Cloud 9 Minus One

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Gita as Philosophy January 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — sangeetamall @ 9:28 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Many Hindus believe Gita to be a philosophy text. Since I’m not a Hindu, I don’t believe it. But the judges of Madhya Pradesh High Court have little regard for people like me. They have issued a judgment proclaiming that Gita is a philosophical, not religious, text, and therefore it is perfectly valid for the government to introduce the study of the Gita into the school curriculum.
Why do I consider the Gita to be a religious, not a philosophical, text? In my mind the argument is simple. The Gita is spoken through the mouth of Krishna, a god of the Hindu pantheon, and therefore its contents are considered sacred, not secular, by Hindus. Sure, a lot of philosophical sounding stuff is put in the mouth of this god, but at the end of the day, the words come from a source of final authority aka a celestial, not earthly, being. Therefore these words cannot be questioned, not like the words of Aristotle or Plato or even my personal god, Bertrand Russell. The contents of the Gita are the final authority for Hindus, just as the contents of the Koran are the final authority for Muslims, ridiculous though some of the words might be.
Since I’m not a Muslim, I do not consider the Koran to be the final authority on anything. In a secular country, I retain the right to reject anything that I do not believe in, including both religious and secular texts. However, this would not be the case if I were living in fundamentalist Iran, or even parts of Pakistan. How all of us Indians mock such fundamentalist regimes, and how proud we are of our own secular, inclusive and tolerant credentials! But right here, right within our sight, a large swathe of our country is turning into a fundamentalist Hindu territory, and not many of seem to be bothered. The state of Madhya Pradesh has passed many pieces of legislation that are emblematic of intolerance. The ban on cow slaughter is extended to even suspicion of consuming beef, the punishment for which is seven years in prison. So if my neighbour has a bone to pick with me, he can claim it is a bovine bone, and all will be well for him! The state will send me to jail for seven years. And if I’m sent to school in that jail, I’ll be forced to read the Gita, a Hindu text.
I can thank god that I don’t live in Madhya Pradesh, but I won’t be so quick to thank him when ten years from now a radicalised cadre of Hindu jihadis emerge from that state to terrorise the rest of us.
Is there any way to stop this nonsense?

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