A Beautiful Read: The Vedas and Upanishads for Children by Roopa Pai

I am not sure how to start this one because I don’t think of myself to be qualified enough to write a book review. Hence, this is not a book review. It’s more of sharing what I liked or didn’t like about the book. If I don’t enjoy reading a book, I end up not being able to finish it at all. Two recent examples of such books are Life is What You Make It by Preeti Shenoy and 1984 by George Orwell. I know the latter might be a surprise for many but, I loathed every time I picked it up and eventually gave up after reading over half the book. As for the former, I gave up within 50 pages or so. But I still have A Hundred Little Flames by the same author in my bookshelf and I plan to read it soon!

Okay, let’s talk about the book in the title of this post!

How did I pick up this book?

I had read The Gita for Children by the same author near the end of last year after reading a lot of positive reviews on Amazon. I always wanted to read The Gita but never gave it a shot since it seemed like a daunting book/text just from its name. However, there were numerous reviews for The Gita for Children where reviewers mentioned that they bought the book for a kid in their family but after reading a couple of pages, they ended up reading the book themselves as well.

I absolutely loved The Gita for Children and was surprised to know that The Vedas and Upanishads for Children was slated to release just 10 days after me finishing The Gita. Besides that, a colleague of mine from my first job used to talk very enthusiastically about The Vedas. Thus, I pre-ordered the book!

The Vedas seemed a bit boring

Till I read the book, I didn’t know that Vedas were mostly songs and hymns written in praise of the Gods. And it was this section of the book that took a major part of the four and a half months that I took to finish this book. However, I understand that setting up the foundation was necessary because Upanishads are a part of the Vedas hence it doesn’t make sense to read about the subset without knowing about its superset.

The Upanishads were super fun

There are a lot more Upanishads than those covered in this book. It covers 10 Upanishads that, as per the book, Adi Shankaracharya considered to be the most important ones among about 200 or so Upanishads that are known to exist.

Although Upanishads covered most part of the book, I was kind of disheartened when I was done with the book. I was literally craving for more. I think the book was at least 10 Upanishads short of what it should have been. 😉

I love the way Roopa Pai writes

She doesn’t need validation from a mere mortal like me but everyone loves a word appreciation, no? Well, I love it when my wife appreciates me helping her out or when my manager appreciates me on accomplishing a task well. 😉

Jokes apart, I’m pretty sure that there are numerous books out there on the topics like The Gita, The Vedas, and The Upanishads where the authors have written so as to make things easy to grasp for readers new to such enormous texts. However, I’d wager that not many of them would be as interesting as the ones written by Roopa Pai. It’s her style of writing that keeps me engrossed and wanting for more! Or, maybe, I’m a 10-year-old in the body of a 30-year-old. 😉

Obviously, I need to read more such books to be sure if I’d win or lose the wager. Hence, I have one such book in bookshelf already - My Gita by Devdutt Pattanaik.

My takeaways from this book (and also from The Gita for Children)

I have read a few self-help/philosophical books in the past. Some famous titles like Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Tuesdays with Morrie, Deep Work but these two Indian texts, which are supposed to be thousands of years old, seem to contain the all the wisdom within them! I’m neither belittling the awesomeness of these books nor comparing between the books. I never would because I have loved reading them! However, the philosophy in these two books seems to touch many aspects of life and not just one. There’s so much one could grasp, implement and gain in different areas of day-to-day life. At least I’m sure that I can improve many things.

I am a follower of Jainism which is a branch of Hinduism. Like most other people, I follow the religion because I was born in a family that followed a particular religion. I don’t claim to know much about the religion I follow. There are various things/rituals that we do on a regular (even daily) basis that I don’t know the complete significance of. Heck, I don’t even think I know the meaning of word “religion” in the first place! In India, looking at how people fight in the name of religion, the most simple meaning of the word religion could be ‘a means to fight among people’. However, while reading these two books, I felt that religion probably means ‘a way of life’. Followers of different religions could have different ways of living lives.

These two books are written in such lucid and witty style that I wish school curriculum would cover something like this. They are actually written for the young audience (and refusing-to-grow-up ones like me.) Maybe not as a part of a subject but by making them a part of some extra activity. I have heard of schools deliberately cancelling dedicated time slots for art and play activities in favour of subjects that are deemed more important for grade card.

This one might make me sound 30 years older than I actually am (trying to balance myself between sounding like a 10-year-old and a 60-year-old in the same post) but these books, and other books that I have glanced over on Goodreads or Amazon, make me think that Indian school of philosophy has a lot to offer. Along with adopting the Western culture for its liberal ideas, a gentle introduction of Indian philosophy would do a great deal of good to everyone. Indian philosophy doesn’t sound narrow-minded at all. In The Gita, Krishna sounded OK with worshipping anyone one prefers to as long as one is doing it with complete faith. Heck, The Gita even talks about working so nicely and making that your worship; no Gods involved! The Upanishads, as well as The Gita, talks about doing the Karma with no expectations. Now, I don’t know about you but mystics and even Instagram poets keep talking about how expectation is the root of misery!

OK, that’s it!

I am going to stop myself right there. There are a lot of takeaways for me in these two books. I have never highlighted as much I have in these books. I’m definitely going to read them again. In fact, I’m planning to re-read The Gita for Children as soon as early next week. If I keep reading and intend to finish Game of Thrones, I’m going to need to read a book that balances my brain between violence and non-violence. 😉

As I said in the beginning, this post is not a review of the book. This book and The Gita for Children are too good to be reviewed. I’m a novice in the world of reading but if someone’s looking for a book to get started with The Gita or The Vedas and Upanishads, Roopa Pai is the author to read. 😄

Here’s hoping that she’ll also write “Brahma Sutras for Children” and I’ll be among the first kids to buy it. 😆

Until next time…