[Advaita-l] Bhagawat Gita an obscure text?

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Nov 13 14:46:53 CST 2012

Actually, I am curious where the mahAbhArata verses are to be found, which specify the total number of verses in the gItA as well as individual counts for the various speakers. Such counts are given by Kesava Kashmiri in his commentary to the gItA (1 by Dhritarashtra, 67 by Sanjaya, 57 by Arjuna and 620 by Krishna). These counts are not given anywhere in the mahAbhArata itself, as far as I know.
That apart, there is no basis to conclude (or even suppose) that Adi Sankara edited the gItA down to 700 verses, in any sense of the term edition. The gItAbhAshya, as you are well aware, is silent on the entire first chapter and the first few verses in the second chapter. After the introduction, the commentary really picks up only at the verse aSocyAn anvaSocas tvam, with one short summary statement about everything that precedes this verse. And what he says in the introduction about the number of verses in the text (vedavyAsaH ... ... saptabhiS Sloka-Satair upanibabandha) is a general statement as well. All it intends to do is to give an estimate, not an exact count for the number of verses. 
As for what Swami Vivekananda is supposed to have written about this: 
A look at http://www.ramakrishnavivekananda.info/vivekananda/volume_4/lectures_and_discourses/thoughts_on_the_gita.htm shows that all Swami Viivekananda said was to quote somebody else and note "some infer that Shankaracharya was the author of the Gita, and that it was he who foisted it into the body of the Mahabharata." He does not offer this as his own opinion. It is merely a verbal note of what some people, scholarly and otherwise, were saying at the time. From the 1700s onwards, there has been a lot of secondary literature in European languages on the Gita and its place in the Mahabharata. A wide variety of opinions has been offered by people, some insightful, some thought-provoking, some half-baked, some downright ignorant. All that Swami Vivekananda had said was to point to one such opinion about it. For Sri Phulgendu Sinha (quoted by Sri Abhishek Madhyastha) to make much more of it than this and to project it as if it is Swami Vivekananda's own view is neither accurate nor fair.
So, to get back to my basic point, to conclude that Adi Sankara somehow edited down a 745 verse text to a 700 verse text is simply not supported by the evidence. 

> Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2012 09:52:36 -0800
> From: sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
> To: rajaramvenk at gmail.com; advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
> Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Bhagawat Gita an obscure text?
> Dear Shri Rajaram,
> 1)
> There is no doubt that the version of the Bhagavad Gita on which Adi Sankaracharya bhashya is based, has 700 verses. That is why he said that the Bhagavad Gita (of course, which he presented) had 700 verses.
> 2)
> That does not mean that Adi Sankaracharya had not edited the Bhagavad Gita of 745 verses. He himself stated clearly why the earlier scholars failed in their attempts to write commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita. After Adi Sankaracharya's work there came out hundreds of people who could write commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita. What do you think, then, is the reason why the earlier scholars could not write commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita? Do you think the scholars earlier to Adi Sankaracharya were not as intelligent as the scholars subsequent to Adi Sankarachaya?  

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