chapter  14
14 Pages

The Bhagavad Gı¯ta¯

The Bhagavad Gı¯ta¯ has acquired a place of incomparable honor in the religious and philosophical literature of India. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Bhagavad Gı¯ta¯ is the most well-known and one of the most discussed Hindu texts. The fact that S´am. kara and Ra¯ma¯nuja, two important classical commentators of the Veda¯nta school, regarded the Gı¯ta¯ as one of the three primary sources of the Veda¯nta tradition, provides an eloquent testimony to its importance. Scholars are not unanimous regarding the dates of the Gı¯ta¯; tradition, however, maintains that it was authored somewhere between the third and the fi rst centuries BCE and is taken to be a part of the epic Maha¯bha¯rata. It is safe to say that it is post-Buddhistic because in it the references to the Buddha’s views abound. The Gı¯ta¯ expresses the quintessence of the Vedas and the Upanis.ads, and has been translated and commented upon by classical and modern scholars in the East and the West alike. Wilhelm von Humbolt characterizes the Gı¯ta¯ as the most beautiful and truly philosophical poem; Mahatma Gandhi calls it the guide and solace of his life; and the poet T. S. Eliot considered the Gı¯ta¯ as one of the two most important philosophical poems in world literature, the other being Dante’s Divine Comedy. Thus, it is not surprising that the Gı¯ta¯ has been translated into all the major languages of the world, and there are close to 100 translations of it in English.