Book Review

On the subtle art of dharma

Gurcharan Das is the author of The Difficulty of Being Good: On the subtle art of dharma (Penguin 2009)

Wonderful and unique effort,and will be read by millions. I have some comments with which one is free to disagree.


Dharma transcends everything else, even the cosmos and the Gods.
Anything perceivable is its  derivative and ajectival, be it good bad or ugly.
Its clearest translation - though incomplete - is rhythm (surprisingly in sanskrit also), a sort of ' equilibrium', a complimentarity in the cosmos and beyond.
All aspects and laws of nature, all Gods, life systems, thoughts, words, actions derived from it and must conform.

The sun rises and sets, the olar and other astral systems revolve with nano-level perfection, the tides and waves of the ocean, the weather, wind, all life, must uphold it to perfection.
Even distortions seen at times is an integral part. Generally, these are expressed as bio-rhyhtm, eco-rhythm and astro-rhythm. For a beneficial synthesis of these three, is the invocation 'Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti'.

Dharma as understood in common parlance is inadequate to answer the many questions for the killing of Bhishma, Dhrona, Karna, etc. Vyasa himself fell into the error, as seen from his exasperation, quoted at page 302 of the book (XVIII-5-49).

In Vyasa's companian volume Srimad Bhagavatam book 1, chapters IV to VII, Narada  helps him lo locate wherehered and reconciles perceptions and Dharma. Krishna never killed. He only redeemed and absorbed into himself ! All legitimate questions of the Mahabharata, I think, are answered in Bhagavata and, I recommend its study.

Gurcharan Das writes to Appa

Dear Mr KV Naraynamurti,

I am honoured that you took the trouble to write to me. I profoundly appreciate your remarks. Dharma is, of course, infuriatingly complex and I have tried to come to grips with it in  my book. In it, I have a short essay, Dharma--the story of a word, in which I have traced the historic evolution of the word from the Rig Veda onwards. I like very much your use of the word, equilibrium. As I have pointed out my quest has probably been unsuccessful. I shall read the Bhagavata.

Warmest regards,

All contents in this website are original work of Shri Narayanmurti and any use of the contents,
either in part or, whole needs written permission from the author.

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