Bhagavad Gita is NOT the Bible of India

The forum has covered several instances of how digestion occurs, how to withstand it, and what we can learn and apply from BI & BD in preventing a cultural genocide of dharma civilization. Here is another example, where gullible Indians are eager to accept half-baked and even totally erroneous western equivalents for dharmic concepts and constructs. However, on the positive side, the author in question [G. Schweig], readily acknowledges this error. Much credit to him.
July 2013
Bhagavat gita: bible of India  
Sreenath posts:
Following is the back cover narration from a book "Bhagavad Gita: The Beloved Lord's Secret Love Song by Graham Schweig". May be we should call The bible as the Bhagavad Gita of Christ's teachings.

"The Bhagavad Gita is often regarded as the Bible of India. With a gripping story and deeply compelling message, it is unquestionably one of the most popular sacred texts of Asia and, along with the Bible and the Qur'an, one of the most important holy scriptures in the world.
Part of an ancient Hindu epic poem, the dialogue of the Bhagavad Gita takes place on a battlefield, where a war for the possession of a North Indian kingdom is about to ensue between two noble families related by blood. The epic's hero, young Prince Arjuna, is torn between his duty as a warrior and his revulsion at the thought of his brothers and cousins killing each other over control of the realm. Frozen by this ethical dilemma, he debates the big questions of life and death with the supreme Hindu deity Krishna, cleverly disguised as his charioteer. By the end of the story, Eastern beliefs about mortality and reincarnation, the vision and practice of yoga, the Indian social order and its responsibilities, family loyalty, spiritual knowledge, and the loftiest pursuits of the human heart are explored in depth. Explaining the very purpose of life and existence, this classic has stood the test of twenty-three centuries. It is presented here in a thoroughly accurate, illuminating, and beautiful translation that is sure to become the standard for our day"

Balakrishnan notes: As [Rajiv Malhotra has pointed out in the book [Being Different]....we have a library and not just a single book unlike Bible/Koran.

Koti agrees with the proposition:
"... Bhagavad-Gita is equated with the New  Testament (Christ's sermon on mount). I think there is nothing wrong with that. In fact BG is our New Testament, even though it fell on deaf ears for all practcal purposes! No Hindu scripture has such a blend of Philosophy and theology. ... But none of them have the scope of BG. BG is what many Hindus swear on the court....

... In fact, it is not at all wrong to say that Krishna is the Jehova, David, Solomon, Jesus, Mohamed, and Martin Luther of SD."

Rajiv disagrees with Koti and explains why:
This is a recipe for digestion.

Using Bible as analogy to define Gita reinforces Bible as the reference point for understanding Gita. Further analogies then follow - people define moksha as salvation, and so forth. The whole mapping of non-translatables into the predator paradigm follows.

Thats why we are where are - because Ram Mohan Roy started the trend 200 years ago to make ourselves look easy to understand in the other's terms of reference. It was his deep inferiority complex.

My new book explains that Vivekananda made a major contribution to reverse this digestion, by re-establishing dharma in our terms. By then the digestion had become very advanced. But what Vivekananda started was only partially completed by him. We must take this further to reclaim our tradition - also called decolonization. My new book is my humble attempt to make a contribution in this direction...  "

Indrani asks:
The issue of using the BG to swear in court - is this not a western concept? Hindus traditionally use Agni. In Trinidad, the indentured Indians used a lotah with water that signified Ganga Jal. We are not a people of the Book as far as I understand.

Sreenath responds to the comments on his post:
"I don't think Bhagavan Krishna would be insulted by this. He only taught us the message that "You can take different paths to reach Him".The apt sentence would have been that "The bible is the Holy book of Christians, The Gita is one of the most revered texts for Hindus. Christians give due respect to Bible and Hindus worship and try to learn the essence of Gita".  .... May be we need to elevate Jesus as one of the many million hindu Gods. We could pray to Him in a Hindu way.May be a concept of "Hindu temple for Jesus Christ" where we have the idol of Jesus christ along with all other Gods like Rama, Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha etc under one single roof. Then that may deter people who are confused about "how to get Moksha" from converting to other religions from Hinduism. Now they will get the same Gods blessings and there by Salvation from here too.

Rajiv disagrees: 
With all dues respects, Sreenath has not read BD to understand that moksha is NOT the same as salvation. hence the promised outcome is different. They are based on DIFFERENT ideas of the original nature of humans -
Original Sin in their case, and originally divine in ours. Please read my blogs on this at Huffpost. Also read: 

Sreenath forwards a response from the original author:
"... The statement certainly can be reversed, but for the Indian/Hindu audience most appropriately. Of course, the point of my mentioning it this way in my introduction was to give the uninformed Western Christian-based reader a sense of the degree of importance that the Gita generally holds in India, which I'm sure you can appreciate. But you're absolutely right in thinking it was a totally eurocentric statement! "

Rajiv Malhotra provides a more detailed response and context:
"These two texts refer to entirely different paradigms about the nature of ultimate reality, the nature of the human predicament, the nature of ultimate solutions possible, and the paths to follow. It is as stupid as saying that the telescope is the idli of physics. There is no end to stupid things one can make up. It is not an insult to just one text, but to both texts, because in either direction the mapping causes violence.

