Sunday, 15 July 2012

Ithamar Theodore's Gita

Dr. Ithamar Theodore is an ISKCON devotee and a Professor of something or other. In other words, he is bound to misunderstand the Gita. Yet, his book 'Exploring the Gita' isn't particularly egregious but conventional merely.
In his case, I imagine it must be the ultra conservative aspect of Sw. Prabhupada's ideology- itself a recent development in the movement inspired by Chaitanya- which renders the divine Comedy of the Gita obscure and mystagogic to him.
Simply put, Dr. Theodore thinks Arjuna says he won't fight because of of some sort of utilitarian or 'dharmic' calculus he has performed. Krishna then says something which expands Arjuna's information set with the result that he decides to fight. Theodore thinks what Krishna says has to do with ontology- a hierarchy of values and modes of being such that what appears at ground level to be cousins killing cousins over who gets a piece of ground, is actually something very nice and good and necessary for the comfort of higher types of beings or higher types of conceptions of the Good, located at the penthouse level.
The truth is there are a lot of crap stories where something like this does happen. The hero, who is a bit stupid, says he is sick of killing people. The wise Guide then says 'Killing them you are not young grasshopper. Tickling their tummies you are merely. Subtle Truth is. Grasped it is easily not . Princess Leia your sister, yea, verily is. Could you kindly throw away that crusty sports sock of yours now? Beating your meat over her, ashamed of, are you not you big perv?'
Fortunately, Vyasa made sure that the Gita- though appearing to be an episode of this type in a grand sword & sorcery Epic- does not suffer from this defect. How so? Well he made sure Arjuna got the equivocal faery gift of chakshushi vidya- which enables him to visualize anything in the form he wishes- long before the Kurukshetra battle.  Thus, Krishna- serving here as Arjuna's charioteer- is off the hook for the crap social philosophy in the Gita. Arjuna gets to see things the way it suits him to see things. Krishna pays the price. His theophany- being a sort of condign self-praise- is equivalent to suicide as he himself later reveals.
Prabhupada- a former Gandhian as we could easily guess- and his Socially complacent holier than thou organisation, don't have chakshushi vidya but they too have no difficulty seeing the world in the manner most flattering to themselves. Shame they have to drag the Gita into it. But, if they didn't, Krishna's self-sacrifice would be meaningless. It isn't the case that Christ must be re-crucified in every age so that more shite can be talked. But it is the case that that shitheads we will always have with us. Those shitheads will always endorse certain supererogatory crimes on the ground for the sake of the Rulers of the State on the First floor and the Rulers of Religion on the Second even though those supererogatory crimes are internecine only amongst those denizens of supposed upper storeys and generally arise from epistemological differences of the order of  'who smelt it, dealt it' vs. 'who denied it, supplied it' .

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