[INDOLOGY] The layers of the Bhagavadgītā

Joydeep jbagchee at gmail.com
Wed Feb 3 16:37:14 UTC 2016

I wish to respond to something Eli Franco stated here a few months ago
(6/12/15), when he wrote about *The Nay Science: A History of German
Indology*, a book I co-authored with my teacher Vishwa Adluri:

“My impression was that the book started as a project on the Bhagavadgita,
which was a bit expanded to include the history of research on the
Mahabharata. The whole thing was then packaged as a history of German
Indology, but obviously the book does not deliver what its subtitle
promises. The authors are blissfully ignorant of German Indology, and they
probably know it. They claim to provide a history of German Indology by
sketching a history of its method. But Indology, the German included, does
not have a method (in the sense that it does not have a single method, as
the authors imagine).”

Eli Franco has a poor sense of the "internal history" of a text, because
the composition history he gives is quite the reverse: our book started as
a project on the Mahābhārata and the sections on the Bhagavadgītā were
added only later. In fact, our researches on Bhagavadgītā scholarship after
1969 were still continuing at the time of publication of the book and have
only been published now:

If philologists cannot correctly guess the compositional sequence of texts
written today, with two living authors and without the long chain of
scribes transmitting them, what reason have we for confidence in their
assertions about ancient texts? The authors of ancient texts subjected to
this method of "internal criticism" (*innere Kritik*) must be turning in
their graves. The linked paper shows how the criteria used for identifying
“layers” and proposing “textual histories” for the Bhagavadgītā were
unscientific and circular. Unless new criteria are proposed, there is no
reason to speak anymore of the Bhagavadgītā’s “layers” and we can conclude
that the whole tradition of “Gītā criticism” was a sham.

Dr. Joydeep Bagchee
Zukunftsphilologie: Revisiting the Canons of Textual Scholarship
Academia.edu Homepage <https://fu-berlin.academia.edu/JoydeepBagchee>
Oxford Bibliographies Online: Hinduism

The Nay Science
Reading the Fifth Veda <http://www.brill.com/reading-fifth-veda>
When the Goddess Was a Woman <http://www.brill.com/when-goddess-was-woman>
Transcultural Encounters between Germany and India
German Indology on OBO Hinduism
What, then, is Philosophy?
Philosophy is the supremely precious.

Plotinus, Enneads I.III.5

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