Sastras and Studies I.
I do not know much about the Adi Purana. I do not have a copy of this Purana, and I can't say whether the verses quoted in CC are factually to be found in the printed editions. Below I have quoted from Ludo Rocher's book "The Puranas" (Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1986):
Adi-Purana, Bengali translation, Calcutta: Navinakrsna Laha, 1891; Bombay: Venkatesvara Press, 1829 (1907).
The printed Adi Purana in 29 chapters, deals primarily with the story of Krsna, His birth, His being moved to Nanda's house, and all other incidents of His youth. It ends with breaking a pair of arjuna trees when he was tied to a mortar by Yasoda. In connection with all this numerous stories are introduced, all for the glorification of Krsna. Krsna is not merely conceived as an incarnation of Visnu: he is the Bhagavan himself as well as the eternal Brahma.
The Adi Purana still raises a number of questions which have not been clearly answered. First, there are manuscripts which correspond, but only partly, with the editions; the first four chapters of the printed texts seem to be generally missing in the manuscripts, whereas some manuscripts, in fifty-one or fifty-two chapters, carry the story much farther, up to the killing of Kamsa, one of them even adding that this concludes the purvakhanda of the text.
Second, there are numerous quotations from the Adi Purana in the dharmanibandhas, many of them on cremation, funeral rites, and other items connected with the dead; these verses are found neither in the printed texts nor in the manuscripts. On the other hand, an Adi Purana - or Adya Purana - appears in the first place in most lists of Upapuranas, and the title was obviously known to al-Biruni (see 1.3.3). Hence the conclusion that the quotations are from *this* Adi Purana, which was different from the printed one. Hazra dates the latter between A.D. 1203 and 1525, the other one in the sixth century A.D.
Finally, further contributing to the confusion around the ambiguous title Adi Purana is the fact that the Brahma Purana, the "first" of the Mahapuranas, is often referred to as Adi Purana, as well as the fact that the title Adi Purana became very popular among the Jainas (see 2.1.5).
"Advaita Prabhu married in the beginning of the fifteenth century Sakabda (late fifteenth century A.D.). When Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to visit the village of Ramakeli while going from Jagannatha Puri to Vrndavana during the Sakabda years 1433 and 1434 (A.D. 1511 and 1512), Acyutananda was only five years old. The Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya-khanda, Fourth Chapter, describes Acyutananda at that time as panca-varsa vayasa madhura digambara, "only five years old and standing naked." Therefore it is to be concluded that Acyutananda was born sometime in the year 1428 (A.D. 1506). Before the birth of Acyutananda, Advaita Prabhu's wife, Sitadevi, came to see Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu at His birth. Thus it is not impossible that she had the other three sons by Advaita within the twenty-one years between 1407 and 1428 Sakabda (A.D. 1486 and 1507). In an unauthorized book of the name Sitadvaita-carita, published in Bengali in the unauthorized newspaper Nityananda-dayini in 1792 Sakabda (A.D. 1870), it is mentioned that Acyutananda was a class friend of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. According to Caitanya-bhagavata, this statement is not at all valid. When Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted the renounced order of sannyasa in the year 1431 Sakabda (A.D. 1509), He came to the house of Advaita Prabhu at Santipura. At that time, as stated in the Caitanya-bhagavata, Antya-khanda, Chapter One, Acyutananda was only three years old. The Caitanya-bhagavata further states that the naked child, the son of Advaita Prabhu, immediately came and fell down at the lotus feet of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu." (CC Adi 12.17 p.)
Another Bengali book VAISNAVA DIGDARSANI SAHASRA VATSARER SANKSIPTA VAISNAVA ITIHASA "A Brief Chronological History of One Thousand Years of Vaishnavism" by Murarilala Adhikari (English translation c Copyright 1986 by Graham M. Schweig and The Institute for Vaishnava Studies, Washington, D.C. 1986) mentions birth of Acyutananda in 1492 AD which means he becomes only 6 years younger than Lord Caitanya. This is not approved by Prabhupada, who concludes that Acyutananda was born in 1506 AD. That means that if Acyutananda's birth is wrongly given then there is chance of ambiguity in the dates and the description of the other Vaisnavas as well.
Also another Bengali book Sri Advaita Prakasa translated by Subhag Swami and published by Pundarika Vidyanidhi Das also displays Lord Caitanya and Acyutananda to be friends nearly of the same age in one of the later chapters where they visit Vrindavan together and roam round like friends or contemporaries.
From HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami's upcoming book "Lion Guru":
Even some books that were reported to be Vaisnava books he (Om Visnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada) never accepted, not believing things that were written in them. These were books like "Advaita Mangal" and "Advaita Prakash", which were about Advaita Prabhu. Also that which was written about Narahari Sarakara of Srikhanda, and songs bogusly ascribed to him he never accepted. According to historians, Narahari Sarakara worshiped Lord Caitanya as Gauranga-nagara, the enjoyer of Visnupriya, which is bogus and apasampradayic.
There are many spurious points in AP apart from Lord Caitanya being represented as the same age as Acyutananda. According to AP, LC greets others with "Namo Narayana" (Mayavadi practice; doesn't correspond with CC), and refused to drink Saci's breast milk unless she took diksa from Advaita Acarya (not mentioned in CC or CB; there is another incident where LC told Saci to beg forgiveness from AA for her "offenses" but it is never mentioned that she is AA's sisya; plus anyway, according to social convention, after birth Saci would have been in the maternity room and could not go out or be seen by any man for several days, so how could she wait so long to feed her new son?). There are also other dubious points in AP.
Though it has been written by the great Isana Thakura, most intimate servant of Srimati Sacidevi and Srila Advaita Acarya, there is a chance that things were added later on by others with other intentions.
Some say the same thing about Prema-vilasa (esp. its last four chapters 20-24) because Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura never printed it in Gaudiya Math like he did for Bhakti Ratnakara. Of course Prabhupada said somewhere once that Prema-vilasa is bonafide.
Haridasa Dasa says in his GVA that Prema Vilasa has twenty "vilasas" or "adhyayas", and adds, "However, in the Baharamapura edition one can see twenty-four and a-half vilasas." He does not comment on the authenticity of the two editions.
