Justifying the ethics of war

18 Dec

…not. I woke up today to a story in the newspaper saying that Russia is considering banning the Bhagavad Gita for being ‘extremist’ literature. Somewhere in the story, the writer of the piece mentioned that the Gita, amongst other things, is a treatise on the ethics of war. That got me thinking: a lot of people probably read it at a very literal level, don’t they?

I’ve only recently started reading an interpretation of the Gita. The reason I never wanted to pick it up earlier was because I was afraid of what I would meet within the pages. Not reading or speaking Sanskrit myself (I picked French as the optional language, and no, I can’t be thrown into Paris and be expected to survive upon my language capabilities. Also, why French? I’m not a francophile, I just hated my introduction to Sanskrit at my first school.) I would have to rely on interpretations. Hell, even if I spoke Sanskrit, I doubt I would have ‘got’ the Gita: I need help to understand.

I feared to find within its (interpreted) pages evidence that I ought to keep well away from ‘canonical’ religious texts. I’m always suspicious of religion. Unlike spirituality, it tends to take one away from a one-to-one relation with God. Organised religion needs its institutions and middlemen: and you to patronise its institutions and middlemen in order to survive financially and structurally. I’m not saying religious institutes play no role in one’s spiritual moments: I myself have experienced moments of epiphany and intense spiritual connection while at some temples. I’ve been overwhelmed with weepiness and emotion at two mountain-top temples, for instance. But it’s a fine line between accepting the learning that such physical spots provide and between relinquishing your quest for God entirely to temple visits, pujas and prayers that have more to do with following the letter of some religious rulebook than a heartfelt conversation with the Supreme Power.

Earlier this year, the Divine Power probably deemed it right for me to aquaint myself with Sri Paramhansa Yogananda’s two volume interpretation of the Gita. I’m reading it. It’s a slow read, maybe a section a night. But it is a distinct step forward in my spiritual journey. Sri Yogananda and what he teaches represents the voice of spirit that I humbly bow to and am guided by. It is the Light that God has deemed fit to teach me.

Sri Yogananda reads the Gita as an allegory (He also reads the Bible as an allegory). The war is between one’s higher and lower self. And yes, it explains and justifies the internal war that will let one’s higher soul triumph over the sense-enslaved lower self that keeps humankind away from its true heritage and destiny in God-Realisation.

Maybe one day I will realise the Gita enough to write a knowledgeable and love-filled post about it. But today all I feel like typing is that it is as silly to ban a book of God as it is to spend resource, energy and hatred to contest the ban. If you are looking to know God, God finds you anyway. If you are determined to justify your hatred through some misinterpretation of Good Words, then you are going to do so anyway. Time and energy is claimed by so many aspects of everyday living: why waste that which is available in anything but in trying to know Divine Love?

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