Sunday, July 31, 2016

Introduction of Madhusūdana Sarasvatī’s Gūḍārtha Dīpikā, a unique commentary on Bhagavad Gītā

Update: 01/08/2016. Verses 8 and 9 are corrected. 'Thou' is correctly translated to 'tvam' and 'that' to 'tat'.

Intro of Madhusūdana Sarasvatī’s Gūḍārtha Dīpikā, a commentary on Bhagavad Gītā

Short intro about the author Madhusūdan Sarasvatī

Madhusūdan Sarasvatī (MS) is a well known, celebrated and respected name in the dvaita-advaita debates. MS was a great Kṛṣṇa bhakta and an ardent Advaitin. MS combined Bhakti and Jñāna for common man. MS is also credited to create a military monk organization or martial monk otraining centers known as Nāgā Sādhu akhārā-s in order to save Hindus and Pundits from persecution of Muslim clerics. MS has written many popular works defending Advaita and giving clarity on advaita concepts Few of his works are advaita-siddhi, siddhanta-bindu, bhakti-rasāyaṇa, Sivamanimna stotra-ṭikā and the celebrated commentary on Gītā known as Guḍhārtha Dīpikā. Dīpikā means annotations on the original verse or commentary. His commentary is considered unique and close to original meaning, not highly influenced by any other āchārya or taking concepts from a pūrvāchārya. MS in the beginning of intro of Gītā Bhāshya salutes Ādi Śankarāchārya jī in most reverential terms and declares that only after thoroughly studying āchārya’s (Ādi Śankara’s) bhāshya, he has composed his Dīpikā. MD has virtually explained every word of Gītā. Most of the explanations that we hear from the discourses on Gīta done with monks following Advaita tradition are influenced by MS’s works. Introduction to Gītā is very important and clears many doubts, gives clarity about the spiritual path as taught in Gītā. Hence it is very important to read, understand and digest his introduction. To me, this introduction is an essence of Gītā. 

Further Information about MS can be found by reading ‘Bhagavad Gītā with Annotation of Madhusūdan Sarasvatī’s Gudhārtha Dīpikā’ by Swami Gambhirananda of Ramakrishna Math or by visitng following links

Note: In the beginning, sanskrit words in shown in italics for easy identification and reading. Later on, they may not be shown in italics, as reader is expected to be well acquinted with them.

|| Hari OM ||

|| Śrī Kṛṣṇa Parabrahmāpaṇamastu ||


OM ! Salutation to Rāmachandra who is possessed of divine qualities, the nectar - in the form of Consciousness - issuing from whose lotus-feet is enjoyed by the monks of the highest class (parama-haṁsa-s), and who resides in the minds of devotees.


1. After having assiduosly delibrated on the meaning of the Commentary of the venerable one (Śrī Ādi Śankarāchārya jī), I write this elucidation, called Gūdhārtha-Dīpikā (Exposition of the Subtle meanings), of almost every word of the Gītā.

2. It has been said that the purpose of the scripture Gītā is absolute Liberation, which consists in the complete cessation of transmigration together with its causes.

3. That is the supreme state of Viṣṇu which is identical with absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss (sat-chit-ānada), for the attainment of which the Veda-s, consisting of three parts, have commenced.

4. The three parts succesfully stand for rites, meditation and enlightenment. In confirmity with them, the Gītā, consisting of eighteen chapters, has three sections.

5. Here (in the Gītā) each section of six (chapters) should be understood as referring to one part (of the Veda-s). Karma, i.e. Steadfastness in Action (rites and duties) and Jñāna i.e. steadfast in Knowledge are taught in the first and the last (sections).

6. Since the two cannot be combined because of their extreme opposition, therefore bhakti i.e. steadfastness in devotion to the Lord has been declared in the middle.

7. As that devotion is inherent in both of them, therefore it removes all the obstacles. That (devotion) is of three kinds – mixed with rites, pure, and mixed with Knowledge.

8. There again, in the first section, the pure Self meant by the word ‘thou’ i.e. ‘tat’ (in ‘Thou are That’, ‘tat tvam asi’ Ch. 6.8.6) is ascertained rationally through the Path of Action and its renunciation.

9. In the second (section), by way of describing steadfastness in devotion to God, is ascertained the meaning of the word ‘That’ i.e. ‘tvam’ as the Lord who is supreme Bliss.

10. And in the third is presented clearly the meaning of the sentence (‘Thou art That’ ‘Tat tvam asi’) as the identity of the two. Thus, here (in the Gītā) also there is an interconnection among the (three) sections.

11. The speciality of each chapter, however, will be spoken of in the respective dchapters themselves. These (following) steps in the disciplines for the Liberation are being presented as the purpose of the scripture (Gītā).

