Book Review- My Gita : Devdutt Pattanaik

27318490About Book: My Gita

“My Gita” is deal with the modern understanding about Shreemad Bhagwat Gita by the eye of writer “Devdutt Pattanaik”. This book basically illustrated the different idea & wisdom within Bhagwat Gita and Mahabharata. Devdutt has tried hard to highlighted the key ingredient of Bhagwat Gita in very easy way to common people who doesn’t have time to involve themselves in deep philosophy of Bhagwat Gita.

Writer has divided this book in 18 different chapters like Bhagwat Gita itself. he has tried to dissolved as many as idea of Bhagwat Gita into a very sophisticated commentary which is very easy to understand and absorbed. Writer also warn people to having his own view on Bhagwat Gita which can be different from Other people.

“Arjuna, People worship limited deities, limited as they are by their nature and their yearnings. From me comes their faith. From me comes fulfillment of their faith. The restricted stay restrained. those who shatter the boundaries discover me: The Limitless” – Bhagwat Gita Chapter 7, Verse 20 to 23 (paraphrased).

“Those whose minds are distorted by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures.” – Bhagwat Gita Chapter 7, Verse 20

“I am in everyone’s heart as the Super soul. As soon as one desires to worship the demigods, I make his faith steady so that he can devote himself to some particular deity.”- Bhagwat Gita Chapter 7, Verse 21

“Endowed with such a faith, he seeks favors of a particular demigod and obtains his desires. But in actuality these benefits are bestowed by Me alone.” – Bhagwat Gita Chapter 7, Verse 22

“Men of small intelligence worship the demigods, and their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the demigods go to the planets of the demigods, but My devotees ultimately reach My supreme planet .” – Bhagwat Gita Chapter 7, Verse 23

This line is part of back cover of book. which is clearly mentioned the biggest wisdom inside Bhagwat Gita. One side where Abrahamic holy books are strictly prohibited to different interpretation, Bhagwat Gita open an limitless boundaries to understand the Bhagwat Gita according to wisdom of reader. Bhagwat Gita is limitless in their interpretation.

About Writer: Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik

Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik (born 11 December 1970) is an Indian physician turned leadership consultant, author and communicator whose works focus largely on the areas of myth and also management. He has written over 600 articles and 30 books on the relevance of sacred stories, symbols and rituals in modern times, including Myth = Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu Mythology, Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata, Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana, Business Sutra: An Indian Approach to Management, Shikhandi: And Other Tales they Don’t Tell You.

Devdutt tried to highlighted the various view of judging the same situation. he shows how one situation is very different in view of different people whom desired, love and understanding (wisdom or vivek) help them to see situation good and bad.

“Dhristarastra was head of Kuru family but unable to see the pain of Pandava and their exile due to his blind affection towards his sons. Duryodhana, was powerful person but unable to see discrimination due to insult done by dropadi. Yudhstra was very wise men but unable to see dharma due to lack of his weekness towards gameplay.

Only lord Krishana, has wisdom to see everything and understanding each cause and effect but he was also blind due to obeying of dharma. here every one is blind for good or bad reasons. ” Page 34 chapter 1

Here writer try to explain that we all are bounded by a thread of action and reactions due to our karma and fala (reaction). while karma is our hand but fala (reaction) is not even hand of GOD. he is also bounded by karma-fala in human form. If we are bounded with our karma than how we can judge others good and bad because their good and bad action is only part of their past good and bad action. At some point of time these actions trigger an chain reactions which leads to human towards their faith. If action is good it can be turn into bad reaction and vice versa.

In Ramayana, Lord Ram, Kill Bali to save sugreev wife from atrocity done by Bali (which is good actions) but in next birth same Bali reincarnate as an hunter and kill Lord Krishna (reincarnation of Lord ram) at the end of Mahabharata.

