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Creation and Criticism

ISSN: 2455-9687  

(A Quarterly International Peer-reviewed Refereed e-Journal

Devoted to English Language and Literature)

Vol. 06, Joint Issue 22 & 23: July-Oct 2021

The Speaking Self

The Path of Insight

Krishna Kumar Agrawal


In the Indian tradition, Vedas are a repository of profound knowledge as they are based on the actual realisation of Dharma by the sages of the time, but they do not serve the purpose of a common person for the reasons that their language is  'archaic'. There is 'no systematic exposition' of Dharma appealable to the modern mind and lastly the 'Absence of any living tradition' which could lead to its followers the actual realisation of Dharma. However, the Bhagwad Gita, popularly known as the "song celestial", is reputed to contain the quintessence of Upanishadic teaching. It is acclaimed as a masterpiece for its lofty theme. It throws a flood of light on the various aspects of Dharma, including its practical aspect. But it can be appreciated at the intellectual level only, it is often presumed, for the reason that there is no living tradition which could take it to the actual level where its teaching can be absorbed.


Gita is not the outcome of some original life of anyone like Budha, Christ or Mohammad. It is also not a discovery like the Veda or Upanishads. There is also doubt about the time of its writings. Its author is unknown. Though before its advent, Yoga, Bhakti, Jnana etc. has each its strong adherents who quarelled amongst themselves, each claiming superiority for his own chosen path. It was the author of the Gita who for the first time tried to harmonise them. The reconciliation of the different  paths of Dharma and to work without attachment to the desire for the fruits of action, are the two special characteristics of the Gita which have been explained even at the risk of repetitions which often confuse the readers. Its message is self-realisation. But how? Such realisation comes through the practice of Vipassana, the technique of meditation taught by Budha. This technique is universal to the core and concerned solely with the practice of morality (Shila), mastery over the mind (Samadhi) and insight (wisdom -Pragya). Thus although Gita tries to reconcile the different paths to satisfy the whims of the existing community, yet it is the complete theoretical  exposition of the practical Vipassana meditation as taught by Budha. If understood in this aspect, Gita is a living tradition of Vipassana Meditation which could take it to the actual level where its teaching can be absorbed. But this teaching of Budha was lost to the public of India for the last 2000 years in its practical form which has now come to light through its practical courses throughout the world. The following paras will make this point clear and the doubts will be removed.


Budha never taught that he would take a person to the final goal. He only showed the path / the way how to go on the path. This was also the work of Krishna in Gita, who only shows the way to do everything but do not get attached to it. Such view was also expressed by D.D. Kanga in his book 'Where Theosophy and Science meet' as under: "This discovery of Reality within each man has to move for himself; no other person, however great he may be, can do that for him. The utmost person can do is to show the way, but the way is to be trodden by each man himself."


Whichever century's work the Gita may be, certainly it can not be earlier than Patanjali. 200 years after Budha, Parini made the grammar for the popular language known as ‘Astadhai’, a masterpiece of Sanskrit grammar. Patanjali wrote ‘Mahabhasya (commentary) on it and vedic language was called ‘Sanskrit’. 200 years after Parini, Patanjali wrote the 'Yogasutra', which has got the influence of the teaching of Budha. Everywhere in Gita, the word 'Yoga' and 'Bhagwan' are used. 'Yoga' seems to have been borrowed from Patanjali and 'Bhagwan' from Budha. Budha was called Bhagwan at the time because he had freed himself from craving, aversion and ignorance and was an Enlightened One. Vyas was a great Commentator who wrote 'Yoga Bhasya' after a few centuries, perhaps in the 4th to 7th century AD. According to Prof. Keith, the Patanjali Yogasutra can not be understood without the help of 'Yoga Bhasya'. These words must have been borrowed by him because his name was an honour/nickname and he is supposed to be the author of Mahabharata (Gita is a part of it). The mention of the text 'Brahmasutra' in Gita chapter 13(4) is itself indicative of its period of writing because 'Brahmasutra' were written in 300 to 500 AD.


