Friday, 23 October 2015

The Gita for children - book review

Like any child born in India I have been hearing about the Gita and its greatness, since I was a child. I already had a Gita at home. I bought five others and received two more as gifts. I even bought an audio cd of Gita. The reason I bought Gita was that I was inquisitive about it. I had heard it touches all aspects of life and serves as a handbook. I wanted to gain the ageold wisdom contained in it.

But I was unable to complete any of the eight Gitas which I had. If I attempted to read it, I would lose interest in the midway and never complete it. Even hearing the audio cd completely was not possible for me for the simple reason that I wasn’t able to connect with it. I was convinced that the Gita was simply not for me.

That’s when I lay my hands on the Gita for children by Roopa Pai. I had always tried to woo the wisdom in the Gita, but she had turned down my advances. But this time I was able to complete the commentary on it. May be because the Gita for children does not contain all the stanzas. But it does pass on the essence of Gita in a very effective manner.

The book starts with an interesting quiz on Gita. Even I discovered many new things about the holy book through this quiz. Then starts the story of the great war. Yes I say story because it is written in the style of the story to keep it simple for the naïve readers of the Gita. Amidst the story come pages, in different font and different formatting which tell the important shlokas, again in the form of narrative. Then come the boxes which contain the commentary on the verses.

The commentary is interesting. It tells us about the ancient warfare. The weapons, armoury, how the armies where grouped and who were termed as rathis and maharathis. It tells us about the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. It passes on the wisdom of Gita in words as simple as “If you don’t do your job, you are lazy, irresponsible and selfish.”

While speaking of self control, the author says that self control is not finishing the entire packet of potato chips at one go. When talking of discipline, she says discipline is about reciting your tables daily. She says success is not about whether you are nice or mean. It is about perseverance. Issues faced by adolescents like bullying, teacher’s pet and teacher’s reporters also find a mention in the book. She cites the lives of Rudyard Kipling, Madam Curie, J K Rowling, Mother Teresa as illustrations.

Each chapter has a number in the Devanagari script. The author encourages the young readers to read at least one shloka at the end aloud that too in its original language Sanskrit.

I liked the book for it introduces the new generation to the most revered book in our culture. At the same time, confining the book only to children would be wrong. Reader of every age has something to gain out of the book. Some concepts like that of death, reincarnation, dropping of desires, thinking of God all the time, are hard for the children to understand. The information and illustrations in the commentary and the boxes are interesting and would serve as a great reference material. Unfortunately they do not bear any page numbers. Still the book is highly recommended.

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