Experience Delhi: On Indian mythology and rituals

We are so pleased to bring this Episode to you. Ketaki and I spoke with Devdutt Pattnaik and got his answers to common questions asked by travellers to Delhi, India.

We cover a lot of questions in this conversation with Devdutt:

1. When travellers check in to a hotel, the hotel greets them with a dot on the forehead or Tilak. These travellers often ask us, why? What is this supposed to mean? Is that how everybody is welcome home so why don’t we start with that?

2. How is the Tilak different from the Bindi and a lot of different smears of ashes and other things that people have one their foreheads?

3. We get a lot of questions around the millions of gods that exist in India. How do we make sense of it? Who do you pray to? Does everybody pray to the same god? or can you pick your own god or are these just symbols of a great person? What is the best way to interpret this?

4. Ok so depending on your state of mind or state of being you can you change your your God?

5. And many handed many headed god?

6. How should someone make sense of Hinduism? Is it best understood as a philosophy first?

7. Why is that one god is worshipped on one day and another god on another day?

8. A lot of guests talk about Buddhism, Hinduism and not as much about Jainism but what is a good way to contrast Buddhism Hinduism? Some people say that buddhism is a sanitised form of Hinduism, is that fair?

9. I’m dealing with this right now, my daughter is 13 and she is asking us why are doing these artis and bhajans. Our best answer is that its a ritual and do it until you have a strong point of view.

10. Are there any unifying principles around the practice of spirituality in India

11. Would you say purusharthas are universally understood in India

12. What is the best way to understand India. Is it this concept of diversity?

13. What about the use of drugs and pharmaceuticals in India. Bhang is understood to be ok to have in India. How should we talk about this.

14. Talking about intoxicants, various temples in India offer alcohol and meat but we talk of Hindus as a vegetarian society? Are all hindu’s vegetarian?

15. Yoga and Ashrams, does everyone do Yoga and meditation

16. What are the other potted plants (exported ideas) from India?

17. Why are certain plants and animals worshipped.

18. What about Rangolis and mandalas. Can anyone make them their own?

19. People get worried when we say that you are born into a religion or a caste. How do we talk about the caste system in India?

20. Its a form a limited mobility?

21. Two other potted plants come to mind, like a Guru. Do you have to have a guru?

22. What is the difference between Gurus, Sadhu’s and Priests?

23. What about Sufism, have you had a chance to explain it to people

24. As you’ve studied so much of Indian Mythology philosophy, has that led to a personal spiritual practice for you?