Bhagavad Gita and Communism



In a thought provoking article written in the New Indian Express, Justice K P Radhakrishna Menon suggests that the admirable communist principle that there shall not be differentiation among human beings lies hidden in the Bhagavad Gita.

After briefly explaining Communism – as a political doctrine based on Marxism and Leninism – and the failure of communist states, Justice Radhakrishna Menon explains how Bhagavad Gita tries to attain equality through the concept of Brahman.

Some excerpts from the article: (Could not find the link to the original article on the newspaper’s website as it appeared in a city edition of the New Indian Express)

Marx lost sight of the differences seen in human beings living at a sensory level, out of which emerges all the evils in society, namely crime, violence, evils of caste and racial attitude, evils produced by the unchecked desire for money and power and such similar evils when he established scientific communism ‘which has as its central tenet the communal ownership of property’ abolishing private ownership. It shall also be said that Marx lost sight of yet another crucial fact that man is not born free but born as a prisoner having been put into a body-mind complex and therefore just a creature.

The admirable communist principle that there shall not be differentiation among human beings, the forerunner of the social ethic of ‘from each according to his ability to each according to his need’, in fact lies hidden in the Hindu scriptures, Vedas, Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita – the Samstha Vedo Upanishad Sara Samgraham. It is this wonderful message that is embedded in verse 19 of Sanyasa Yoga, Chapter V of the Gita.

Relative existence has been conquered by them, even in this world, whose mind rests in sameness, since Brahman is the same in all and is without imperfection; therefore they indeed rest in Brahman – (Chapter V, verse 19) English rendering Swami Ranganadhananda)

This verse says that without his choice man is pushed into a body-mind complex and therefore he is a creature put in a prison where the birth and death process is going on as he is placed at the sensory level. Diversity and not sameness is the truth about the world viewed from the sensory point of view and from where emerge the evils of consumerism. How to get out of this situation? The answer is there, in the Gita Shloka which says that man shall realize that behind body mind complex there exists the Atman, the reflection of the Infinite consciousness, the Brahman, which is free from evils and equal in all.

Swami Ranganadhananda has construed this Shloka thus: “Brahman’s presence in all of us is equal… Brahman is absolutely pure, ever-free and equal in all of us. Bodies are divided, but the Ataman is undivided. We are all one. Love comes only when we realize this sense unity… So love, compassion and all such positive virtues are manifest when we obliterate the external differences and the basic unity behind all this.”

This Sloka says that we can have this realization in this very life. Life in the absence of this realization is attacked by the evils in society, evils in violence and crime and the evils emerging from religion, caste and racial attitudes.

This Gita darshan that all are equal as they are but reflections of the Brahman, the infinite, and the Atman in Vedanta reflects the real communism. And this can be made workable by introducing a system by which man can be helped to come out of the prison of evils in society. Value-based education helps to rid man of evils.

Briefly stated, diversity is the born enemy of sameness and same-sightedness which lie hidden behind the body-mind complex of men at the sensory level. The Gita has prescribed the method to help man to run into freedom by demolishing the walls of the prison of the making of the body-mind complex, helping him to realize that he and all others are part of the Brahman, the infinite consciousness which is free from all evils and equal in all, and as such, he is a member of ‘the Vasudeva Kudumbakam.’ The members of this family will never claim any special reservations.

Well, what I feel is that there is no problem with the Communist idea or the teachings in the Bhagavad Gita? Both are trying to achieve the same but through different ways and methods. The real problem is not with Communism but with people who make use of it for selfish ends. Similarly, even after reading and understanding the concept of Brahman in the Bhagavad Gita, there are several people in Hindu religion who practice caste and other evils for money, power and social status.