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Devlok with Devdutt Pattanaik Paperback – 9 Aug 2016
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This one is really good from Devdutt, probably the best, because the book is all in the form of question and aswers, much easier to read.Questions were cleverly asked and quite lucid explanations by Devdutt, Epic Channel in book format. --By kaushik goswami on 22 July 2016
Great thing, great search, apart form our knowledge, good to know the other aspects of our Hinduism. I heard very restricted stories of Ramayana & Mahabharata form my elderly. On viewing TV show we are lack of full stories of all. I respect to your hard work, even we are fond of your TV channel. hoping for any further new addition of book in due course. --By Pallavi Pawar on 2 September 2016
For a person like me who had zero knowledge of Indian mythology devdutt's episodes in epic channel opened new doors for me. This pushed me to buy the book version as well which is well written. Excellent efforts by devdutt. A souvenir that I have gifted to my grandparents as well. Looking fwd to more such editions from devdutt. .. --ByA Customer on 23 July 2016
About the Author
Devdutt Pattanaik is the author of over twenty-five books and 500 articles on the relevance of mythology in modern times. Trained in medicine (MBBSfrom Grant Medical College, Mumbai University), he worked in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries for fifteen years before devoting all his time to his passion for decoding beliefs of all cultures, modern and ancient, located beneath the veneer of rationality. To know more, visit devdutt.com.
From the Publisher
Q & A with Devdutt Pattanaik, India’s Most Famous Mythologist
Q. What separates myth from reality?
Devdutt Pattanaik: Belief. An event is considered real by the believer and a myth by the nonbeliever. Was Christ resurrected after 3 days? Christians will say he did. Non-Christians will disagree. Was Muhammad a prophet? Muslims will say yes. Non-Muslims will disagree. Is Ganesha real? Hindus will say yes. Non-Hindus will call Ganesha a myth.
Q. What separates religion from spirituality, or are they the sides of the same coin?
Devdutt Pattanaik: Religion is social. Spirituality is personal. Religion is based on rules. Spirituality on choice.
Q. Why is mythology so important in India?
Devdutt Pattanaik: It’s not just India. No culture exists without mythology. However, it is a highly political term today. The West assumes it has moved out of mythology to religion and from religion to secularism and rationality. But if you study it, you will see that it has just moved from one mythology of many gods, to another mythology of one god, to a new mythology of no god. In a few years, they will move on to the fourth mythology. In India we never moved from one to another. We just embraced everything. So, depending on who you are, you may believe in many gods, one god or even be an atheist and each belief brings with it certain strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Q. How do you view mythology?
Devdutt Pattanaik: Every human being has an assumption. Another word for assumption is myth. And that assumption manifests itself in stories, symbols and rituals. Some stories die with us, some extend for generations, because they are sustaining ideas that matter. If I don’t value the stories of my parents, I destroy them. It’s a common practice in the West that the older generation’s stories become invalid. But in India we have allowed every story to exist and survive. We don’t distinguish between history and mythology, or personal histories and imagined history. We allow stories to flourish. That’s why we have so much diversity. Whereas if you go to Europe and America, there isn’t much diversity. So through the stories you recognize the thought process of a people; What their ancestors were thinking and what they are thinking now.
Q. You just mentioned that some societies destroy stories. The 20th century is replete with examples of authoritarian governments that have tried to wipe out culture and mythology of thousands of years.
Devdutt Pattanaik: You can’t destroy mythology. You just move on to other stories. When people talk about mythology, they have a particular assumption that mythology is a bad word and that they have jettisoned it. For all its technological advancement and officially sanctioned beliefs, Europe still behaves the way it did 2,000 years ago.
There is a combination of an underlying assumption, overlaid by historical and personal realities. Every society/nation has an immediate reality, a historical reality and a mythic reality. The last is the least understood, but is a potent force that is shaping our stories even today.
Q. Queerness has been shunned but has existed for ages behind closed curtains. Today, homosexuality is being accepted, but still, preference is given to gender over soul. Can mythology teach us to deal with queerness with empathy?
