, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 23–38 | Cite as

The Bhakta and the Sage: An Intertextual Dialogue

  • John M. ThompsonEmail author


Comparing the Bhagavad Gītā and the Buddhist essay “Prajñā is Not-knowing” (Panruo Wuzhi 般若無知) yields interesting insights. The texts have similar dialogical structures and discuss complex philosophical matters. Rhetorically, both texts weave together quotations and allusions from other texts, make liberal use of paradox, and have decidedly spiritual intentions. Their differences, though, remain striking. They emerge from distinct circumstances and their original languages (Sanskrit, Chinese) differ markedly. Stylistically, “Prajñā” is more intellectual and less devotional, espousing a distinctly “this worldly” ideal; by contrast, the Gītā is more dramatic. While espousing “this worldly” ideals, the Gītā is more inclusive and thus more accessible to a broad audience; on the contrary, “Prajñā” has a subtler effect, its “dark” qualities appealing to a more select group. Therefore, while these texts are not “the same,” reading across their convergences and divergences can lead to a deeper understanding of mysticism and cross-cultural spirituality.


Intertextual Devotionalism Mysticism Textuality Prajñā 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Religious StudiesChristopher Newport UniversityNewport NewsUSA

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