Practical lessons from the Gita for modern life

Modern life is quite different from the world our parents grew up in; and a lot of what we do in our lives and careers has no parallels in what they did. So it appears that we’re on our own as far as navigating this new world is concerned. I take timeless advice from the Gita and show how, with appropriate mappings to modern concepts, the advice is surprisingly effective. And I show how it parallels advice from modern gurus like Marc Andreessen, Paul Graham, and Scott Adams. I also try to provide empirical/scientific backing from the work of researchers in the areas of psychology, sociology, and game theory.

This is not about ancient-India-was-great, but practical, useful tips to bring order to the chaos of the internet-enabled life. We’ve all grown up hearing quotes from the Gita (including Karmanye vaadhikaraste). Some years ago, I decided to seriously read the Gita and then see what parts of it could actually be applied to modern life, and whether any of it appeals to my (modern/western/atheistic) sensibilities.

In the talk, I’ll pick out selected passages from the Gita (there’s a lot I rejected as not being relevant to this talk, and to my sensibilities as a materialistic atheist). For each one of those, I will give examples of situations from entrepreneurship, or professional/family relationships, or even simply social media management, and who how the Gita’s wisdom is a useful framework to evaluate alternative courses of action. For each, there will also be examples of advice from modern gurus, or scientists/researchers that is roughly equivalent.

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