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A repeat post (2005 blog) on misquoting religious texts to support casteism and rituals and oppose widow-remarriage*

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A repeat post (2005 blog) on misquoting religious texts to support casteism and rituals and oppose widow-remarriage* Empty A repeat post (2005 blog) on misquoting religious texts to support casteism and rituals and oppose widow-remarriage*

Post by Seva Lamberdar Tue Oct 03, 2023 8:42 am

Sometimes the religious texts (such as the Bhagavadgita or Gita) are misquoted by people to imply support for casteism, avoid certain difficult decisions and duties, and promote particular religious rituals. For example, Arjuna utters the following verses (APPENDIX), in the Gita (Ch. 1: V. 40-44), to Krishna while trying to avoid fighting his relatives and friends in the battle of Mahabharata.

Here Arjuna indicates to Krishna that if he (Arjuna) fights his relatives, even if for the sake of justice, and kills them, he will become the killer of his relatives and family. He states that the deaths of soldiers (males usually) in the battle will leave many widowed women, who may not conduct themselves properly afterwards and will likely get into unacceptable and dishonorable relationships with men of other castes (vocations), families and tribes.

Arjuna further indicates that these unions (potentially sexual) might then lead to the birth of male children of mixed pedigree, who will not be genetically pure and fit in terms of their caste-lineage and thus unsuited to perform religious rituals to their ancestors. He tries to justify his inaction (i.e. not fighting the battle for righteousness) by saying that if he kills others, then there will not be proper religious rituals for the departed (dead)ancestors, and it will result in the suffering (hell) for that family (living members and the dead).

Krishna replies to Arjuna (APPENDIX), in the Gita (Ch. 2: V. 2-3, 11-13, 17, 22, 27; Ch. 16: V. 19-22), that Arjuna’s concerns and objections to doing his duty (fighting the battle for righteousness) are baseless. For example, there is no death of the soul (in a battle or elsewhere) and it only changes the body at the time of death according to the previous karma (actions). Moreover, there are no benefits or losses to it later, even from the religious rituals afterwards by others. Eternal soul’s condition (good or bad) after death and the attainment of everlasting peace and salvation are essentially dependent on a person’s attitude and conduct (good or bad) while living (the Gita: Ch. 2 – V. 71-72).

Krishna, using many types of darshanic (philosophical) arguments in the Gita (such as based on Samkhya, Vedanta and Mimamsa etc.), clarifies to Arjuna that there is absolutely no reason for him to be scared to fight the battle and abandon his duty. Arjuna’s earlier statements (Verses 40-44 in Ch. 1 of the Gita) thus are totally inappropriate and meaningless and should not be treated as a justification to support casteism and certain rituals. Moreover, considering Drupadi’s polyandric marriage to Arjuna and others, Arjuna’s statements here imply no opposition even to the remarriage of women and widows.

APPENDIX

Arjuna, “The destruction of a family destroys its rituals of righteousness, and when the righteous rituals are no more, unrighteousness overcomes the whole family.” the Gita (Ch. 1 – V. 40)

Arjuna, “When unrighteous disorder prevails, the women sin and are impure; and when women are not pure, Krishna, there is disorder of castes, social confusion.” the Gita (Ch. 1 – V. 41)

Arjuna, “This disorder carries down to hell the family and the destroyers of the family. The spirits of their dead suffer in pain when deprived of the ritual offerings.” the Gita (Ch. 1 – V. 42)

Arjuna, “Those evil deeds of the destroyers of a family, which cause this social disorder, destroy the righteousness of birth and the ancestral rituals of righteousness.” the Gita (Ch. 1 – V. 43)

Arjuna, “And have we not heard that hell is waiting for those whose familiar rituals of righteousness are no more?” the Gita (Ch. 1 – V. 44)

Krishna, “Whence this lifeless dejection, Arjuna, in this hour, the hour of trial? Strong men know not despair, Arjuna, for this wins neither heaven nor earth.” the Gita (Ch. 2 – V. 2)

Krishna, “Fall not into degrading weakness, for this becomes not a man who is a man. Throw off this ignoble discouragement, and arise like a fire that burns all before it.” the Gita (Ch. 2 – V. 3)

Krishna, “Your tears are for those beyond tears; and are your words the words of wisdom? The wise grieve not for those who live; and they grieve not for those who die - for life and death shall pass away.” the Gita (Ch. 2 – V. 11)

Krishna, “Because we all have been for all time: I, and you, and those kings of men. And we all shall be for all time, we all for ever and ever.” the Gita (Ch. 2 – V. 12)

Krishna, “As the Spirit of our mortal body wanders on in childhood, and youth and old age, the Spirit wanders on to a new body: of this the sage has no doubts.” the Gita (Ch. 2 – V. 13)

Krishna, “Interwoven in his creation, the Spirit is beyond destruction. No one can bring to an end the Spirit which is everlasting.” the Gita (Ch. 2 – V. 17)

Krishna, “As a man leaves an old garment and puts on one that is new, the Spirit leaves his mortal body and then puts on one that is new (according to karma done before).” the Gita (Ch. 2 – V. 22)

Krishna, “For all things born in truth must die, and out of death in truth comes life. Face to face with what must be, cease therefore from sorrow.“ the Gita (Ch. 2 – V. 27)

Krishna, “In the vast cycles of life and death, because of their bad Karma or actions, they inexorably are hurled down to destruction: these the lowest of human, cruel and evil, whose nature is hate.” the Gita (Ch. 16 – V. 19)

Krishna, “Reborn in a lower life, in darkness birth after birth, they go not to God; but they go down the path of hell.” the Gita (Ch. 16 – V. 20)

Krishna, “Three are the gates to this hell, the devastation of the soul: the gate of lust, the gate of wrath, and the gate of greed. Let a person shun the three (lust, wrath and greed).” the Gita (Ch. 16 – V. 21)

Krishna, “When a person is free from these three doors of darkness (lust, wrath and greed), he does what is good for his soul, and then he enters the Path Supreme.” the Gita (Ch. 16 – V. 22)

........................

* Subhash C. Sharma, "Misquoting religious texts to support casteism and rituals and oppose widow-remarriage," Dec. 14, 2005, http://web.archive.org/web/20090809230813/http://geocities.com/lamberdar/misquoted-texts.html
Seva Lamberdar
Seva Lamberdar

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Join date : 2012-11-29

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