• The historical game-changes in the philosophy of devotion and caste as used and misused by the Bhagavad-gita

      Chandulal, Thilagavathi; Department of Philosophy (Brock University, 2012-04-03)
      This thesis considers that the purport of the Bhagavadgita is to prioritize the philosophy of loving devotion to God (bhakti), not the propagation of color-coded-caste (varna system). The distinction between bhakti and caste becomes clear when one sees their effect on human life and on the society. Jnana and karma, two of the other polarities with which the Gita contends, finally support bhakti towards betterment, not deterioration, if done selflessly and with balance. Caste, however, is a totally different tension, which is always detrimental to the well-being of the person and the society. In the Gita, the devotees' mystical or emotional love of, God apprehends their ~ oneness with the Supreme God and with all beings, and transcends the pitiless segregation of the caste system, and opens the path of salvation to all irrespective of race, color, caste, class or gender in life. In spite of much opposition from orthodoxy, the bhakti movement spread allover India, and bhakti itself rose to the level of orthodoxy and has become the faith of millions of people especially of the south, and surprisingly, of even of those of the so called highest caste. And yet, caste still remains as an indelible mark of every Hindu, even after they change their religion. Although caste is less venomous now, it is still openly present in all walks of Indian life and shows up its ugly head at important moments such as marriage, elections for public office, admission to school or employment. True, bhakti is the antidote for. caste; but only real bhakti can remove caste completely, not mere lip-service to it. This thesis claims that bhakti is the deliberate major thrust of the teaching of the Gita while caste seems to be a contradiction of this thrust.