In conversation with author Devdutt Pattanaik

yoshika

Yoshika Sangal | August 16, 2016


#mythology   #Devdutt Pattanaik   #on a personal note   #religion   #author  
Author Devdutt Pattanaik
Author Devdutt Pattanaik

Devdutt Pattanaik is a physician turned mythologist, author and consultant. He has written over 600 articles and 30 books on the relevance of sacred stories, symbols and rituals in modern times. Born and brought up in Mumbai, he graduated in medicine from Grant Medical College, and subsequently did a course in comparative mythology from Mumbai University. His best-sellers include Myth = Mithya, Business Sutra, Shikhandi, The Pregnant King, and Jaya: An illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata. His recent book The Girl Who Chose reframes the Ramayana as the story of the five choices of Sita.

 

You are a physician. What inspired you to become a writer, mythologist?

I wrote on mythology in my spare time while working in the pharma industry for nearly 15 years and then when I could afford to, following the popularity of my ideas, I turned full-time to mythology.

Have youngsters lost interest in mythology?

I don’t think any generation loses interest in it. Mythology, at a superficial level, appeals to the imagination. At a deeper level, it offers meaning.
As long as people seek meaning, they will seek mythology. In India, there was a conscious effort by the government to deny its mythic past and focus on history/science. The same happened in Europe and America. But myths always come back with renewed vigour. 

What is the difference or connection between mythology and religion?

Mythology is the subjective truth of people communicated by stories, symbols and rituals. Religion is a set of rules based on a mythology. While mythology helps a community imagine the world in a particular way, religion seeks to control the behaviour of people in a particular way.

Is religion being misused?

Religion, like science and technology, can be used, abused and misused. It happens simultaneously, all the time.

How is religion relevant in the present context?

In every context religion helps people make sense of life. In earlier times, it established kings as agents of a supernatural God. Or it established a hierarchy based on birth or gender. Currently, it is based on nation-states. Nationalism is a form of religion, based on democracy, not God.
Instead of God, we are asked to believe in the wisdom of ‘people’, a collective yet impersonal entity created by members of a society.

When did you last cast your vote?

In the last general elections.

When was the last time you were in a queue at a government office?

For my Aadhaar card.

Do you have any ‘sarkari’ app on your smart phone?

No, I don’t. I have accessed the Aadhaar portal though.

Where do you see India 10 years from now?

In the same situation as today; suffering from inequality, vote-bank politics and bad planning.

What according to you are the major challenges India is facing?

The glamourisation of urbanisation is essentially what is ruining India.

What is your message to  youngsters?

Think for yourself. Don’t listen to messages.

Who do you think can lead the country best from among politicians?

It depends on context and direction. The idea of ‘leader’ is based on Abrahamic mythology and the notion of the Promised Land. It is not found in Hindu, Buddhist or Jain mythology.
In India, leaders are indulged, not followed. Indians tend to be like cats, independent, who resist herding, not dogs, who obey and follow, despite popular perception.


The interview appears in the August 1-15, 2016 issue
 

Comments

 

Other News

“Script is the real hero”

Basking in the success of the new web series, ‘Scam 1992: The Harshad  Mehta Story ’,on SonyLIV, the OTT platform from Sony stable where the lead actors are new faces, NP Singh, MD and CEO of Sony Pictures Networks, has said that the script is the new hero. He credited the s

India’s active cases below 10% of total cases for three days

India’s trend of steadily decreasing active cases continues unabated. The number of Active Cases has remained below 10% of the total cases for the last three days, suggesting only one in 10 cases is active Covid-19 patient. The active cases comprise merely 9.29% of the total positive c

Cabinet clears bonus for non-gazetted employees

The union cabinet chaired by prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday gave its approval to pay productivity linked bonus (PLB) for 2019-20 to 16.97 lakh non-gazetted employees of commercial establishments like Railways, Posts, Defence, EPFO, and ESIC, with a financial implication of Rs.2,791 crore.

Covid-19: Daily new cases fall below 50K

India has leaped across several significant milestones in its fight against Covid-19. The new confirmed cases in the 24 hours to Tuesday morning have fallen below 50,000 (46,790, to be precise) for the first time in nearly three months. The last time the number of new cases was close to this level was on J

Media taking advantage of a divided Bollywood: Shatrughan Sinha

Legendary film star and politician Shatrughan Sinha has said that friendship in Bollywood is limited to onscreen, and there is no unity and some news channels are taking advantage of this situation. “Groups within the industry or their supporters may sometimes come together for some c

‘2.40 lakh TB cases went unreported in India in 2019’

In India, only 2.40 million out of an estimated 2.64 million cases of tuberculosis were reported to the government, that is, 2,40,000 TB patients went unreported, in 2019, according to the WHO Global Tuberculosis Report 2020. The reporting of TB cases, however, has significantly increased ov

Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter