[Advaita-l] bhagavad.h gItA 2.11

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Sat Mar 3 07:21:47 CST 2007

Siddhartha gAru, namaskAram!

----- Original Message ----
From: Annapureddy Siddhartha Reddy <annapureddy at gmail.com>
To: advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Sent: Friday, February 2, 2007 1:37:35 PM
Subject: [Advaita-l] bhagavad.h gItA 2.11

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

* Let us examine the anvayArtha as well: tvam = you, anvaSochah = have grieved, aSocyAn = about those not to be grieved for; [and]  bhAshase = talk, praj~nAvAdAn ca = the words of the wise; paNDitAh = the learned, na = do not, anuSocanti = grieve about, gatAsUn = the dead, agatAsUn ca = and the living. Meaning: You talk like a wise man, yet grieve about those not to be grieved for; the learned do not grieve about the dead or the living.

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.

* I have seen neither (at the IIT, Kanpur's supersite on Gita, SrimanmadhvAcArya's commentary is obviously corrupted, and Abhinavagupta is said not to have commented on the said Sloka), but yes one can read like that as well: You do not talk like a wise man and grieve about those not to be grieved for; the learned do not grieve about the dead or the living. However, note that there are three ways of getting that meaning: a) praj~nAvAdAn na bhAshase (the most direct version), b) apraj~nAvAdAn bhAshase (you talk like the not-learned), and c)praj~nAvatAm avAdAn bhAshase (you talk that which is not spoken by the learned). The entire style of Bhagavadgita is simple and direct, with almost no attention paid to sophistication and style in expression; from the overall style of Bhagavadgita, I would rather think that if the intent were to express that Arjuna does not talk like a wise man, a) or b) above would be used, rather than the contrived construct of c).

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.

* Yes, not 'on the contrary', but a few hundred years earlier than all the others quoted (at least on this list, we must assume what the AchArya says to be right, and other views to be contrary).

Thus, shaN^kara interprets praGYAvAdAMshcha as praGYA vAdAMshcha. To try to make sense of what shaN^kara intends, we considered the following possibilities:

* Not required, the bhAshya makes clear sense.

-- 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.

* No, the bhagavatpAda indeed sees both pANDityam (based on his earlier words upto that stage) and mauDhyam of grieving for the not to be grieved for. 

-- 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

* There are two ways to look at this. pANDityam as used in the first instance (in 'tadetat mauDhyam  pANDityam ca Atmani darSayasi) cannot mean "knowledge of the Self" because in an unmatta, such a knowledge of the Self and mauDhyam do not co-exist. Why? where there is Atmaj~nAna, how can there be mauDhyam? Why will such a j~nAni be an unmatta? In the first instance, pANDityam should be taken to mean scholarship etc. Only on such a reading is the analogy with unmatta apt because such a person sometimes speaks profoundly, and at other times is deranged. The second way of looking at it is, Arjuna is speaking the words of a praj~nAvAn, buddhimAn but such praj~nA or buddhi is not firmly established in Arjuna, and so even as he speaks the words of the learned, grieves about those not to be grieved for.

-- shaN^kara intends that arjuna indeed spoke words of wisdom (in the sense of speaking words fit to be spoken by an AtmaGYAni). 

* No, the bhagavatpAda intends that Arjuna spoke words fit to be spoken by scholars, not Atmaj~nAnis.

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. 

* No, far from being in delirium, Arjuna has taken up imporant aspects of consequences of war and dharma: "1. To get the kingdom and pleasures thereof, we have to cause the death of the very people (friends and relatives) for whose benefit we make this war; 2. Even if these dhArtarAshTras are AtatAyins, it is pApam to kill them (actually, the dharmaSAstras say 'na AtatAyivadhe doshah'); 3. kulakshayakritam and mitradroha are pAtakas, which others (Duryodhana etc.) might not know, but Arjuna clearly knows them; 4. The consequences of kulakshayam are a) kuladharmanashTam, b) spread of adharma, c) violation of kulastrIs, d) varNa-sa~Nkara, e) naraka for those responsible for varNa-sa~Nkara, and f) pitri-patanam due to absence of piNDa and udaka kriyas. Should we condemn our entire kula to eternal misery so that we might enjoy kingdom and pleasures?" Arjuna offers to die rather than perpetuate such colossal misery on the entire kshatriya kula. utsanna kuladharmANam ... narake
 niyatam vAsah (1-44), means 'to those whose kuladharma has been uprooted, the stay in hell is eternal.' It is not delirium, but a serious doubt. What has taken hold of Arjuna is confusion as to what the correct dharma is: svadharma or paramdharma, and so he asked his friends, philosopher, and guide. 

