Friday, May 29, 2009

Some excerpts from Bhagvat Gita as interpretted by Gandhi

I am reading an book "The Bhagvat Gita by M K Gandhi" published by Diamond Books. I just want to record some the points that make a deep impression on my mind. I feel the interpetation of Gita by Gandhi would be most appropriate to study as he was the one who could realize the full potential of this great text and hence also didnot get trapped into bigotry and senseless contempt for other cultures and an arrogance for his own.

Introduction:
  1. Rules for studying Shastras:
    1. One must have a well cultivated moral sensibility and experience in the practice of their truths.
    2. One should not stick to its letter, but try to understand its spirit, its meaning in total context.

      For the second point he gives an interesting illustration:Tulsidas' Ramayana is one of the greatest works because its spirit is that of purity, compassion and devotion to God. He says 'an evil fate awaits one who beats his wife because Tulsidas has said in his work that a Sudra, a dull witted person, a beast and a woman merit chastisement. ' He explains that Rama never raised his hand against Sita, he did not even displease her at anytime (what abt the time he left her? I dunno, wish i could ask him). .... Ramayana was not composed to justify men beating their wives. It was composed to display the character of a perfect man, to tell us abt Sita, the noblest among chaste and devoted wives, and to delineate the ideal devotion of Bharath. He says "The support which the work seems to lend to evil customs should be ignored. Tulsidas did not compose his priceless work to teach geography. We should therefore reject any erroneous statements of geographical character which we may find in it." (I wanted to the mention the last sentence in the view of various controversies that surround us like Ram Sethu, Akhand Bharath and the location of birth place of Ram).

  2. It is the very beauty of a good poem that it is greater than its author.

  3. Did Arjuna's obsitnate refusal to fight had anything to do with non - violence? No. He had faught often enough in the past. In the present context he just did not wish to fight against his own kinsmen. Lord Krishna tells him 'You have already committed violence. By talking now like a wise man, you will not learn non-violence. Having started in this course, you must finish the job.' Gandhi further argues that had Arjuna had a general dislike for kiling anyone and had asked Krishna, the questions stated in Gita, the night before the battle he could have avoided bloodshed by trying to win over Duryodhana. Aksing the questions right in the middle of battle field changed the context.

  4. Duryodhana and his supporters represent the Satanic impulses in us, and Arjuna and others stand for Godward impulses. The Battlefield is our body.

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