Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Chapter 5, verse 7, provides a better example of issues of meaning. The third line of the Sanskrit reads: sarva-bhuta-atma-bhuta-atma. Sarva-bhuta is defined in the Monier-Williams Sanskrit Dictionary (revised edition, published 1899) as meaning “all beings.” Atma-bhuta is defined in Monier-Williams as meaning “become another’s self”; “attached to, faithful.” Or, to break it down word by word: every, living being, self, living being, self (sarva, bhuta, atma, bhuta, atma).

Wilkins translates this line as “whose soul is the universal soul.” Barbara Stoler Miller translates it as “unites himself with the self of all creatures.” Sir Edwin Arnold translates it as “lost in the common life of all which lives.” Expanding to the complete verse, and including the preceding verse, can give more perspective to the situation.

Wilkins translates these two verses, 6 and 7, as: “To be a Sannyasee, or recluse, without application, is to obtain pain and trouble; whilst the Moonee, who is employed in the practice of his duty, presently obtaineth Brahm, the Almighty. The man who, employed in the practice of works, is of a purified soul, a subdued spirit, and restrained passions, and whose soul is the universal soul, is not affected by so being.” “Not affected by so being” means “not affected by being in the practice of works.” In other words, a person who is acting or working in some way is not adversely affected by their actions if their soul is pure, their spirit is controlled, their passions are restrained, and they act in a way which respects the view that, just as they have a self or soul, so too do all living beings have a self or soul.

I really want this blog to be focused primarily on applying Bhagavad-gita in daily life, and not on slicing and dicing translation issues. But until more content has been developed, there isn’t a lot to work with in that regard. So I’ll go ahead and post this, and try to move things forward more next time.

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