Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Responses to Dr. Zakir Naik: Part 3: Vedas Vs the Bhagawad Gita

In one of his lectures, Dr. Zakir Naik says that Bhagawad Gita is not the authentic source, only Vedas are. He parallels Vedas with Quran - the word of God - and Gita with 'Other Books'. He also claims that since Gita is from Mahabharata, which is not a Shruti, it is not authentic.

Here are my perspectives of his misinformed status: 
1) You cannot judge one religious scripture on the basis of another. Quran or Islam cannot be a scale (or standard) to judge the Vedas or the Gita or Hinduism in general. Attempting to understand the imports and purports of the vedic texts via Quran is like an attempt at understanding the planetary systems using a microscope, or  measuring an ocean using a one foot stick. It simply is a wrong scale. 
  • For a Muslim, Quran is a BOOK handed down from the heavens, but for a 'Hindu', Vedas are not the 'BOOKS', they are embodiment of eternal knowledge, wisdom, and truth. 
  • For a Muslim Quran is a verbatim 'BOOK' of God as it was delivered to Prophet Mohammed via Angel Gabriel [sometimes I wonder if they are referring to the great Sage Narada, who interacted with all great souls and demons alike, anyway]. 
  • For a 'Hindu', vedic texts are 'apaurusheya' (not an outcome a human act), but the revelations are not as closed as it is in Islam (for the Muslims), because God is not someone sitting on top somewhere in the sky and dictating terms, but the very spirit that resides at the center of everything - in one's heart. There is a massive difference between the basic concepts of understanding, so it would be improper to even make a comparison without acknowledging these differences.  
  • Islamic God (Allah) is sitting on a throne somewhere in the heavens but God for the 'Hindu's is a omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent being, who is at the center of everything. Muslims may take objection to the omnipresence of God based on their understanding of Quran, which is worthy of respect, but that is only a perspective how-much-ever they claim it to be the only truth. 
  • When there is such fundamental differences in perceptions (about religion, way of life, God etc), how can there be a comparison? How can we compare these 'revelations' without clearly understanding the key differences of fundamental aspects of the two beliefs? 
2) Yes, the 'Hindu' scriptures are often classified as Shrutis and Smritis, but these are classifications of convenience only. One may be hard-pressed to find a mention of such classification in the scriptures themselves. Most Vedic scholars have confirmed the vedic texts as mutually complementing, supporting and corroborating one another, and there are no contradictions in this regard. Any seeming contradictions are only due to ignorance, and the lack of proper understanding of the concepts.   

The greatest of all Vedic Scholars is Maharishi Vedavyasa, who classified the Vedic traditions into the four that we all know of now, is also the author of Mahabharata and Srimad Bhagawatam. This itself is a proof enough for the authority of the vedic texts, because no one could have understood the essence of all the vedic texts and traditions. Vedavyasa has, and the contemporary scholars have, affirmed the nature of Sri Krishna, as the Lord Himself. And, Gita is "vyasEna gratitAmonly (written down, as is) but "pratibodhitāḿ bhagavatā nārāyaṇena svayaḿ" (instructed directly by the Lord Narayana Himself). What can be more authentic than the Lord instructing Himself rather than an angel translating it to a Prophet? The Muslims may argue against this but ironically this is the very basis on which their entire belief system stands - that the God reveals truth. If God can reveal, what stops Him from revealing it Himself to the best of His devotees instead of via a mediator? 

What is the position of Bhagawad Gita in the light of the Vedic texts? All the greatest Vedic scholars in history have treated three scriptural types (prasthana trayas) as the authorities - a) Upanishads, b) Brahma Sutras, and c) Bhagawad Gita. Anyone who claims to be a Vedic scholar and any school of thought that claims to be authentic needs to have a commentary on the prasthana traya. There is no difference of opinion in this matter among the greatest Vedic Scholars like Sri Shankaracharya, Sri Ramanujacharya, Sri Madhvacharya, or Sri Nimabakcharya or many others. How is Dr. Zakir Naik qualified to make such [immature] statements on such matters is unclear!

So, it is a farce to even debate about "Bhagawad Gita Vs Vedas", because they are fundamentally non-different. There is no split. Bhagawad Gita has often been classified as "Gitopanishad" by the greatest Vedic scholars because it follows the traditions of the Upanishadic style of exchanging supreme knowledge, where there is a 'teacher' answering to the questions and doubts of a 'shishya'. And, the greatest of scholars have acknowledged the fact and praise Bhagawad Gita as: "sarvOpanishadO gAvaH dhogdhA gopala nandanaH", that Gita is the cream of all the Upanishads put together. Sri Krishna is praised in all the Vedic texts as proclaimed in "vedaiḥ sāṅga-pada-kramopaniṣadair gāyanti yaḿ sāma-gāḥ", that Sri Krishna is the Supreme Lord Himself, as praised in the "divine hymns of the Vedas and their supplementary parts such as the Upanisads". This is enough to say that Bhagawad Gita is the word of the Lord, and thus the essence of all that is there in the vedic texts and all the puraNAs. 

Muslims are 'given' Quran according to their intelligence and they have every right to believe what they believe in, but the misfortune is when they attempt to understand everything from only their perspective. This rule is called the 'koopa maNDooka nyAya' - a frog from the well attempting to understand the depths and breadths of an ocean in comparison to the well that he knows. 

No comments:

Post a Comment