Book Review: Shikhandi and Other Tales by Devdutt Pattanaik

EtherealJinxed | Book Review | Shikhandi and Other Tales by Devdutt Pattanaik

Genre: Mythology, Spirituality
Book Name: Shikhandi and Other Tales they don’t tell you
Author: Devdutt Pattanaik
Pages: 182
Publication Year: 2014
Publisher: Zubaan + Penguin Books

By retelling various stories from Hindu mythology across 1-2 pages each and anecdotes at the end, Devdutt Pattanaik tries to focus on what our political and religious leaders tell otherwise. That a female may behave differently and that a male may behave differently and about so many in-betweens (in terms of sexual or psyche). That anyone behaving differently should not to be legally penalized (Article 377 for LGBT).

The stories abound of such mythical characters, especially from Mahabharata, the great epic tale and from little known tales from other regions. Some of them we might have already heard, but never gave any attention to, probably because we never looked at them from an adult mindset. The book brings into light the “queerness” and makes us question on why there is a growing discomfort in Indian society for those who do not follow the norms, and when this shift in attitude in our culture happened.

However, if the stories could have been longer to understand the person’s psyche on whom each short story is based upon, rather than mere telling of facts, it would have been much better. Overall, a good book, with plenty of content to find argumentative dialogues.

Excerpt from the back cover of the book:
Patriarchy asserts men are superior to women
Feminism clarifies women and men are equal
Queerness questions what constitutes male and female

Queerness isn’t only modern, Western or sexual, says mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik. Take a close look at the vast written and oral traditions in Hinduism, some over two thousand years old and you will find many overlooked tales, such as those of Shikhandi, who became a man to satisfy her wife; Mahadeva, who became a woman to deliver his devotee’s child; Chudala, who became a man to enlighten her husband; Samavan, who became the wife of his male friend; and many more . . .

Playful and touching – and sometimes disturbing – these stories, when compared with their Mesopotamian, Greek, Chinese and Biblical counterparts, reveal the unique Indian way of making sense of queerness.

About the author:
Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik is an Indian physician turned leadership consultant, mythologist and author whose works focus largely on the areas of myth, mythology, and also management. He is the author of over 25 books and 500 articles on the relevance of mythology in modern times. Trained in medicine, he worked in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries for 15 years before devoting all his time to his passion for decoding beliefs of all cultures, modern and ancient, located beneath the veneer of rationality.

He is the Chief Belief Officer of Future Group, one of India’s largest retailers, bringing the wisdom of Indian mythology into Indian business, specifically in human resource management. He also writes a column for the newspaper MID DAY.

Twitter: @devduttmyth

Rating: 9/10

About Alka

Trying to just make some sense out of things and put some sense into me!! :) :) :)

Posted on January 15, 2017, in Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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