Imagine saying that out loud?
Author Phulgenda Sinha did, and he is not just affecting those people of Indian nationality that may be reading his book, he is affecting ME.
Sinha assumes that a people come to be and act in a way that is in accordance to the brightest thinkers of its time and radius of influence. And of those India has had a few. For example in Kapila (author/compiler of the Samkhya philosophy), Patanjali (compiler of the Yoga Sutras) and Vyasa (the writer of the Gita).
The brightest people define the thinking mechanism and the people follow. The most influential book in India is, the Gita. But what if the Gita was not what we thought it was?
In his search for truth, the author does an extraordinary work at weaving the thoughts of these influential thinkers (and others like Buddha, and Mahavira).
He notes how because of their particular circumstances, they were truly free-thinkers, how their philosophies were conceived without any restriction by religious inclinations and in their more pure and rational form while pursuing the biggest quest of all.
|Kapila, the mind behind Samkhya|
What is the biggest quest of all? That of coming out of suffering and being happy, of course, The eternal golden grail we all want, but in a rational way, in a thoughtful yet free of touchy-feel connotations, in a real way.
We hear how in the system of Kapila (Samkhya) God played no part. And in the system of Patanjali, well, perhaps you heard all the controversy around the sutras that include isvara (God), well, the book refutes it:
“It should be noted that the concept of God entered into Indian literature at the time of the revival of Bahmanism around 800 A.D. In our present study it has been shown that from the earliest time to the time of Patanjali, there is no mention of isvara as god in any Indian Literature. How then could Ptanjali talk of isvara, when the concept was unknown?” [my bold]
|Patanjali, compiler of the Yoga Sutras|
The Gita, you see, was brought forth (following the book recollection) by a sage called Vyasa, who thought that it was all nice and good with Samkhya and its encouragement that we should seek right knowledge, and it was all nice and good with Patanjali who added a healthy body and mind to the mix, but he believed that there was still something missing.
What was missing was that in every day life sometimes we come across situations that are very difficult to resolve. The type where we are doomed if we do and doomed if we don’t. What then?
He then set a stage in a Kingdom of North India where two cousins who had been brought up as brothers came into conflict with each other. Due to jealousy, one of the cousins was deprived of its land (for him and his people) after being promised such a thing if we went on exile for 11 years. Which he did. He then came back. And no land. So there was no way out, battle had to ensue.
|What Krishna told Arjuna before the battle
has been manipulated by lobbyist interests
since the year 800
Krishna, as you know, sides with the conflicted Arjuna who is confronted with the very ugly reality of having to kill those he grew up with, and the Gita starts.
But it is a VERY different Gita when the verses we read relate only to Samkhya and The Yoga Sutras. For starters it only has 86 verses which can be found within only the first three chapters.
It becomes very clear what verses are real Gita and which ones are not. Because those that do not relate at all to Samkhya or Patanjali’s (like “Chapter VII… talks about God, faith, Maya (illusion), Brahman and spirituality…“) are, well, ‘added’.
He provides an impressive list of verses that have been “interpolated”, meaning adding verses that are not so far off as to not seem authentic, yet with the intent to control the thinking and lead it towards a particular point of view, example:
“Chapter IV is entitled …Yoga of Knowledge Action, and Renunciation. The title suggests that one can expect to find some philosophical deliberations, but there is not a single verse which … containing any rational or philosophical thought. The whole chapter is concerned with the idea of incarnation, maya (illusion)… fourfold caste system, yajna (sacrifices), sin, faith…”
How did the caste system or the idea of sacrifices (related to Vedic ceremonies) come into play through Samkhya and Patanjali? There is no mention of either in them.
What Went Wrong
India has a caste system, four of them. I met a woman in my last trip to Mysore that belonged to the lowest of them. She did not know how old she was, she never looked me in the eye or accepted my thanks. She came, cleaned the floor and went back to her two sons and the depth of her poverty.
Brahmans in their quest for domination and maintaining their cast superiority added verses to the Gita to introduce Vedantic notes. According to the book this happened around the year 800 and on.
The only religious connotation in any of the major yoga philosophies, according to the book, was added then by a power struggle from the caste that rules India, the first, that of the Brahmins. It was done to maintain the lower castes in their own status quo, without letting them raise. You just continue doing what you do and leave all fruits to God, never question, lower your head, keep going.
This is how the author describes the national thought pattern of India today (book was first published in 1986):
- Work without caring for the results
- Act, but do not look for the fruits of action
- Desires cause sorrow therefore do not have them
- You only get what fate dictates
- Material wealth is inferior, spiritual life is superior
- You should strive to achieve unity with God for a happy life, to go to heaven and not be reincarnated
- Man is predestined and cannot do anything unless it is willed by God
- Sorrow, pain and misery can be removed only by God, not by human effort
— Fascinating read. Why does Amazon sell it for over one hundred and ninety dollars? I would not know. Good thing there are used copies available for fifteen!