Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When I read 'The Bhagwad Gita'

There was a time when I read a substantial portion of 'The Bhagwad Gita'. It was when I was about ten or eleven years old. (I am talking of ancient history here.)

One afternoon I was playing some distance away from my house, throwing stones in the air, trying to see how far they will go. (Apparently the frontal cortex, which keeps our emotional part of the brain from going out of control, develops fully only by about age thirty.Perhaps that is the reason why we do so many daft things till that age.) The sun was shining, the birds were singing and all the other things were happening that novelists write to indicate that it was a perfect day. But as everyone knows, every silver lining has a cloud.

One of these stones took on a life of its own (like the bullet that killed Kennedy) and went and hit a glass sheet in a neighbouring house. Glass sheets have this nasty habit of breaking into a million pieces with an unhealthy noise when struck with sufficient force. This sheet was no different. I stood literally transfixed to the spot, staring at the apocalyptic scene in horror. (If Wodehouse was writing my biography, he would have informed you at this point that something similar happened to Lot's wife when she looked back instead of walking straight ahead.)

The next instant, I ran to my house. Luckily, no one was in the front room to ask me uncomfortable questions about the concerned look on my face. I cautiously parted the curtains and peered out of the window, fully expecting to see a horde of Neanderthals bearing machetes and clubs and baying for my blood. To my surprise nobody was outside. But I was sure that this was just the lull before the storm. I had just seen the film 'Sholay' and Dharmendra's dialogue kept flashing through my head, 'Police coming, budiya going to jail and in jail budiya chakki pissing and pissing and pissing'. I looked around the room wondering what I could do to avoid the long arm of the law.

I saw a copy of 'The Bhagwad Gita' lying on a shelf. I suddenly got the idea that reading 'The Bhagwad Gita' wold keep me out of jail. I took it down and started reading. The left side had Sanskrit slokas and the right side had the English translation. I did not know any Sanskrit and the level of the English was far higher than what a ten year old could understand. But I remembered someone telling me that reading a religious book was good even if you did not understand anything.He was a Daniel come to judgement showing the way out of a very sticky situation.

It was a hard slog. After a few pages I kept the book aside, intending to read a few pages everyday. After coming home from school, I used to read some pages from the book before going to play. My mother must have been pleased about my sudden religiosity but I don't remember her saying anything about it. But I soon started tiring of it. Anyway the police were nowhere in sight. So I put the book back on the shelf where I had found it.


  1. hold on! what happened next with the glass sheet and its owners?

  2. Kailash,

    I don't know! I did not go that way for a long time. I had built it up as something big in my mind. For all I know, it might have been irrelevant.

  3. for all you know, they might still be looking for you....

  4. Have you tried reading it again????