The Bhagavad Gita is said to be the essence of Mahabharata that has been considered, and rightly so, as the compendium of Sanatana Hindu Dharma. It is the epitome of Hindu philosophy and a summarized version of all the Hindu granthas put together.
The Wire’s anti-Hindu bile
One can, however, trust Hindudveshi (Hindumisic) portals such as The Wire to come up with the most illogical argument to diss Hindu Dharma and its granthas. The article terming Gita an “illiberal theological” text by one SK Arun Murthi, who was a professor of philosophy at Mohali’s Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in the humanities and social sciences department, is a case in point.
His article is a good pointer as to why science institutes should do away with the humanities departments. That Murthi follows the leftist ideology is amply clear from his article in The Wire and The News Minute, sites that are undoubtedly Hindumisic and leftist.
We shall, however, deal with the contents of his article but the reason for bringing up his ideology was to point out right at the start that the author has approached the subject with a biased mind. In the very first paragraph, he targets the Gujarat BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government and dedicates the next few paragraphs to argue that the party is attempting to push its ‘agenda’.
“Though Hindus see Gita’s message as a ‘universal truth’, it remains a religious text. If it is to be part of the school curriculum, it is hard to see why Muslim and Christian teachings – which their adherents also believe are ‘universal’ – should not also be taught. Unless, of course, the aim is to underline the salience (and even superiority) of Hinduism over other religions that Indians profess”, he questions.
Basically, a clever way of saying that Hindus are supremacists while subtly pushing the oft-used leftist argument that all religions are the same to hide one’s anti-Hindu agenda. He then uses terms and jargon such as pedagogic, obscurantist, etc. and ultimately brings in BR Ambedkar to defend his theory even though his arguments have no legs to stand on.
His argument on the karmaṇy-evādhikāras te shloka:
It goes against the very practical psychology of why we work. What should young students make out of this and how should one follow this as a value? Children go to school to acquire knowledge and aspire to do better in life. That is the value of hard work that is taught to them. But here is a statement from the Gita presented as a gospel truth that is in conflict with the value of hard work.
What good does this do for school-going children? In fact, this will demotivate them as this shloka strongly suggests that they should not have the right to fruits of their action and, by implication, arrest their aspirations.
To put the essence of the shloka in simple terms – do your duty and leave the rest to the Supreme. Nowhere does the Gita say that one shouldn’t enjoy the fruits of one’s labour. Bhagwan Krishna says in Chapter 2, Verse 37 “Slain, thou wilt obtain heaven; victorious, thou wilt enjoy the earth; therefore, stand up, O son of Kunti, resolved to fight”. All it says is work without expectations which will help one to avoid disappointments. Contrary to Murthi’s argument, students will be motivated to work harder if they fail to achieve their goals in the first instance.
As is their wont, he doesn’t fail to bring in the ‘casteist’ argument. “In fact, Lord Krishna proclaims that he is the creator of the four-fold social order Chaturvarnya (Chapter 4, verse 13). Ambedkar also mentions this verse as an illustration of one of the dogmas of Gita”. He further argues that ‘modern-day casteists’ use the symbolic meaning argument.
“If it is claimed, as some orthodox scholars do, that the categories are based on innate qualities and activities, then a counter-question can be posed as: why does he (the lord) create such differences in qualities. There is no answer and sometimes a tepid response is given in terms of karma theory which is another theological explanation devoid of philosophical substance. It is a case of defending one dogma by the other”, he claims.
Honestly speaking, it is quite difficult to comprehend what the author is trying to imply. Is he trying to ask why humans have different qualities? Isn’t it like asking why are the five fingers of the hand not the same? Equally obscure and defying logic is his other argument where he says “Ambedkar, therefore, is right when he contends that it is not a philosophical text. He gives an example of how dogma is defended in the Gita…In that case, how does one answer the following: If the body is not real, why did the Lord create an illusory body and then put the soul into it?”
A simple answer to this would be – the soul is the consciousness or energy that drives the body and it is well-known that energy is indestructible but only changes its form. Just as energy needs a vehicle, the soul needs the vehicle called the body. However, this doesn’t do complete justice to the Bhagavad Gita teaching which is also found in Katha Upanishad.
He concludes by saying one dogma is being used to defend another dogma and teaching Gita would stifle students’ rational thinking and critical thinking ability.
Force-fitting Western frameworks
The basic problem here is people like Murthi want to force-fit Western academic frameworks which are based on Abrahamic religious thoughts on Bharat. It is amply clear the piece has been written with the intention of somehow presenting the Gita as an irrational text whereas Gita is a sacred Dharmic grantha that when understood and internalized elevates the human mind to a different spiritual plane.
Those who know and practise the Gita have better control over emotions and senses and are thus better positioned for whatever material endeavours they pursue in life. It creates a value system, something that the modern liberal soaked in individualism can barely comprehend. Only an ignorant fool would judge the Gita by modern liberal, progressive literature benchmarks – it’s like comparing an advanced philosophy work with a Shobha De novel.
This so-called philosophical or rational enquiry argument used in The Wire article is simply a method to stifle native knowledge systems. Westernized, English-speaking elite have been controlling the intellectual discourse for the last 70 years since independence.
The West that these sepoys cheer teaches the Bible as part of public schools, albeit for ‘literary value’. Sunday schools are integrated into the missionary education system. Yet, these anti-Hindu bigots want to deny the teaching of Dharma, which empowers each human to fulfil their spiritual potential without worrying about the creed, in the homeland of Hindus?
The Print trumped The Wire in dissing the Bhagavad Gita in its 2019 piece. The latter took a different route by stating that the Panchatantra was more popular than the Gita. “It was only after Western interpretations made it popular that nationalists like Gandhi, Aurobindo and Tilak took up the Gita and made it India’s seminal philosophical text”, argued Prathama Banerjee.
Suffice here to say that several acharyas, including those who predate Panchatantra’s author Shri Vishnu Sharma, have written bhashyas on the Bhagavad Gita. Among them are Bhagwan Adi Shankara, Abhinavagupta, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Vallabhacharya, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Bhaskaracharya, Nimbarka, Yamunacharya, and Dnyaneshwar among others. Bharat doesn’t need ‘western interpretations’ to popularize what has been known for ages to its Gurus and Acharyas who in turn transmitted that knowledge to the laypeople in a language that the latter understood.
In any case, while the Bhagavad Gita is a philosophical treatise (to be precise – a Hindu Dharmic grantha dealing with various philosophical aspects of life), Panchatantra is a political work intended for a different purpose. Comparing the two is like comparing oranges and mangoes. If only these Hindudveshi brown sepoys would put in some effort to understand Bharat’s Dharmic granthas they would do themselves and the world a big favour by refraining from making illogical arguments and comparisons.
(Featured Image Source: The Wire)