7 Secrets from Hindu calendar Art

Books 40 Comments

Click here to get Kindle version via Amazon.

Hindu Calendar Art may be gaudy and kitsch, but it is the most modern and democratic expression of a mythic imagery that once adorned temple walls and palm leaf manuscripts. They speak a language that is indifferent to rationality. It is the language of a people’s faith. In this book, Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik, India’s renowned mythologist, translates this language and reveals an ancient Indian truth that will certainly impact your life.


  1. Ganesha’s secret –  Different people see God differently
  2. Narayana’s secret – What dies is always reborn
  3. Ardhanari’s secret – God is within, Goddess without
  4. Shiva’s secret – Withdrawal leads to destruction
  5. Devi’s secret – Desire and destiny create life
  6. Vishnu’s secret – Detached engagement brings order
  7. Brahma’s secret – Human life is an opportunity


The images in the book have been picked up from the street, from vendors who sit outside temples, and sell their wares to pilgrims. Art historians have explained their origin – how artists like Raja Ravi Varma and printing technology of the 19th century ensured these images reached almost every Hindu household across India, and came to dominate the visualization of the common man’s faith. In recent times, they have even caught the attention of foreign tourists who have been captivated by their fantastic content and gaudy colors. Fashion gurus have used this art on the catwalk, on apparels and accessories to get the attention of consumers, collectors and the media. But few have stopped to think about them – Wherefrom comes this imagery? What is it saying?

Attempts to explain the ‘fantastic’ imagery usually are either defensive or apologetic or chauvinistic, because they try to legitimize the content using logic, or they attempt explanations using yardsticks of other religions. To best appreciate Hindu art one has to enter a new paradigm and explore new notions of perfection and possibility, quite different from the more familiar, and more popular, Greek, Biblical or Oriental paradigms. This book is an attempt to introduce the reader to this new paradigm.

The book consciously uses black and white renditions of the art so that the colors do not distract the reader from the communication. Also, like all things Hindu, the explanations in this book are just one of the many ways by which this art can be looked at. Read this book, keeping in mind:

Within infinite myths lies the Eternal Truth?

Who sees it all?

Varuna has but a thousand eyes

Indra, a hundred

And I, only two.

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  • narendra goyal

    i find your writings great..
    i am regular reader of them and share with lots of my friends and colleagues.
    please keep this on as this allows me to have a feeling of great connect with our past.

  • Pramod

    Can your books be purchased online?

  • your articles are so intense and deep , interesting fablels of indian mythology. i love to read them over and over again.i am mersmerised .

    • Dhaval

      Why use the word mythology? This word should ceased to be used along with Hindutva.

      • Devdutt

        So now politicians will decide what words are ok and what words are not ok….how interesting!

  • Dear Sir,

    I really enjoy your books and use them in teaching. Where can I get them wholesale in the United States?

    Jai Bhagwan


    • I don’t know about US but you could write to Indian publishers Westland and check out…

  • usha

    Dear Devdutt,
    I love your writings because I have always loved mythology, Indian and other. Since long I have been trying to relate it with daily life, leadership etc but did not know how. You have shown me the way. I am now going to buy your book.
    One request: please give price of the books along with publishing details.It facilitates buying.Thanks

  • Dear Dr Devdutt,

    I was introduced to your website in sept 08 by my friend on my visit to Mumbai ( I have settled in Sydney). The first article I read was ‘ Ganesha Decoded’. I was thorougly impressed with your concise but expressive writing . Your development of thoughts is very natural and it is a pleasure to read and become engrossed in the vivid textual description. I would love to read more however time constraints mean I just read whatever is published on your website.

    Warm Regards

    Hitendra Jagdale

  • Priyanka Sengupta

    got hold of your book ‘The Pregnant King’ yesterday………coulnot keep it down till early morning today……..dunno what to say……..now am looking forward to read all that u write……i would love to meet you……i’m very interested in myths from all over the globe…….have been searchin for books but to no avail in all stores across Kolkata………are u only into writin indian mythology or will you be venturing out into the world?? Please do write to me if you have the time………

  • Galina Girina

    Have become a huge fan of Yours.
    After reading several articles in the “First City” magazine just went in this little bookshop in Vasant Vihar and bought all they had of Your wonderful! wonderful creations.
    The narration You weave is always simple and fluid like a brook’s flow on a sunny day.
    Thank you and, pray, write on!

  • Gérard Farenc

    Hello from France ! Congratulations for your website, articles and books ! Always simple but deep understanding. Best regards. Shanti.


    your articles have not appeared in the corporte dossier of ET – since long – any reasons???

  • Anu

    Hey Mr. Patnaik,
    I am a regular reader of your books. I find the stuff u write to be very logical and rational. My interest in Hindu Mythology started only after reading u r books.
    Keep up the good work


  • Subodh


    I saw your talk online about east – west .. After listening you ,I will definitely read about Hindu mythology. I must say you are doing a great work and changing people’s lives…I am highly inspired by Deepak Chopra and and now you..
    I wish you a great success in every areas of your life !

    Keep spreading your ideas !


  • saurabh sharma

    Dear Sir,

    I have always been facinated and intrigued by Hindu Gods and Deities! I have read , discussed and observed about the same to a large extent! I am passionate to increase my knowlege about and understand Lord Shiva! I have started reading the Shiv Puran and have also picked up a few books on Lord Shiva by various authors! I would love to read all that you have written about Lord Shiva! Recently I picked up your book titled ” Seven Secrets from Hindu Calender Art” and found sections on Shiva very interesting! I would be obliged if you could suggest or forward material on Lord Shiva!Thanking you!

