| Lord Meghnad Desai at AN Sinha Institute of Social Sciences in Patna on Wednesday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Professor Emeritus of London School of Economics Lord Meghnad Desai on Wednesday said the Bhagavad Gita was not “a suitable text for modern India”.
“Why are we respecting the text uncritically, which has so many flaws?” he asked while delivering a lecture on “The Bhagavad Gita: A secular inquiry into A sacred text” at AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies.
He said: “The Bhagavad Gita has many flaws and certain questions should be raised by us. My purpose is to analyse and deconstruct the text. I am trying to read the Bhagavad Gita as a secular text and not as a sacred text. I am putting certain questions to the authorship though multiple authors are there.”
Desai added that there are certain elements in the text of the Bhagavad Gita which are not suitable in modern India.
The Professor Emeritus said: “In the text, it has been asked to do karma without thinking about the consequences. How can it be said that we should not think about the consequences? Whatever we do affects others too. For example, if I start drinking and then driving without thinking about the consequences, I might kill many people on the road.”
He added: “If I do that, I might have to go for psychological examination. It is not possible that we go on thinking just about doing karma without thinking about others. How can we think only about ourselves and not others and go on killing people.”
Desai said the people should think about the consequences so that we do not harm others by our actions.
At the lecture organised by Nalanda University, he also talked about women and observed that women had not been mentioned in the text anywhere.
He said: “Women have not been mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita anywhere. It is just two shlokas where they have been mentioned. One among the two is that mentioned in 9.32 (chapter 9, verse 32) that is mam hi partha vyapasritya ye 'pi syuh papa-yonayah striyo vaisyas tatha sudras te 'pi yanti param gatim. The translation for this is ‘O son of Pritha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth, women, vaishyas [merchants] and shudras [workers] can attain the supreme destination.’ This is again to be thought about.”
Meghnad Jagdishchandra Desai is an Indian-born British economist and Labour politician.
Hetukar Jha, the head of the department of sociology, Patna University, chaired the event. The officer on special duty (academic affairs and university development), Nalanda University, was also present on the occasion. Asian Development Research Institute founder member Shaibal Gupta and Gopa Sabharwal, the vice-chancellor of Nalanda University, were also present at the event.