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My Gita by Devdutt Pattanaik

Na jayate, mriate, wa kadchaith, na ahiam

na jayate mriyate va kadacin

nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah

This verse from the Bhagavad Gita can be translated as,The soul is never born nor dies at any time. The soul has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being.” It speaks about the cyclical nature of the soul.

With this thought in mind, I started reading Devdutt Pattanaik’s My Gita. The book begins in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. The armies of Kauravas and Pandavas are eagerly waiting for the Pandava prince Arjuna to blow the conch signalling the start of the war. A war that would later become a major event in the Hindu mythology–the Mahabharata. Arjuna knew this war would claim more lives than anything he had ever witnessed. Contemplating the death of his brothers, uncles, teachers and friends, and not knowing what to do, Arjuna seeks advice from his guide and charioteer Krishna.

Krishna, then, goes on to narrate 18 chapters encapsulating the universe from the beginning of time until the perceived end of time. This narrative between Arjuna and Krishna came to be known as the Bhagavad Gita.

The holy text in its original form has gone through numerous changes partially to accommodate newer developments of Hindu sects and mutts. What we know as Bhagavad Gita is an amalgamation of vedic philosophy, puranic texts and medieval religious concepts.

In his interpretation, Pattanaik offers the reader a thematic understanding of the Gita, elucidating all the important points as in the original text, but molding them into his own understanding and sensibilities. This justifies Pattanaik naming the book, My Gita.

The author has managed to demystify the key principles of Gita, staying true to the philosophy. However, Pattanaik’s purpose is just not limited to decoding the principles. It also empowers the readers to look deep into their souls and create their own Gita.

Through My Gita, Pattanaik conveys the ultimate message that there are no endings. This is also the message of the Bhagavad Gita. As the universe is constantly expanding, so is the potential in us to expand our lives. This is the same potential Krishna saw in Arjuna. And all of us intend to find within.

Individuals who have had the fortune to read the Bhagavad Gita in its entirety would be able to identify with Pattanaik’s style and his assertion that this is only his version of the Gita. And readers who haven’t picked up any version of Gita, would not find a better version to begin with.


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