After studying an early translation of the Bhagavad-Gita, Sir Edwin Arnold cites Schlegel’s grateful adoration to its unknown author,
. . . by whose oracles the mind is snatched with a certain ineffable pleasure towards everything lofty, eternal and divine.
Hundreds of subsequent translations in English alone are not only telling testimony to the Gita’s universal appeal and profound influence in the West; they also concede the inadequacy of modern vocabularies as they lack in density of expression, field of meanings, and the dignity that Sanskrit bestowed to the original text.
WQ Judge’s recension, marked by his own purity and integrity, has been chosen as the standard of all quotations from the Gita in this chapter and throughout the book. But when he wrote of AP Sinnett’s Esoteric Buddhism that “nearly all the leading portions of the [secret] doctrine are to be found broadly stated in the Bhagavad-Gita,” 3 HP Blavatsky, in her capacity as editor of The Theosophist, did not believe that the “American brother” was justified in his remarks:
The knowledge given out in Esoteric Buddhism is, most decidedly, “given out for the first time,” inasmuch as the allegories that lie scattered in the Hindu sacred literature are now for the first time clearly explained to the world of the profane. Since the birth of the Theosophical Society and the publication of Isis, it is being repeated daily that all the Esoteric Wisdom of the ages lies concealed in the Vedas, the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. Yet, unto the day of the first appearance of Esoteric Buddhism, and for long centuries back, these doctrines remained a sealed letter to all but a few initiated Brahmans who had always kept the spirit of it to themselves. The allegorical text was taken literally by the educated and the uneducated, the first laughing secretly at the fables and the latter falling into superstitious worship, and owing to the variety of the interpretations — splitting into numerous sects.
Astronomical evidence suggests that the Bhagavad-Gita is much older than it is generally supposed and endorses the consensus that its ethics are prehistoric — yet unageing. In fact, the Gita is ancient catechism of practical Theosophy: its precepts are those of the Pauranika Eclectic School of Philosophy, precursor of modern Theosophy. That is why it has attracted such an unprecedented wealth of commentaries, from Shankaracharya to contemporary thinkers, and why mystics, philosophers, and independent thinkers alike hold it in such high esteem: its noble ancestry and timeless message are intuitively recognised.
The Bhagavad Gita is a manual of initiation,
In view of the great resemblance between many of the fundamental “truths” of Christianity and the “myths” of Brahmanism, there have been serious attempts . . . to prove that the Bhagavad Gita and most of the Brahmanas and the Puranas are of a far later date than the Mosaic Books and even than the Gospels. But were it possible that an enforced success should be obtained in this direction, such argument cannot achieve its object, since the Rig-Veda remains. Brought down to the most modern limits of the age assigned to it, its date cannot be made to overlap that of the Pentateuch, which is admittedly later.
The idea that the Gita may after all be one of the ancient books of initiations — now most of them lost — has never occurred to them. Yet — like the Book of Job very wrongly incorporated into the Bible, since it is the allegorical and double record of (1) the Egyptian sacred mysteries in the temples and (2) of the disembodied Soul appearing before Osiris, and the Hall of Amenti, to be judged according to its Karma — the Gita is a record of the ancient teaching during the Mystery of Initiation.
At least 27 millennia old.
The Bhagavad Gita, as well as the Bhagavata, makes mention of an observation which points to a still more remote antiquity than the one discovered by Mr. Bentley. The passages are given in order below:
“I am the Margasirsha [viz. the first] amongst the months and the spring [viz. the first] among the seasons.”
This shows that at one time the first month of spring was Margasirsha. A season includes two months, and the mention of a month suggests the season.
“I am the Samvatsara among the years [which are five in number], and the spring among the seasons, and the Margasirsha among the months, and the Abhijit among the asterisms [which are twenty-eight in number].”
This clearly points out that at one time in the first year called Samvatsara, or the quinquennial age, the Madhu, that is, the first month of spring, was Margasirsha, and Abhijit was the first of the asterisms. It then coincided with the vernal equinoctial point, and hence from it the asterisms were counted. To find the date of this observation: There are three asterisms from the beginning of Mula to the beginning of Abhijit, and hence the date in question is at least 16,335 + 3/7 X 90 X 72 = 19,112 1 or about 20,000 B.C. The Samvatsara at this time began in Bhadrapada the winter solstitial month.
So far then 20,000 years are mathematically proven for the antiquity of the Vedas. And this is simply exoteric. . . .
“The great ancestor of Yudhishthira reigned 27,000 years . . . at the close of the brazen age.” 3
Its catechism is of the Seventh School of Indian philosophy,
In Indian philosophy [there are] only six recognised systems, which are known as the Shad-Darsana, literally the six demonstrations or “six schools.”. . . Namely:
(1) Nyaya, the logical school of Rishi Gautama;
(2) Vaisheshika, the atomic system of Kanada;
(3) Sankhya, the pantheistic school of Kapila;
(4) Yoga, the mystical school of Patanjali;
(5) Purva (early) Mimamsa; and
(6) Uttara (later) Mimamsa of Vyasa, which is called Vedanta.
There is a seventh school, which is a much later one, the Pauranika, or the eclectic school which presents the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita, but is not included in the number of the ancient Darsanas. None of the other, later schools are taken into account.1
Precursor of the Eclectic School of Theosophy, revived in the 3rd century CE by Ammonius Saccas.
There were Theosophists before the Christian era, not-withstanding that the Christian writers ascribe the development of the Eclectic theosophical system, to the early part of the third century of their Era. . . . But history shows it [Theosophy] revived by Ammonius Saccas, the founder of the Neo-Platonic School. He and his disciples called themselves “Philaletheians” — lovers of the truth; while others termed them the “Analogists,” on account of their method of interpreting all sacred legends, symbolical myths and mysteries, by a rule of analogy or correspondence, so that events which had occurred in the external world were regarded as expressing operations and experiences of the human soul. . . . [His aim was] to reconcile all sects, peoples and nations under one common faith . . . to induce all men to lay aside their strives and quarrels, and unite in purpose and thought as the children of one common mother; 2
Ammonius Saccas was the Alexandrian Socrates of Neo-Platonism and teacher of Plotinus.
Hence, the Buddhistic, Vedantic and Magian, or Zoroastrian, systems were taught in the Eclectic Theosophical School along with all the philosophies of Greece. Hence also, that preeminently Buddhistic and Indian feature among the ancient Theosophists of Alexandria, of due reverence for parents and aged persons; a fraternal affection for the whole human race; and a compassionate feeling for even the dumb animals. While seeking to establish a system of moral discipline which enforced upon people the duty to live according to the laws of their respective countries; to exalt their minds by the research and contemplation of the one Absolute Truth; his chief object in order, as he believed, to achieve all others, was to extract from the various religious teachings, as from a many-chorded instrument, one full and harmonies melody, which would find response in every truth-loving heart.
But the real author of the Bhagavad Gita is KrishnaChristos, the “still small voice.”
In some very peculiar sense Krishna is the real Christ. Your Christ is simply a feeble image, as it were, of Krishna — a mere reflection. It is from the standpoint of that mysterious Voice that Krishna is speaking in the Bhagavad Gita. It is that Voice that is speaking. Hence the importance of that book. It contains more of the real teaching of Christ than any other book which now exists. But it is open to any man to obtain the teaching of Christ in himself from the “still small voice.”
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