INTRODUCTION TO KANNADA EDITION
The Bhagavad Gita is the Sun that has risen from the Udayagiri -- viz. Lord Sri Krishna, the Para Brahman. Though this sun of saving knowledge makes the hearts of all good men blossom forth like lotuses touched good by the sun’s rays, some defective commentaries which came to be written on the Gita, in course of time, tended to obscure this light of the sun of knowledge, like passing clouds in the sky. Such clouds had been dispersed by Sri Mukhya Prana taking Avatar. on earth as Anandatirtha Bhagavatpada (Madhvacharya) who composed two learned commentaries on the Gita -- the Gita Bhashya and Gita Tatparya. Scattering these clouds still further away from approaching the Gita, Sri Jayatirtha deflated them, with his Tikas on the Gita Bhashya and Gita Tatparya.
However, ordinary minds which could not bear the dazzling sunlight of the Gita have been in dire need of a mellow light as of the full moon, to help them enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the message of the Gita. The illustrious Satyadhyana Tirtha was the first to come forward to meet this need of the common man. He absorbed the dazzling light of the Gita which could only be perceived from a safe distance even by the highly learned scholars -- and reflected it in its mellowed form through his popular, word for word rendering of the Gita, in his Gita Pratipadartha Candrika. This work has been of immense value to the common man in treading the right path in life according to the teachings of the Gita.
Some commentaries on the Gita which have come down to us have
tried to make out that Advaita-vada is the true message of the Gita. These look
upon Sri Krishna, the supreme Lord, as still open to the illusion of duality.
This may be gathered from the following verse of the Pancadasi of Sri
maya Oyay> kamxenaevRTsaE jIveñravu-aE,
m˜y˜ khy˜ya× k˜madhenorvatsau jŸveþvar˜vubhau
"The Jiva and Isvara are the calves of the divine cow of Maya."
If Sri Krishna had really attained the experience of Advaitic unity, he should have realised the illusory nature of the universe and his own lordship over such a universe. In that case, it would be a gross deception on his part to claim to be the Lord of all beings (Bhutanam isvarah). In order to maintain the truthfulness of that claim, it will have to be admitted that from the Advaita point of view Sri Krishna is still subject to the illusion of duality. It is not clear how one who is not himself completely out of the illusion of duality can teach pure Advaita to others.
The Gita enjoins upon all enlightened Adhikarins like Arjuna, to fight against Adharma as a Sacred duty, to he performed in a spirit of devotional dedication to the Lord of all creation. This is inconsistent with the true Advaitic position that the Jnanin is not under any obligation to continue with Karma and Bhakti.
Though there is thus so much cleavage of views among the
traditional schools of thought regarding the message of the Gita, we hear so
much talk nowadays that all these divergent interpretations are but various ways
of thought and action leading to the same goal of Moksha or freedom from
bondage. But the following pronouncement of the Gita dearly rejects such a
VyvsayaiTmka buiÏrekeh k…én<dn,
b÷zaoa ýnNtaZc buÏyae=Vyvsaiynam!,,
vyavas˜y˜tmik˜ buddhirekeha kurunandana
bahuþ˜kh˜ hyanant˜þca buddhayo'vyavasayin˜m -- II:42
The present work discusses this issue with great insight and often satisfactory answers to various questions concerning the problem and places the teaching of the Gita on the question in bold relief. We have therefore no hesitation in saying that this work is a good critical exposition of the philosophy of the Gita.
Thanks to the x-rays of the Gita Sastra, the pure gems of spiritual truth which lie beneath the unfathomable ocean of Vedic and UpaniShadic lore can now be perceived from a distance. In a pioneering effort, Sri Visvesha Tirtha, Head of the Pejavar Mutt of Udipi, has dived deep into this ocean and brought up some of these gems of Gita thought and placed them in the hands of contemporary students of the Gita. His work, the Gita Saroddhara, may be fittingly described as a special collection and arrangement of these gems in resplendent array. We are sure that all the good people of the world will derive immense benefit by going through this work.
