Open Magazine 5th Oct 2018 (by Arshia Sattar)


A riveting account of love and desire

India is the only civilization to elevate kama—desire and pleasure—to a goal of life. Kama is both a cosmic and human energy, animating life and holding it in place.

Gurcharan Das weaves a compelling narrative filled with philosophical, historical and literary ideas in the third volume of his trilogy on life’s goals—India Unbound was the first, on artha, ‘material well-being’; The Difficulty of Being Good was the second on dharma, ‘moral well-being’. Here, in his magnificent prose, he examines how to cherish desire in order to live a rich, flourishing life, arguing that if dharma is a duty to another, kama is a duty to oneself.

This fascinating account of love and desire sheds new light on love, marriage, family, adultery, and jealousy as it wrestles with questions such as these: How to nurture desire without harming others or oneself? Are the erotic and the ascetic two aspects of our same human nature? What is the relationship between romantic love and bhakti, the love of god? Desire is a lack of something and once fulfilled, it declines inevitably: how do we prepare for the day when it disappears and turns bitter?

India Grows at Night

When two Indians sit down to sip chai, they quickly agree that their country seems to be rising despite the state, and cynically express the idea of private success and public failure as ‘India grows at night while the government sleeps’. But how could a nation become the world’s second fastest growing economy despite a weak, flailing state? And shouldn’t India also grow during the day? The recent slowdown is a sign that India may have begun to experience the limits of growing at night. What India needs, Gurcharan Das says, is a strong liberal state. Such a state would have the authority to take quick, decisive action; it would have the rule of law to ensure those actions are legitimate; and finally, it would be accountable to the people. But achieving this will not be easy, says Das, because India has historically had a weak state and a strong society.

ISBN: 9780670084708
Publisher: Penguin Books India (September 2012)

On The Subtle Art of Dharma

The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma The Difficulty of Being Good: On the Subtle Art of Dharma
ISBN: 9780670083497
Publisher: Penguin Books India
ISBN: 9780199754410
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New York
Most of us spend our lives wrestling with day-to-day questions of right and wrong and these either unanswered or have no easy answer. This book turns to the Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata, in order to answer the question, ‘why be good?’ and it discovers that the epic’s world of moral haziness and uncertainty is closer to our experience as ordinary human beings rather than the narrow and rigid positions that define most debate and discussion today after 9/11.

The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age

ISBN: 9780143063018
Publisher: Penguin Books India
ISBN: 0385720742
Publisher: Anchor Books - A Divison of Random House Inc, New York

India today is a vibrant free-market democracy and has begun to flex its muscles in the global information economy and on the world stage. Now, acclaimed columnist Gurcharan Das traces India's recent social and economic transformations in an eminently readable, impassioned narrative.

India Wrestles with Change

ISBN: 9780143029106  (Paperback edition)
Publisher:Penguin Books India

"The Elephant Paradigm: India Wrestles with Change" is, quite simply, about an ancient civilization's reawakening to the spirit — and potential — of its youth. Following up on the success of India Unbound, which examined the process of India's transformation in the 1990s from a closed to an open economy, The Elephant Paradigm ranges over a vast area — covering subjects as varied as panchayati raj, national competitiveness, and the sacred and philosophical concerns of the average Indian consequent to India's entry into what the author calls the 'age of liberation'. While India may never roar ahead like the Asian tigers, Das argues, it will advance like a wise elephant, moving steadily and surely, pausing occasionally to reflect on its past and to enjoy the journey.

Fine Family (Hindi)

A Fine Family
ISBN: 9780140122589
Publisher: Penguin Books India

Kahani Ek Parivar Ki
ISBN: 0-14-400158-6 (Hindi edition)
Publisher: Penguin Books India

A Fine family is the extraordinary chronicle "rich in passion and incident" of several generations of a Punjabi family. Bauji, a successful lawyer in Lyallpur (now in Pakistan) is forced to flee to India by the violence and instability unleashed by Partition. Bauji has lost everything in the transition, and when his daughter Tara gives birth to a son, Arjun, everyone's hopes are pinned on the child to revive the family's fortunes in an independent India. Together the voices of the various generations tell the story of a fine family and a great country as both struggle to build a new fortune in difficult circumstances.

Three English PlaysISBN: 9780143414520
Publisher: Penguin Books India (November 2011)

Gurcharan Das wrote three successful plays in his twenties, which are brought together here for the first time with a new introduction by the author. In it he describes how he learnt to write, why be become a writer, and what makes playwriting more difficult than any other kind of writing.

Larins Sahib is a historical play set in the confused period after the death of Ranjit Singh when the British first arrived in Punjab. This prize-winning play races the development ofhubris, which brings about the hero's downfall. Larins Sahib has been performed in major Indian cities and at the Edinburgh Festival.