Devdutt Pattanaik: Queerness has been part of Hindu tradition rather openly. Here is a quote from Tulsidas Ram Charit Manas 7.87 ‘Man, woman, queer (napunsaka), plant and animal can find God if they give up malice.’ The colonizers were embarrassed by it. We continue to carry the colonial burden. In life, we have to balance needs of flesh (gender, sexuality, desire) with needs of soul (relationship, empathy, love, responsibility).
Q. Heaven and Hell are in this lifetime or afterlife. What is your take on this and how is Karmic theory interlink?
Devdutt Pattanaik: In one life cultures, there is one Heaven and one Hell, and no journey thereafter. In karma theory, there are multiple heavens and hells and stay everywhere is temporary.
Q. You are known as somebody who simplifies mythology and religious texts. But religion is an extremely sensitive topic. How do you manage to simplify things without toeing the line?
Devdutt Pattanaik: Religion is not a sensitive topic; some people – a very small proportion – are either ill-informed or oversensitive, or lack a sense of humor, or the generosity to let others develop an alternate point of view. So you try and ensure these people are not mocked, but taken along, gently and not patronizingly, to the best of your ability. In most cases it works. But occasionally you come across a sociopath: nothing can be done then. You just have to accept it as your karmic fate
Q. What is the significance of the other women characters in Ramayana? What role do they play in your retelling?
Devdutt Pattanaik: In the story, the choices of women are presented as typically the cause of problems that men have to suffer or solve. We find this in the story of Ahalya, Kaikeyi, Surpanakha and finally Sita. We also find women suffering and solving problems emerging from choices that men make as in story of Dasharatha, Lakshmana, Sugriva, Ravana. Thus we discover men and women playing the same role: of making choices and facing the consequences, some with dignity and others without dignity.
Q. A lot of people consider Sita to be a passive victim of patriarchy. What is your opinion on this?
Devdutt Pattanaik: That’s a convenient understanding that props up an argument. We live in a world where the Left fetishes victimhood and the Right turns women into ‘venerable’ totems. So in one view Sita is ‘victim of patriarchy’ and in another view she is ‘mother’ and ‘goddess’. I prefer to see her a girl who chose.
Q. You've also previously retold Mahabharata. If the central idea of Mahabharata was “karma”, what is the one key idea around which the Ramayana revolves?
Devdutt Pattanaik: Karma. Same idea. In two different contexts. In Ramayana, the hero is the eldest son of a royal family. In the other, the heroes are born of ‘niyoga’ – which means they are not of bloodline. In each case, the story is about a property dispute, claims over Ayodhya, or Hastinapur. Heroes in each case take decisions that evoke conversations around ethics, morality and righteousness in a world that is indifferent to human concepts of fairness and equality.
Q. What is your long term objective with your writing? What kind of change would you want to bring in the current ideology of the society, if any?
Devdutt Pattanaik: I have no desire to change the world. The world makes up its own mind. I do what I love doing. I have been doing this 20 years long before mythology became ‘cool’.
Q. You have also partnered with EPIC channel to present Devlok. How has been the experience?
Please share some of it with our readers.
Devdutt Pattanaik It has been great fun, speaking in Hindi and explaining concepts that I usually write in English. You realize how translation can distort ideas, and from viewer feedback I have learned how happy people are to learn about our great culture.
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When Epic began the show Devlok I was extremely elated. However, owing to number of issues I wasn't able to watch all the episodes. But with the release of Devlok series, me, and many readers like me, could access the content discussed on the show.
The book is divided into various concepts like Plants and Animals, Weapons, Planets, Directions, all the things that are given importance in Hinduism. It is said that for a lay man to understand the samsara, saints always repeat the concepts. That is something you will find in this book. Some concepts get repeated and for your own good. The chapters are short, dealing with one particular concept at a time and in a Q&A format.
If you like reading or finding logical answers to the mythological questions then do read Devlok.
It's like someone showing you real emergence of the story behind a custom you blindly follow...
I like to read all his books.
Devlok with Devdutt Patnayak is a must read as it reveals many hidden secrets of Hindu mythology. The author has touched many sensitive parts of the mythology and has simplified them in an easy manner. He has actually separated MYTH from FACT.
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