Bhagavad-Gita is the most beautiful, perhaps the only true philosophical song existing in any known tongue’ – William von Humboldt. Though it is a matter of consensus that Bhagvad-Gita in the present length of seven hundred slokas has many an interpolation to it, but no meaningful attempt has ever been made to delve into the nature and extent, not to speak of the effect of these on the Hindu society at large. The moot point that has missed the attention of all, all along, is that if the Sudras were to be so lowly in the Lord’s creation, how come then the Gita’s architect Krishna, His avatar, and Vyāsa, its chronicler, happen to be from the same lowly Hindu caste fold. Moreover, is it not absurd to suggest that either or both of them had deprecated the station of their own varna (caste) on their own in their very own Gita? The methodical codification of interpolations carried out here puts the true character of the Gita in proper perspective. Identified here are hundred and ten slokas of deviant nature and or of partisan character, the source of so much misunderstanding about this book extraordinary, in certain sections of the Hindu fold. In the long run, exposing and expunging these mischievous insertions is bound to bring in new readers from these quarters to this over two millennia old classic besides altering the misconceptions of the existing adherents. In this the beauty of the Sanskrit slokas is reflected in the rhythmic flow of the English verse of poetic proportions even as the attendant philosophy of the Gita is captured in contemporary idiom for easy comprehension.
Dedicated to grandparents,
Paternal: Bulusu Thimmaiah -Lakshmi Narasamma,
Maternal: Challa Kameswara Rao - Suramma
And parents: Peraiah Sastry and Kamakshi,
In whose care my destiny so favourably placed me.
The spiritual ethos and the philosophical outlook that the Bhagavad-Gita postulates paves the way for the liberation of man, who, as Rousseau said, ‘being born free, is everywhere in chains’. But equally it is a mirror of human psychology, which enables man to discern his debilities for appropriate redressal.
All the same, the boon of an oral tradition that kept it alive for over two millennia became its bane with the proliferation of interpolations therein. Besides muddying its pristine philosophy, these insertions affect the sequential conformity and structural economy of the grand discourse. What is worse, to the chagrin of the majority of the Hindus, some of these legitimize the inimical caste system while upholding the priestly perks and prejudices.
This rendition seeks to restore to the Gita, its original character by ridding it of hundred and ten interpolations, which tend to keep the skeptics away from it. And ironically these muddle the understanding of the adherents as well. In the theatre of man as nothing surpasses the drama of war, the stage for unveiling the Gita’s unrivalled philosophy was set on the battleground of Kurukshetra at the threshold of the battle of Mahabharata.
However, to the uninitiated, Bhagvad-Gita was a discourse between Prince Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, on the eve of the battle of Mahabharata, chronicled by Vyāsa through the medium of Sanjaya. In order to appreciate the Gita’s caste component, as opposed to its philosophical content, we must realize that whereas Arjuna was a Kshatriyā, perceived to be the second highest rung of the Hindu caste-ladder
below Brahmins but above Vaisyās
, Krishna, Vyāsa as well as Sanjaya were Shudras, the supposedly low end of it
However, Krishna being a Shudrā, would he have deprecated his own community in v32, ch9 in which it is stated that ‘women, Vaisyās and Shudrās could win the Lord’s favor through devotion’, sounding as if they are all in an inferior league. Doubtful, isn’t it?
Moreover, having earmarked the caste duty of Shudrās as menial work
, how come then Krishna would have assumed the role of a philosopher? Not only that, Vyāsa, the transmitter of the Gita to the world was a seer nonpareil credited with the compilation of the Vedas, which is no mean a task leave alone a menial work!