Gita and upanisads
Gita and upanisads: Thus we see that Jnana is the most important thing, being the very essence of Reality. Karma and bhakti, understood in their proper senses, are only manifestations of Jnana.
Without Jnana, liberation is impossible and so is detachment or renunciation in action and so is disinterested devotion to God. The Lord has to give knowledge to his devotes so that they may reach Him. There is nothing purer than knowledge.
There is undoubtedly a great influence of the Upanisads on the Gita. Tradition also supports this view when it makes Shri Krishna a cow-herd milking the celestial milk of Gita from the Upanisads pictured as cows, Arjuna acting as a calf, for the sake of the wise. In the Gita the absolutism of the Upanisads is tinged with theism. Lord Krishna is personal God; he is the creator, eternal and imperishable, and yet he takes birth in the world to preserve Dharma when it is going down. But ultimately theism culminates in absolutism which is the highest note. Reality is transcendent as well as immanent.
Gita and sankhya
Some scholars see the influence of Sankhya on the Gita. Certainly there are some striking similarities between them, but there are differences also. For example, let us compare Katha and Gita here with Sankhya. In the Katha we find that the senses are higher than the objects; the mind is higher than the senses; the intellect is higher than the mind; the mahat is higher than the intellect; the avyakta is higher than the Mahat; and the Purusa is higher than the Avyakta and there is nothing higher than the Purusa which is the limit, the ultimate end. In the Gita we find : the senses are higher than the objects; the mind is higher than the senses; the intellect is higher than the mind; and He that is higher than the intellect is the ultimate end. The Gita also uses the words : ‘ the three qualities of Sattva, rajas, tamas’, ‘ prakrti’, ‘ purusa’, ‘avyakta’ etc. Some scholars opine that this suggests the influence of Sankhya on the Gita. Moreover the Gita uses the words ‘sankhya’ and ‘yoga’ also. But we may explain, following Shankaracharya, that Sankhya means ‘knowledge’ and yoga means ‘action’ in the Gita. And it is precisely in this sense that these words are used here. The words ‘Avyakta’ and ‘Prakrti’ mean the unmanifest power of God. We may explain them as due to the influence of the Upanisads, e.g. Katha cited above, unless we are prepared to believe that Katha itself is influenced by Sankhya which is a very controversial point. Further, the important differences between the Gita and the Sankhya might be noted. The Prakrti of the Gita is not an independent entity, but only the power of God. The Purusa here means the Jiva who is regarded as a part of God. God is immanent in all and He is the Purusottama, the supreme Soul. The plurality of souls is, therefore, out of question. The ideal of the Gita is the positive and blissful union with the Absolute, and not the negative Kaivalya of the Sankhya
Some of the contradictions, though they are only apparent and superficial to us, in the Gita have led scholars to different opinions. Some explain them as due to the fact that the Gita is not a systematic philosophical work, but a mystic poem. On the other hand, some scholars try to explain them by saying that there are certain interpolations in it. Some say that the Gita was originally pantheistic, but later on, was made theistic by the devotees of Visnu. This is absurd because Lord Krishna is essentially a personal God and theism is quite dominant in the Gita. Accepting this position, Garbe made an attempt to reconstruct the original Gita by pointing out the interpolations in it which, he thought, were made by the Vedantic philosophers. Prof. Winternitz agreed with Garbe, but some repeated studies of the Gita afterwards made him admit that it taught ‘theism tinged with pantheism. He, therefore, did not regard those passages where Krishna speaks of Himself as immanent in the world as interpolated; but he still believed with Garbe, that the passages which suddenly describe Brahman without reference to Krishna as well as those which glorify rituals and sacrifices were interpolated. Perhaps, some more revisions of the Gita would have made Prof. Winternitz allow some more concessions. Dr. Belvelkar has tried to show that there are no interpolations in the Gita. We are also tempted to agree with Dr. Belvelkar. In our view, the root-fallacy lies in believing that theism and pantheism, that qualified monism and unqualified monism are opposed to each other. At least they are not so in Indian Philosophy. The unqualified monists are absolutists and they never quarrel with qualified monists ; on the other hand, they admit qualified monism as the highest appearance which we have. They only say that it is not final, that there is one step more to be taken when similarity merges in transcendental unity and all qualifications merge in the Absolute. In our view this is amply illustrated by the teachings of the Gita.