Sanatsugatiya, The "Sequel" to the Bhagavad-Gita

Sanatsugatiya, The "Sequel" to the Bhagavad-Gita

A Different Perspective

                        The Sanatsugatiya constitutes a portion of the Mahabharata as well as its own separate work.  This work is certainly not as well known or as popular as the Bhagavad-Gita.  It is a literary follow-up however to the Bhagavad-Gita, and picks up the thread of the narrative in this national Hindi Epic in a grand fashion.  It is a very short work, amounting to only a few chapters and perhaps some hundred pages. Dialogue is one of the favorite motifs, or vehicles, for the writers of the Mahabharata.  In this way, the works are somewhat similar to the works we find in Plato, and other philosophical writings that use a dialogue or story format in order to convey the essence of their message.  This particular dialogue follows that schematic for conversation with questions and answers issued with great authority.

          Perhaps it is the translation I was reading, a translation by Kashinath Trimbak Telang, in which there was some sort of error or misconstruing of the philosophical and religious thought of the work.  The author could be to blame, the translator could be to blame, or this article's author was under a misperception--in any case, it would appear that the arguments and dialogue of the first part of the work fall into direct contradiction later in the dialogue.  Now, perhaps it was that the author was referring to different practices within their tradition of religious practice.  Or, on the other hand, it would appear that the persons of the dialogue changed their stance or point of view.

          This apparent contradiction in terms as presented between two chapters, creates a sense that all of the earlier statements in the work are invalid.  If that is the case, the first two chapters are the chapters that appear to coincide with the practices and spirit of living found in the Bhagavad-Gita.  The later two chapters seem to contradict the stances taken in the Bhagavad-Gita and the initial two chapters of the Sanatsugatiya.  If this is the situation, then it is this author's stance that the text has in some way been corrupted so as to yield such a reading.

          Overall, the first two chapters are an excellent follow-up to the dialogue, ideas and story of the Bhagavad-Gita.  The value of the remaining chapters cannot be seen by these western eyes or perception of the reviewer and so seem superfluous and contradictory to the spirit found in the initial chapters. As a philosopher, I respect the initial chapters but almost entirely disregard the later chapters as either interpolations, mistranslations, or as quite worthless additions to the work. In time, perhaps with further study, comments or education that view will change.