• Devdutt Pattanaik: The start date of my religion

    Devdutt Pattanaik: The start date of my religion

    Historians say that Islam started 1,400 years ago, with the rise of the Prophet Muhammad. However, Muslims will say that Islam started when Allah created the world and gave his laws to the first prophet, Adam

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: The Immortals

    Devdutt Pattanaik: The Immortals

    In Hindu mythology, whenever an asura asks for immortality, Brahma tells them that they can have whatever they wish except that

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: The colour of Krishna's skin

    Devdutt Pattanaik: The colour of Krishna's skin

    In the Sanskrit Valmiki's Ramayana, Hanuman describes Ram as 'shyama-varna', which means one of dark-complexion

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: Dharma in the forest

    Devdutt Pattanaik: Dharma in the forest

    In the beginning was the forest. Humans domesticated the forest to create culture, a space where they could feel secure

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: Imagining a nation's past

    Devdutt Pattanaik: Imagining a nation's past

    Historians and sociologists do not like the word mythology. They prefer words invented by them: imaginary

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: Who made God Perfect?

    Devdutt Pattanaik: Who made God Perfect?

    I recently heard an Odia song where Lakshmi and Parvati tease each other by mocking each other's husbands. Lakshmi wonders about the health of Shiva's mount, Nandi, who she describes as an old weak bull. Parvati retorts by describing Vishnu as a cowherd who should know more about the health of cattle

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: What is the opposite of intellectual?

    Devdutt Pattanaik: What is the opposite of intellectual?

    Globally, we are seeing a wave against intellectuals, those whose rationality overthrew the priests of yore, who saw the world through a mathematical prism, and sought to create a fair and just society by redistribution of wealth and power, using logic

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: Classifying Jati

    Devdutt Pattanaik: Classifying Jati

    For thousands of years, Indians have followed the jati system. By this system, your birth determines your vocation, hence your status in society, and only members of your jati will share food (roti, in Hindi) with you and give their daughters (beti) to marry into your household

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: China's Buddhist Goddess

    Devdutt Pattanaik: China's Buddhist Goddess

    Buddhism originated about 2,500 years ago in the Gangetic plains. It gradually spread across and beyond India. As it spread, it transformed dramatically, responding to history and geography. In China, a female Bodhisattva, Guanyin, came into being. This is her story

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: So many mothers, and tongues

    Devdutt Pattanaik: So many mothers, and tongues

    The devas were threatened, as usual, by the rise of yet another asura. This time it was Taraka, and he was exceptionally powerful. He had declared that only a six-day-old child could kill him.

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: Revenge as nobility

    Devdutt Pattanaik: Revenge as nobility

    Before surrendering to the court, the general secretary of the AIADMK party, V K Sasikala visited the memorial of the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and struck her palm three times on Jayalalitha’s grave, an act of slamming that observers interpreted as a ritual act, based on ancient Tamil lore of kings, indicating a solemn oath to take revenge

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: If not Valentine, then Kama?

    Devdutt Pattanaik: If not Valentine, then Kama?

    Here it comes. 14th February. The day dreaded by some earnest Indian youth leaders who are convinced that love and desire and sex are foreign contaminations that will destroy the minds of young Indians. Terrified, they would rather spend the day worshipping fathers and mothers, or brutally assaulting lovers on dates

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: Last hymn of the Rig Veda

    Devdutt Pattanaik: Last hymn of the Rig Veda

    The Rig Veda has over a thousand hymns (sukta) that are arranged in ten chapters (mandala). The first and the tenth mandalas have precisely 191 hymns, indicating that the arrangement of hymns is not random, but deliberate. This organisation of hymns is attributed to Vyasa

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: The Sexuality of Villains

    Devdutt Pattanaik: The Sexuality of Villains

    Some people are upset that Bollywood is once again distorting history. This time it deals with Padmavati, the queen of Chittor, who killed herself rather than letting the Delhi sultan, Alauddin Khilji, capture her

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: Momaji & other horse-riders

    Devdutt Pattanaik: Momaji & other horse-riders

    My friend told me of a ritual practice in some parts of rural Rajasthan. When the marriage party is passing a shrine of Momaji, people offer lamps (usually in a dry coconut), food (wheat) and other indulgences (beedi is common)

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: Dayanand & Vivekanand

    Devdutt Pattanaik: Dayanand & Vivekanand

    The 19th century saw Hinduism being reframed for two reasons. First was missionary activity that, with its aim of gaining converts, consciously spotlighted aspects of Hinduism that the elite could not explain and found embarrassing

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: Epics as novels

    Devdutt Pattanaik: Epics as novels

    Most people in India are not familiar with the Sanskrit Ramayana or Mahabharata. We read popular versions, which in turn are based on regional retellings, which began appearing less than 1,000 years ago, and became very prevalent from around 500 years ago

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: A Harappan Parvati?

    Devdutt Pattanaik: A Harappan Parvati?

    All my life I had seen photographs of a Harappan girl, found in the ruins of Mohenjo Daro, standing with attitude, face up, one arm on her waist, the other on her slightly bent knee

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: Use for Rudolf's nose

    Devdutt Pattanaik: Use for Rudolf's nose

    Do you remember the story of Rudolf, the reindeer, who had a shiny red nose? And how every other reindeer made fun of him? His father even asks him to hide his nose so that he fits in

  • Devdutt Pattanaik: Is God judge or accountant?

    Devdutt Pattanaik: Is God judge or accountant?

    In Abrahamic mythology, God is the judge. In Hindu mythology, God is not a judge; he is an accountant. Ask yourself, who do you instinctively respect more, the judge or the accountant? How do you see yourself: as judge or accountant