Often I come across people who say things like: “I’m not religious but I’m spiritual,” “I like the philosophy of Hinduism but I don’t know why we have all these rituals,” or “If we can rid our religion of all superstitions and rituals, then it would become relevant.” I must confess that at one point of time, I too had similar thoughts.
Kosambi says that the Bhagavad-Gita verses 2.55-72 would not have been possible without the influence of Buddhism (M&R, p. 20). There are three reasons why this statement is absolutely false:
Kosambi goes on to question the veracity of the Mahabharata’s claim on the numbers:
“If a Mahabharata war had actually been fought on the scale reported, nearly five million fighting men
killed each other in an 18-day battle between Delhi and Thanesar…”
(M&R, p. 17)
After briefly referring to some commentators on the Gita—including Shankara, Ramanuja, Jnaneshvar, Tilak, Aurobindo, and Gandhi—Kosambi again raises the question as to how the same text could appeal to different people in different ways. He concludes his rant with these ridiculous lines:
In 1962, the Marxist historian D D Kosambi published a work titled Myth and Reality: Studies in the Formation of Indian Culture (hereafter referred to as 'M&R'). The first part of the book is called ‘Social and Economic Aspects of the Bhagavad-Gita’ and deals with the philosophical, ethical, and historical aspects of the Gita.
It seems to me that we Indians are quite talented at criticism. Rapier-sharp logic and critical reasoning has been a part of our heritage for millennia. Such criticality, in the right measure leads us to growth, but in excess leads us to pessimism, cynicism and eventually inaction. I often hear people complain about several historical blunders that we have committed and how it has brought us down, but I rarely get to hear solutions (especially ones we can implement at a personal level).
Ananda Coomaraswamy remains one of the most staunch defenders of the Indian tradition in the mold of what David Frawley calls an intellectual kshatriya. Coomaraswamy wrote a series of articles about the state of (the British-imposed) Indian education and alerted Indians about its perils.
Ananda Coomaraswamy mostly wrote for a scholarly audience, so he didn’t quite use the forthright language that Swami Vivekananda did: