Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad Gita by ED Viswanathan has a catchy title. When I read the author’s bio, I thought that this book is going to offer me some new insights about the Gita. But this book just aims to cash in on the popularity of the Gita.
The book is not about the Gita. The author does not appear to have studied the Gita or done any serious research about it. He just wrote whatever he wanted to write and sold it under the garb of the Gita. Abortion, homosexuality, Sati, menstruation have nothing to do with the Gita. They don’t even find any mention in the holy book. Yet the author devotes chapters to each of these topics. There is no harm in discussing these issues. But selling it under the name of the Gita is certainly misleading.
The author attributes Lord Krishna saying in Mahabharata that non-violence is the ultimate Dhrama. So too violence is in service of Dharma. This jihadic interpretation of the verses is dangerous.
Having said that let me tell you what I liked about the book. The author says that Hinduism never forbids anyone from criticizing it. Unfortunately this unique aspect of the ancient religion appears to be forgotten in today’s modern times. Not even one Hindu has been banished or killed because he or she preached against the Vedas or made fun of the God. Through this book I learnt about Charvaka school in Hinduism, which did not accept the authority of the Vedas and which believed in materialism. The author also tells us that according to Sankhya school life on the earth is not a miracle worked by God but a creative process that passes through different phases of change and transformation. The author also claims that the order of the Dasa Avatars tallies with Darwin’s theory of evolution.
I also liked what the author has to say about salvation. He says the Bhagwad Gita asserts that salvation is for everybody. The only difference between people is the time salvation will take. The best among us will attain it in one lifetime and the worst will attain it only after many lives. The author also states that Hinduism does not glorify poverty. The author says that once you step on the ladder of spirituality you will only go forward, never backward. With regard to the references regarding caste and women in the Gita, the author says that Veda Vyasa has stated the prevailing beliefs of that time. Again the author makes a highly controversial statement by saying that Veda Vyasa has written the Gita.
You may like few concepts set out in the book. But this book is not about the Bhagwad Gita and it does not reveal any secret. So don’t judge this book by its cover.