lost soul 2

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Book review of 7 Secrets of the Goddess by Devdutt Pattanaik

Apart from other fiction novels, the seven secret of the goddess by Devdutt Pattanaik is one of the latest book from him and I was happily surprised to find it filled with various pictures, on every left page, along with the various explanations, stories and mythologies on the right page. Language is quite simple, and easy to read.
Devdutt, author of many other mythological books, has written mythological stories in a new prospective, very different from ancient scriptures and has well researched knowledge about different ancient books of not only Hindu religion but also of others.

In Author’s Note on reality and representation or the blurb, where author talks about the male and female domination, show us what this book is about:

Lakshmi massages Vishnu’s feet. Is this male domination? Kali stands on Shiva’s chest. Is this female domination? Shiva is half a woman. Is this gender quality? Why then is Shakti never half a man? Taken literally, stories, symbols and rituals of Hindu mythology have much to say about gender relationships. Taken symbolically, they reveal many more things about humanity and nature. Which is the correct reading? Who Knows?

Basically this book is divided in seven chapters, each one starting with seven different goddess Gaia, Kali, Gauri, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswathi, and Vitthai.

In the first chapter:
Devdutt starts off with the Goddess Gaia or the earth-mother from the Greek mythology and further explains that she was the primal female deity. Then he sets example of various other mythologies and tribes like The Inuit Tribes of artic region, Indian mythologies, Egyptian Mythologies to show the importance of female deities over male and their importance in that time. Also he explains simultaneously the progress of society and impact of it on the female domination. Initially cultures was female- dominated, where female were free to choose a bridegroom, in the ceremony called SWAYAM-VARA.
He also explains ancient meaning of VIRGIN and WHORE terms, quite different from modern definition.
Every woman was a virgin, who are ready to bear a child, and whore, who was free to go to any man. These definition in ancient times reflects the attitude of society at that time and now change in definition indicates, the shift from older time when women were free to later time when woman were bound to men. Similarly he has explained other ancient stories in complete different prospective, which you can never find in other books.
Author mainly express his strong opinion about gender equality through various examples and explanations.
 Then he tells the shift of social attitude from matriarchy to patriarchy over the time and its impact on the females.

2nd Chapter: Kali’s Secret:
Authors explains the story of Kaali and one thing which amused me very much that is Europeans were terrified from image of Kaali, her nakedness, violence. Later she became object of devotion and love and new musical genre called Shyama sangeet was created.

3rd Chapter: Gauri’s Secret:
This chapter tells the story of Gauri, wife of shiva and his second wife Parvati and their sons Ganesh and Skanda. A lot of detail and stories related to Bramha, Vishnu and Shiva is also given and their explanation are worth reading. The question, why Brahma is not worshipped in any Hindu temple is explained.

4th Chapter: Durga’s Secret:
This chapter tells the interesting story of Devi Kanya-Kumari, who was about to marry Shiva.
It also tells the fact that Parvati didn’t give birth to either of Ganesh or Sakandh.
Then story and other facts about Goddess Durga, like she is called Handi-Mukhi in Bengal, and Gram-Devi, Devi Shitla, Sita, Draupadi is also interesting to read.

5th Chapter: Lakshmi’s Secret:
This chapter tells story that Laxmi was daughter/sister of Asura and they simply wants her back, and Indra is a thief from their point of view. He relates the conflict between Devas and asuras to the conflicts between Capitalist and socialist. Then chapter progresses in telling stories of various other forms of Goddess Laxmi.

6th Chapter: Saraswati’s Secret:
 This chapter explains symmetry between male triad (Shiva, Vishnu,Brahm) and female triad (Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati), Why Saraswati is often paired with Brahma, because creator needs knowledge, maintainer needs wealth and destroyer needs power.
Saraswati is independent goddess, originated from Rig Samhita, enables us to understand and appreciate the nature, knowledge, literature and music, holds a book in one hand and Vina in another. Her vahan Goose or hannsa can separate milk from mixture of milk(Truth) and water(False). She is associated with white color, or purity, while chapma flowers, white dress, white autumn moon and white transparent crystal beads.  Then her trace to Buddhist Goddess Tara, who transformed the Buddhist religion. Then author talks about the quarrel between wealth and knowledge, and tells the basic idea behind it, that is desire to dominate.
7th Chapter: Vitthai’s secret:                                                                                                   
 It tells about the feminine form of lord Krishna enshrined in Pandharpur, and story of Meenakshi Devi of Madurai, warrior princes with three breast, and half-woman form of Shiva. Devi Vitthai questions: why should there be a race that someone has to win?

Overall if you are looking for an interesting read about Indian Mythology, answers of various questions, secrets of gender bias/ dominance, links between Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism then you can go for it.
Overall I would rate 3.5 on a scale of 5.

Who is Dr. Devdutt Patanaik:

Devdutt Pattanaik, a medical doctor by profession, who has spent 15 years in the healthcare industry, with companies such as Apollo Health Street and Sanofi Aventis, before joining Ernst & Young as Business Advisor is also unusually but it’s true, is a renowned author, mythologist, and leadership consultant, whose work focuses on deriving management insights from mythology to reveal a very Indian approach to modern business. He has authored over 30 books, many of them best-sellers like Myth = Mithya, Business Sutra, The Pregnant King, and Jaya: An illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata. Many of his books have been translated in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati and Marathi.

His TED talk is one of the most viewed talks with over a million views.

Devdutt was the Chief Belief Officer of Future Group and is now a sought-after public speaker and culture consultant for corporations and business leaders. He consults Reliance on matters related to culture and Star TV on various mythological serials.

Devdutt’s parents migrated from Odisha to Mumbai over 50 years ago. He was born and educated in Mumbai, and he lives in Mumbai. He is a Mumbaikar who speaks English, Hindi, Odiya and Marathi. He has two sisters, and two nephews.
Mythology Books
Children Books
1.      Shiva – An Introduction
2.      Vishnu – An Introduction
3.      Devi – An Introduction
4.      Hanuman – An Introduction
5.      Lakshmi – An Introduction
6.      The Goddess Of India
7.      Man Who Was A Woman
8.      Indian Mythology
9.      Shiva to Shankara
10.    The Book of Ram
11.    Myth = Mithya (a handbook of Hindu Mythology)
12.    99 Thoughts on Ganesha
13.    Jaya (illustrated retelling of Mahabharata)
14.    Sita (illustrated retelling of Ramayana)
15.    7 Secrets of Hindu Calendar Art
16.    7 Secrets of Vishnu
17.    7 Secrets of Shiva
18.    7 Secrets of the Goddess
19.    Business Sutra
20.    Shikhandi and other tales they don’t tell us

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for   Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books.

1.  The Pregnant King
1.      Hanuman’s Ramayana
2.      Gauri and The Talking Cow
3.      Indra Finds Happiness
4.      An Identity Card for Krishna
5.      Saraswati’s Secret River
6.      Kama v/s Yama
7.      Shiva Plays Dumb Charades
8.      Devlok Omnibus

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