‘MY GITA’ by Devdutt Pattanaik- Book Review

By | February 25, 2018




‘My Gita’ by Devdutt Pattanaik does not demystify GITA for a common person. It places his interpretation and understanding of multilayered discourse by Lord Krisha. It has taken me a long time to complete it. It is a tough book to follow, and you have to go slow digesting every framework presented in it, thus this hugely delayed reaction. So here are my feelings about ‘My Gita’ by Devdutt Pattanaik.

We are not rational creatures who feel. We are emotional creatures who rationalise. Page 131.

It is quite commendable and brave of Devdutt not to attempt yet another Verse by Verse desertion of Gita. In the process, he brings alive the soul of Gita in a narrative that puts human first. It’s storytelling of a different level. It is much different than many of his other work in the mythological narration like Jaya- Mahabharata, Business Sutra, Sita and 99 Thoughts on Ganesha. My respect for Devdutt Pattanaik grows many folds after reading ‘My Gita’.

MY GITAIt is all about understanding and not judging, action and engagement and not about in-action and detachment.

Our emotional experiences can also inform and shape our concepts. So, when a rock or a river gives us joy in some way, we declare it must be a deity. Concepts, therefore, help us rationalise emotions; emotions help us rationalise concepts- it is a two-way process. Page 60.

It is an interpretation from Devdutt’s point-of-view. In a way, he never proposes it to be the truth or the best understanding thus predictably protecting himself from any harsh reaction in the current social environment.

He guides us through a thematic representation of a re-aligned synchronised narration of GITA. They almost seem to fall into a sequence of possibilities starting with Observation (Darshan) and moving on to Rebirth (Atma), Mortal Body (Deha), Body’s Immortal Resident (Dehi), Cause and Consequence (Karma), Appropriate Conduct (Dharma), Exchange (Yagna), Introspection (Yoga), Trust (Deva-Asura), Potential (Bhagavan), Expanding the Mind (Brahmana), Contracting the mind (Avatar), Tendencies of Matter (Guna), Propreitorship (Kshetra), Measurement (Maya), Attachment (Moha), Liberation (Moksha) before ending with Union (Brahma-Nirvana).

Human hunger is not just about food. We seek emotional and intellectual nourishment too. We seek meaning, validation, significance, value, purpose, power and understanding. We seek ideas about wealth, power, relationship and existence. We seek entertainment. We seek food to liberate us from the fear of the predator, security to liberate us from the fear of invalidation. It transforms every meeting into an exchange. Lovemaking is yagna. Childbearing is yagna. Child rearing is yagna. Feeding is yagna. Teaching is yagna. Service is yagna. War is also yagna. Exchange can be used to satisfy our desires or repay our debts. It can entrap us, or liberate us. It depends not on the action, but on the thought underlying the action. Page 106.

Part of this conceptual Gita finds expression in Brand-i, and a lot sounds like NLP Presuppositions. ‘My Gita’ is about both being unique and independent in an interconnected world. If that is not confusing enough, you may try reading it. On a personal note, ‘My Gita’ helps me in representing some of the concepts in ‘Brand-I’ in a different context and framework.

“My deha is different than yours. My hunger is different from yours. My assumptions are different from yours. My capabilities are different from yours. My experiences are different from yours. My expressions are different from yours.” Page 66

It is heavy reading. Even after being genuinely interested in the subject and claiming to have a decent understanding, I found it layered. It is recommended reading, if and only if you wish to immerse yourself and promise to go slow by spending time on each of the chapters.

I have taken more than 75 days to complete ‘My Gita’, a book of just 245 pages. I had to slow down, allowing each of the chapters and interpretation to sink-in a bit deeper before moving to the next section.

I read other books in between and came back to ‘My Gita’ in bits and pieces. I suggest you do the same.

People in advertising, marketing and brand building will be able to see many parallels in understanding and explanation of current theories of intervention and human emotion in ‘My Gita’. The seekers get what he focusses on.

“Arjuna, fair or unfair, the results if any action depends on five things; body, mind, instruments, methods and divine grace. Only the ignorant think they alone are responsible for the outcome.” Bhagwat Gita, Chapter eight Verse 13 to 16 (Paraphrased and presented in My Gita- Page 82)

Even though I am a fan of Devdutt and his work, I could never bring myself to pick the book off the shelf. However, after my visit to Hemis Monastery at Leh last August, I was genuinely intrigued and interested in reading about Naropa; one of the eighty-four mahasiddhas, the ‘saints’ of Vajrayana. Someone there suggested I read this first. Thus I picked a heavily underlined copy of ‘My Gita’ from my brother Rajiv Kotnala posted at Leh.

Krishna Knows That In A World Without Boundaries. There Will Always Be Another Chance, And Then Another’ Page 274

And as I continue my quest of reading more and more about Naropa, I get a fair sense of well-meaning recommendation. My ‘Gita’ is anyway different than Devdutt Pattanaik ‘Gita’, just like your ‘Gita’ is bound to be different after you finish reading ‘My Gita’. Go ahead. I know it will make sense to you.

‘MY GITA’ by Devdutt Pattanaik. INR 295. Pages 247. Rupa Publications

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