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Gita Vivrti – Original Commentary of the Bhagavad Gita by Sri Raghavendra Swamy of Mantralaya – Gitartha Sangraha

Gita Vivrti (also written as Gitavivrti) is the original commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Sri Raghavendra Swamy of Mantralaya. It is also known as Gitartha Sangraha or Gitasangraha.
In composing Gita Vivrti, Sri Raghavendra Swamy mentions that he was influenced by the Gitabhashya and Gitatatparya of Sri Madhvacharya and the tikas (Prameyadipika and Nyayadipa) of Jayatirtha.

Sri Raghavendra Swamy had also compiled glossaries on the tikas of Jayatirtha.

Gitavivrti offers explanations of the Bhagavad Gita in accordance with Madhva Siddhanta expounded by the Madhavacharya School of thought.

Gitartha Sangraha

Gita Vivrti states that
  • the first six chapters of the Bhagavad Gita are concerned with the knowledge of Brahman,
  • the next six with Sadhana and
  • the last six review the explanations and meanings of the previous chapters.
Some key explanations in the Gita Vivrti
The tenth verse of chapter I is explained as: Duryodhana said: “The army of ours is protected by Bhishma is incapable of conquering the Pandavas while that of the Pandavas protected by Bhima is strong enough to win over us.” Here Dhristadyumna, the commander-in-chief of the Pandava army is not mentioned. But only Bhima’s vow, adventure and strength are recalled here. Seeing the plight of Duryodhana, in order to cheer him up, Bhishma roars terribly like a lion and blows his conch.

In verse 37 of the first chapter, it is stated: “It is not proper on our part to kill the sons of Dhritarashtra (svabandhavah). Here the question arises: “Are not Duryodhana and other Kauravas atatayins? Should we not kill them on the spot without further thinking?” Since it is not possible for Arjuna to kill them without killing Bhishma and Drona, his elders and preceptors, Sri Raghavendra suggests that the reading should be svabandhavah.

Commenting on verse II- 11 (ascocyananva socastvam), the author brings out the gist of the Bhagavad Gita itself: acts done with the knowledge of glory and greatness of God and in the spirit of devotion to Him are praiseworthy. Such a duty according to one’s station in life is to be admired. 

Such an act aimed at the destruction of haters of Narayana is the paramount duty of Kshatriyas. Such an act is righteous. Arjuna considers it as unrighteous on account of his attachment towards his kith and kin; hence his grief is meaningless. This is who the verse acocayan (those for whom there should be no grief) is explained.

The explanations in Gita Vivrti are simple and to the point, where necessary quotations from other sources are drawn for further elucidation.

For example, the verse II-12 (Natvevaham…) is about the eternity of the souls. Elucidating this point, the author makes references to Katha Upanishad, Brahmasutra and Anubhashya.

At the beginning of each chapter, the author provides an appropriate avatarika (introduction) and links the matter with the previous chapter. Introductions to the first and the seventh chapters are noteworthy.

Sri Raghavendra Swamy was an expert in grammar and etymology. The author explains clearly the etymology of certain small words, eg gudakesha, in I-24; (gudakayah + isah) meaning one who has conquered sleep, an essential quality of a warrior.

In VI-9, the words ‘suhrt’ and ‘mitra’, for a common man, appear to be synonymous, meaning only a friend. Etymologically, Swamiji show still subtle meanings employed in the Shastra. Suhrt means a friend who helps without expecting any kind of return. ‘Mitra” means a friend who takes preventive steps to save his friend from an apprehended calamity.

 Excerpts and notes taken from – 
  • Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume IV published by India Heritage Research Foundation – page 297 – 299
  • Shri Raghavendra, His Life and Works by G B Joshi 1977
  • Gita Vivrti by Acharya Giri RS 1995