To resolve this puzzle one would have to compare both editions. In some cases it turns out that the content agrees completely and that the same text has simply been divided into a different number of chapters. If you find that the 24 ½ version has some additions, only a textcritical analysis could help to decide over the matter. Or, if you need to give a credible reference, you could quote the opinion of a respected Bengali scholar, if you can find such.
Atul Krsna Das:
Sri Caitanya's greeting others with "Namo Narayana" could simply be out of social custom, since He'd accepted the order of sannyasa in the school of Sankara. It is not said in the CC that He didn't do like this. Moreover, Srila Prabhupada states:
"It is the etiquette among sannyasis, those on the fourth platform of spiritual life, to offer respects by saying om namo narayanaya ("I offer my respectful obeisances unto Narayana"). This greeting is used especially by Mayavadi sannyasis." (CC Madhya 6.48 p.)
This clearly indicates that others also use this greeting, "Obeisances to Narayana."
In his introduction to Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Srila Bhaktisiddhanta mentions a few books which he says contain, "siddhanta-viparya" (wrong or contrary conclusions), he calls these books "apagranthas" and in general dismisses them. He mentions a few including: Jayananda's Caitanya-mangala, Govinda Das's Kadaca, Vamsi-siksa, Advaita-prakasa and Nityananda-vamsa-vistara.
Of course, the fact that he did not appreciate certain points does not mean that he considered everything about these books to be bogus.
Q: (H. Krishna Susarla) Sri Vedavyasa compiled/composed the Bhagavatam prior to Sukadeva Gosvami's recital of it. Are we to understand that He omitted Radharani's name in His composition, knowing that Sukadeva would speak it to Maharaja Pariksit in a mere 7 days?
A: (Narasingha Maharaja) Actually Vyasadeva may or may not know what he has said in the Bhagavat (referring to the innumerable verses containing the name of Srimati in the rasik or hidden way). There is a famous verse in this connection (which may be found in the CC Madhya-lila 24.313, or in the Gaudiya Kanthahara 2.27):
aham vedmi suko vetti, vyaso vetti na vetti va
bhaktya bhagavatam grahyam, na buddhya na ca tikaya
Lord Siva said: "I know the meaning of the Bhagavat and I know that Sukadeva knows it also. But for Vyasadeva, he may or may not know it. The Bhagavat can only be known through bhakti, not by mundane intelligence or by reading many commentaries." (another version: vyAso vetti zuko vetti rAjA vetti na vetti vA zrIdharaH sakalaM vetti zrI nRsiMha-prasAdataH)
This rather interesting sloka is spoken by Lord Siva himself in addressing an assembly of Sankarites at Benares. The second line of the sloka is an admonishment to the misguided followers of Sankaracarya and the first line of the sloka is the siddhanta accepted by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu as regards the position of the guru, i.e. relative or absolute.
When Sridhar Svami wrote his commentary on the Bhagavat it was rejected by the Sankarites of Benares due to the bhakti content and the acceptance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as parabrahma. However, Sripad Sridhar Svami was vastly learned in the Vedanta etc., and thus the Sankarites could not refute his arguments. Nonetheless, because Sridhar Svami's opinion did not stride alongside that of the established institution of the advaitic school, the Sankarites would not accept it.
Lastly the Sankarites proposed what seemed to be an impossible test. They suggested that the Bhagavat commentary of Sridhar Svami be placed in the temple of Visvanatha overnight and if Lord Siva accepted the commentary, then so would they.
Sridhar Svami was a saranagata-bhakta, a fully surrendered soul who had embraced the asraya-tattva, i.e. the shelter of the Supreme Lord. Therefore he agreed to the test with the faith within that his destiny was in good hands.
The Bhagavat with commentary was placed in the temple of Lord Visvanatha (or Bindu Madhava) for the night and when the doors of the sanctum-sanctorum were opened in the morning this verse (called SrIdharI vyAkhyA) was revealed:
aham vedmi suko vetti, vyaso vetti na vetti va
bhaktya bhagavatam grahyam, na buddhya na ca tikaya
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has accepted the first line of this sloka which says that the position of the guru is relative, not absolute. The disciple may see him as absolute, that is another thing, but not others, or more importantly he does not see himself as absolute.
In this regard Sriman Mahaprabhu spoke to Sanatana Gosvami: "Sanatana, Krsna is going to give His kindness to you through me. I am talking to you like a madman. I feel many things are passing through me to you. But I do not know that I myself have the thing."
So the verse is accepted at least in the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya as authoritative. What has passed through Srila Vyasadeva may or may not be known to him.
There is another thread found here in connection with Lord Siva. Sambhu, Lord Siva, is one of the twelve Mahajanas.
svayambhur naradah sambhuh kumarah kapilo manuh
prahlado janako bhismo balir vaiyasakir vayam
Narada, Sambhu, and Vaiyasaki, or Sukadeva Gosvami, have got special connection with madhurya-rasa in Vrindavana. Sukadeva Gosvami was the suka, parrot of Srimati. Narada Muni got gopi-svarupa near Govardhan, and Lord Siva also got gopi-svarupa for dancing in rasa-lila.
When Lord Siva was bathed by the gopis in a sacred kund in Vrindavana to get his gopi-svarupa he emerged with the snake still wrapped around his neck. Some say that the snake which is always seen on the neck of Siva is Ananta, his guru.
Rather than be a direct participant in the rasa-lila, Siva was then given the position of the protector of the rasa-lila and thus his name Gopesvara Mahadeva.
The most esoteric erotic principle of Divine Love reaches its pinnacle in the tenth canto of the Bhagavat. Those who are conscious of the ontology of events in the tenth canto are given at times to call the Bhagavat by the name Radha Bhagavat.
Lord Siva was to some degree privy to that which took place in rasa-lila. It so happened that some "time" later in the Brahma-loka Lord Siva was reciting the Vrindavana-lila to Parvati and Srimati's suka was present there. Thinking that the parrot would repeat the sacred Bhagavat here and there without any realization and thus cheapening the context of the Bhagavat, Lord Siva decided to kill the poor bird. The rest we have heard in the Sriya Suka article. The parrot flew, with Siva in quick pursuit, to the asram of Vyasadeva and entered the mouth of the wife of Vyasadeva. That is what the Gaudiyas call "Divine Conception".
