When searching for a book to review for Religion class, I knew what I didn't want: a generic, statistic fueled, boring textbook. Instead, I wanted to find something with a deeper underlying meaning -- something that would relate to me. One fine day, when looking for a missing pencil sharpener, I caught sight of a book titled "The Difficulty of Being Good" by Gurcharan Das. After reading the prologue, I knew this Hinduism associated book would be just right for me.
In summary, the book revolved around Hinduism’s epic battle -- the Mahabharata -- and how it can be used as a metaphor for everyday life. Explained in the simplest of terms, the Mahabharata was the battle between cousins over control of a kingdom. The Kauravas were the power hungry, evil cousins, while the Pandavas were the good guys, standing for the right values. Moments before entering the battlefield, Arjuna, one of the Pandavas, was befuddled. He was skeptical about the fighting, as he would be killing his cousins. However, Krishna, a Hindu avatar, had different plans for him. Krishna told Arjuna that he was fighting for the right thing and he was following dharma. No matter what the sacrifice, he was doing the right thing.
In his book, Gurcharan Das used the Mahabharata as a metaphor to help one understand oneself. The Pandavas are the positive forces of our body, and the Kauravas are the negative forces. The forces are battling each other for control of the kingdom: our bodies. Das stresses that we have to make a conscious effort to allow the positive forces to win control over our body. Allowing the positive forces to achieve control over our body requires following Dharma, or doing the right thing.
Das acknowledges that adhering to the laws of Dharma may consist of sacrifices. For example, if getting the top job at work involves cheating, it is not following Dharma. Getting the job is not the right thing. However, if following Dharma means being honest, and getting a lower paying job, doing the lower paying job is the right thing. There may be sacrifice, but the result is the right one. It was meant to be.
I am very satisfied that I decided to pick up "The Difficulty of Being Good" by Gurcharan Das. He has led me to realize that following the right values will get the right result, even if that result does not appear to be the “best” at that given moment. The book also connected me back to my Indian roots. I’m happy that I will have something more to talk about with my grandmother on my next trip to the homeland.