Gita is Yogopanishad--it is neither a novel of War and Peace nor a book of Rituals nor a Biography of our imaginations…………..
(Compilation for a discourse at Sri Ganesha Temple Nashville, TN, December 2014)
Gita is not easy to comprehend by criticasters and ignorant, wanting in mind and of a doubting mind as said in chapter 4-41 of Gita. But anyone with constant effort and zeal can attain the knowledge contained in its eighteen chapters. Kalpatharu Research Academy of Shankar Math has picked 300 out of 700 couplets (slokas) contained in it comprising of the most essential teachings of this great scriptural text avoiding repetitions and material that does not directly relate to these teachings and establishing a continuity of slokas into a topic and calls it Gitakosha (Trisati). Perhaps such a condensed thoughtful research work by a religious authority will not be vulnerable as the whole text and may not attract negative criticasters who jump to conclusions without focus on the main theme and come with their derogatory remarks to divert the mind of those devoted. Repetitions and material that does not directly relate researched by Kalpatharu Research Academy in Gita might have been progressively added by Puranas and religious promoters leading to 700 slokas. You see many such revised presentation of Bible today. Please refer to Family Life Reference Manual New Testament -Psalms and Proverbs. It has answers for Business and Career, Emotions, Finances, Health and Healing, Life’s Problems, Relationships, Spiritual Concepts etc., etc. If ever we come out with such a presentation of Gita there will be thousands of books against it from pro as well as ante lobbies. I am sure our orthodoxy and religious circles will not like the research work Gitakosha though blessed by His Holiness Sankaracharya of Sringeri Math. Gita says Sraddhaavaan labhate Jnaanam (4-39), a man of zeal attains Knowledge (contained in Gita) and evidently the criticaster Wendy Doniger under reference in this discourse is not a Sraddhavaan. She belongs to the category of wanting in mind and doubting mind however good academician she may be!
My attention was drawn, by a saddened and hurt devotee of Gita, to a distortion and a lengthy criticism on Gita by a Western criticaster, titled War and Peace in the Bhagavad Gita, who in turn was upset by the rendering of Bhagavad Gita, written by another Western author naming it a Biography, impressed by it. I have not read this book but the title seems to be somewhat questionable for a spiritual compendium of Upanishads! Everybody wants to go at Gita because of its universal popularity and appeal. I was wondering how Gita has attracted both its admirers and its haters too to worship or condemn! Gita educates those who love it for worship and also those who love it to hate too! World sought after Gita cannot be tainted by stray surmises and negative projections, which are however quite common in Hindu Philosophical open discussions, where true values ultimately evolve and outshine. You know the story of Koorattaazhwar (Kuresa) who was blinded by plucking both of his eyes by the protagonists of Advaita Philosophy mistaking him to be Ramanuja whom he substituted in reverence in a philosophical discussion. Why then worry for few criticasters from outside Hindu fold? Bhagavad Gita is neither a book of rituals like Rigveda nor a novel like Tolstoy’s War and Peace surrounding French invasion of Russia though it was inserted into Mahabharata at a later period to call it a Battleground Baby. The Gita Doctrine is beyond Religious and National Boundaries and is unique as Universal Yogasaastra (science of Yoga) and Nitisaastra (Book of Morals). This is not the opinion of Hindus alone but the World. Hinduism did not promote Bhagavad Gita to others but people from all parts of the globe got attracted to it influenced by its spiritual rendering, translated it rightly or wrongly to their own languages and started commenting upon it and criticizing too.
I was wondering what could be working in the minds of these people belonging to the hate school of Hinduism and devotional school of Bhagavad Gita to be so prejudiced or upset! I was neither angered nor perturbed but wanted to analyze the situation with my limited knowledge of this great spiritual and philosophic master-piece. I thought for a moment the lone criticaster might be a missionary or an author upset with Hinduism somehow and did not want Gita to enjoy better status than Holy Bible of her following! Of course Hindus also of late call Gita as Holy Gita and keep them in all Hotel rooms like Holy Bible for prayer and not for deep study and spiritual focus! One should have right bent of mind and right knowledge to study Holy texts. In my study of Holy Bible for nearly a decade, I always admired the beauty of its English language and simplicity. I always look at things which would ennoble my thoughts when I read something and not try to find fault. Jesus once said: “Suffer thy children unto me” to mean allow the children to come to me, for Jesus always focused on young minds. In Bible language “suffer” actually means allow or permit to enter the Kingdom of God while in layman’s understanding it is an expression of pain. ISIS and Al-quid-a might go to the other extreme to interpret it as a halaal ritual. Otherwise why would they kill so many children in Africa? Ancient scriptures abide by their own language which needs careful understanding with the context. The language and contents of such ancient scriptures must be properly translated, studied in the present context before starting commenting on it with half-baked knowledge.
