Questions are raised about the historical accuracy of the events described in the Mahabharat. Similar controversies have raged in Europe over the historicity of Christ and events of his life as described in the Bible. Such a debate may have significance for historians but is not important from a spiritual view point. After all, does it matter whether Jesus was actually born in Nazareth or Bethlehem, as long as we can benefit from his teachings and live the sacred life in accordance with his instructions? Likewise, in seeking the kernel of thought of the Gita, we need not concern ourselves with the details of history, but with the spiritual principles that it threw up and their usefulness in walking the path to enlightenment. Even if we maintain divine sentiments toward a stone deity, we become purified. Our own divine sentiments purify our mind. Then where is the doubt about the purifying effect of contemplating upon the Pastimes of God with divine sentiments?
When I mentioned to devotees that I intend to write a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, some in the West suggested that I should make an allegorical interpretation of the Mahabharat, and explain the Gita accordingly. They referred me to many of the commentaries popular in the West, which have interpreted the whole situation as an allegory. Making such an allegorical interpretation is the easiest thing to do, but the problem with such an approach is that it destroys the beautiful basis of devotion which the Mahabharat presents us with, and pulls it down to the level of dry intellectual analysis. It is like ordering a field to be bulldozed for agricultural cultivation, without knowledge of the wonderful flower garden that is already growing in it. Similarly, the intention of Ved Vyas in revealing these scriptures was not only to provide us with treasure chests of divine knowledge, but also to present the reader with the enchanting Names, Forms, Virtues, Pastimes, and Abodes of God, which provide a sweet basis for attaching the mind to the Supreme Lord.
So, let us not succumb to the temptation of reducing everything to lifeless allegorical interpretations. The Bhagavad Gita already contains in its original form fathomless knowledge to provide abundant nourishment for the intellect, making its dry intellectualization on behalf of commentators as an unnecessary endeavor. Ved Vyas too was aware of the allegory as a literary tool, and he has used it effectively in his writings. Hence, let us allow Sage Ved Vyas to reveal his own allegories wherever necessary, as he takes us on a journey of both head and heart, and relates the Pastimes and message of the Supreme Lord when He descended in the human form upon the earth.