12. (The first step is) the performance of selfless work (niṣkāma-karma) by rejecting rites and duties meant for personal gain (kāmya-karma) and the prohibited actions (niṣiddha-karma). There again, the highest merit lies in repeating the name (japa) of and praising (the Lord) Hari.

13. When after the dissipation of sins from the mind it becomes fit for discrimination, then there arises a firm discrimination between the permanent and the transient.

14. Gradually follows detachment from things here or here-after, called vaśīkāra[1] (vairāgya, detachment, dispassion) (complete control over the mind and the organs). Then, through the perfection of śama (curbing or controlling mind) etc.,[2] renunciation becomes fully established.[3]

[1] Vairāgya, detachment, is of two kinds, para (superior) and apara (inferior). The later is classified under four heads - yatamāna, vyatireka, ekendriya and vaśīkāra.

[2] Four qualities or purushārtha-s as mentioned in Viveka Chūḍāmaṇi are

  1. Viveka – discrimination between real and unreal, nitya and anitya
  2. Vairāgya – dispassion obtained through proper understanding or discrimination i.e. viveka
  3. Ṣaṭ-sampatti – six qualities śama, dama, uparati, titikṣā and shraddhā, samādhāna
    1. śama – restrain or control of mind i.e. control over thoughts and emotions
    2. dama – restrain of sense organs – seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling and tasting. One knows any objects using five senses.
    3. uparati – Reaching a saturation point i.e. getting tired of mind running behind sense objects or peace and happiness. Keeping mind and sensing under control and not let them drift them back to sense objects.
    4. titikṣā – endurance, to stay neutral with likes and dislikes.
    5. śraddhā – Faith (in yourself, guru, Īśvara and śāstra-s).
    6. samādhāna – concentration of mind. To stay focussed on goal and be satisfied in communion with Brahman or Īśvara. Never let youself get astray from your goal.
  4. mumukṣutva – Burning desire for Liberation.

[3] A different reading is sannyāse niṣṭhito bhavet: one shold become fully established in renunciation.

15. Thus, from the renunciation of all things springs the firm hankering for Liberation. From that follows approaching a teacher, and from that the receiving of instructions.

16. Thereafter follows śravaṇa (hearing and understanding of Vedānta) etc for the elimination of doubt. In this matter the whole of the Uttara-mimāṁsā (Vedānta) scripture becomes useful.

17. Thereafter, through the perfection of that follows nidhidhyāsana (profound meditation, comtemplation-nidhidhyāsana is not dhyāna). The whole of the Yoga scripture, indeed gets its purpose fulfilled at this stage.

18. As a result, when the mind becomes freed from all the defects there arises the Knowledge of Reality from (hearing) the (Upaniṣadic) sentence (‘Thou art That’ i.e. ‘tat tvam asi’). From the word (of the Upaniṣad) itself springs Unitive Vision (i.e. immediate Knowledge of the identity of Brahman and the Self).

19. As for the complete eradication of neiscence (ajñāna), that occurs on the rise of the Knowledge of Reality (tatva-jñāna). Then, when the covering or veil of neiscence (ajñāna) is removed, error an doubt become dispelled.

20. Through the power of the Knowledge of Reality (tattva-jñāna) the results of actions (done in past lives) (karma-phala), that have not commenced bearing fruit (anārabdha or saṅchita karma [4]) get wholly descriyed, to be sure, and the results of actions (done in the present life after after the dawn of Knowledge) that are to bear fruit in the future (āgāmīnī or āgāmī karma [4]) do not accure.

21. But, because of the disturbance created by the results of actions that have started bearing fruit (prārabhdha [4]), vāsanā (past impression, dissatisfied desire) does not get destroyed. That is eliminated through saṁyama (meaning explained in next verse) the strongest of all (the disciplines).

[4] sañchita-karma: karma done in past lives stored in mind. (ref BG 2.55)

sañchita-karma-phala: fruits of sañchita karma

prārabhdha-karma: karma in past lives, whose fruits is to be bored in this life. A person takes birth to pass through the fruits of prārabhdha karma.

āgāmī-karma: karma done in present life, whose fruits are yet to materialize. In case of jñānī, āgāmī karma does not arise at all, as a jñānī does not do sakāma karma i.e. his karma are not a reaction to any situation, but extinguishing of prārabhdha karma. Work done by jñānī does not yield any result as a jñānī is a witness and not a doer, he does not have to suffer to fruits of karma anymore.