Before proceeding further, it would be appropriate to know, what is 'Vipassana'? 'Vipassana' is one of  India's most ancient meditation techniques. It contains the essence of what the Budha practised and  taught during his life time. References to Vipassana are given in 'Rigveda', the most ancient literature of the country - 'one who practises Vipassana in a perfect way comes out of all aversion and anger and the mind becomes pure'. It is a straight forward, practical way to achieve peace of mind and to live a happy, useful life. The meditation does not encourage people to withdraw from society, rather it strengthens them to face all the ups and downs of life in a calm and balanced way. There are three steps in this technique-living a wholesome life, developing control of the mind and purifying the mind of underlying negativities. But it was  lost for many centuries and was rediscovered by Budha. According to the language of Budha which was spoken at the time, the meaning of the word 'Vipassana' is  insight, to see things as they really are, insight into the nature of the entire mind and matter phenomenon. Every thought has a specific sensation connected to it. Every bodily sensation is connected to a thought. This was the key discovery of Budha. Usually these two streams of life seem  disconnected and autonomous because we have not observed them systematically and carefully. In Brahmajula Sutta, Budha states how he practised this to achieve enlightenment: "Having experienced as they really are, the arising of Sensations, their passing away, the relishing of them, the danger in them, and the release from them, the Enlightened one,  O monks, has become detached and liberated."


Whatever arises, arises due to a cause; when the cause is eradicated there can be no resulting effect. The Budha found by his own personal experience that suffering arises because of craving. He realised that between the external object and the mental reaction of craving there is a link-the body sensations. By learning to observe them one comes to see that all sensations are impermanent and that any attachment to them causes suffering. The more one observes dispassionately, the more layers of past conditioning are eradicated till the mind is freed from the habit of reacting with craving. This gradual process of purification is Vipassana. The contact of an object with the mind produces a sensation in the body which is the link through which we experience the world with all its phenomenon, physical and mental. Every thought, every emotion, every mental action is accompanied by  a corresponding sensation within the body. Thus by observing the physical sensations, we also observe  the mind. Thus Vipassana is a process of realisation of Truth– not at the physical, vocational or intellectual level and not because it is told by some one so and so or because it is told by an Enlightened Person– by realising it directly at the experiential level by oneself for oneself.


In order to emerge from the habit of craving and aversion,  it is necessary to see things in depth, to perceive the underlying phenomenon that compose apparent reality. This is precisely what the practice of Vipassana meditation allows us to do. Whenever a thought appears in the mind, we are aware of the accompanying physical  sensations, arising and passing away. The apparent solidity of body and mind dissolves and we experience the ultimate reality of matter, mind and mental formations - nothing but vibrations, oscillations,  arising and vanishing with rapidity. Similar fact is found by the scientists at the Brook Haven National Laboratory in the US in March, 2004 that the existence of a subatomic particle called the Kmeson is about 12 billionths of a second before decaying. It is referred in Yajurveda as "It moves, it moves not. It is far, and it is near. It is within all this. And it is outside all this". The meditator is simply to develop awareness and equanimity. By observing unpleasant sensations without reacting, we eradicate  aversion. By observing pleasant sensations without reacting, we eradicate craving. By observing neutral sensations without reacting, we eradicate ignorance. Thus by maintaining equanimity toward all conditioning, one reaches the stage of "extinction of craving, extinction of aversion, extinction of ignorance". Every moment that one observes reality without reacting, one penetrates towards the ultimate truth. The highest quality of the mind is Equanimity based on full awareness of reality. Budha said it like this- "Taste from anywhere, the ocean is salty; like taste you ME, aware am I everywhere. My only taste is Awareness". It becomes, therefore, clear that one can not understand the theory properly who does not know the technique practically. Budha called this technique the Eight Fold Path leading to the eradication of suffering and getting Nibbana (the eternal peace). Bhagwad Gita  explains the same principle in the following way in chapter 2, verses 59, 61, 65, 71 and 72: “When a man does not accept the objects of the senses, the objects disappear from him, but not the attachment for them. But one who realises the supreme by 'insight', he gets freedom from the attachment as well. Hence he should get calm (equanimous) and with such a state of mind he should sit in insight (Vipassana). Such a person is secure of understanding". Here the word 'Param' and 'Matpara' used in verses 59 and 61 respectively does not mean any Supreme God or 'me'. It simply means the 'insight' (within the man himself). The resultant effect of these verses are explained in Verses 71 and 72. Such a man who sheds all longings and moves without concern becomes free from the self idenity   (ego, personality belief) of 'I' and 'ME'. When the ego is totally eradicated, he attains peace. This is the state of a man who rests in Brahmn; having attained to it, he is not deluded. If he abides in this state even at the hour of death, he passes into oneness with Brahmn i.e. 'the four sublime states of loving kindness, compassion, altruistic joy and equanimity'. In Gita, there is only the mention of 'calm and insight' to attain peace. There seems to be no reference to Kayagatsati as is used in the teaching of Budha. But in my opinion, the use of the words 'Param' and 'Matpara' (as aforesaid)  in the Gita refers to the mindfulness of mental and physical phenomenon (kayagatsati) in its hidden meaning. The reference of Divine Eye in Gita chapter 11(8) is nothing but Vipassana- a special kind of vision.


