THE BHAGAVAD GITA The Bhagavad Gita, a treatise of Aryan Philosophy, is translated into almost all the spoken languages of the civilized world and is read today with reverence and admiration all over the world. Every Indian founder of religion has recognized it as an authority and taken it as the basis of the School of thought he founded. The Bhagavad Gita is the quintessence of Philosophy and Religion, of ethics and morality, social and religious, temporal and spiritual. It is a guide as much to the man of world as to the ascetic who has renounced the world.
This delightful translation of the Bhagavad Gita will serve not only as a standard Introduction, but also be a ready companion.
The age and authorship of the Bhagavad gita the relation of its philosophical teachings with the chief schools of Indian philosophy, and the system of ethical and spiritual culture inculcated in it, have all been discussed in the present writer's Krishna and the Gild, and it does not seem expedient to burden this edition of the Gita with a long introduction on these subjects. But as that book has been out of print for some time past, and as there is no likelihood of its being reprinted at an early date, it may be useful to reproduce here the summary of its contents given in the last of the twelve lectures comprised in it. This summary will be followed by a brief statement, expository and critical, of the contents of each chapter of the Gild. This may facilitate the reading and understanding of both the annotations and the translation, from which detailed exposition as well as criticism has been purposely excluded.
Summary of the Gita Lectures of the twelve lectures comprised in the series, I have devoted three to Krishna, three to the schools of philosophy which more or less influence the Gild sys-tem, one to the treatment of jnana, two to bhakti and three to karma. In my first lecture, that on "The Origin and Growth of the Krishna Legend," I take up the following questions for discussion and answer them to the best of my knowledge and ability:—(1) When was the battle of Kurukshetra fought? (2) When and by whom was the Mahabharata, of which the Gild is a part, composed? (3) Were Krishna and the Pandavas mentioned in the Mahabharata in all its various redactions? (4)If not, into which of them and in what period of Indian history were they introduced? (5) Was Krishna conceived as en incarnation of God from the beginning or (6) Was he deified only by a slow process of development? Now, following the research of Orientalists, Indian and foreign. I divide the ancient literary history of our country into four periods, each comprising several centuries, namely, the Mantra, subdivided into those of the composition and compilation of the mantras, the Brahmans and Upanishad, the Sutra, and the Dharmasastra, and from the data supplied by the literature of these periods, show that the great war was fought in the second subdivision of the Mantra period, that is, sometime about the twelfth or thirteenth century before Christ. Then, as to the date and authorship of the Mahabharata, I show from statements in the poem itself and from other data, that it consists of four strata belonging to different ages and composed by a host of authors, the first stratum going back to the fifth century B.C. and the last coming down to about 300 A.D. As to the date and authorship of the Gita. I show by what I regard as conclusive proof, both positive and negative, that it cannot be the utterance or work of any one belonging to the period of the compilation of the mantras, when the great war referred to in it was fought. On the one hand, the poem, which has had so great an influence on our been literature, finds no mention in that of the first three periods of our literary history, namely the Mantra, the Brahmans and Upanishad and the Sutra. On the other hand, the writer of the Gita is deeply read in and clearly mentions the literature of these periods. It belongs evidently to the early part of the Dharmasastra period, and its date is either a little before or a little after the beginning of the Christian era. Nest, in regard to our third and fourth questions, in which of the four strata of the Mahabharata Krishna and the Panda-vas were introduced, I show that it is very doubtful if they were in the first stratum at all, and that even if they were there, their original characters were greatly altered in the second. According to scholars like Prof. Hopkins and Mr. R. C. Datta, the Pandavas are mere poetic fictions and took the place of the ancient Bharatas in some stage of the development of the epic. Lastly, in reply to the 5th and 6th questions, those relating to the deification of Krishna, I show that the Krishna of the fully developed Mahabharata is a combination of the Non-aryan chief, Krishna, of the Rigveda and the Angiras Kshatriya Krishna of the Chhandogya Upanishad, worshipped first as a hero and demi-god, and gradu-ally, in order to serve as a rival figure to Buddha, raised to divinity and made the centre of a Vaishnava propaganda. In no literature before the Dharmasastra period is there any mention of an incarnate Deity, the very idea of special incarnations being absent therefrom. It is only in the period referred to, when the necessity for a revival of the Vedic religion, enriched with new ideas and under new methods made necessary by the opposed system, was felt, that books like the Gita and the Atharvan Vaishnava Upanishads were written.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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