22. The five disciplines, viz. Yama (restraint), etc. (P.Y.Sū 2.29) [5], practised before become conducive to that saṁyama, which is the triad consisting of dhāraṇā (concentration), dhyāna (meditation), and samādhi (absorption, merging in Brahman). (See P.Y.Ṣū 3.1-4)

[5] In Patanjali Yoga Sūtra-s P.Y.Sū 2.29, eight disciplines or limbs are mentioned mentioned. Amongst eight, first five involve physical activity. This means they are of external nature, while rest three (dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi) are purely mental. Hence last three are of internal or mental nature. Five restrains or disciplines are basic foundation pillars upon which later three rests. Amongst these five, the first one Yama (restrain) is very importance and first one to be practised. There are five types of restrains are mentioned in Interestingly, these five fundamental disciplines are commented on by the great Maharṣhi Veda Vyāsa in his commentary on P.Y.Sū 3.30. In later verse P.Y.Sū 3.32 five niyama-s (observences) are mentioned. In other verses in this chapter, explanation related to these 8 disciplines are further elucidated. All explanations are adapted from Bhagavān Veda Vyāsa commentary on P.Y.Sūtra-s. When not quoted, certain parts of explanation are adopted.

Eight disciplines or puruśārtha-s are

  1. Yama – Five restraints. Five restrains as mentioned in P.Y.Sū 2.29 are -
    1. Ahiṁsā – Non-violence. Absention from harming others even mentally. Benovelence. Bhagavān Veda Vyāsa says - “Benovelence consists in frēdom from ill-will against all beings at all times and in all ways”.
    2. Satya – Truthfulness. Bhagavān Veda Vyāsa says - “Truthfulness consists in thought and speech being in strict accord with the reality of things; that is to say, what one thinks and speaks is in strict accordance with what he has actually perceived or inferred or heard. Speech is used for conveing one’s own knowledge to others; if then, this speech is not deceptive or mistaken or unintelligible, (then it is ‘truthful’); but it is so only when it is used for benefiting all living beings, not when it is used for injuring them”.
    3. Asteya – Non-Stealing. Abstinence from false-hood, inappropriation. Obtaining things in a manner not sanctioned in scriptures.
    4. Brahmacharya – Chastity, Celebacy, sexual restrain.
    5. Aparigrahāḥ – Restrain of or Freedom from Greed, Avarice. Bhagavān Veda Vyāsa says - “Freedom from Avarice consists in not seeking to acquire things. - on account of realising the fact that such acquisition is beset with evils involved in the acquisition, protection and destruction of the things, attachment to them and ill-will (against rivals).
  2. Niyama – Five Observances. Five observances as mentioned in P.Y.Sū 3.32 are-
    1. Śaucha - Cleanliness. Cleanliness is external and internal. External involves cleaning physical body with soap, clay water, etc and cleaning internal body parts by various kriya-s like nauli, etc or by de-toxification procedures. While internal consists of purifying mind or discarding impurities of mind.
    2. Santoṣa – Contentment, Satisfaction. “Contention consists of not desiring to obtain anything more than one has already got” - says Bhagavān Veda Vyāsa.
    3. Tapaḥ – Austerity, intense effort, constant practice. ‘Suffering pair of opposites’ like -hunger and thirst, heat and cold, sitting and standing, etc. Austerity also includes passing through fasting penances like chāndrāyaṇa says Bhagavān Veda Vyāsa. As per Sri Ramana Maharshi, tapa is to merge (laya of mind) in the origin of mantra.
    4. Svādhyāya – Self-Study. Bhagavān Veda Vyāsa says - “Reading scriptures dealing with Liberation and repeating of praṇava mantra OM”
    5. Īṣvara-praṇidhāna – Worship of Īṣvara or Self Surrender. Devotion to God.
  3. Āsana – postures. Postures help strengthen body and make it fit to sit for long hours in meditation. They also help kēp body healthy.
  4. Prāṇāyama – Control of prāṇa by will or by controlling breath (breath regulation).
  5. Pratyāhāra – Withdrawal of the mind from sense objects. Abstraction.
  6. Dhāraṇā - Concentration. Concentrate on prāṇa, kuṇḍalini or mantra or form of Īśvara (Īshvara) with goal to unite prāṇa, kuṇḍalini with paramātmā or merge in the origin of mantra or form of Īśvara.
  7. Dhyāna – Meditation on the supreme Brahman or Paramātmā.
  8. Samādhi – Adsorption in Brahman / Ātman / Paramātmān / Īshvara tatva

23. However, absorption (samāhi) is quickly accomplished through special devotion of God. From that follows mano-nāśa (desctruction of mind) and vāsanā-kṣaya (destruction or dissipation of past impressions, desires).

24. Tatva-jñāna (Knowledge of Reality), mano-nāśa (desctruction of mind) and vāsanā-kṣaya (destruction or dissipation of past impressions, desires) -when these three are practised together. Liberation while still alive (jīvanmukti) becomes firm.

25. Total renunciation of all actions as a results of enlightenment (vidvat-sanyāsa) is mentioned in the Upaniṣad-s for this purpose - that there may be effort for comtemplating that very part (among those three) which remained incomplete before.

