Do You Feel Miraculous & Awe-inspiring? (Gita Talk Conclusion)

Via on Nov 20, 2011

For Stephen Mitchell and other interpreters, Chapter 12 is effectively the end of the Bhagavad Gita.

They consider the final third of the Gita, Chapters 13-18, to be a poorly fitted appendage—inferior poetically and spiritually, contradictory in content, probably by a different writer or writers and added at a later time. (You can read this point view in the Notes to the Introduction, p. 200-202.)

Other scholars do not agree.  Our special guest from the original Gita Talk #8, Graham Schweig, for example, has told me he has a very different point of view.  But in his own extensive commentary on the Gita (wonderful, by the way), Schweig almost completely ignores the last third of the text, except for the very end of Chapter 18.  He quotes 34 passages from Chapters 1-12 in his commentary, but none at all from Chapters 13-18, except for the closing stanzas of Chapter 18.

The great Georg Feurstein gives full textual and historical analysis of Chapters 13-18 in his new commentary, but only after declaring them to be “supplemental”.

Personally I felt the same as Mitchell does even before I had read Mitchell’s book.  So I don’t intend to hold Gita Talks on Chapters 13-18.  But you should read them yourself and make up your own mind.

I hope some of you who have a different point of view will tell us about it in your comments here. Perhaps someone would even like to do a guest Gita Talk in rebuttal, which I would welcome.

So this is the final Gita Talk for this round.  Let’s reflect back on the main themes of  the Gita.

As I hope you already know, these themes and others are all covered, with corresponding direct quotations, in Gita in a Nutshell, which I urge you to study and enjoy, if you haven’t already.

LIVE YOUR LIFE WITH LOVE AND PURPOSE,
DETACHING EGO FROM RESULTS

FOCUS THE MIND

EXPERIENCE INFINITE WONDER IN ALL THINGS

As they say about the Golden Rule, all the rest is commentary.

Here are the three cosmic truths underlying the Gita’s message:

Each of us is already infinitely wondrous—
miraculous, awe-inspiring, unfathomable
(divine if you prefer)

Our wondrous nature is the same as
the infinite wonder of the universe

We experience this infinite wonder
by waking up to reality

***

How has reading the Gita affected your life?

I have loved doing this second round of Gita Talk.  (Actually it’s the third round if you include the sixteen session Gita in a Nutshell.)

I hope it’s been good for you, too.  Thank you for being here.

All Blogs in the Series:

Welcome to Gita Talk:
Online Discussion of the Bhagavad Gita. (Round 2)

Ongoing Resources:

Gita in a Nutshell: Big Ideas & Best Quotations

Yoga Demystified

The Original Sixteen Session Gita Talk

Join Gita Talk Facebook Group for weekly notices
and to meet fellow participants.

About Bob Weisenberg

Bob Weisenberg: Editor, Best of Yoga Philosophy / Former Assoc. Publisher, elephant journal / Author: Yoga Demystified * Bhagavad Gita in a Nutshell * Leadership Is Like Tennis, Not Egyptology / Co-editor: Yoga in America (free eBook) / Creator: Gita Talk: Self-paced Online Seminar / Flamenco guitarist: "Live at Don Quijote" & "American Gypsy" (Free CD's) / Follow Bob on facebook, Twitter, or his main site: Wordpress.

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32 Responses to “Do You Feel Miraculous & Awe-inspiring? (Gita Talk Conclusion)”

  1. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  2. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage. Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook.

  3. Maureen Miller Maureen Miller says:

    Bob, I have not been following this as you have been doing it, but plan to go through each post/reading as a self-study project. I may reach out to you if I have questions, ok?

  4. Mark says:

    I had written a paper and was all ready for this ending chat about a great spiritual truth that came to this world of ours eons of years ago but for me to grant special qualities to this "insight" of Divinity would be to deny the Faith I've come to know as truth. Faith is the essential element to gain access to the Divine. Even Lord Krishna confirms that but leaves us with Yoga and Karma; two variables I am unable to give value. I have never found it necessary to "do" or "believe" or even be "faithful" to have direct meaningful contact with My Maker. As a Child I knew I am created by a Creator. As I grew into this world system I was taught that right and wrong behavior would bring pros and cons into my life. I rejected the value system as invalid because I had an underdog mentality even though as a person of karisma it seemed I couldn't lose unless it was on purpose.

