5

From here:

O best of the Bhāratas, I shall now explain to you the different times at which, passing away from this world, the yogī does or does not come back.

8.23

Those who know the Supreme Brahman attain that Supreme by passing away from the world during the influence of the fiery god, in the light, at an auspicious moment of the day, during the fortnight of the waxing moon, or during the six months when the sun travels in the north.

8.24

The mystic who passes away from this world during the smoke, the night, the fortnight of the waning moon, or the six months when the sun passes to the south reaches the moon planet but again comes back.

8.25

According to Vedic opinion, there are two ways of passing from this world – one in light and one in darkness. When one passes in light, he does not come back; but when one passes in darkness, he returns.

8.26


How can a serious philosophical treatise like Bhagavad-gītā contain verses like these that talk about astrology? That too when discussing the topic of yoga.

If a yogi is meditating deep within a cave, how does it matter to him/her whether it's morning or midnight (outside the cave) or whether the moon is in its new, quarter or full phase?

Are these verses meant to be taken literally? E.g., does "moon" here refer to the Moon that's currently orbiting the Earth? Are these verses suggesting that a yogi needs to keep track of the phases of moon by looking at the sky and time his death accordingly?

Are these verses (taken literally) consistent with the Yoga school of thought?

Have any translators/commentators of the Gītā considered these verses to be interpolations? If yes, what reasons do they offer?

  • These verses are not interpolations, but they do not refer to the time of death. See my answer here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/8670/36 This question is a possible duplicate of that one, by the way. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 23 '18 at 19:25
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Ok. I read that question before posting this one, didn't think they were duplicate. – sv. Apr 23 '18 at 19:28
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    It's the Vedanta school and not the Yoga school that focuses on the Bhagavad Gita. In any case, given that these Gita verses don't discuss astrology (which wouldn't be a reason to dismiss a verse anyway), there's no reason to think it's an interpolation in the first place. As my answer indicates these verses are based on Upanishads. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 23 '18 at 19:50
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    @RakeshJoshi Everything described in the Bhagavad Gita is fully Vedantic. The Bhagavad Gita is the nectar of the Upanishads. There is nothing un-Vedantic about Bhakti Yoga. The entire point of the Brahma Sutras is to teach you how to do Brahma Upasana as part of Bhakti Yoga. See this chapter of Vedanta Desikan's Rahasyatraya Sara: archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.92385/… – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 24 '18 at 4:18
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    @RakeshJoshi I am not claiming that those words are there, but the concepts are. Again, see the Rahasyatraya Sara chapter I linked to. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 24 '18 at 5:23
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Not likely to be interpoloated.
There doesn't seem to be any strong enough reason for that.

"How can a serious philosophical treatise like Bhagavad-gītā contain verses like these that talk about astrology?"

It's not talking about Astrology, but liberation (Moksha). It's explained in description in How can we know that an Aatma got Moksha?. Below are the correct translations:

BG 8.23 - The time, having departed at, which practitioners (yogi-s), attain the State of No-return, and also [of the time which attains] the state of return, shall be described by me, O best of Bharata-s.
BG 8.24 - [In presence of] Agni [AND] bright daytime [AND] the bright fortnight (Shukla-paksha) [AND] the six months of the Northern solstice (UttarAyana) -- by following this Path, persons who are knowers of Brahman attain Brahman when they die.
BG 8.25 - Smoke [OR] night [OR] as also the dark fortnight [OR] the six months of the Southern solstice-following this Path the yogi having reached the lunar light, returns.
BG 8.26 - These two courses of the world, which are white and black, are verily considered eternal. By the one a man goes to the State of Non-return; by the other he returns again.

In short, when a Yogi leaves own physical body during the full sun (south-east -- viz Agni or when sun appears in fire), day of humans (good light), day of ancestors (15-days of Shukla paksha), day of deva-s (appx Jan-Jun for northern hemisphere of earth) -- then the yogi would not be reborn at any plane of existence. Else he returns to existence.

Famous examples are Drona & Bhishma, who had chosen their death time exactly during such hours.


"If a yogi is meditating deep within a cave, how does it matter to him/her whether it's morning or midnight (outside the cave) or whether the moon is in its new, quarter or full phase?"

Correct. It should not matter to a Yogi. Because desire for liberation is counter-productive and keeps it away. That is explained in just next verse:

BG 8.27 - O son of Prutha, no yogi whosoever has known these two courses becomes deluded. Therefore, O Arjuna, be you steadfast in yoga at all times.


"Are these verses (taken literally) consistent with the Yoga school of thought?"

To me it seems right, because the context of these verses is referring Yogi.
Moreover, Gita has several verses which associates liberation with light or day. e.g. BG 6.9, 10.11, 10.21, 10.36 & few more. The death time is considered the most important to know the journey further [if any].


"Have any translators/commentators of the Gītā considered these verses to be interpolations? If yes, what reasons do they offer?"

Not aware. However, the translators do have difference with translation/interpretations of these verses.

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