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This is in response to an article that came from that giant cesspool of confusion propagation; Nirmukta.


Although the author attacks an ill-informed Hindu, he himself doesn’t seem to be brushed up on a few things. This is a copy-paste of my reply to the article. In italics are the quotes from the article and in non-italics are my reply. To cut to the chase, I argue that the Upanishads are not confusing and are in fact clear in what they say as a whole.

Here Krishna exhorts a confused Arjuna

that taking up war and killing is the duty of a Kshatriya (casteist call)

It might be appealing to caste, but if he is a soldier, then he is expected to fight. How would one react if a police officer or marine were to shun their profession while a crime or war was in way? That is not being casteist. It’s being practical.

that not waging war and killing his enemies is unmanly (sexist bias)

refusing to fight after coming that far was unacceptable. As stated earlier, people in security are expected to perform. They have made that commitment. This is not about ‘waging war’. The war was instigated by Duryodhana not the Pandavs. As far as unmanly goes; it was a provocation. This provocation is used even to this day. http://www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Man
It was strategic. Since it failed, the next resort was to turn to philosophy.

that since the people killed in the violence do not really die as only their body dies and the soul cannot be destroyed (metaphysical argument)

that the death of the enemies is already ordained by him as the Lord (fatalistic super naturalism)

All of our deaths are certain. Going from memory, this was actually said at the end of the Gita.

that since body is unreal, violence and killing is of the unreal body or matter and not of the soul which is the only real thing (metaphysics again),

Perhaps. But you are forgetting to mention that Krishna also says that even if Arjuna believes that the soul is subject to birth and death, there is still nothing to grieve because everyone then is sure to die.

The most incredulous and astounding justification (not just an appeal or call) for violence comes not from the scriptures of Judaic religions, but from the Bhagavad Gita, currently the most revered and ‘studied’ book of Hindu religion.
Far from debating spirituality, it is better to first get the facts straight.
The justification for violence is not ‘incredulous’. The Mahabharat is very clear that every effort was made to avert war. Duryodhan refused all attempts at peaceful compromise. After sending the pandavs for exile for 14 years he did not keep his end of the promise, which was to return the kingdom. He was ready to kill the pandavs to keep territory and title that did not belong to him in the first place. His family cheated the pandavs, sexually molested their wife and was ready to pick a fight if they did not go back for another 14 years of exile. When the governance itself is corrupt and violent, it is not unjustified if the people revolt with violence themselves.

For instance, it is very strange that Hindus don’t find anything absurd in the attributes and qualities of their own deities like:

Some gods having 4 or 8 hands
etc. etc. etc.

Incorrect again. Hindus do question the various forms of the deities. These forms are symbolic and Hindus who have delved into the matter have discovered this for themselves.

If the God of Judaism is some angry old man with white beard lashing a whip, that caricature does not apply to Christianity and Islam. The God of Islam is formless and the God of Christianity is a triune (Father, Christ and Holy spirit) almost like the troika of the Upanishads (Brahman, Atman and Maya).
This is an accurate description of the theology of Abrahamic faiths, which the Hindu commentator was clearly ignorant of. However, the angry old man caricature is prevalent in popular culture. The trinity in Vedic scripture is more analogous to Xtian trinity by Brahman, paramatma and Bhagavan (Avatar) (“father”, “Holy Spirit” and “Son).

Upanishads pose riddles and quibbles about Brahman without explaining what it really is and whether such a thing as Brahman is meaningful or useful or worthy of pursuit, that would make some sense. How can anyone explore the true nature of something that is a fiction, fantasy
Not true. The Upanishads are actually very clear about Brahman. One of the Mahavakyas is Prajnanam Brahma. Brahman has the attributes of awareness (which is why the individual is said to be Brahman, tat tvam asi, since we are aware). The other point of interest in the Upanishads, which is being written-off here without proper interrogation has to do with the nature of consciousness. We are yet to understand what consciousness is, with most biology textbooks being even more vague than the Upanishads calling it an “emergent property” of matter. I think the Upanishads are more clear than that. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill God of the gaps argument. Even if it is, you can’t call it a gap. It is a gigantic canyon! Through deduction we can realize that if matter can give rise to conscious thought, then every material particle is (in theory) capable of consciousness. Hence, the entire Universe is pervaded with the POTENTIAL to be conscious, hence Brahman is everywhere.

The Upanishads require a great deal of vicara, for sure. But they are not as mealy-mouthed as they sound.

Also, Vikshepa, avarana are not ‘irrational’ simply because they are sanskrit words. They have English translations that are commonly used in day to day language.

These are only a few of the many problems of the article that have been addressed in this comment.