  5. Mark says:

    First grade question: "Where is God?" Answer: "Everywhere" I needed no other information to help me. After years of winning and losing, never minding either I was told my karma is going to catch up with me and I faithfully declined to accept that because I accepted Grace as my blessing and that Jesus Christ on the Cross took on Karma once and for all when He said; "It is Finished." I endevored to seek value in Transendental Meditation and love those who practice TM without committing to a particular religous organization. Christ is love personified and has by Grace given us access into the blessings of the Universe. I feel that to try and earn a Gift is to offend the Giver and this is the only fear I contemplate as dangerous. Therefore I hold fast to the presence of the Almighty in the Person of His Holy Spirit, Now and as time is an illusion I feel freedom to share this with you and pray for openminds to consider my words <3 Peace

    • Sunil Sharma says:

      Hi Mark, thanks to tell jist of Gita in few words. Of course you are a Christian but what you said in your comment is the sole and whole message of all religions in different languages by different peoples at different times. Your comment belongs to Bible, Quran and other religious literature as well as Gita too. It is not a big matter to whom you pay your respect as the creator (or God), important is how much you are devoted to the creator and how you show it. Simply appreciable words…

      Sunil

  6. Valerie Carruthers Valerie Carruthers says:

    Since I joined so near the end, I'll be spending some time with the 16 part Gita talk. Then I'll be ready to ask questions or maybe offer "intelligent" suggestions. Gratitude for all you're doing, Bob, to make this magnificent text so available and user-friendly.

  7. For me, the underlying truth of these conclusive expressions is easily missed because the localized self can never be expanded to become "infinitely wondrous". By recognizing that we have based our identity on manifested things rather than upon the pure, limitless, unfathomable oneness that is beyond all things, we are no longer mistaken and we simply wake up. The localized self does not achieve this awakening. Awakening to the ultimate comes when the localized self is not longer "us" and is is finally understood as yet another object of perception. People of faith are beautiful because they surrender their smallness to The Divine, therefore, acknowledge the supremacy of The Supreme. People who embrace the non-personal silent inner core of divinity are beautiful because they surrender their entire identity to The Source. For me, the message of surrender is lively in the revered traditions of the world. Surrender rocks! ;)

  8. ARCreated says:

    I am divine. I am human. I experience the divine through my humanity. It is joy it is pain it is neither. It is all and nothing. It is yin and yang. We can seek or we can experience. all paths are one path. The gita reminds me to live my life plain and simple. To act with intention and release …Swaha if you will :) What i got the most was that these texts do not need to be set too high on a pedestal. They are amazing and inspiring but only if accessible to us…that we too are amazing and inspiring and that greatness is the act of being not in forcing and if we question our own divinity we diminish our greatness and that serves nothing and no one. I will continue to be who I am to love god in my way and now that all is revealed in its time.
    Thanks bob for being you as well. For taking the gita out of the sky and putting it in my heart. Love and Light

  9. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage. Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook.

  10. William Price says:

    Thank you for a stimulating experience, Bob and EJ!

  11. Emily Perry Emily Perry says:

    Thank you for the great series, once again. Reading the Gita had given me so much inspiration, and I carry it with me everyday… how can I act with a more courageous heart? am i following my dharma? Am I acting from the heart? Such a great series!

  12. chiara_ghiron says:

    Hi Bob

    I must admit ai was a bit disappointed in seeing that we are skipping the last chapters. Even if they were written by different authors, or at different times, I find they give a fantastic psycho-physiological explanation for the different Yoga paths.
    I see sublimation of rajasic nature reflected in karma and jnani yoga, for example, and perhaps tamas ultimately leading to bhakti.
    What I mean is that by following but then overcoming our nature we can reach the divine in the different but all valid ways which we have discussed make the Gita so universal.
    In fact something which always puzzled me was the almost disdainful attitude to tamasic nature that you can evince from the different translations/versions of the Gita. I struggle to understand why there would be a class A nature (sattva), class B (rajas) and class C (tamas). Especially if you compare these gunas to the ayurvedic doshas vatha pitta and kapha respectively – although I am not sure it is perfectly lecit to do so, but it is so tempting! – you see that what we need is a balance, and at least not negating one fundamental aspect of human nature.
    Any comments on this perspective?

