Mar 27, 2023
Mar 27, 2023
by BS Murthy
To the uninitiated, Bhagavad-Gita was a discourse between Prince Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, on the eve of the battle of Mahabharata, chronicled by Vyasa through the medium of Sanjaya. In order to appreciate the Gita’s caste component, as opposed to its philosophical content, we must realize that whereas Arjuna was a Kshatriya, perceived to be the second highest rung of the Hindu caste-ladder (below Brahmins but above Vaisyas), Krishna, Vyasa as well as Sanjaya were Shudras, the supposedly low end of it.
Given his belief in and concern for his caste purity, Arjuna could be expected to have voiced his fears to Krishna over the impending death of multitudes of his caste-men at the very outset in ch1 -
V 40. Die aged en masse dharma’s votaries / Won't that let go youth ours haywire?
V 41. Sex ratio adverse that war ensues / Turns women soft on caste barriers.
V42. Fallen women all go to hell / What is more their bastards rob / Posthumous rites of forebearers.
v43. Liaisons low of women wanton / Set our race on ruinous course.
However, Krishna being a Shudra, would he have deprecated his own community in v32, ch9 in which it is stated that ‘women, Vaisyas and Shudras could win the Lord’s favor through devotion’, sounding as if they are all in an inferior league. Doubtful, isn’t it?
Moreover, having earmarked the caste duty of Shudras as menial work (v44 ch18), how come then Krishna would have assumed the role of a philosopher? Not only that, Vyasa, the transmitter of the Gita to the world was a seer nonpareil credited with the compilation of the Vedas, which is no mean a task, leave alone a menial work!
That brings into question the veracity as well as the credibility of v41 thru v46 of ch18 that describe the mundane duties of man on the basis of his caste (never mind Brahmin Dronacharya and his valorous son Ashwathama were donning the role of Kshatriyas in the very battlefield at that time) besides the foundational caste-oriented v13 ch4 in the Gita - chatur varnyam maya srustam, the plain reading of which would have us believe that the Lord Himself created the four-caste system to suit the inclinations of a given soul towards certain earmarked calling of social and spiritual life in this world. And then, as a rider that is vague at the very best; Krishna supposedly said that though He is the author of it all, He should not be deemed as the doer.
In view of the above, it is absurd that Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita would have formulated these caste biases and erected their functional barriers in ch18 through -
V47. It is better to do one’s own dharma, even though imperfectly, than to do another’s dharma, even though perfectly. By doing one’s innate duties, a person does not incur sin.
V48. One should not abandon duties born of one’s nature, even if one sees defects in them, O son of Kunti. Indeed, all endeavors are veiled by some evil, as fire is by smoke.
As detailed in my ‘Bhagavad-Gita: Treatise of Self-help’ sans 110 inane interpolations, the above and other deprecating verses were but mischievous insertions of the priestly class to subserve its mundane interests.
So, now it’s time for us all to follow Krishna’s advice to Arjuna in v63, ch18,
That thee heard of this wisdom/ For task on hand now apply mind.
More by : BS Murthy