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Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review : ‘Shikhandi and Other Tales They Don't Tell You' by Devdutt Pattanaik



Devdutt Pattanaik’s ‘Shikhandi and Other Tales They Don’t Tell You’ is an odd book. Not odd because of its subject matter, but because it touches upon many things, which were in our face, but just not getting inside our heads. 

I thought I had read enough of the ‘Ramayana’ and ‘Mahabharta’ before I discovered this book. Vedic, Puranic literature and also South Indian, Bengali, as well as the oral traditions are a part of these stories. This book told me of so much more.

Pattanik touches up on characters such as Shikhandi, Brihanalla, Bhima, Samavan, Chudala, Mandhata, as well as Urvashi, Skanda, Krishna, Narada and Shiva. These are only a few of them, the book contains many more.

I remember reading some of these stories, perhaps through other means, but I do not ever remember reading of anything with so much honesty.  The LGBT factor and queerness, which have never struck me before, all seem to be an integral part of the mythologies.

In this 176 page space, Pattanaik serves us up with almost thirty stories. The best things about these stories are the simplicity and plainness of facts. He uses commentary and illustrations to bring together these stories.

The amount of research can be understood through the bibliography, but the 
sensitivity can only be gotten in a Pattanaik’s book. The book is familiar but you have all these nuances to so many characters that are truly amazing.

I must say that this book definitely deserves a read, and probably the age old books, which deserve another read, with an altogether new perspective. The cover illustration by Arundyuti Basu gives us a glimpse into what is inside the book, but the author's own illustrations are altogether fascinating.



Author: Devdutt Pattanaik
Genre: Mythology
Publisher: Zubaan and Penguin Books
ISBN: 978-9-383-07484-6
Price: Rs 299/-



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