Preface from Ācārya Madhva’s Gītā Bhāṣya

He who is blemishless, is of all merits complete

My divine Nārāyaṇa, to Him do I bow

To the guru named aḥ do I hereby bow  

The intent of Gītā I state in brief ।।

 As the Dwāpara period drew to its close, awareness of dharma was waning. Out of compassion for those who dithered on dharma-adharma, dēvatas led by Brahma, Rudra, Indra etc., appealed to Bhagavāndēvatas, to show them the path of knowledge, Bhagavān descended on this earth in the form of sage Vyāsa…

What is appropriate and what is not? How does one pursue what is appropriate? How is the inappropriate resolved? People suffered, from ignorance, in this world. The Vēdas turned incomprehensible and cryptic.

Women and ‘śūdra- natured’ people, not franchised to Vēdic knowledge, stagnated in the path of knowledge.

Bhagavān by one and all; He distilled the essence of the entire Vēdas and made it easy to comprehend in the composition of the great ‘Mahābhārata,’ opening out thereby, the path of mokṣa..

As stated even in the Vēdas, apparent only to Bhagavānmere song that extols Bhagavān’s eminence. It is an ocean of enigmatic intent here.

the following aspects are covered, in the sacred text named Nārāyaṇāstāksharakalpa –

Seeing that people were going astray not being able to comprehend the Vēdas and also the plight of those like women, who were not entitled to study the Vēdas, the Lords of this world namely Brahma-Rudra etc., prayed to Nārāyaṇa, i.e., Puruṣottama (the Supreme Puruṣa). Yielding to their prayers, Bhagavān. This is how, He who donned the incarnations of Vyasa as also that of others, composed the fifth Vēda that carries the implicit and explicit meanings of the Vēdas, in full and also every special intent that is evident only to the transcendent awareness of Bhagavān and thereby is regarded to excel even the Vēdas. Bhārata, Pancarātra, Mūlarāmāyaṇa and the divinely oriented Purāṇas like Bhāgavata etc., are collectively renowned as the ‘Fifth Vēda.’

‘The complete purport of Bhārata is not understood by even Caturmukha Brahma[26]. At best, it might be understood in bits and pieces, by all. Such a Bhārata is a compendium of several meanings, say the learned ones’ – as stated in the Upanāradīya.

‘Upon worship from Brahma and others, Nārāyaṇa composed Bhārata. For each thing stated in it, there are ten meanings. It is not possible for everyone to understand it.’ – as stated in the Nāradīya

This is what Skānda states –

‘Bhagavān There are at least ten elucidations for the entire Bhārata. Basically, this propagates the supremacy of Viṣṇu. It is apparently replete with concealed cryptic meanings. It is thus regarded as a Vēda superior to the Vēdas.’ There are at least ten elucidations for the entire Bhārata. Basically, this propagates the supremacy of Viṣṇu. It is apparently replete with concealed cryptic meanings. It is thus regarded as a Vēda superior to the Vēdas.’ There are at least ten elucidations for the entire Bhārata. Basically, this propagates the supremacy of Viṣṇu. It is apparently replete with concealed cryptic meanings. It is thus regarded as a Vēda superior to the Vēdas.’

If one notices what is stated in several places in Mahābhārata, this becomes clear–

