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MODERN INTERPRETATIONS OF THE BHAGAVAD-GITA

MODERN INTERPRETATIONS OF THE BHAGAVAD-GITA

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MODERN INTERPRETATIONS OF THE BHAGAVAD-GITA

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  1. MODERN INTERPRETATIONS OF THE BHAGAVAD-GITA Bhaktivedanta College

  2. One or more authors and editors / is it intentionally syncretic or has passed through distinct stages of compilation? MODERN INTERPRETATIONS OF THE BHAGAVAD GITA DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO THE SCRIPTURES, TRADITIONAL & MODERN SCHOLARSHIP AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE MHB OR AN INTERPOLATION? THE DATE OF THE BHAGAVAD GITA TEXTUAL AND HISTORICAL CRITICISM

  3. Different Approaches MODERN SCHOLARSHIP Literature Methodology • Critical thinking • Textual/historical criticism Issues • Historical context • Dates? / origins ? • Authorship? • Interpolation? Integral? • Influences TRADITIONAL SCHOLARSHIP • Sastra/sacred text • Liturgical function • Didactic function Methodology • Faith • Hearing / reflective • Sadhana /application • Self-transformation Issues • Qualification to know • Lineage / tradition • Guru/disciple

  4. Humboldt vs Hegel – Romanticism vs. Criticism Humboldt “I felt a sense of overwhelming gratitude to God for having let me live to be acquainted with this work. It must be the most profound and sublime thing to be found in the world. “ Hegel Malinar (2007) 20

  5. tradition Modernscholarship • 3000 BCE Kali yuga began 3102 BCE Composed by Vyasadeva Part of the Mahabharata • Post Buddhist era • 5th c. BCE – 3rd c. CE

  6. An integral Part of the MhB or an interpolation? • composed independently and then interpolated into the epic together with other ‘didactic’ or ‘sectarian’ texts • the BG is the ‘bible’ of the Bhagavatareligion and was inserted into the epic to promote Krishnaism • the BG is a philosophical text aimed at producing a synthesis of different schools • different layers of the BG mirror stages of the composition of the epic and thus form part of it • the BhG is a genuine part of the epic and cannot be fully understood without considering its epic context, since it offers solutions to important issues brought up the epic narrative (Biardeau, van Buitenen) • an apologetic justification for the moral tricks used by the Pandavas and Krishna to win victory (Holtzmann). Malinar (2007) 33

  7. One or more authors and editors / Is it intentionally syncretic or has passed through distinct stages of compilation? Khair: Because Krsihna sometimes speaks in the 1st person, (7-12, 2nd part of 18) sometimes in the 3rd. the first-person pronoun are more recent • 1st author • Portions of Ch.1-6 • confronted with conflict between life and renunciation • 18% • 6th c. BCE • 2ndauthor, Portions of the 2ndch.sankhya, supplied practical guidance to action and supplemented the poem with metaphysics, cosmology and theology • 17% • 5th c. BCE The 3rd author adds his verses to the 1st and 2nd section, writes 6 new chapters and inserts them in the middle, 65% associates karma yoga with devotional theism based on the worship of Vasudeva-Krishna integrating and unifying a plethora of religious practices and forms of worship • 3rd c. BCE KARMAYOGA JNANA YOGA BHAKTI

  8. One or more authors and editors / Is it intentionally syncretic or has passed through distinct stages of compilation? Von Humboldtproposed to reconstruct a philosophical doctrine by systematically arranging the different teachings dispersed through it. • the first eleven chapters as the ‘original’ ones the philosophy of the text consists of two doctrines: Holtzmann • a tension between ‘pantheistic’ and ‘theistic’ teachings • impersonalabsolute (Brahman) and the god Krishna • The theistic parts belong to a more recent layer -the ‘Visnuitic revision’ • bhakti doctrines have been added (1) the separation of body and mind (‘Geist’) (2) that indifference towards the results of one’s actions

  9. One or more authors and editors / Is it One or more authors and editors / intentionally syncretic or has passed through distinct stages of compilation? • ended with MBh6.23.38 (=BhG 2.38) and was later expanded; • those who accept the ‘epic layer’ agree that it is the oldest, • promoting Krishnaitedoctrines • some regard the ‘theistic layer’ as older (e.g. von Garbe, Otto) • ‘monistic’, ‘pantheistic’, or Samkhya-yoga • priority to the BG’s non-theistic doctrines based on Upanishadic and Samkhyanotions (e.g. Holtzmann, Jacobi, Khair). an ‘epic layer’ a ‘theistic’ layer a ‘non-theistic’ layer Malinar

  10. One or more authors and editors / Is it intentionally syncretic or has passed through distinct stages of compilation? According to Yardi, the BG is a broad synthesis of the schools of philosophical thought • the BG was the 1stecumenical effort to bring the different Hindu theological systems under one banner, the banner of Krishna – Vasudeva The tragedy of Hindu religions and philosophical thought is that this syncretic effort was lost of, and its illustrious commentators competed with one another to establish that each of the different points of view mentioned in the Gita was it’s sole message. (Callewaert, Hemraj, 1983,67) Malinar

  11. One or more authors and editors / Is it intentionally syncretic or has passed through distinct stages of compilation? Buddhist influences • Holtzmann - the Brahmins were interested in reconciling their polytheism with folk belief, in order to take up the fight against Buddhism • Upadhyayan- The early PaliNikayas do not mention BG, though they refer to many preceding works • Chapter 16th demoniac nature – a possible reference to the Buddhists • several ideas in common – due to the same source Upanishads • Nirvana occurs in BG e.g. 6.15., virtues (self contolled ,absence of envy, freedom form false ego, equality, - striking similarities with Buddhism. • Raga and dvesha BG. 2.64, 18.51 and Dhammapada3699(3) 377(4) • Bg assimilated Buddhistic elements, but also rejected some

  12. CHALLENGES OF TRANSLATION • The very 1st word of the Gita poses serious problems to the translators – dharma • According to Mainkarno commentator has been absolutely faithful to Gita Zaehner • Primarily interested in what the contents of the BG is and not in what the translators thought the content ought to be • .

  13. Edgerton(1925) accuracy and dispassionate approach