The Gita is Categorical and Rhetorical
Many people say, “The Bhagavad-gita is all things to all people; it recommends different paths for different people.”
Reading the Gita shows that it does indeed addressmany paths including the paths of irreligious materialism, religious materialism, detached action, intellectual reflection, introspective meditation and selfless devotion.
Careful reading of the Gita, however, shows that it doesn’t endorse all of these paths equally. This becomes most clear in the Gita’s climax (18.66) where its message becomes categorical and rhetorical:
1. Categorical because this verse unambiguously rejects all other paths for the sake of the path of selfless devotion.
2. Rhetorical because it proleptically removes apprehensions that devotees may face problems due to having rejected other paths by unequivocally proclaiming Krishna’s personal protection for them.
Here’s a rough metaphor to help us grasp the Gita’s strategy. A champion boxer starts a match by throwing light punches in the air that are intended to draw the opponent close enough so that a single knockout punch can finish the match. Similarly, the Gita outlines various paths so as to draw closer individuals who have become infatuated with those paths. When they become drawn into the Gita’s flow of thought, its masterly analysis knocks out their infatuations about the superiority of their pet paths. Thereby it facilitates them in embracing the path of selfless devotion, as it did for Arjuna.
Thus, if we subordinate our preconceived reasoning to the Gita’s reasoning, then we can discover how our reasoning attains its culmination in its reasoning. But if we superimpose our reasoning on the Gita’s reasoning, we gain nothing except the self-serving and misleading satisfaction that it supports our path.
The choice is ours.
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.”