Why should we be good? How should we be good? And how might we more deeply understand the moral and ethical failings, splashed across today’s headlines, that have not only destroyed individual lives but caused widespread calamity as well, bringing communities, nations, and indeed the global economy to the brink of collapse?
In The Difficulty of Being Good, Gurcharan Das seeks answers to these questions in an unlikely source: the 2,000 year-old Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata. A sprawling, witty, ironic, and delightful poem, the Mahabharata is obsessed with the elusive notion of dharma- in essence, doing the right thing. When a hero does something wrong in a Greek epic, he wastes little time on self-reflection; when a hero falters in the Mahabharata, the action stops and everyone weighs in with a different and often contradictory take on dharma. Each major character in the epic embodies a significant moral failing or virtue, and their struggles mirror with uncanny precision our own familiar emotions of anxiety, courage, despair, remorse, envy, compassion, vengefulness, and duty. Das explores the Mahabharata from many perspectives and compares the successes and failures of the poem’s characters to those of contemporary individuals, many of them highly visible players in the world of economics, business, and politics. In every case, he finds striking parallels that carry lessons for everyone faced with ethical and moral dilemmas in today’s complex world.
Written with the flair and seemingly effortless erudition that have made Gurcharan Das, a bestselling author around the world- and enlivened by Das’s forthright discussion of his own personal search for a more meaningful life. The Difficulty of Being Good shines the light of an ancient poem on the most challenging moral ambiguities of modern life.
About the Author
Gurcharan Das is an Indian author, commentator and public intellectual. He is the author of The Difficulty of Being Good: On the subtle art of dharma which interrogates the epic, Mahabharata. His international bestseller, India Unbound, is a narrative account of India from Independence to the global Information Age, and has been published in many languages and filmed by BBC.
He is a regular columnist for six Indian newspapers in English, Hindi, Telugu and Marathi, and he writes periodic pieces for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, and Newsweek.
He graduated with honors from Harvard University in Philosophy. He later attended Harvard Business School (AMP), where he is featured in three case studies. He was CEO of Procter & Gamble India and later Managing Director, Procter & Gamble Worldwide (Strategic Planning). In 1995, he took early retirement to become a full time writer. He is currently on many boards and is a regular speaker to the top managements of the world’s largest corporations.
His other literary works include a novel, A Fine Family, a book of essays, The Elephant Paradigm, and anthology, Three English Plays.
PHOTO CREDIT : GURCHARAN DAS
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