[Advaita-l] Bhagawat Gita an obscure text?

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Nov 8 10:49:41 CST 2012

On Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 8:24 PM, Suresh <mayavaadi at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Namaste,
> Is it true that the Gita was an insignificant text until Adi Sankar
> commented on it? There aren't many commentaries on it prior to his,
> probably because no saint or scholar thought it worth his time. But once
> Sankar wrote his commentary, it has almost become a tradition for every
> school to write one. Today Gita and Hinduism have become synonymous.
> My question, however, is, why would Sankar choose such an insignificant
> text when the Upanishads were much more respected and valued? If he had to,
> why not something else (like yoga vasista or something with a more advaitic
> tilt)?
> Suresh

Dear Suresh,

It would be better if you referred to Bhagavatpada Shankara in more
respectful terms like 'Shankaracharya' 'Shankara' 'Adi Shankaracharya'
instead of 'Sankar'.

In the Brahmasutras we find a number of sutras mentioning 'smRti' also as
pramANam while the Upanishads are being analyzed.  If you see the list you
will come across many.  Shankara cites the Bh.Gita in support of many
concepts the Sutras discuss.  So we can say the sUtrakAra, Veda Vyasa,
himself has intended the Bh.Gita to be a part of the Vedic analysis.  In
fact the very Mahabharata of which the Gita is a part is authored by Vyasa.

We have a kUrmapurANa vAkyam:

इतिहासपुराणाभ्यां वेदार्थानुपबृंहयेत् ।। १९.२४

and a Manu smRti which is cited in this part of an article from a wiki
*http://tinyurl.com/aoambam* <http://tinyurl.com/aoambam>
एतदवल्बिता: काश्चन स्मृती: (मन्वादय:), तासां का गति:? इत्याकाङ्क्षायां
वेदोपबृंहणद्वारा प्रामाण्यं स्थापितम् ।’इतिहासपुराणाभ्यां वेदं
समुपबृंहयेत्’ इति मनो: वाक्येन इदं वेदसहकारित्वं स्पष्ठं भवति स्मृतीनाम् ।
संस्कृतवाङ्मयं च अतिविस्तृतं, तत्र प्रथमं वेदा:, षडङ्गानि, इतिहास-पुराणानि,
धर्मशास्त्रमिति । तदनन्तरत्वे च षडास्तिकदर्शनानि नास्तिकदर्शनानीति
प्रसिद्धम् । आस्तिकदर्शनान्तर्गतत्वे यत् वैयासिकदर्शनम् उत्तरमीमांसादर्शनं
तत्र ’प्रस्थानत्रयम्’ इति अत्यन्तं प्रसिद्धम् । श्रुतिप्रस्थानम्,
स्मृतिप्रस्थानम्, न्यायप्रस्थानमिति अवयवत्रयम् ।

The highlighted portion, the Manu smRti, says: the Veda has to be
understood by taking the itihAsa and purANa which constitute smRtis into
account.  Only then we will be getting the proper purport of the Veda.
Shankaracharya says at the introduction to the IshAvAsya bhahyam:

//सर्वासामुपनिषदामात्मयाथात्म्यनिरूपणेनैव उपक्षयात् । गीतानां मोक्षधर्माणां
चैवंपरत्वात् ।

All the upanishads have this as their ultimate goal: to teach the true
nature of the Atman.  The Bhagavadgita and the mahaabhArata too have this
alone as their purport.  //

Hence the significance of the Bhagavadgita in Vedanta.  If you study the
Gita along with the bhAshyam you will appreciate how it is Advaitic in its
fundamental nature.


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