Have you ever read the charges that the Bible borrowed from the Bhagavad-Gita? Jerry Thomas does a historical and theological investigation and concludes that it is not the Bible that derived from Bhagavad-Gita but the probability is for the other way. Also, the article highlights the superiority of the Biblical concepts over the Bhagavad-Gita.
Eliot Deutsch in his book The Bhagavadgita says: "The Gita was definitely composed later than the (early) Upanishads. The period of the Gita's composition would fall somewhere between the fifth century B.C. and the second century B.C. The final recension of the work was made sometime in the Gupta period (fourth to seventh centuries A.D.), and the earliest manuscript source dates back to Shankara's commentary in the ninth century.
Swami Vivekanada: 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. ( Thoughts on Gita, Complete Works of Swami Vivekanada, Discourses and Lectures).
Reasons for their Critique
Improbability of it being a part of the Mahabharata: Swami Vivekananda observed, “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.”Unfamiliarity before Shankaracharya: Alberuni, an Arab scholar who lived in India (1017 to 1031 A.D), wrote a book Alberuni's Indica, cataloguing the religious books of India and faith system. Though Alberuni mentions Gita fourteen times, he does not mention even a single time it as Bhagavad-Gita or discusses the idea of Vedanta or the Advaita-Vedanta as mentioned in the present day Bhagavad-Gita.
Lack of Manuscript Evidence: TThere has not been a single manuscript of Bhagavad-Gita before Shankaracharya.Internal Evidence for Late Authorship: “the Bhagavad-Gita itself provides some internal evidence of its late composition. For example, verse XV, 15 mentions Vedantakrita (author of the Vedanta). This verse is a clue that the composition of the vulgate text took place when the doctrine of Vedanta came into prominence. Since the promulgation of Vedanta is closely linked to Shankara, it is evident that the Bhagavad-Gita has its origin in the same period. Likewise, verse X, 23 compares the Vedic god Rudra with Shankara. The more apt comparison would have been to Shiva, as is apparent when we examine their common characteristics. Rudra has been characterized as fierce, destructive, unsurpassed in might, and malevolent. But he is also bountiful, a bestower of blessings, whose favor is easily invoked. These characteristics are also those of Shiva, a post-Vedic god who became a successor of Rudra. 54 The comparison of Rudra with Shankara instead of Shiva provides an additional clue to the dating of the Bhagavad-Gita.
To give one more instance, in verse IV, 2 Krishna is telling Arjuna that the Yoga of the Kshatriya tradition, handed down in regular succession by Rajarshl–who were both Raja (king) and Rishi (sage)–had been destroyed (yogo nashtah). The question is: when and by whom was this Yoga destroyed? When we critically examine this question in the context of the religious and philosophic history of India, it becomes apparent that this occurred around 800 A.D. and shortly thereafter” (The Gita As It Was: Rediscovering the Original Bhagavadgita. by Phulgenda Sinha).
The Bhagavad-Gita From the Island of Bali: "The Bhagavadgita From the Island of Bali", written by N. G. Sardesai and published in the Modern Review of July 1914. Sardesai had been in Indonesia for some time and, after searching through local archives of Indian literature, he found a copy of the Gita, written on palm leaves in the Kavi (Balinese) language. This Bhagavad-Gita has only 84 verses which speak about Samkaya Philosophy of Kapila. This might have been the original Gita. Another copy found in Farrukhabad also has only 84 verses and speak about Samkaya Philosophy.
This has been further confirmed by reading the Chapter 2. New Concepts in Bhagavad-Gita: John Davies observes, “ It may be certainly affirmed that if any one, after reading the Puranas or other popular religious books of the Hindus, should then turn for the first time to the study of the Bhagavadgita, he must be conscious of having come to a new country where nearly everything is changed. The thoughts, the sentiments, and the methods of expression have another stamp.” (John Davies, The Bhagavadgita)
Bhagavad-Gita as we know now was not present before Shankarachyara. The original Gita spoke about Samkaya philosophy.Modern Bhagavad-Gita speaks about new concepts.
Has the Modern Bhagavad-Gita borrowed from Bible?
Concepts like sin, salvation, grace were alien to the Hindu philosophy before Shankarachyara. According to Richard Garbe, "European scholars have thought that no other Indian work bears such abundant evidence of Christian influence as the Bhagavad Gita." Pointing out the Christian views expressed in the Bhagavadgita, Garbe mentions two identical presentations: "(i) faith in God's love to man and in His mercy and forgiveness of sins arising therefrom; and (ii) the requirement laid upon man of devout love of God. From these agreements have arisen all sorts of reminiscences of New Testament modes of expression, which naturally suggested the thought of a loan."