It deals with its subject matter in a straight and simple way, and thus goes straight to the heart of the reader. It gives a good many illustrations from life to elucidate the profound teachings. It alludes to stories and episodes from the Bhagavata and Mahabharata to heighten the appeal to our minds. Modern students will find in the rational approach of the author in clarifying so many knotty points a kindred spirit.
When a chronic patient who is fed up with swallowing bitter medicines hates all medicines and rejects them in disgust, a discerning doctor makes them more palatable and puts them in new bottles, administering them to the patient and cures him of his ailment. The present work of Sri Visvesha Tirtha has similarly refined and made palatable the ancient and unfailing remedies for the ills of our lives.
His work is most useful in inculcating in the minds of the present generation deep faith and pride in the teachings of the ancient sastras. Among instances of this may be mentioned his masterly exposition of the caturvarnya Vyavastha and the doctrine of Svadharma and the need to sincerely adhere to it.
Sri Visvesha Tirtha has given us this work amidst the heavy and multifarious responsibilities of his holy office as a Pithadhipati. He has snatched time to do this in the intervals of his lightning tours over the country, prior to his taking charge of his biennial turn of office for Krishna Puja Paryaya at Udipi. His ceaseless round of activities and public engagements, religious austerities, worship and teaching have not prevented him from taking up such useful literary work also.
We have known Sri Visvesha Tirtha from his early days. while yet a boy of ten, he came to us as a bright pupil. He was already an adept in Sanskrit literature. He used to compose many attractive verses of high order of excellence in Sanskrit at short notice. Once when Visvesha Tirtha was just eighteen, the well-known Advaita scholar Mm. Ananthakrishna Sastri came to Udipi. There was a discussion in Sastra between them. The learned Pandita was soon silenced by the inexorable logic of the teenager and heartily applauded him for his alertness of mind and intellectual quickness. Many other reputed scholars from the North such as Pt Rajeshvar Sastri Dravid and Shadanga Ramachandra Sastri have paid handsome tributes to His Holiness’s exceptional mettle. His public discourses in Sanskrit and Kannada draw huge audiences and hold them spellbound. He combines an uncanny debating skill with a measured eloquence and a disarming sunny smile. He is noted for his high sense of duty, unfailing courtesy and his spirit of give and take. His devotion to the Lord is absolutely firm and childlike in its simplicity and trustfulness. These admirable qualities of his head and heart have endeared him to one and all scholars and laymen, the old and the young, alike. We are well pleased with such an ideal disciple of ours.
May Sri Hari and Vayu confer upon him long life, health and other blessings to enable him to continue to do good to the community of the good souls all over the world is our earnest prayer to our Upasyadevata - Sri Sitaramachandra.
-- SRI VIDYAMANYA TIRTHA SWAMIJI
of the Sri Palimar Mutt of Udipi and the
Bhandarakere Math of Barkur (S. K.)
Translated from the Kannada Introduction
by Dr. B. N. K. SHARMA
The Bhagavad Gita is the one and the only scripture which
expounds religious and Vedantic principles in a concise, simple and beautiful
manner. There is no problem in life which cannot find its solution from this
tiny book, one may say. It acquaints us thoroughly with all the equipment
necessary to make our life perfectly beautiful. One can find from the Gita a
sure guidance to follow in any critical situation. There is no other scripture
in the whole world which analyses and defines in such a simple way the nature of
life and its problems. The Gita was preached by Sri Krishna and it was written
in the present form by Sri Vedavyasa. When both are the twin forms of the
Almighty God Himself how could we ever fully praise the holiness and greatness
of such a work? The Gita is the immortal message to the mankind given by the
very person of the Lord Himself.
ya Svy< pÒna-Sy muopÒaiÖin>s&ta,
y˜ svayaÕ padman˜bhasya mukhapadm˜dvini×s®t˜
(That which has emerged from the very lotus lips of the Padmanabha.) The Gita is both a science of philosophy and a science of life. We cannot find in any other work such a unique harmonisation of philosophic principles with mundane life.