    Another reason I was a bit unhappy with skipping these last chapters is that I feel that by dwelling and re-dwelling in only the other ones whe have become a bit stuck in the conversation and ideas, and recently there was a lot of 'feelgood' spirit in the threads without much actual commentary.
    But I enjoyed this initiative immensely, so thanks a million!!!!!

    • Hi, Chiara. I understand how my decision could be very disappointing to those who love Chapters 13-18. That's why I invited comments and hopefully even articles that would express the other side of this debate.

      I just know I'm not the one to write about these chapters because I agree with Mitchell and others.

      I hope someone else will step up and write an extended rebuttal, which I would be happy to publish as an article. I would love for everyone to be able to read a well-reasoned essay expressing the other point of view.

      Bob W. Editor, Elephant Journal
      Yoga Demystified
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    • Sunil Sharma says:

      Hi Chiara

      Satva, Rajas and Tamas are three natures of a living being. You can also define it as three nature of human mind. Satva is defined as good, generous, calm and peaceful state of mind in which he does good karmas, it thinks good and react good i.e. no harm to anyone, no anger for anyone, no worry for anything

      Tamas is opposite of Satva. Whatever i.e. worse, bad or harmful to anyone or all comes under tag of Tamas Guna. Simply you can say Tamas is main property of devil.

      Rajas Guna is different from both of Satva and Tamas. You can say if Satva and Tamas are two opposite peaks of human nature rajas is the balancing point between the two poles. It holds both characteristics creating a rational balance.

      In other words you can say, Satva is creator, Rajas is mentor and Tamas is destroyer of life regardless who follows which Guna. All of three are natural state of mind and it reacts accordingly. Perhaps you don’t know there is one more state of mind, i.e. Turiya or Sahaj or Moksha. Moksha is guna less state of mind. In Moksha mind goes beyond the three Gunas, Satva, Rajas and Tamas and merges into supreme consciousness, where there is no reaction, no thought, no karma. Moksha is a state where mind becomes thoughtlessness without losing its senses.

      Sunil

      • chiara_ghiron says:

        Thanks Sunil!!

        this clarifies things a bit, and especially shows that my analogy of the ayurvedic doshas and yogic gunas was not correct, since kapha is not a negative quality, differently from your description of tamas.
        And thanks for the comment on turiya. I had heard of it, but had not thought of it in relation to the gunas.

  13. chiara_ghiron says:

    Yes… I put my two cents on those chapters in my comment. Unfortunately I do not feel literate enough for an extended rebuttal, but the kernel of my thoughts is expressed there… hopefully somebody will comment/have other ideas on them.

    Thanks again for keeping the discussion alive!!!

    chiara

  14. sunyoga says:

    Dear Friends

    Russia is going to Ban Gita, do you favor it for more please read http://bit.ly/vnO9Zi.

  15. lincolnbriant says:

    Dear Bob,
    With all due respect to Stephen Mitchell, as I'm sure you know, the Bhagavad Gita is a part of the Mahabharat. It has been read and commented on by sages in India for thousands of years. It is also quoted from in other scriptures such as the Bhagavat Purana. We may like or not like a section of the Gita according to our own interests, but to deny the authenticity of this final third of this ancient revealed scripture cannot be supported by the living traditions of Guru parampara who have brought the Gita down to the present day. The entire 18 chapters have been commented upon by many great spiritually realized acaryas of antiquity such as sri Madhvacarya, sri Ramanujacarya, sri Sankaracarya and many others. The acceptance of the authenticity of the complete18 chapters of the Bhagavad Gita by these realized souls cannot be overlooked as evidence. The confirmation of Guru, Sastra and Sadhu is the standard authority for confirming Vedic knowledge.

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