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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Gīta Bhūṣaṇa

Book Review:
Gītā Bhūṣaṇa, Bhagavad Gītā commentary

by Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa
Translated by Bhānu Swāmī

This book is philosophical, so it's a bit hard for me to digest. I have concentrated on the key verses and may well have missed a lot of great things in between. Baladeva quotes a lot from the Upaniṣads. The first 6 chapters he classifies as dealing more or less with niṣkāma karma-yoga, dedicated work for higher benefits, not per se bhakti.
2.14 mātra sparsas tu kaunteya (2.14) is explained in the framework of steadfastness in dharma, not as an act of bhakti, and verse 2.47 (karmaṇyevādhikāras te) reminds us that karma, not bhakti is the subject here.
The tika of 3.27 (ahaṅkāra vimūḍhātmā) refers to verses 18.14-16, which describe 5 factors of action, an intricate combination of doership by the jīva and the paramātmā. Overcome with impressions (vāsanās) of enjoying sense objects from beginningless time, the jīva is embraced by prakṛti, who is situated next to him, and who is the cause of his pleasure. Verse 13.21 describes prakṛti as the doer through the body and the senses, but prakṛti only comes into action by contact with the Lord. The Lord's doership can never be rejected.
3.33 Even a person who knows the punishment stated in the scriptures (jñānavān) acts according (sadṛśam) to his evil nature - his sinful impressions have been there since beginningless time. What to speak of those who don't even know the punishment?
3.37 Lust is very powerful, since it forces one to engage even in forbidden acts by making one lose one's sense of discrimination....the victory of lust and anger are one.
3.38 Knowledge covered slightly by lust can grasp something of truth, knowledge covered moderately cannot grasp the truth, and knowledge covered by lust cannot function and cannot even be perceived.
3.42 The sense objects are more powerful than the senses because they can attract them. The mind is superior to the sense objects because it is the root of the actions of the senses in pursuit of sense objects. The discerning and confirming intellect is superior to the mind which has doubt, because there must be verification of existence of enjoyment from sense objects before action takes place. The jīva, the enjoyer, is superior to the intellect, because it is the very means of enjoyment or experience.
4.6 pratyakṣaṁ ca harer janma na vikāra kathañcana - "Hari's birth, though visible, takes place without transformation of His svarūpa." (Smṛti). Thus one should recall His appearance in the delivery room with divine form, decorated with ornaments, etc.
4.40 ajña = ignorant like an animal. aśraddha = he knows śāstra but has no faith because he is quarrelsome. saṁśayātma knows śāstra and has faith but doubts he will make it.
Happiness is generated fom actions prescribed by śāstra.
5.9 Breathing represents the actions of the 5 major prāṇas. Opening and closing the eyes are done by the 5 secondary prāṇas. Sleeping is an action of the internal organ (antaḥ-karaṇa)
5.15
eṣa hyeva sādhu-karma kārayati taṁ yamebhyo lokebhyaḥ unninīṣate. 
esa u evāsādhu karma kārayati taṁ yam adho ninīṣyate
(Kauśitakī Upaniṣad 3.8)

"The Lord engages souls in good work for their elevation and in bad work for their degradation."

ajño jantur aniśo'yam ātmanah sukha duḥkayoḥ
īśvara prerito gacchet svargaṁ narakam eva ca


"The ignorant is totally powerless about his joy or woes - impelled by the Lord he goes to heaven or hell." Isn't that unjust of the Lord? No, because karma is beginningless - na karmāvibhāgād iti cen nānāditvāt.
Bhānu Swāmī comments on 7.8 that the four levels of sound (see blog of febr.28, 2007) have their cakras too - parā = mūlādhāra, paśyanti = maṇipūraka and madhyama = anāhata. For vaikhari no cakra is mentioned.
5.11 Engaging the senses in enlightenment is only possible if they are very pure. Hence Kṛṣṇa uses the adjective 'kevalaiḥ'.
7.15 "Those who know the meaning of śāstra (kṛtinaḥ) but are evil (duṣ) do not surrender unto Me." Baladeva then quotes a great egghead-verse:


avidyāyāṁ antare vartamānaḥ svayaṁ dhīrāḥ paṇḍitaṁ manyamānāḥ 
dandramyamānāḥ pariyanti mūḍhā andhenaiva nīyamāna yathāndhāḥ


