Bhagwad Gita inspired Robert Oppenheimer for Hiroshima-Nagasaki’s ‘Liitle Boy & Fat Man’ atom bombs.
Bhagwad Gita inspired M.K. Gandhi’s Ahimsa (Non-violence movement) as a strategy for India’s freedom struggle.
One source. Polar interpretations.
Bhagwad Gita is a Rorschach test. So is its orator, Krishn.
On the eve of Janmashthami (Krishn’s birthday), let us try to explore the Krishn Rorschach.
He plunged through the entire gamut of human roles and tasted life down to its last drop.
He led and encouraged his young gang to be ‘accessories in butter theft’.
Unsavory specimens of humanity find their unlikely hero in Krishn – the eve-teasers, the thiefs, the criminals, the terrorists (Who is to decide their cause is unjust once they are brainwashed into believing it is ‘just’? )
Colorful aspects of Krishn’s life get celebrated: Namely, Rang-panchmi and Dahi-handi/ Gopal-kala becomes ground for drenching passerbyes (willing or unwilling), for hurling balloons (filled with water, or blinding chemical dyes, or mud!!), for bingeing on bhang, for gambling, for eve-teasing, for chaos, traffic jams.
To this date, any male with a battery of female admirers is termed ‘Kanhaiyya’. Today, killing blood relatives is justified on any passing whim.
The easier aspects of Human Krishn get either hailed, practiced (but with a devilish twist of their own) or celebrated with gutso & glee.
The other, more difficult to emulate aspects of his persona are conveniently ascribed to his Divine form. Safely pushed onto God Krishn, so that human beings are automatically absolved of all efforts to emulate him!
Fortunately there is Gita Jayanti celebrated at Kurukshetra (click on link) in Nov-Dec. http://blessingsonthenet.com/indian-festival/festival/id/173/kurukshetra-festival/.
But, of course, it never attained the popularity status of the more raucous and marketable Rang panchmi & Govinda.
B. Gita is NOT a religious text. It is a lifestyle guide, a manual that accepts ‘Situations may not alter. Your attitude to the situation may alter it.’
Unfortunately, it sits as mute witness to perjury and injustice. Or else it gets sandwiched in petty battles between Hinduist politicians (I am sure 90% have not read a page of it ) and ‘alternate interpreters’, like Wendy Donniger (click here for a satyr on Donniger fiasco).
Krishn’s entire life is an open book. He seems to be saying, ‘Here I am; this is Me.’
There is the casanova, carefree, naughty, romantic Krishn. There also is the articulate, wise, onus-taker , diplomatic Guide and philosopher Krishn. Which aspect we chose to emulate and which to celebrate is a challenge he has thrown us.
As Irawati Karve says in Yuganta, (click here for book review) ‘He did not merely preach the Bhagwad Gita. He lived it.’