I am glad my friend G. Schweig acknowledged the error so truthfully. Had it been a typical RISA scholar, the response would have been to attack us as fascists, nationalists, Muslim killers, woman abusers - thereby entirely evading the real issue being raised.

Graham was ONE OF THE FIRST AND VERY FEW scholars to stand up and defend me at the AAR 2012 panel on BD where I was attacked by the Rambachan-Pennington side. He told them in plain language that what I had been saying all these years was valid, and my voice could no longer be ignored by them. He did this with no request from my side. He just sat quietly throughout the event, and during the Q&A raised his hand to make a clear and assertive statement with no mumbo jumbo or ambiguous language. Rare individuals inside the system do this. Most of my supporters inside the religious studies establishment (of which there are many) like to be private in their support, but do not have the combination of integrity-courage to speak up publicly.

I have discussed that AAR event in detail in this egroup. That event got me started on my current project to write a book that critiques the neo-Hinduism camp - something that has not been done by any scholar so systematically. Thats the book I am in the process of finishing up....Thats the same book of which I sent the complete pdf to Jeff Long, who had promised that the sole purpose would be send me his constructive inputs - but instead he started presenting its ideas as his own in the RISA list where I (and almost every one of you) is prevented from responding...."

Sriharsha comments:
This is slave and servant mentality to campare Geeta with Bible or Geeta with Quaran or any other foreign religious scripture. I request you and others to read these throughly and you would think differently and would never put them at the same level.

Rajiv: Agreed. If you watch my Youtube discussion with Mark Tully, you will realize how even the most liberal Christians like him cannot accept mapping in the reverse direction. It is violence in either direction.
[Here's the Mark Tully Video. Among the best ones!]

Maria provides another in-depth response to Koti:
"... New Testament has NOTHING TO DO with the Bhagavad Gita. In fact there is so less relation that is even not enough for making an analogy of it. The only common point is that both are considered sacred scriptures in their respective contexts. That is it.

New Testament tells the story...or history....of Jesus, his life, miracles and teachings. Only moral teachings. Full of do´s and don´t-s. There is no science in it. There is not philosophy in it. At least, not in the way the mainstream christian denominations teach christianity. 

Bhagavad Gita doesn´t tell the life of Shri Krishna. It tells his teachings which are so profound that gives way to many interpretations, at several different levels. There is science in it. There is philosophy in it. There are morals, of course, but not only morals. 

If I am a child I have enough with following the discipline that my parents and my teachers give me. I am totally dependent on them and need them for guiding my every step. When I grow up, I start thinking by myself and taking my own decisions. Then I will start looking for an inner guide. 

Bible contains a set of beliefs that one has to follow without questioning. Fixed ideas. Bhagavad Gita is an inner guide. 

Bible is black and white. Like most of the western mindset: good or bad, yes or not. It moves always between the duality. One can only go from A to B and from B to A and there are not teachings of how to trascend both A and B. No more complexity...and no more inner evolution. 
Bhagavad Gita is plenty of colours and nuances. Much more complexity. And a staircase to evolve step by step. 

New Testament doesn´t respond any philosophical question.Whatever philosophical question that a human being can wonder, finds an answer in the Bhagavad Gita and other Hindu scriptures. 

If one finds some analogies its because they are important texts of both religions, and I guess that, at least, some common points all religions have. But by emphasizing the analogies above the differences, with the passage of time, the differences become diminished (when they are the crux that makes the religion what it is!). This attitude would bring a universality that, given the circumstances and the predominance of the christianity  (because of their aggressive and imposing ways of spreading), that would conclude in the establishment of christian ideas diluting the differences that define our dharma....which means making dharma disappear.  

I want to go upwards in my evolution, not downwards. That´s why I came from the given religion by birth to the Hinduism. You people who are so lucky of having been born in a wise, vast and rich religion, before comparing, please realise that you are comparing a child with an adult. As simple as that. This is the first time I´m writing it: but yes, after my experience, I can say that the state of the abrahmanic religions is a childhood state. 

I really wished all hindu realised how lucky we are by having the opportunity of being in a dharmic religion. The whole cosmos is comprised in the hindu philosophy!. Let´s protect it by preserving what makes us different!"
The last word in this interesting debate goes to Vijayalakshmi:
" ... attempts are being made by various sections of christians to christianize India by  fraudulently converting gullible Hindus, it is  foolish  of some Hindus to think of placing  Jesus' statue in Hindu temples along with consecrated 'vigrahas'  of our Deities. The idea itself betrays a lack of knowledge of the basic tenets of  Hinduism.. The philosophy of Hinduism is so entirely different from Christianity, one cannot equate the two religions on par. Moreover, it should be understood that the Kurukshetra war in  Mahabharata was not fought for possession of kingdom, but it was a war between Dharma and adharma, and in the end Dharma reigned supreme. The teachings which  Lord Krishna imparted to Arjuna is meant for all of us,that we should be on the side of Dharma always. So Bhagavad Gita will always be relevant."