Translation Series - Gita Bhashya - Introduction 1/3

Vidyasankar vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 1 22:26:23 CDT 2002

This is the first of a scheduled three-part set on the introductory chapter
in the commentary.

August 1 2002, Thursday 8:25 PM, Pacific Standard Time.
Posted by Vidyasankar

.. OM ..


OM namo bhagavate vaasudevaaya

The commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, by Shri Shankara Bhagavatpada
Prostrations to the Lord Vasudeva

upoddhaataH - Introduction

naaraayaNaH paro.avyaktaat.h aNDamavyaktasambhavam.h .
aNDasyaantastvime lokaaH saptadviipaa cha medinii ..

naaraayaNaH paraH avyaktaat.h - Narayana is beyond the Unmanifest [1];
aNDam avyaktasambhavam.h - the Egg [2] issues out of the Unmanifest.
aNDasya antaH tu ime lokaaH - All the worlds are contained within the Egg,
saptadviipaa cha medinii - including the earth, with its seven islands.

sa bhagavaan.h sR^iShTvedaM jagat.h tasya cha sthitiM chikiirShuH
mariichyaadiin.h agre sR^iShTvaa prajaapatiin.h pravR^ittilaxaNaM
dharmaM graahayaamaasa vedoktam.h . tataH anyaan.h cha sanaka-
sanandanaadiin.h utpaadya nivR^ittilaxaNaM dharmaM GYaanavairaagya-
laxaNaM graahayaamaasa . dvividho hi vedokto dharmaH - pravR^itti-
laxaNaH nivR^ittilaxaNashcha jagataH sthitikaaraNam.h . praaNinaaM
saaxAt.h abhyudayaniHshreyasahetuH yaH sa dharmaH braahmaNaadyaiH
varNibhiH aashramibhiH shreyorthibhiH anuShThiiyamaanaH . diirgheNa
kaalena anuShThaatR^INaaM kaamodbhavaat.h hiiyamaanavivekaviGYAna-
hetukena adharmeNa abhibhUyamAne dharme pravarddhamaane cha adharme
jagataH sthitiM paripipaalayiShuH saH aadikartaa naaraayaNaakhyaH
viShNuH bhaumasya brahmaNaH braahmaNatvasya raxaNaarthaM
devakyaaM vasudevaat.h a.nshena kR^iShNaH kila sambabhuuva .
braahmaNatvasya hi raxaNe raxitaH syaat.h vaidiko dharmaH
tadadhiinatvaat.h varNaashramabhedaanaam.h ..

The great Lord created the world, and desired to ensure its continued
existence. He first created the progenitors, the leaders of the people
(prajaa - pati), beginning with Marichi, and imparted to them the Law
(dharma) characterized by action (pravR^itti), described in the Vedas.
Then he created Sanaka, Sanandana and others, and imparted to them the
Law characterized by withdrawal from action (nivR^itti), knowledge and
dispassion. Two-fold is the Law described in the Vedas - one of action
and the other of withdrawal from action - which sustains the world.
This Law is to be observed by members of all classes, beginning with
the Brahmanas, and stations in life who desire goodness, as it directly
leads to both prosperity and liberation, the highest good [3]. In course
of time, because of the rise of desires on the part of those for whom
this Law was prescribed, and the consequent diminishing of discriminative
knowledge, unrighteousness grew in strength and overcame the Law.
Seeking to preserve the world's stability, the original creator, the
all-pervasive Lord (viShNu), who is called nArAyaNa, was born to Devaki,
from Vasudeva, as Krishna, in order to protect the divine nature of
the Vedas [4]. Only by protecting this divine nature, the Vedic Law is
protected, adherence to which protects the different classes of people.

Notes -

[1] Unmanifest = avyakta - This is a technical term in sAMkhya and vedAnta
schools of thought. It refers to the primordial root form of the universe,
prior to its current manifestation.

[2] Egg = aNDa - Literally egg, aNDa is a common term to refer to the whole
universe. The word brahmaaNDa for the universe is perhaps more familiar.

[3] liberation, the highest good = niHshreyasa - Literally, niHshreyasa is
that compared to which there is nothing better. In the context of advaita
vedAnta, liberation is the highest good. Hence my translation.

[4] to protect the divine nature of the Vedas = bhaumasya brahmaNaH
braahmaNatvasya raxaNaarthaM - In my earlier attempt at translation, I had
translated this phrase differently, but that turns out to have been wrong
Dr. A. G. Krishna Warrier of the Adyar Library, whose translation has been
published by Sri Ramakrishna Math (Madras, 1983), translates as follows -
"in order to safeguard the spiritual power in the world or the state of
Brahmanhood." The reason for my choosing to translate as I have done are
the following.

In the Mahabharata itself, the Shantiparvan has at least two occurrences of
the phrase bhauma brahma, where it refers to the Vedas. One of these verses
is a reference to the birth of Krishna as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva -

yaM devaM devakii devii vasudevaad ajiijanat .
bhaumasya brahmaNo guptyai diiptam agnim ivaaraNiH .. 12.47.18 ..

It seems to me that Shankara has this reference in mind when he uses the
phrase "bhaumasya brahmaNaH". The fact that he immediately refers to the
vaidika dharma in the next sentence reinforces the idea that this phrase
refers to the Vedas in the commentary also.

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