Criticisms of the Gita and responses
Like the Bible, the Gita also has attracted a lot of critical scrutiny both in the West and in India. Hinduism has so far at least been quite tolerant of criticism, as it should be, but sometimes so ‘tolerant’ that even major points of criticism have not been responded to by many. Interpreters of the Gita such as Gandhi and Aurobindo did respond to some of them, but by and large, the criticisms have been ignored. Such an attitude, however, may not be quite helpful for a proper understanding of the texts criticised. However, it is wiser to attend to criticism and respond through logic and politeness than to launch abusive attacks or to threaten the critics physically. Surely, that kind of response is not in the spirit of Hinduism and even the Gita itself. The whole dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna is in the spirit of friendly and calm logical discussion. This chapter attempts a fairly comprehensive response to major criticisms made about the Gita, taking also into account responses made by others too. Though the Gita attracted a good deal of criticism mainly in the West before India’s independence, almost all the criticism made after independence has come from Indians, that too Hindus themselves. This is a healthy sign, indicating the scope for scepticism and openness in Hindu society. Faith should not be forcibly imposed; it should be heartfelt. In any case, criticisms merit response.