February 20, 2013
Gandhi And The Gita
Mahatma Gandhi was a prominent leader in Indian nationalism during British-ruled India. He was a firm believer in non-violent, civil disobedience and lead inspirational movements across the world. Mahatma Gandhi's commentaries on the Gita are regarded in India as among the most important of the century. The Bhagavad Gita is a 700-verse scripture that is part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. This scripture contains a conversation between Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide Lord Krishna on a variety of theological and philosophical issues (Wikipedia). In Gandhi’s commentaries he addresses the issues he felt most directly affected the spiritual lives of common people. In Chapter 3 of Gandhi’s commentary of the Gita, he goes on to explain yajna. Yajna means any activity for the good of others. A man works for the good of others when he spends his body in their service. This should be done in a spirit of dedication to God. The word yajna comes from the root yaj, which means: "to worship", and we please God by worshipping him through physical labor- work is worship. Gandhi starts off the yajna explanation by presenting us with the idea of animal sacrifice and how it was prevalent at one time, but not so much during the modern decade. Amongst the Hindus, animal sacrifice was a symbol of yajna. But Gandhi could disagree. He believed, you could serve the good of the world by refraining from causing suffering to animals, because you should cherish the lives of other creatures as you do your own. “We need not go into why in the past people performed or even at the present time do perform - animal sacrifice” (63, Strohmeier).
To that end, Gandhi continued on by stating that there is no harm in expanding or adding to word “yajna,” even if the new meaning or connotation he adds behind yajna was never in Vyasa’s mind.
The next part of sacrifice Gandhi interprets is: "Along with yajna the Lord created men.” Now, he goes on to...