Non-fiction at its best. The Difficulty Of Being Good is written by Gurucharan Das( Harvard boy, Procter and gamble CEO , now retired writer for a bunch of newspapers). The book is scintillating and simple ... Basically the author decided on a break decided to pursue kama -desire,arth-material satisfaction, karma-work ,dharma-righteousness and moksha aka salvation.He wanted to pursue these basic tenets of hinduism using famed books on the suject so behold THE Mahabharata , my favourite epic and the greatest book ever written. The beauty and difficulty of the epic lies in the matter of making a choice in essence doing the right thing. Righteousness.
Dharma is possibly one of the most difficult concepts to explain to the world... Dharma is your duty, it is also your ethics, it is righteousness and it is the law. It is all these things simultaneously related and rather complex. Like most Indians(not just hindus mind you) I have grown up with the Mahabharata, seen dramas, soap operas, movies, read books and articles on the subject. It is a magnificient complex plot made of more than 100,000 couplets and is a collection of 18 books. It is a dozen times thicker than the combined length of Iliad and odyssey combined.
The essence Of mahabharata (personal opinion no quoting)lies in doing the right thing that is doing YOUR dharma and what is the right thing Simply, what turns out for best in the long run for everyone.
indeed mahabharata's central theme lies in the annihilation of the kshatriyas in the kali yuga, the same disturbed , political, greed age as ours.
Ok, now what I like about the book:
1) The author is upset about the fact that mahabharat is perceived as hindu religious literature which of course it is not. In fact Hinduism as a religion does not exist on the lines of Judaism, islam, christianity or for that matter jainism, buddhism and even the bhakti movement. (Read The Discovery Of India for more on this!)
The Mahabharat is literature at its finest showcasing human dilemmas. It has nothing to do with religious fanatism of the saffron kind ok!
2) The Book is presented in the most interesting format with 10 chapters(in fact the book is shorter than the reference list). The chapters are themselves a treat with comparisons to Amabanis, satyam fraud and the Indian bureaucracy. Too good.
3) Lastly the author doesn't throw snobbish airs. And The Questions he felt while reading the epic are the ones I did.
Overall, engaging, appreciable, nouveau approach and 5 out of 5 just for the epic it deals with.
The chapter on Karna- status anxiety and draupadi-courage rock.