By Rajni Rethesh
We are living in difficult times today. To top it all, the constant Corona-related forwards on WhatsApp, the 21-days challenges, fitness videos on the social media platforms are adding up to the anxiety and stress. In such conditions, what better way you can choose to distance yourself from all these than reading the books that have been piling up in your ‘to read’ list! I, personally, decided to take this time to read something that would add value to my life. Books that could anchor my thoughts in these turbulent times.
The Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Eshwaran: Ancient texts are always written in a cryptic form. Everything is expressed metaphorically. And the beauty of reading these texts is understanding its deeper, underlying meaning. The moment you decode these cryptic expressions, a new door to life is opened to you.
I have always tried to read Bhagavad Gita but due to my incompetence in comprehending Sanskrit, it has been an unattainable task. I have few English translations of Gita but The Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Eshwaran is a book that I would recommend to people as a starter to understand what Bhagavad Gita actually conveys. It is a great book that decodes the real meaning underlying the philosophical facade of the verses.
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The book is written in a simple and lucid language. Eknath Eshwaran’ s language and writing style set the foundation for an easy understanding of the otherwise complex subject. He begins by explaining certain concepts that are necessary to comprehend the Gita. Eknath’s Eshwaran’s elucidation on the Gita is a comprehensive one. It is useful for people who are seeking to understand the primary meaning without much of religious connotations. The book offers a relief from the literal esoteric explanations that you will find in other books. It offers a logical explanation to the allegorical concepts such as Krishna Consciousness. The topics such as Renunciation, Selfless Service, Detachment, etc. are handled with clarity. I highly recommend this book.
The Upanishads by Eknath Eshwaran: The Upanishads is a timeless classic that is out of bounds for a common person. However, Eknath Eshwaran has made these texts handy by picking up the passages that are most relevant in the quest of eternal truths. Many texts were composed by unknown sages, out of them only ten have been considered as the principal Upanishads by Shankara, an eighth century mystic. Eknath Eshwaran has offered an explanation to these ten Upanishads in this book.
Upanishad, as the author explains, means ‘sit down near me’ wherein a student is expected to sit at the feet of his illumined guru and surrender himself to reorder his life, train the mind and senses in the most strenuous way. The Upanishads like The Gita takes you on an inward journey to explore the metaphysical truths of the human consciousness. Eknath Eshwaran has interspersed his learnings from other holy and mystical texts as wells has quoted great psychologists and intellects to elucidate the topics vividly.
The Prophet by Khalil Gibran: The Prophet is yet another perennial classic that stays relevant even today. The book is written in a prose poem style and has 26 prose poems. It is delivered in the way of sermons by a wise sage named Al Mustapha to the people of an island city called Orphalese. Al Mustapha is about to sail to his own land after 12 years of exile in Orphalese. People of this island city are distressed to see him leave and they request him to share his wisdom on the important aspects of life such as love, friendship, children, marriage, good, evil, death and many more such themes that are the material aspects that dominate our life. You will be marvelled at the liberal viewpoint the Prophet offers on these topics. A beautiful book indeed!
Happiness Unlimited by Brahma Kumari Shivani: This book is a little deviation from the classic books I have mentioned above but it is as good as the other three books. Happiness Unlimited offers an enlightening spiritual conversation between Brahma Kumari Shivani and the yesteryear actor Suresh Oberoi. In a very beautiful way, she explains how we are always in pursuit of happiness and not happy at the moment that we are living in.
She also stresses a lot on the need to meditate on our thoughts. She says meditation is not about ignoring our thoughts but looking at our thoughts carefully. The more we look at our thoughts carefully, the better will we be in control of our situations. A beautiful book indeed that will make you contemplate on your life choices.
The common theme that runs through all these books is ‘the Self. Understanding our own selves. Everything is within ourselves. The moment we human beings understand that, we will be able to conquer the world – the inner as well as the outer world. As the Upanishads observe, “By knowing one piece of gold, all things made out of gold are known…”
These books are apt to read in the time we are living in. The wisdom these age-old classics offer will compel you to reflect on your life and make better choices for a better living going forward.
With over 12 years of professional experience in the media industry, Rajni Rethesh has also worked with leading B2B magazines. Views expressed are the author’s own.