The Difficulty Of Being Good


  • Author: Gurcharan Das
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • ISBN-13: 9780143418979,
  • Pages: 434
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Year of Pub / Reprint Year: 2012

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About The Book

The Difficulty Of Being Good: On The Subtle Art Of Dharma examines moral dilemmas of current times and relates them to the dilemmas faced by the characters in the great epic Mahabharata.

The Mahabharata is a sweeping epic that chronicles different facets of human life, emotional and ethical conflicts. It has a huge number of characters and none of them are perfect. The negative characters have positive attributes too, and the heroes also have flaws. In fact, they’re all essentially human.

So it is not difficult for the author to study today’s moral questions in the context of the characters in the epic. Dharma, the moral code of behavior, has generally remained unchanged since those ancient times. In The Difficulty Of Being Good: On The Subtle Art Of Dharma, the author analyzes major characters like Duryodhana, Karna, Bhishma, Yudhishthira and Arjuna.

He looks at the character and behavior of these people in difficult situations, and their individual reactions He looks at Karna’s status anxiety and Duryodhana’s envy. He critically examines the methods used by both sides to win the war.

He also brings in current parallels to some of the situations and characters in the epic. For instance, he sees Duryodhana’s envy reflected in the Ambani brothers feud. He uses Karna’s anxiety over his status to debate the issue of reservation in modern India. The book analyzes the very basic question of why should a person be good, the motivations for living life according to a moral or ethical code. It also examines the ambiguities in the choices made by characters when faced with a dilemma, the hazy line that divides the good and the bad.

The Mahabharata focuses a lot on Dharma and whenever there is a transgression of an ethical code, the story pauses and the incident is thoroughly analyzed by various characters.

About The Author

Gurcharan Das is an author and columnist.

He is also the author of India Unbound, The Elephant Paradigm, and A Fine Family.

Gurcharan Das was born in 1943. He graduated with a degree in philosophy from Harvard University and later studied at Harvard Business School. He was CEO of Procter & Gamble India and later became the Managing Director of Procter & Gamble Worldwide. He is a regular columnist for publications like The Times of India, Eenadu and Dainik Bhaskar.