The holy book of Hindus, the Bhagvad Gita, or simply the Gita is a 700 verse Hindu scripture in Sanskrit which is part of the Mahabharat. It is written in the way of a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna which is essentially a dialogue between God and Man. Krishna asks Arjun to do the right thing even if it seems wrong to him at a personal level. The Mahabharat is defined as the Dharma Yudh. It is the war between what you should do and what you can do. Krishna says one must follow the path of righteousness and do what one should do. It is a thick and dense book, but it is a truth which Hindu followers abide by. No, it is not necessary to read it. See, I haven’t read it too. But it is essential to understand the 2 itihaasas which are Ramayana and Mahabharat. I am not really sure if it is ‘history’, but it is called as ‘itihaas’. In earlier times, the stories of the Mahabharat and the Bhagvad Gita were told by wandering minstrels during village festivals. There would be plays enacted with the Gita as a theme.
Even in the 80s and 90s, we had the TV serials on DD called Mahabharat as a reference point. This was specifically beneficial to non-readers. Even today, the children of that era will be able to recall the Mahabharat. Of course, TV has many new sexed up versions, but I am no fan. I still think B.R. Chopra told it the best way. I would love to tell these stories to my children, but they are more interested in some game which rhymes with ‘Sabji’. So, when the author Sonal Sachdev Patel reached to me to review this children’s book which simplified the Gita, I was curious. I asked her how many pages does it have. She said 99. And is it illustrated? She said yes. Now, I was a lot more curious.
I got the book promptly and started off on it. The book starts with the story of a boy called Dev. He has recently lost his father and just had a fight with his elder brother. He is sad to see his mother looking so sad and colorless with no bindi or sindoor. And he is lost. He is having a headache or is it a stomach ache, maybe it is a fever. With overwhelming feelings of sadness, loneliness, anger and desperation, Dev clearly needs some help. At this moment, a man butterfly called Sanjay talks to him. Dev is taken aback by this strange phenomenon of a butterfly with a man’s head and a talking one too. He is surprised that Sanjay knows so much about him.
Frankly, this confused me. Where is the promised Gita? The illustrations are beautiful, the book is only 99 pages, but I felt, it is not what I had expected. I put the book down and picked it up again over the next weekend. Clearly, the author was just setting the stage. Because, Sanjay then enters the body of Dev as a tiny butterfly. He starts from his bowels, fixing things as they go. Slowly he moves up and finally to the brain. And I realised that the author has very cleverly explained the path of chakras of the body and finally enlightenment. In every chakra or level, the conflicts are identified and resolved. This was done in simple words with illustrations to go with it.
I simply loved reading this one. It is a perfect read for 9 to 13 year olds to understand the Gita. Now, if only I could get my 13 year old non-reader to read it.