Here Good Karma turns into bad reactions. Similarly, in other stories, Valmiki who were an thief and try to kill Rishi Narad (Bad karma), turns into an sage who wrote such great epic of Lord Ram, (Ramayana). here Bad actions turns into good reactions.

So, Judging is not our job in this world. Our job is doing good karma which will lead us in good reaction, hopefully.

In this chapter, writer try to illustrate the great cycle of birth and death which show fundamental belief in Hinduism : Reincarnation.

As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones. Bhagwat Gita chapter 2 verse 22.

In Hinduism, Lord clearly stated that we are the part of our present, future and past. because we mistakenly understand that the body we have is the only identity of ours. but as per Hindu wisdom, we are separate from our body (Deh). We have two part within us Body (Deh) and Ataman (Dehi)- surely its not equal to Soule. Ataman is part of every living and non living things but in different sensory (Eye, skin, nose, tong, ears) and working (Brain, hand, foot, Sex organs, heart)  organs. Humans have all sensory and working organs in fully developed state. He has most powerful working organ which is collaborate with all sensory organs to fix meaning around him.

beyond this sensory and working organs complex machinery (body), there is another part of us which is very powerful and connected with all the things around us/nature. It is ataman which never destroyed with time which is ever presented in our past life, present life and will be there for future. But due to part of an supreme network , this Soule has no effect of other emotions of human body. it doesn’t understand love, sympathy , affection, fear, pain and joy. the only language such thing understand is burdens of karma (actions) which carry with it from one life to others.

With help of this reincarnation concept writer tried to highlighted the difference between Abrahamic religion and eastern religion wisdom. In Abrahamic religion, life is one and we have to live according to Holy book prescribe by religion. This sets of rules and duties inside specified books create an  urges amongst believers to reach maximum within one life. here’s this good sets of rules turn into an bad reactions. urgency of being good and loyal create an fanatic behave for others who doesn’t live their life with same desperation. here idea of reincarnation help

Reincarnation dilute the urgency of being extreme good while karma forced to people for good karma. this action-reincarnation balance produce an balance psychological behavior which is flexible and give second chance or tolerance towards differences.

writer try to show the different view point for same life, phenomenon and idea. This section illustrate the idea of different world view and harmony amongst them. In this writer explain, how life is different for an animal and human. how animal experience only his hunger, while human experience hunger of self and others. this section also deals with the idea that how animals doesn’t care about good karma and mutual behave. why they don’t think for reincarnation.

Because animal has “Matsya nayaya”, they don’t feel the importance of reincarnation and karma. they are limited to their self hunger and their offspring. They only know one rule “Might is right”. They cant experience the pain, hunger and joy of an stranger animal. because their sensory oranges are limited to fulfillment of their own need of survive. hence, ataman inside them are not applicable for reincarnation according to karma. While humans can feel hunger, pain and joy of others, instead of this if they chose to behave like animals their reincarnation consider as downwards while all animals reincarnation consider as upwards. But if human leave their hunger itself and meditate them self for society and nature, they can break this eternal cycle of life and death. they can liberate and experience the supreme.

Here writer explain, how things are changed when we see things. how we observed an phenomenon is up to our wisdom, knowledge and experience. But for God this idea observation comes beyond an personal wisdom, knowledge and experience. For God, every thing around the world is very normal and neutral. hence he always chose to not interfere in human life. but in extreme conditions of anything, god itself become reaction and action to overcome the effect of certain phenomenon.

Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion-at that time I descend Myself. – Bhagwat Gita chapter 4 verse 7.

So for us we can see thing differently , we can have different point of view but God doesn’t seen things with biased way because for him, good and evil is just counterpart of each other. there is no absolute good and evil in god eye.

When the embodied living being controls his nature and mentally renounces all actions, he resides happily in the city of nine gates [the material body], neither working nor causing work to be done.- Bhagwat Gita chapter 5 verse 13.