(Kaṭha Upaniṣad 1.2.5)

"Though internally they are ignorant they think they are learned. These fools wander about in confusion like blind men leading other blind men."
9.13 mahātmā here means ' broad-minded'
9.22 Another meaning than ' carrying food' is ' I take care My devotees attain Me (yoga)
and prevent their separation from Me (kṣemam)."

10 comments:

  1. Re 7.8, the seat of vaikhari would be visuddha, the center activated at the time of communication.

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  2. Radhe Radhe

    Being the new year, I would like to thank you for your great effort in making this weblog possible. This is one of the best blogs around, in terms of topics covered and the effort expended to come up with support from shastra and commentaries by acharyas.

    Morevover, I greatly appreciate your nistha to the traditional path after all these years. Hopefully your nistha can only be contagious to us!!

    I’d like to take exception of the following verses from the book.

    3.38 Knowledge covered slightly by lust can grasp something of truth, knowledge covered moderately cannot grasp the truth, and knowledge covered by lust cannot function and cannot even be perceived.

    What does lust mean here? Can you please explain in practical terms?

    Also about this:

    3.42 The sense objects are more powerful than the senses because they can attract them. The mind is superior to the sense objects because it is the root of the actions of the senses in pursuit of sense objects. The discerning and confirming intellect is superior to the mind which has doubt, because there must be verification of existence of enjoyment from sense objects before action takes place. The jiva, the enjoyer, is superior to the intellect, because it is the very means of enjoyment or experience.

    I’d like to know why the mind is differentiated from the intellect? Because in the practical sense, intellect or things like cognition, values and these sorts of things can only be be borne from the mind. Or maybe this differentiation comes about on the philosophical sense?

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  3. Malati,
    Lust is carnal desire between men and women, particularly here the illicit type, unmarried.
    The mind thinks, feels and desires, while the intellect discriminates. Therefore the intellect should always take the lead over the mind.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Prabhu,

    Do you think the word "kama" used by Krishna in Bg 3.38 may be referring to "desire" but not "lust" ??

    Radhe Krishna

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  5. The description in this set of verses ,'makes one lose one's sense of discrimination' etc., clearly points at carnal desire. 'Desire' would otherwise mean 'greed for property and money'. kamini kancana (women and gold) are the typical desires of conditioned souls. Unfortunately I dont have the DVD with the Gita tikas with me, otherwise I would check the original Sanskrit text of Baladeva' s tika. Perhaps next time.

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  6. kamini kancana (women and gold) are the typical desires of conditioned souls.

    Does this mean that one who desires men is not conditioned? Or does it mean that one who desires men instead of women has no soul? Or does it mean that, for women, desiring gold is the only typical desire that causes their conditioning? And if the latter is true, does it mean women are in advantage spiritually over men?

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  7. Anon, I wasnt sure if I was going to publish this comment as I am not sure if you are serious - after all, the board rules say that 'silly comments are blocked'. Of course, for women it is men.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anon, Malati - I checked Baladeva's tika and it indeed mentions all kinds of desires, including enjoyment of sounds, horses, wealth, women, the whole lot.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Prabhu,

    Thanks for clarification on the word "kama" used by Krishna as interpreted by different authors. I normally follow "Bhagavad-Gita As It Is" by Srila Prabhupada. Can you recommend other authoritative Gitas. I heard HH Bhanu Swami did a tremendous job translating couple of others??

    Radhe Krishna

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anon, yes, Bhanu Swami has done seperate books on the commentaries by Visvanatha Cakravarti and Baladeva Vidyabhusana. I havent read the former, I have an e-copy of that by Narayan Maharaj.

    ReplyDelete