I am not a big fan of non-fiction reading. All through my life I have been brought up on a steady diet of adventure stories, thrillers, mysteries, suspense-action stories by authors such as Alistair MacLean, Enid Blyton, Franklin W Dixon, Carolyn Keene, Frederick Forsyth, Michael Crichton and the like. My love for reading books and novels began with my very first Famous Five book – Five go to Smugglers’ Top [Link to Wikipedia article] by Enid Blyton, when I was probably 8-9 yrs old.
My dad had these monthly official trips from Bangalore to Chennai (Madras in those days) and Hyderabad and his company used to fly him down there every month. On these trips, he usually bought something at the airport store for me. On one of these occasions I guess he decided that I was old enough to start reading novels and thus, he bought this book for me. Thus began my love affair with novels (although I had been an avid comic book reader well before this age).
In any case, the point I was trying to make with my walk down memory-lane in the last 2 paragraphs was that I have always been reading books since I could remember (not including a brief break of around 3-4 yrs when I first started working, when I discontinued the habit for lack of time). In any case, the book reading habit has come back with a vengeance (albeit not in the crazy manner as before) when I purchased a Kindle for my dad, used it for a while, and then went ahead and bought one for myself. In a nutshell, I am back to the wonderful world of books, and this time around, the variety of books that I am reading is mind-boggling. Life and its myriad experiences have made my mind open up to a variety of influences and this is also reflected in the books that I read today. In fact, it is the result of this variety that I intend to try to do something that I have not attempted before – a detailed review of a book.
The book that I have chosen for this is – The difficulty of being good : On the subtle art of Dharma by Gurcharan Das [Link to Flipkart for the book]. Now if you have read this book or heard of it, you would know that this is one book that all book-lovers, management funda lovers, and thought-leaders would surely recommend reading. What drew me to this particular book was the fact that I have always been a lover of the Mahabharatha ever since Amar Chitra Katha published the same as a series of comic books [Link to Flipkart for the entire volume]. After having read and re-read the series multiple times and also having watched the TV series on Doordarshan [Link to Wikipedia article] I well and truly believe that this has to probably be the best story (or set of stories) that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
As a ten year old, what could be more fun and exciting than watching people riding on chariots shooting fire arrows at each other on a battlefield. What could be more fun than supporting your heroes (from the ‘good’ side) fight the villains (from the ‘bad’ side). As I grew older and I started being exposed to the internet and the information superhighway, I have read multiple interpretations of this great epic, albeit only incidents from it and not an entire re-telling. The epic, its characters, the circumstances that the characters find themselves in, these are material enough for a lifetime of learning and maybe that is something that I can contemplate as a retirement option.
For now, I have restricted myself to reading and comprehensively reviewing Gurcharan Das’ book. Why this book and not any other? One, all regular readers of this blog will know that I tend to read stuff, correlate them to my daily life (professional and personal) and churn out posts on the topic. What better book to comprehensively review than the Mahabharatha which contains so many life (and probably management) lessons for all of us. Two, a recent blogger in my organization’s blogging platform reviewed Prem Panicker’s Bhimsen in which he referred to his earlier detailed review of this book and I was immediately piqued to read this book as soon as I possibly could.
The funny part was that as soon as I finished reading the prelude to The difficulty of being good : On the subtle art of Dharma by Gurcharan Das, I immediately knew that I need to make this a serious endeavor, and read the book very carefully and word-by-word, applying my brain and experiences to it. And as is the norm, I intend to learn some more about the Mahabharatha, the authors’ viewpoints on the same, Dharma and if possible, about myself as well in the process. What will therefore follow will be a relatively serious introspection of myself in relation to this particular book, my inferences of Dharma based on Gurcharan Das’ book, all documented in a series of posts.
I am sure regular readers of this blog will find something useful from this series of posts and may even be encouraged to go ahead and read this book after this series of posts. Each post will be a review of individual chapters in the book and will therefore the overall posts in this series will be around 12-13 encompassing the whole book. Am not setting myself any timelines for this endeavor, but I hope to get it done within the course of a month from now. Wish me all the best!!!