BORI removes Bhagavad gita from the Mahabharata claiming it to be a later addition. How authentic its claim can be?

  • 14
    Maybe Mahabharata itself is fake.. who knows, nobody was alive at that time, everything is hearsay.. maybe you are also fake. maybe you are just a robot on the internet. maybe i also don't exist.. oh no
    – ram
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 5:38
  • 11
    Most of them are leftists. Obviously they won't accept supernatural events.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 7:26
  • 13
    No. scholars have said that the language used is the same as the Mahabharata. If it was an interpolation, the language used would be slightly different. It being a later interpolation was first claimed by Western Orientalists in the 19th century. It has been disproved many times by many people. Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 7:59
  • 1
    Yes is it an interpolation because most of the chapters are not related to each other and arjuna was did not follow these spiritual guidelines at all . Commented Jun 10, 2017 at 9:02
  • 3
    Interpolation is something which cannot be confirmed by other authorized scriptures like Upanisbads. Now if you compare the philosophy and literal interpretation of BG with the mukhya upanishads of both AV and VA, you would find no difference in philosophy and the messages of BG.
    – Yogi
    Commented Jun 11, 2017 at 4:35

2 Answers 2


What's the claim? Actually we don't have clear ground to check authenticity for Bhagavad-Gita according to Vivekananda.

Read Swami Vivekananda's thoughts on Bhagavad-Gita:

The book known as the Gita forms a part of the Mahâbhârata. To understand the Gita properly, several things are very important to know. First, whether it formed a part of the Mahabharata, i.e. whether the authorship attributed to Veda-Vyâsa was true, or if it was merely interpolated within the great epic; secondly, whether there was any historical personality of the name of Krishna; thirdly, whether the great war of Kurukshetra as mentioned in the Gita actually took place; and fourthly, whether Arjuna and others were real historical persons.

Now in the first place, let us see what grounds there are for such inquiry. We know that there were many who went by the name of Veda-Vyasa; and among them who was the real author of the Gita — the Bâdarâyana Vyasa or Dvaipâyana Vyasa? "Vyasa" was only a title. Anyone who composed a new Purâna was known by the name of Vyasa, like the word Vikramâditya, which was also a general name. Another point is, the book, Gita, had not been much known to the generality of people before Shankarâchârya made it famous by writing his great commentary on it. Long before that, there was current, according to many, the commentary on it by Bodhâyana. If this could be proved, it would go a long way, no doubt, to establish the antiquity of the Gita and the authorship of Vyasa. But the Bodhayana Bhâshya on the Vedânta Sutras — from which Râmânuja compiled his Shri-Bhâshya, which Shankaracharya mentions and even quotes in part here and there in his own commentary, and which was so greatly discussed by the Swami Dayânanda — not a copy even of that Bodhayana Bhashya could I find while travelling throughout India. It is said that even Ramanuja compiled his Bhashya from a worm-eaten manuscript which he happened to find. When even this great Bodhayana Bhashya on the Vedanta-Sutras is so much enshrouded in the darkness of uncertainty, it is simply useless to try to establish the existence of the Bodhayana Bhashya on the Gita. Some infer that Shankaracharya was the author of the Gita, and that it was he who foisted it into the body of the Mahabharata.

Another point addressed by Vivekananda:

Another point to be especially noted here is that whoever might have been the author of the Gita, we find its teachings the same as those in the whole of the Mahabharata. From this we can safely infer that in the age of the Mahabharata some great man arose and preached the Brahma-Jnâna in this new garb to the then existing society. Another fact comes to the fore that in the olden days, as one sect after another arose, there also came into existence and use among them one new scripture or another. It happened, too, that in the lapse of time both the sect and its scripture died out, or the sect ceased to exist but its scripture remained. Similarly, it was quite probable that the Gita was the scripture of such a sect which had embodied its high and noble ideas in this sacred book.

But we're not finding any strong proof against Bhagavad-Gita that can prove it an interpolation. Also no Acharyas e.g Ramanuja, Madhava etc has doubt about authenticity of Bhagavad-Gita. So, we should not suspect regarding it's authenticity much and we should look at what is the inside i.e preaching of Bhagavad-Gita.

One thing should be especially remembered here, that there is no connection between these historical researches and our real aim, which is the knowledge that leads to the acquirement of Dharma. Even if the historicity of the whole thing is proved to be absolutely false today, it will not in the least be any loss to us.


BORI removes Bhagavad Gita from the Mahabharata claiming it to be a later addition.

No, it doesn't. Bibek Debroy writes the following in the introduction to his translation of the BORI critical edition (CE) of the Mahābhārata:

There are many different versions or recensions of the Mahabharata. However, between 1919 and 1966, the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in Pune produced what has come to be known as the critical edition. This is an authenticated text produced by a board of scholars and seeks to eliminate later interpolations, unifying the text across the various regional versions. This is the text followed in this translation.

One should also mention that the critical edition's text is not invariably smooth. Sometimes, the transition from one shloka to another is abrupt, because the intervening shloka has been weeded out. With the intervening shloka included, a non-critical version of the text sometimes makes better sense. On a few occasions, I have had the temerity to point this out in the notes which I have included in my translation. On a slightly different note, the quality of the text in something like Dana Dharma Parva is clearly inferior. It couldn't have been 'composed' by the same person.