So in this sense, the practical sense, Lord Siva knows that Suka knows the meaning of the Bhagavat (particularly tenth canto) - he heard it directly from the vision of Siva who was there in his gopi-svarupa and we can also safely conclude that he heard what went on there in the erotic pastimes of rasa-lila from Srimati, the Illustrious Queen of Vrindavana.
aham vedmi suko vetti, vyaso vetti na vetti va
I know, Suka knows, but Vyasadeva - he may or may not know.
Vyasadeva may not have been aware that he hid the name of Srimati so he went there on the banks of the Ganga with all the assembled sages to hear Sukadeva Gosvami in order to find out.
Main reference: Gita-rahasya by Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Printed first in June 1915. Originally in Marathi, now available in Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and English.
Anugita: From Mahabharata, Asvamedha Parva, Adhyaya 16. Conversation between Arjuna and Sri Krsna after the war and coronation of Yudhisthira.
Astavakragita: Conversation between King Janaka and Astavakra. Emphasis is on renunciation (sannyasa).
Avadhutagita: teaches about sannyasa
Bhagavadgita: From Mahabharata, Adhyaya 25 through 42 of Bhisma Parva.
Bhiksugita: From Adhyaya 23 of Skandha 11 of Srimad Bhagavata Purana.
Bhramaragita: from SB
Bodhyagita: From Mahabharata, Moksa Parva as a part of Santi Parva.
Brahmagita: From Skanda Purana, fourth Adhyaya of Sutasamhita and first twelve Adhyaya of Yajnavaibhava Khanda.
Brahmagita: From Yoga vasistha, Nirvana Khanda, Sarga 173-181.
Brahmanagita: Part of Anugita, see above.
Devigita: From Adhyaya 31 through 40 in seventh Skandha of Devi Bhagavata.
Ganesagita: From Ganesa Purana, Krida Khanda, Adhyaya 138-148. Close to Bhagavadgita format and contents.
Gopigita: from SB
Guru gita (Sri Guru Gita): from Uttara Khanda in Skanda Purana. Conversation between Lord Siva and Parvati narrated by sage Suta.
Hansagita: From Adhyaya thirteen of Skandha 11 of Srimad Bhagavata Purana.
Harigita: Same as Bhagavadgita, referred in Mahabharata, Santi Parva Adhyaya 346, sloka 10 in Narada's words.
Haritagita: From Mahabharata, Moksa Parva as a part of Santi Parva.
Isvaragita: From Kurma Purana, first eleven Adhyayas of Uttara Vibhaga.
Kapilagita: From Adhyaya 23 through 33 of Skandha 3 of Srimad Bhagavata Purana.
Mankigita: From Mahabharata, Moksa Parva as a part of Santi Parva.
Pandavagita: From Mahabharata.
Parasaragita: From Mahabharata, Moksa Parva as a part of Santi Parva.
Pingalagita: From Mahabharata, Moksa Parva as a part of Santi Parva.
Ramagita: The more common Gita is in the 5th Sarga of of Uttara Kanda in Adhyatma Ramayana which is part of Brahmanda Purana. The second one is common in Tamil Nadu found in Gurujnanavasistha-tattvasarayana. There are three parts (Kanda) in this text, namely knowledge (jnana), spiritual practice (upasana), and actions (karma). The Ramagita has eighteen chapters in the second Pada of Upasana Kanda.
Ramanagita: Written by Ramana Maharsi, sanskrit.
Sivasampakagita (Sampakagita): From Mahabharata, Moksa Parva as a part of Santi Parva.
Sivagita: From Patala Khanda of Padma Purana.
Sritigita: from SB
Suryagita: From Gurujnanavasistha-tattvasarayana. There are three parts (Kanda) in this text, namely knowledge (jnana), spiritual practice (upasana), and actions (karma). The Suryagita is in first five Adhyayas in the third Pada of Karma Kanda. Teaches visistadvaita.
Sutagita: From Skanda Purana, thirteenth to twentieth Adhyayas onwards of Yajnavaibhava Khanda.
Uddhavagita: from SB
Uttaragita: on sannyasa
Vicakhyugita: From Mahabharata, Moksa Parva as a part of Santi Parva.
Vrtragita: From Mahabharata, Moksa Parva as a part of Santi Parva.
Vyasagita: From Kurma Purana, twelve Adhyaya onwards of Uttara Vibhaga.
Yamagita: Three types: 1) in third amsa of Visnu Purana upto seventh chapter, 2) in the third Khanda, Adhyaya 381 of Agni Purana, and 3) in eighth Adhyaya of of Nrsimha Purana.
Yoga vasista reproduces Bhagavad gita in full under the title Arjunopakhyana and Varaha Purana recounts the essence of Bhagavad gita.
Consists of chapters 25-42 of Bhisma Parva, Mahabharata.
Chapter Verses Original Name
1 46 Arjuna-visada-yoga
2 72 Sankhya-yoga
3 43 Karma-yoga
4 42 Yajnakarma-vibhaga-yoga / Jnana-yoga
5 29 Sannyasa-yoga
6 47 Atmasamyama-yoga / Dhyana-yoga
7 30 Jnana-yoga / Vijnana-yoga
8 28 Taraka-brahma-yoga
9 34 Raja(vidya)-guhya-yoga
10 42 Vibhuti-yoga
11 55 Visvarupa-darsana-yoga
12 20 Bhakti-yoga
13 35 Ksetraksetrajna-vibhaga-yoga / Prakrti-purusa-viveka-yoga
14 27 Guna-traya-vibhaga-yoga
15 20 Purusottama-yoga
16 24 Daivasura-sampad-vibhaga-yoga
17 28 Sraddha-traya-vibhaga-yoga
18 78 Moksa(sannyasa)-yoga
In total 700 verses.
