A Critique of Dr. Gerard D.C. Kuiken Book: “Bhagavad Gita As It Was” – c/o mayesvara dasa
Part One: Sounding the Alarms / Prejudicial Research
A Frontal Attack
While some of the most erudite Vaishnava disciples of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami squabble about who is qualified to initiate new members into Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan service, the non-dual, neo-advaita athiests are wagering a frontal attack right at the core of our beloved spiritual master’s world class edition of Bhagavad Gita As It Is.
Now a PHD in thermodynamics from Delft University of Technology, Dr. Gerard D.C. Kuiken, has published his alternative publication provocatively called: Eastern Thought and the Gita, The Original Gita and the Bhagavad Gita Compared. Ie: Bhagavad Gita As It Was! Mr. Kuiken is lecturing to promote his very poorly supported believe that the original Bhagavad Gita only consisted of 209 verses.
In Mr. Kuiken’s version of the Gita there are NO references to the three modes of nature, the divine or demoniac natures, the battle of Kuruksetra, and most alarming either Arjuna or Krishna! Yup! That’s right! Dr. Kuiken has presented the world a completely censored version of the Gita based on his firm conviction that the Non-Dual tradition is a more philosophical and mature concept of reality then the sentimental and confusing concepts one has to wade thru in the full 700 verses of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is!
Mr. Kuiken has such a zealous attraction to the non-dual paradigm that he is willing to use sloppy research to buttress up his fantastic hypothesis about the Advaita roots of the gita. In this way he frees all those individuals who don’t want to take responsibility for anything, to pretty much do and believe whatever they want. The classic Bhagavad Gita that won the hearts of millions and gave great peace to people like Mahatma Gandhi, John Wolfgang Goethe, Leo Tolstoy, Henry David Thoreau, Authur Schophenhauer, Ralph Waldo Emerson and countless others would now be reduced to no more than an illusion of dualities by Dr. Kuiken.
To promote his speculative conclusions, the good doctor dug up some of the most obscure references as his proof that the 700 verses of the Gita we know of today, actually fell out of the 209 original Non-Dual prose stanzas he claims came first. He asserts that all the drama about war, suffering, dilemmas, and the fictitious persons of Krishna and Arjuna were added later. He asserts that there was a huge conspiracy perpetrated by dastardly Brahmin priests who wanted to promote a personal concept of God. To popularize the Bhakti path, these cunning Brahmins converted the original 209 prose verses into meter and conjured up an additional 491 similar slokas so they could then strategically insert them into the epic Mahabharat story as a new chapter.
What’s most astonishing is that Mr. Kuiken openly acknowledges that there have been over 2000 versions of the Bhagavad Gita translated and that virtually all of them are based on the same core 700 Sanskrit verses we have seen handed down over the ages. He even acknowledges that the father of Advaita himself, Lord Siva appearing as Sankaracharya 1300 years ago, wrote his commentary on ALL 700 verses. When asked why Sankaracharya would take the time to comment on the larger version of the Gita if it was just a ruse, the best response the good doctor could muster was to shrug his shoulders, pop on a fulsome smile and directly confess: “I don’t know!”
There is not only a serious dearth of evidence to support the absurd ideas presented by Mr. Kuiken, but his reasoning skills are filled with so much hyperbole that it’s hard not to think he is completely delusional when he asserts: “As a scientist I like to examine the evidence and think rationally!” Whooah… did I hear that right?
Mr. Kuiken is a textbook example of the mayayapahrta-jnana type of deluded fool Krishna refers to in Chapter 7 text 15 of the Bhagavad Gita As It Is. In the purport of this verse His Divine Grace describes quite accurately the type of mentality that led to this embarrassing mess of failed scholarship.
(3) The next class of duskrtina is called mayayapahrta-jnanah, or those persons whose erudite knowledge has been nullified by the influence of illusory material energy. They are mostly very learned fellows–great philosophers, poets, literati, scientists, etc.–but the illusory energy misguides them, and therefore they disobey the Supreme Lord.
There are a great number of mayayapahrta-jnanah at the present moment, even amongst the scholars of the Gita. In the Gita, in plain and simple language, it is stated that Sri Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is none equal to or greater than Him. He is mentioned as the father of Brahma, the original father of all human beings. In fact, Sri Krsna is said to be not only the father of Brahma but also the father of all species of life. He is the root of the impersonal Brahman and Paramatma; the Supersoul in every entity is His plenary portion. He is the fountainhead of everything and everyone is advised to surrender unto His lotus feet. Despite all these clear statements, the mayayapahrta-jnanah deride the personality of the Supreme Lord and consider Him merely another human being. They do not know that the blessed form of human life is designed after the eternal and transcendental features of the Supreme Lord.