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). 

* Only if you assume paNDita to always mean Atmaj~nAni. As suggested above, it is perfectly tenable that paNDita means the ordinary meaning of scholar.

And if someone speaks babble with some intermittent gems, we should still call it babble.

* Today, we talk casually about all non-Atmaj~nAnin's talk and doubts as babble, but the truth remains that Atmaj~nAnis are the rarer ones, not babble-speakers. It is interesting that the recipient of this foremost j~nAna was Arjuna and not YudhishThira; Arjuna was the most ideal pupil... SraddhAvAn labhate j~nAnam, and Arjuna's SraddhA in Sri Krishna was the very best.

Thus, praGYAvAdAMshcha should more appropriately be split as praGYA avAdAMshcha, and not praGYA vAdAMshcha (At any rate, the first split is more direct).

* No, as shown above, it need not be. I hope after the above, the split of praj~nyA + avAdAn does not appeal as the more direct. I would not usually pitch my knowledge of Sanskrit against the redoubtable SrimanmadhvAchArya's but a compound word like, say, mithyAvAdana splits more 'readily' or 'directly' as mithyA + vAdana, not mithyA + avAdana, notwithstanding the colossal mastery of Samskrit of the AchArya.

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 avAdAMshcha)?

* If Arjuna were an Atmaj~nAni, there would be no need for the Gita. paNDita means a scholar in that context, and Arjuna is definitely a praj~nAvAn and buddhimAn (if you observe the original words used to describe praj~nAvAdAn). There is no sloppiness on the part of the bhagavatpAda. And what is said about madhusUdana sarasvatI's commentary is only half the truth: he comments with both splits as is seen from the relevant commentrary reproduced below (original from IIT Kanpur's supersite on Gita, and the quick and dirty translation by yours truly):

* ASocyAn SocitumayogyAneva (those who are not to be grieved for) bhIshmadroNAdIn  AtmasahitAn ((Bhishman, Drona etc.) tvam paNDito'pi san (though you are a Pandita) anvaSoco'nuSocitavAnasi. (you grieve about them). te (they) mriyante (have died) mannimittam (due to me) aham tairvinAbhUtah kim karishyAmi (without them, what shall I do) rAjyasukhAdinety (obtaining the happiness of kingdom) evamarthakena (with this intent) 'drishTvemam svajanam' ityAdinA.(were spoken the words starting with drishTvemam (1-28)). tathAcASocye Socyabhramah (And then, grieving thus for those not to be grieved for) paSvAdisAdhAraNah (is common in animals etc.)tavAtyantapaNDitasyAnucita ityarthah (but is unfit to a most learned man like you.) tathA (In that way,)
 'kutastvA kaSmala' mityAdinA madvacanena (with my words starting with kutastvA etc. (2-2)) anucittamidam Acaritam mayeti vimarSe prApte'pi (even as the inappropriateness of this act was known to you)  tvam svayam praj~no'pi san (even though you yourself are very learned) praj~nAnAm avAdAn praj~naih vaktum anucitA~nSabdAmSca (words unfit to be spoken by the wise) 'katham bhIshmamaham samkhye' (like the ones 'how I can fight Bhishma' etc. (2-4))  ityAdIn bhAshase vadasi (were spoken by you) natu lajjayA tUshNImbhavasi. (but you are not silent due to shame). atahparam (Hereafter) kimanucitamastIti sUcayitum cakArah. (I shall endeavour to indicate what is inapproriate) tathA (And thus) cAdharme dharmatvabhrAntidharme cAdharmatvabhrAntih (your confusion amongst adharma, and the illusion of dharmatva and adharmatva) asAdhAraNI tavAtipaNDitasya (is extra-ordinatry in a great scholar like you) nociteti bhAvah (and is not apt is the meaning). praj~nAvatAm paNDitAnAm vAdAn bhAshase
 (you speak the words of the wise) param natu budhyasa (but do not understand) iti vA bhAshaNApekshayA (is another explanation in view of  the bhAshya [of Sankaracharya]). 


* I don't know if something like this one month after you posted is useful, but here we are.

Yours truly

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