indian Navy retired officer from South India saying " ... [the] rationality argument cannot break the concrete irrational shell of Indians". When asked whether the adjective "irrational" does not apply to him since he is an Indian as well, and whether the faith he professes is any free from irrational contexts, no reply could be found.
A combination of such developments after Srimati Sushma Swaraj, Hon'ble Minister for External Affairs, Government of India, gave in the later part of 2014 an emotional statement as an individual that Srimad Bhagavad Gita should be made the national scripture, made this compiler react. Why "national"? The Divine Song is already a Universal Scripture. In 2014 the Russian Federal Court cleared it for reading in that country when a particular section took objection to its reading there. Writing here about the greatness of the splendid scripture would be like trying to show the Sun with a wick.
An apt remark from Saunaka Rsi Das, an Irish national, attracted to the Gaudia Vaisnavisrn: "The west looks to India when it comes to philosophy. Indians sadly have neglected their heritage." (30 January 2015). He deserves a explanation. The not-so-well- understood "democracy" and "secularism" or rather the misled ones are holding the heritage for ransom. The day these are properly understood and respected by all, the anguish of Saunaka Rsi Das finds solace.
In this compilation, slokas (verses) in Devanaqari are avoided with a view to make the book as compact as possible. Transliteration is done with as minimum diacritics as possible, taking care to preserve the pronunciations as in the source. The usual lettering in bold is preferred to Italics for the verses since the former is found eye- friendly in contrast to the latter. Italics are kept to the barest minimum possible. Traditionalists will kindly bear with. Readers of this Divine Song will kindly familiarize themselves with the guide to pronunciation and diacritics given on the page following the Table of Contents. Diacritics save the number of letters.
The founder Guru of Sri Sukabrahmasramam, Srikalahasti, Andhra Pradesh, India, Sri Sri Sri Vidya Prakasanandagiri Swarnulu's Gita-makarandamu (Honey of Gita) - Telugu - reprint 2011 is the inspiration to this work. His Gita-verses in Telugu, frequent visits to the authority on Sanskrit, Vaman Shivram Apte's Sanskrit-English Dictionary - Reprint 1998, ISKCON's His Divine Grace A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is - 1972, Advaita Ashrama's Swami Gambhira-nanda's BHAGAVAD GITA with the commentary of SANKARACARYA - reprint 2014, Sistla Subbarau's commentary on Srimadbhagavadgita, - 1996 (Telugu), and Charles Philip Brown's Telugu-English Dictionary - Reprint 2012 guided this compiler to do this divine-ordained job. He owes much to these stalwarts.
Or 0 Ananda Naidu, Professor of History, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, extended solid support during the progress of this work. Mere "thanks" would be far less an acknowledgement. May God Almighty bestow on him and his family His choicest blessings. Or Thimmappa of the same Department helped in several technical issues involved in the computer-operations. This compiler gratefully acknowledges his help.
The Time During the last phase of His incarnation, Sri Krsna is said to have pronounced "Kaliyuga is to come." Now (2015), Kaliyuga is 5116- years old. As per this belief, Mahabharata war took place a little before the advent of Kaliyuga. The teaching of the Srimad Bahagavad Glta took place at the commencement of that war, that is, a few years before 3101 BC. A finding by the Institute of Scientific Research reported in the press (20 September 2015) is that the War commenced on "13 October 3139 BC". The archaeological finds, specially the Painted Gray Ware (PGW) found in the excavations at Hastinapura, Kurukshetra, Indraprastha (Delhi) and other related sites, are given to a period beyond 1000 BC.
Was Bhagawan Vyasa contemporaneous to that event? We read that Sanjaya, the narrator to the king Dhrtarastra had the direct vision by the grace of Bhagawan Vyasa to witness what went on between Arjuna and Sri Krsna during the teaching. In this context, a question arises. Did a script evolve by that time to record the events in Devanagari? Under these unclear conditions, various writers gave their own opinions on the time of the Gita, being at variance with one another.
In this context, the Indus civilization is to be considered. This falls between 3500 and 1500 BC. The symbols on the Indus seals remain un-deciphered. A historical doubt arose. Would such an advanced urban society as of the Indus Valley that had overseas trade contacts have gone without writing? We still consider the symbols as pictograph, not writing. We consider them as seals of authority sent along with the traders' merchandise. The doubt is rational. But we do not have any trace of concrete evidence to the survival of the writing, except the puzzling seals and symbols. Hazarding things absent is risky. Except the seals, what was the other material on which the writing was done remains a question. Absence of conservation of such material through the times is one problem that evades solution. The timing of Mahabharata war falls in this period.