Few examples are cited here from Budha's teachings which correspond to similar words in Gita-


Vipassana: (1) The whole purpose of Vipassana is to change the habit pattern of the mind; neither craving towards pleasant sensations, nor aversion towards unpleasant ones; When you have pleasant sensations,  observe them without attachment, without reaction, understanding that they are 'anicca'. The importance of understanding impermanence is a theme that runs like a common thread through all the teaching of Budha. Transcend the suffering involved in attachment to the self mind, body and the world associated with them-by observing objectively and peacefully the arising and vanishing of everything composing them, thereby cultivating insight into their essential transiency.


In his book "The Art of living", William Hart has translated Dhamapada-113 as under:


Better a single day of life

Seeing the reality of arising and passing away

than a hundred years of existence

remaining blind to it.


Gita in Chapter 2(14, 15) speaks of the same in the following words:"Contacts of the senses with their objects, O Son of Kunti, give rise to cold and heat, pleasure and pain, they come and go and do not last for ever, these learn to endure. O Bharata! The man who is not disturbed by these, O Chief of men (Arjun), who remains equanimous in pain and pleasure, who is wise makes himself fit for eternal life."


(2) A Bhikkhu while going forward and backward understands thoroughly with wisdom:


While looking straight ahead and sideways -

While bending and stretching-

While wearing robes and carrying bowl-

While chewing, drinking and savoring-

While attending to the calls of nature -

While walking, standing, sitting, lying down,

sleeping, waking, speaking and remaining silent

understands with wisdom etc. -9 Mah'asatipattan Sutta.


The Gita in Chapter 5 (8,9) Speaks the same truth in the following words: "The man who is united with the Divine and knows the truth thinks 'I do nothing at all', for in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, walking, sleeping, breathing; In speaking, emitting, grasping, opening and closing the eyes, he holds that only the senses are occupied with the object of the senses."


(3)  As a seeker I strive forever,

I do not give up struggle -

I have attained wisdom through effort built on faith,

I have attained salvation from the bonds of this world -

Never look back. Strive with joy and enthusiasm. (Anguttar Nikaya).


GITA in chapter 3 (22 to 24) speaks of the same in the words of Krishna as under (in "song celestial" by Sir Edwin Arnold)- "In the three wide worlds, I am not bound to any toil, no height awaits to scale, no gift remains  to gain, yet I act here; and, if I acted not earnest and watchful-those that look to me for  guidance, sinking back to sloth again because I slumbered, would decline from good and I should break earth's order and commit her offspring unto ruin, Bharata."


(4) Once Budha told a Bhikku in the way to see only, hear only, smell only, taste only, touch only and know only, do not react further. These words contained the entire teaching of Budha. This corresponds to verse 16 of chapter 12 and verse 34 of chapter 3 in Gita in the following words: "He who has no expectation, is pure, skilful in action, unconcerned and untroubled, who has given up all initiative (in action), he, my devotee, is dear to me. For (every) sense, attachment and aversion are fixed (in regard) to the objects of (that) sense. Let no one come under their sway for they are his (two) enemies."


When contact occurs through any of the six bases of sensory experience, there should be no valuation, not conditioned perception. This is also repeated in chapter 5(8,9).


(5) Budha- Once Budha was asked to explain real happiness. He enumerated  various wholesome actions and said- "When faced with all the ups and downs of life still the mind remains unshaken, not lamenting, not generating defilements, always feeling secure, this is the greatest happiness."