Garbe quotes the view of Lorinser who, in his introduction to his metrical translation of the Bhagavadgita into German, has observed: "the author of the Bhagavad Gita not only was acquainted with the writings of the New Testament and made frequent use of them, but wove Christian ideas and views into his system." Lorinser goes on to say: "this much admired monument of the spirit of ancient India, this most beautiful and exalted didactic poem, which can well be regarded as one of the noblest flowers of pagan wisdom, owes precisely its purest and highest praised teachings for the most part to Christian sources." Garbe quotes the following similarities of the Bhagavadgita to the New Testament which were pointed out by Paul Deusses in his translation of the Bhagavadgita: In the Bhagavadgita, Ch. IV, 4 and 5 : On the question of birth, Krishna tells Arjuna: "Many have been my past births. I know them all, whilst thou knowest not." This view is expressed in the New Testament, John VIII: 57, 58: " Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." In the Bhagavadgita, Ch. IX, 29 : "I am the same to all beings; no one is hateful to Me and no one dear. But those who worship Me with devotion, are in Me, and I too am in them". John XIV: 20: "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in Me, and I in you." In the Bhagavadgita, Ch. IX, 32 : "For, taking refuge in Me, they also, O Son of Pritha, who are of inferior birth–women, Vaishyas, as well as Shudras–even they attain to the Supreme Goal." In Galations III: 28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
This is not surprising considering that Shankarachyara was from Kerala where he had considerable exposure to Christians and the Bible. However, there are irreconcilable differences too.
Comparison of a few Concepts in the Modern Bhagavad-Gita and the Epistle of Romans
(A) Romans 1: Origin of the Universe and the Nature of the Creator:
Ex-Nihilo: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1: 20). “God who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Romans 4: 17).
Ex-Deo: "I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from me" (Gita 10: 8). He is said to be not only the creator but also the substance of the universe (Gita 9: 16-19, 8: 4, 10:20-42). "I am also the gambling of cheats, and of the splendid I am the splendor. I am victory, I am adventure, and I am the strength of the strong." (Gita 10:37). “At the end of an era (kalpa) all creatures disintegrate into my nature and at the beginning of another era I manifest them again. Such it is my nature (prakriti) to follow again and again the pattern of the Infinite manifestations and disintegrations” (Gita 9:7-8). Implications of the Epistle of Romans: God is sovereign in the epistle of Romans. He created out of nothing. It was not mandatory for Him to create. He created out of His freewill. He is distinct from the creations and has definite attributes. Therefore, He can be worshipped and He alone needs to be worshipped. Idols are absolutely wrong as God has definite attributes. Those attributes can never be reflected on idols. Implications of the Gita: It is contradictory to say that God is sovereign and say that creation is an outcome of God’s nature. Moreover, if God is everything, including the gambling of the cheats, whom will you worship? Again, if God does not have a definite nature, idol worship is justified.
(B) Romans 2: Law, Karma (Dharma), and the Nature of Morality
Universal Law: “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these although not having the law, are a law to
themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.” (Romans 2: 15). Caste-based Karma and Dharma: The Bhagavad-Gita encourages Arjuna to fight because it is his caste duty. “Having regard to your own duty also, you ought not to falter, for there is nothing better for a Kshatriya than a righteous battle. Happy those Kshatriyas, O son of Prithâ! who can find such a battle (to fight)–come of itself an open door to heaven! But if you will not fight this righteous battle, then you will have abandoned your own duty and your fame, and you will incur sin.” (Gita 2:31, 32).
(C) Romans 3: Sin, Disobedience, Nature of Man Universal fall through disobedience:
“There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3: 10). Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12). “Because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1: 21). Caste-based fall: The fourfold division of castes was created by me according to the apportionment of qualities and duties. But though I am its author, know me to be inexhaustible, and not the author (Gita 4:13).
