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RAMAYANA VERSUS MAHABHARATA – My Playful Comparison by Devdutt Pattanaik – a book review

RAMAYANA VERSUS MAHABHARATA – My Playful Comparison

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India
  • Genre: History of Religion, Hinduism, Theology and Philosophy of Religion
  • ISBN: 9789353332303, 9353332303
  • Edition: 2018

This is a laborious exercise ideally because the context is different. The other side of the comparing these two works is tough because they are totally having different approaches to target segment. It also is important to understand the length and breadth of the story are widely different. The fact that the characters continue to Mahabharata from Ramayana is also a pointer to the similarities and how they are a continuous set of instances that make this grand story come alive.

I read with interest the snippet like comparisons by Devdutt Pattanaik where he has put it as My playful comparison, (still wonder why it’s playful) there are enough and more comparisons you could take away right from the childless fathers in Dasaratha to Shantanu to sorrowing parents in Dasaratha to even Pandavas after the war.

We also get to see quite a few instances in terms of geography and history or the narration by rishis, etc.

But given that author has taken liberty for the time of the authorship of both the epics, I would have loved to differ. For example, the Big Temple in Tamilnadu is over 2000 years old and the devotional movement in their time was as big as anything that is covered elsewhere.

One more I noticed was the Greek and Buddhist comparisons, that are totally different and the context in which those thrived also makes for comparisons.

I was also not able to see the Ram vs Krishna connect or comparison here. That would have made it all the more interesting since the author has given very few instances of the comparison in a perspective of things. Those are the celebrated characters in the whole scheme of things. That Mahabharata has a Bhagavad Geetha in it has not be taken into consideration.

I think a body of work of such grandeur and vastness in both cases inspite of being in Sruthi mode thats hear say to being written so well after long, will constitute similarities with human beings and Gods in an intersection of game of life.

That women in both the epics have cast a shadow is irrefutable, that of Sita and Panchali, but then when you see these as just stories it would get you to this connect only. These are imageries for spiritual existance and at some places the author puts them concretely.

That there are multiple versions that have made these epics into a reckoning literature in their own right, this will also have its way of reflecting the time that the authors lived in.

Infact this is also happening now as we see multitude versions of Mahabharat and Ramayana from different authors and different perspectives from different characters than being rendered by Valmiki or Vyasa.

This is quite a study of contrast and yes you could open any page and read this in case you want to because like I mentioned earlier these are snippets and there are almost 56 instances that the author takes us through and they are small but important to note.

I am only cautious about some issues like Vedic period and Brahminism that the author takes undue liberty with. It’s like saying there was no gravity or something till Newton discovered it. One instance he says this is because of the Panini’s work of grammar came in at one certain point in time. I am unable to understand if that were the case would everyone be using the language without any sense till then. I think that is wrong way to reference the language part. Sangam literature in Tamil is far older in that case going by inscriptions.

Anyway an attempt in bringing the similarities which will continue to exist even today. You write a plot and then you can be sure that was there in Mahabharata or Ramayana.

One thing I have noticed is from giving the stories its due to now getting to liberal interpretations Devdutt Pattanaik has come a long way. Well you cant find fault with this its the way the epics have allowed itself to be retold.

Thank you Flipkart for sending in the copy and you can buy this here.

Senthilkumar

The Girl Who Chose – Devdutt Pattanaik

the-girl-who-chose-a-new-way-of-narrating-the-ramayana-400x400

 

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • ISBN: 9780143334637, 0143334638
  • Edition: 2016
  • Pages: 112

I always say this, India is a land of charming story tellers and we will never get tired of telling them. The beauty of this land is the assimilation of the different cultures in the respective retelling of the biggest and impactful epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Devdutt Pattanaik comes again as a winner this time with the tale of Sita and how she chose five things for herself in her lifetime with Ram the prince of Ayodhya. It might have gone unnoticed why the story came about unless we think about it and see the reason around why Sita decided to go the forest with Ram and Lakshman, especially when she was just married and she has been the princess after all. She could have been sending off Ram to deliver the promise that his Dad made.

