Saturday 5 November 2022

Review: The Gita for Children by Roopa Pai and Sayan Mukherjee (Children's, Non-fiction, Spiritual, 8/10E)

  October 2022, Swift Press, 304 pages, Hardback, Review copy 

Summary from Swift Press

The Gita For Children is an accessible friend, philosopher and guide, designed to, reassure, empower, and provide direction to young readers in an increasingly chaotic and morally topsy-turvy world.

The Bhagavad Gita has been on India’s must-read list for an incredible 2500 years (at the very least), and with good reason. Secular, liberal, and unfailingly compassionate towards human frailty, the divine song is a call to war against the most powerful and dangerous enemy of all – the one that lives inside our heads.

Pai’s spirited, one-of-a-kind retelling of the epic conversation between Pandava prince Arjuna and his mentor and friend Krishna is the best introduction to the Bhagavad Gita. Lucid, thought-provoking and brimming with fun trivia, this book will stay with you long after you have turned the last page.

Nayu's thoughts

Initially I was going to turn down reading this book, after all I'm Muslim rather than Hindu so why do I need to understand The Gita? However, I do like learning about other religions, understanding people is a step towards getting on with them (in theory), and I was curious about it. There are very few illustrations inside, which was a shame as they are gorgeous. 

There is a lot of explaining of the key essential parts of The Gita, which I appreciate is useful for those new to it. Some concepts were complex even when explained clearly. I liked how the explanations used were relevant for both children and teens, relating to homework and seeing friends. There are a lot of philosophies which are very similar in Islam, some were quite strange to me, and I didn't agree with all of them, but overall I feel I have a vague grasp on Hindu philosophies and why Krisna is believed to have fought the battle despite not wanting to fight his own family. 

Kindness and a sense of duty to others as well as oneself were the messages that came across strongly to me, and that people regardless of their spiritual inclination can appreciate how The Gita is a foundation for Hindus. It touches on ideas that I learnt about when I studied Pyschology at sixth form, different part of the self and how we can give in to certain thoughts or feelings or we can be stronger than them and do the dull tasks that are necessary in life. I do feel young Hindus will find this book invaluable to their spiritual journey, and other readers can broaden their knowledge which is never a bad thing. It's not a book I will peronally reread, but it is very good and I definitely recommend checking it out.

Suggested read

If you want to learn more about India check out A Jar of Pickles and Other Stories by Chitra Soundar and Uma Krishnaswamy (Children's, 7 years +, 9/10E, short 'n' sweet review)


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