- catuh-sloki: 10.8-11
- tri-sloki: 15.16-18
- Gita-rahasya: 18.65
- Caran-sloki: 18.66
Sridhar Swami: Subodhini-tika, anvaya (verse order) by Sitaram
- sakti: 18.66 (sarva-dharman-parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja)
- kilakam (inner portion of the mantra): 18.66 (aham tvam
sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah)
- viniyogam (purpose): sri-krsna-pritiartham-pathe (love of Krsna)
- meter: anustup
- nyasa: 2.23 (nainam chindanti sastrani)
- bija: 2.11 (asocyan anvasocas tvam...)
- devata: Sri Krsna Paramatma
- rsi: Vedavyasa
30 key slokas:
Questions and answers about Bhagavad-gita
Q: While studying Bhagavad-gita I realized for the first time that there are some difference in the Sanskrit text between Srila Prabhupada's Gita and all the other editions: "Bhagavad-gita As It Is" has 46 verses in the first chapter and 35 verses in the 13th chapter while all the other editions have 47 verses in the first chapter and 34 in the 13th chapter. Does anyone have an explanation?
A: (Madhavananda Das) We have a few different Gitas here in our library. I compared the following 10 different versions to Srila Prabhupada's with the following results:
- Translation by HH BR Sridhar Dev Goswami: Same number of verses as SP's.
- Translation by HH Bhakti Pradip Tirtha Maharaja: Same number of verses as SP's.
- Translation published by The Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti with tikas by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti and H.H. BV Narayan Maharaja: Same number of verses as SP's.
- Translation by Alwarnath Vanachari: Ch. 1 has 47 verses and Ch. 13 has 34. [# see below]
- Published by Sri Caitanya Gaudiya Math with tikas of Visvanath and Bhaktivinode: Same number of verses as SP's.
- Published by Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti with tikas of Baladeva and Bhaktivinode: Same number of verses as SP's.
- Published by Calcutta Gaudiya Mission with tika of the original Sridhar Swami: Ch. 1 has the same number of verses and Ch. 13 has 34.
- Published by Sri Caitanya Saraswat Math: Same number of verses as SP's.
- Published by Nirmala Book Agency (Calcutta): Same number of verses as SP's.
- Published by Gita Press: Ch. 1 has 47 verses, ch. 13 has 34.
The only differences we noted in these two chapters are in how the verses are divided. In Ch. 1 what is text 26 in SP's Gita has become two verses [text 26 and text 27] in the editions from Gita Press and Alwarnath Prabhu. Similarly in Ch. 13 what is text one and two in SP's edition is only text one in the editions from Alwarnath Prabhu and the Calcutta Gaudiya Mission, while the Gita Press edition does not include what is 13.1 in Bhagavad-Gita As It Is.
Q. How is Bhagagavad-gita As It Is different from other translations?
A. Various translations (what to speak of commentaries) differ due to a particular author's philosophical conclusion (siddhanta). There are basically two - monistic and monotheistic.
As the "BG As It Is" is a monotheistic devotional work, it differs from most of the other translations which adhere to monistic philosophy. The only other monotheistic edition widely available I know of is by Srila Prabhupada's Godbrother, B.R. Sridhar Dev Gosvami. (.pdf file) Another recent one, derived from B.R. Sridhar's, is by Swami B.V. Tripurari, disciple of both Prabhupada and B.R. Sridhar Dev Gosvami.
Srila Prabhupada writes "with end in mind", i.e. devotion to Krishna is the real goal, as expressed predominantly in ch. 9 and 18. Thus he often translates Brahman as Krishna, etc. (as per 14.27).
Vaishnava monotheistic approach adheres to so-called mukhya-vritti, direct meaning of words. It means that if a text is understandable as it is, it needs no interpretation (gauna-vritti, indirect/secondary meaning). Thus Srila Prabhupada criticized e.g. S. Radhakrishnan's interpretation of Kuruksetra as human body, Pandavas as senses, Dhritarastra's 100 sons as sins, etc. in 1.1.
Here you can see a comparison of four popular Gitas.
Prabhupada was using commentaries of several Vaishnava acharyas (mentioned here).
Q. It does seem very odd that there isn't just and objective translation. Or?
A. If by 'objective' you mean 'word for word', then the Beliefnet version is closer. You can see it from the synonym translation of BGAII to your verse (11.3):
evam - thus; etat - this; yatha - as it is; attha - have spoken; tvam - You; atmanam - Yourself; parama-isvara - O Supreme Lord; drastum - to see; icchami - I wish; te - Your; rupam - form; aisvaram - divine; purusa-uttama - O best of personalities.
O greatest of all personalities [purusottama], O supreme form [parama isvara], though I see You [evam etat yatha] here before me in Your actual position [tvam atmanam], as You have described Yourself [attha], I wish to see [drastum icchami] how You have entered into this cosmic manifestation [*commentary]. I want to see [repeated] that form of Yours [te rupam aisvaram].
For such comparisons it's good to have an anvaya (natural word order in Sanskrit). Some editions have it as it is a great study help. Here is BG anvaya online.
)* In [commentary], Prabhupada is referring to 6.29, 8.9, 10.20, 10.42 (quoted in the commentary of Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura), 15.17, 17.6, etc., where the Lord is referred to as Paramatma (Ksirodakasayi Visnu), and to His form as Garbhodakasayi Visnu, who both enter into this world. See e.g. Satvata Tantra verse in a commentary to 7.4 - dvitiyam tv anda- samsthitam, lit. 'Second (Visnu) is established in the cosmic egg' (the universe inside has a shape of an egg). The next line refers to Paramatma - trtiyam sarva- bhuta- stham, 'Third (Visnu) is residing in all beings'. Reminded of the Holy Spirit in the heart (Corinthians I 3:16, 6:19, etc.)?
So I wouldn't say that there is no objective translation. Still, one can always go by the synonyms only and if one doesn't trust the translation, there are Sanskrit dictionaries and other acharya commentaries. (For other BG chapters, change *01u.htm to *02u.htm, etc.)
But since the BG is not intended primarily for academic study but for practical application in life leading to self-realization and devotion, one could say that the edition which turns most people into Lord's devotees should be understood as the most faithful.