I also see that Hindus have built Gita Bhavans all over the world like Rama Mandirs where you may not find any deity for worship but can find a place for prayer or meditation; sometimes Charioteer Krishna with his friend Arjuna is portrayed in those Gita Bhavans to remind Gita is a puranic religious sacred text like Ramayana. We also address in our invocation prayers in Gita class, Gita as Bhagavati or Goddess (Puraanamuninaam madhye Mahaabhaaratam advaitaamritavarshineem bhgavateem). Probably we have not yet decided on the iconic configuration for Geetaa-Bhagavati! I will not be surprised if one day some religiously mesmerized may build a temple for Gita-Bhagavati like Bharatmata of Bankim Chatterji’s Independence dream child and Gayatridevi of Om Meditates! Till then Charioteer Krishna graces Gita Bhavans.
Jesus while he was taken to be crucified pained and said “Father! They know not what they do; forgive them” So, for this discourse, I too could have decided on a title, “Oh Gita! They do not know what they write about you; Ignore them!” as a pacifying and enduring Hindu. Such a title might not have offended my Christian criticaster, which otherwise would result in another set of War and Peace episode. At the same time it would have pleased my religious devout worshiper of Gita as I have raised Gita to the status of a deity, observing how religiously people bow to Gita at least on Krishna Jayanti Day with colorful Aaarati (waving of lamp) with or without understanding its spiritual doctrine or practicing in daily life. Of course only when there is war you appreciate peace like a candle in pitch darkness. So war and peace go together. Gita often indulges with pairs of opposites. Then we need not have to blame the author for her title. But in fact she inspired me to come with this discourse bringing many facts from the research studies of Shankar Math and thoughts from Gita International foundation which all of you as well as she may not be aware of. But my disappointment is she focuses on out and out war and very little peace. I believe Gita on the other hand makes casual reference to war at Kurukshetra, a historic city near Delhi for a religious and Puraana enthusiast which for a spiritual thinker means the field of action for Dharma. Gita talks a lot about knowledge and mental peace all the time. My contemplated title might also have saved me from any sin if I am wrong of what I write about Gita from a religious devotee of Gita point of view. But I decided otherwise as above, in my usual conservative approach to educate than to revolt or indulge in rebuttal. Rebuttals never end. There is a feeling among a section of Hindus that Hindus have been silent for too long against its critics and have a passive attitude based on Karma theory encouraged by the recent political developments in India while others are up against us on a war footing including some from within. But this is more than a millennium story as you learn from Stephen Knapp to which story Wendy Doniger has substantially contributed. Therefore there is a growing consciousness to resort to Vedic dictum Utthishthata, Jagrata, interpreting rightly or wrongly. So you are bound to come across many rebuttals unlike my present approach.
Many common explanations about Indian History and culture are based on the Aryan invasion theory of Western authors on whom our criticaster depends for her distorted version. Those who defend it claim that Sanskrit, the caste system and Hindu ways of worship came from outside India. If we are studying in India in school, we may read about this outdated theory.
Academician Wendy Doniger has come out with a distorted view about Bhagavad Gita of Hinduism of which she has limited knowledge and probably is jealous about the popularity of another author and learned Western scholar while her own attempts to write on Hinduism and become popular like him have failed with Penguin publishers. However educated Wendy Doniger may be in Western perspective, however highly placed she may be, I would like to dismiss her as a criticaster and not a true critique or commentator. At the same we should not forget the contributions of Dr. Philp Goldberg, David Frawley, Peter Arnett, Stephen Knapp with his book “ 1000 Years of Crimes against India and the need to protect its Vedic tradition” and others, not forgetting the yeoman services of Himalayan Academy, spreading the message of Sanatana Dharma. We have many Hindu philosophic and Spiritual Institutions constantly working to promote the cause of Hinduism overseas like Chinmaya Mission, Ramakrishna Math, Dayanand ashram, Sivananda Ashram etc. Hinduism fascinates every religious critic as it has survived for more than 5000 years in spite of so much criticism hurled against it including the latest Wendy Doniger, while many ancient religions have come and gone. I just ignore her and time will teach how wrong she is to come out with such derogation on a world spiritual classic. I believe all the criticisms and negative portrayals only help to create new focus and attention to the everlasting wisdom of these statements in the Gita. It is not easy to desecrate these texts even if somebody tries to. You know our own Puranas say Krishna tolerated 100 abuses of Sisupala and when 101 came he just terminated him but at the same time elevated him too as he had by then realized his mistakes and started seeing God. I wonder how such shallow knowledge could bring forth so many PhD’s in USA. It speaks of the quality of education in Hindu Theology in USA, may be in other theologies too ina purely materialistic and self-oriented country. Hindu Theology is not a subject worth learning in materialistic USA except for money making and surviving. I do not know how her Institution supports her? May be it attracts special funds constantly to pursue the chosen path through her good offices?