(D) Romans: Death- Cause and Effect
Reality of Death through Sin: Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin (Romans 5:12).Illusion of Death: You have grieved for those who deserve no grief, and you talk words of wisdom 1. Learned men grieve not for the living nor the dead. Never did I not exist, nor you, nor these rulers of men; nor will any one of us ever hereafter cease to be. As, in this body, infancy and youth and old age (come) to the embodied (self), so does the acquisition of another body; a sensible man is not deceived about that The contacts of the senses, O son of Kuntî! which produce cold and heat, pleasure and pain, are not permanent, they are ever coming and going. Bear them, O descendant of Bharata! For, O chief of men! that sensible man whom they (pain and pleasure being alike to him) afflict not, he merits immortality. There is no existence for that which is unreal; there is no non-existence for that which is real. And the (correct) conclusion about both is perceived by those who perceive the truth. Know that to be indestructible which pervades all this; the destruction of that inexhaustible (principle) none can bring about. These bodies appertaining to the embodied (self) which is eternal, indestructible, and indefinable, are said 6 to be perishable; therefore do engage in battle, O descendant of Bharata! He who thinks it to be the killer and he who thinks it to be killed, both know nothing. It kills not, is not killed 1. It is not born, nor does it ever die, nor, having existed, does it exist no more. Unborn, everlasting, unchangeable, and primeval, it is not killed when the body is killed. O son of Prithâ! how can that man who knows it thus to be indestructible, everlasting, unborn, and inexhaustible, how and whom can he kill, whom can he cause to be killed? As a man, casting off old clothes, puts on others and new ones, so the embodied (self) casting off old bodies, goes to others and new ones. Weapons do not divide it (into pieces); fire does not burn it, waters do not moisten it; the wind does not dry it up. It is not divisible; it is not combustible; it is not to be moistened; it is not to be dried up. It is everlasting, all-pervading, stable, firm, and eternal. It is said to be unperceived, to be unthinkable, to be unchangeable. Therefore knowing it to be such, you ought not to grieve, But even if you think that it is constantly born, and constantly dies, still, O you of mighty arms! you ought not to grieve thus. For to one that is born, death is certain; and to one that dies, birth is certain.” (Gita 2:10-27).
Ambedkar’s Comment: ‘The philosophic defence offered by the Bhagavad Gita of the Kshatriya’s duty to kill is to say the least puerile. To say that killing is no killing because what is killed is the body and not the soul is an unheard of defence of murder… If Krishna were to appear as a lawyer acting for a client who has been tried for murder and pleaded the defence set out by him in the Bhagavad Gita, there is not the slightest doubt that he would be sent to the lunatic asylum’ (THE ESSENTIAL WRITINGS OF B.R. AMBEDKAR edited by Valerian Rodrigues. Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2002., pg 197).
(E) Grace, Faith and Salvation Faith in Jesus Christ: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10: 9)
Faith or Work? "Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, I perpetually cast into transmigration, into various demoniac species of life" (Gita 16:19). And also: "Those who worship me and surrender all their activities unto me, being devoted to me without hesitation, engaged in devotional service and meditating unto me, I deliver them quickly from the ocean of birth and death" (Gita 12:6-7). "When the Yogi engages himself in making further progress, being washed of all karma, he achieves liberation after many, many births" (Gita 6:45).
(F) Guilt and its Solutio
nGuilt and Redeemer: For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7: 15-25)
Guilt and the Lack of Redeemer:
“Arjuna said: But by whom, O descendant of Vrishni! is man impelled, even though unwilling, and, as it were, constrained by force, to commit sin? (Gita 3:36). Arjuna said: Seeing these kinsmen, O Krishna! standing (here) desirous to engage in battle, my limbs droop down; my mouth is quite dried up; a tremor comes on my body; and my hairs stand on end; the Gândîva (bow) slips from my hand; my skin burns intensely. I am unable, too, to stand up; my mind whirls round, as it were; O Kesava! I see adverse omens; and I do not perceive any good (to accrue) after killing (my) kinsmen in the battle. I do not wish for victory, O Krishna! nor sovereignty, nor pleasures: what is sovereignty to us, O Govinda! what enjoyments, and even life? Even those, for whose sake we desire sovereignty, enjoyments, and pleasures, are standing here for battle, abandoning life and wealth-preceptors, fathers, sons as well as grandfathers, maternal uncles, fathers-in-law, grandsons, brothers-in-law, as also (other) relatives. These I do not wish to kill, though they kill (me), O destroyer of Madhu 3! even for the sake of sovereignty over the three worlds, how much less then for this earth (alone)? What joy shall be ours, O Ganârdana! after killing Dhritarâshtra's sons? Killing these felons 1 we shall only incur sin. Therefore it is not proper for us to kill our own kinsmen, the sons of Dhritarâshtra. For how, O Mâdhava! shall we be happy after killing our own relatives? Although having their consciences corrupted by avarice, they do not see the evils flowing from the extinction of a family, and the sin in treachery to friends, still, O Ganârdana! should not we, who do see the evils flowing from the extinction of a family, learn to refrain from that sin? (Gita 1:30-35)