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Bhagavad-gita :: Part I :: Four commentaries :: Sridhara Svamin

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Bhagavad-gita :: Part I :: Four commentaries
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Description
This file contains the first six chapters of the Gita with the four commentaries of Sridhara Swami, Madhusudana Saraswati, Vishwanath Chakravarti and Baladeva Vidyabhushan. Many improvements have been made on the previous edition, especially in updating the Madhusudana commentary. This was facilitated by reference to the Gita Supersite edition online.

I decided to split the work into three files to keep them at a reasonable size in the vicinity of one megabyte. A lot of references still have not been filled in, for which the indulgence and assistance of users is entreated.

Jagadananda Das.
Source texts
For Sridhar: With Shankara’s Bhashya, the Subodhini of Sridhara Svami, and Sarartha-varshini of Vishvanatha Chakravarti. (ed.) Punna Chandra Vishvasa. Calcutta, 1980.
Ffor Madhusudana: With Gudhartha-dipika Sanskrit commentary of Madhusudana Sarasvaté and Hindi commentary of Swami Sanatanadeva. Notes and introduction by Swami Yogindrananda Shastri. Third edition. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Sanskrit Sansthan, 1996. I also used the Gita Supersite, which added Madhusudana's commentary after most of this edition was already completed.
For Vishwanath and Baladeva: Sarartha-varshini of Vishvanatha Chakravarti and Gita-bhushana of Baladeva Vidyabhushana. (ed.) Krishnadasa. Kusumasarovara: 1956. For Vishwanath I also used the same edition as for Sridhar Swami.
Dates
Original written in: Unknown
Entry added: September 8th 2007
Entry updated: May 17th 2019
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Further notes
Introduction

I started this edition of the Gita in order to have the four related commentaries of Sridhar (Subodhini), Madhusudan Saraswati (Gudhartha-dipika), Vishwanath (Sarartha-varshini) and Baladeva (Gia-bhushanam) in one place. Sadhale’s edition has eleven full commentaries, but does not include any of these, which appear to form a kind of family with direct relationships between them. By placing these commentaries in one place, facility is given to future scholars who would wish to undertake the worthwhile task of making an in-depth comparison of them.
Sridhar Swami’s commentary was written in Orissa in the early 15th century. Madhusudana Saraswati was a contemporary of Jiva Goswami living in Benares in the latter half of the 16th century. Vishwanath Chakravarti lived in the latter part of the 17th century and Baladeva Vidyabhushan was his junior contemporary and student. The last two scholars belonged to the Chaitanya Vaishnava school, though they lived more than a century after the departure of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself. As such their commentaries are held in particularly great esteem by Gaudiya Vaishnavas and have been published many times by followers of that school..
Sridhar Swami, though an Advaita-vadin, was held in great regard by Chaitanya, especially for his commentary on the Bhagavata Purana. This respect for Sridhar arises out of his acknowledgement of the importance of bhakti and his sentimental feeling for Vishnu and his incarnations. His commentary, as its name indicates, is a simple gloss of the original text rather than a philosophical discourse based on the Gita, as is the case with Madhusudan..
Madhusudan Saraswati, a Bengali, lived in the post-Chaitanya period dominated by the Vaishnava bhakti movements. He also was an Advaita-vadin, renowned for numerous philosophical works, most notably Advaita-siddhi and Bhakti-rasäyana. Though in his introduction he gives prominence to Shankaracharya, it is clear that for his fundamental reading of the text, he owes as much, if not more, to Sridhar. He too shows a certain affection for Krishna and the bhakti tradition, quoting several times from the Bhagavata-purana, for instance, though his support for the Advaita doctrines is beyond any doubt. His best known verse comes at the conclusion of his commentary: .

vaMzI-vibhUshita-karAn nava-nIradAbhAt.
pItAmbarAd aruNa-bimba-phalAdharoSThAt |
pUrNendu-sundara-mukhAd aravinda-nAbhAt
kRSNAt paraM kim api tattvam ahaM na jAne ||
It is clear that Vishwanath and Baladeva made use of both these commentaries above any other, though Vishwanath does cite Ramanuja several times. For the general outline of their interpretations, they follow Sridhar fairly closely. Though neither follow Madhusudan’s monistic dissertations, they do occasionally use some of his insights. Vaishnavas may be surprised, for instance, to see that Vishwanath’s anecdote of a little bird trying to retrieve his eggs from the ocean at 6.23 has been plucked wholesale from Madhusudhan’s commentary, without acknowledgement.
Notable in their absence from the Gaudiya commentaries is any sign that the two authors had read the Gita through the interepretations of Madhvacharya, the founder of the Dvaita school of Vedanta, or Jayatirtha, his disciple. This is remarkable in view of the ostensible connection to the Madhva line latterly claimed by the Gaudiya school.
Vishwanath is generally concise and restricts his comments to elements that specifically distinguish the Gaudiya position, stressing the Bhagavatam as a source text. As usual, Vishwanath is occasionally highly original, though his inspiration comes from Rupa Goswami and Jiva Goswami, the theologians who established Gaudiya doctrine. Baladeva similarly stresses the Gaudiya understanding of theology, but gives a somewhat more detailed explanation of the verses, but drawing more exhaustively on the Upanishads and Vedanta to support the Gaudiya Vaishnava understanding.
In this edition, I have also included a few excerpts from other Gaudiya sources, particularly Jiva Goswami’s discussion of the concluding verses of the 18th chapter as found in the Krishna-sandarbha and Sarva-samvadini. It is my intention to compile an index of quoted verses as well as an index of Gita verses as found in Gaudiya texts, i.e., Chaitanya-charitamrita, the six Sandarbhas, etc.
References to cited texts have been made as far as possible. Madhusudan frequently quotes Gaudapada’s Kärikä, the Värtikä, and the Adhyätma-ramayana. Hopefully, these references will be filled in at a later date. Please excuse any errors made in the course of typing this volume.
sarveSAM viduSAM ca jJAnArthinAM ca kRSNa-bhaktimatAM api ca vinItaH sevA-cikIrSur anugraha-prArthI so’yaM jagadAnanda-dAsaH |

Jan Brzezinski, Aug. 2, 2002.


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