Bhagavad Gita: Difference between revisions

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Theories on the date of the composition of the ''Gita'' vary considerably. Scholars accept dates from the fifth century to the second century BCE as the probable range, the latter likely. The Hinduism scholar [[Jeaneane Fowler]], in her commentary on the ''Gita'', considers second century BCE to be the probable date of composition.{{sfn|Fowler|2012|page=xxiv}} J. A. B. van Buitenen too states that the Gita was likely composed about 200 CEBCE.{{sfn|J.A.B. van Buitenen|2013|pp=6, Quote: "ca. 200 CEBC is a likely date".}} According to the Indologist [[Arvind Sharma]], the ''Gita'' is generally accepted to be a 2nd-century CEBCE text.{{sfn|Sharma|1986|p=3}}
[[File:Kurukshetra.jpg|right|thumb|upright=1.2|alt=An old torn paper with a painting depicting the Mahabharata war, with some verses recorded in Sanskrit.|A manuscript illustration of the battle of Kurukshetra, fought between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, recorded in the ''Mahabharata''.]]
According to Arthur Basham, the context of the ''Bhagavad Gita'' suggests that it was composed in an era when the [[Dharma-yuddha|ethics of war]] were being questioned and renunciation to monastic life was becoming popular.<ref name=basham1991p95/> Such an era emerged after the rise of [[Buddhism]] and [[Jainism]] in the 5th-century BCE, and particularly after the semi-legendary life of [[Ashoka]] in 3rd-century BCE. Thus, the first version of the ''Bhagavad Gita'' may have been composed in or after the 3rd-century BCE.<ref name=basham1991p95>{{cite book|author=Arthur Llewellyn Basham|title=The Origins and Development of Classical Hinduism| url= |year =1991| publisher=Oxford University Press|isbn=978-0-19-507349-2|pages=95–96}}</ref>
Linguistically, the ''Bhagavad Gita'' is in [[Sanskrit#Classical Sanskrit|classical Sanskrit]] of the early variety, states the ''Gita'' scholar [[Winthrop Sargeant]].{{sfn|Sargeant|2009|pp=3–4}} The text has occasional pre-classical elements of the Sanskrit language, such as the [[aorist]] and the prohibitive ''mā'' instead of the expected ''na'' (not) of classical Sanskrit.{{sfn|Sargeant|2009|pp=3–4}} This suggests that the text was composed after the [[Pāṇini]] era, but before the long compounds of classical Sanskrit became the norm. This would date the text as transmitted by the [[oral tradition]] to the later centuries of the 1st-millennium BCE, and the first written version probably to the 2nd- or 3rd-century CE.{{sfn|Sargeant|2009|pp=3–4}}<ref>{{cite book|author=Heather Elgood|title=Hinduism and the Religious Arts|url= |year=2000|publisher=A&C Black|isbn=978-0-304-70739-3|pages=13–14}}</ref>
According to Jeaneane Fowler, "the dating of the ''Gita'' varies considerably" and depends in part on whether one accepts it to be a part of the early versions of the ''Mahabharata'', or a text that was inserted into the epic at a later date.{{sfn|Fowler|2012|pages=xxiv–xxiv}} The earliest "surviving" components therefore are believed to be no older than the earliest "external" references we have to the ''Mahabharata'' epic. The ''Mahabharata'' – the world's longest poem – is itself a text that was likely written and compiled over several hundred years, one dated between "100400 BCE or little earlier, and 2nd-century CE, though some claim a few parts can be put as late as 600400 CE", states Fowler. The dating of the ''Gita'' is thus dependent on the uncertain dating of the ''Mahabharata''. The actual dates of composition of the ''Gita'' remain unresolved.{{sfn|Fowler|2012|pages=xxiv–xxiv}} While the year and century is uncertain, states [[Richard Davis (professor of religion)|Richard Davis]]<!-- -->, the internal evidence in the text dates the origin of the ''Gita'' discourse to the Hindu lunar month of ''[[wikt:Margashirsha|Margashirsha]]'' (also called ''[[Agrahayana]]'', generally December or January of the Gregorian calendar).{{sfn|Davis|2014|p=3}}
== Composition and significance ==