Kalpataru Research Academy of Sringeri Sharada Peetham says Gita contains 300 slokas directly related to its teachings and the rest superfluous. Evidently Vedavyasa its true author seems to have not done his proof reading! Vedavyasa also has hidden his name in Bhagavan as he is an avatar of Vishnu and also Krishnadvaipaayana, his other name, in Krishna. Being a Hindu American with my agitated mind I picked up few words only from Bhagavad Gita as essential for my limited understanding of Gita: “Dharmakshetre Kurukshetre…. ananyaaschintayantah…aatman….mokshayishyati…maa suchah” (1-1 to 18-66)—Being active in the fields of Dharma meditating on the Supreme being one will be liberated and therefore one need not worry”. I was wondering at the ingenuity of the Supreme Being in giving this divine assurance of Moksha and not Aananda, when he says “Mokshayishyaami” in 18-66. Moksha consists of Moha +Kshaya which means He guarantees only saving us from all desires but not give us Aananda or Eternal Bliss. We still have to work hard to be his part and parcel when we leave all Dharmas abruptly and surrender to Him (sarvadharmaan parityjya maamekam saranam vraja)! Wendy Doniger being an American Christian, having poor knowledge of Vedic Sanskrit and being an American academician harped around still less words to arrive at her book War and Peace in Bhagavad Gita after having gone through original text hurriedly: “Yuddhakshetre Kurukshetre Chaturvarnaan Mokshayishyaami maa suchah” “The good Lord said fighting all the time in active service people of all castes will go to heaven attaining martyrdom or reach heaven; They need not worry”. Being an American her mind is set all the time on war and she also believes in heaven only and not Liberation as in Hindu concept. To a Hindu hell and heaven are only temporary resting places depending on their performance and not Eternity (Liberation) as visualized in Hinduism which is beyond her religious thinking! Therefore she did not title her book War and Peace, and Eternity Bhagavad Gita. I do not blame her not being brought up with Hindu Way of thinking and being stranger to wisdom of Vedas. It is too much for her to go through the critical reviews in Sanskrit on Bhagavad Gita by Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhva and others being busy in manufacturing PhDs exploiting the vast and ancient rich resources of Hinduism explored by Western writers.
After all Columbus did not place his foot either in the land called today as USA and Canada. Yet he is honored and Columbus Day is celebrated as a National Holiday. Our genius Wendy Doniger researching on the word Indian may one day produce a PhD that Red Indians are aliens who migrated from Indus Valley like the Pilgrim Fathers from England, for the word Indian comes from Indus which made Bharatiyas Hindus christened by foreigners and which ultimately made Bharat, Hindustan though Bangladesh or Pakistan cannot be called Hindustan today like US, Canada and surrounding islands as America or belonging to American Continent. That gives a better claim of USA for us and we need not go out of the way to associate Thanksgiving Dinner to Red Indians. She may also trace it to Gipsies in Europe who are red skinned and who are believed to be migrants from Rajasthan having a dialect similar to that of people of Rajasthan in India. Who can stop her genius and research knowledge and history of the globe in a country of Free Speech, Free Thinking and Free Education?
Hinduism is built on the solid foundation of Sanatana Dharma and Universal oneness. Its troubles are due to its drifting away from its basic principles and trying to make it a religion like other faiths. The doctrine of Gita always comes to its rescue. Wendy Doniger’s criticism titled War and Peace in the Bhagavad Gita, a title perhaps inspired by a popular movie of recent past and novel by Tolstoy seems to be mainly directed towards another book titled “Bhagavad Gita : A Biography” by Richard Davis of Princeton University, A Western author. The criticism, which has brought such vivid distortion, is based on the faulty history of India which unfortunately still India has not dared to revise and bring out a true history of India. Her criticism indirectly implies the problem she is pointing her finger originated with the ancients of present Western culture population who are responsible for Caste system and others cited in the Gita text with which Pre-Aryan Hindus are stuck with having moved away from Sanatana Dharma (aatmavat sarvabhooteshu), somewhere in the middle, if what the criticaster says is true. Once our True History is established the author will have to revise her opinion about what is Varna and Caste; the word caste was introduced by the British as equivalent word in English for Varna without understanding. Varna is clear in Vedas as I have explained several times and also explained in my lecture on caste system of Hindus in India. It was an organizational aspect of division of labor and duties in any society and existed even among divines.
