“In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmological philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita , in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial” – Henry David Thoreu
I came across a news article today in the Economic Times (India) which published the news that the Bhagavad Gita (An Indian religious book equivalent to the Bible) is all set to be banned in Russia for fuelling “extremism and hatred”.
The Gita, as it is also known, is essentially a conversation between Lord Krishna and his favorite student/devotee Arjun before they go for the war (Mahabharat fought between Pandavas and Kauravas) and has been split into 700 verses (18 Chapters). The Lord Krishna gives a discourse on different subjects that plague the common mind and answers to which lead to self realization and relationship with God.
The conversations are in the form of verses in Sanskrit language, which I am not proud to say I don’t understand, and for the obtuse minds like me, there is an explanation that follows if you buy the English copy like the one I have.
I have never read the Gita, but I have heard it many times, [growing up with my granddad I would hear him chant the verses every morning religiously, which I am sure an experience many Indian children will share], chanted some of the verses in the morning prayer at high school [in school I was in a Convent so it was more of Christianity..], and also attended an ISKON gathering in Bay Area where the teacher (an American who spoke fluent Sanskrit I am ashamed to say) and his regular students (which also had a lot of fluent Sanskrit/Hindi speaking foreigners, ahem..) were discussing one of the verses and I happened to be present because one of my senior team member dragged me there with the lure of good food at the end of the session [yeah I know what you are thinking…].
So, seeing this article today was actually a surprise if not a complete shock. Unlike other religious books which do have content that are fascist and extremist, the Bhagavad Gita is quite a passive book so the thought process behind banning this book cannot be what is being told in the papers for sure.
But then with people like me and my generation and the next...who have never gotten around reading this book the question that comes to my mind is if the book will be lost into the oblivion eventually – with or without the ban?