Tag Archives: God

Seven Secrets of the Goddess – Review


Yet another author whose works I’ve become a complete fan of – Devdutt Pattanaik. If there is too much hype surrounding him today, I would say every bit of it is worth it. I started reading his books from his later viz Shikhandi being the first one and now this. I have come across his other ‘Seven Secrets’ series titles and hope to read all of them in due course of time. Because one can only imagine how much knowledge – the sheer depth of it – can be contained within one person.

Like there is a pioneer in every genre of writing, I would say Pattanaik has taken up that space when it comes to demystifying Hindu mythology. And this is coming from someone who has been a staunch atheist for the better part of his life. And whose reading of Hindu mythology has been confined to children’s textbooks with colourful art and observation of family or community rituals.

Without going into the merits or demerits of my own beliefs in this regard, I can objectively say that a writer deserves all the more credit when he or she manages to deconstruct complex subjects to make it appealing to every kind of reader. Without compromising on quality everywhere. Maybe I’m saying purely from the point of a view of a reader who delves in the sheer pleasure of reading before anything else. Even then, Pattanaik’s writings have a huge significance today, given the constant churning and questioning of cultural foundations of society. It’s not a bad thing and Pattanaik only helps further this cause, while espousing the belief of ‘multiple truths.’ That is a belief I stand by personally. It would be easy to confuse this with ‘multiculturalism.’ But I would say multiple truths are more universal in scope – because even the tiniest of human groups have differences that they need to work with constantly – just like life partners.

Like Shikhandi, Seven Secrets of the Goddess talks of the very vital aspect – the role of women in society. It goes from the extreme ie Kali to the very mild ie Gauri and every aspect that lies in between. Pattanaik elaborates on every version of tales relating to Gods and Goddesses as seen by different communities of India. The influence of Western, Islamic and other cultures on Hinduism is also dealt with in this regard. And from this emerges a very interesting narrative which I believe also explains the current dynamic of Indian politics.

Concepts like gender and feminism perhaps cannot be explained merely with a few chapters or references to religion/mythology if one wants to view everything through a rational perspective. The author, having been trained in medical science himself, does not ignore this fact. Which is why he balances the spiritual and material references very carefully. This encourages critical thinking and doesn’t just end up being a portrait of a religion that has been wronged by others or seeks to stand out. It seeks to inform without a bias in an age where objectivity is like proverbial needle in the haystack.

To get your copy of the book, visit Flipkart


Mister God, This Is Sachin

When this novel by Fynn, aka Sydney Hopkins,  Mister God, This Is Anna, was published in 1974, Sachin Tendulkar was a year old. But the timeline of the novel dates to the 1930s, when Sachin was not born and cricket meant Bradman and the sensationalism in the sport was restricted to Bodyline. Years later, Bradman was to praise Sachin in no uncertain terms. Cricket pundits revelled in it as the ultimate ‘endorsement’. But, in hindsight, is it really fair? No harm in Bradman comparing himself with Sachin. But, where comparisons end, Sachin’s act begins. The double ton in Gwalior has proved just that.

In an era when Twenty20 is a synonym for speed and multiplexes cannot decide if they want to screen more movies or cricket matches, Sachin Tendulkar still remains the currency – for an economy that takes its major stakeholders (read: cricketers) with equal pride and cynicism. Last December, when the man nearly got to creating this record, the whole 22 yards seemed to have become a pitch for endless debates on his performance. Today, reading a front page piece on him by Imran Khan in The Economic Times, the entire debate seemed to have been turned on its head. For someone who retired at the age of 39, Sachin’s brilliance could not go unstated. Since an early age, we are taught to achieve maximum success in whatever we do (read: cram). The movie 3 Idiots may have done its bit to tweak that notion. But, that’s about it. Passion for anything can at best be fine-tuned, but never drilled or taught. This is where Sachin Tendulkar proves what passion is all about. Not just about making a first-class debut at the age of 11 or facing Waqar Younis at 16, or not just about overcoming personal tragedy to make the team shine in a World Cup. It is nothing but living life on the whole 22 yards, and not off it, whatever may the critics say.

After the show of brilliance, many have likened Sachin to God himself who plays for a nation where cricket is religion. Social networking sites and blogs (including this one!) were agog with the enigma of the man and could not stop eulogising him. In all fairness to them, they are not far off the mark. But then, it is only human to err and you don’t make mistakes unless you even attempt to immerse yourself in whatever you are doing, cliches be damned.

Maybe, what is God-like is, knowing where your mind, body and soul lie – where your life is what it is meant to be. Just like Anna, who at “at five years….knew absolutely the purpose of being, knew the meaning of love and was a personal friend and helper of Mister God. At six Anna was a theologian, mathematician, philosopher, poet and gardener. If you asked her a question you would always get an answer—in due course. On some occasions the answer would be delayed for weeks or months; but eventually, in her own good time, the answer would come: direct, simple and much to the point.” Just like Sachin, who may not be afraid of saying “Mister God, This Is Sachin,” even if he is divine in his own right.