My approach to Gita is to use it as a practical spiritual guide whenever I am in confusion and distress and it answers me back suitably. I do not try to be a criticaster on religious scriptures with my limited knowledge though I have studied Sanskrit and grown with Hindu culture and studied other religious text too to a scholarly level. In my opinion, to a Westerner grown with different culture and not learnt Sanskrit well, particularly Vedic Sanskrit, it is not feasible and possible to criticize such a master-piece. Even Sanskrit scholars like Max Mueller and Monies Williams have made many blunders in interpreting Vedas and scriptures of Hinduism on whose translations all other English educated depend to-day and try to freely and wildly comment upon, as if they have studied the original text. We appreciate these great foreign authors for their tremendous efforts to study Vedas coming from different culture and their desire to spread the wisdom of Vedas against many inhibitions and restrictions about which I will not like to go into detail here. All could benefit and understand Hindu scriptures better if they are Sanskrit scholars by the wisdom of famous commentators like Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhwa, Sayana and Rangaramnuja on whose comment present day spiritual leaders like Sivananda, Chinmayananda, Dayananada and others focus.
Unfortunately Hindus are also contributing to Aryan Invasion theory having studied Indian History in schools as taught by the British which continues even today after 67 years of Independence. Probably you are aware EVR of Dravida Kazhagam asserting himself as the spokesman of Dravidians, ignited the war of Aryans and Dravidians and promoted Ravana as a Dravidian, a victim at the hands Rama, an Aryan. He also wrote counter Ramayana praising Ravana (I believe he called it Kamayana). But Hinduism thrives and Ramayana too in its popularity for its literary grace as Adikavya, first literary piece. A statue of EVR still stands with pride at the entrance of a historic temple city which reads: “He is a fool who believes in GOD”. We tolerate it passing by with head hung down till we visit the temple or ignore it with a negative nod being helpless. His party had its own inner fights, got divided but all of them are prospering as champions of oppressed Dravidians exploiting and plundering masses. Thousands of Ganesha idols were broken in Tamil Nadu. Today it has gone to the other extreme in this war of hatred, disbelief and faith; in every street corner you find a Ganesha or Hanuman Temple including in busy bus stands causing traffic hazards while minting money for the exploiting priests. Nobody bothers. No Sanjay Gandhi has come to the rescue as he did in Delhi to widen roads.. We are also aware how the Taliban destroyed the historic giant Buddha which the Buddhist all over the world sadly watched helplessly. Probably this was a UNESCO heritage, but none of its members came to the rescue nor restored a replica of it at least to remember the historic and religious spot. In China it is gratifying to note Communists have not tried to destroy such a one in Lushan but they don’t worship also. Of course Hindus have forgotten their Gandhara Desa long back though Jews could recover Israel and Jerusalem with active support from USA and others after several hundreds of years.
“Gita makes no allowances for the kind of social mobility which has now become an accepted feature of Hindu Society. Gita at the same time has clearly transcended these limitations of contextual constraint and survived as a fundamental repository of Hindu values” says Prof. Vrinda Nabar. This could only be because it contains a basic ideology drawn from the wisdom of Vedas and Upanishads which is not unacceptable within certain social-cultural and philosophical tradition. With the passing of time mistakenly Vedas were traditionally forbidden to women, Vaisyas and Sudras who could not easily obtain release and attain liberation except through the path of devotion. So Gita was pushed as a single scripture to Hindus for legal oaths during British Times like Bible for Christians and Quran for Muslims, our worst critiques, though Hinduism never promoted any one scripture or depended on any one scripture for its following with many traditions.
Within the context of the Mahabharata War, and especially the battle of Kurukshetra when the tensed opposite parties were facing each other, the emergence of Bhagavad Gita clearly calls for a willing suspension of disbelief but it turns to Krishna as divine figure for its deliverance. There is no other way in which one can accept the fact the two sides waited to begin the war while its eighteen chapters were composed and discussed elaborately. Viswaroopa was also an exclusive privilege to the most dedicated disciple Arjuna in the battlefield while others stood anxiously with boots on waiting impatiently to see what was going on! Yet to a spiritual thinker, unlike to our criticaster, these details seem superfluous when one is serious with the philosophical and sociological significance of the Bhagavad Gita.
Bhagavad Gita is far from being a monolithic text, conceived and composed at one go. It is generally accepted as being a later interpolation into Mahabharata. I therefore wonder the wisdom of it being given the status of faith and belief as Ramayana and celebrated on a day earmarking Gita Jayanti Day raising it to a Puranic status. The logic of Ramayana Paaraayana and veneration is based on the last sloka in Ramayana in which Ramayana reading is glorified by the author as cure-all for our past sins which is a historic narration of all participants and events and literary beauty though they have not identified Ramayana Jayanti Day. I would rather go by the logic of Veda Paaraayana or an Upanishad like MNU which contains essential Veda Mantras of Hindu worships and rituals. In this context it is worth recalling the research findings of Kalpatharu Research Academy of Shankar Mutt, of Sringeri Sharada Peetham.