Sivarama Swami wrote a book called Bhaktivedanta Purports: Perfect Explanation of the Bhagavad-Gita which shows how BGAII is very faithful to the Vaishnava tradition as far as translation and commentary is concerned.
Q. Why the actual text is not the same from translation to translation strikes me as odd and somewhat discouraging. What about it?
A. I'd say that since the BG is such a crucial text, it's translation became a part of philosophical warfare (mainly) between monists and monotheists. (In Christian tradition there is the same conflict with monistic Gnostics who were inspired by Eastern monistic doctrines.) Some verses enable both interpretations and Prabhupada was really keen on preventing people from accepting the monistic (mis)interpretation that he sometimes made commentaries enter the translations, so to say.
Q. Is the BGAII the only Gaudiya Vaishnava commentary in English?
A. Bhagavad-gita As It Is comes in the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya but even though it is the most widely known edition, there are also editions by other Gaudiya Vaishnavas and also Vaishnavas from other sampradayas who wrote commentaries on the Gita (like Ramanuja whose commentary Srila Prabhupada used, Madhva, etc.). These editions are revered by all Vaishnavas and esp. within their own sampradaya.
As far as others are concerned - Adi Shankara and his advaita (monistic) sampradaya, Shaivas, Shaktas, Smartas, scholars, etc. - the Vaishnava opinion is that since Gita is Krishna's book and He encourages surrender and devotion to Himself in very clear words (like 'bhava mat-bhaktah', become My devotee, 18.65), they translate and comment in a way which suits their own philosophy, using Gita as a tool to this end. This is - to a certain extent - possible since Sanskrit is a very flexible language where every word has many meanings and its grammar allows many ways to interpret a sentence. However, Vaishnavas point out that indirect interpretations (laksana vrtti) must be subservient to direct meanings (mukhya vrtti) which have a priority as per Jiva Gosvami's Krsna-sandarbha 29.26-7. This is also elaborated on in SB 10.87.1 p..
Example: When Krishna says in 18.66 'surrender to Me' (mam ekam saranam vraja), some say 'no, surrender to an impersonal Brahman'... Why and how to surrender to such an entity? And why should such an entity speak and demand surrender?
Here is a sort of summary of advaita with refutations.
But since people are under various gunas so they are inclined to various types of yoga and worship and thus Krishna delineates these for them.
Q. Then it is the most effective one, no?
A. I fully agree with you about effectiveness of his BG since he was empowered by Krishna/Balarama (krishna-shakti). Still, I wouldn't say 'more accurate'. BR Shridhara Maharaja followed another classical commentary, by Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura (Prabhupada that of Baladeva Vidyabhushana). Gaudiya philosophy has more flavors than one, so to say.
Q. If two devotees of the disciplic succession come to a disagreement, we must then look at who is in a better position of understanding. Considering Prabhupada was the only devotee of his guru to follow his instructions I take his version of the Gita to be a more correct source. One person follows the guru's instruction, another person doesn't. Or?
A. From this I can see that you're very new to Gaudiya Vaishnavism and although you mean well, you don't understand the background. When two Vaishnava acharyas present two different views, these views still embody the same siddhanta. It's no question of understanding or misunderstanding. They both understand - but they may stress various rasas. This is the point of difference between Baladeva Vidyabhushana (> BGAII) and his guru, Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura (> B.R. Sridhara M.'s BG).
We can see that BGAII became more popular and effective in making many people devotees of Krishna. It is the 'straightforward' Gita. This shouldn't be taken, however, as a reason to minimize the writings of other great acharyas. Otherwise we are in danger of aparadha.
Q. Can you give examples of differences between Visvanatha Cakravarti and Baladeva Vidyabhusana?
A. Here are the most important examples I know of:
BG 1.10: 'aparyaptam' is translated as 'immeasurable' by Baladeva Vidyabhushana and as 'inadequate' by Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura.
"Our strength is immeasurable, and we are perfectly protected by grandfather Bhishma whereas the strength of the Pandavas, carefully protected by Bhima, is limited." (BGAII)
The same verse, however, is translated quite differently by Srila Sridhara Maharaja in his Bhagavad-gita (Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute):
"Our army, headed by Bhishma, is inadequate, whereas the army of the Pandavas, protected by Bhima, is competent."
The Sanskrit dictionary tells us that both these words, aparyaptam and paryaptam, can have opposite meanings, and can therefore be used to support either translation.
Bhishma was the greatest of kshatriyas; thus, he certainly strengthened Duryodhana's army, in accord with Srila Prabhupada's translation. Yet, Bhishma also was a weak element in the military arrangement of Duryodhana, for although outwardly the strongest to oppose the Pandavas, he was inwardly the weakest. Bhishma was formally on the side of Duryodhana, while at heart and in spirit he was a member of the Pandava's army. Bhishma loved the Pandava brothers and Sri Krishna with all of his heart. How could such a person, however strong militarily, be someone Duryodhana could count on?
The straight truth as it is, is that Bhishma was a formidable fighter and an asset to Duryodhana. The hidden treasure is that he was weakened in his support for Duryodhana because of his deep love for the Pandavas. This sweet truth is also alluded to in Srila Prabhupada's commentary on text eleven of the first chapter of the Gita. There Srila Prabhupada says, "Although he [Duryodhana] knew that the two generals [Bhishma and Dronacharya] had some sort of affection for the Pandavas, he hoped that all such affection would now be completely given up by them, as was customary during the gambling performances.
In Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion Srila Sridhara Maharaja describes how he was living with Srila Prabhupada when they were both writing their commentaries on Bhagavad-gita. He relates how he shared his commentary on the chatuh-sloki of Bhagavad-gita and how Srila Prabhupada responded:
"Yena mam upayanti te (BG 10.10). Unconditional service: they are ready for any service demanded of them. They are ready to sacrifice their lives for any form of service, and that peculiar group is in Vrindavana. I mentioned to Sripada A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja that in Gita, after ramanti (10.9) comes buddhi-yoga and then upayanti (10.10); according to me, the meaning is that ramanti or divine service in madhura-rasa progresses through buddhi-yoga or yoga-maya, up to upa-yanti, or the highest plane of service in Vrindavana. Sripada Swami Maharaja [Srila Prabhupada] responded, "What more could it mean than this!"
