Devdutt Pattanaik is a medical doctor by education, a leadership consultant by profession, and a mythologist by passion. He writes and lectures extensively on the relevance of stories, symbols and rituals in modern life. He has written over fifteen books which include 7 Secrets of Hindu Calendar Art (Westland), Myth=Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu Mythology (Penguin), Book of Ram (Penguin), Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata (Penguin).
Imagine a Western scholar. He, or she, is typically from Europe or America. All his life, he has been exposed to Judaism, Christianity or Islam, religions that frown upon any overt display of sexuality. To him, sexuality is almost always an act of rebellion, an expression of defiance against the establishment. It is seen as being modern.
So imagine his surprise when he comes to India and encounters temples embellished with images of men and women in erotic embrace. Imagine his bewilderment when he finds Hindus worshipping an image shaped like a phallus called Shoaling. This is what his ancestors, a hundred years ago, also encountered, and condemned as pre-modern, licentious and savage. The scholar finds them vicariously liberating. Keen to study and understand these images, he hunts for a suitable academy. He finds none in India. So he enrols in a Western institution, where he is guided Western academicians and is expected to follow methodologies developed and approved in the West. He starts reading texts as he would read the Bible, not realising that texts do not serve the same purpose in Hinduism. He decodes scriptures and image using his own cultural frameworks as the template. His casinos are published in respected academic papers that was accolades from Western academia, but they discomfort, even horrify, the average Hindu devotee.
Most Hindus become defensive and, like their 19th- century ancestors go out of their why to strip Hinduism of its sexual heritage. A few, especially these with political leanings, react violently, outraged by the conclusions. Accused of cultural intensity, outraged by the conclusions. Accused of cultural insensitivity, Western scholars sunken back saying that Hindus do know their own heritage and are still viewing Hinduism throat the archaic Victorian lens. Battle lines are drawn. They are drawn. Who is right, the arrogant academician or the stub devotee? It is in this context that I write this book.
I have noticed that the divide between Western academicians and Hindu devotees exists in their relative attention to form and though. From is tangible and objective, thought is intangible and subjective. Western scalars have been spellbound by the sexual from but pay scant regard to the metaphysical thought. In other words, they prefer the literal to the symbolic. Hindu devotees, in contrast, are so focused on the metaphysical thought that they ignore, or simply deny, the sexual from. The Western preference for from over thought stems from their cultural preference for the objective over the subjective. Hindus, on the other hand, are very comfortable with the
subjective, hence can easily overlook from and focus on thought. This book seeks to bridge this wide gap between academics and practice.
• The first chapter looks at the meaning of the Shoaling beyond the conventional titillation offered by a phallic symbol
• The second chapter focuses on Shiva's violent disdain for territorial behaviour amongst humans
• The third and fourth chapters deal with how the Goddess gets Shiva to engage with the world out of compassion
• The next two chapters revolve around Shiva's two sons, Ganesha and Murugan, through whom he connects with the world
• The final chapter presents Shiva as the wise teacher who expresses wisdom through dance
This book seeks to make explicit patterns that are implicit in stories, symbols and rituals of Shiva firm in the belief that:
Children’s Books (51)
Brahma Sutras (85)
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