The great composition of Bhagavdgeetaa is said to have been composed in the early centuries before the birth of Christ which attained its philosophical celebrity when Sankara wrote the first comment whose date itself is now revised to pre-Christ centuries. Bhagavad Gita is the earliest text belonging to the devotional school of Hindu religion, the Bhaagavata. This monotheistic school was founded by Krishna–Vasudeva, belonging to Saatvata sect of the Yadu dynasty long before the dawn of Krishna as an avatar and he was reverentially referred as Bhagavaan. The Gita unmistakably bears the influence of Upanishads the Katha and the Svetasvatara. Please go through my detailed discourse in this context. Song of Celestial which the critique refers was originally a Yoga Upanishad which was later Vaishnavized. Krishna, the founder of this cult, who is the spokesman in the Gita was by birth Soodra, being Yadu was later raised to the rank of Kshatriya based on the later practicing profession which conversion is now not possible in the caste system based on birth-right as visualized by the criticaster and distorted which tradition of birthright for cast is of much later origin after CE than Bhagavad-Gita.
There is a reference in Chandogya Upanishad as well as Narayanopanishad to KRISHNA-Devakiputra who was a disciple of the sage Ghora-angirasa. Narayanopanishad adds the word Madhusoodana referring to Krishna Avatar. This clearly shows Narayanopanishad which is widely used in Hindu Shoedasa Upacahra pooja is a later creation by Bhaktimarga followers during the
puranic period with its substantial phalasruti content similar to Ganesha Atharvaseersha (linking it to Atharvaveda) Upanishad. The word Upanishad was added to these Bhaktimarga compositions to enhance their value as if coming from Vedas. The Jain Harivamsa mentions Krishna as the cousin of the celebrated ford-maker Neminatha (also an Avatar of Vishnu before finding Jain philosophy) who is believed to have lived about eight centuries before Christ. In Gita Krishna is mostly represented as a teacher of great wisdom and a Yogi. Bhaagavata records, Krishna sat up every morning for meditation merging himself with the Transcendental Self as prescribed in Yogasaastra Samaadhi, the eighth stage. Mahabharata also states Krishna was in the habit of meditating on Brahman in the early hours before sun-rise. If he is an Avatar why he needs such meditation on the Transcendent? Krishna in all probability was historical in character and was a philosopher who harmonized the Sankhya-yoga with Brahmavada of Upanishads. The Song of the Celestial is in the form of dialogue between the Paandava prince Arjuna who was in mental agony and emotional conflict, and his friend Krishna who in this work appears as a philosopher and teacher, and not as popular god of later Hinduism, though Viswaroopa scene is brought in. Vedavyasa who was also very dark was nicknamed Krishna Dwaipaayana. He is the author of all Upanishads. Probably he is none other than Bhagawan (being an avatar of Vishnu) who out of modesty did not want to reveal his true identity, which was a common practice in those days. So he is also the compiler of this compendium of Upanishads (Yogopanishad) bringing conflicting ideas together to guide uniformly followers of the then popular Bhaktimarga. He in all probability dramatically introduced this as a philosophic and spiritual guide while two opposing forces were facing each other and gave a Puranic twist and popular appeal of those days. This may be the re-edited version of the original Yogopanishad made more elaborate and appealing bringing in Viswaroopa Darsana and others for its successful religious promotion. As you know Ramayana also refers to Chera, Pandya and Andhra dynasties in Kishkinda Khanda that in no way could have existed in Tretayuga. Evidently it has been also revised later and edited. Bible has been revised as often as needed to suit changing views of religious authorities unlike Vedas and major Upanishads as Sankara already had commented on them being earliest and any revision later would have been difficult without being criticized. Contrary to what we have studied in schools in India Sankara was born in Kaladi in Kerala born in 509 BCE and died in 477 BCE, according to Sankar Math records (Dharma by Jagadguru Chandrasekharananda Sarsvati, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan) and not in seventh century CE. So also have been many religious texts of different faiths often meddled.
Further we cannot stop such negative approaches like the Herculean efforts taken by the criticasterin this context to twist things to suit her philosophy of thinking and raise her popularity, like EVR. Hinduism is no stranger to such criticism. Chaarvaka Philosophy of atheism finds a place in Hindu scriptures. Please refer to my lecture on Philosophy Schools of Hindus. Chaarvaka Philosophy was never erased but discussed freely. However, it could not become popular with mass appeal and faded away voluntarily. Ramanuja was free to comment and moderate Advaita while Madhva totally opposed it and brought out his Dwaita Philosophy. They all have huge followers and they coexist today. We have still large followers of Charwaka philosophers too in Hindu Thinking. They emerged as followers of EVR self-asserted Dravidians and Communist Party though based on Karl-Marx philosophy.
