Bhagavad Gita

Sacrifice Between West and East: René Girard, Simone Weil and Mahatma Gandhi on Violence and Non-Violence

Wolfgang Palaver read

Wolfgang Palaver In this chapter, Wolfgang Palaver looks at developments in Rene Girard’s later work, in particular, at Girard’s assessment that he had earlier unfairly “scapegoated” sacrifice in an effort to rid humanity of violence. In recognition of the need to address — not erase — the violence that is with us, Girard developed his thinking in at least two ways. The first is his growing interest in how an “ontology of peace,” which Girard held undergirds all faith traditions, is expressed in non-Christian faiths. Second is his insight that Jesus’s death on the cross tells us not only about the evils of sacrifice-as-murder but also about the productive possibilities of sacrifice-of-self, giving for the sake of others. To explore what such donative sacrifice consists in, Palaver investigates the theories of oppression, resistance, and sacrifice in the works of Simone Weil and Mahatma Gandhi.

in in Marcia Pally, ed., Mimesis and Sacrifice Applying Girard’s Mimetic Theory Across the Disciplines, Bloomsbury (2019), pp. 37-50

War, Suffering, and Detachment: Reading the Bhagavad Gītā with Simone Weil

Maria Clara Bingemer read

Maria Clara Bingemer states she desires to do two things in her essay: “trace the personal and intellectual background against which Weil came to read the Gita” and “discuss some of the main themes which surface in her critical engagement with the text.”  To this end, she begins with a brief biographical overview focusing on Weil’s encounter with the Gita. She then turns to a general discussion of how the Gita served as a source of inspiration for Weil, especially in the sense of contradiction giving rise to a spiritual crisis, which can lead to religious transformation through the vehicle of grace. The next section focuses on incarnation and salvation noting similarities and differences between Hinduism and Christianity in the understanding of these. A discussion of the distinction between force and violence in Weil’s work comes next followed by an in-depth discussion of necessity, detachment, and enlightenment. The chapter concludes with a thoughtful consideration of Weil’s critique of the Gita.

The essay appears in Catherine Cornille, ed., Song Divine : Christian Commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, Leuven, Peeters (2006), pp. 69-89

ht: Simone Weil Bibliography

Force or Fragility? Simone Weil and Two Faces of Joan of Arc

Ann Pirruccello read

“Pirruccello begins the chapter with a discussion of Weil’s search for “skillful models of spirituality.” Following a brief biographical sketch of Weil, she turns to a discussion of Weil’s reflections on Joan of Arc. She first considers Weil’s critical reflections on the view of Joan of Arc in popular culture in wartime France. She then turns to Weil’s comparison of the story of Joan of Arc to that of Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita and Weil’s identification of what she feels to be the critical difference between them. Pirruccello goes on to consider Weil’s alternative reading of the story of Joan of Arc and the positive aspects it could contribute to a model of skillful spirituality. In so doing, Pirrucello offers an interesting discussion of Weil’s historical methodology and its contribution to her reflections on France, especially in The Need for Roots.” (Source here).

in Ann W. Astell & Bonnie Wheeler, eds., Joan of Arc and Spirituality, Palgrave Macmillan (2004), pp. 267-281.

Simone Weil, the Gita and the Upanisads

D.J. Jensen read

“This thesis is a study of the influence of the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads on the religious and philosophical thought of Simone Weil. It will examine the major tenets of Weil’s thought in an attempt to determine where Weil was influenced by the teaching of these texts and where she rejected them. Chapter One will be a brief introduction to Weil’s relationship to the Gita and the Upanishads. Chapter Two will look at Weil’s cosmology paying particular attention to her concepts of decreation, necessity gravity, and grace. It will then look at the Indian notions of dharma, karma, and the Samkhya teachings found in the Gita in an attempt to determine where she was influenced by these concepts and where she rejected them. Chapter Three will look at Weil’s views on knowledge paying particular attention to her notions of reading, levels of reading, and levels of knowledge. It will then look at the teachings on knowledge in the Gita and the Upanishads in an attempt to determine their influence on Weil’s thought. Chapter Four will examine Weil’s soteriology, including her views on ‘actionless action’, detachment and affliction. It will then turn to these concepts in the Upanisads and Glta again looking for ways in which they influenced Weil. Chapter Five will draw together the preceding chapters, in an attempt to assess the overall influence of the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads on Weil’s thought. It will conclude with suggestions for further study of Weil’s work.”

Unpublished Masters Thesis (University of Calgary), 1989

ht: University of Calgary Online Library (Simone Weil)

“Simone Weil and The Indian Religious Tradition”

Norman Hendricks read

This work explicates and analyzes the writings of Simone Weil and their relation to Indian religious tradition. Initially, it examines the extent and nature of her interest in India. It then outlines exactly what she said about Indian religious writings, in particular, the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. The bulk of the study analyzes these interpretations as well as her total religious vision in relation to Indian spirituality.

Ph.D. Dissertation, McMaster University (Dec. 1971)