Gita - Chapter 2(14,15,56,57) Speaks as under- "O Kaunteya! contacts of the senses with their objects bring cold and heat, pleasure and pain; they come and go and are transient. Endure them, O Bharata. O noblest of men, the wise man who is not disturbed by these, who is unmoved by pleasure and pain, he is fitted for immortality. Where mind is untroubled in sorrows and longeth not for joys, who is free from passion, fear, and wrath- he is called the ascetic of secure understanding. Who owns attachment nowhere, who feels neither joy nor resentment whether good or bad comes his way- that man's understanding is secure". Such person has been described as the highest yogi in chapter 6(32) and Brahmn in chapter 5(19,20) and free from bondage in chapter 5(3) and 2(38).


(6) Budha called his path 'The only one and only path' for the eradication of miseries of human beings. The 'only' in the sense that it is the 'universal law of nature' which may be experienced and understood by everyone of any religion or any country. He chose the middle path, avoiding the extremes.


Gita in chapter 18(50) speaks of the path of perfection to Arjuna for attaining the Supreme Consumation of knowledge. Gita also chose the middle path ignoring the extremes-chapter 6(16,17).


(7) Budha chose the place of 'Kuru' for his discourse and the same place was chosen by Krishna in 'Bhagwadgita' which starts with the word: 'Dharmakshetra' Kurukshetra' (in the field of Dharma, in the field of Kuru). The reason was that 'Kuru' was one of the sixteen states at the time of Budha (now called Haryana). He and the others have a high regard for the people of Kuru on account of their moral life observing 'Sila' from the king to the lowest subject. Morality was their nature and what is called 'Sila-dharma' was called 'Kuru-dharma' at the time.


(8) Budha's  words were retold by Anand, His chief disciple who heard all the 84000 discourses given by Budha. He had a wonderful memory and he could recite all of them verbatim at any time. Thus each discourse of Budha comes with the words 'Evam me Sutam' - such was heard by me. Gita was heard  by Sanjay who retold it in the same words by using 'Bhagwanuwach'- The lord said. Even in Gita chapter 13(11) and chapter 15(17), the words 'it is told' indicate that the Supreme Being is another and the word 'Bhagwanuvach' used herein does not mean the ultimate truth. The physical warfare  in the land of Kuru is simply imagined by the author of Gita. Gita begins with the word 'Dharmakshetra' - the field of Dharma and the beginning of Gitaupdesh from the 2nd chapter describes simply the rules and nature of a saint (a perfect man) and not the rules of physical warfare.


(9) 'Man is the master of his self and his own Refuge' - (Dhammapada-380). Man is the creation of his mind. As he thinketh, so he becometh. In this sense he is the son of 'Manu'. Mind is the 'Brahma' (the creator of universe). It has got no shape  or form, merely wavelets or vibrations. The universe is simply a momentary creation of thought in the mind. This is also the confirmed view expressed in the text 'Yogavasistha' (Chapter on creation of universe, para 4-5).


Gita in chapter 5(14-15) speaks thus :- The lord creates neither agency nor action for the world, neither does he connect action with its fruit. It is nature that is at work. The lord does not take upon himself anyone's vice or virtue; it is the ignorance that veils knowledge and deludes all creatures. Gita further speaks in chapter 5(16, 17) and chapter 6(5,6)- but whose ignorance is destroyed by the knowledge of self by wisdom, it reveals the Supreme like the sun. Those whose intellect is suffused with the Supreme, their sins are wiped out with knowledge and they go from where there is no return. Thus by one's self should one raise oneself and not allow to fall; for self alone is the friend of self and self alone is the foe of self. It further states that only that self alone is friend who has conquered himself by his self; but to him who has not conquered himself and is thus inimical to himself, even his self behaves as foe.


Dhammapada 160, 165 speak the same truth - one who does not attain the light of knowledge realising the stark ignorance of three characteristics of life can not get rid of all defilements, all fetters, the entanglement of attachment which binds beings to the round of rebirths and from all kinds of dangers and suffering. Only when they attain this light, can they get rid of all defilements etc and attain 'Nibbana'. The three characteristics of life are: Realising the fact of impermanence  in mental and physical phenomenon, Realising the fact of suffering and Realising the fact that there is no I or 'ME' in mental-physical phenomenon i.e. they are neither substance nor essence nor life of any being.


It may be understood that only one man Sidhartha Gautam became Budha by attaining this light and whoever else attains this light will become 'Arhant'. But no one, even the Budha, can make others Arhant by giving his blessings for the light  he experienced himself. Even Anand (the chief disciple), who remained with Budha for 25 years like a shadow in his service and who remembered all the 84000 discourses given by him, could not become Arhant by His grace. He had attained the position of Arhant by his own strenuous efforts after the lifetime of Budha. It shows as to how a man has to seek his own refuge.