Bhagawan Vyasa is credited with the classification of the Vedas apart from authoring the Mahabharata, also known as the Fifth Veda and Srimad Bhagavata. Srimad Bhagavad Gita is a part of the former. These speculations notwithstanding, the art of writing should be linked with the evolution of a script, be it Brahmi or Kharosti or Grandha or Devanagari.
The places, the names of rulers and certain political and social practices referred to in the Mahabharata are evident even in this 21st century. A suburb of Delhi. Narayanapura, has a street called Indrapatha. A Persian historical writing recorded that Indraprastha served as headquarters of a Suba during the Delhi Sultanate times (Professor Upinder Singh of the Delhi University). The mention of the "vama" and the "caste" is crucial in fixing the time. Historically, the Vedic period is ascribed to 1000-600 BC, when the "verna' system based on the work the people did was in practice. The caste system succeeded it. The Bahagavad Gita refers to both in the verses 38 to 44 of the first chapter So, it must have been committed to writing during the transition period. Based on this analysis, The Encyclopaedia of Britanica (1968) volume III puts the scripture to 5th century BC. Except certain incidents and circumstances, the teachers of the Gita, the Bible and the Qur-'aan, the three major scriptures, have a common range of thought which is pointed out occasionally in the text of this compilation. These took shape in Asia – Kuruksetra, Jerusalem and Mecca-AI Medina.
In view of the discussion so far, it appears reasonable to believe the 5th century BC as the time of putting the Divine Song to writing. Till then, the oral tradition must have carried it through rote method. It is to be noted that the divine teacher Sri Krsna told His disciple Arjuna during the discourse (4: 1) that He had taught the divine knowledge first to the Sun in the days of yore and in the long course of time, much of it got diluted (4: 2). This serves as a hint that the rote method was the means to transmit the knowledge from one generation to another. Many transcendental and splendid thoughts present in the Gita make the scripture stand independent and previous to the Bible. More details on this subject are available in the text of this compilation.
Do the Revisionist Writings Help?
Yes. That was 1971-72. Professor Ramesh Chandra Majumdar (R C Majumdar). a well-known historian and a former vice-chancellor of the Dhaka University, visited Sri Venkateswara University in connection with a National Conference on History. As student, this compiler asked him, "Why so many writings on the past when the rulers hardly take cognizance". His learned reply: "We have to write to guide the present policy-makers and also those to come. If they follow, things go well. If not, they would be making mess of the things. It is our duty to record."
The present (closing days of October 2015) Pope feels the use of He for God must go. We have to address God as God and not in the gender form. Precisely for this reason, this compiler preferred "person" to mean purusa wherever the term implies God - "Supreme Person" for the expression Parama Purusa. In the normal sense, the expression purusa is for "man". In order to avoid the kind of controversy as in the present example, "person" is preferred to "man" to mean purusa: But in the case of repeated references to God, the word "He" is rather sparingly used in this compilation.
Writing a column "Know your English", some a quarter century ago, Professor K Subramanyam, a retired faculty from the India's Hyderabad-based English and Foreign Languages Institute, now in 2015 a deemed university, had replied in a scholarly humorous way a lady's question on the constant use of "man/he" and not "woman/she" whenever the word implied a person, and so would it not mean a gender discrimination? "Man" in the word "human" also figured. Human does not imply a gender. It is common to all talking beings. Citing scriptural and learned literary sources, he concluded that God was favourable to "man", Madam!
Take for example the creation of man and woman described in The Holy Bible. The Genesis 1: 26 quotes God as saying "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness .... n Genesis 1: 27 and 28 say: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be faithful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.. .. " Genesis 2: 21 to 23 say: So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man". This description does not stand the scrutiny of Physiology Yet. it is a belief. This aspect is briefly touched upon at an appropriate place in the text to come.
The word bhaga in Bhagavan is the invisible hole on top of th: head through which the jiva/life departs from the body at the time of death. This concept clearly avoids gender for God. The Gita the essence of the Vedas, the Upanisats and the Puranas, uses sa(h) for God at places depending upon the need. The Holy Bible and The Holy Qur-'aan liberally use the word "he/He" for God at places when the context needs. In other fields also, there is so much debati against the gender-specific usage as to engage the expert brains to find a way out. We have to await a convincing prescription for this Then all the scriptures have to be gone through and the present usage substituted with new one at all the innumerable points.
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