Srila Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura was the first in the Gaudiya lineage to write an entire commentary on the Gita. He gives the idea that verses 8-11 of Chapter 10 can be considered the chatuh-sloki of Bhagavad-gita, the four essential verses that unlock the meaning of the book. In his commentary on verse 9, one of the four essential verses, Chakravarti Thakura says, "Sri Bhagavan's above statements describe raganuga bhakti only." As we know, raganuga bhakti is found exclusively in Vraja. Therefore, from the very first Gaudiya commentary, we find that Vraja-bhakti is discussed. It is interesting to note that Chakravarti Thakura says not only that Vraja-bhakti can be drawn from the verse but that it is the only explanation.
Following Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura's line of thinking, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura comments similarly on this same verse: "The character of those whose minds are exclusively devoted is as follows: By completely offering their minds and lives unto me, they mutually exchange their bhavas and remain engaged in glorifying my lilas and so forth. In this way, by sravanam and kirtanam, they attain the happiness of bhakti. In their sadhya stage, that is after attaining pure prema, which is accessible only through raga-marg, they experience the pleasure of enjoying with me within vraja rasa, culminating in the bhava of madhura-rasa." In this commentary, we see that Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura's insight (that the verse refers to Vraja-bhakti) has been extended by Bhaktivinoda Thakura to clarify that the culmination of Vraja-bhakti is madhurya-rasa. Next we will see that Srila B. R. Sridhara Maharaja continues developing this insight.
On Bg. 10.8, the first of the four essential verses of Bhagavad-gita, Srila Sridhara comments, "Radha-dasyam, the servitorship of Srimati Radharani, is indicated here. Only those who are blessed with divine intelligence will be able to appreciate this, and not persons with self-acquired intelligence from this mayika quarter, the world of misconception." Thus we see a development from Vraja-bhakti (Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakur), to madhurya-rasa (Bhaktivinoda Thakur), to Radha-dasyam (Srila Sridhara Maharaja) within the Gita commentaries of previous acharyas.
Why then, one may ask, didn't Srila Prabhupada make a connection to Vraja-bhakti in his commentary on the chatuh-sloki? The answer is that he did. In his purport to verse 10.9, Srila Prabhupada says, "In the spiritual sky also that plant grows more and more until it reaches the highest planet, which is called Goloka Vrindavana, the supreme planet of Krishna." In the last paragraph of the purport, Srila Prabhupada compares the mood of realized souls to a conjugal sentiment: "Thus the realized souls in Krishna consciousness take continual pleasure in hearing such transcendental literatures, just as a young boy and girl take pleasure in association." As was previously noted, this statement is very close to one in Madhusudana Saraswati's commentary on the same verse, who, following the lead of Sankara, says the verse implies the delight of love that a young girl feels for a young boy, as the gopis felt for Krishna." Srila Prabhupada had this translation of Sankara when he was writing his commentary.
Nag Publishers has printed what I think is a "critical edition" of the Bhavisya Purana that is currently available from most Indian bookstores (or else they can order it). Like the other Nag publications, this one is well done. The Sanskrit print is easy enough to read (assuming you can read devanagari) and it contains a verse index. Also like other Nag publications, this one is Sanskrit only - it does not contain the translation.
Nag Publishers is in the process of reprinting all of the Puranas formerly published by the Venkateshwara Steam Press in Mumbai. The nice thing is that Motilal Banarsidass is also in the process of publishing translations of all of the Venkateshwara Steam Press editions of the various Puraanas. So if you get the Nag Publishers publication and the Motilal publication for a given Purana, you will have both the Sanskrit and the English translation, and there *should* be one-to-one correspondence, since they are both based on the same edition.
Unfortunately, as per my last trip to India (April 1999), Motilal still has not published their translation of the Bhavisya Purana yet. But you might want to go ahead and get the Nag Publishers Bhavisya Purana. The introduction to it seems to imply that it does contain the verses describing Caitanya Mahaprabhu's unmanifest lila during which He instructs the other four acharyas.
The series "Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology : Mahapuranas" edited by J.L. Shastri and G.P. Bhatt. ISBN 81-208-0289-6. don't have Sanskrit, just English translations, but are accompanied by a critical introduction, general index and footnotes. 300 to 400 pages per volume. Cloth Bound. Individual Vol. Regular $ 20.00 each. Bhavisya Purana is under preparation.
At www.vedamsbooks.com they have it available from the same series: Bhavishya Mahapurana. 3 Vols., 1400 p.
Non-authentic parts of Bhavisya Purana
In a nutshell, tampering with the Bhavisya P. is connected to the anti-Vedic agenda of several Muslim and Western groups in recent past during the British rule in India. We don't have a copy predating British rule in India.
Religion historian and theologian Bhakti Ananda Goswami writes:
The "Bhavishya Purana" is another Vaishnava shastra that has definitely been redacted for a Muslim-related socio-political effect. The passages in the Bhavishya Purana regarding Mohammed and Jesus, and more modern figures, have no history in any verifiably ancient editions, and are written in a form containing clear connections to Ishmaelite Shia Muslim and late Biblical traditions. These insertions in the text are obvious to properly trained linguistic scholars, and those who have some understanding of the history of the text, but the devotees are accepting this late fraudulent edition of their sacred literature as authentic!
