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Komal Panwar


JWB Reviews Roopa Pai’s ‘The Gita For Children’

  • JWB Post
  •  February 27, 2016


Bhagwad Gita, being one of the oldest books in the world, is India’s biggest blockbuster bestseller. Now, I’m not a fan of religious readings, but Roopa Pai’s version, I had to pick.

Reason? Remember JLF? I attended a session with Roopa Pai discussing her recently released book. That very instant I knew I had to pick up the book from the ‘Full Circle’ bookstore. But her session had done its magic, and the books at the store were already sold out.

The concept of the book is, of course, “The Bhagwad Gita”, but her writing style caught hold of me from the very first page.

The interactive book opens up with a Trivia quiz about the Mahabharata. I wasn’t surprised how little I knew! The questions kept me engaged; the slapstick humour and modern language kept me going.

It’s easy to simplify a complex book, but it’s no piece of cake to make it interesting! I love how she decided to grip the readers (in the beginning) using the comedian in her, and then taking them through the conversation where Krishna reveals the truth about life to Arjun.

Pai writes an interesting Preface:

One beautiful spring day, when the birds chirped and butterflies fluttered, and bees buzzed and flowers scented the air, Pandu died. Broken-hearted Madri flung herself on his funeral pyre, leaving Kunti to handle all five boys single-handedly. It was all a bit too much for Kunti, so she decided to head back to Hastinapura and throw herself and her sons at King Dhritrashtra’s mercy”

After giving us a powerful synopsis of the Mahabharata, she gets to the life-changing conversation Krishna and Arjun have. The conversation is the eighteen lessons of the Bhagwad Gita. It begins with Krishna trying to convince Arjun that it’s inevitable for all human beings to die and he should perform his duty, even if it means killing his family. Does Arjun realize that Krishna, his BFF is actually the Absolute? Only one way to find out!

The book has everything you need to know about life, with modern-day examples. Even though she says the book is just for children, I beg to differ. I think everyone, especially the logical ‘side’ of the world will be able to relate whole-heartedly to it.

William Shakespeare apparently agreed with Krishna that we have little control over the script of our lives. Here’s an excerpt from a famous passage in his play As You Like It.”

While Hanuman is the monkey who played shotgun, there is a prominent mention of J.K. Rowling (which makes me adore Roopa Pai’s work all the more).

I love how she explains that you can exercise to pray!

Some people withdraw from the world – they shut their eyes and earsm abd sacrifice the pleasures of the senses. Some embrace the world – they see everything around them as a gift of the Universe and enjoy it in the right spirit, claiming nothing for themselves – that is their sacrifice. Others fast, sacrificing their hunger; or exercise, sacrificing their comfort. Still others practice breath control, sacrificing their most important life force, the breath itself. And then there are some who offer a combination of all these to discipline their bodies and control their minds. All these people practise self-discipline and sacrifice; that is how they worship God, and he accepts it all.”

The best part of the book is that Roopa manages to maintain the authenticity of the Bhagwad Gita. The book is fun to read, and at the same time imbibes some great qualities into everyone who reads it.

At the end of every chapter, she adds Lessons from the Gita, for the children to understand better.

It is so much easier to watch TV when you have a free afternoon than to sit down and write something. If you haven’t done your quota of writing for the week, you will have to be prepared to skip that movie you had planned with your friends or wake up really early on Sunday morning to finish the writing.

She grips you, human being, you don’t have to belong to a particular generation to enjoy the read. I recommend every single person to read it, irrespective of age.

I rate it 8.5 on 10.

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