  1. ‘One might have understood the four Vēdas; one might have also understood Vēdangas and the Upaniṣats. One who is not aware of the Purāṇa texts, cannot comprehend the truth.’
  2. ‘One should settle on the intent of the Vēdas from the perspective of the Itihāsas (histories) and Purāṇas(mythologies). Vedas that fall into the hands of the semi-learned feel, “This person will disfigure me,” with trepidation.’
  3. ‘Some opine that Bhārata is theistic:(It is a historical text written about the theistic Pāndavās). According to others, it is psychological. {Pls. refer Table 1 on Page 5} (It is a spiritual text that exemplifies the value system represented by the five Pāndavās, Draupadi and Kṛṣṇa – Yudhiṣṭira = dharma; Bhīma = Shraddha, Jñāna, Vairāgya, Pragnyā, Mēdhā, Dhruti, Sththi, Yoga, Prana, Bala; Arjuna = Shravana, Manana, Nididhyāsana; Nakula ~ Sahadēva = Śīla ~ Vinaya; Draupadi = Vēda Vidya; Kṛṣṇa = Vēda Vēdya). Yet others say that the entire Bhārata is an extolling of Bhagavān’s qualities.’
  4. ‘Once, as directed by sage Vyāsa, Brahma and other dēvatas weighed all the Vēdas against Bhārata; the scales tilted towards Bhārata.’
  5. ‘Mahābhārata is a great composition; there is ‘artha bhāra’ i.e. it brims with meaning; that is how it is ‘Mahābhārata.’ One who understanding the cryptic sense of this name, is absolved of all sins.’
  6. ‘What is here is just what may also be seen in other scriptures. What is not here is not elsewhere too.’
  7. ‘(For the Kalpavṛkṣa called Mahābhārata) Virāṭaparva and Udyōgaparva are the quintessential core.’

Its prominence can also be gleaned from the best scholastic traditions of sages.

‘Who other than Bhagavān is capable of composing Mahābhārata?’ –quotes like this are found in other Purāṇas too. What else can a quote like this imply, other than stating the greatness of Bhārata? is capable of composing Mahābhārata?’ –quotes like this are found in other Purāṇas too. What else can a quote like this imply, other than stating the greatness of Bhārata?

There are several references to the fact that even Nārada Maharṣi had studied as well as taught this scripture; this evidences Bhārata’s eminence.

If not, what does it mean when it is said, ‘Even merely comprehending the cryptic meaning of the name Bhārata, absolves one of all sins?’ These are not mere words of praise. These are words accepted by the learned.

If Bhārata did not possess such eminence, why was it not possible for anyone other than Nārāyaṇa to compose it? As this quote is found across several texts – one cannot say that these are mere words of false praise. This is not a eulogy of the scripture; nor can it be called as a eulogy of its author. Even though the same author had composed other Purāṇas too, how is it that the others did not become equally praiseworthy?

Occurring in the midst of such an eminent text is the dialogue between Vāsudēva and Arjuna i.e., BhagavadgītāBhārata. It is the nectar of the Pārijāta flower named Mahābhārata.  It is a comprehensive compendium of the essence of Bhārata. It is the nectar of the Pārijāta flower named Mahābhārata.

The following are from the Mahapurāṇa ‘Kaurma’ –

‘Among scriptures, Bhārata is supreme. Even within Bhārata, Bhagavadgītā of Viṣṇu are supreme. Both these need to be comprehended; read with comprehension.’

‘To understand the form of Bhagavān is comprehensive,’ so too are similar utterances (like Anugītā)…

*          *          *

This is Ācārya Madhva’s preface to his commentary.  While the first two commentators emphasised the incarnation of Kṛṣṇa as the basis for Gītā, Ācārya Madhva saw the incarnation of Vyāsa as central for the purpose.

This is a significant change. The spiritualism in Kṛṣṇa’s advices to Arjuna was given to us in the form of a scripture, by Sage Vyāsa.

Yes, Gītā is not composed by Kṛṣṇa but by Sage Vyāsa.

In the beginning of any book it is important to discuss the background of its author.

Kṛṣṇa gave this to Arjuna. Sage Vyāsa handed it to us.

Is it not important that we learn about the one who gave it to us?

This is Sage Vyāsa’s contribution; this is part of Sage Vyāsa’s Mahābhārata; this is the reason as to why it is acclaimed globally.

That is why Ācārya Madhva showed us the way through Vyāsa in his preface.

The preface to the commentaries is done with. In his second work, concerning Gītā, namely Gītātātparyanirṇaya, Acharya Madhva has expansively covered the greatness of the scripture of Gītā, in his preface. Let us move on to focus on this composition.

_____________________________________________

[26] ‘ब्रह्मापि तन्न जानाति’ (Brahmāpi tanna jānāti’) is the original statement. ‘Brhaspati too has not comprehended’ is stated as traditionally understood.  

About Dr. Bannanje Govindacharya