Published on 6th January, 2015, in the DNA
Prolific author and mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik’s books have discussed the innate wisdom found in Hindu myths. His books not only delve into retellings of popular stories from mythologies but also uncover tales lesser known and read by the society. From concepts of dharma, nyaya, niti to subjects like gender, finance and environment, they all find a place in his illustrated narations. Pattanaik speaks to dna and its readers via a Twitter chat on writing, his work and its relevance in society.
When was your first brush with Hindu mythology? (@dna)
Like everyone with Amar Chitra Katha and Chandamama….that was over 35 years ago…but deeply 20 years ago with my writing
How is literature on mythology perceived outside India, in your opinion? (@dna)
Mythology is seen currently through a colonial and post colonial lens in the West, with a desire to locate ‘the’ truth.
Why do we confuse mythology with fiction? (@boskigupta)
We do not know how to locate ‘subjective’ truth. We are conditioned to value only objective truth.
Do you think ‘God’ has become less accessible to people today? Why? (@abha_e)
‘God’ is subjective truth. Today we overvalue objective truth. Hence the lack of access, and great confusion.
Who is your inspiration? If not writer, what would you have to been? (@mishra_shani)
I am pursuing what interests me. No external motivation. A mango tree bears a mango fruit; it can do nothing else.
How comfortable are you mixing science with mythology? (@boskigupta)
Science is about measurement hence objectivity. Mythology is about subjectivity, which is not measurable.
Mythology & education systems in India, are we losing out? (@SagarTheWay)
If one agrees with the wisdom of the Veda, then this moment is exactly as it is supposed to be.
What exactly is the meaning of ‘Dharma’? is there an exact english translation of this word? (@amramchandani)
Dharma equals human potential. In a jungle, only the fit survive. In human society, we CAN enable even weakest to thrive.
Do you believe in the concept of ‘AlphaWomen’? If yes, who is your favourite and why? (@RamaSreekant)
Alpha concept belongs to jungle, to animals. When humans behave like animals, it is adharma.
How many hours do you spend reading or researching in a day? (@jyo_sings)
I write for at least five hours every day from around 7.00 am to 12 noon… unless I am travelling for lectures.
Which unabridged version of Mahabharata would you recommend to read? (@dhruvplays)
Assumption here is that there is only one Mahabharata text… Mahabharata is a tradition of many language texts, tales & art.
What are the key management & leadership lessons from Lord Hanuman? (@jay_jmehta)
Some monkeys need to be trained. Others can think for themselves and become from va-nara to nara to Narayana.
What is your opinion about increase in interest in Paganism/ New Age/ Wicca? (@DebSourobh)
We are bored of objective truth/science/one (masculine) God. We need diversity/nature/subjectivity/creativity.
Tell us about your journey as an illustrator? (@apps_24)
I communicate through written word (books), spoken word (lectures), lines (art)…different fruits of same seed.
What would be next challenge in retaining our folklore and ancient forms of #storytelling? (@Vikram_Sridhar)
There is no challenge. Stories come and go. As long as humans exist, stories will exist.
Is mythology being politicised? Can it be politicised? What is your opinion on it? (@ShwetaKapur)
Everything can be politicised. Politics is about power. We express power through wealth, things, law, stories.
Will you consider writing about Islamic and Christian mythology? (@prahladagarwal)
Visit my blog for articles on Islamic/Christian mythology.
What’s next? Why not write a book on Atharva Veda and the mystics around it? (@rakeshvt)
I have currently contracted to write seven books and there are negotiations on another four. So maybe after that.
With start-ups growing, three leadership lessons that you would like to give to budding entrepreneurs? (@spriha_s)
1: Think context
2: Think people (investor, employee, customer, partner)
3. Think ROI (Return on investment), not just financial
Your book Shikhandi and other tales they don’t tell you broke myths of mainstream narratives. Any more subjects/characters you want to break ‘myths’ about? (@dna)
Myths cannot be broken. Misconceptions can be diluted. Book sought to expand mind with more stories, information, ideas
Mythological renditions: Do you prefer to believe in them as true events or pure fiction? (@mystic_blue)
This divide between ‘truth’ and ‘falsehood’ is so narrow and tragic. Is your personal (subject) truth, false?
How can the little fish survive matsya-naya/jungle law? (@goyaladiti)
Only humans have potential to save small fish from big fish. That is dharma. But it is tougher than it sounds.
Would you say Hindu mythology was more queer friendly than the society today? (@dna)
Hindu mythology celebrated fluidity of nature. Left liberals and Hindutva followers do not like fluidity, or nature.
Which character from mythology itself have you learnt most from? (@manicpopsicle)
Each one is part of a jigsaw puzzle. To learn from one, you need to learn from all.
List five of your favorite books? (@dna)
Ramayana, Mahabharata, Purana, Bible and Theogony.