26. When the mind is first held back fully from fluctiations by means of savikalpa-samādhi, there occurs in it the nirvikalpa-samādhi[6], which has three levels.

[6] Savikapla-samādhi is a state of consciousness where one is aware of distinction of knower of unity of God and devotee.

Nirvikapla-samādhi transcends this feeling and none other that Atman or Brahman exists.

27. In the first the person awakes (from nirvikapla-samādhi) by himself, (and) in the second he is awakened by others. In the last he is does not awake at all; he remains ever absorbed in it.

28. He who has become such a Brāhmaṇa (knower of Brahman) is the foremost amongst the expounders of Vedānta. He is spoken of as having gone beyond guṇa-s, a man of steady Wisdom (sthita-prajña), and a devotee of Viṣṇu.

29. (He is) also (called) a transcender of the castes and stages of life, one who is liberated while still alove (jīvanmukta), and a delighter (only) in the Self. The scriptures keep away from such a person because of his being self-fulfilled.

30-31. On the authority of the Upaniṣadic text, ‘He who has supreme devotion to Īshvara (God), and equal devotion to the guru, to him, indeed, to the great-souled one (pure-souled one), these sibject-matters that have been spoken of become revealed’ (Śv. Up. 6.23) etc., it follows that devotion to Īshvara (God) with body, mind and speech, under all conditions, becomes useful in this context.

32. The devotion cultivated in the preceding stage leads to the next stage. Otherwise, attainment of success is very difficult owing to the abundance of obstacles.

33. And there are the words of Hari: ‘Verily, by that past habit itself he is carried forward, even in spite of himself!’, ‘...attaining perfection through many births, (thereby achieves the highest Goal)’ ( B.G. 6.44-45, etc)

34-35. If, however, owing to the unpredictability of the impressions acquired earlier (in past lives) i.e. (vāsanā-s of past lives, as a result of meritious sachita-karma-phala), someone becomes self-fulfilled in the beginning itself, like the dropping of a fruit from the sky, then the scriptures cannot be accepted as having been promulgated for him, because they have already served their purpose. The grace of God that descends as a concequence of persistence in the disciplines that were perfected in the previous lives is inscrutable!

36. Although the preceding stage is thus acquired, devotion to Īshvara (God), should still be cultivated for later stages. They cannot be attained without that (devotion).

37. But in the state of being liberated while still alive, (jīvanmukti), no ‘result of devotion’ is to be imagined: Adoring Hari is natural to them, like their being devoid of hate, etc.

38. Such is the greatness of Hari (Viṣṇu) that, though free from bondage, the sages, who delight (only) in the Self, render spontaneous devotion to Viṣṇu (Bhāgavat Purāṇa - B.P 1.7.10.)

39. According to the verse (of Gītā), ‘Of them the man of Knowledge (jñānī) excels since he is endowned with constant steadfastness and onepointed devotion’, etc (B.G. 7.17), this one who is full of loving devotion is declared to be the highest (best amonst all four types of devotees).

40. All this has been revealed by the Lord in the scripture Gītā. Therefore my mind is intensely eager to explain this scripture (śāstra) i.e. Gītā.

41-42. Performance of selfless work (niṣkāma-karma) is declared to be the root cause of Liberation, and the hinderances to it are the demonical sins such as sorrow etc, from which follow deviation from one’s natural duty, recourse to what is prohibited, or action performed with selfish motive or egoism.

43. Being thus ever under the influence of the demonical sins, a person becomes unfit for gaining the human Goal and suffers a series of afflictions (pain).

44. Pain is naturally repulsive to all the living beings in this world. Therefore sorrow, delusion, etc., which are its (pain’s) causes, should always be shunned.

45-46. The Lord has uttered this most esteemed Scripture with a view to enlightening a person who, being filled with this desire to know the means of eradicating sorrow, delusion, etc, which are inherent in the beginningless chain of mundane existence, and which are the causes of affliction and difficult to be got rid of, has become eager to attain the highest human Goal (puruṣārtha)

|| Śrī Kṛṣṇa Parabrahmārpaṇamastu ||

|| Hari OM ||

Source and Credits: 

1) ‘Bhagavad Gītā with Annotation of Madhusūdan Sarasvatī’s Gudhārtha Dīpikā’ by Swami Gambhirananda of Ramakrishna Math

2) Patanjali Yoga Sutras - Swami Prabhavananda of Ramakrishna Mission
3) Yoga Darshan - Sutras of Patanjali with Bhashya of Vyasa - Ganganath Jha
4) Kriya Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Siddhas - Marshall Govindan

No comments:

Featured Post

Introduction of Madhusūdana Sarasvatī’s Gūḍārtha Dīpikā, a unique commentary on Bhagavad Gītā

Update: 01/08/2016. Verses 8 a nd 9 are corrected. 'Thou' is correctly translated to 'tvam' and 't hat...