[Advaita-l] How to approach Sankara's Gita Bhasya?,

Aravind Mohanram psuaravind at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 3 13:06:03 CST 2004

Dear Ravi and Ranjeet,
Thanks for your kind replies. Ravi, I will take your suggestions seriously. I'm pretty biased, but I'm quite sure that I won't be able to understand the import of the acharya's words if I'm close-minded. I also have Warrier's translation. I believe the translation by Swami Gambhirananda is available online at www.gitasupersite.org. 
Actually I wanted to know if there is a specific way enjoined by the acharya himself, besides being open-minded/objective. For example, in the beginning of Gita As It Is Srila Prabhupada says one should read the Gita scrutinizingly with the help of a devotee without any personally motivated interpretations. I was looking for something similar to this suggestion. If you think you have already answered this, fine and thanks again. 

Ravi <ravi at ambaa.org> wrote:
My 2c on this.

1. Almost everyone has precconceived notions and biases. These notions 
interfere in seeing the truth in the text objectively. To start with 
one should be aware of these biases, if one wants to give a honest and 
open enquiry into truth. Otherwise, one may not benefit from it.

2. From what little I know about you, you seem to interested in worship 
of krishhNa. shriimad bhagavad giita is a very tough work and at times 
quite confusing. That is not a place to start if you are not already 
open enough to consider advaita-vedAnta. The best place to start to get 
familiar with vedAnta for you is devotional works on vishhNu with 
definite advaita-vedAnta leaning. Just give some books, vishhNu 
sahasranaama bhaashhya of shankara, prabodha sudhakara attributed to 
shankara, naaraayaNiiyam etc. This I am saying based on my personal 

I would not have given an objective and open look into 
vishishhTaadvaita but for the work on shrii miinaaxii called aananda-
saagara-stavaH by niilakaNTha diixita. I was so much biased against 
shriivaishhNava religion and vishishhTaadvaitam, I was blind to seeing 
anything valuable there. But God sent this book (aananda-saagara-
stavaH) which was a devotional work on my ishhTa-devata and also very 
nicely explains sharaNagati maargam. Now I read books (or at-least look 
at them) with more open mind. Hence, I think you should start into 
advaita-vedaanta from a devotional work. 

3. The books by gambhiraananda and krishna warrier are both good books. 
I have the latter. But there in one key to understand giita from the 
point of advaita-vedaanta. shankara makes it clear in the preface and 
you should keep this in mind as you read. If not, shankara's position 
will not make sense to you. This key is: vedic dharma is two-fold -- 
pravrtti and nivrtii maarga. The adherent of these two are different. 
That is these cannot be practised simulataneously. The qualifications 
or adhikaari laxanam for these classes are so different. Hence, you 
should understand what is said to whom. Not confuse one with another. 
This same approach adopted by shankara for iishaa vaasya upanishad 
makes it very clear and understandable. Even though krishna tells 
arjuna of all options, he advises him to follow pravrtti maarga. This 
two-fold divison. differences in their qualification, and that they 
cannot be mixed is very important from the point of view of advaita-
vedanta. pravrtti maarga followed as per the guidelines of bhagavaan, 
will either prepare the disciple to undertake nivrtti maarga or lead 
him directly to brahma loka and then to krama mukti (gradual 

These are my opinions. And it is needless to say that I may be wrong. 
So beware!


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