Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Aftermath of a Gita Ban – From Vladivostok to Vaikunta...


Reports that a Russian court has dismissed the ban on a commentary titled The Bhagawad Gita As It Is, based on the Bhagawad Gita, a holy scripture of the Hindus, reach the heavens, where Lord Vishnu, a form of whom – Lord Krishna – was one of the protagonists in the scripture; the other being his disciple, Arjuna. We now attempt to hypothesise what would have been a conversation between the Lord and his disciple in the wake of the dismissal of the ban.

O Lord, forget me, save the Gita from the controversies clouding it


Arjuna:
O Mahavishnu, have you been acquainted with the latest developments?

Lord Vishnu: My child, you seem to be agitated, as you were at the start of the battle at Kurukshetra. What is it that bothers you now?

A:
The ban on the Bhagawad Gita.

L:
 Oh, the trial in a Russian court against what was once an old conversation between us? Do tell me, O Arjuna, what has happened now? I must confess that I have failed to update myself on happenings in the world ever since I began residing inside a particle at a European laboratory called the CERN in order to enable some scientists discover me.

A:
The Russian court has dismissed the ban on the Gita, O Mahavishnu.

L:
That is definitely a good tiding, O son of Indra. Kindly explain to me the imbroglio that the text was involved. I was beginning to doubt that I had unwittingly promoted extremism.

A:
I must say I too had similar doubts O Lord, but I implore you not to place faith in the journalism of the humans, especially Indians. Swargaloka’s newer inmates tell us, in horrific detail, about the phenomenon called paid news that is devouring the Indian media.

L:
Paid news? This is all too confusing for me, O Arjuna. My head is swirling. I feel the earth beneath my feet giving way. Suddenly I am seeing nothing but darkness. O son of Kunti, lead me out of this nightmare as I did to you at Kurukshetra, eons ago.

A:
It is no longer Kurukshetra, O Lord. It is presently called Panipat, and is located in the Indian state of Haryana.

L:
Spare me the geography lesson, will you? I guess the enlightenment you attained from me seems to have worn off.

A:
Forgive me, O Lord. It must have been my enthusiasm to present the past to you. After all, it isn’t too often that the creator himself stands flummoxed.

L:
Any more of this sarcasm and I will have to unleash my Sudarshana Chakra on you.

A:
O Lord, it all began with a religious body in Russia wanting their government to ban the ISKCON...

L:
Hold on, what is this “icon” that you are talking about.

A:
O slayer of a slew of demons, from Pootana to the evil king Kamsa, it is not icon, but ISKCON, the International Society of Krishna Consciousness.

L:
You mean that a society exists in Earth to spread my message?

A:
Yes, o son of Devaki. It is popularly known as the Hare Krishna movement.

L:
I must say I am flattered.

A:
There was this religious organisation that, according to news reports, wanted to ban this movement in the Russian province of Tomsk, as they could not digest the progress being made by it. A commentary on the Gita by one of your devotees, The Bhagavad Gita as It Is, landed in controversy for its strong language.

L:
(Smiles) I am able to see a parallel with this and the discord between your brothers and your cousins, the Kauravas.

A:
The issue soon reached court, and despite repeated hearings, the religious group could not make any headway, with the judge picking flaws in their arguments. Soon, the issue reached Indian shores, where frayed tempers soon became the norm. Even Muslim and Christian groups objected to the ban on the Gita.

L:
You have gladdened me at last, O Arjuna. Although steeped in mistrust and rancour, different religious groups in India have at long last arrived at a common platform. What happened next?

A:
The issue soon reached the Indian Parliament, where lawmakers debated vociferously over it.

L:
Vociferous debates aren’t new to the Indian Parliament, are they? Surely, O Arjuna, I gather that you must be missing out something else.

A:
Subtle indeed is your sense of humour, O Lord. Parliament members across party-lines rose in unison against the ban proposal. In fact, a law maker was quoted as saying, “This session is a golden day in our history when all differences were deleted to express solidarity for Gita, the book of India.”

L:
And...

A:
Even intellectuals in Russia were critical of the ban. Eventually, the court had to dismiss the ban.

L:
You surprise me with your wisdom, O Arjuna. Granted that I had enlightened you once, but that was way back then. Are you holding back something else from me?

A:
(Looking sheepish) Thy glories never cease, O brother of Balarama. I updated myself on the issue by accessing the Wikipedia webpage on it to sustain our conversation. However, I do have a poser for you, O Lord. The philosophy “Do your duty, leave the results to me” is the essence of the Gita. I do not see that happening in this entire incident.

L:
Elementary, my dear Arjuna. Was it not my namesake of the Indian foreign minister who registered his protest with his Russian counterpart, a day before the judgment on the ban was to be delivered?

A:
By my Gandiva, it had escaped my mind completely. But, tell me, O Lord, how did it occur to you?

L:
You keep forgetting that we have the state-of-the-art 3G network in Vaikunta, my son...