In this section, Devdutt shows how we are desperate to see the meaning of things around us. how we are unable to understand that in real nature their is no true meaning. All customs, social rules and practice are man made for serving the society in context of time. In Hinduism they are ever changeable as per demand of time or people. while in Abrahamic religion, these social rules are word of Gods and they cant be change. This create problematic behavior in society to accept modernization. While in Hinduism, social rules and practice is not important which comes from a human mind who seeking for meaning.

Humans have 9 gates according to Bhagwat Gita. 2 eyes, 2 ears, 2 nostril, 1 mouth, 1 anus and penis. Each gates has certain work which provokes action in real world. These gates should be controlled and used wisely for controlled actions. As much as we use wisely such gates, city (body) will be safe.



Drawbacks of Book: My Gita’s Error List

  1. Page 13, History of Hinduism is still unknown. Writer tried to confine it up to 5000 Years. These years are only approximate times of evidence yet discovered and verified for Hinduism History.
  2. Page 13, writer tried to imposed the cultural oppression within Hinduism while Vedic phase, upanishadic phase, Buddhist phase, Puranic phase and bhakti phase are evolved from each other without suppression of other phase. Presently, in India many believers lived in Vedic Phase (Arya Samaji) to Bhakti Phase (Common People).
  3. Page 13, “Everything is complicated by the fact that writing becomes popular in India only 2300 years after Maury an Emperor …” here writer trying to imposed the idea that Sanskrit as a written language developed after Buddhism while it is not true. Sanskrit as a written and oral tradition is very famous before Buddhism but only becomes more grammatically correct and popular after Padani Ashatadhyaa.
  4. In Page 16, Devdutt tried to distort the Hinduism history by accepting the fact that Ramayana and Mahabharata is puranic tales rather than part of history and they have been popular after introduction of Buddhism. While there is thousands of evidence which shows that Ramayana is much popular amongst people before birth of Buddha.
  5.  Page 17, Devdutt also trying to shift the damaged done by Mughals and Christianity to Hinduism by considering it self-deterioration nature of everything. There is no doubt of mentioned self-deterioration nature of religion but this self-deterioration of religion brings evolution in religion. Hinduism gone through such deterioration which is trigger by Islamic invasion and British colonies in early India and Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism evolved from Hinduism. In case of religion, it is not confirmed that source religion is primitive in nature but its shows interest in change of customs with accordance of time.
  6. Page 21, Again writer tried to portrayed Ramayana and Mahabharata as a story imagined by Valmiki and Ved Vysa respectively while they are part of Indian history as per many geological evidence.
  7. Page 22, writer trying to say that in Mahabharata is many kind of Gita. Like Nine gita..Pingala Gita, Sampka Gita, Manki Gita, Bodhya Gita, Vichaknu Gita, harita Gita, Vritra Gita, Parasara Gita and hansa Gita. While Bhagawat Gita is just one of them. This is another attempt to dilute the power source of gita in ocean of Hindu scripture. But all above mentioned are not Gita they are just part of Bishama wisdom not songs. There is only one Gita which is mentioned in Mahabharata is “The Bhagwat Gita” a real songs or wisdom given by Lord Krishna himself to Arjun. There is many interpretation of Bhagwat gita in different form but they are just extended commentary with writer wisdom like this book “My Gita”.
  8. Page 23, Writer tried to convince that One formless god, one holy book, one set of rules and one way of thinking idea is comes in light when Islam enter in India in Malabar coast. But in vedas clearly mentioned about formless god, before mourayans there were no practice of temple buildings and vedas consider that most holy books amongst all scripture written in Hinduism. One set of rules are far before than birth of Islam in Hinduism in form of smariti like manu smriti.
  9. Page 24 to 28, writer are full of incorrect information about history of Indian text origin their exposer to public and effect on movement. It seems that writer inputs about Indian history are basically influenced by Western Indologist like Wendy and Pollock who only do political philology from Indian scripture.

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