Again it was Sita during her days at the forest, who chose to cross the Lakshman Rekha, to give food to the ascetic who had come begging. It was a choice that had repercussions again simply because Lakshman had thought about it and drawn a line.

There are three more instances when she chose, get the book to read them and it is a delightful read the way it is presented. The story extends to the time of Luv and Khusha the twins of Sita when she is asked to leave the kingdom due to the way the gossip mongers have a field day.

The time she choses to make an entry into the fireplace is also a reminder of how the character has had an impact in terms of image being built around the royals vis a vis the rules and the fredom to choose.

Ofcourse the rishis and scriptures wanted us to see the characters in us as much as the story was told, here again the author has rekndled the efforts in us to reach out to the Ram, Sita and the Ravana inside us

Beautifully illustrated and narrated with short notes on the sidelines this is a wonderful book to introduce Sita as a woman who should be celebrated equal to Ram and Lakshman.

You will love this book to the core, enjoy it reading it loud to the kids too. Go ahead and take a plunge, there is subtlety in this and there is spiritual offering if in case you want to see it that way. Enjoyed reading this, and Devdutt Pattanaik has recreated the charm of introducing the characters with such conviction in story telling.

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Review Program. To buy your copies go here : The Girl Who Chose

Senthilkumar

7 Secrets of the Goddess by Devdutt Pattanaik #bookreview

7-secrets-of-the-goddess

Publisher Westland
ISBN-10 9384030589
Edition 1st Edition
Book Type Non Fiction Book
Number of Pages 270 Pages
Publication Year 2014 October
Language English
ISBN-13 9789384030582
Binding Paperback

Once again the master mythologist, comes up with a great story telling with facts and illustrations that support every word that he writes on.

The third in the series of 7 secrets – of Vishnu, Siva and now the Goddess, the author takes us through the historical evidence that suggests how the society had turned itself from matriarchy to patriarchy.

Add to that the influence of islam and Christianity the need to be seen as a patriarchal in the context of subservient women characters and other factors when the invasion happened.

Perhaps it’s the keen eye to detail and the ardous task of seeking our definitive evidences which make Devdutt Pattanaik the man he is as he revels in his unravelling the myths and making meaning out of them.

The structure of the book and the layout should make it easy for the reader to assimilate each idea and also appreciate the way how things have turned around and the interpretations have started happening.

Quite a few times it is the story lost in translation and quite a few times its interpretation that mattered according to the context and the times they were in.

The way how the once fierce and independent womanhood has now given way to a submissive and more enslavend being is very well captured and the best part is all how they got into these submissive overtones simply because its in the nature of human beings to be seen as controlling rather than be the likes of animals which have just their wants and need fulfilled to the extent they are required not a penny more or a penny less in financial terms.

The journey into the grama devi concept is worth remembering since they give a nice understanding of folk way of celebrating womanhood and they are going strong day by day.

I think this was a long overdue in the way that he has put things in perspective the ideal situation of stories being a mirror to the context and how it has to be interpreted and how it has long lost it to chanting tradition and more so people just chanting them even without knowing their meaning.

Apart from that he also has taken on the Western philosophers for their very minimalistic view of the Hinduism that they talk of and never having tried to read the real meaning of the rituals and festivals.

A lot of specifics on the southern traditions being discussed is welcome addition and the Mahabharata character of Draupadi being accorded an Amman Devi status is an interesting one.

A must read for everyone interested to know the significance of Goddesses in the Hindu tradition. The many stories of Brahma not being accorded the temple status is a revealing one. The relationships with the trinity and the devis are a great read.

My only addition if I could suggest would have been the pointers  to look at the picture with a subscript when they are discussed in the opposite pages would have had a nice way to add to the flow, otherwise they pictures are read at my convenience and paragraph breaks.

As in all his works this will be read again and again for the insights that his subject revels on, and a one time reading of a topic is like the tip of an iceberg.

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