Friday, June 20, 2008

Puzzle verses in Bhagavad Gita

It is well known that Mahabharatha has some puzzle verses, so that Bhagavan Vyasa, the narrator of the story could keep Lord Ganesha give a break to His non-stop writing and start thinking. When Lord Ganesha paused for such a break, it is said that Bhagavan Vyasa could think about the plot line and the next verses that could come. The important question, asked by many people is, how many of these 1000 or so verses are in the Bhagavad Gita?

This link has my previous notes on the same subject.

Shri Sunder-ji of advaitin group, gives the link to a page, which has the late Kanchi Paramacharya referring to one such puzzle. Read the whole post (a from Kanchi forum), as well as Shri Sunder-ji's post on advaitin. Here is the dialog from Kanchi Forum site.

PeriyavaaL : Know that there are Guttu Shlokas in Bharatam (Mahabharata)?

Myself : These are Guttu Shlokas because they were composed to reduce the speed of PiLLaiyar's (Ganesha's) writing.

PeriyavaaL : There is a Guttu Shloka in Gita! You know?

Myself : Don't know.

PeriyavaaL : ' aj~nAnenanAvR^itaM j~nAnaM tena muhyanti jantavaH | j~nAnena tu tadaj~nAnaM yeSAM nAshitamAtmanaH || ' (5.15,16)

"Atma who is jnAnarUpam (in the form of knowledge) is veiled with ajnAnaM (ignorance). People are deluded because of that. If the ajnAnaM is destroyed by jnAnaM , Moksha will be attained."

Isn't this doctrine puzzling, confusing? How can ajnAnaM veil jnAnaM ? If it is veiled, how by that same jnAnaM will ajnAnaM be destroyed? -- is the confusion. Vinayaka blinks. In those few seconds Vyasa has readily composed the shloka s of many chapters.

For this puzzle that comes in the fifth chapter, he gives the answer in the tenth chapter!

teshAmenukampArtham ahamaj~nAnajaM tamaH |
nAshayAmi AtmabhAvastaH j~nAnadIpena bhasvatA ||

To show mercy on the bhaktA s who always sing and think only about me and melt by those acts in their hearts, I as the jnAna rUpi (form of knowledge) enter the state of mind that remains akhaNdAkAram (not fragmentary, entire, whole) and is known as AtmabhAvam (state of the soul), reach the prati-bimbam (reflection), strengthen the jnAnam and set aside (the veil) of ignorance.

(In other words, svarUpa jnAnam by itself will not set aside ignorance. It only notifies its presence. But if the same svarUpa jnAnam is reflected by the mano vRiddhi (expansion of mind) mano vRtti (a state of mind) [Correction thanks to the comment by Subbuji.] that results from continued experience of the state of meditation on the Vedanta Maha Vakhyas after studying and reflecting on them, that will immediately burn the ignorance. Even if the sun has the svabhAva (inherent nature) to burn cotton, it burns the cotton only when the rays touch it through a special lens!

In this way, PeriyavaaL has the capability to give answers for many Guttus.

sandarbhaH - occasion, circumstance, stringing/collecting together, arranging, mixture, union,

So, it seems that 5.15-5.16 is a puzzle that Vyasa composed to keep Ganesha busy thinking about the puzzle, while He himself could pause for thinking. The puzzle he answered in 10.11.


Unknown said...

Namaste Amar,

The word 'Mano Vriddhi' (expansion of the mind) no doubt sounds nice but actually it is 'mano vRtti', a mode of the mind that is referred to here. The pair 'SvarUpa Jnanam and VRtti jnanam' is used in the Shastra in this context. The special mode of the mind which is called akhanDAkAra vritti is what is meant here. Again, the akhandakara word will tally with 'expanded' but the correct term to use here is vRtti and NOT vRddhi.

Warm regards and best wishes,

ramakrishna u said...

praNAms Shri Subbu-ji,

Thanks for the correction. I have made the change.

sai said...


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