(10) The Budha said, "I teach one thing, and one thing only. The truth of suffering, and the way out of suffering". The forces of greed, hatred  and delusion are the cause of this suffering. The Gita Chapter I is itself named as 'suffering yoga' and the whole chapter upto verse 7 of chapter 2 deals with the sufferings of Arjun. The eradication of the aforesaid causes of suffering is the main aim of Gita beginning from chapter 2. Again in chapter 13(8,9), Gita cautions the man to be aware from moment to moment about the suffering, its causes and the way to its eradication.


(11) Asked about the origin of universe and about the beginnings of life, the Budha stated: "Inconceivable is this cycle of birth and death. Not to be discovered is the first beginning of beings who, obstructed by ignorance and ensnared by craving, are hurrying through this round of rebirths.  Which do you think is more- the flood of tears which you have shed upon this long way of suffering on the deaths of fathers and mothers, of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters than there is water in four great oceans. And thus you have filled the graveyards full."


The same fact is stated in Gita chapter 8(17) by saying that those men indeed know what is Day and what is Night, who know that Brahma's day lasts a thousand 'Yugas' and that his night too is a  thousand 'Yuga's long. It corresponds to 4,32,00,000 years for a Day and same for a Night.


(12) Budha's essence of teaching is contained in the '4-Satipathan' (awareness) viz constant observation of the body, constant observation of the sensations, constant observation of the mind and the constant observation of the contents of the mind. The same principle in some what lesser vein is expounded in Gita chapter 13(8) - aversion from sense objects, absence of conceit, realisation of the painfulness and evil of birth, death, age and disease (as were realised by Budha).


(13) Budha, in Mahaparinibban Sutta,  says "I have preached the truth without making any distinction between exoteric and  esoteric  doctrine, for in respect of the truths, Anand, the Tathagata has no such  thing as the closed fist of a teacher who keeps something back". Gita in chapter 18(63) speaks the same truth as 'Thus have I expounded to thee the most mysterious of all knowledge; ponder over it fully, then act as thou wilt". As the Budha said - "you have to do your own work, those who have reached the goal will only show the way". Gita in chapter 15(20) also says that this mysterious knowledge was told by ME, one who understands it by his own wisdom has fulfilled his life's mission.


(14) Budha said that Karma is determined by volition. Volition is a mental urge, the moment of intention or motivation that proceeds action. This means that if I am driving along a road and inadvertently run over a squirrel, no Karmic energy is released because I had no intention to harm that animal. On the other hand, if I am irritated by a mosquito and try to kill it, even if I slap at the mosquito and miss it, the fact that I missed really does not matter. Variable Karma means that in the same situation, the Karma can vary, depending on motivation and intention. "If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him." Thoughts of malice, envy, disappointment and despondency rob the body of its health and grace. A sour face does not come by chance; it is made up of our thoughts.


Swami Ram Tirtha told the story of a soldier well trained in physical exercise. He goes to bring milk in a pot daily. Some boys in the way, out of their enjoyment, suddenly say 'attention'! The soldier immediately keeps his hands in the position of attention and the pot of milk is fallen from his hands. He says that the soldier did perform no work as his mind was not at work. It was simply a reflex action.


Similar instances of work by the mind are contained in Gita chapter 8(6,12,13), chapter 7(30) and in chapter 2(72), where it speaks of the condition/thought of the mind even at the time of death  when it leads to the state of Brahmn because there is no interval of another thought in between. The 'passage' from one existence to another is instantaneous, and the transition is infinitely quicker than the blink of an eyelid or a lightning flash.


(15) The following three verses are brief  summary of the teachings of Budha-


(a) Forbearing Patience is the highest moral practice. "Nibbana is supreme", says the Budha. A bhikkhu does not harm others. One who harms others is not a bhikkhu.


(b) Not to do evil, to cultivate merit (good deed), to purify one's mind. This is the teaching of the Budhas.


(c) Not to revile, not to do any harm, to practice restraint in the Fundamental Precepts, to be moderate in taking food, to dwell in a secluded  place, intent on higher thoughts; this is the teaching of the Budhas.


