We have not the slightest intention of confronting a world-famous philosopher like Dr. Radhakrishnan with arguments, yet on the brahmacārī's repeated request we have to scrutinize the text and point out the discrepancies. We have great respect for Dr. Radhakrishnan, not only because he is the vice-president of our country but also because of his scholarship and his position as an erudite master of Hindu philosophy. Furthermore, he is faithful to the brahminical tradition he hails from and is a follower of the Māyāvāda school. Going by the oft-quoted dictum that it is better to have a learned enemy than a foolish friend, I feel encouraged in this matter. An intelligent opponent will present reasonable rebuttals, but an ignorant friend may bring about disaster with his floundering. Therefore we feel no compunction about strongly arguing against the points Dr. Radhakrishnan makes in his Bhagavad-gītā commentary.
A well-known Bengali saying goes, "After reading the whole Rāmāyaṇa, you want to know whose father Sītā is?" This question is ludicrous, since Sītā is Lord Rāma's wife, and thus such a query will naturally invite quips and laughter. We find the same absurdity in Dr. Radhakrishnan's English commentary on the Gītā. He writes that we do not have to surrender to the person Kṛṣṇa but to "the Unborn, Beginningless, Eternal" within Kṛṣṇa. This implies that Lord Kṛṣṇa and His "inner self" are two separate identities. According to Dr. Radhakrishnan, since there is a difference between Kṛṣṇa's body and His soul, we must surrender to Kṛṣṇa's soul and not His body. This new discovery in the field of religious philosophy reminds us of the "paṇḍita" of the Rāmāyaṇa referred to above. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa's sole purpose in speaking the Bhagavad-gītā is to convince us to surrender to His lotus feet. Yet right at the outset Dr. Radhakrishnan is unwilling to accept this point. Lord Kṛṣṇa gives the central instruction in the Bhagavad-gītā (18.66):
- sarva-dharmān parityajya
- mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
- ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
- mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
Lord Kṛṣṇa spoke these words to Arjuna so that he would surrender to Him. The Sanskrit word śaraṇam in this Gītā text means "surrender." On page 62 of his "Introductory Essay", Dr. Radhakrishnan has also discussed the idea of surrender in some detail. He writes,
"Prapatti (surrender) has the following accessories—good will to all (ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ); (ii) absence of ill will (prātikūlyasya varjanam); (iii) faith that the Lord will protect (rakṣiṣyatīti viśvāsaḥ); (iv) resort to Him as savior (gopṛtve varanam); (v) a sense of utter helplessness (kārpaṇyam); (vi) complete surrender (ātma-nikṣepaḥ)."
These six limbs of surrender should be followed in relation to Kṛṣṇa, or Viṣṇu, because this instruction on the process of surrender appears in a Vaiṣṇava scripture. Dr. Radhakrishnan has translated the first limb (ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ) as "good will to all." Question: Is it possible to surrender to everyone? Surrender should be directed toward the Supreme Lord alone. Dr. Radhakrishnan's proposal is impractical, and indeed impossible. Long before Dr. Radhakrishnan wrote his commentary, many realized spiritual preceptors, including the famous Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, explained that the words ānukūlyasya saṅkalpaḥ mean that one should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, favorably. No genuine scholar would be willing to disregard all other spiritual authorities and accept Dr. Radhakrishnan's version.