Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bhagavad Gītā catuḥ-ślokī 1

Just as there is a seven-verse Gītā, there is a tradition in the Vaiṣṇava sampradāyas, apparently started by Viśvanātha Cakravartī in the 17th century, of a four-verse Gītā. Like the four-verse Bhāgavatam (2.9.33-36), these verses are found clustered together in a sequence (10.8-11) close to the actual center of the book. Unlike the Bhāgavatam, however, they are not "self-proclaimed" as the essential teaching, nor do they contain mysterious utterances that require extended analysis and interpretation; they are straightforward.

You can decide for yourself which of the two mini-texts better summarizes the essence of the Bhagavad-gītā. But that will take detailed knowledge of the entire Gītā.


Gītā catuḥ-ślokī 1

|| 10.8 ||

अहं सर्वस्य प्रभवो मत्तः सर्वं प्रवर्तते।
इति मत्वा भजन्ते मां बुधा भावसमन्विताः॥८॥

ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate |
iti matvā bhajante māṁ budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ ||

Anvayaḥ: ahaṁ sarvasya jagataḥ prabhava utpattiḥ | matta eva sarvaṁ jagat pravartate | ity evaṁ matvā budhāḥ bhāva-samanvitāḥ māṁ bhajante ||
·         ahaṁ paraṁ brahma vāsudevākhyaṁ
·         sarvasya (jagataḥ)
·         prabhavaḥ = (m.) “the source of generation” utpattiḥ.
·         matta(see 15.15)
·         pravartate = becomes active, begins, proceed (from pra√vṛt, ātmanepada)
·         matvā = having thought, having accepted (gerund from man)
·         bhajante = to worship, serve (from √bhaj) sevante
·         budhā= the wise •   avagata-paramārtha-tattvāḥ.
·         bhāva = love, feeling, knowledge (Śaṅkara: bhāvo bhāvanā paramārtha-tattvābhiniveśaḥ: “it means the same as bhāvanā, which means absorption in the understanding of the Supreme Truth” See also Gita 2.66, page 83). Other commentators have:
    • Rāmānuja: bhāvo mano-vṛtti-viśeṣaḥ mayi spṛhayālavo māṁ bhajanta ity arthaḥ.Bhāva is a particular state of mind. Here it means that they worship me with the hopes of attaining me.”
    • Śrīdhara = prīti-yuktāḥ; “with loving affection.”
    • Madhusūdana: vivekenāvagata-tattva-bhāvena paramārtha-tattva-grahaṇa-rūpeṇa premṇā, “with love that takes the form of accepting supreme truth, i.e, through a mood of awareness of that truth through discriminating knowledge.”
    • Viśvanātha: bhāvo dāsya-sakhyādiḥ tad-yuktāḥ. Bhāva here refers to the particular relationships of service or friendship, etc.”
·         samanvitāḥ = possessed of, equipped with. (p.p. from sam + anu + √i) saṁyuktāḥ.

I am the source of all and all things begin from me. Those wise persons who have accepted this worship me with love.


I refrained from commenting on the previous verses, but perhaps I should say a word or two. The translation "love" here for bhāva seems to be universally agreed on, though there are still differences in the way the commentators look at it.

Does love really arise out of discriminatory wisdom? To some extent, I would say yes. If one has gratitude -- but gratitude usually requires good fortune. Discrimination o doubt helps us to recognize our good fortune: The world is good, life is good, even when mixed with suffering. Therefore, I give thanks with love.

Furthermore, if one sees God as the archetypal source of love and the different modes of love, then love seems a natural response. This is not a response to a tyrannical demand, but the way the part naturally relates to the Whole and the Source of its own being.


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