Literature Study GuidesEat Pray LoveBook 2 Chapters 37 39 Summary

Eat, Pray, Love | Study Guide

Elizabeth Gilbert

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Eat, Pray, Love | Book 2, Chapters 37–39 | Summary

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Summary

Book 2, Chapter 37

Gilbert arrives in India at 1:30 in the morning on December 30, landing in the metropolis of Mumbai and then taking a long taxi ride to the ashram. Arriving there at 3:30 a.m., she immediately joins the hymn singing in the temple. For the first time in four months she meditates, saying her mantra (words repeated to maintain concentration during meditation) over and over until the sun rises. Her personal mantra is Om Namah Shivaya (I honor the divinity that resides within me.). She already feels at home.

Book 2, Chapter 38

In this chapter Gilbert teaches readers about yoga—its purpose, what the practice of yoga entails, and some of the history behind the tradition. She also explains why serious yoga followers need a guru and describes how she came to find her own guru.

Book 2, Chapter 39

Gilbert describes the ashram and how it works. People, including her roommates, come and go, with "never more than a few hundred residents at any time." Her guru is not in residence when she arrives and will never appear at the ashram during Gilbert's four-month stay. The ashram is walled, and its gardens are beautiful. There are "nice, though not extravagant" buildings.

Everyone at the ashram works to help keep it operating smoothly. There are also some paid staffers, and some villagers who work there in return for being students. One teenage worker catches Gilbert's attention because of his demeanor. When she asks about him, she is told he is a gifted drummer whom the guru lifted out of the abject poverty of the nearby village and invited to live at the ashram.

Students must apply to stay at the ashram; they must prove they are serious followers of the yogic path and that they are emotionally, mentally, and physically fit enough to be there. They cannot stay for less than a month. Gilbert plans to stay six weeks and then see more of India. She hopes for what her guru says will happen in those six weeks: "you will discover who you really are."

Analysis

As in Book 1, the two subtitles of Book 2 help to orient readers. The first subtitle refers to something Gilbert hears a villager say: "Congratulations to Meet You." This subtitle will make more sense later, as is typically true when Gilbert highlights a word or phrase. The second subtitle, "36 Tales About the Pursuit of Devotion," shows the contrast between her stay in India and her stay in Italy, which was all about pleasure.

Gilbert seems to want readers to be as comfortable and familiar with the ashram as she appears to be upon arriving there. She presents facts about yoga and the ashram in a practical, straightforward way, without any sort of zeal or claims about yoga as the one true way. She obviously has complete trust in and appreciation for her guru, but her attitude doesn't come across as cult-like.

Her practical approach to describing the ashram begins with the opening of Chapter 37, where she uses a folksy story of her father's farming techniques to explain how she manages to fit into the ashram so quickly. This story explains how her father would sneak a new hen into the flock by slipping "the new bird into the chicken coop in the middle of the night while the others are asleep." In the morning, both the other chickens and the new hen accept the fact that she must have been there the whole time.

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