India—The Bhagvat Geeta -- By: B. F. Hosford

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 016:64 (Oct 1859)
Article: India—The Bhagvat Geeta
Author: B. F. Hosford


India—The Bhagvat Geeta

Rev. B. F. Hosford

It has been our good fortune to read one of the very few copies of a translation of the Bhagvat Geeta found in the country; and to realize, in reading it, all we had been led to anticipate from the fine tantalizing extracts we had, from

time to time, seen floating, as waifs, among our literature. We have thought we might do a pleasant service to literary and religious curiosity among many of our readers by giving to them the few facts we have been able to gather with respect to this gem of Sanscrit wisdom, together with a variety of extracts from it. We are fully aware that there are others who, were they so disposed, could give this picture a far richer setting. We have kept silence for years, hoping they would do this; and we now undertake, in their presence, a long neglected work which properly belongs to them, only as we hope that the lively interest recently awakened in everything pertaining to that vast, hazy country, may be some compensation for our lack of personal furnishing for the work.

The Encyclopedias inform us that the Bhagvat Geeta, or, as some write it, Bhagawat Gîta, is a chapter, or rather episode in a chapter, of the Mahabharat. This Mahabharat is a historical poem or epic, whose principal subject is Bhurrut the Great, and the house he founded in the early history of the country. The genealogy and history of this royal house, and particularly of the wars which occurred between two branches of it, the Kooroos and Pandoos, are celebrated in more than one hundred thousand metrical stanzas of two lines each.

The theatre of these marvellous events was Central India, not far from the scenes of the recent tragedies; and these events transpired, if at all, in ages so remote that the imagination of man can hardly run to the contrary; but this record of them in the Mahabharat was made, according to the best modern authority in Oriental literature, about 1200 b. c., or not far from the time when Joshua, and Gideon, and Samson were working their real wonders in Judea.

Little reliance can be placed upon the histories and chronologies of a people so fond of the marvellous as these Orientals are, especially when we find them claiming for some of their earlier dynasties a reign of ten thousand years, battles lasting eighteen days, and other things in keeping with these enormous periods.

Still these absurdities are no stumbling-blocks to the credence of the Orientals; and so we find the Hindoos not only regarding this Mahabharat as one of their sacred books, but attributing to it the highest inspiration. The...

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