Listen: Devdutt Pattanaik busts common misconceptions about Hinduism, Buddhism and yoga

“A small two-bedroom flat with 20 people speaking different languages,” is how author Devdutt Pattanaik describes India. People often look for simplistic definitions and ways to explain the country’s diversity, he says, but this is missing the point.

“The scale and size of India should always be kept in mind. We are large, crowded, diverse and poor and there is inequality like everywhere else in the world,” Pattanaik said. “People from Denmark or Sweden come from a place without diversity so India will feel very different if you come from that context. Really we should be killing each other but we are not. We are managing.”

Pattanaik was a guest on the Experience Delhi podcast, which is aimed at the curious traveller that wants to learn more about India and its capital. The podcast deals with a range of subjects: understanding arranged marriages, the history of Delhi and what not to miss when in the city.

In its seventh episode, Pattanaik speaks to hosts Ketaki and Anubhav Rohatgi about rituals and traditions unique to Hindus. In the 35-minute conversation, Pattanaik, who has written several books on Hindu mythology, including The Pregnant King and Myth = Mithya, attempts to demystify common misconceptions like “India is a vegetarian nation” and “Buddhism is just a sanitised version of Hinduism”. He also talks about the varying definitions of god that exist in the Hindu culture.