Sarvadarsana Sangraha gives the following summary of the Chaarvaaka philosophy which is more damaging than that of our criticaster in Bhagavadgeetaa which we have tolerated for long time. That is the uniqueness of Hinduism which formidably lifts its head against all distractions and has withstood the tests of time while many ancient religions have vanished:
‘’There is no heaven, no final liberation, nor any soul in another world; nor do the action of the four castes, orders etc. produce any real effect. The Agnihotras, the three Vedas, the ascetic’s three staves and smearing one’s self with ashes, were made by Nature as the livelihood of those destitute of knowledge and manliness. If a beast slain in the Jyotistoma rite will itself go to heaven, why then does not the sacrificer with offer of his own father?:…. If beings in heaven are gratified by our offering the Shraaddha here, then why not give the food down below to those who are standing on the house top? While life remains let a man live happily, let him feed on ghee even though he runs in debt; when once the body becomes ashes, how can it ever return here?.... All ceremonies are a means of livelihood for Brahmanas. The three authors of the Vedas were buffoons, knaves and demons.”
This criticaster has focused her bold remarks dwelling upon some social threads picking on words and phrases picked up here and there from the text with wrong interpretation with the purpose to belittle Gita which was designated as the most sacred text of Hinduism during the British days in India which was enjoying world appreciation as a unique spiritual master-piece in those days and continues even today. There is no other text in any religion to match its philosophical thinking and spiritual content. She has also taken advantage of its Puranic glorification by religious enthusiasts but not its pristine glory as Yogasaastra and a premier for Yoga meditates. She is up against arms more than peace. Her object seems to have been to find fault struggling hard than to understand and appreciate its spiritual content which fills all its eighteen chapters and 700 verses. It is up to Gita Society which has a powerful organization and the Indian Government to go through such criticisms, and take appropriate measures to release the worries of devout and hurt Hindus. Gita has long back crossed the boundaries of India and enjoys popularity in several countries of the Globe over many centuries by all spiritual seekers. Proper rebuttal from them is not difficult to clear the distortions. Generally I do not indulge in rebuttals as this will never end once you start it. But at the same we need to be clear in our mind why and how these criticisms start.
I may sound like an atheist to religious Hindus with my remark on Gita Jayanti Day and worship of Gita as a deity at an altar to my Gita religious worshipers! I would rather call it “Gita Jnaanodaya Day” and start reading and understanding Gita seriously. Religion restricts and leads to faiths and beliefs! Sanatana Dharma Doctrines are wrongly practiced as Hindu Religion and wrongly designated also by outsiders, which we have gladly accepted, pride in it and fight also when offended. The Gita Doctrine is beyond Religious and National boundaries. Gita does not want your worship or blind adoration. Gita expects every admirer of it to follow the path shown by it. International Gita Society in USA draws all our attention to Gita’s wisdom as follows:
Do your duty to the best of your ability without worrying about the results. Perceive that God is present equally in all beings and treat all beings equally (aatmavat sarvabhooteshu).
· The four goals of human life are: doing one’s dut(Dharma), earning wealth(artha), material and sensual enjoyment (Kaama) and attaining Moksha. Moksha is made up of two words Moha and Kshaya that means get rid of all your desires a state of Gunateeta described in Geetaa.
· The aim of the Gita doctrine is to lead one to tranquility, happiness and equanimity. No rituals are prescribed as in Rigveda. The Gita says that the world needs different religions, cults, and deities to meet the vastly different needs of individuals.
· “Don’t worry, be happy” may well be a modern term but the secret of achieving this lies in the Gita which Gita describes as Aananda or Bliss. The parting word in Gita is “maa suchah” meaning don’t worry.
If someone does not like terms like “Svadharama” and “Chaaturvarnyam”, in Geetaa, without understanding them in the right perspective, let them not worry about them. That will not reduce the value of Geetaa even a bit. We do not also need them to enhance the glory of Geetaa. Geetaa is a granary of spiritual wisdom to enliven and ennoble its readers to serve the society as well as elevate the individual spiritually. Kurukshetra is not the historic city of Battle near Delhi. It means field for action based on Dharma. By the way Gita says Chaaturvarnyam and not Chaturvarna .
If anyone wants to find the real difference between these terms they should approach any Sanskrit scholar if they have not gone through my discourses on Geetaa. Chaturvarnyam does not mean four castes. It means social order. What Gita says here says is the social order with four divisions in accordance with the distribution of characteristics (Saatva, Rajas and tamas and their combinations) and actions occasioned by them were brought into being by the Supreme being--(Chaaturvarnyam mayaa srishtam guna karmavibhaagasah).
