Devdutt Pattanaik writes on relevance of mythology in modern times, especially in areas of management, governance and leadership. He defines mythology as cultural truths revealed through stories, symbols and rituals.
Devdutt is the author of more than 50 books and over 1000 columns, with bestsellers such as My Gita, Jaya, Sita, Shyam, Business Sutra and the 7 Secret Series. As a regular columnist, he writes for reputed newspapers like Times of India and Dainik Bhaskar.
He is known for his TED talks and his shows on television. His TV shows include Business Sutra on CNBC-TV18, Devlok on Epic TV and Daan Sthapana on SonyLiv. He lectures on the relevance of both Indian and Western myths in modern life.
On Radio Mirchi, he hosted The Devdutt Pattanaik Show. He has also been a part of several podcasts. He consults organisations on culture, diversity and leadership and also consults various television channels and filmmakers on storytelling.
He was trained in medicine and spent 15 years working in the pharma and healthcare industry. But over the past decade, he has been fully immersed in exploring mythology and sharing its wisdom with the world.
Myth and Mythology
He opines that “no society can exist without myth as it creates notions of right and wrong, good and bad, heaven and hell, rights and duties”.
To him, mythology “tells a people how they should see the world… Different people will have their own mythology, reframing old ones or creating new ones.”
His desire is “to get Saraswati out of the closet. Saraswati belongs everywhere, she has to flow everywhere” and his body of work is aimed “to make knowledge accessible.”
Devdutt believes that leadership is about paying attention to the other, and enabling people not to mimic or pretend, but to be genuine/authentic about their fears. If a leader cannot sense fear in people around him, if a leader feels good when people around him are frightened into pretending, there is a problem. Power flows towards the leader or, rather, boss rather than towards the organization.
In his book, Business Sutra: An Indian Approach to Management, “the central theme is that when individual beliefs come into conflict with corporate beliefs, problems surface in organisations. Conversely, when institutional beliefs and individual beliefs are congruent, harmony is the resultant corporate climate. It is when people are seen as mere resources meant to be managed [read manipulated] through compensation and so-called motivation; it is when they are treated like switches in a circuit board; it is then that disharmony descends causing disruption.”
Devdutt distinguishes between mythological fiction and mythology. He notes that mythological fiction is very popular as it is fantasy rooted in familiar traditional tales. Mythology itself is about figuring out world views of cultures, essentially how people think in a particular cultural ethos. “Most writers I know focus on mythological fiction. Study of mythology still remains rather academic,” Pattanaik told IANS in an interview.
Devdutt is known to avoid partisan views and points to the strengths and weaknesses of the Left and the Right, the secular as well as religious, the capitalists and the communists, the patriarchs and the feminists, as indicated on his many articles on beef ban, vegetarianism, and Ramayana. He is wary of the influence of ‘white saviours’ on liberals as well as religious radicals. He has been rather contemptuous of the hyper-nationalism of a section of American Hindus who are clueless about Indian realities. He also frowns on secularists and atheists who deny their own missionary zeal and mythic structure, and see themselves as ‘rational’.
Talks thematically formatted for the Audience
|Audience||Topic – Adapted to audience need||Sample|
|International||Cultural Understanding of India||Devdutt at TED|
|Indian||Leadership topics based on Indian way||Devdutt at NASSCOM|
Structure & Duration
|< 30 people||60 minute talk, followed by coffee break, followed by 120 minutes discussion|
|> 30 people||45 to 90 minute minute talk, followed by coffee break, followed by 120 minutes discussion|
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