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RE: Re: Gita - Introduction - alt.hindu #932

Please read the entire response before making an opinion(s).

In article <2sl45e$9i7@ucunix.san.uc.edu>, Shrisha Rao <shrisha@lcl.cmu.edu> writes:
| I must offer my most courteous thanks to Mrs. Ravishankar for this,
| and do hope to benefit by it. I now seek some clarifications to what
| has been said in this introduction, and make some comments, and wish
| to make it perfectly clear is that my aim is not to play semantics, or
| cross swords for puerile one-upmanship, but to satisfy my genuine
| curiosity. Let there be no misunderstanding on this.
| Regards,
| Shrisha Rao
| "Yaavaanartha Udapaane, sarvataha Samplutodake,
|  Taavaan sarveshu Vedeshu, Brahmanasya vijaanataha."
|       -- Sri Krishna, Bhagavad Gita 2:46
| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
| > Here goes the introduction to gita:
| >
| >                       hare krishna hare krishna
| >                       krishna krishna hare hare
| >                       hare   rama   hare   rama
| >                       rama   rama   hare   hare
| >
| >                             INTRODUCTION
| >                             ************
| >
| > Bhagavad Gita is also known as Gitopanisad.  It is the essence of all
| > vedic knowledge.  We have to receive this knowledge by the proper
| > parampara (disciplic succession).  We must accept Bhagavad Gita
| > without interpretation, without deletion and without our own whimsical
| > participation in the matter.  The Gita should be taken as the most
| > perfect presentation of the vedic knowledge.
| I would like to know what is meant here by accept "without
| interpretation."  

It should better be read as without interpolation/extrapolation.  

|                  As I see it, given my lack of knowledge of Sanskrit,
| and lack of understanding of the very deep tenets of the shaastras, I
| must seek to learn the knowledge of the Gita only from a Guru, as you
| have alluded to, and this involves some interpretation of the text by
| the Guru for my benefit. Secondly, the B'Gita is supposed to be a
| source of knowledge about Dharma, and a scripture from where I can
| learn the code of conduct for my own life. However, this involves
| interpretation also, as direct meanings may not apply since the actual
| circumstances of the Gita do not (necessarily) match those of my daily
| life.

In most cases, the message of B. Gita is rather abstract and can be readily 
applied to the problems/situations of our life, MHO.

| Secondly, why must one take the Gita as the most perfect
| representation of Vedic knowledge? I think the quality that you
| describe as "most perfect" applies primarily to the Vedas and
| Upanishads themselves, 

Let me quote from B. Gita,  9.17 

	"I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support and 
	 the grandsire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and 
	 the syllable Om. I am also the Rg, the Sama and the Yajur vedas." 

so there. 

|                          and secondly, to the Mahabharata and the
| Puranas. The Mahabharata is the larger text of which the Gita is a
| part, and it cannot be that we consider its worth to be any lower than
| that of the Gita, as such a consideration would be illogical. So all
| of these must be considered perfect representations of Vedic
| knowledge, and none of them is "most perfect." It is to be noted that
| the 'Gita itself does not say anywhere that it is the most perfect
| source of such knowledge, in the sense that any other source must be
| necessarily inferior. On the other hand, we have the following verse
| from the Brahmanda Purana, which says --
| "Rugaadyaa Bhaaratam chaiva, Pancharaatram atha akhilam |
|  Muula Raamaayanam chaiva, Puraanam chaitadaatmakam ||
|  Ye cha Anuyaayinaastveshaam, sarve te cha Sadaagamaaha |
|  Duraagamastadanye ye tair na Gneyo Janaardanaha || "
| The Rig and other Vedas, the Mahabharata, and the Pancharaatra, in entirety.
| The Muula Raamaayana, and those parts of the Puranas in line with the previous.
| These, and the texts which follow these, are all pristine scriptures.
| All the rest are false scriptures, and do not lead to knowledge of Janaardana.
| It is to be noted that the composer of this verse is the same Sri Veda
| Vyasa, who also composed the rest of the Puranas and the Mahabharata
| (and therefore the Bhagavad Gita also), and it is not easy to take His
| words lightly.

Now please read B.G. 9.17 again and think. Would you include/write something 
in your biography which you know for certain is wrong and/or is contridictory 
to all the other stuff you say?  If not, why would you think that Sri Vyasa 
deva could have done that? 

| > The speaker of Bhagavad Gita is Lord Sri Krishna.  He is mentioned on
| > every page of Gita as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.  This is
| > also confirmed by many authorities of vedic knowledge like Sankaracharya,
| > Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, etc.  The Lord Himself accepts this in the
| > Gita and He is accepted as such in Brahma-samhita and in all puranas
| > especially the Srimad Bhagavatam.  Because Bhagavad Gita is spoken by
| > the Supreme Personality of Godhead one need not read any other vedic
| > literature.
| I think the ways in which Sri Chaitanya and Sri Sankaracharya have
| accepted the Lord are quite different, tho. Sri Chaitanya is from the
| Guru-Parampara of Sri Madhvaacharya, the modern founder of Dvaita,
| while Sri Sankara is the founder of Advaita, and there is a very large
| difference between these schools of thought. To Madhva, Krishna is the
| Lord who exists in reality, is truly the embodiment of all virtues,
| and who is distinct from the souls and inanimate matter, this
| distinction being absolute, while to Sankara, He is no more than a
| manifestation of the maya which causes us to perceive the illusory
| world, and after salvation, there is no more Krishna or the world.

