chapter  2
32 Pages

Classical commentators of the Gita

Apart from finding an endorsement in a few Pur an as, the Gita attracted a few commentators as well even before A di Shankar a ch a-rya. Baudh a yana was a major one among them, who has been referred to in the last chapter of Shankara’s commentary. Unfortunately, Baudhayana’s commentary ( bh ash ya ) is not available now. An important feature of the bh ash yak a ras (commentators) is that they take the text handed down to them as given, treat it with reverence and only try to explain its intricacies and elaborate the meaning though in the light

of their own perspective. They avoid being critical of the text, though not of other commentators. If any vagueness or inconsistencies are found in the text, they try to understand and reconcile them, instead of launching an attack on the text on that pretext. In this respect, they are very different from some of the modern scholars of the Gita who treated texts like lab specimens, meant for dissection and critical analysis only. Nevertheless, the earlier commentators cannot be regarded as uncritical, and they played an important role by interpreting a fixed text in the light of changing times, discovering new meanings and new messages. This has been very much the case with the Gita throughout its history.