So if you are a Sarvaarambha parityaagee (12-16), one who has left all studies of scriptures started in your younger days in pursuit of life’s ambition after migrating to greener pastures, then continue to listen to the teachings of Gita. It will give a solution for all your worries and open your vision too spiritually and also help in producing right Doctorates of Philosophy.
1) Prof. Ramachandra Rao S.K., Gita Kosha, Kalpataru Research Academy, Sharada Peetham, Bengaluru.
2) Prof. Vrinda Nabar & Prof. Shanta Tumkur, The Bhagavadgita, Wordsworth Classics, U.K.
3) Dr. Shiv Bajpai, The History of Hindu India, Himalayan Academy Publications, India/USA.
4) Harry Bhalla, The Gita Doctrine—Beyond Religion, International Gita Society, USA.
5) Wendy Doniger, War and Peace in the Bhagavadgita, A criticism on The Bhagavad Gita- A Biography by Richard Davis, Princeton University.
6) Swami Vireswarananda, Srimad Bhagavd Gita, Sri Ramkrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai, India.
7) Chandradhar Sharma, A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, Motilal Banarasidass, Delhi, India.
8) Richard H. Davis, Bhagavad Gita, Princeton University Press, US.A.
9) Srinivasan, N.R., Geetaa unmistakably bears the influence of Upanishads, especially Katha Upanishad, May 2014, Hindu Reflections:<nrsrini.blogspot.com>
Mystery of the Bhagavad Gita Simplified
Posted by Dr. Jayanth G. Paraki | May 26, 2013 | IndiaDivine.Org
Life is often mysterious; apparently without reasons and explanations for many events. Is this true? Perhaps so, but only in the eyes and mind of the beholder. Is there any wisdom and knowledge that can throw complete light on the mystery of Life?
The ancient Vedic scripture Bhagavad Gita contains knowledge of all human experiences from the remote past into the infinite future. There is no situation in reality that is not described nor explained. Truly, the Gita is the source of Absolute Knowledge. The author attempts to simplify the mystery of the Bhagavad Gita and urges the reader to experience the Absolute Truth of existence. The author, a practicing doctor has integrated spiritual healing into clinical practice and encourages everyone to realize his true identity. Medical and nursing students, practicing doctors and patients will benefit infinitely from applying the principles of the Bhagavad Gita.
During the course of this lecture series, you will be lead to the path of devotional service and the holistic way of spiritual living. Holistic living consists of eating sattvic food, conquering and channeling inner desires and following the instructions of the Supreme Lord.
Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is He who spoke the Bhagavad Gita to his very dear friend Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Arjuna was overwhelmed by grief at the prospect of fighting his own relatives in the war. Totally confused, he turned to Lord Krishna and beseached him with his inner feelings.
Krishna then revealed his true form and strength and assured him of total protection if he became his surrendered devotee. All of us experience fear, confusion, anger, frustration, sadness and many other complex emotions. What is the source of these emotions? Krishna clearly explains in the Bhagavad Gita that he is the cause and remedy of all things; pleasant and unpleasant. Therefore by his causeless mercy He gives us the instructions through which we can free ourselves from the darkest hell of existence in the material world.
Mahabharatha represents the warring of the materialistic and spiritual aspects of human nature and truly speaking describes the constant battle of feelings and thoughts that go on within the mind. Make Krishna the ultimate goal of your Life and you will experience eternal joy and bliss!
Lord Krishna is the creator of all living beings. Our life is dependent upon the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead at all times. From Krishna comes all the energy that we experience every day. For example, the bright sunlight and the cool breeze are emanating from Lord Krishna. Every day we lose energy in the form of various physical and mental activities. He is replenishing the lost energy.
What we are not aware is the fact that loss of vitality and fatigue is due primarily to discharge of emotional energy. Emotions drain us of energy. Negative emotions leave us tired, confused and in despair. Positive emotions charge us with vibrant energy and leave us healthy, clear in thinking and brimming with vitality and enthusiasm. Connect to Krishna and experience eternal joy and bliss!
Lord Krishna resides within our hearts. It is his spark that ignites the soul within us and keeps us all alive and happy. We have forgotten the supreme controller as we have been conditioned to accept the material world as containing everything that we need. How far is this true? Ask yourself these questions? What is responsible for the universal miseries of existence- birth, disease, old age and death? What is the cause of other forms of distress- lack of education, failures in business and career, poor results in spite of efforts and all other unpleasant experiences that go to form every day events in our lives. The Gita clearly states that the principal cause of all miseries is forgetfulness of Lord Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Krishna appears periodically as an incarnation to revive the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and teach us the right way of living.