why then he also said:

  0.	bhaja gOvindam bhaja gOvindam
 	bhaja gOvindam mUdamathE
 	sampraptE sannihitE kaalE
 	nahi nahi rakshati dukrung karanE
 	"Worship  Govinda,  worship Govinda,
 	 Worship Govinda, foolish one!
 	 Rules of grammar profit nothing
 	 Once the hour of death draws nigh." 

Actually this is not surprising. Sankara was an incarnation of Lord Shiva and 
Sri Krishna says in B. Gita (I dont remember the exact verse) 

	"Even the demigods are sometimes bewildered by my oppulence 
	 because their senses are covered by my illusory energy." 

| Secondly, it is not clear why one must not read any other Vedic
| scripture; to accept the Gita and its claims with no study of
| supporting evidence would be akin to the study of a Semitic scripture,
| which is supposed to be revealed text, and is not to be questioned or
| argued with.  

You can read any or all the other scriptures.  Krishna himself describes 
the various paths a yogi might take, viz. gyana yoga.  However, you doubts 
will remain if you do so without devotion. 

|              Such an approach has not been recommended by any of the
| great Acharyas of days gone by, and they all took part and encouraged
| debate and cross-fertilization, and asked us to look at all the
| evidence and then make up our mind. What exactly is meant by "other"
| Vedic literature? Is the Mahabharata also one such piece of "other"
| literature? It cannot be, because it cannot be "other" than its own
| proper subset, the Bhagavad Gita. Also, Sri Prabhupaada's seniors in
| the Guru paramparaa he claims, have all composed Vedic literature
| (Sri Madhvaacharya and Sri Vyaasa Tirtha being two prominent examples
| that come to mind), and he would be hard put to denounce these while
| preserving his own basis.
| > So according to the
| > statements of Gita, a person who is trying to understand the Gita,
| > should atleast theoritically accept Sri Krishna as the Supreme
| > Personality of Godhead and with that submissive spirit he could
| > understand the Gita.
| Which statement of the Gita is being referred to here in the last
| sentence? I would much appreciate knowing a specific one.

I'm a little confused about you question here, so if my response isn't 
what you really wanted, please notify me. 

Anyways, there are several verses in B. Gita whereby Krishna dicsloses his 

B.G. 7.6 
	"All the created beings have their source in these two natures. 
	 Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, 
	 know for certain that I am both the origin and the dissolution." 

B.G. 10.3 
	"He who knows Me as the unborn, as the beginingless, as the 
	 Supreme Lord of all the worlds - he only, undeluded among 
	 men, is freed from all sins." 

and then he also says, B.G. 7.15 

	"Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are the lowest 
	 among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illuson, and who 
	 partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender 
	 unto Me." 

| > Living entities are parts and parcels of Krishna.  He lives in the heart
| > of every living being as Paramatma.  Therfore, our consciousness is
| > transcendental as that of the Lord's.  But, at the present moment, it is
| It seems to me that Krishna's presence in every living being indicates
| the converse of what you have said, namely, that Krishna is part of
| every living being. Not the reverse.

this one seems simple 

B.G. 7.5 
	"Besides these, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is another superior 
	 energy of Mine, which comprises the living entities who are 
	 exploiting the resources of this material, inferior energy." 

B.G. 9.4 
	"By Me, in my unmanifested form, this entire universe is 
	 pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them."  

| > materially contaminated ie we are called conditioned.  Hence we are
| > subjected to the following defects: (1) sure to commit mistakes
| > (2) invariably illusioned (3) has the tendency to cheat others and
| > (4) limited by imperfect senses.  False consciousness is exhibited under
| > the impression that I am a product of this material nature.  One who
| > wants to become liberated, must first of all learn that he is not this
| > material body.  Mukthi means liberation from the contaminated
| > consciousness of this material world and situation in pure consciousness.
| > In pure consciousness our actions will be dovetailed to the will of
| > isvara and that will make us happy.  All the instructions of Bhagavad
| > Gita are intended to awaken this pure consciousness.
| >
| I believe what you are trying to say in the above paragraph has also
| been dealth with by Sri Madhva himself in his monumental treatise,
| Anuvyaakhyaana, where he says that all misery is due to incomplete
| knowledge of the five differences (Pancha Bheda), these being -
| 1. The difference between a soul and inanimate matter.
| 2. The difference between a soul and the Lord.
| 3. The difference between the Lord and inanimate matter.
| 4. The difference between a soul and another soul.
| 5. The diffence between different pieces of inanimate matter.
| According to Madhva, all these three components of the world soul
| (Jiiva), inanimate matter (Jada) and the Lord (Paramaatmaa or Ishvara)
| have distinct properties, and these have to be understood. The pancha
| bhedas are absolute, and are not illusory, hence the distinction. They
| are even said to last after salvation (Mukti). The Lord is the
| embodiment of all good qualities, and is perfect, omnipotent and
| independant, and so on. The souls are not; they are dependant, limited
| in ability, and such. Failure to realize these differences (not
| academically, but in practice) causes misery.
| Thus, some people think that they are their bodies, and waste their
| energies and time on decoration, beauty aids etc, because they have
| failed to realize difference 1. Similarly, some assume that they are
| independant and try to act on their own, and suffer failure.  This is
| because they think they have the Lord's properties of power and
| independance, which is a failure to understand 2. Similarly, some
| people worship blindly and think of the idol itself as the Lord. Such
| worship has much procedure but little devotion, does not yield fruit,
| and is an example of failure to grasp 3... and so on. It is easy to
| construct examples for the cases generated by 4 and 5.
| And it is also worth noting that our consciousness is not, by innate
| nature, of the same nature as that of Krishna, as such a claim would
| violate 2.