While I was camping in Hubli for the Chaturmasya I got a good opportunity to give a series of discourses on the Bhagavad Gita. This book is a fruit of those discourses. Many people who attended those lectures desired that they should be collected and published in the form of a book and which made it possible for the work to find the light of the day.
In this small book of about 300 pages 1 could attempt no more than a mere introduction to the Gita. The Gita is no doubt a small book but as one delves deeper and deeper, it reveals a universe of meaning. In this tiny work I have been able to vouchsafe to you only a very small facet of the vast work. This is but a signpost to those who wish to undertake a deeper examination and study of the work. The aim of this work is to stimulate the interest of people for an inquiry into its meaning. Nobody should think that this book aims at an exhaustive exposition of the full meaning of the Gita.
The main purpose of my lectures was to explain the constructive message of the Gita bearing in mind the common man’s daily problems in the context of modern conditions. Hence, I did not indulge in any deep scientific discussion of philosophy but have made an attempt to expose simply the relationship between the principles of the Gita and modern life. I wish to write a separate work, at my leisure, devoting it to an extensive analysis of the philosophic subjects and scientific criticism of the commentaries on the Gita made by various thinkers.
But in certain contexts I have touched upon the different interpretations given by the various commentators on the Gita. Such a critical examination is done in order to facilitate the understanding of the meaning of the Gita through a comparative study and not to indulge in any aerobatics of philosophical argument. It is my individual opinion that an examination of the faults and virtues of various systems with an unprejudiced mind would never lead to any mental excitement but, on the other hand, it would lead to a healthy development of philosophy. I have followed the commentaries of Sri Madhvacharya not out of any sectarian attachment. I have tried to place the Gita in the light of Sri Madhvacharya’s commentary only because I am fully convinced after an unprejudiced, undogmatic and open-minded inquiry, that the heart of the Gita is truly reflected in his commentary. I hope the people will welcome this well-intended effort and extend to me their usual cooperation and encouragement.
My revered guru Sri Swamiji of Bhandarakere Math has blessed this attempt by writing an Introduction for which I offer him my repeated salutations.
The person who followed me as a shadow and who was mainly responsible for getting the lectures in the form of a book out of me is Sri Ramachandra Bhat, the Proprietor of the Ashoka Hotel, Hubli. His tenacity, unfailing effort and generosity alone could make the work possible. I pray that God may shower His choicest blessings on him for his laudable effort in this work of furthering knowledge.
The others who helped in various ways in its publication are Sri P. Venkataramana Acharya and Kapu Hayavadana Puranik and I wish them God’s blessings.
My hearty thanks are due to the Manager of the Associated Advertisers & Printers for their job of beautiful printing.
-- SRI VISHVESHA TIRTHA SWAMIJI
Pejavar Mutt, Udipi
GENERAL EDITOR’S PREFACE
Bharatiya Vidya comprehends the totality of Indian culture in its myriad forms during a time-span of about three thousand years if not five, in this peninsular region, south of the majestic Himalayas and north of the vast Indian Ocean. In the face of all adverse vicissitudes and in spite of many a struggle which this Culture in all its varied aspects had to pass through during the three or five millennia when it came in friendly or unfriendly contact with other cultures, it has been able to maintain a continuous identity, a vitality of unknown dimensions, and a creativity which could at times enrich world culture by its unique contributions, Nor has this culture been always a home-keeping shy damsel or a solid sphinx-like unchanging figure. History of Indian culture tells us that it spilled over to the north, the east and the west leaving monumental vestiges in many countries, both material as well as cultural. As regards changes, what change can be more revolutionary than the change of one’s gods! The Vedic and UpaniShadic gods, Indra, Varuna, Surya and others have been replaced by Pauranic gods and goddesses, Rama and Krishna and Shiva, baffling in their variety and confusing in their identity. The South Indian Dravidian Culture and Aryan Cultural traits today stand so blended that one is perforce inclined to call our present Indian culture, Aryo-Dravidian or Dravido-Aryan.
Many a time the terms Culture and Civilization are used one for the other, and sometimes indiscriminately. I need not go into the matter here, I am using the word Indian Culture here to mean all that Homo Sapiens has added or is adding in this part of the world to the baseline of the way of life which he would have pursued as a simple biped.
