SankarAcArya's bhagavad gItA bhAshya: 2. 19-20

Charles Wikner WIKNER at NACDH4.NAC.AC.ZA
Thu Jun 10 03:14:16 CDT 1999

On Tue, 8 Jun 1999 Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote:

> The practice of putting avagraha in the sandhi between bhUtvA and abhavitA
> seems to be a modern one, a sign of how academic transliteration into Roman
> script has affected nAgarI script in reverse. My impression is that
> manuscripts generally use avagraha only to show the elided akAra after the
> visarga. In the absence of this avagraha, both readings would be possible,
> depending upon how one splits the words in the verse.

That's a useful rule of thumb. Thanks very much!

However, in this particular case (taking abhavitA as correct), the
two words should then NOT be written with a space separating them
(as I have it in several editions).

> According to SankarAcArya's commentary, the reading should be abhavitA,

Accepting the master's reading over the printed form, I explored
the word abhavitA further, and was delighted by the discovery.

I first assumed that bhUtvA is a participle forming a subordinate
clause and expected a main clause containing a finite verb, and
thus read bhavitA as bhU+luT.  But na~n is not an upasarga, and
therefore cannot be prefixed to the verb, thus bhavitA must be
prathamA of bhavitR.  The dictionary entry for that (M-W 749c)
mentions that the form bhavitA is "also used as a future tense
with or without /as".  So, taking asti as the implied finite
verb in the sentence, na~n may again be prefixed to bhavitA.
This construction prevents the reading of bhU+luT (anadyatane),
which is particularly inappropriate given the imminent battle,
and allows reading the sense of bhU+lRT (indefinite future),
which one would have expected here anyway.  So this na~n is
essential for the grammar, syntax, and semantics.

The wonder of it is that, due to saMdhi, this essential "a"
is not evident.  Silence is extraordinary.

> >(2) I usually consider dhAtu /bhU as punctual and dhAtu /as as
> >    durative/stative (that's personal, and may be wrong!), so I
> >    have difficulty associating /bhU with the Immutable.  Since
> I usually do the same too. Within the spectrum of being and becoming, one
> has to choose!

Another brilliant one-liner!

It does illuminate how one's thinking is so often 180 degrees out:
the fact is, I have difficulty dissociating /bhU from the Immutable!

> I must also draw attention to verse 2. 26 (... enaM
> nityajAtaM nityaM vA manyase mRtam, etc.). It seems to have gone generally
> unnoticed that after spending so much effort on describing the Atman as
> unborn, immutable etc., the gItA still shows Krishna as leaving room for
> Arjuna to think otherwise.

Context!  Context!  Context!  I habitually get bogged down in the
details (as with bhavitA) - thanks for lifting me out!

< superb contextual explanation snipped >

And putting me back in the main flow of the argument.

> I haven't still stopped
> marvelling at the wonderful word-play in this verse, and the meaning that
> the commentator has extracted out of it - AScaryavat paSyAmi.

It shines through your posts!

> Isn't this meter trishTubh?

Oops! Yes, that is what I meant.

> The changes of meter do mark off the
> moments of critical transition and the effect is something to be heard when
> recited out loud.

Ah, yes!  I can appreciate the emotional impact of a change in rhythm
from English poetry.

> Thanks! I look forward to more of your comments in the future, as I know
> they are based upon a keen understanding of Sanskrit grammar. The

Keen means enthusiastic, rather than incisive, in my case.

> translation could only benefit by them. It is certainly a daunting task,

Daunt: to tame, subdue  <--  L. domare, to tame  <--  Skt. damu upaSame.

Daunting task  -->  tranquil mind.  That's a problem ?

Regards, Charles.

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