Here is the clarification that Lord Chaitanya provided. 

	"achintya bheda-abheda tattva" 

simultaneous oneness and difference.  The implication is that the living 
entities are  _qualitatively_  similar but  _quantitatively_  different from 
the Lord. 

| > Gita states that the living entity (soul) is eternal.  We keep changing
| > only our material bodies.  No planet in the material universe is free
| > from the four principles of material existence namely birth, death,
| > disease and old age. This applies even to the highest planet Brahmaloka.
| > Therefore, in the Gita worship of different demigods is not approved. We
| > need to worship only the Supreme Lord because our ultimate goal is to
| > return to His abode. Lord Krishna assures that those who return to His
| > abode will never come back again to this material world.
| Here, it is not so much the case that no other gods must be
| worshipped, but that no other gods must be worshipped as the Supreme.

There is a difference between worshipping and offering respect. 

| There is a difference. We do worship other gods who are senior to us
| in the hierarchy, and seek their blessings and Guidance in approaching
| the Lord. For this kind of worship, the Rig Veda says
| "Sarva Deva namaskaaraha Keshavam Pratigachchati."
| Salutations offered to all gods go to Keshava.

This is what Sri Krishna said about this,  (also read 9.17 again if needed) 

B.G. 9.23
	"Those who are devotees of other gods and who worship them with 
	 faith actually worship only Me, O son of Kunti, but they do so 
	 in a wrong way." 

| > Therefore, if we always engage our mind in
| > reading the vedic literatures, then it is possible for us to remember
| > the Lord at the time of death.
| There is a slight contradiction here, don't you think, between this
| and what you have said before? There, you have said that one need not
| read any Vedic literature except the Gita, and here, your not using
| the word Gita, and using the plural (literatures) seems to suggest
| that one must read such other literature.
| > Lord Caitanya also
| > advises that one should practice chanting the names of the Lord always
| > as the names of the Lord and the Lord are nondifferent.
| I wonder how this is so? It is considered that the names of the Lord
| are sacred and special, and that chanting them with the proper respect
| and devotion is sure to bring merit, but no symbol can be the same as
| the object or entity it symbolizes; that is against the whole concept
| of names or symbols. 

Actually the real problem here is that you are trying to you the logic of 
the mundane world in spiritual realm hence the confusion.  When one chants 
the name of the Krishna or Rama with devotion, one gets directly in touch 
with Him. This is the power of the holy name, and can only be realized 
with devotion (I can provide specific verse here if you so desire). 

Even though we realize that God is absolute (atleast the theists) and that 
we are infinetestimal, we still try to the best of our abilities to decide 
what God can/cannot do.  This is the ultimate irony. 

|                         Also, the names of the Lord exist only in our
| minds and while we think them or say them, but the Lord is omnipresent
| in space and time. If the two are the same, there is a clear
| contradiction. How can this contradiction be resolved?

The Lord manifests within our hearts when we chant His name(s).  Krishna 
says this explicitly that the contradiction  WILL REMAIN  as long as one 
lacks devotion. 
| > Gitamahatmya states: Let there be one scripture for the whole world -
| > Bhagavad Gita, one God - Sri Krishna, One mantra - the chanting of His
| > holy name "hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare hare
| > rama hare rama rama rama hare hare" and let there be one work only - the
| > service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
| I have one last question; I have always wondered what the source for
| the "hare krishna hare krishna..." mantra is. It is not from the
| Bhagavad Gita, that is for sure. And it is also different from the
| Krishna shadakshara mantra, one of the biija mantras. Where is it from?

The original mantra in Vedas (or some other scriptue, I can probably check) 

	hare   rama   hare   rama   rama   rama   hare   hare 
	hare krishna hare krishna   krishna krishna hare hare 

Lord Chaitanya reversed it because He wanted to eclusively establish Krishna 
bhakti as the religion for this age (Kali-yuga).  

In fact, the Krishna-Janmabhumi temple in Mathura, India, has the mantra in 
its original for. 

The important point is to know that this is not something _fabricated_ by 

Comments welcome. 

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