About the Author
The author Prof. S.K. Bhavani comes from an illustrious and renowned scholar’s family known for its rich contribution to the advancement of thought in the field of Vedanta Sastra, particularly the Dvaita Vedanta of Acharya Sri Madhva. Dr. Bhavani (b. 1940) had his sastric learning under his father Dr. B.N.K. Sharma who is an internationally known indologist. He received his Post-Graduate education in Sanskrit under the guidance of the well-known Vedic Scholar, the late revered Professor H.D. Velankar at the Bombay University. A popular teacher of Sanskrit at the K.J. Somaiya College of Arts and Commerce, Vidyavihar, Bombay. Professor Bhavani has been lecturing in the niceties of the Gita and Vedanta – thoughts to his students at the graduate and Post-graduate levels for the last 31years. Some of his research papers at the National and Inter-National seminars have been well received. Dr. Bhavani is a visiting scholar at the reputed Indology institutes. He is a linguist with a flair for literary writing and public speaking.
About the Book
On the Bhagavadgita there are a large number of books available in English. The present book is unique in that it tries to expound the various under-currents of thought as represented by prominent ancient and modern commentators on the Gita. This treatise attempts to give the reader a critical, comprehensive and comparative estimate of these thinkers’ viewpoints on the subject. This volume is sure to fulfill the long-felt need of the students of the Gita for a comprehensive survey of the Gita-thought in one single volume, with full authentication. This scholarly work is a valuable addition o the existing Gita-literature in English.
One of the objectives of Dvaita Vedanta Foundation is to organize comparative study and Research in Vedanta Philosophy. Young scholars who are engaged in research are identified and their Research work published so as to make the results of their research available to Academics. In fact the first publication viz., ‘Upanisatkhandartha – A critical study’ by Dr. K.B. Archak was a Research publication of this type. Now we are happy to publish the volume viz., ‘Bhagavadgita and its classical commentaries – a critical study’ prepared by Dr. S.K. Bhavani.
In this volume he presents Sri Madhvacharya’s interpretation of Bhagavadgita with a critical and comparative perspective. He compares Sri Madva’s exposition of Gita with the classical Bhasyakaras viz., Sankara, Bhaskara and Ramanuja and with the expositions of modern scholars viz., Tilak and Otto Rudoff. This has resulted in the presentation of a classical work wit h a fresh perspective and with a comparative assessment.
There is enormous literature on Bhagavadgita, but the potential for providing new thoughts is never exhausted. A new study by a young scholar is always wel-come. We are glad to publish this work and record our appreciation of the efforts put in by Dr. Bhavani.
Many have been the studies and expositions of the Bhagavadgita in English by modern scholars from their own points of view. But the Bhavas of celebrated Commentators like Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva and others have not been intensively studied or critically expounded, either singly or in relation to one another by any modern scholar of repute, from the academic point of view.
Lokamanya Tilak was the first to take special notice of the views of “the doctrine-supporting Commentators” as he called them. But his chief concern was not with the ancient classical commentators’ views but with his own which he established in his Gita-Rahasya, originally written in Marathi and later translated into English. Similar exposition of the Gita by other distinguished Indian and Western scholars have greatly helped to spread knowledge of the Gita.
But the interpretations of the teachings of the Gita as developed by its great classical commentators can never cease to be of interest to us of the present generation and for the future ones in India. For they help us to recapture in our lives those fundamental values of its teachings in the familiar idiom and patterns of thought which have come to permeate our cultural life and traditions down the centuries and constitute our perennial religious and philosophical heritage. No one can therefore afford to neglect the great contribution which these classical commentators have made to keeping alive and meaningful, to this day; the great teachings of the Gita as traditionally handed down in their original idiom and background of thought. No apology is therefore needed for undertaking a study of the interpretations of one such celabrated Classical Commentator on the Gita as Sri Madhvacarya and his school in relation to those of his compeers.
The commentaries of Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva, taken together, may be said to practically exhaust all important divergences of thought and interpretation of the Gita. A critical study of any one of them in relation to the others is sure to be a valuable contribution, in itself, to the advancement of knowledge.
The present work is a study in depth of Madhvacarya’s interpretations of the Gita as propounded in his Gita-Bhasya and Gita-Tatparya nirnaya and in the two erudite commentaries on them by his illustrious Commentator Jayatirtha and the famous Gita-Vivrti of Raghavendra Tirtha, which correlates the varied interpretations of these originals and elucidates their significance in simple language and in a perspicacious style. My work seeks to bring out the salient features of Madhva’s own exposition of the Gita in his two commentaries and their further exposition by Jayatirtha which make clear where, how and why Madhva ‘s interpretations differ from those of his predecessors and how they give us better insights into the philosophy of the Gita by correcting their defective perspectives. Therefore, it deserves careful attention.
The order of the Adhyayas and topics of the Gita have been followed as the most suitable way of presenting the contents of the original and Madhva’s commentaries. Owing to the frequent repetition of ideas in the Gita itself, it has not been possible to avoid some measure of repetition of ideas and references, in the present study too. But they will, it is hoped, serve to clarify the issues. For tho’ clothed in incredibly simple language, the thoughts of the Gita and of the Acarya who has explained them are both profound, -as profound as the Lord Himself is Tan na kim neti Vidvatsu mimamsitam to use M’s own words. He himself says that he would only bring out a small part of the unfathomable content and wisdom of the Gita Gitartham vaksyami lesatah.
The translation of non-controversial verses of the Gita has been adopted for elegance of style mostly from Dr. Radhakrishnan. In cases of difference of philosophical outlook from M’s point of view, I have given my own translation or have adopted those of earlier authors like S. Subba Rao and C.M. Padmanabhachar. Translation of passages from the text of the OitäbM5ya and Tatparya of M and from the Tikas of Jayatirtha on them and from the Vivrti of Rghavendra are all my own as there are no English translations of any of these works in print.
I have divided the book into sixteen chapters. The Introductory chapter provides the background of ideas necessary for a proper appreciation and assessment of M’s contribution to Gita thought. The remaining Chapters deal with the subject matter of Adhyayas I-XVIII of the Gita. Adhyayas X-XI have been dealt with in one single chapter. So also Adhyayas XVII and XVIII.
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