In exactly the similar tune is given the Gist of Gita  in chapter 18 (51to53) as under: "Equipped with purified understanding, restraining the self with firm will, abandoning sound and other objects of the senses, putting aside likes and dislikes; living in solitude, spare in diet, restrained in speech, body and mind, ever absorbed in meditation,  anchored in dispassion; without pride, violence, arrogance, lust, wrath, possession, having shed all sense of 'mine' and at peace with himself, he is fit to become one with the supreme."


Nearly all religions teach their respective followers to avoid evil and cultivate good deeds. But none of them shows the method of how to avoid evil and cultivate good deeds. Budha's teaching alone teaches how to put into practice what it teaches.


It will not be out of context to mention a few other texts which have direct link with the theme of the Bhagwad Gita and the teaching of the Budha. They are Mahabharat, Srimadbhagwat, Yogavasistha and the Balmiki Ramayana. Gita is a part and parcel of Mahabharat. 'Ashtangyoga' of Srimadbhagwat is similar to the Eight fold Path of liberation taught by Budha. A close study of the Yogavasistha reveals that it is simply an expansion of the thought expounded in Gita. Some verses of Yogavasistha are exactly in para materia with those in Gita, e.g. chapter 2(21, 22). Similarly, qualities of an Enlightened one have been ascribed in Rama by Balmiki just like the Krishna in Gita in whom right knowledge and perfection is personified. Both picture appear as imaginary.


According to Dr. Soyen Sen of Denmark, Mahabharat seems to contain only 7000-8000 verses originally which was known as 'Jai' at the time. The number of one lac or so seems an after growth. Similar seems to be with Gita which is complete in knowledge in chapter 2, the verses 71 and 72 of which are the essence and final goal of its teaching. Gita is full of repetitions. Several chapters have been inserted as if by force and out of contexts. There is also contradictions in a few of them as is evident from verse 34 of chapter 4 and verse 1 and 2 of chapter 9. While in the former, Krishna advises Arjuna to go and gain knowledge from the Masters of knowledge who have seen the truth, by making homage to them; in the latter verses,  He is himself imparting this knowledge to Arjun. A question arises as to who is the person who imparted this knowledge to Arjun- Krishna or any other person or none? Even then about 75% of the verses in Gita coincide with the teaching of Budha (Vipassana meditation) directly or indirectly. Following are some of the verses of Gita (shown in brackets after the chapters) which correspond to the teaching of Budha-


Chapter 2 (11, 12 to 16, 29, 31, 33, 35, 62, 64, 67, 70, 71, 72);

Chapter 3 (22, 34-35);

Chapter 4 (1, 2, 3, 5, 32);

Chapter 5 (3, 8 to 10, 12 to 15, 17, 19, 27, 28);

Chapter 6 (1,5,6,12,13,16, 35);

Chapter 7 (27, 30);

Chapter 8 (6, 12, 13);

Chapter 9 (9);

Chapter 11 (8, 9, 13, 16, 17, 45, 49);

Chapter 12(16);

Chapter 13( 1, 8, 18, 26);

Chapter 14(3, 25);

Chapter 15 (7, 10, 11); Chapter 16 (1, 2);

Chapter 18 ( 1, 2, 41, 42, 46, 48, 51, 52, 53, 62, 63, 66 to 71).


The philosophy of Karma is explained in a like way in Gita, Mahabharat, Yogavasistha and Srimadbhagwat. In a similar way, the practice of 'Anapan' (inhaling and exhaling) has been explained in Gita and Yogavasistha. In Budha's Vipassana meditation practice, the 'Anapan' is the primary step. Besides, there are numerous other such instances in all the aforesaid texts which are similar in Budha's teaching. It seems as if a common thread is used in the teachings of these texts which seems to be the work of a single author seeking material from the Budha's teaching because no such text was mentioned at the time of Budha and upto the time of Patanjali.


Mahatma Gandhi in the 20th Century has opined that the great Vyas might have chosen the names of some persons from history and have ascribed them the chief actors, Superhuman or of superhuman origins. This was merely to drive home his religious theme. Gita, in chapter 2 does not teach the rules of physical warfare, instead it tells how a perfect man is to be known. In his opinion, Gita is not a historical work, but that under the guise of physical warfare it described the duel that perpetually went on in the heart of mankind. The physical warfare was simply brought in to make the internal duel more alluring. Krishna of the Gita is perfection and right knowledge personified; but the picture is imaginary and the idea of a perfect incarnation is an after growth.


