Moksha-Sanyaasa Yoga

Inane Interpolations in Bhagavad-Gita – 19

Continued from Previous Page

This chapter of 78 verses that deals with the aspects of human behaviour based on the three natures - virtue, passion, and delusion - and the path of selfless action, ends describing the relevance of, and the reverence to, the Gita. While v12 breaks the continuity between v11 and v13 with hyperbolic averments, V41- v48 that describe the allotted duties of man on the basis of his caste are clearly interpolations. In essence, the discourse till v40 is about the human nature and how it affects man and as can be seen, the duties on caste lines detailed in the said interpolations have no continuity of argument.

That apart, v56 combines what is stated in the preceding and the succeeding verses, and thus both are seemingly interpolations. As in earlier chapters, the text acquires continuity if only these verses are bypassed.

V61 avers that the Supreme dwells in humans and deludes them all by his maya. This is contrary to what is stated in Ch5, V14 ‘It’s his nature but not Spirit / Makes man act by wants induced’. Thus, V61 clearly is an interpolation as it contravenes the neutrality of the Supreme Spirit in the affairs of man affirmed throughout by Krishna.

Now scanning the text in the light of the above, first of all, one can note how v12 breaks the continuity between v11 and v13 with hyperbolic averments.

Ch18, V11

Needs one work to sustain life
Relinquients avoid, overloads all

na hi deha-bhritaa shakyam tyaktum karmaany asheshatah
yas tu karma-phala-tyaagisa tyaagity abhidhiyate


anishtam ishtam mishram cha tri-vidham karmanah phalam
bhavaty atyaaginaam pretya na tu sannyaasinaam kvachit

The three-fold fruits of actions—pleasant, unpleasant, and mixed—accrue even after death to those who are attached to personal reward. But, for those who renounce the fruits of their actions, there are no such results in the here or hereafter.

Ch18, V13

Factors five all deeds engulf
Know them well to free thyself

panchaitaani mahaa-baaho kaaranaani nibodha me
saankhye kritaante proktaani siddhaye sarva-karmanaam

Hence, v12 as above is an interpolation; moreover it can be seen that the discourse till v40 is about the human nature and how it affects man thus:

Ch18, V36

Make a note of these three ways
Pains which banish ’n fetch bliss.

sukham tv idaanim tri-vidham shrinu me bharatarshabha
abhyaasaad ramate yatra duhkhaantam cha nigachchhati

Ch18, V37

What fail sprint ’n serve long run
Virtuous know keep woes at bay.

yat tad agre visham iva parinaame mritopamam
tat sukham saattvikam proktam aatma-buddhi-prasaada-jam

Ch18, V38

It’s the way with thy passion
To jump at all that what might tempt
Which would turn sour in due course.

vishayendriya-sanyogaad yat tad agre mritopamam
parinaame visham iva tat sukham raajasam smritam

Ch18, V39

Ever in day-dreams
End up deluded in dreamlands.

yad agre chaanubandhe cha sukham mohanam aatmanah
nidraalasya-pramaadottham tat taamasam udaahritam

Ch18, V40

Beyond the pale of these natures
None ever exists in three worlds.

na tad asti pá¹›ithivyaam vaa divi deveshu vaa punah

sattvam prakriti-jair muktam yad ebhih syaat tribhir gunaih

Then, like a bolt from the blue appear the following that describe the allotted duties of man on the basis of his caste with which the readers are already familiar with.


braahmana-kshatriya-vishaam shudraanaam cha parantapa
karmaani pravibhaktaani svabhaava-prabhavair gunaih

The duties of the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras—are distributed according to their qualities, in accordance with their guṇas


shamo damas tapah shaucham kshaantir aarjavam eva cha
jnaanam vijnaanam aastikyam brahma-karma svabhaava-jam

Tranquility, restraint, austerity, purity, patience, integrity, knowledge, wisdom, and belief in a hereafter—these are the intrinsic qualities of work for Brahmins.


shauryam tejo dhritir daakshyam yuddhe chaapy apalaayanam
daanam ishvara-bhaavash cha kshaatram karma svabhaava-jam

Valor, strength, fortitude, skill in weaponry, resolve never to retreat from battle, large-heartedness in charity, and leadership abilities, these are the natural qualities of work for Kshatriyas.


krishi-gau-rakshya-vaanijyam vaishya-karma svabhaava-jam
paricharyaatmakam karma shudrasyaapi svabhaava-jam

Agriculture, dairy farming, and commerce are the natural works for those with the qualities of Vaishyas. Serving through work is the natural duty for those with the qualities of Shudras.

Having, stipulated the discriminatory caste code, now the interpolators show the carrot and stick to ghettoize the menial at the social fringes thus:


sve sve karmany abhiratah sansiddhim labhate narah
sva-karma-niratah siddhim yathaa vindati tach chhrinu

By fulfilling their duties, born of their innate qualities, human beings can attain perfection. Now hear from me how one can become perfect by discharging one’s prescribed duties.


Yatah pravrittir bhutaanaam yena sarvam idam tatam
sva-karmanaa tam abhyarchya siddhim vindati maanavah

By performing one’s natural occupation, one worships the Creator from whom all living entities have come into being, and by whom the whole universe is pervaded. By such performance of work, a person easily attains perfection.


shreyaan swa-dharmo vigunah para-dharmaat sv-anushthitaat
svabhaava-niyatam karma kurvan naapnoti kilbisham

It is better to perform one’s own duty, even imperfectly, rather than indulge in another’s work perfectly for by doing one’s innate work, a person does not incur sin.

