Book Review: The Difficulty of Being Good – The Subtle Art of Dharma

Author: Gurucharan Das
Publisher: Penguin
Price: 699/-

The Difficulty of Being Good

The Difficulty of Being Good

Having deep respect for Gurucharan Das after reading India Unbound and his columns in TOI, I had to pick when his latest book was released. The charm of the book increased manifold when I read the introduction and came to know, it’s based on Mahabharata, which is my favorite story, book, postulates of living life of all times.

The book basically talks about the dharma and its relevance & application in the modern world. Gurucharan Das has invested a lot of time and effort in reading, understanding and interpreting of Mahabharata. I was absolutely in love with the book, because I found my personal interpretation of the Mahabharata very close to the one done by him.

The book is very well written, with great depths and insights on the epic. The chapters are very well defined, with loads of wisdom and content to chew upon on every page. The book tries to answer the age old questions “What is Dharma?” “How should one lead ones life in accordance with Dharma?”.

To answer these question Gurucharan Das finds solace in the character of Yudhishtira who was son of Dharma god himself and he traces his behavior, adaption to newer views and actions, his call for duty, his decision to wage war and then finally the remorse after war. The book continuously follows the character of Yudhishtira trying to help the reader to draw parallels between the epic and the modern world, enabling him to answer the mega question “What is my Dharma?”

The book also features multiple emotions and reactions of different character and their impact in the light of Dharma. He has portrayed Bhishma’s selflessness, Droupadi’s courage, Arjuna’s despair, Ashwathama’s revenge and their impact on the course of the story and the relevance of dharma with Yudhishtira’s behavior. Though I don’t totally agree with his portrayal of Karna’s character and his behavior, I feel dinkar’s Rashmirathi has done a lot better portrayal and justice to his character.

The book is well written for all audience but a major drawback with the book is the sequence of incidents in out of order for the real Mahabharata story. For Indian readers who know a lot of Mahabharata stories as folklore & mythology are able to relate to the chapters which are placed individually, but for the foreign audience who are not aware of the story might find it difficult to relate to the correct order of the incidents.

A very good book, a must read for non-fiction lovers. Not an fast read, this is a book which demands time and concentration while you read to actually catch the essence of the epic and the answers being derived from it.

Rating: 4.5/5

8 comments on “Book Review: The Difficulty of Being Good – The Subtle Art of Dharma”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Book Review: The Difficulty of Being Good – The Subtle Art of Dharma | Ginger & Cardamom --

    • Prats Reply

      @Smita: Its not woven around any particular story… it picks up instances and character of Mahabharata and then analyzes and comments on them with insights.

  2. Pradeep Reply

    Why is it named “The difficulty of being good”. Does it talk about the losses one might make if he/she follows dharma or being right?

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