And the Debroy translation of Mahābhārata does include the Bhagavad-gītā:

Section Sixty-Three

Bhagavad Gita Parva

This parva has 994 shlokas and twenty seven chapters.

Chapter 874(14): 13 shlokas
Chapter 875(15): 75 shlokas
Chapter 876(16): 46 shlokas
Chapter 877(17): 39 shlokas
Chapter 878(18): 18 shlokas
Chapter 879(19): 44 shlokas
Chapter 880(20): 20 shlokas
Chapter 881(21): 17 shlokas
Chapter 882(22): 22 shlokas
Chapter 883(23): 47 shlokas [BG STARTS HERE]
Chapter 884(24): 72 shlokas
Chapter 885(25): 43 shlokas
Chapter 886(26): 42 shlokas
Chapter 887(27): 29 shlokas
Chapter 888(28): 47 shlokas
Chapter 889(29): 30 shlokas
Chapter 890(30): 28 shlokas
Chapter 891(31): 34 shlokas
Chapter 892(32): 42 shlokas
Chapter 893(33): 55 shlokas
Chapter 894(34): 20 shlokas
Chapter 895(35): 34 shlokas
Chapter 896(36): 27 shlokas
Chapter 897(37): 20 shlokas
Chapter 898(38): 24 shlokas
Chapter 899(39): 28 shlokas
Chapter 900(40): 78 shlokas [BG ENDS HERE]

This section is so named because it includes the Song Celestial or the Bhagavad Gita, the teachings of Krishna to Arjuna. The section begins with the dramatic news that Bhishma has been killed. When Sanjaya tells Dhritarashtra this, Dhritarashtra (and the reader) is astounded, wishing to know how this came to be. After a description of the arrangements for war, the rest of this section is the Bhagavad Gita.

While there can be other good arguments like 'does Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna really have the time for a 700-verse dialogue standing amidst the battlefield?', 'if they did have this dialogue, what were all the other warriors doing meanwhile?' etc. for calling Bhagavad-gītā a wrong fit in the Mahābhārata epic, calling it a later interpolation when BORI CE actually includes it isn't a valid argument.

Vivekananda too expresses some doubts on the historicity of Gītā in this lecture citing some logical contradictions:

Another thing:

  • how could there be so much discussion about Jnâna, Bhakti, and Yoga on the battle-field, where the huge army stood in battle array ready to fight, just waiting for the last signal?

  • And was any shorthand writer present there to note down every word spoken between Krishna and Arjuna, in the din and turmoil of the battle-field?

According to some, this Kurukshetra War is only an allegory. When we sum up its esoteric significance, it means the war which is constantly going on within man between the tendencies of good and evil. This meaning, too, may not be irrational.

About the fourth point, there is enough ground of doubt as regards the historicity of Arjuna and others, and it is this:

  • Shatapatha Brâhmana is a very ancient book. In it are mentioned somewhere all the names of those who were the performers of the Ashvamedha Yajna: but in those places there is not only no mention, but no hint even of the names of Arjuna and others, though it speaks of Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit who was a grandson of Arjuna. Yet in the Mahabharata and other books it is stated that Yudhishthira, Arjuna, and others celebrated the Ashvamedha sacrifice.

P.S. For people who get easily offended by historical research and cannot digest the truth, he offers the following advice:

Even if the historicity of the whole thing is proved to be absolutely false today, it will not in the least be any loss to us. Then what is the use of so much historical research, you may ask. It has its use, because we have to get at the truth; it will not do for us to remain bound by wrong ideas born of ignorance. In this country people think very little of the importance of such inquiries. Many of the sects believe that in order to preach a good thing which may be beneficial to many, there is no harm in telling an untruth, if that helps such preaching, or in other words, the end justifies the means. Hence we find many of our Tantras beginning with, "Mahâdeva said to Pârvati". But our duty should be to convince ourselves of the truth, to believe in truth only. Such is the power of superstition, or faith in old traditions without inquiry into its truth, that it keeps men bound hand and foot, so much so, that even Jesus the Christ, Mohammed, and other great men believed in many such superstitions and could not shake them off. You have to keep your eye always fixed on truth only and shun all superstitions completely.

  • BTW you did not answer the title or did you? YOu only proved the claim that is found in the Q's body in the negative. Also, why is the last paragraph in smaller fonts?
    – Rickross
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 8:08
  • Yes, I answered both the question in the title (yes, it's an interpolation - how much of it? I don't know. For that see this answer and the reasons Vivekananda mentioned above) and the body. Although, I clarified in my answer that 'calling Bhagavad-gītā a later interpolation when BORI CE actually includes it isn't a valid argument'. So the premise of the question is wrong. It's funny that I used the same article (written by Vivekananda) from the other answer to reach a different conclusion! Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 18:18
  • 'why is the last paragraph in smaller fonts?' - because it has nothing to do with the question itself. It's only purpose is to silence some of haters of genuine scholars, on this site, as evident from some of the recent comments. Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 18:24
  • Even if the historicity of the whole thing is proved to be absolutely false today,---- Here by whole thing he refers to BG or the episode of the battle or the whole Mahabharata itself?
    – Rickross
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 7:12
  • @Rickross I think he means the whole Mahabharata itself because the characters (Yudhishthira & Arjuna) are not mentioned in Shatapatha Brâhmana. The Mahabharata itself becomes fictitious if it turns out the characters are fictitious. Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 15:34

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