The Difficulty of being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma

The Difficulty of being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma (English, Hardcover, Gurcharan Das)

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The Difficulty of being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma  (English, Hardcover, Gurcharan Das)

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22 Ratings & 8 Reviews
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Highlights
  • Language: English
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • ISBN: 9780670083497, 0670083496
  • Edition: 1stEdition, 2009
  • Pages: 488
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Description

This book examines the essence of what constitutes being good using the Mahabharata as a reference point.

Summary Of The Book

What exactly constitutes being good? Each one of us is faced with the choice between good and bad in decisions we make, from the mundane to the major actions that could have significant implications.

The author has explored the questions of morality and Dharma through the Mahabharata.

Most religious texts are concerned with morality. But The Mahabharata is a text that analyses this question obsessively. The whole story is that of a conflict between right and wrong, between moral integrity and amoral pursuit of self-interest.

But there are no black and white divisions here. All the characters experience moral conflicts. While the Pandavas are mostly good, they are not pure and flawless beings. They are essentially human, with all the inherent human failings.

The Kauravas and their camp are not wholly evil and have some good traits. But they are mostly ruled by passions and perceived wrongs, and are driven by self-interest above all else.

As the author points out, whenever a character in The Mahabharata transgresses the rules of Dharma, the action stops as all the other characters nearby weigh in with their opinions. This happens even during the War itself.

The author wanted to find answers to the current moral dilemmas through an exploration of The Mahabharata. Could he find answers to the present moral degeneration in all fields of human endeavours like politics, society, and every other field through the ancient text?

The Pandavas don’t necessarily want a fratricidal war, but they do not want to give up their rights. The Kauravas do not care what means they use, as long as they can get what they want. In the end, both sides break rules to achieve victory.

The Mahabharata does not favor the idealistic and pacifist path of giving up everything in order to avoid a war. It also rejects Duryodhana’s amorality. Ultimately, it favors the pragmatic solution. Be good, but do not let yourself be exploited.

As the author puts it, an upright statesman should be prudent and tread the middle path. Turning the other cheek sends out wrong signals, signifying weakness. A ruler must also be ready to use the ‘Danda’ or rod of force when required.

About Gurcharan Das

Gurcharan Das is an Indian author, columnist, and commentator. Six Indian publications carry regular columns by him. He also writes periodically for international publications.

Gurcharan Das has been writing since he finished college and his books include The East India Company: The World's Most Powerful Corporation, Arthashastra: The Science of Wealth, India Unbound, The Elephant Paradigm India Wrestles With Change, Merchants of Tamilakam: Pioneers of International Trade, and A Fine Family: A Novel.

His writing, mainly non-fiction, explores every facet of India, from its ancient past to current times. He has also written a work of fiction called A Fine Family.

Gurcharan Das was born in 1943 in Lyallpur in the current Pakistani province of Punjab. After the Partition, his family moved to India. Gurcharan Das studied at Harvard University. He graduated with Honors in Philosophy. He later attended the Advanced Management program of Harvard Business School, where he is featured in three case studies. He has been the CEO of Procter & Gamble, India, and Vice President of Procter & Gamble, Far East. Later, he was Vice President and Managing Director of Procter & Gamble, Worldwide. After a 30 year career spanning six countries, he took early retirement in 1995 and became a full time writer. Currently his regular columns are featured in six Indian publications which includes Times Of India and five other publications in Hindi and regional languages. He also writes guest columns for Times magazine, New York Times, Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

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Specifications
Book Details
  • Imprint
    • Penguin Global
  • Publication Year
    • 2009 December
Contributors
  • Author
    • Gurcharan Das
Dimensions
  • Width
    • 1.4 Inches (US)
  • Height
    • 9.3 Inches (US)
  • Depth
    • 1.49 inch
  • Weight
    • 1.91 Pounds (US)
Ratings and Reviews
4.4
22 Ratings &
8 Reviews
  • 5
     12
  • 4
     8
  • 3
     1
  • 2
     0
  • 1
     1
4

THE DIFFICULTY OF BEING GOOD

i bought this book after having read a review of this in a newspaper. the book is a must read for indophiles. the author's description of the mahabharata is succint, his character sketches interesting , and his evaluation of dharma incredible. this is a book which i could not read in one go; it required rumination and deep thought on life.having struggled with the difficulty of being good in a world that demands avarice,i found this book calming my troubled soul. towards the end i had beg...
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dr. nirbhay karandikar

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5 Jul, 2012

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4

A relook at the basis of life - Dharma

Dharma is a word that means many things to many people all over the world. Gurcharan has delved into history and through Mahabharata made a stunning point of Dharma being as flexible as water and that not all things can be put in lack and white. The book makes readers think that in today's world this concept of Dharma may help in greater benefit of the world.
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Deepak Agarwal

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16 Nov, 2011

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5

Awesome Read

A must for your book shelf. Written in a simple language.Book is entertaining and thought provoking.writer is a great story teller. he has described mahabhatra in a very lucid way. i highly recommend this book to read How can we live a balanced and a moral life in the world of uncertainties? examples have also been given from history which makes the book even more interesting
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Garima Jain

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7 Dec, 2011

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1

Read Mahabharata Instead

I bought this book judging by the author's credentials,reviews and the bibliography and notes section.The latter make you believe that the author is widely read.The same cannot be said of his understanding of the epic he wanted to tackle.The questions he set out with,remain dangling at the end of the book.Its true that Dharma cannot be easily described.But the quality of discussion and depth of understanding should shine through the topic and throw a new light on the subject.But all his obse...
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sujit kumar das

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6 Aug, 2012

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5

A life changer

Ive read the mahabharata, the geeta and a lot of other books on the subject. But never has there been something like this. For everyone we know, it is Arjuna, Bhima, karna as the hereos to look at, but Mr. Das here gives us a whole new HERO and trust me it does change ones view towards yudhistira. He connects it with a real life situation existing currently and does wonderfully well to see what lies beyond the soft, calm and the so called anti-hero of the mahabharata.... This book is a life c...
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Prasad Utekar

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1 Jul, 2013

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5

A excellent work by Das

The piece of work involves the analysis of situations and characters in the epic tale of Mahabharata. The stoty line states how in today's world one can relate to every situation and the moral dilemma the characters of Mahabharata faced some thousand yeras back.
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Jayanti Chatterjee

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7 Sep, 2012

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4

An excellent read

Loved Reading the book, however wouldn't recommend it to anyone who has not read at-least 2 translations of Mahabharata or Devdutt's Jaya, and doesn't have a strong understanding of the philosophy of Samsara.

Gurucharan Das understanding of Mahabharata is a bit flawed but his understanding of Sansara(Samsara) is excellent.

A must read if you would like to find answers to questions of Morality, but the book will leave you with more questions and no answers
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Anupam Chopra

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26 Jun, 2012

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5

A MUST have for your collection!

This book is just what I wanted, in terms of relating the epic-Mahabharata, in today's context. I always wondered how those characters, stories and narratives would stand in terms of relevance today. A brilliant account of a very deep philosophy from ancient India. A fantastic read which is not too heavy, crisp and easy to grasp, and a must buy.
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Siddharth Soni

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13 Feb, 2012

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