He pens Indian mythological books for young

March 2nd, 2008 - 10:56 am ICT by admin  

By Azera Rahman
New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) He is a medical doctor by training, a marketing consultant by profession and an author by passion. With five books on the anvil and 12 books on the shelves, Devdutt Pattanaik is a man who loves his subject - Indian mythology. And his target audience is the fashion-conscious, technology-savvy youth of today. “The youth simply love my books,” Pattanaik told IANS from Mumbai.

“Youngsters today have one foot here and the other in the West. To regular tales on mythology they don’t respond because they simply don’t relate to the stories. When they ask questions they are turned away by their parents who just give them one answer - it’s tradition.

“My books go beyond the apparent. Instead of sermonising, I try and narrate like a story. That’s the trick to hold one’s attention.”

Pattanaik’s latest book is a work of fiction called “The Pregnant King”.

“All my other books are non-fiction but with ‘The Pregnant King’, I enter the fiction genre. In this story, a childless king, Yuvanashva, accidentally drinks a magic potion meant for his queens and gives birth to a son.

“The amazing thing is that this has been narrated twice in the Mahabharata in a very nonchalant manner. Why? Is Yuvanashva the child’s father or mother? Should this have happened today, what would have been the socio-political implication?

“These are some of the questions I seek answers to and give the entire mythological episode a contemporary sensibility by addressing insecurities, which existed 5,000 years back and even today,” he said.

One of the insecurities that he has tried to address through this book is society’s obsession with the need for children.

“Yuvanashva was compelled to seek a magic potion to bear children but when he, instead of his wives, bore the child, society didn’t accept it. The obsession is the same today and society is increasingly becoming intolerant towards anything unconventional or queer,” he said.

Although a medical doctor by training, Pattanaik said he never practised medicine as such and started working in pharmaceutical companies as a marketing consultant.

In the meanwhile, mythology, which Pattanaik loved to read or write articles about, became something bigger.

“I like going deep into the subject I am handling. That’s why today I can’t think of the Ramayana without thinking of the Mahabharata because I know they are related.

“I love mythological stories and do quite a bit of research about them…this prompted me to write my first book ‘Shiva: An Introduction’, 10 years back.

“It was received with such warmth and appreciation, especially by the youth, that I decided to write more books. I also deliver lectures in universities,” 37-year-old Pattanaik said.

Although he has read almost all books on mythology by other Indian authors, he feels they are not structurally analysed.

“Mythology is like a jigsaw puzzle. You can’t just present one piece…there has to be a relevance and a context. At the end of my latest book, after raising questions, I offer two answers - a materialistic one and a spiritual one. It depends on the reader which one he chooses,” he said.

Pattanaik is not surprised that he has not received any negative response to his books - although they are about traditional subjects - simply because he has no intention to “provoke people’s sentiments”.

“At the end of the day, one should understand that mythology need not be heavy and boring. It is relevant to the modern times because it addresses issues and insecurities regarding love, acceptance and other human emotions that are the same today as in the past.

“All that is required is proper packaging so that it appeals to today’s taste. And that’s what I am seeking,” he said.

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