Concerning the redacted Bhavisya Purana and the inserted portions of its modern published text, description of the seven mlecchacaryas Adam, Enoch, Noah, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad parallels Shia or Ishma'ili heirohistory (p. 278). To understand the inauthenticity of these inserted portions of text, it is enough to note that throughout, the Biblical story references use sanskritized Islamic Arabic names. Thus the names and stories have clearly come into the Purana not from any sui generis transcendent or even earliest Biblical Hebrew, Greek or Eastern-rite language Catholic source, but from a much later Arabic / Muslim source. As with the "Book of Mormon", the language used to convey the story is a complete give-away to its true human origin. In the case of Smith's "Book of Mormon", its King James Bible version references are clear. In the case the late additions to the Bhavisya Purana, their Muslim Arabic and British influences are clear. One does not have to consider the issues of when the insertions were made, or what the motive was, to recognize that these passages have been added from some Muslim, Arabic or British-influenced source. The British frame-of-reference and sanskritized Arabic language itself reveals the fact throughout. In addition, Muslim traditions (from the Hadith, etc.) and usages appear the insertions (p. 277) and such sanskritized Muslim names, as found in the text are well attested in 19th century Bengali (p. 277).
Many scholars have studied these additions to the text. The issue is not whether there can be prophetic scriptures, but whether these specific passages are authentic parts of the original sanskrit text, or if they have been added. Any honest analysis of the language of the additions clearly shows that they are from a different source than the rest of the text. If a person does not know that these were added, they cannot be faulted for citing them as part of an authentic Purana.
In the additions to the Pratisarga Parva of the Bhavisya Purana, which is not a Vaishnava sattvic Purana, but is rather classed as a tamasic Shakta Purana (p. 220), all the Biblical references appear to be sanskritized Arabic (p. 276, 277) and the general presentation shows Shia and even Ahmaddiya Muslim influences.
Here is the most respected current work that addresses the research which has been done on the additions to the Maha Bhavisya Purana. The page numbers given above are from this text: Draupadi Among Rajputs, Muslims and Dalits: Rethinking India's Oral and Classical Epics. Alf Hiltebeitel. Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2001, xiv, 560 p., ISBN 019-5655044
Hiltebeitel's book gives much needed background on the role of the Muslim messianic groups in the reshaping of Rajput and Dalit oral traditions. It includes some important specifics on the redaction of the Bhavishya Purana, and shows how many Rajput and Muslim traditions were amalgamated. I think this book is a top priority resource for understanding one important aspect of the genesis of all the present problems in which an element of Muslim messianism is active. Since it deals with the early Nizari roots of the phenomenon in the North West India-Afghan region, it is invaluable.
Chakora Alectoris graeca, a Himalayan partridge, the lover of the moon, said to feed on the rays of the moon.
Chakravaka, ruddy goose/brahmani duck (Anas casarca / Casarca ferruginea), also called chakava (surkhab). Legend relates that pairs of these birds are souls of two sinning lovers, who are said to sleep apart at night, and call endlessly to one another, "Chakava, may I come to you?" "No, Chakavi".
Chataka Cuculus melanoleucas, a type of swallow said to drink only drops of rain as they fall from the clouds.
Hamsa Phoenicopterus ruber, the flamingo, and also the goose, Acer indicus.
Khanjana Motacilla maderaspatensis, the wagtail, symbol of restlessness, and also of the eyes of the beloved.
Koel Eudynamis scolopaceus, a dark bird commonly found in mango gardens during the large trees' flowering and fruiting times. Its cry is kuhu, kuhu, kuhu, rising in pitch with each successive call, and its panchama-note is the dominant of nature's chorus.
Koonja Anthropoides virgo, the demoiselle crane.
Krauncha Numenius arquata, the curlew.
Nilakantha Coracias benghalensis, roller or blue jay, sacred to Sri Visnu.
Papiha Hierococcyx varius, the hawk-cuckoo or the brain-fever bird. Its cry "Pi kahan" sounds like "Where is my love?"
Parrot Psittacula eupatria, a pet bird said to overhear conversations of lovers and to repeat them in awkward circumstances.
Peacock Pavo cristatus, the male is said to be lover of the clouds and delights in rain.
Plava, a kind of aquatic bird, possibly heron, cormoran or pelican.
Saras Antigone antigone, a slate colored crane, said to pair for life and hence a symbol of devoted love.
Trees, Shrubs and Climbers
Aguru Aquilaia agallocha, a large evergreen tree with fragrant wood.
Amaltas Cassia fistula, a small hardy tree with pendulous racemes of large bright yellow flowers blossoming in April and May.
Arjuna Terminalia arjuna, a large, shady tree.
Asana, Terminalia tomentosa.
Ashoka Saraca indica, Ashok tree, Asoka, Asoka tree. A small, slow-growing, erect and evergreen tree, sacred to Siva, with orange and scarlet clusters of flowers, called Saraca asoca or Jonesia asoka in honour of Sir William Jones, who wished that the tree should retain its Sanskrit name, honouring the great emperor Ashoka. Blooms in large scarlet or crimson clusters in in early March to April and gives a most beautiful appearance to the tree. It is eaten by young females as a medicine. It smells like the saffron. It is said to flower upon being touched by a beautiful woman's feet.
Asvattha Ficus religiosa, fig tree, bo tree or milk tree venerated as sacred. Pipal, Vanaspati (lord of forest).
Atimukta Jasminum sp.
Bakula Mimusops etengi. A very small, yellowish and fragrant flower used forgarlands and other female ornaments. Krishna is said to have fascinated the milkmaids of Vrindavan by playing on his celebrated flute under a Bakula tree on the banks of the Jamuna.
Bandhuka Pentapetes phoenicia (or Lucas linifolia)
Banyan Ficus indica, indian fig tree. Nyagrodha, Udumbara, Vata.
Betel Piper betel, a climber, leaves used for chewing.
Bilva Crataeva religiosa, Aegle marmelos, a large, round fruit also known as Bengal quince. Honey apple, bael.
Bimba Momordica coccinia, a climber with bright red fruit.
Champaka Michelia champaka, Golden or Yellow Champa. A small tree, commonly grown in temples, with fragrant, light yellow flowers. A type of jasmine / magnolia. It forms one of the darts of Kamadeva (Cupid). It is particularly sacred to Krishna.
Chameli Jasminium sambac, Arabian jasmine.
Damanaka Grislea tomentosa, tree associated with Bhairava.
Devadaru Cedrus deodara, Himalayan cedar.
Gandharaja Gardenia florida, a shrub with highly fragrant white flowers.
Gunja Abrus precatorius, seeds used as weights by jewelers.