Bharatiya Vidya will therefore mean today not only the spiritual approach to life, the many religious shapes and forms into which it was cast, the moral code of behaviour or social disciplines into which it exhibited itself, but in addition it means also the thirty-two Vidyas plus sixty-four Kalas (arts) that blossomed forth. It is true that though the Bhavan has more than a thousand titles to its credit, it has hardly touched a tithe of the inherited cultural wealth much less the world of art and artistic treasures which India has within its borders, not to say those in neighbourly Nepal, Tibet, China and Afghanistan and distant Bali and Kambhoj.
Now to come to the publication about which I am writing, the Gita is the quintessence of the Indian Philosophy of Life; it belongs to the category of Darshana Shastra. The commentaries written on or about the Gita are myriad. In a certain Gita Exhibition I visited long ago, it was mentioned that there were 600 commentaries on it, representing as many views of it! But the many commentaries we come across, deal with the Gita as an exposition of the Advaita, Vishisthadvaita and Dwaita philosophy. Bhavan has published a number of books on and/or about the great book, without any bias about the three main approaches; that is because, the Bhavan looks upon all the approaches as equally Bharatiya, whether written by Indians or non-Indians.
The ‘Gita Saroddhara’ is not a direct commentary verse by verse, nor does it propose to be a polemical treatise aimed at refuting the Advaitic or Vishisthadvaitic interpretation. Sri Vishvesha Tirtha, the Swami of Pejavar Mutt in Udipi (Karnataka) is by tradition an up holder of the Dwaita school of philosophy of Sriman Madhvacharya. As the name of the book connotes, it is the essential teaching of the Gita which the author wants to convey to the readers. In fact, only a hundred topics have been chosen and the author’s- attempt is to convey the gospel of the Gita through the book. They are discourses given originally in Kannada. The Kannada publication carries a prestigious Introduction by the erudite Swami of Bhandarakere. Though there are sharp basic differences in the metaphysical aspects of the three schools mentioned above, the Dwaita school emphasises in the Saadhana aspect, the supremacy of Vishnu -- Hari Sarvottama (Harireva paro Harireva guruh, Harireva jagat-pitra-maatra- gatih). The one aim and purpose of life is liberation -- the attainment of the acme of pure Ananda (muktirnaija sukhanu-bhootiramala) and devotion to God (bhaktishcha tat saadhanam) with a sense of absolute surrender (Naaham Kartaa Harih-Kartaa, tatpoojaa Karmachaakhilam) is the means of such salvation. So, the practical approach in spiritual matters, though loaded with the doctrine of Karma and somewhat outmoded ideas about the hierarchical socio-economic system, does not differ much from the other schools. It is monotheistic, and heavily devotional as well as ultra-egoistic since God alone is the Supreme Actor, the Purushottama.
-- R. R. DIWAKAR
This book was originally published in Kannada with the title ‘Gita Saroddhara’ in 1967. It gives a lucid exposition of the philosophy of the Gita on the lines of the Dwaita school of thought systematised by the great exponent Sri Madhvacharya. The English translation of this book has been brought out so that the message of the Gita contained in this book may reach a wider public.
It is difficult to translate a book like this as it contains a number of technical terms in Sanskrit each with its own special meaning: Indeed, quite a few words like Satwik, Rajas, Tamas, Trai Vidyas, Varnashramadharma, Vibhutiyoga etc. are untranslatable into English and we have retained the original words with the hope that the concepts become clear in the course of elucidations. We have tried our best to be faithful to the original text for fear that in simplifying things we might either fail to convey the full meaning or misrepresent the thought. During this translation, one of us had the benefit of studying Sri Madhvacharya’s ‘Gita Bhashya’ and Sri Jayatirtha’s ‘Prameya Deepika’ under Pandit Hayagreeva Acharya Guttal of the Deccan College, Poona and we may confidently say that none of the subtly relevant points brought out in the exposition have been missed by us. It is sincerely hoped that in our translation we have been able to catch at least a portion of the beauty of the original text. If in any place we have either failed to convey the true meaning or deviated from the text inadvertently, the fault is entirely ours and we shall be glad to rectify them.
