Bhagavadgītā The Pinnacle of Scriptures

There are several Gītās in Sanskrit literature: Gopigītā, Bhramaragītā etc. None of these, can however be rightfully called Bhagavadgītā. The mere mention of Gītā reminds us of nothing but Bhagavadgītā.

There is yet another Gītā, which too is Bhagavān’s[1] utterance and this is in the Bhāgavata[2]. This Gītā is known as Uddhavagītā. This, as well as the acclaimed Gītā, in the Mahabharata, are both, the advices of Bhagavān. One contains His instructions to Uddhava and the other, to Arjuna.

The one advised to Uddhava was not Bhagavadgītā, but Uddhavagītā. On the other hand, the one advised to Arjuna was not Arjunagītā, but Bhagavadgītā!

Uddhavagītā became popular in the name of the recipient of the advices, while Bhagavadgītā gained acclaim in the name of the one who dispensed it. Though Uddhavagītā streamed forth from Bhagavān Himself, it was uttered for Uddhava specifically; hence, it became Uddhavagītā.

Bhagavadgītā was not expounded solely for Arjuna. It was addressed by Bhagavān of His own accord. Towards this end, he merely used Arjuna as the medium. It is thereby a statement, of His volition; a Gita that is very dear to Bhagavān. In short this Gītā is for Bhagavān, by Bhagavān and about Bhagavān. Hence, from all view-points, it is Bhagavadgītā. This Gita emanated from Bhagavān Vyāsa. Even though all Purāṇas are Bhagavān-centric, it is only Bhāgavata that specially adorns that role, by name.

Universally, there is nothing that can be compared to it, as the text of tenets. In terms of size, it is compact; mere 700 ślōkas[3]in all. Qualitatively, however, it eclipses even the biggest! Among all spiritual books, nothing that has been produced till now, scales up to this; that something may be produced in the future too, seems impossible.

Mahābhārata epitomises the entire Vēdic literature. It is the most exquisite, of the spiritual texts of this country. ‘अत्यरिच्यत भारतम्(atyaricyata bhāratam).’  Either in terms of size, or quality, there is no composition, even spanning the history of the world, that can be considered its equivalent. ‘महत्वाद् भारवत्वाच्च महाभारतमुच्यते (mahatvād bhāravatvācca mahābhāratamucyatē).’

This is not a story of just Bharatā’s lineage. In other words, it is a meaning saturated, prime composition. The very weight in its meaning, renders it Bhārata. By sheer size, that signifies its meaningful greatness, it is ‘Mahābhārata.’

All that one needs to comprehensively know, as one treads on the path of knowledge, can be found here. What is not here, is not elsewhere too: ‘यदिहास्ति तदन्यत्र यन्नेहास्ति तत् क्वचित् (yadihāsti tadan’yatra yannēhāsti na tat kvacit).

The quintessence of such Mahābhārata, is Bhagavadgītāgītā is the nectar of the Pārijata[4]: महाभारतपारिजातमधुभूतां गीताम् (mahābhārata – pārijāta – madhubhūtāṁ gītām)…’

Mahābhārata is the scripture of scriptures, poem of poems; the pinnacle of compositions, unequalled across the globe.

Ancient mythological sayings fervently proclaim the glory of Gītā –

भारतं सर्वशास्त्रेषु भारते गीतिका वरा

विष्णोः सहस्रनामापि ज्ञेयं पाठ्यम् तद्द्वयम्

bhārataṁ sarvaśāstrēṣu bhāratē gītikā varā  
viṣṇōḥ sahasranāmāpi jñēyaṁ pāṭhyam ca taddvayam

[The essence of all scriptures is Bhārata. The essence of Bhārata is Gītā as well as Viṣṇusahasranāma[5]. One should try to understand both and read them with comprehension].

शास्त्रेषु भारतं सारस्तत्र नामसहस्रकम्

वैष्णवं कृष्णगीता तज् ज्ञानान्मुच्यतेंऽजसा

śāstrēṣu bhārataṁ sārastatra nāmasahasrakam
vaiṣṇavaṁ kr̥ṣṇagītā ca taj jñānānmucyatēṁ̕jasā

[The essence of all scriptures is Bhārata and the essence of Bhārata is Viṣṇusahasranāma and Kṛṣṇa’s Gītā – the path of mokśa[3] is open to the one who understands this].

त्रयोऽर्था: सर्ववेदेषु दशार्थाः सर्वभारते

विष्णोः सहस्रनामापि निरन्तरशतार्थकम्

trayō̕rthā: sarvavēdēṣu daśārthāḥ sarvabhāratē
viṣṇōḥ sahasranāmāpi nirantaraśatārthakam

[There are three fold meanings for the Vēdas. There are ten fold meanings for Bhārata. Each nāma[6], without exception, in Viṣṇusahasranāma, has infinite meanings subject to one hundred meanings per nāma].

एवामध्यात्मनिषं हि सर्वं भारतमुच्यते

ēvamadhyātmaniṣaṁ hi sarvaṁ bhāratamucyate

[Bhārata is not merely a historic text documenting the evils of the kings of the Kuru clan; the entire Bhārata is constructed so as to exemplify the spiritual thought that lies at its core].

There is another Gītā in Mahābhārata: Anugītā.

This is however a supplement to the Gītā; an appendix. The same thing that was heard in the midst of the battle din by Arjuna, is now re-heard in a more relaxed manner and atmosphere, by him, from Kṛṣṇa. As such, even though this Gītā too is from Bhagavān’s utterances to Arjuna, it is not Bhagavadgītā but just Anugītā.

Our ancients have verily accorded the highest veneration to Mahabharata and to the one which is the quintessence of its 18 segments namely the 18 chaptered Bhagavadgītā placing both of them at the apex of supreme spiritual literature. This core truth does not escape anyone who sincerely delves into the Bhagavadgītā. . .

Showing us the way, in our spiritual path through 18 significant values, this text moves us forward through its own numerology. These 18 are in turn illustrated over the one lakh ślōkas covering the 18 sections of the Mahabharata. Spread over its 18 chapters, are the 700 ślōkas of the Bhagavadgītā.

सर्वोपनिषदो गावो दोग्धा गोपालनन्दनः

पार्थो वत्सः सुधीर्भोक्ता दुग्दं गीतामृतं परम्

sarvōpaniṣadō gāvō dōgdhā gōpālanandanaḥ
pārthō vatsaḥ sudhīrbhōktā dugdaṁ gītāmr̥taṁ param

[All upaniṣads are cows, Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself milks them, Arjuna is the calf, all good people have a rightful share of this milk. Bhagavadgītā is the sweet milk, that has been milked by Kṛṣṇa].

To taste this gītāmr̥taṁ[7] let us make the best of the opportunities available to us and also, put in efforts, to the best of our abilities.

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[1] God, Lord, Supreme One

[2] One of the 18 major Purāṇas (mythologies) of India

[3] Verses

[4] Coral Jasmine; the reference here, however, is to the celestial form of the flower

[5] Eulogy, part of the Mahābhārata, comprising over 1000 adjectival nominations of the Lord

[6] salvation

[7] Name – but a qualitative descriptor; more specifically adjective, not noun form.

[8] Nectar of Gītā

About Dr. Bannanje Govindacharya