    Best Regards.

  • Mahadevan

    Very much impressed after reading the book ‘RAM’ and wish to read all the books. But could not afford to buy all the books and read. Help us to get the books in low priced edition.

  • Kiran Shankar

    I have almost all of your books. I find all of them interesting. These books help us understand and preserve Indian culture.
    I have a query on the book 7 secrets of Hindu calendar art. I purchased this book from Landmark, but all the pictures are in black n white. Is there any possibility that this book is available in which all the illustrations of God are in color?

    Thank you
    Kiran Shankar

    • No…it was done deliberately so that people READ…:-)

      • Suprita Raj

        Dr. Devdutt,

        Receantly i had been to a team outing wid all m colleagues and we had a small learning session in which my friend introduced us all to your vedios from business sutra’s…… I became a fan of your’s from the very day…..

        Since my chilhood days i always had one question in my mind… i would be obliged if you could answer it….

        Why is it that the indian history or hinduism is always associated with Mythology do you also consider that ramayan & mahabharat is a myth??

        I am sorry if by any chance i am hurting anyones sentiments. Cause my mind dosent accept it as mythology.

        I would like to be in touch with you.

        Suprita Raj

        • Devdutt

          Mythology is subjective truth. History is objective truth. Mythology is indifferent to evidence.

  • Shanker

    I recently came across your talk on TED and was impressed. What a refreshing approach to management. Our Mythology has a big store of meaningful stories and it is good to see someone presenting them the way you are. Keep it up.

  • Namaskaram dev,

    Your visit to isha and the talk about the worlds ..(all three)were thought provoking..

    still i wonder why the thought …

    very nice presentation of your stories

  • Hi Dev,

    I listened to you first at Tides in Cbe and have been following your lectures and books. I find your work very interesting and wish to thank you on taking our mythology to a user lever rather than remain as just mythology.

    I recently bought your book 7 secrets from Hindu Calender Art and find the book truly amazing. Some of the pictures which were quite difficult to understand like Chinnamastika have been well explained.

    However there are 2 things which bother me everytime I think about this book
    1. Are these interpretations available in the Vedas/Angas/Puranas? I could relate to many pictures with descriptions given by various Swamijis, however I would like to know from you.
    2. The image 4.5 troubles me a lot especially because Kartikeya has been expressed as “associated with brawn”. Both Ganesha and Kartikeya have been explained in the Puranas extremely brilliant and strong except in the going around the world story. Could there be any other way in which their presence in the picture can be explained?

    Wish to thank you for your work again


    • Devdutt

      Vedas and Agamas and Puranas never give interpretation…that is for the reader.
      Regarding Kartikeya with brawn and Ganesha with brain…every deity in Hinduism has all qualities when one sees them INDIVIDUALLY…but when we see them COLLECTIVELY one has to focus on distinguishing features. So Kartikeya in Tamil Nadu is associated with brain too while Ganesha is Maharashtra is associated also with brawn. But when visually compared, Ganesha has all characteristic of a thinker and teacher, while Kartikeya has all characteristics of a warrior or ruler.

      • Ek

        I had the same question about Kartikey. Very well explained. Thanks.

  • Ravi Gowda

    Hi Devdutt,

    I am regular reader of your column Management Mythos in Corporate Dossier of Economic Times. The contents are really thought provoking & are very much related to modern corporate world.

    Ravi Gowda

  • Neelkanth Mehta

    Why Kindle edition is more expensive in comparison to Indian price?

  • Like Dr Devdutt’s other books, this book too is a joy to read. I found the organization similar to the book, Myth=Mithya, and like that book, this one too explores the beliefs and myths of Hindus, but this explored through the prism of calendar art.

    My user review on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2T2XWYDMELL4L/

  • Satish P


    I am a great fan of your and i have read your book “99 thoughts of Ganesha”. It was great. I just want to know have you written any book on “Vishnu Purana”. If written please advice how to get it.


  • neeraj

    i want to assk.. if accrdin to myths..reading d mahabhrat is not good,, specially readin it in a definate sequence..so y d book is composed like dis..wid ordered family line..n m sequential manner .????

  • srihari

    i just read your book called ‘myth = mithya’

    it was awesome!

    how do you get these ideas about hindu mythology???

  • Parth

    I am so annoyed to read 7 secrets… with black and white images. Whatever your justification might be, personally I think you stole something very valuable from the book. Life happens in color; period. The text is interesting enough to surpass any interference from the images which would have enhanced the subject matter. Is there any way you could upload the images in color on your website? As an artist I think it offers a far better insight into mythology. We all grew up with those images so I don’t see how your text and the images could ever compete with each other. Disappointing to say the least. I feel like a child forced to follow some nonsensical rules. In your own words, interpretation should be left to the reader.

  • Dear Sir,
    By profession i am a psychic healer. Last yr i was in the airport and suddenly felt a surge of energy on my left arm and i turned to see this book on display. I just picked it up. I am not religious and not a oracious reader. This book is DIVINE!!! I have channelled new healing techniques through the pictures and your writtings.It works beautifully on all chakras.You are a GURU…
    Immense gratitude and love,

  • prasad anand

    hi sir,
    i m gr8 fan of urs after ur interview in one of d news channel, u hv got answer for every ?, we will meet soon.

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