Thursday, October 23, 2014

031 Does Bhagavad Gita preach non-violence?


ShSTelugu language:  031 భగదవద్గీత అహింసను బోధిస్తుందా ?

 हिन्दी : क्या भगवद गीता अहिंसोपदेश करता है ?

One website wrote.  ఒక వెబ్ సైట్ వారు వ్రాశారు.  एक वॆब सैट ने लिखा है।

“How can reading about war lead to inner peace? And what does this have to do with yoga today?

Whether seemingly dated or contradictory, one of the century’s greatest peacemakers, Mahatma Gandhi, believed that the Gita’s overall message was that of non-violence—a powerful message for contemporary living. Learning the true meaning of ahimsa (non-violence)—and interpreting this into present-day context—is only one of many reasons yoga students should read the Gita. ..."


This answer does not seem to be on right lines, in my humble opinion.


ybrao-a-donkey's humble opinion.

Bhagavad Gita is like the proverbial elephant, in the story of seven blind persons.  A person touching the legs or trunk of an elephant may perceive it as a log of wood.  A person touching its tail may view it as a large brush.  A person touching its torso may perceive it as a small boulder.  So on.

Most religious practitioners of the world,  suffer from a tunnel vision arising from childhood religious training they receive from their parents, teachers, religious teachers, neighbors, books.

To critically understand the purport of religious discourses and scriptures, one will have to start with a clean slate, getting rid of the influences of birth religion, religions of the Regions and country they live.  The scriptures should be viewed from the perspective of an outsider who has shall have nothing within haunting his mind except history and reason.

Though Gandhiji was greatly influenced by Bhagavad Gita, and was immensely benefited by its tenets, I personally feel that he did not read Bhagavad Gita in depth.  Besides, his studies of Bhagavad Gita was full of great reverence.  I do not want to say that people should not have reverence to Bhagavad Gita. 


It is only necessary to highlight that when read with a bending and kneeling reverence,  analyses and examination of any book will not be free of favourable prejudices, and they will overlook all faults.

If  persons of a different religion read the same book as a Hindu scripture, their analyses will be reflect an adversarial outlook and they will find only faults.

The Mahabharata war was not about saving a country from foreign invasions, in which case the meaning of  'karma = duty' as a duty to defend the country from barbarians will arise.  The dispute was between brothers who gambled with dice recklessly, betting even wives and brothers as if they were personal chattels (tangible movable proerties).


Arjuna was right in expressing his view that his mind revolts against killing brothers, uncles and grandfathers, and that he could not eat blood stained food.  Arjuna, was of course, on a wrong side when he said that as a result of war, there would be large number of widows and that there would be debauchery and pollution of castes (varNa sankaram).  Nevertheless, Arjuna was justified in thinking twice before waging  the bloody war.


Even if assuming that kshatriya kings of (warrior barons) of those days were fighting among themselves to settle their old animosities, why should they indulge in battles involving death of thousands of  innocent soldiers, cartsmen (chariot drivers), horses  and elephants, simply because they were paid some paltry sums as salaries.  Lord Srikrishna, being Bhagavan should have thought about this massive destruction of innocent cartsmen, soldiers, horses and elephants. 

Instead He chose, to pridefully exhibit to Arjuna his cosmic form, showing creatures going into his mouth, and saying that it was He who was slaying and that Arjuna was not slaying.  This could be nothing but an insertion made by priests either on their own volition or at the instance of succeeding kings.  To this, the Priests have also added a story that the very object of Lord Krishna's was to reduce the burden of this Goddess Earth (bhUdEvi) which was unable to bear the weight of the sinful kings and their soldiers.

Thus Bhagavad Gita can by any means can be said to have spread or intended to spread a message of non-violence.

Another question of pertinence which cannot escape of an unbiased viewer is, why all the sinner kings and soldiers were only in India?  These sinners exist all over the world in the past, exist at present, and will exist in future also. If at all God wanted to establish peace, he could have straight entered into the minds and hearts of the sinners ad changed their minds.  There is no need of this priest-like preaching of living soul linking to the supreme soul (this is the essence of yoga = union of jIvAtmA with paramAtma).

Supreme God if  at all He existed as a Supreme Creator, Savior, Extinguisher of people and their sins , He could have administered this world in a straight transparent manner.

In all the religions, there ought not to have been a need for a Supreme Preacher and thousands of subordinate preachers who interpret the supreme preacher's words in their own different ways.


Modern Wars

We shall take the example of Chinese invasion of India.  In 1962, one dark cold night, China invaded India and occupied about 36,000 sq. miles of Indian territory.  Here was a dire need for defending the territorial integrity of the country.  Nearly 20,000 soldiers laid down their lives for defending India.  The war was inconclusive.  China did not return the occupied lands to India.

But India started doing business with China.  Today India buys nearly $50 billion of Chinese goods from China and sells Indian merchandise worth about $20 billion to China.  What happened for the sacred duty (karma, kartavya) of defending the country?

Should we or should we NOT compare the  21st Century rulers of India. i.e. its Presidents, Prime Ministers, Cabinet, MPs of both Upper and Lower Houses, National Security Advisers et al to the kshatriyas of the Mahabharata / Bhagavad Gita period?  Should they fight the war or worry about Indo-Chinese Trade

 Indian Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers visit China too frequently, praying for Chinese investments into India.  Corporates like TaTas invest billions of dollars in China, when their Motherland India is starving for investments and the poor of the country do not have two square meals a day.

Why doesn't  Bhagavad Gita enter into picture, to impart the right path, of performing the right type of 'karma' to Indian rulers of the 21st Century ?  Today's Indian rulers have to study Bhagavad Gita every day and search in it for solutions.   Can we say that promoting trade and looking after the interests of the traders,  is more important and paramount, than a getting a border dispute settled amicably?

Any non-violent crusading policy-maker might have tried to go slow on tourism and trade, till the border dispute is settled.

I do not want to belittle Bhagavad Gita in any manner.  It is not my goal.  I am more concerned about the approaches of interpreters, approaches of rulers,  and not about the merits or demerits of scriptures which were set thousands of years back.  That socio economic-political environment does not exist today.  Hence, the less relevance of ancient scriptures.

There is also a danger of law and order problems and communal tensions arising, whenever inconsistencies in religious scriptures are pointed out, howsoever reasonable that criticism may be.   Hence, it is better not to criticise all/any religious scriptures, if people are to live harmony.

It will be better to wait patiently, till a paradigm upward shift takes place in the analytical capabilities of people of all religions.


(To continue. ఇంకా ఉంది. सशेष.)