Indeed, the last verse is nothing but a rehash of Ch3, V35, lo, with the same opening line, and it should not be lost on any that this inimical proposition figured the third chapter, the first of the fouled chapters, as well as in the concluding chapter, lest one should forget the rule.

Ch3, V35

shreyaan swa-dharmo vigunah para-dharmaat sv-anushthitaat
swa-dharme nidhanam shreyah para-dharmo bhayaavahah

It is far better to perform one’s natural prescribed duty, though tinged with faults, than to perform another’s prescribed duty, though perfectly. In fact, it is preferable to die in the discharge of one’s duty, than to follow the path of another, which is fraught with danger.

Now, in this dissection of digressions is this digression –

In the Gita ‘as it is’, apart from the above Ch3,V35 –Ch18,V47 set of common first-liners, there are three more with the same or nearly same opening lines, and they are -

A) Ch 6, V15 ‘n V28 - yunjann evam sadaatmaanam yogi niyata-maanasah and yunjann evam sadaatmaanam yogi vigata-kalmashah - the former, as already seen, being an interpolation.

B) Ch9, V34 ‘n Ch18, V65 - man-manaa bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaaji maam namaskuru and man-manaa bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaaji maam namaskuru, as already noted, the former being an interpolation

C) Ch16, V7 ‘n Ch18, V30 - pravrittim cha nivrittim cha janaa na vidur aasuraah and pravrittim cha nivrittim cha kaaryaakaarye bhayaabhaye, both being above board.

Now back to the subject matter with a reiteration of what was stated in v47, just in case.


saha-jam karma kaunteya sa-dosham api na tyajet
sarvaarambhaa hi doshena dhumenaagnir ivaavritaah

One should not abandon duties born of one’s nature, even if one sees defects in them, O son of Kunti. Indeed, all endeavors are veiled by some evil, as fire is by smoke.

Putting the caste-centric interpolations behind, the Gita regains its luster with

Ch19, V49

With no want
Allegiant to none,
Freed from action
Thou forsake.

asakta-buddhih sarvatra jitaatmaa vigata-sprihah
naishkarmya-siddhim paramaam sannyaasenaadhigachchhati

Ch18, V50

Leads how forsake to Brahman
Know that Wisdom Supreme now

siddhim praapto yathaa brahma tathaapnoti nibodha me
samaasenaiva kaunteya nishthaa jnaanasya yaa paraa

but only to lose it shortly thereafter.


sarva-karmaany api sadaakurvaano mad-vyapaashrayah
mat-prasaadaad avaapnoti shaashvatam padam avyayam

My devotees, though performing all kinds of actions, take full refuge in me. By my grace, they attain the eternal and imperishable abode.

As can be seen from the following, in the above verse is combined what is stated in the preceding (Ch18, V55) and the succeeding (Ch18, V57) verses, and thus is an interpolation.

Ch18, V55

It’s then one would know Me true
That tends him to be one with Me.

bhaktyaa maam abhijaanaati yaavaan yash chaasmi tattvatah
tato maam tattvato jnaatvaa vishate tad-anantaram

Ch18, V57

Let thy faith in Me be strong
Take Me thou for thy shelter
And ever thee act as My agent

chetasaa sarva-karmaani mayi sannyasya mat-parah
buddhi-yogam upaashritya mach-chittah satatam bhava

Now, over to,


ishvarah sarva-bhutaanaam hrid-deshe rjuna tishthati
bhraamayan sarva-bhutaani yantraarudhaani maayayaa

The Supreme Lord dwells in the hearts of all living beings, O Arjun. According to their karmas, he directs the wanderings of the souls, who are seated on a machine made of the material energy,

which is contrary to

Ch5, V14

It’s his nature, but not Spirit

Makes man act by wants induced.

na kartritvam na karmaani lokasya srijati prabhuh
na karma-phala-sanyogam svabhaavas tu pravartate.

Thus, clearly this v61 too is an interpolation as it contravenes the neutrality of the Supreme Spirit in the affairs of man affirmed throughout the text.

Finally, after deliberating upon this proposition, if one comes to the conclusion that the Gita is a work of Vyasa’s genius rather than Lord Krishna revelation, for after all it is the quintessence of the Upanishads, Brahma Sutras, and the Yoga Sastra – all works of man- then, its concluding verse meant to impart divinity to it is an interpolation.

Ch18, V78

Wherever yogic Lord Krishna
Joins hands with great Paartha
Goddess Victory, spreads carpet
Heaven on earth to set there ever

tach cha sansmá¹›itya samsmá¹›itya rupam aty-adbhutam hareh
vismayo ye mahaan raajan hrishyaami cha punah punah

May this ‘invocation’ paraphrase Krishna’s advice to Arjuna,

Ch18, V63

That thee heard of this wisdom
For task on hand now apply mind

iti te jnaanam aakhyaatam guhyaad guhyataram mayaa
vimá¹›ishyaitad asheshena yathechchhasi tathaa kuru,

for it to end,
Having perused all of this
Apply mind to grasp it well
To take a call on what is right



More by :  BS Murthy

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