DEVDUTT PATTANAIK is a master in demystifying mythology for the common reader. Taking up the Bhagwad Gita in his latest attempt, Pattanaik, through his unique approach, has unravelled the message and philosophy of the great epic. His contemporary approach, combined with illustrations and diagrams, makes this an easy read, making the title, My Gita, an apt one.
Pattanaik sticks to the original 18 themes, but helps bring out the core message in a crisper form, while also making it easy to relate with our modern lives.
For a better understanding of the timeline of the original text, Pattanaik has chronicled a brief history of Vyasa’s narratives called puranas. Citing examples from other beliefs, such as Jainism and Buddhism, the author has differentiated between meanings of words such as atma (immortal resident) and paramatma (God), karma (action) and samskara (memories of past actions) pertaining to various faiths.
Pattanaik has made sure that Krishna’s discourse to Arjuna on the Kurukshetra battlefield doesn’t sound preachy. Instead, his approach is such that the readers can engage with the discussion. They can relate to the situation and adopt the Gita to real-life situations. The many references to Abrahamic and Greek cultures and their comparison to Hindu cultures show how contemporary ideas have evolved over time and how they influence our thinking today.
Due to the infinite depth of the subject, some parts of the book are difficult to comprehend, but chapters on yagna, yoga, maya and moha are written lucidly and communicate the complex thoughts in a simple manner.
The book raises some questions that need to be understood on our own rather than answered. Pattanaik has by and large achieved the idea of delivering answers related to karma and dharma. The book provides a solid ground to understand rather than judge relationships. It also provides ample scope to readers to understand the various aspects of Hinduism, the explanation of the Varnas, Darshanas and the transmission of the Vedas, and then perceive it as per his/her choice, thus making it ‘My Gita’, or ‘Your Gita’.
The vastness of the Gita cannot really be understood or interpreted in one work. Nonetheless, this book is a wonderful effort by the author, relevant to the fast-paced lives we lead these days. The reading of the book might provide an inspiration to read the original text, but for starters, this is a good way to begin the understanding of the great epic.