Saturday, April 30, 2011

myth=mithya Book Review

Dr Devdutt Pattanaik  is a medical doctor by education , leadership consultant by profession and mythologist by passion. myth=mithya  is a compilation of stories and beliefs of hindu mythology. It has all the small and big epic incidents which are grandmother would have shared with us and also those which she refused to tell us.
Its a book which quotes incidents which led to common hindu beliefs. Its a must read for those who want to understand hindu mythology and understand the background of various rituals.

The Indian society is considered gender biased and patriarchal , I have known this and been a silent witness since long without knowing why is that so ? what led to this belief ? was it mere convenience ? This book answers this question , to accept and agree with the answer is a different thing but it definitely tells us the rationale of our ancestors behind the male favorism in Hinduism .

Since Childhood I have been a importance to the worshiping of Shiv Linga.Our  society is a very conservative one ; here  talking about sex  in a public forum is a taboo . Yet I am awed by the fact that Lord Shiva is worshiped in the from a Shiv Lingam - which signifies the union of him and his wife Goddess Parvati . The lingam is essentially nothing but a phallus. The book quotes incidents from the past which led to the worship of Lord Shiva in this form .

Mahabharata and Ramayana have a number of incidents where Pandavs /Krishna and Lord Ram won by following the "Jungle rule" . They followed such codes in war that are typically considered not a warriors code. However we do worship Lord Krishna and Lord Ram. In fact Lord Ram is quoted as "maryada purshottam" or the "Ideal man". I used to think from time to time that if these are the very examples by which we are to learn and live by, than the definition of right and wrong itself can be questioned. Dr. Devdutt has to some extent given the rational behind this  too.Many of us would not have given a thought behind a trivial thing like why the hair of goddess Parvati and Lakshmi are typically tied by strands of flowers whereas that of Durga and Kali are left open . The book explains this as well.

Though Dr Devdutt has reasonably tried to explain a number of Hindu beliefs yet he has never forced his views. He has quoted incidents in support of the belief and has left it to us to infer and decide upon it. This is the beauty of this book . The language is very simple and the focus is entirely on the mythological incidents and Hindu beliefs.A must read for those who want to understand a know a little more of Hindu mythology.


himanshu said...

Just one question...Does author or you believe that Ramayana or Mahabharata is mythology??? :)

V Rakesh said...

Thanks for this bit, will look it up the next time I head out to pick a few books!

Arnav said...

@Himanshu - yes they are mythology.

@Rakesh - Sure dude.