[Advaita-l] bhagavad.h gItA 2.11

Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy annapureddy at gmail.com
Fri Feb 2 02:07:35 CST 2007

praNAm.h All,
       I have a question on shaN^kara's interpretation of bhagavad.h gItA
2.11. Thanks in advance.

First, the verse 2.11 itself:
ashochyaananvashochastvaM praGYaavaadaa.nshcha bhaashhase
gataasuunagataasuu.nshcha naanushochanti paNDitaaH

Ananda tIrtha (madhva) interprets praGYAvAdAMshcha as praGYA avAdAMshcha,
i.e., Arjuna is speaking words not spoken by the wise. Interestingly, the
Kashmir version of the bhagavad.h gItA commented upon by abhinavagupta has
"praGYAvat na abhibhAShasE" which clearly suggests the same idea.

On the contrary, shaN^kara comments thus:
tvaM praGYAvAdAn.h praGYAvatAM budhdimatAM vAdAMshcha vachanAni cha
bhAShasE. tadEtat.h mauDyaM pANDityaM cha virudhdaM Atmani darshayasi
unmatta iva ityabhiprAyaH.

Thus, shaN^kara interprets praGYAvAdAMshcha as praGYA vAdAMshcha. To try to
make sense of what shaN^kara intends, we considered the following
-- shaN^kara intends that shrI kR^iShNa calls arjuna a paNDita only in a
mocking tone. But that does not seem to be the case, since shaN^kara sees
both mauDyaM and pANDityaM in arjuna. Indeed, only if shaN^kara sees both
these qualities simultaneously can he call arjuna "unmatta iva". Thus, this
is not what shaN^kara intends.

-- shaN^kara means only worldly wisdom when he uses praGYAvatAM, budhdimatAM
etc. But this also does not seem to be the case given that shaN^kara uses
the word "pANDityaM darshayasi" for arjuna, and in the same paragraph, he
goes on to define paNDita as "paNDA AtmaviShayA budhdiH yEShAM tE hi
paNDitAH". Thus, praGYA could not have been used in the sense of the worldly

-- shaN^kara intends that arjuna indeed spoke words of wisdom (in the sense
of speaking words fit to be spoken by an AtmaGYAni). And Anandagiri
commenting on this gives the verse "utsanna kuladharmANAM" as an example of
wise words. But even a cursory look at the context in which arjuna speaks
these words shows that he spoke these words under delusion, almost like one
in delirium. And in any case, even considering that these words are wise,
for the most part arjuna's speech is mostly unwise (from a paNDita point of
view). And if someone speaks babble with some intermittent gems, we should
still call it babble. Thus, praGYAvAdAMshcha should more appropriately be
split as praGYA avAdAMshcha, and not praGYA vAdAMshcha (At any rate, the
first split is more direct).

Are there any other good reasons why arjuna's speech could be termed worthy
of a paNDita? If not, does not this sloppiness reflect poorly on shAN^kara
bhAShya (Note that madhusUdana sarasvatI also gives the split as praGYA



More information about the Advaita-l mailing list