[Advaita-l] GITA - avatArikA : part 2

Amuthan Arunkumar R aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Fri Nov 4 23:07:45 CST 2005

namo nArAyaNAya!

some special features of G.B. avatArikA

1. bhagavatpAda (BP) begins his gItA bhAShyam with a
verse eulogising nArAyaNa as being beyond the manifest
and unmanifest universe [1]. towards the end of the
avatArikA, he mentions that the supreme brahman is
identical to vAsudeva [2]. these apparently disjoint
shrIsUkti-s are interrelated. in the first verse, BP
clearly shows the distinction between vyAvahArika,
characterized by all sorts of dualities and
gradations, and pAramArthika, which is essentially
nArAyaNa svarUpa and in which, all these distinctions
do not exist. as if to stress on what pAramArthika is
and summarize the entire gItA bhAShyam, he calls the
supreme brahman as vAsudeva in the end. the choice of
the word 'vAsudeva' is not arbitrary, but rather
highly appropriate in this context, for the following
reasons: as is well known, vAsudeva refers to the one
who is the indweller of all the three worlds [3]. the
three worlds (bhuvanatrayam) can either be interpreted
as three external worlds which cover the entire
universe, in which case 'vAsudeva' refers to brahman;
or, the three worlds can refer to the three avasthA-s
we exist in - jAgrat, svapna and suShupti - in which
case, 'vAsudeva' refers to the Atman. that 'vAsudeva'
refers to the indweller of all beings and the entire
universe is also made abundantly clear by BP in his
viShNusahasranAma bhAShyam where he says
'jagadAchChAdayati mAyayeti vAsuH sa eva deva iti
vAsudevaH' (see also [4] for other derivations
mentioned and quoted by BP). combining this with BP's
bhAShyam on IshAvAsyopaniShad where he says in the
very first shloka that by Ishvara, who is the real
self, who is the indweller of all, this world of
duality, which is unreal, is to be covered (tena...
IshAvAsyam AchChAdanItyam, see [5] for the BP's
wonderful bhAshyam on this), we arrive at the
following implied meaning of BP's usage of the term
'vAsudeva' in this context: when the jagat (universe)
is seen, vAsudeva is not seen and when one realizes
one's own nature as vAsudeva, jagat no longer exists.
this is nothing but the familiar anyonyAbhAvam between
jagat and brahman. thus, BP summarizes the entire gItA
bhAShyam and also establishes the advaita siddhAnta by
this single bhagavan nAma - vAsudeva! that this is
ultimate teaching of the gItA is further confirmed by
the lord himself later on when he declares that the
ultimate knowledge to be realized is simply this -
vAsudevaH sarvaM [6].

2. regarding the adhikArI for gItA, i would like to
make a small correction to my previous post. while
reading the avatArikA again, it occurred to me that BP
does in fact hint at the adhikArI for gItA, though not
in a very precise form. after stating that gItA is the
essence of all the shAstra-s [7] (and elsewhere as
leading to the fulfillment of all puruShArtha-s [8]),
he mentions that the gItA is not understood properly
by laukIka-s [9]. this gives us a hint that BP opines
that bhagavadgItA is for men of the world (i.e. non-
sannyAsi-s). This interpretation also seems to be
correct considering MS's definition of an adhikArI for
gItA as mentioned in the previous post.

3. this is a relatively minor issue. in his avatArikA,
BP mentions that what was taught by kR^iShNa to arjuna
has been recorded by vyAsa in the form of 700 verses
[10]. this is interesting since it opens up a debate
whether kR^iShNa taught the gItA in the form we see
it, i.e. in the form of shloka-s or whether vyAsa made
them into verses. BP's commentary here seems to
support both the views. i have heard from very
authoritative sources that kR^iShNa uttered the gItA
in the form of verses as we have them today. if
someone can find any references which support any
definite view [11], it would be helpful. 

this summarizes almost all the major points in G.B.
avatArikA. in the next post, MS's G.D. will be taken


[1] nArAyaNaH paro'vyaktAdaNDamavyaktasambhavam.
    aNDasyAntastvime lokAssaptadvIpA cha medinI..  

[2] ...paramArthatattvaM cha vAsudevAkhyaM parabrahma-
abhideyabhUtaM... (G.B.A.)

[3] vAsanAdvAsudevasya vAsitaM bhuvanatrayam.
    sarvabhUtanivAso'si vAsudeva namo'stu te.. 
(this verse comes in the end of viShNusahasranAma as
vyAsa's praise of kR^iShNa, but i don't know the exact
reference. maybe someone can help.)

[4] since the bhagavannAma 'vAsudeva' is so beautiful
and replete with meanings, i'll provide below the BP's
complete commentary on this nAma when it occurs first.
(it occurs thrice in viShNusahasranAma. in the second
instance, BP interprets it as vasudeva's son and the
commentary for the third occurence is given above, in
the main text)

vasati vAsayati AchChAdayati vA sarvamiti vAsuH,
dIvyati krIDati vijigIShate vyavaharati dyotate
stUyate kAmyate gachChatIti devaH, vAsushcAsau
devashcheti vAsudevaH.

'ChAdayAmi jagadvishvaM bhUtyA sUrya ivAMshubhiH.
 sarvabhUtAdhivAsashca vAsudevastataH smR^itaH..'
(M.Bh. 12.328.36)

'vasanAtsarvabhUtAnAM vasutvAddevayonitaH.
 vAsudevastato j~neyo yogibhistattvadarshibhIH..'
(M.Bh. 5.68.3)

'sarvatrAsau samastaM cha vasatyatreti vai yataH.
 tataH sa vAsudeveti vidvadbhiH paripaThyate..'
(V.Pu. 1.2.12)

'sarvANi tatra bhUtAni vasanti paramAtmani.
 bhUteShu cha sa sarvAtmA vAsudevastataH smR^itaH..'
(V.Pu. 6.5.80)

[5] tena svena rUpenAtmanA IshAvAsyam AchChAdanIyam.
...svenAtmanA Ishena pratyagAtmatayA ahamevedaM
sarvamiti paramArthasatyarUpenAnR^itamidaM sarvaM
charAcharam AchChAdanIyaM paramAtmanA. (BP's
commentary of IshAvAsyopaniShad, verse 1)      

[6] bahUnAM janmanAmante j~nAnavAnmAM prapadyate.
    vAsudevaH sarvamiti sa mahAtmA sudurlabhaH.. 
   (gItA, 7.19)   

[7] tadidaM gItAshAstraM samastavedArtha-
sArasa~Ngrahabhutam... (G.B. avatArikA [G.B.A.])

[8] yataH tadarthavij~nAne
samastapuruShArthasiddhiH... (G.B.A.)

[9] ...atyantaviruddhAnekArthatvena laukikaiH
gR^ihyamAnam... (G.B.A.)

[10] taM dharmam bhagavatA yathopadiShTam vedavyAsaH
sarvaj~naH bhagavAn gItAkhyaiH saptabhiH shlokashataiH
upanibabandha. (G.B.A)

[11] i know of one such reference which supports the
first view, in which an alliteration with 'padma' like
padmanAbham, padmAkSham, etc., is used, but i'm
neither able to recollect or locate it immediately.  

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

Amuthan Arunkumar R,
Final year, B.Tech/M.Tech Dual Degree,
Dept. of Aerospace Engg., IIT Madras.

Enjoy this Diwali with Y! India Click here http://in.promos.yahoo.com/fabmall/index.html

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list