'The Gita for Children' by Roopa Pai: What It Can Teach Kids

India's Blockbuster Bestseller, Now for Kids

The Gita For Children
The Gita For Children. by Roopa Pai (Hachette India)

"The Bhagavad Gita" is the holy book of the Hindus. This assertion at once fosters Hindu religiosity and keeps the not-so-religious and brethren from different faith at bay.

For once, if the hashtag #religion was detached from The Gita, it would not be an oversimplification to state that the book offers an unquestioned and unarguably the best recipe for everlasting happiness, better life and living, and the ability to tackle and overcome situations that weigh us down as we course through life.

Those who have discovered this secret have gone back to The Gita, again and again, seeking answers. No wonder it has stayed on the bestseller's list for 2,500 years!

Can the Gita Be Explained to Children?

The Gita’s simple happiness-message and lessons of life seldom trickle down to children. Children have their fair share of issues to deal with – tackling a class bully, coming first in class, winning that tennis tournament, becoming class monitor – and an endless string of questions they need to address in their own terms – Do grades really matter? Is it okay to be confused? Who do I ask for help? Why should I obey my elders? etc. The Gita has all the answers but the book rarely features on a child’s must-buy list of books for some obvious reasons.

"The Gita for Children" by Roopa Pai from Hachette India is what every child needs as a solution to all their distresses and remedy to all their big/small problems, which parents usually have no time to answer or find too exasperating or downright silly to deal with. Finally, here's a book presented in a never-before format that readers of all ages will find unputdownable.

What’s Keeping the Gita Away From Kids?

Most books keep the readers enthralled by the intricately interwoven stories of the Pandavas and the Kauravas, their enmity, and the inevitable epic battle of the Mahabharata barely skimming the surface or completely skipping the wise lessons of The Gita.

The original Bhagvad Gita is in Sanskrit, a language very few follow, which makes it incomprehensible. The available translations are multi-layered philosophical interpretations by Sanskrit scholars that are most often intimidating. So, the hapless reader is lead to believe that only at 50, one can grapple and grasp the essence of The Gita. But who needs collaring a bully or grades at 50?

The Interesting Structure and Format of The Gita

The 18 chapters of The Gita are each divided into two sections. One where the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna is narrated in a simpler, condensed form using the casual colloquial new-school lingo of Gen Y while maintaining the verisimilitude of The Bhagavad Gita.

The other is a section called ‘Lessons from the Gita’ that elucidates what a young reader can learn from Krishna’s advice to Arjuna in that chapter and how to apply it in their life. In Akshara Brahma Yoga, Chapter 8 of The Gita, Krishna advises Arjuna to “kill the ignorance of ‘I’ by constantly reflecting on the Absolute.” Simply, he is teaching the art of multi-thinking, i.e. running multiple streams of thoughts simultaneously.

How The Gita Can Teach Kids to Think

In "The Gita for Children," Roopa Pai asks the young reader: “Is such a thing really possible? Can you keep thinking about something that is completely unrelated to what you are doing at a particular time?” She answers: “Of course!... If your main thought-track when you are doing your homework goes: ‘I hate biology; Mr. X is such a tyrant; what’s the point of studying stupid history dates’…Your parallel thought-track could be: ‘I know everything I’m doing today is helping me become smarter in some way and that’s always a good thing.’ The positive, calming parallel tracks will balance the negative, aggressive main tracks and make you feel better through the homework process.” It requires regular practice.

A Book for All Seasons and All Reasons

One can begin reading the book at the beginning and end at the end or even go the cherry-picking way and choose any chapter to read. But what is assured is that every lesson is thought-provoking and can be discussed, mulled over, chewed and digested. It can be read and re-read over an entire lifetime and with every new reading a fresh perspective dawns depending on the reader’s current state of mind or situation. If interested, readers can even learn the original Sanskrit shlokas, the pronunciation and meaning of which are explained in English.

The Gita of Trivia or the Trivia of the Gita

What further enlivens "The Gita for Chidren" - besides Sayan Mukherjee's beautiful illustrations - are interesting trivia that peppers the book. Here are a few examples from its well-designed pages:

  • Who is a Maharathi and who an Atimaharathi among the warriors?
  • What is the Akshauhini battle formation, how closely does it resemble the Chaturanga, the original version of chess?
  • Can five-time World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand be equal to an Atimaharathi?
  • What are the eight limbs of the Ashtanga Yoga as founded by Patanjali?
  • Were there 10 avatars of Vishnu or 24 as some believe?
  • How is Jack’s Beanstalk comparable to the holy Ashvatta tree mentioned in the Bhagvad Gita?
  • How does the American novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee reflect Chapter 2 of The Gita - Sankhya Yoga?
  • Is the concept of reincarnation what scientists call The Law of Conservation of Matter?
  • Is there only one Gita or many Gitas?

All these and many more interesting tidbits show that The Gita is not just a holy book of exclusive pearly-white wisdom but a handy compendium of easy-to-learn-and-remember lessons that can be applied everywhere every time. 

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Your Citation
Das, Subhamoy. "'The Gita for Children' by Roopa Pai: What It Can Teach Kids." Learn Religions, Sep. 13, 2021, learnreligions.com/the-gita-for-children-by-roopa-pai-1770664. Das, Subhamoy. (2021, September 13). 'The Gita for Children' by Roopa Pai: What It Can Teach Kids. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/the-gita-for-children-by-roopa-pai-1770664 Das, Subhamoy. "'The Gita for Children' by Roopa Pai: What It Can Teach Kids." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/the-gita-for-children-by-roopa-pai-1770664 (accessed June 5, 2023).