Earlier, when I was busy reading the most popular mythological fiction trilogy, I sidelined Devdutt Pattnaik thinking 'he is just another writer who wants to cash in the increasing popularity of mythology'. Extremely wrong I was. I felt so when I read his latest 'Shikhandi' and awed by the fact how satisfying the experience can be while reading his works. Co-incidently Blogadda came up with this giveaway I couldn't resist. 7 Secrets of Goddess - by Devdutt Pattnaik is extremely rich and informative, almost falling in 'Refernce' genre.
In times when we are still keep talking about women empowerment, the writer takes us back to the times of Vedas and Puranas when Female domination was seen in altogether different way. When she is Lakshmi, she empowers Indra - the king of Gods. When she is Kali - she empowers Shiva, God of the Gods. And when she is Sita, she is rather tamed and support avatar of Vishnu, Rama. The scenarios changed, so is the role of female - the Goddess. Devdutt takes help of various scriptures, poster and calendar arts, temple idols and even the folklores. Weaving together, he smoothly presents his own point of view. His own dissection about how the perception changed from BCE to CE. From Bible to Tantra. Talking about Bible, in the extremely details opening chapter, writer wins you over with awe inspiring details and connections from various corners of the world. Including the story of creation of the land of Japan, Greek mythology and Egyptian mysteries.
Personally, it felt like I am a child again, while reading this. I remember visiting my ancestors' home back in village, where all the copies of Puranas lie there in cupboard. I used to dust off them and enjoy the illustrations and the tales (whatever little I could understand). Skanda Purana, Brahmavaivarta, Shiva and Bhagvat Purana, is all I can remember. Pattnaik lured me to revisit those Puranas again, as now after reading his works I realized how rich our literature is.
The real highlight of this book is how each left page has illustrated information with inputs from the writer. Some unique and unseen pictures to the most common ones which we regularly see but ignore. For example, numerous times I had seen Bahuchar Mata's picture but never thought who the horse-rider behind her, is. Now I know he was her husband ! Also, how Durga has various forms, most of them are created from simple piece of rock ! The excellent print quality and bigger-than-normal size of font, and the book adds more premium value to the contents. The pictures make the book really a worthy of lifetime keep.
Have had complaints from people who overlooked this book and passed it on saying 'it is using sex to sensationalize'. I disagree. It is 'us', the so-called sophisticated people who has made it a big deal. When you are talking about feminism, women, creation and pro-creation; you have to talk about sex. After all that is a part of life cycle you can't deny. Our ancestors never shied of such things, but it is us who took censorship in our hand and made everyone read what looked 'good' and made us 'happy' that we have 'clean sanskruti'.
Keeping that cribbing aside. After reading just two of his works, (and Jaya, lying on my shelf) Devdutt Pattnaik, is really a writer worth following. Surprising how he served a total different industry till now. But have taken turn on this way. Re-telling the things we keep hearing since our birth. And 7 Secrets of Goddess can be an excellent start of this journey. It is worth every page. A must read.