Wendy Doniger’s War and Peace in the Bhagavad Gita is possibly best described as a biography of the Bhagavad Gita. She explores the book’s history and the somewhat contradictory way an epic call to battle has come to be something of a pacifist icon.
The Gita incorporates into its seven hundred verses many different sorts of insights, which people use to argue many different, often contradictory, ideas. We might divide them into two broad groups: what I would call the warrior’s Gita, about engaging in the world, and the philosopher’s Gita, about disengaging. The Gita’s theology—the god’s transfiguration of the warrior’s life—binds the two points of view in an uneasy tension that has persisted through the centuries.
Doniger traces the book’s place within the wider landscape of Hindu literature, and chronicles how major political and philosophical thinkers from Gandhi to Modi to Walt Whitman have grappled with and reinterpreted the text over the ages. Interested? Read more here.