Here is a clip from Peter Brook’s brilliant adaptation of the Mahabharata (1989). It contains the film’s rendition of the Bhagavad Gita. I am rereading the Gita now and plan to write a review soon. I’ll argue that given the catastrophic destruction of life by the war’s end, a more reasonable response to the Gita is to question, rather than admire, Krishna’s "wisdom", and to see Arjuna’s straightforward doubts about the war as more genuine and human. In my estimation, the arguments that Krishna employs to convince Arjuna to fight are not very convincing, and are often pernicious. By extension, I think the Gita is not a worthy guide to life (or the ‘inner battlefield’), at least not in terms of moral reasoning. It seems to me that Krishna, using a dazzling array of abstract ideas and psychology, brainwashes Arjuna into thinking that he has penetrated his illusions to understand ‘ultimate reality’, from which vantage point the great warrior is able to overcome all his moral doubts: hardly a commendable state.
My critique will be hard to dismiss as an example of Western/Eurocentric bias (especially by irate Indian readers, some of whom did just that with Wendy Doniger’s take on the Gita), for I intend to amplify a critique of the Gita’s philosophical worldview that was extant within India even two millennia ago, in the thought of the Buddha himself and then Nagarjuna. (To be continued...)