Dr. Narendra Dabholkar


Prabhakar Nanawaty

Suman Oak

From the Email Box

Dear Shri Nanavati,

Let me at the outset wish you a very happy new year 2017,

Now about the issue of T&A forwarded by you.

I was quite disappointed by the article on Bhagavad Gita (BG). BG is not a thesis written by somebody to get his/her MA or PhD. Its study needs a different approach. A well argued critique of BG is provided by Amartya Sen in his “Idea of Justice” and Prof Hiriyanna in his “Outlines of Indian Philosophy”, Both do not blame BG for contradictions or repetitions because they understand the difficulties in reconciling Niti (the method of justice) and Nyaya (the idea of justice) in the overall context of Mahabharata of which BG is a part.

The whole approach of Ranganath R (the author) is fraught with negativity. He forgets that the central message of BG is Samatva (equanimity) which is not only a state of mind at a particular instance but an entire approach in the form of Niti. In this approach BG’s discrete assumption of four-fold divisions is incidental and is offered as a concession to the orthodoxy. It can be easily overturned by a more straightforward interpretation of Samatva which is a natural manifestation of Advaita’s Atman=Brahman. BG then easily connects with the preamble principles of secular Indian constitution. (In this context, Babasaheb Ambedkar’s critique of BG is quite interesting and well informed though he treats BG as a Brahmanical counter revolution against Buddhism).

I am attaching an appendix from my book “Advaita Vedanta – A Student’s Note” which connects BG with quasi-Rawlsian theory of justice – the basis of modern democratic republics. This is to show that even an ordinary liberal atheist can react to the tradition positively by removing the wheat from the chaff. But why to look at the tradition in first place and do this exercise of extracting the contemporary principles?.. Simply because it is impractical to keep aside the tradition or forget the history in its entirety.


I was wondering whether to respond to your perfectly reasonable previous post with which I agree in toto.

However, just to explain what I mean by separation of the wheat from the chaff in this particular context of BG.

The author (Shri Ranganath) says: “Inclusion of verses that are repugnant to human values even going by old primitive standards (verses 9.11, 9.32 and 9.33)”. His choice of verses and words shows a negative bias.

Here is the English translation of 9.11: “Unaware of my higher state, as the Lord of beings, deluded people disregard me, dwelling in the human form”.

What is so repugnant about this? As an atheist I can very well interpret this in a pantheist manner to say.. Lord in its highest (apophatic) nature dwells in all human beings.. (in fact He dwells in all the beings as a Lord of beings). Even if we bring in the Avatar concept, I don’t see anything repugnant in this verse although I may not believe in Avatar.

Then 9.32: “For, taking refuge in Me, they also O son of Partha who might be of inferior birth – Women, Vaishya, as well as Shudras – attain the Supreme Goal (moxa)”

Even if we assume that in the karmic framework, BG is calling women, vaishya, and shudra as of inferior birth, all of them are eligible for the Highest Goal without any discrimination. (Incidentally, Gyaneshwar, Madhusudana etc separate Paap Yoni from women, vaishya, and shudras). Thus, in this very life women, vaishyas, and shudras do not face discrimination in respect of the supreme goal.. why should this verse be repugnant even going by the so called old primitive standards?

Same is with 9.33.. As an atheist liberal I do not agree with four-fold division or the concept of God itself, but the purport of BG 9.32-33 is clear.. in respect of the supreme goal it does not discriminate between genders and between classes. Verses 9.32 and 33 are eulogy of Lord and nothing more! By the way, there are many other verse including BG 5.18 which puts Brahmin, dog, pariah, and elephant on the equal footing? (in my appendix attached with the previous post, I have quoted this and many other verses where Krishna is teaching equanimous equality)

Shashikant Padalkar

Dear Sri Padalkar Saheb

You may please appreciate the fact that both Sri Ranganath and sri Kumar are highly qualified and belong to highly Orthodox Brahmin Families. Sri Ranganath has read most of the sciptures. You will realise this If you read all the Blogs of Ranganath and Meera Nanda in ‘‘ BG was composed–,as some scholars say–by 3 authors. in around 3rd or 4th century AD . Vedic Priests under social & political compulsions { need not be explained here } had to produce a document as a Divine-Decree to enslave the whole society.

If you read BG again & again you will find that no other Divinity –Buddha, Jesus, Prophet Mohamud or Saint Basaveshvara – divided a society. They allspoke of oneness of Humanity But in BG CHATUR- Varna by Krishna has now become “Thousand Varnas and thousand conflicts. Anyone with some common sense will understand that 9–32 and33 were meant to declare “Striyo Vaishya thata Shudra” as Papayonees and make them subservient to the supremacy of Brahmins 33 says ” Kim punar brahmana punya bhakta rajarsya thata “{ Are they not born to women?} How blessed are brahmins and Kshatriyas is meant to claim exclusivity for themselves,, Having condemmed women as papayonis, soon after in 10th chapter he claims that he is the great qualities of ‘Stri’ 10th chap is nothing but self advertisement which is so ludicrous. We can go onand on. There are contradictions galore–between each verse and between each chapter,. If you read with critical insight you will come across all the absurdities


GK Shet Revankar


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