The fundamental question that emerges in our quest for understanding any subject is how and where do I begin? So, how do I relate to Krishna? Since Krishna resides within our hearts it is very easy to relate to him. First, remove the layers of dirt and dust that prevent you from seeing this reality. Become pure in thoughts and feelings. Lord Krishna relates instantly to anyone who wishes to do so. Therefore become a devotee to re-establish lost connections. Listen attentively to his devotees and participate in-group activities. While you can perform devotional service independently, it is easier and motivating to do it as a group. Become aware of his strengths to be convinced of his stature and power. You do this by listening, reading and discussing the Srimad Bhagavatam, the epic compilation of the experiences of the devotees of the Lord. Constantly focus on the lord within you and endeavor to apply the principles of devotional service regularly. You will see the fruits emerging spontaneously.
Our constitutional position is as a devotee of Krishna. However, we are not aware of this fact and therefore by default assume the position of a non-devotee. The very birth in this world indicates that we have forgotten our real position. We have forgotten that there is a real spiritual world in the spiritual sky. A devotee of Krishna comes to realize that everything including his own body is the property of Krishna and therefore it should be used in Krishna’s service. Dovetail all daily activities with that of Lord Krishna. Act in a purified state following the instructions of the Lord. This will free you from all anxieties and suffering. Pleased by the service of his devotee, the Supreme Personality of Godhead reveals his form and opulences.
We can develop different relationships with Lord Krishna. The pastimes of the Lord with the gopis of Vrindavana describe the relationship as a conjugal lover. In any dimension the nature of relationship is determined by the time period in your life, when your dormant spiritual energy is awakened and you begin to realize your true nature.
When a child is born who displays natural attraction for music, art and performing sadhanas, Know that you should relate to Krishna as a parent devotee. Relate to all as a friend by urging one and all to become Krishna Conscious. Dovetail all your daily material activities with that of Krishna. This way you will remember him all the time.
Arjuna was in all kinds of difficulties during the Kurukshetra war and his state actually reflects our state at all times. The message of the Gita is very clear. At all times we should seek the help of The Supreme Personality of Godhead to solve our life problems. Arjuna asks questions that accurately define our state. We also should ask questions to the Supreme Personality of Godhead in a manner similar to Arjuna and receive the benediction of the Lord. It is essential to develop the qualities of Arjuna to be able to understand and receive the instructions clearly. The purpose of the Gita is very clear. It is to remind us of the major purpose we have to create for our lives. It is one of the following.
1. To deliver mankind from all difficulties
2. To free mankind from all anxieties
3. To relieve mankind of all sufferings
4. To instruct mankind of his mission
5. To protect mankind from evil
2. To free mankind from all anxieties
3. To relieve mankind of all sufferings
4. To instruct mankind of his mission
5. To protect mankind from evil
Ishvara is the supreme controller and we as jivas are the controlled beings. However, in the conditioned state that we are born in we do not have this fundamental realization. This is referred to as maya or illusion. Hence we attempt to go through life using finite intelligence, which of course is incomplete.
As time elapses we begin to feel anxiety and tension over our existing state and this continues unabated until we choose to seek the help of the Supreme Controller.
Karma refers to the accumulated effects of all activities we have performed in the past. Reactions to activities in the conditioned state are unpleasant and leave a permanent residue. One such residue is various forms of physical and mental disease. Therefore, if you have to heal a diseased person he should endeavor to remove the veil of maya or illusion alongside the taking of medicines. Devotional service is a simple process of erasing the maya and creating an internal environment of health and well-being. Medicines taken will have a better result and this is the holistic approach to healing advocated by The Clinic for Holistic Healing.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the ultimate source of all energy including life energy-- “…….mayadhyakshena prakrith suyate sa-characharam.” This material nature is working under my direction.”
This is understood when we contemplate on the nature of life. What is the element that is missing in a dead body? There is no knowledge about this element in medical science or technology. Developing a state of mind that begins to inquire about every event that either happens to us or surrounds us in a spirit of surrender leads us directly to the source of Absolute Knowledge. Empowerment results once you acquire Absolute Knowledge.
Every man, woman and child is under the control of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. When you begin to see the Lord residing in the hearts of every person, you can actually hear the Lord speaking to you!
Emphatically, Lord Krishna declares: sarva-yonishu…aham bija-pradah pita:” I am the father of all.
[This discourse material is a compilation from the reference above as well as other sources for a prepared lecture for delivering at Vedanta Class of Sri Ganesha Temple which is gratefully acknowledged. I do not claim anything as original though I have included my explanations and comments elaborately suitably editing. Anybody is free to download partly or fully this discourse, modify and redistribute this as well as other discourses from the blog Hindu Reflections <nrsrini.blogspot.com> for spreading the wisdom of Vedas and scriptures further. These lectures are posted on the blog for the benefit of those who are not able to attend my lectures personally due to personal reasons or due to not living in Nashville or able to go through the various sources as I have done.]