Gul Mohar Delonix regia, an umbrella tree with pinnate feathery leaves. It bears scarlet flowers in May.
Jasmine several varieties are mentioned, including chameli, champaka, malati and kunda.
Jujube Zizyphus jujuba, small round fruits that are favorites of boys.
Kachnar Bauhinia variegata, a medium sized ornamental tree with drooping branches. It produces a rich harvest of mauve and white blossoms, that resemble orchid flowers, in February-March.
Kadamba 1. Anthocephalus indicus or kadamba. A shade tree with hard yellowish wood and ball-like flowers blossoming in the rainy season. 2. Nauclea cadamba, Wild Cinchona. A ball-shaped yellow flower held to be particularly sacred to Krishna, who often performed His pastimes with the gopis of Vrindavan under this tree.
Kandali Aneilema nudiflorum, an annual herb with blue purple flowers in the rainy season.
Karanja Pongamia glabra, Pongamia pinnata. Indian beech, karum tree, oil tree, pongam, pongam oil tree, poonga-oil-tree, seashore mempari. Its oil is used for medicinal purposes and in cosmetics, as a pesticide.
Karnikara Pterospermum acerifolium, a large tree with broad leaves.
Kasa Saccharum spontaneum, a tall grass.
Kasturi Amaryllis zeylanica, medicinal plant mentioned in Atharva Veda.
Kesara Crocus sativa, safflower, a herald of spring.
Ketaki Pandanus odoratissimus, screw pine, a highly fragrant plant with spiny, sword-like, pointed leaves.
Khadira Acacia catechu, tree mentioned in Vedas
Kimsuka Butea frondosa, a tree with beautiful crimson flowers, a herald of spring. Palasa.
Kovidara Bauhinia purpurea, a small tree bearing pink flowers in November.
Kumuda Nymphaea esculenta, a water lily with white flowers that open at night, and close during the day.
Kunda 1. Jasminium pubescens, jasmine. 2. Nerium odorum, oleander. Poisonous, although used for medical purposes, flowers are used in ceremonies.
Kurabaka Lawsonia alba, mehende, crushed leaves used to make the dye for painting decorations on brides' palms.
Kutaja Wrightia zeylanica, a small tree with white flowers. Holarrhena Antidysenterica, Conessi or Tellicherry Bark
Lavagna Vine Limonia scandens, a vine whose appearance indicates the beginning of spring.
Lodhra Symplocos racemosa, pollen used as a face powder in ancient India.
Lotus and Water Lily Many varieties are mentioned. Aravinda and kamala are day-flowering. Kubalaya and kumudini flower at night. Common Lotus, Nelumbium speciosum Utpala, Nymphaea coerulea, the blue water lily.
Madhavi Hiptage madhablota, a scadent, shrubby climber, herald of spring, and lover of the mango tree.
Mahua Bassia latifolia, a common shade tree in central India. An alcoholic beverage of the same name is distilled from its flowers.
Malati Jasminum grandiflorum, a twining shrub with fragrant white flowers.
Mandara 1. Erythrina indica, a Indian Corral Tree, small tree that has red flowers during March, when it has no leaves. 2. (Calotropis Gigantea) Madar; Gigantic Swallowort; Coral Tree. 3. one of the five special trees of heaven (in Amarakosa)
Mango Mangifera indica, tender shoots and herald of spring. Flowers in early March in North India. Chuta and makanda in Sanskrit.
Marutu Terminalia alata, a tree.
Naga Kesara Mesua ferrea, a forest tree of Eastern India with flowers that are mostly white, but with yellow inside.
Narikela Cocos nucifera, the coconut palm.
Navamallika Jasminium arboriscens, a shrubby jasmine.
Nim Azadirachta indica, a shady tree that flowers in March-April with medicine properties.
Nimbu, lemon tree.
Padam Prunus cerasioides, wild cherry found in the temperate regions of the Himalayas, at altitudes from 3,000' to 6,000'.
Parijataka Nyctanthes arbortristis, drops its flowers in the early morning.
Patala Bignonia suaveolens, trumpet flower, herald of spring.
Pipal Ficus religiosa, a large tree with glossy, dark green, poplar-like leaves. Asvattha, Vanaspati.
Pital An unidentified yellow flower.
Plantain Musa paradisiaca, smooth, straight stem, symbol of female beauty. Kadali.
Priyangu Panicum italicum, a shrub that flowers in August.
Punnaga Calophyllum inophyllum, a tree with glabrous leaves, and fragrant white flowers.
Rudraksa Elaco carpus, seeds of this tree are used as beads for rosaries. According to Devi Bhagavata Purana, 11th skanda, it appeared from tears of Siva.
Sala Shorea robusta, a tall timber tree, associated with the birth of Buddha. Sarja in Sanskrit.
Sandal Santalum album, a small evergreen tree growing in Bangalore, with fragrant heart wood. Sandal paste (finely ground sandalwood and water) has a cooling effect when applied to the skin, and is used in summer for cooling the body.
Saptachchhada Alstonia scholaris, a handsome tree.
Sarja see Sala.
Sarson Brassica campestris, an oilseed plant with golden yellow flowers.
Semal Bombax malabaricum, silk cotton tree.
Salmali Salmalia malabarica, silk cotton tree with beautiful cup-like red flowers in early March.
Sirisha Albizzia lebeck, fragrant flowers in the beginning of the rainy season.
Sisam Dalbergia sissoo, a deciduous tree with hard wood, principally found in sub-Himalayan areas of North India.
Tala Borassus flabelliformis, palmyra, round purple fruits, symbol of female charm.
Tamala Garcinia xanthochymus or Cinnamomum tamala, straight stem, dark fragrant leaves, symbol of Krsna.
Tanni Terminalia bellerica, tree associated with Kali purusa (Mahabharata, Vana Parva, ch. 58). Beleric myrobalan.
Tulasi, holy basil with medicinal properties, central in worship of Visnu.
Vakula (Bakula) Mimusops elengi, a dwarf tree, bears highly fragrant flowers during the rains.
Yuthika Jasminium auriculatum, a jasmine with fragrant white flowers tinged with purple.
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