Well let us analyze secularly the commentary of Neem Hakim Lord Meghanad Desai on Bhagavad Gita:
DESAI-He said: “The Bhagavad Gita has many flaws and certain questions should be raised by us. My purpose is to analyse and deconstruct the text. I am trying to read the Bhagavad Gita as a secular text and not as a sacred text. I am putting certain questions to the authorship though multiple authors are there.”
No one has demonstrated so far convincingly that the Gita has multiple authors. The Gita presents many perspectives and many viewpoints because THAT IS HOW LIFE IS. There is no one clear answer to many problems, and what works for one person need not work for the other person. And it is for this reason that Krishna presents multiple viewpoints. Some ‘scholars’ like the Lord point out that the same word is used with multiple meanings by Krishna. But in fact, Krishna uses these words in the senses in which they occur in their respective philosophies. For instance, when he discusses Samkhya, the word Brahman could stand for Prakriti and Mahat because in Samkhya Darshana, the word ‘Brahman’ IS used for these two entities as well.
“Desai added that there are certain elements in the text of the Bhagavad Gita which are not suitable in modern India. The Professor Emeritus said: “In the text, it has been asked to do karma without thinking about the consequences. How can it be said that we should not think about the consequences? Whatever we do affects others too. For example, if I start drinking and then driving without thinking about the consequences, I might kill many people on the road.”
Again, a twisted interpretation of key verses of the Gita. When Krishna says ‘karmani va adhikaaras tey, maa phaleshu kadaachana…” He does not use the word ‘adhikaara’ in the modern sense of ‘right’ or phala in the sense of ‘consequence.’ Rather, Krishna says that we can only control our actions, but cannot control their fruit (which is under the control of Ishvara). Therefore, we should not worry too much about what is in Ishvara’s domain. NOWHERE does Krishna say that we should do our Karma carelessly. In fact, sutras like ‘yogah karmasu kaushalam’, and the use of words ‘daksha’ and so on clearly indicate that Krishna wants us to act with a focus on its worldly consequences, and with disregard for what Ishvara will give to us for doing that Karma.
If Desai is referring to the charmashloka 18.66 of the Gita where Krishna says, “Forsaking all Dharmas, seek refuge in Me alone…” then too Desai forgets the very following verses where Krishna prohibits Arjuna from imparting this sacred doctrine to incompetent people lest they misuse it. The point is that this final teaching is meant only for people who have already met the pre-requisites of virtuous character, spiritual disposition and so on.
At the lecture organised by Nalanda University, he also talked about women and observed that women had not been mentioned in the text anywhere.
He said: “Women have not been mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita anywhere. It is just two shlokas where they have been mentioned. One among the two is that mentioned in 9.32 (chapter 9, verse 32) that is mam hi partha vyapasritya ye ‘pi syuh papa-yonayah striyo vaisyas tatha sudras te ‘pi yanti param gatim. The translation for this is ‘ son of Pritha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth, women, vaishyas [merchants] and shudras [workers] can attain the supreme destination.’ This is again to be thought about.”
Again, a blatant misinterpretation. First, most of the names in the Gita before the Vibhuti-yoga chapter are those of warriors. One of the rules of the war that were set on the first day was that no women will fight, and no women will be attacked. So obviously, when Sanjaya was listing the warriors on both sides, there were bound to be only masculine names!
Second, Krishna refers to Arjuna frequently as Paartha, which means the daughter of Pritha (Kunti) or as Kauteya.
Third, even in the Vihbuti Yoga chapter, in addition to naming Medha etc., Krishna lists many other Vibhutis which are feminine, like Ganga among the rivers.
Now coming to Gita 9.32, there is no grammatical requirement that the word ‘papa-yonayah’ should be connected to women, shudras, vaishyas and so on. In fact, Abhinavagupta’s commentary emphatically says that the phrase ‘paapa-yonayah’ MUST NOT be taken as an adjective of these, but should be treated as an independent phrase referring to animals etc. (he gives the example of the story of Gajendra Moksha).
And far from debasing women, Krishna actually says that the path of Bhakti is open to EVERYONE even if someone has a humble birth. In the eyes of the world, people may be low or high, but from Krishna’s perspective, ALL Bhaktas are equal, be they Brahmana or one of a sinful birth. This is what the verse means.
IN FACT, in his Anugita (Ashwamedhika Parva), Krishna CLEARLY repeats this verse in the context of Jnana-Yoga and says that whether one is ‘paap-yonayah’ OR woman or shudra or vaishya, they will get Moksha by taking recourse to Jnana-Yoga.
The conclusion then is that Krishna overturns social prejudices and opens the path of Moksha to EVERYONE through this verse, just the opposite of what Desai is implying.
Now even if we look at Krishna’s life, he considered the Gopis as his best Bhaktas. He honored the love letter of Rukmini and eloped with her. He encouraged his own sister to marry Arjuna, the man of her heart, even though Balarama and others wanted her to marry someone else.
These are hardly the actions of a misogynist.
In fact, the real hater, and a Hindu hater at that is Meghanad Desai. His own heart being filled with hatred for us Hindus, he wrongly sees hatred in our holy books.