Being a physician and a skeptic dealing with hundreds of Diabetic patients every week, I was intrigued by this report that appeared in the Times of India, Hyderabad edition on August 31, 2018.
Has a team of researchers found evidence for divine power of Hindu holy book Bhagavad Gita , that too in a multi centre, multi country study ? This sounded very interesting.
Gita is a chapter in the Indian mythological epic Mahabharata. A war is going to be fought between cousins of a royal family for the power over the land. Arjuna, a great warrior, is hesitant to take arms against his family members and mentors. Krishna, an avatar of Hindu god Lord Vishnu , is trying his best to assure Arjuna that war and killings are needed. Gita is this dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna.
Many Hindus believe that Gita is a holy book and its position is similar to that of Bible for Christians and Koran for Muslims. They believe that it contains all the wisdom needed for life on earth. So there is always a compulsion among Hindus to somehow prove the usefulness of the verses in Gita for present day humans.
So did a team of researchers really find something useful for health in Gita ?
I was soon able to find the source of the news paper report. The newspaper was talking about this article published in the latest issue of Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. It is true that the newspaper report was exaggerating, but probably with the help and directions of one of the authors.
Though the newspaper report mentioned a study, I realised it was published under the label review article. Also this group of researchers that the newspaper mentioned was only a group of co authors for the review article. Usually review articles in medical journals are authored by a handful of authors , sometimes only one. But here there were 17 of them from 16 centres. To give the paper an International lustre two were recruited from Bangladesh and one from Pakistan.
The only research the authors did it seems was reading their holy book Bhagavad Gita and give their imagination a wild run. So they feel everything written in Gita is related to coping with illness, especially Diabetes.
Thus the sorrow Arjuna feels in Gita about killing his family members is extrapolated as sorrow Diabetic patients are supposed to feel for forgoing sugars and sedentary life style.
Krishna says this about killing family members in war ;
While speaking like a wise man, you are actually grieving for that which is unworthy of grief. The wise neither lament for the living nor the dead 2:11
Reading the above verse the authors imagine it is about life style changes in Diabetes!
Krishna asks for detachment from success and failure and to be steadfast in doing duty of fighting war regardless of the outcome in this verse ;
Be steadfast in the performance of your duty, O Arjun, abandoning attachment to success and failure. Such equanimity is called Yog 2:48
Here the authors of the article see health care professional in Krishna who is guiding the confused Diabetic patient !
Seek refuge in divine knowledge and insight, O Arjun, and discard reward-seeking actions that are certainly inferior to works performed with the intellect established in Divine knowledge. Miserly are those who seek to enjoy the fruits of their works 2:49
While Krishna in above verse of Gita is definitely against actions seeking rewards, the authors of the paper believe this verse is guiding the patient in fighting Diabetes, a reward based goal.
The main focus of Gita is to impress upon Arjuna that its his duty to fight wars as the Vedas has prescribed it for Kshatriyas. Krishna threatens Arjuna by saying each caste has its own duties as depicted in Vedas and those who do not do the duties will never attain salvation.
Thus Krishna says ;
You should thus perform your prescribed Vedic duties, since action is superior to inaction. By ceasing activity, even your bodily maintenance will not be possible. 3:8
The authors of the article interpret this as a call to do exercise in managing Diabetes!
It seems these leading endocrinologists of Indian sub continent are hell-bent on interpreting verses of Gita as guidelines for coping with Diabetes. Sadly their irrational belief in divinity of Gita eclipsed their scientific thinking.
It is shameful that this mumbo jumbo article appeared in an important Indian medical journal. Also this was not a one off incident. A similar article titled Bhagavad Gita for the Physician appeared in the same journal few months ago.
Indian Journal of Endocrinolgy and Metabolism is the official journal of Endocrine Society of India. It describes itself like this.
The Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism (IJEM) aims to function as the global face of Indian endocrinology research. It aims to act as a bridge between global and national advances in this field. The journal publishes thought-provoking editorials, comprehensive reviews, cutting-edge original research, focused brief communications and insightful letters to editor.
Does the Endocrine Society of India want such bull shit articles to be presented to the world as the face of Indian research ?
With more and more of such articles getting published it will not be a surprise if some of our leading endocrinologists gets rewarded with a Nobel prize.
No, not for medicine, but for writing imaginative fiction in scientific journals.