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The
Song Celestialor
Bhagavad-Gita


?
The? Song Celestial.? or? Bhagavad-Gita? (From the Mahabharata)
Being a Discourse Between Arjuna,? Prince of India, and the Supreme Being? Under
the Form of Krishna
Translated from the Sanskrit Text? by? Sir Edwin Arnold,? M.A., K.C.I.E., C.S.I.
New York? Truslove, Hanson & Comba, Ltd.? 67 Fifth Avenue? 1900
?
Dedication
TO INDIA
So have I read this wonderful and spirit-thrilling speech,? By Krishna and Prince
Arjun held, discoursing each with each;? So have I writ its wisdom here,--its hidden
mystery,? For England; O our India! as dear to me as She!? ? EDWIN ARNOLD
? ?
PREFACE
This famous and marvellous Sanskrit poem occurs as an episode of the
Mahabharata, in the sixth--or "Bhishma"--Parva of the great Hindoo epic. It enjoys
immense popularity and authority in India, where it is reckoned as one of the ``Five
Jewels,"--pancharatnani--of Devanagiri literature. In plain but noble language it
unfolds a philosophical system which remains to this day the prevailing Brahmanic
belief, blending as it does the doctrines of Kapila, Patanjali, and the Vedas. So lofty
are many of its declarations, so sublime its aspirations, so pure and tender its piety,
that Schlegel, after his study of the poem, breaks forth into this outburst of delight
and praise towards its unknown author: "Magistrorum reverentia a Brachmanis
inter sanctissima pietatis officia refertur. Ergo te primum, Vates sanctissime,
Numinisque hypopheta! quisquis tandem inter mortales dictus tu fueris, carminis
bujus auctor,, cujus oraculis mens ad excelsa quaeque,quaeque,, aeterna atque
divina, cum inenarraoih quddam delectatione rapitur -te primum, inquam, salvere
jubeo, et vestigia tua semper adore." Lassen re-echoes this splendid tribute; and
indeed, so striking are some of the moralities here inculcated, and so close the
parallelism--ofttimes actually verbal-- between its teachings and those of the New
Testament, that a controversy has arisen between Pandits and Missionaries on the
point whether the author borrowed from Christian sources, or the Evangelists and
Apostles from him.
This raises the question of its date, which cannot be positively settled. It must have
been inlaid into the ancient epic at a period later than that of the original
Mahabharata, but Mr Kasinath Telang has offered some fair arguments to prove it
anterior to the Christian era. The weight of evidence, however, tends to place its
composition at about the third century after Christ; and perhaps there are really
echoes in this Brahmanic poem of the lessons of Galilee, and of the Syrian
incarnation.
Its scene is the level country between the Jumna and the Sarsooti rivers -now Kurnul
and Jheend. Its simple plot consists of a dialogue held by Prince Arjuna, the brother
of King Yudhisthira, with Krishna, the Supreme Deity, wearing the disguise of a
charioteer. A great battle is impending between the armies of the Kauravas and
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