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Sri Alawandar"s Geethartha Sangraham (GS)

From: V. Sadagopan (75041.3037_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Tue Nov 07 1995 - 17:09:04 PST

Dear Members of the Prapatti Group:

Among the source  documents for Prapatti , Lord Krishna"s Gita occupies a very
special place. It is generally recognized that the Bhagavat Gita is one of the
greatest "spiritual and metaphysical  scriptures " of the world.It comments on
abstruse Vedantic principles in a lucid and satisfactory manner. It is
structured in the form of a dialog between Lord Krishna and Arjuna prior to the
start of the great  war at Kurukshetram  between Pandavas and Kauravas. There
are 700 verses in Gita that are enshrined in 18 chapters. Among the 700 verses,
Lord Krishna accounts for 572  of them; the remaining 128 are associated with
Arjuna (85) ,Sanjaya(42) and King Drithirashtra (1).

The Message of Lord Krishna
**********************************
 The illustrious message thatr Lord Krishna as Parthasarathy gave to Arjuna in
the battlefield teaches  us clearly  and completely all that is needed to lead a
throroughly fulfilled and righteous life.The message expounded by  Geethaachryan
contains invaluble teachings relevant to overcome the various crisis and
dilemmas associated with all stages of Human spiritual development. Lord Krishna
used Arjuna as a medium to bless us all with His teachings,that are global in
scope and   all -encompassing in content to obtain practical solutions  for our
every day problems. Through His short discourse enshrined in Gita, Our Lord
taught us in a quintessential manner ,the Universal Science of Life. He analyzed
for us brilliantly and convincingly the nature of Human life and its recurring
problems ; He did not stop only with an analysis of the problems of Life,but
also as a compassionate Acharyan  taught us an elegant way to overcome the
powerful problems that we  encounter in all stages of our life on this Earth.

Prapatti  Message 
*********************
The powerful message of Lord  Krishna comes at the very end of Gita and is found
as the 688th verse among  the 700 verses of  the Bhagavad Gita:

SARVA DHARMAN PARITYAJYA  MAAMEKAM CHARANAM VRAJA I
AHAM TVAM SARVA PAPEPYOH MOKSHISHAYAMI MAA SUCHA:  II

The Lord's message contained in the above profound verse is the Charanagathi
method, which is also known as Prapatti Dharma, Bhara Nyaasam, Atma Nikshepanam
or Self-Surrender.

Up to the 688th verse, Lord Krishna explained to Arjuna the different  concepts,
that lead to God Realization and liberation for  the cycles of Births and
Deaths.These concepts  relate to Karma Yoga, Gyana Yoga and Bhakthi Yoga as
sound routes to attain Moksham  or liberation form the cycles of Births and
deaths. Arjuna listened carefully and realized his incompetence and powerlesness
to practise any of the above three Yogas to attain Moksha siddhi and despaired
about his inadequacies as a practioner. Lord Krishna out of His infinite mercy
for Arjuna  and all of us, then taught the secret of the easy -to-practise
Prapatti Yoga thru the 688th verse.After that Lord Krishna assured Arjuna that
there  was no reason for Arjuna to despair over the enormous difficulties in
practising Karma or Gyana or Bhakthi Yoga to receive His blessings. Our
compassionate Lord asured Arjuna that the boons of Moksham are  assured ,when
latter followed the Prapatti margam. He asked Arjuna to discard all his sorrows
resulting from his  anxieties about the certainity of salvation.Sri Krishna
reveals to Arjuna that the full responsibility of saving him AFTER Prapatti is
HIS ,befitting His duties as the supreme Lord of the Universe(Sarveswaran). He
asks Arjuna to perform the Prapatti and then cast  aside ALL of his doubts  and
to become possessed by unshakablle and complete  faith
(Maha Viswasam) in HIM  as Sarveswaran to save him. Lord Krishna points out that
Prapatti is an instantaneous act (Kshana Kartavyam) and is totally different
from the other three routes of reaching Him.He states that the Karma, Gyana  and
Bhakti Yoga routes are ardous to practise and it takes too long to realize the
desired  goals  of Moksham.

           Sri Geethaacharyan asks Arjuna to cast away ALL doubts about
realizing  the FULL  fruits of
Prapatti and assures him that there is nothing to worry anymore about his status
as Mukta Prapanna thru the last paadam of His sacred Charama slokam(Maa Sucha:).
We have thus the quintessence of  Gita"s message in the Charama Slokam.

The Visishtadvaita intrepretation of Bhagavad Gita 
**********************************************************
   Inview of the sacred and the timeless nature of the profound message of Lord
Krishna enshrined in the Gita , the Acharyas  of the three different
philosophies of Vedantha--Sri Adi Sankara, Sri Ramanuja and Sri Madhvacharya--
and the other  teachers that followed them have written commentaries on Gita.
Sri Sankara"s commentary follows the Advitic doctrine,which holds that Brahman
is the "only true really-existing being  and  all the rest are illusory." Sri
Ramanuja"s commentary is based on the Visishtadvaita philosophy ,which teaches
that "the sentient souls(Jeevas) and the nonsentient objects (Achetana) are as
real as Brahman", but the Jevans and the Achetana  are attributes or Viseshana
of the Parabrahman and are not independent of the Parabrahman as the Dvaitins
believe. Sri Ananda Teertha (Sri Madhvaacharya)  has intrepreted Gita in the
light of Dvaita philosophy ,which teaches that Sri Krishna(Hari) is the supreme
being  and that the Jeevas are real and absolutely distinct from HIM , the
Parabrahman.

         It is amazing that the terse message outlined in Gita could be used by
the three   Acharyas of three distinctly different Vedic philosophies to find
support for their individual points of view  and to establish their
siddhanthams.We will not  attempt  any comparitive evaluation of the three
intrepretations here.In this essay, we shall  focus on the Visishtadvaita
approach .  The predecessor of Ramanuja by the name of  Sri Alavandaar was the
first one to  condens the profound messages of the 18 chapters of Gita. He used
THIRTY TWO Verses to accomplish htis task. His work is known as GITAARTHA
SANGRAHAM(GS). Ramanuja wrote a commentary on Gita along the lines established
by Alavandaar. Swami Desikan continued that  tradition.His commentary on Gita
is known as Taatparya Chandrikai. This  was  a comparitive, critical  evaluation
to establish that Ramanuja's exposition in the Visishtadvaita tradition  was the
most consistent one with the true message  of Lord Krishna in  Gita.Swami
Desikan also blessed us with a commentary in Sanskrit on Alavandar"s GS and
named it " GS Raksha". For the benefit of the Tamil speaking followers, Swami
Desikan created yet another commentary  on GS . This Tamil version has 21 verses
to summarize the 32 verses that Alavandaar used to summarize the essence of the
18 chapters of Gita .

We shall quote the individual verses of Alavandaar"s GS and elaborate on them in
the light of  Swami Desikan's Tamil work on GS ,which is a part of his  Desika
Prabhandam compendium.

V.Sadagopan