Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume VIII.djvu/11

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INTRODUCTION. 5

history of the great war, appears to me to be extremely weak, so far as the Gîtâ is concerned. But that is a point which will have to be considered more at large in the sequel[1].

While, however, I am not prepared to admit the cogency of Mr. Wheeler's arguments, I am not, on the other hand, to be understood as holding that the Gîtâ must be accepted as a genuine part of the original Mahâbhârata. I own that my feeling on the subject is something akin to that of the great historian of Greece regarding the Homeric question, a feeling of painful diffidence regarding the soundness of any conclusion whatever. While it is impossible not to feel serious doubts about the critical condition of the Mahâbhârata generally; while, indeed, we may be almost certain that the work has been tampered with from time to time[2]; it is difficult to come to a satisfactory conclusion regarding any particular given section of it. And it must be remembered, also, that the alternatives for us to choose from in these cases are not only these two, that the section in question may be a genuine part of the work, or that it may be a later interpolation: but also this, as suggested recently, though not for the first time, by Mr. Freeman[3] with reference to the Homeric question, that the section may have been in existence at the date of the original epos, and may have been worked by the author of the epos into his own production. For that absence of dread, 'either of the law or sentiment of copyright,' which Mr. Freeman relies upon with regard to a primitive Greek poet, was by no means confined to the Greek people, but may be traced amongst us also. The commentator Madhusûdana Sarasvatî likens the Gîtâ to those dialogues which occur in sundry Vedic works, particularly the Upanishads[4]. Possibly—I will not use a stronger word—possibly the Gîtâ may


  1. Infra, p. 21 seq.
  2. Compare the late Professor Goldstücker's remarks in the Westminster Review for April 1868, p. 389.
  3. Contemporary Review (February 1879).
  4. Madhusûdana mentions the dialogue between Ganaka and Yâgñavalkya as a specific parallel.