Some years ago, a reader wrote to me with an experience that he said vexed him. The relevant portion of his email is produced below:
…during a talk with a liberal friend of mine, regarding the MF Hussain episode…friend talked on the lines of what liberals usually speak i.e. Kamasutra, Khajuraho…But…his explanation that Brahma marrying his creation (daughter) Saraswati amounted to incest which according to him means Hinduism sanctifies such relationships…made me quite uncomfortable and disturbed.
Khajuraho, Raneh Falls, Madkhera, Deogarh
It was time to head to Khajuraho (from Bheda Ghat).
Kosambi finally gives his homemade add-salt-to-taste philosophy of how we should view ancient texts:
Kosambi launches into a polemic against Krishna, considering him as a real person, forgetting that he himself had cast doubts on the existence of Krishna in the first place. Kosambi spews venom against the acharya of the Gita (emphasis is mine):
Through the ages, in the writings of great thinkers and social commentators, we find a certain weakness for nostalgia. We often find passages that bemoan the fall in moral values in the present generation (as it applied to them) and how the days of the past were so much better.
After casting aspersions on the authenticity of the Great War, Kosambi goes on to examine the ethics of the Gita as if the war happened exactly as narrated by the Mahabharata (emphasis is mine):
A popular prayer from the Upanishads implores a movement from lies to truth, from darkness to brightness, and from death to eternal life (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28). The second line of this prayer – तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय – is no doubt a metaphor, the darkness representing ignorance and brightness representing wisdom. Ignorance often results from laziness, and the word ‘tamas’ in Sanskrit captures all these shades of meaning – darkness, lethargy, ignorance, error, illusion, etc. Deepavali, in some sense, is victory over tamas.
ಭಾರತೀಯರು ಹಬ್ಬಗಳನ್ನು ವ್ರತ, ಪರ್ವ, ಮತ್ತು ಉತ್ಸವಗಳೆಂದು ಪ್ರಾಯಿಕವಾಗಿ ಮೂರು ವರ್ಗಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಕಂಡರಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ವ್ರತ ವೈಯಕ್ತಿಕವಾದದ್ದು. ಧರ್ಮ-ಮೊಕ್ಷಗಳಿಗೇ ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಾಧಾನ್ಯ. ನಿಯಮ-ನಿಷ್ಠೆಗಳ ಅಂತರ್ಮುಖತೆಗೇ ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಅಗ್ರತಾಂಬೂಲ. ಪರ್ವ ಕೌಟುಂಬಿಕವಾದದ್ದು. ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಅರ್ಥ-ಕಾಮಗಳೂ ಹದವಾಗಿ ಕಲೆಯುತ್ತವೆ. ನಿಯಮ-ನಿಷ್ಠೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಹಾಳತವಾದ ಆತ್ಮೀಯತೆ, ಅಚ್ಚು-ಕಟ್ಟುಗಳೂ ಕೂಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳುತ್ತವೆ. ಉತ್ಸವವು ಸಾಮೂಹಿಕ(ಸಾಮಾಜಿಕ)ವಾದದ್ದು.
Kosambi hurls an accusation at Krishna for being the creator of the system of varnas –
“Not only that, the god himself had created such differences (G.4.13): “The four-caste (class) division has been created by Me”; this is proclaimed in the list of great achievements. The doctrines are certainly not timeless.” (Emphasis is mine)
While doing so, it is strange that Kosambi fails to quote the other half of the verse. The original verse, BG 4.13, says –