We are grateful to the Swamiji, the author of this book, for giving us an opportunity to render this small service to him and solicit his blessings.
-- R. ACHARYA
-- R. A. MALAGI
PUBLISHER’S NOTE TO KANNADA EDITION
Sri Vishvesha Tirtha Swamiji camped in Hubli for his ‘Chaturmasya Deeksha’ in the year 1966 and he delivered about 45 lectures on the Bhagavad Gita. I too used to be one of those who attended the meeting. As days passed by, his lectures began to attract larger and larger number of people. Till then I had been under the impression that the Gita was a book of esoteric philosophy, a fruit beyond the reach of family men, a thing without much use; from the Swamiji’s interpretations I was gradually convinced that it could be a useful torch to light up the path of the family man in his day-to-day life. The Swamiji used to captivate the hearts of his listeners by his lucid style and an amazing skill of convincing them of the truths by applying them to the facts of daily life.
Once as the lecture series was drawing to a close, I was having a casual conversation about the series with Sri Chavati Venkat Rao, the proprietor of Sudarshan Cinema and Sri Mathihalli Nagaraja Rao, Assistant Editor of Samyukta Karnataka. Sri Chavati was suddenly inspired with the idea of getting the lectures published in a book form. Sri Nagaraja Rao backed the idea and pressed that such a thing would bring the sweet fruit of the Gita to all laymen and that I should take over the responsibility of publishing it. The Swamiji was consulted and his consent also was obtained. The printing was to be in the Samyukta Karnataka Press. This scheme was announced publicly in one of the lectures. The public gladly welcomed this idea.
But neither the Swamiji nor I had any idea of the ex tent of the responsibility undertaken by us. If he had the time it would not have been a big job for him to write down his lectures. But time was the most sparse commodity with him. His multifarious activities, the continuous flow of visitors, study, lectures, daily ritual and perpetual travel kept him fully engaged and he couldn’t find time to write. The first 64 pages were somehow easily completed but later on it grew impossible for him to find even a moment’s relief. It became all the more difficult for him to snatch any time since his preparations for the paryayam started. The work stood still.
But I had determined to see the book in print before the Paryayam. I troubled him for three or four months and followed him from place to place. Even when I had known that he did not have his daily share of six hours’ sleep, I relentlessly pursued him. He continued the writing with great difficulty bearing with me like a loving mother. He started getting up at four in the morning to write the book, even if he went to bed by midnight. He wrote in the car moving from place to place. His disciples gave us copies. I rushed them to the press even before the ink was dry. At last the book has appeared before the people after a long expectation. I can say for certain that the Swamiji never slept beyond four hours a day while he was writing the book. I seek his pardon for all the trials I put him to on my own behalf and on behalf of the readers who would enjoy the sweetness of the book.
At the request of the Swamiji, his guru Sri Vidyamanya Tirtha of Sri Bhandarakere Math has graced us with a beautiful Introduction to the book. I express my great indebtedness to him. I am grateful to Sri Hayavadana Puranik for copying the manuscript, to the Samyukta Karnataka Press for printing it and to Sri P. Venkataramana Acharya for correcting the proofs. My thanks are also due to Sri Chavati and Sri Nagaraj Rao for sowing the idea, to Sri H. R. Purohit for his extensive notes taken down during the lectures which has helped in the preparation of the book, to Sri Krishna Potdar for designing the cover page of the book and for many others who have helped in the publication of this book. Above all, I am deeply grateful to the Swamiji himself who has made it possible for a businessman like me to contribute my mite for a spiritual service like this.
The publication of this book is not a business proposition. I have decided to undertake all the expenses connected with its publication and donate the complete sale proceeds to the Swamiji for whatever work he thinks best. The buyers will not only be purified by reading this great book but also be contributing to the noble and holy work being undertaken by the Swamiji in various fields.
-- U. RAMACHANDRA BHAT