Gita and Gandhiji

Gita and Gandhiji

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Book Specification

Item Code: UAM851
Author: Dr. Ramesh S. Betai
Publisher: National Gandhi Museum
Language: English
Edition: 2002
ISBN: 8121207991
Pages: 330
Other Details 8.90 X 5.90 inch
Weight 550 gm

Book Description

Generally, people read only the translation of the Gita by Gandhiji. Such a reading is alright in a way, viz., only to know how Gandhiji would interpret consistently all the 700 verses of the Gita. But to know how the Gita influenced Gandhiji's entire life including his social, political and economic dealings as also his teachings, there is as yet no book available. This need has now been fulfilled by the present work of Dr. Betai.

I have read with interest Dr. Betai's work on 'Gita and Gandhiji". Generally, people read only the translation of the Gita by Gandhiji, Such a reading is alright in a way, viz., only to know how Gandhiji would interpret consistently all the 700 verses of the Gita, But to know how the Gita influenced Gandhiji's entire life including his social, political and economic dealings as also his teachings, there is as yet no book available. This need has now been fulfilled by the present work of Dr. Betai.

Dr. Betai has shown in chapter ten that Gandhiji is a Bhashyakara on the Gita and as such he should find a proper place among the Bhashyakaras. To interpret all the 700 verses without being inconsistent as regards the interpretation of each single verse with the rest of the Gita is not a small thing. Even in Shri Shankaracharya, we find inconsistencies. To illustrate, Shankara takes Shri Krishna as his Saguna or comparatively real Principle throughout his interpretation of the Gita, but the same Acharya, while interpreting Gita XIV: 26 27, gives an interpretation in which he takes Krishna as the Nirguna or absolute Reality. But Dr. Betai's interpretation of the Gita clarifies to show that though Gandhiji follows the method of a Bhashyakara in understanding and interpreting the Gita, he is thoroughly consistent in his stand.

Dr. Betai has also shown how Gandhiji remarkably differed from Tilak, Radhakrishnan and others on the Gira. In the opinion of Tilak, Himsa as also Asatya (Telling a lie) would be possible to be committed without any selfish purpose. But Gandhiji held that such actions as killing, telling a lie, deceiving somebody etc., are never possible if a man is totally unselfish, totally Anasakta, as the Gita would tell in his opinion. Gandhiji holds that even if a man commits an act of killing even while working for the good of others or for the benefit of a nation or humanity that he loveser adores, his act of killing is selfish or done with asakti. Looking to our modern times, Gandhiji seems to be undoubtedly right, because we should, in our behavior, look upon the whole world (and not only India) as our (or 'my) world, otherwise, one nation guided by its one disinterested leader would deeply harm another nation and would say that he has no self-interest. This viewpoint of Gandhiji has been brought out by Dr. Betai in his Chapters on Gandhiji's Interpretation of the Gita (Chapters 4 and 5).

In Chapters 6 to 9 Dr. Betai has collected all material from Gandhiji's other works to show how Gandhiji understood the bhavartha, the spirit, of the Gita, as distinguished from the shabdartha or the word, the verbal sense of the Gila. Thus, Dr. Betai has found that Gandhiji traced his Spining Wheel doctrine from Gita (Shreyan svadharmo vigunah paradharmat svanushthitat Svadharme nidhanam shreyah paradharmo bhayavahah). Gandhiji stated that dharma in the Gita means that which would save the economic and spiritual life of a nation, and according to Gandhiji, the Spinning Wheel would save the economic and spiritual life not only of India but of the whole world. The Spinning Wheel is meant by the Gita's dharma, for the present world.

Dr. Betai gathers information from Gandhiji's works (other than his comments on the Gita) to show Gandhiji's fight against untouch ability. Gandhiji depended upon Gita (Mam hi Partha vyapashritya ye api syuh papayonayah Striyo vaisyas tatha shudras te 'pi yanti param gatim). The same is the Gita's authority for Gandhiji to fight against the Indian Caste-system. Who can say that Gandhiji is wrong here? The Gita presented its fresh Bhakti doctrine to fight against the Caste-system supported by the followers of the Jnana doctrine. In fact, the present day untouchable is not the one mentioned in the Manusmriti. The modern untouchable is the creation of the old society which was later than Manu.

The following pages are a result of about two years' study and investigation. The work of studying the problem of the influence of the Gita in the interpretation of Gandhiji's teachings and studying his own interpretation of the Gita, was entrusted to me when it was offered by the Government of India to Gujarat Vidyapith, specially in view of the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi. I was not only happy but proud when the work was entrusted to me because this gave to me an opportunity to probe into the life and mind of a great man who shaped the destinies of modern India, and through his service and struggle for the uplift of India, became a torch-bearer lighting the path of progress of humanity towards eternal peace and happiness. I knew then, and I know all the more today, the great difficulty of the work undertaken and completed by me. It is associated with a religious scripture that is given to humanity by Yogeshvara Lord Krishna and has commanded utter devotion and following of Hindus for more than 2000 years and has consequently been subjected to so many varied interpretations. It is again associated with a great man, whose principal doctrines of life were Truth, non-violence and world peace. He was the most difficult to understand, even though his life has been, throughout, an open book. It is not necessary for me to refer at this stage to the great importance of the Gita in Gandhiji's life and work, the problem of how the Gita shaped his mind and personality, the problem of his peculiarly interesting interpretation and the resultant teachings of the Mahatma and so on. I have discussed the problems in detail in the pages that follow. Here, I would only state that I have undertaken the study with devotional zeal, being careful all the while that the great devotion in which I hold the Gita and Lord Krishna and the veneration in which I hold Mahatma Gandhi, should not cloud and overcome my reason and evaluation. I have never forgotten that this is a scientific study and as a scientific study, it is expected to be perfectly impartial, unbiased and objective. I leave it to the worthy reader to judge whether or not I have succeeded in my effort in this particular approach.

Before I undertook the study, I was wondering and asking myself as to how far, we in India, have understood the secret of and real greatness of Mahatma Gandhi. After this study I have realized that very few of us know the secret of and his real greatness; he is far greater a man than we know him to be; very few of us understand him. The following pages are my humble effort to understand and evaluate the Mahatma in the light of a basic, fixed problem. It is again for the worthy reader to judge how far I have succeeded in my effort.

During the course of my study, I prepared two questionnaires one for the devotees of and scholars on Gandhism, another for scholars of Sanskrit and Vedanta. I am grateful to all those scholars who discussed with me or answered my questionnaires. Their views have been of immense help to me in the evaluation of my own conclusions. I should particularly refer to Shri Kakasaheb Kalelkar, Shri Dolarrai Mankad, Late Shri Maganbhai Desai, Shri Chhaganlal Joshi, Dr. T.N. Dave, Dr. G.K. Bhat, Dr. P.M. Modi, and Prof. J.J. Pandya.

Dr. P.M. Modi and Prof. J.J. Pandya-two prominent scholars on Vedanta in general and the Gita in particular-took keen interest in my work and gave valuable suggestions during the course of my study and preparation of the work. No words of thankfulness can reward.

their love and regard for me and for my work. In the end, I may take an appreciating note of the work of the assistants who took extracts, prepared copies, prepared the Bibliography etc., as I instructed them. With this, I submit my work to the judgment of the worthy reader and that too with the deep, genuine and humble feeling that:

आपरितोपाद्विदुषां न साधु मन्ये प्रयोगविज्ञानम् ।

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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