Hindu Intellectual Apathy
Given the social mores of yore with the Vedic chores at their core that the puranic period had ushered in, the spiritual absorption of Gita’s inane interpolations in the Aryavarta of the bygone era is understandable, but what prevented its Hindu adherents in the medieval period, and prevents its Westernized votaries in the modern era, from seeing the wood for the trees?
Notwithstanding the advent of universal education that was once their exclusive domain, as the Brahmins continue to be Gita’s torchbearers, and since they are brought up on the Purusha Sukta’s false caste narrative, they tend to see nothing amiss in its caste aberrations. However, to be in sync with the times, they give politically correct hypocritical spin to its caste outrage of chātur-varṇyaṁ by feigning as if the varna (caste) is not meant to be taken literally for what was implied is that it’s one’s guna (quality) and not one’s birth (caste) that is the determinative factor in the social pecking order. Well, well, then what was the Brahmin resistance about to the admit Vishwamitra, the redoubtable Kshatriya sage of yore, into their haloed fold despite their reverence to the Gāyatri mantra that he composed! So be it but why there has been no upward mobility even in these days of the eminent Shudras on the caste ladder, even that of Ambedkar the intellectual colossus? Besides, not to speak of ‘the now’, in none of the puranic tales, was there ever an instance of a rogue Brahmin having been relegated to the Shudra substrata! So, the ‘caste not by birth’ innovation in circulation is nothing but insincere hogwash to mislead.
Since Sanskrit has long ceased to be in vogue, Hindus have come to rely on Gita’s translations to have a grasp of it, as is the case with their other epics, if at all that is, and the translators, for the most part, either provide a holistic meaning, wherever possible, to its offensive verses, and when not conducive for an inoffensive spin, then they tone down the inanities, and who cares any way. Thus, by not calling a spade a spade, they not only betray their intellectual dishonesty but also preclude a public debate about the inane interpolations altogether. If anything, when it comes to pushing these toxic insertions under the caste carpet, the spiritual leaders excel as professional preachers, which is of no avail as the slighted souls desist from walking over the same.
In Gita’s myriad world, are the lazy ones content in just reciting
karmaṇy-evādhikāras te mā phaleṣhu kadāchana
mā karma-phala-hetur bhūr mā te saṅgo ’stvakarmaṇi
Hold as patent on thy work
Reckon thou not on royalty
With no way to ceasing work
Never mind outcome but go on.
Well, if only it were as simple.
Though he too heard that, Arjuna didn’t think so.
Thus spoke Arjuna:
Why should one with right intent
Stray ever on the wayward ways!
atha kena prayukto ’yaṁ pāpaṁ charati pūruṣhaḥ
anichchhann api vārṣhṇeya balād iva niyojitaḥ
Thus spoke the Lord:
Well, it's passion, lust ’n wrath
Drag that man on path painful.
śhrī bhagavān uvācha
kāma eṣha krodha eṣha rajo-guṇa-samudbhavaḥ
mahāśhano mahā-pāpmā viddhyenam iha vairiṇam
Flame ’n mirror as shrouded
Without let by smoke ’n dust
As well embryo in the womb
Wisdom is by wants clouded.
dhūmenāvriyate vahnir yathādarśho malena cha
yatholbenāvṛito garbhas tathā tenedam āvṛitam
Thus spoke Arjuna:
Frail being man, fail I see
Yoga Thou espouse, lasting in practice.
yo ’yaṁ yogas tvayā proktaḥ sāmyena madhusūdana
etasyāhaṁ na paśhyāmi chañchalatvāt sthitiṁ sthirām
Can one ever tame his mind
Like the wind that yields to none?
chañchalaṁ hi manaḥ kṛiṣhṇa pramāthi balavad dṛiḍham
tasyāhaṁ nigrahaṁ manye vāyor iva su-duṣhkaram
Thus spoke the Lord:
Calm ’n custom bring in ropes
Tough ask though to subdue mind.
śhrī bhagavān uvācha
asanśhayaṁ mahā-bāho mano durnigrahaṁ chalam
abhyāsena tu kaunteya vairāgyeṇa cha gṛihyate
The Gita provides those ropes that the inane interpolations sap.
But yet in blissful ignorance, besides the one-sloka wonders are the silo-readers that pick a verse here and pluck another there from the interwoven text, of course from its translations, thereby gaining nothing in the process, save earning the membership of the Gita groups that now abound in the social media.
Even the earnest ones, who religiously go through the tome, come to naught for failing to apply their ‘faith-filled’ mind to its malcontent in it that begs for attention.
Besides these are the gullible seekers in their scores that take their self-styled guru’s interpretative word of Krishna’s word as the last word, and there is no dearth either of the supply-chain translators that churn out ‘Arjuna asked this and Krishna said that’ sort of stuff by recycling the imitative material in the book world. One may say that these are nearer to those Arjuna had in mind when he asked Krishna:
What if one
Throws up all
Lacks who zeal
Hath though faith?
ayatiḥ śhraddhayopeto yogāch chalita-mānasaḥ
aprāpya yoga-sansiddhiṁ kāṅ gatiṁ kṛiṣhṇa gachchhati
However, while the enterprising compartmentalize its interwoven philosophy of life into Gita for This and Gita for That kind of commercials for the marketplace, it is the gift of the gabs with their vacuous lectures that take the cake as gita-chāryās. Whatever it is, the Bard’s words - reputation is an idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit and lost without deserving – ring true on Gita’s universal stage, and if anything, the ostentation of many of these belies their tenuous grasp of its profound philosophy.
Needless to say, all these, who swear by the Gita, are no better off than those that unerringly keep away from it by mistakenly treating the inane interpolations as its innate philosophy. In what is an unparalleled irony, Vyāsā’s progeny mindlessly shun the mischievously tampered masterpiece of his! So, as the grandstanding by the gullible and the indignation of the mistaken constrain the Hindu polity on either bank of its interpolated waters, it is imperative for the left-castes to remove the rubbish from their ancestral stream that muddles the understanding of the right-backers no less.
But still the question remains; can any arrogate to himself the intellectuality to point fingers at the Gita ‘as it is’ that too after Adi Shankara the philosopher vouched for it in his bhashya and Aurobindo, Gandhi, Radhakrishnan et al endorsed it in their writings? Without any disregard for their immense intellect, the short answer is that ‘one puts up with what one grows up with’ and, so to say, they all dwelled on the ‘right’ bank in the times when caste was taken as a given. Why, don’t’ we have the anecdote of Adi Shankara in which he asked an untouchable to move farther away from him, only to realize later it was none other than Lord Shiva in disguise as a dalit; that should be that.
Now it’s over to the chapter-wise interpolative detail.