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Submitted by Arun on
My responses were hurried, here I'd like to spell it out a bit more carefully. a. First, to read any text is to interpret it. There is no mathematical proof of what the correct interpretation is. But we can talk of good interpretations and bad interpretations. If the text is not gibberish and not fiction, a good interpretation is possible. We postulate that a good interpretation of the Gita is possible. b. Second, we note that it is almost impossible for humans to do anything without the consequences in mind. I raise my hand to scratch my nose - even in this simple action, there is a goal that I hope to reach. c. Third, as you find from any sane teacher of the Gita, (ranging in orientation from Eknath Easwaran to "Dadaji" Pandurang Athavale to Swami Dayananda Saraswati) the non-attachment to the consequences does not mean that you do not strive for a particular goal. One is irresponsible if one does not use the right means for the right goals. What it means is that success does not elate you nor does failure depress you. d. Fourth, while the Gita is indeed a rich text and admits many interpretations, one still has a responsibility to not mangle the text. To illustrate the category of mistake that Amartya Sen makes here, consider the Quran as a rich text that admits of many interpretations. I can quote chapter and verse and prove to you that the true believer is obliged to fight and kill the non-believer. At least, it is within the scope of possible interpretations (and such interpreters exist). But notice what I have done by this interpretation - I have turned every Muslim into a homicidal maniac and every peaceful Muslim into a hypocrite who does not follow the tenets of his/her religion. (Indeed, a lot of Muslim-phobia is created in exactly this way - by creating mistrust of peaceful Muslims, saying that they cannot be following their religion, the true religion is that preached by al Qaeda.) Like Amartya Sen, I can turn this interpretation into a wonderful and beautiful philosophical discourse on the First Amendment and the Freedom of Religion in the Light of Islam. Amartya Sen has made exactly this category of mistake. With his interpretation of the Gita, he turns the Hindus of the present and of the last two thousand years into cretins; a central book of theirs supposedly tell them to act without thinking of the consequences. My advice to people like Elaina Cardoso is: no matter how brilliant Albert Einstein is you wouldn't learn the Torah from him.