THE GRANDEUR OF THE SHRIMAD BHAGAVAD GITA
A royal palace can be experienced in two ways. First of all, by looking at its exterior grandeur, and secondly by entering and experiencing its inner grandeur. The Bhagavad Gita is a royal palace-like shastra. Its outer and inner grandeur are extremely pleasing.
THE EXTERNAL GRANDEUR
The outer grandeur of the Bhagavad Gita means knowing about its composer, appearance, style, etc.
‘व्यासेन ग्रथिता’ – ‘Vyasena Grathitã’ – The Mahabharat has been written by Veda Vyãs. The Gita is a part of the Mahabharat, therefore its author is the same. The Bhagavad Gita has been written poetically. Therefore, the question may arise that did Shri Krishna Bhagwan deliver the precepts to Arjun in the exact way they are found poetically in the Gita? Did Arjun also express his curiosity in a poetic manner? The answer is no. In reality, this whole account of whatever happened during the war, or whatever Arjun asked and whatever precepts Shri Krishna Bhagawan gave was encompassed in a poetic form in the Mahabharat by Maharshi Veda Vyasji. Thus, though it is Krishna who is speaking to Arjun in the Gita, it is Maharashi Veda Vyas who has given a literary form.
‘मध्ये महाभारतम्’ – ‘Madhye Mahabharatam’ – ‘It is the middle of the Mahabharat.’ The Gita is found in the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharat. As far as the description goes in the ongoing story in the Bhishma Parva, Maharshi Veda Vyas goes to the blind Dhritarashtra and warns him of the many inevitable consequences the war will have. Moreover, so that Dhritarashtra can receive a complete account of the battlefield, he appoints the learned Sanjay, giving him divine eyes so that he can give an eye-witness report. Vyas then takes leave. Sanjay, by the ability of his divine eyes, could see afar. He starts to report to Dhritarashtra. The description to this point takes up 24 adhyays (sub-chapters) of the Bhishma Parva. At the start of the 25th adhyay, Dhritarashtra asks, ‘घर्मक्षेत्रे कुरुक्षेत्रे समवेता युयुत्सवः। मामकाः पाण्डवाश्र्चैव किमकुर्वत संजय॥’ – ‘Dharmakshetre kurukshetre samavetã yuyutsavaha, mãmakãhã pãndavãshchaiva kimakurvata Sanjaya’ – ‘O Sanjaya! What did my sons and Pandu’s sons do in Kurukshetra (the name of battlefield), which is a righteous land’ (Mahabharat, Bhishma Parva 25.1). This curiosity of Dhritarashtra marks the start of the Gita. This shlok (verse) is the first shloka of the Gita. Therefore, the 25th adhyay of the Bhishma Parva of the Mahabharat is the start of the first adhyay of the Gita. Thus, the Gita is contained between the 25th adhyay and the 42nd adhyay.
FORM: 18 ADHYAYS, 700 SHLOKAS
The Bhagavad Gita is spread across eighteen adhyays. These 18 adhyays comprise of seven hundred shloks. Of these, one shlok is spoken by Dhritarashtra, 47 by Sanjaya, 84 by Arjun and 574 by Shri Krishna.
The Gita is a dialogue. In fact, the entire Mahabharat is a dialogue. In that dialogue, Vaishampãyan Rishi is the main speaker and Janmajay is the main listener. Thus the main dialogue of the Mahabharat is between Vaishampayan and Janmajay.
This dialogue contains another dialogue – the dialogue between Dhritarashtra and Sanjaya, in which, as described above, the blind Dhritarashtra is an enthusiastic listener, eager to hear a report of the battlefield from Sanjaya, the orator. Thus, this dialogue is the second dialogue in the Mahabharat, and this second dialogue encompasses the entire Gita.
Now, this second dialogue contains a third dialogue. The divine dialogue that took place between Arjun and Shri Krishna.
Thus the Mahabharat contains a unique triple dialogue combination. Of these, the third dialogue is the most important.
The Bhagavad Gita is a poem. The great poet Vyas has poetically recorded this divine dialogue between God and devotee in a variety of well-known metres, like anushtup and upjãti.
Mysticism is the soul of poetry. The Gita is extremely mystic. Emotion is the ornament of poetry. The precepts of the Gita is emotional. Casualness is the aroma of poetry. The precepts of the Gita are casual. The Gita is an ideal poem. It is a poem of life, a philosophical poem. A stream of emotions flows in this poem and can be experienced like an incoming tide. The sthitpragna brãhmic state is the embodiment of a mountain steadiness.
For this reason many poetry lovers have relished this shastra from a poetical point of view.
Thus, in terms of style the Gita encompasses a beautiful and balanced combination of dialogue and poetry.
Sadhu Bhadreshdas, Ph. D., D.Litt.
Translated by: Sadhu Paramvivekdas