All the unauthorized interpretations of the Gita by the class of mayayapahrta-jnana, outside the purview of the parampara system, are so many stumbling blocks in the path of spiritual understanding. The deluded interpreters do not surrender unto the lotus feet of Sri Krsna, nor do they teach others to follow this principle.” – Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Chapter 7. “Knowledge of the Absolute”, Text 15, purport.
How About “THAT?”
The Bhagavad Gita As it Was relies almost entirely on a process of reverse engineering from what thousands of years of history provides, to the very flimsy hypothesis that Mr. Kuiken is attempting to foist on the uniformed public. His whole campaign relies on his alleged 209 Original Advaita gita verses. He claims they were extrapolated out of 319 Sanskrit slokas found in the 700 verses that were “Sung by God”, Krishna. However Mr. Kuiken had a problem with some of the 319 essential supporting verses because many of them included the objective Sanskrit pronouns mam(me), me(my) or mama(mine.)
Everyone with even a fundamental understanding of Sanskrit know these words clearly indicates that Krishna is the one singing/speaking the “Song of God”. To resolve this problem, Mr. Kuiken simply states that in his opinion, the original verses didn’t have those words. He claims that instead those pronouns were used to replace impersonal references like Tat(That), Tam(The) and Asmi(this). Even this is a huge stretch of literary license because Tam is used more often to mean “Him,” not “The.” However any reference like this implies individuality and to concede to that is pure heresy for a Neo-Advaitist. So instead the good doctor simply tells his uninformed audience that “Tam” in Sanskrit means “THE” and they blindly accept it.
The proclamation “Sri Bhagavan Uvacha” is used over 50 times in the classic Gita and everyone agrees it means: “The Blessed Lord Spoke.” Of course this is also completely unacceptable for a hard core mayavadi like Mr. Kuiken to appreciate, so he has to get rid of these references too. He does that by simply omitting all those reminders that Krishna, is “Sarva-Karana-Karanam/The Cause of all causes,” and it is He whom is speaking, not the incomprehensible “THAT!”
Mr. Kuiken holds a PHD in Thermodynamics and yet he pushes his knowledge of those laws aside when it comes to his advaita conclusions which are the driving force behind his campaign against the historic Bhagavad Gita As It Is.
The first law of thermodynamics suggests that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, and yet he claims that the content found in the phantom 209 verses of the original Gita simply popped into existence from the incognizant Brahman energy, for no reason and to no audience at no particular time! Krishna never spoke it, Arjuna never heard it, the Pandava’s never feuded with the Kauravas, and the only thing that is real in Mr. Kuiken’s world view is… “THAT!”
The second law of thermodynamics is summed up in the word “Entropy” which states that everything is unwinding from a state of order to a state of chaos. The Radiation Echo, Law of Relativity and Universe Expansion all suggest the cosmos we occur in is finite and deteriorating. Therefore with simple reasoning skills we can understand that things which are finite must also have had a beginning. Because thermodynamics declare that something cannot come from nothing there must be some divine cause that lies outside of the laws of nature to explain what we now observe. The cause Dr. Kuiken turns to is the unconscious blob of brahminical energy he refers to as “THAT.” But why would “THAT” do “THIS” to itself for NO Reason?
Although Mr. Kuiken’s behavior is very fatuous for an otherwise erudite individual, it is not surprising and his embarrassing behavior is thoroughly explained in the Bhagavat Purana
vidya-tapo-vitta-vapur-vayah-kulaih satam gunaih sadbhir asattametaraih
smrtau hatayam bhrta-mana-durdrsah stabdha na pasyanti hi dhama bhuyasam
“Although the six qualities education, austerity, wealth, beauty, youth and heritage are for the highly elevated, one who is proud of possessing them becomes blind, and thus he loses his good sense and cannot appreciate the glories of great personalities.” – Srimad Bhagavat Purana Canto 4 “The Creation In The Fourth Order”, Chapter 3, Talks between Lord Siva and Sati, Text 17.
Besides all these details there is yet an even more egregious faux-paus in Mr. Kuiken book. His whole hypothesis is dependent on how he juggles around the historically undisputed Sanskrit Gita slokas that history has so well preserved. Nowhere does Mr. Kuiken offer any evidence that there ever were 209 alternative verses. When he was asked what happened to those 209 alternative seed verses he claims came first, the best response the good doctor could muster was to shrug his shoulders, pop on a mendacious smile and directly confess: “I don’t know!”