Whoever may be the author of Yogavasistha, but it is a work of most excellence although at the risk of repetitions and use of metaphors and similies. The use of the word "Mahabharat" in the Yogavasistha leads to believe that it is of  a later date than Mahabharat. According to the book "History of Indian literature" by Vinternitz (a German) and which is considered a most authentic work, the earlier Indian literature was mostly structured by the so called Brahmins of the time. They introduced different faiths prevalent at the time into Mahabharat. He opines that the present Mahabharat is not a work of one author only as is ascribed to Krishna Duapayan (Vyas). Thus I am of the view that the author of Yogavasistha himself or some other writer, who was very much allured with its language and theme, made a gist of it and introduced the same in the Mahabharat under the guise of Bhagwadgita (Sayings of Lord). That is why the Gita, at times, contains the same verses in the same words as are written in Yogavasistha. Acharya Madhusudan Saraswati in the 16th AD has quoted more than 50 verses of Yogavasistha in the explanation of verses 32 and 36 of Chapter 6 of Gita and Vidhyaranya in the 14th AD in chapter 13(4) and Sridhar in 12th AD. Even Sir Edwin Arnold did not translate 23 verses of Gita into his book- 'The Song celestial' -of the chapters 8 (23 to 27), 15 (2-3), 16(15 to 24) and 17(23 to 28) treating them with no evidence.


The comparative study of the two works seems to necessitate a decision with regard to their relative chronology. It is to be seen as to whether the Bhagwadgita is a pre or post Budhistic work. Budha’s birth and death have practically been settled on the basis of Greek history as 563BC. He discovered the truth at the age of 35 and the remaining 45 years he spent in preaching ‘Dhamma’ and establishing the ‘Sangha’. His activity, therefore, falls between 528-483 BC, which may be looked upon as the date of the origin of the essential teachings of Budha. History says that about 200 years after Budha, Parini wrote grammer (Astadhai - a masterpiece) for the vedic language and called it Sanskrit. About 200 years after Parini, Patanjali wrote the ‘Yogasutra’ and after a few centuries a commentery named ‘yogabhasya’ was written by Vyas on the Patanjali Yoga Sutra. Looking to all these facts, the scholars have tried to fix the date of Gita between 200BC to 200AD, since it is reputed as the work of ‘Vyas’. Patanjali ‘Yogasutra’ is influenced by Budha’s teachings and the Gita could not resist to repeat the word ‘Yoga’ of Patanjali and has also many things in common with that of Patanjali. Hence the influence of Budha’s teachings on Gita is an established fact and can not be denied.


However, it is seen that one point is common in all the aforesaid texts. Every text tells like this: “I have heard it”- Sanjay in Gita, Anand in Budha’s teaching, Srimadbhagwat told by Sootji as heard from Shukdev, Yogvasistha retold by Balmiki as a talk between Vasistha and Ram and Balmiki Ramayan by Balmiki as heard from Narad. Thus it becomes a matter of research by the Elite.


About the Author:


Author, critic, translator and journalist Krishna Kumar Agrawal alias K. Kumar (Nov 16, 1927 - May 28, 2021) is a graduate in Science, M.A. in Economics and LL.B. Being an Income Tax Advocate since 1969, he has deep interest in writing articles on Income Tax published in the ITR, the Taxman and its associate journals such as the Current Tax Reporter, the Taxation, the Economic Times etc. He had adeptly translated a number of short stories of eminent foreign writers writing in English into Hindi and written marvelous sketches of Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr Radhakrishnan, Vinoba Bhave among others, which were duly published in several newspapers and magazines of Hindi language and later on compiled in his popular book— Manavata Ki Jhanki (2014). His books— Bhagavad Gita— Vipassana Sadhana Ka Darshan Hai (2008) and Bhagavad Gita— Vipassana Ki Chhaya Mein (compilation of published articles on Bhagavad Gita and Vipassana, 2012) have been widely acclaimed by the scholars of Indian philosophy. His another book in English Journey to The Inner Peace (2016) is an adaptation of Bhagavad Gita— Vipassana Ki Chhaya Mein. He resides at 35-8B/A-1, Near LIC Office, Rampur Garden, Bareilly-243001 (U.P.) and can also be contacted at



Creation and Criticism 0