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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 97 | volume XVII | July-August, 2014



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 97July-August, 2014
Reviews

Fight or Flight?

The basic ontological concepts in the Bhagavad-Gītā


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p. 1
Kristina Dimovska

1. Bhagavad-Gītā as a literary text


     “Every activity of the human being is to be considered a failure unless he inquires about the nature of the Absolute.”
    A.C. Bhaktivedanta Bhakti-vedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda

Bhagavad-Gītā[1] presents a basis for this research which aims to hermeneutically analyze some of its ontological concepts. These concepts were and, hopefully, are still fundamental in the life of the individual, since they offer answers of the pivotal questions such as: what are the purposes and duties in life, where does the individual belong in the world, what is the nature of his relationship towards the Godhead and, ultimately, how can one achieve the stadium of transcendental knowledge. Not only the Bagavad-Gītā, but the Māhabhārata as a whole, engages in a debate about “being and what there is” (Hiltebeitel 2001: 162).
    Contrary to the dominant, religious treatment of this Upaniṣat, there are readings of the Bhagavad-Gītā that treat the text as literary, as opposed to its primary interpretation as a sacred text. According to Abhaya Caraṇāravinda Bhakti-vedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda, one of the translators and commentators of the Bhagavad-Gītā, the religious treatment of this Upaniṣat is the only legitimate approach, in order for a devotee to acknowledge and acquire the highest stage of knowledge. The difficulty in choosing the right approach towards a text such as this, lies in the notion that there are multitudes of diverse readings, which may all be legitimate to a certain point. Every methodologically different reading offers subjective or personal insight in a text, often neglecting its wholeness, undermining what Walter Benjamin defined as the “aura of the text”. Every literary text offers myriad of interpretations and this is understandable, especially if we note that even written laws and legal acts can also be subjected to mutually exclusive interpretations, in favor of a particular subject (Kulavkova 2003: IX).
    The involved in the “Kṛṣṇa Consciousness”, a religious organization which nurtures the notion of Kṛṣṇa as “the Supreme Personality of Godhead”, believe that any unauthorized commentary (or māyāvāda-bhāsya) on the Bhagavad-Gītā, would be considered “a great blunder” (Prabuphāda 2006: XVIII). It is evident that Prabuphāda’s understanding of the Gītā is through the optics of bibliolatry and that kind of approach is often infested with solely and purely subjective interpretation that strays from the principal content a text has to offer. But, then again, a text exists only to be read and interpreted and there will be as many interpretations as

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1. Due to formatting issues that were beyond the author’s control, certain Sanskrit terms and names might appear in their incorrect IAST form. They reader is asked to follow the textual context, so these unpredictable changes - that do not occur in the original text as sent to the editors, - would not perturb his understanding of the text.






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