[Advaita-l] Bhagawat Gita an obscure text?

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Thu Nov 15 00:32:29 CST 2012

On Thu, 8 Nov 2012, Suresh wrote:

> 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.

As was mentioned in this thread Shankaracharya himself mentions that there 
were many commentaries in existence in his time; enough to cause confusion 
as to the true tatparya of the Gita which is why he intended to write a 
concise clarification.

> But once 
> Sankar wrote his commentary, it has almost become a tradition for every 
> school to write one.

Actually the Vishistadvaita tradition also provides evidence of ancient 
commentators (though naturally favoring their views.)

> Today Gita and Hinduism have become synonymous.

This is a post-19th century phenomenon only stemming from the urge of the 
reformers to have a "Hindu Bible."  But that doesn't mean it was obscure 

> 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)?

Shankaracharya hardly picked it out of a hat.  As was mentioned by Shri 
Subrahmanian elsewhere in this thread, the Brahmasutras themselves quote 
the Gita.  The central issue amongst early Mimamsakas was what is the 
ultimate purport of the Vedas?  kevalakarma (karma is supreme - Purva 
Mimamsakas) kevalajnana (jnana is supreme - Advaita Vedantins) or 
jnanakarmasamucchaya (some kind of combination of karma and jnana - every 
other Vedantin.)  The Gita presents the crux of this issue with vivid 
urgency.  This is what has attracted so many thinkers to it. 
Abhinavagupta, a Shaiva, even wrote a tika on it!

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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