Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Should we all read the Gita? Or any other scripture?

Shri B.C. Bose, IAS, a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Defense, is reported to have said at a meeting at the Jawaharlal Nehru University a couple of days ago: "We should read all the so-called scriptures once at least. I have read the Gita and learned one thing: Don't bother reading it again".

While it may be fine for Bengali intellectuals to say such a thing, I doubt that the rest of us can say such a thing with any conviction.

We need to have reasons for reading OR not reading the Gita or, for that matter, any other so-called scripture.

The Gita is, in any case, according to our traditions, not at the same level as the Vedas.

So the rise of the Gita's popularity due to Western influence is both astonishing and sobering.

Why "astonishing"? Because one would not have expected Western influence to be so influential. Why "soberting"? Because the phenomenon demonstrates that anyone can get away with anything in our culture - without regard to truth or even to religious authority.

When the public is gullible, democracy is unreliable. The alternative is not to abolish democracy, but to wean our public away from gullibility to critical thought.

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