Bhagavadgita or the Song Divine
Appeal of the Gita
Bhagavadgita is one
of the most popular texts of the world. It also holds the reputation for
being one of the few books which have been translated in to many different
languages of the world. In India, the awareness of the Gita can be traced
back as far as one can trace back events in time. The Gita as Indians know
it today, is the substance of the commentary written by Sri. Sankara,
one of the greatest saints ever known on earth. It is known that Adi Sankaracharya,
as he is referred to, lived more than two thousand five hundred years ago
and propagated the Dharmic principles of the Vedic Religion, all over the
country. It is also known that in his introduction to the commentary of
the Gita he refers to the misinterpretation of the text, thus making it
known that there have been earlier interpretations as well.
It is generally accepted
that Sankara's interpretation is probably the one that has brought to humanity,
an organized approach to dealing with the meaning of the seven hundred
Slokas that he identified from the one hundred thousand Slokas of the Mahabharata.
Sankara's commentary continues to be the authoritative one to this day,
though there have been several others which simplify the concepts to conform
to the level of understanding of the world by people of this generation.
The earliest of the
tributes paid to the greatness of Gita is ascribed to Warren Hastings,
the first Governor General of British India (1773-1785) who wrote an introduction
to the first ever translation of the work into English. In his introduction
to the translation by Charles Wilkins (1784), Hastings has said
that "Works such as the Gita would live long after the British Dominion
of India has ceased to exist".
In recent times, at
the very first success of the Atomic Bomb at the New Mexico test
site, Robert Oppenheimer, one of the chief architects of the Manhattan
Project, is known to have recalled something from the Gita. There are many
references to this quote seen on the web but it is virtually impossible
to get at the original verse, for Oppenheimer had formulated the sentence
from two different verses. Do a search in the "Search the text of
Gita" for the English words "thousand" and "death". You will be able to
locate the verses easily. The link is on the right.
Gita deals with a
universal problem of mental conflict, one of a sudden inability to face
a situation against one's social or moral duty. As long as humanity will
exist, so will this conflict. Gita provides the solution to rationalize
the thoughts and bring the human being into what several scholars have
called "a moral equilibrium" that removes the conflict. That is why
Gita holds a universal appeal for all people, a message that applies even
today in the context of the Information Technology driven world, as a working
User Manual for ready reference on all aspects of life on this earth.
Written in beautiful
Sanskrit, Gita is a Paradise for the linguistic scholar. The eighteen chapters
of the Gita, very appropriately divided into different "Yogas" encompass
about six thousand words, which constitute a basic vocabulary for any person
desiring to learn the scriptures of India. The pages here at the "acharya.iitm.ac.in"
site are unique in presenting the wordlist and the meaning of each word
through a translation of the slokas into English.