Tag Archives: God

7 Secrets Of Shiva: A Religious Textbook, Not A Myth-Analysis

This is a book review for BlogAdda. The blurb of ‘7 Secrets of Shiva‘ by Devdutt Pattanaik says,

“Smeared with ash
Draped in animal hide
He sits atop the snow-capped mountain
Skull in hand
Withdrawn, with dogs for company
Destroying the world with his indifference
He is God who the Goddess shall awaken
His name is Shiva

Locked in his stories, symbols and rituals are the secrets of our ancestors. This book attempts to unlock seven.

This is not the first time I’ve read Dr.Pattanaik’s work. I immensely enjoyed ‘The Pregnant King‘ and ‘Jaya‘ enjoys a place of prominence on my windowsill book collection. I’ve also been following his articles and blogposts.

A lot of things draw me to Dr.Pattanaik’s writings. I have a dispassionate relationship with religion, customs and the concept of God & gods. I find it tiresome to labour through the reverence & perceptions that those of religious fervour, add to them. Most writing on religion reads like a priest’s preaching. I want to read about faith, belief & customs from an objective perspective and not from inside a “You must revere this or DIE!” mindset. All that I’ve read of Dr.Pattanaik’s writing so far, has matched that need. It has been refreshing to read his thoughts and even old stories, expressed without a fundamentalist ‘This is a God so we don’t question anything he/she does.’ attitude. I’m afraid 7 Secrets Of Shiva did not convey as much to me. It was as dry and preachy as the aforementioned religious treatises that I’ve taken much care to avoid.

Secondly, the other books I mentioned (Jaya & The Pregnant King) contained a fair degree of the author’s own analysis of beliefs. His articles often carry forward an idea from mythology and apply it to realities of our modern times. But 7 Secrets of Shiva seems to be no more than a collation of several floating stories about Shiva, with no sign of the author’s objective intellect showing.

There is a definite difference in tone from his earlier writing and this book. I used to think of Dr.Pattanaik as a keen, scientific observer of beliefs, myths and their relationship with human cultures.His earlier writing felt like a conversation between one intelligent, rational mind and another. But 7 Secrets of Shiva makes me feel like a stern-faced, elderly priest is frowning down on me while preaching from his dusty, religious texts.

Most notably, every Pattanaik work I’ve read so far has been beautifully illustrated by his own simple, distinctive sketches. I couldn’t find a single one in 7 Secrets of Shiva. Instead the book contains plenty of black and white photographs & paintings. The starkness of this is only compounded by a large font size, the kind you usually see in children’s books. Where is the quality I’ve come to expect from a Pattanaik book?

I get the feeling that I’m not the intended audience for this book. Perhaps it is a book for those completely unfamiliar with Hindu mythology and want a ready primer on the Shiva myth. Even so, I would rather recommend a simple Amar Chitra Katha over the dry, heavy tome that is 7 Secrets of Shiva. For the first time in my reading life, Dr.Devdutt Pattanaik disappoints.

Here are three other BlogAdda book reviews:

  • MyChocoletHandbag details each of the 7 secrets and why she was disappointed by the book.
  • ForeverInBlueJeans says that book is well-written but that she isn’t the right audience for it.
  • TellAStory appears to have liked the book and he too details the 7 secrets.

God’s Ears

Why must people prove their allegiance to God by making a big noise about it? Even if God is up in the sky, I’m told that he can hear perfectly well.

An Idle Mind

A re-telling of this 55-word tale as a writing exercise. Give me your thoughts.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

Luke walked out of the door and stretched. It had been awhile since he had gone outside. What next? he wondered. His eyes darted over to Guy lounging about, nearby.

Luke walked over and prodded his sibling with his toe to shake him out of his stupor. He said,

This place really deserves a name, you know?

Guy yawned, his flowing tresses draped over his face in sleepy disdain.

How about ‘Luke’s workshop’?

Luke snorted,

Assuming, as always, that I’m doing all the work? How about ‘The Workshop’?

You’ll never get me in there..! It’s too dark and boring for me. That place gives me the creeps!

shrugged his twin.

You’ll be amazed at some of the the things that turn out of ‘that place’.

Guy didn’t bat an eyelid and drawled,

Whatever….I’m bored.

Luke smirked, a sudden twinkle in his eye and snapped his fingers.

LET THERE BE LIGHT!

The sudden flash jolted Guy out of his reverie and he yelped..

What…the…hey…L!!!!!

All he got for his efforts was a smile. Tossing the smouldering ball over to his twin, Luke observed,

You’re a good kid, if a tad lazy. Besides you’ve given me an idea for a name. This should keep you amused for awhile. Go play!!

And Lucifer went to paint a signboard.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~

I know this will make some of you think of Mike Carey’s Lucifer. But I actually wrote the 55-word-story a long time before I had even heard of graphic novels or The Sandman and Lucifer series.

Caged

Sidewalk

If there is a God,
then why did he give me wings and a cage?

Power

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king

In the middle of the desert, the cactus is manna
But a sadist among masochists, is God. Or the Devil. Or both.

Hurt me! Heal me! Kill me! Spare me! Nail me! Resurrect me!

It’s pain and religion they need. The world is perfect.

Wish-List

Ideasmith, age 6

Dear Santa Claus,

Will you bring me a present too? I am not a Christian. But I say prayers in English in school and I know about Jesus Christ and Moses. I read about them in the Bible stories book. When I go home, I pray in Hindi or Tamil or Sanskrit and I also know about Murugan and Shiva and Rama. I read in Amar Chitra Katha.

Please bring me more books. Please make mummy like comics so she will let me read them.

Thank you.
Ideasmith, age 13

Dear God,

Sometimes I think I must be mad. But you will take care of me if I am, won’t you?

I know I’ll never be pretty but I wish at least one person would think I was.

Ideasmith, age 16

Dear Me,

You are my best friend…my only real friend. Thank you for holding on for so long. This too shall pass and you will come out of it stronger. Just keep the faith.

Still I wish someone understood.

Ideasmith, age 21

Dear X,

Won’t you re-consider? Remember our old times? Please remember…because I’ll die if you don’t. I don’t want to think of a life without you.

I never wanted anyone or anything as much as I want us.

Ideasmith, age 24

Fate,

Once and for all, there will be no more mistakes. Never again, never EVER again will a man hurt you. This is the last of it.

He will pay.

There’s no hurry. Life is long enough for paybacks.

I want justice.

Ideasmith, aged 26

This year I want to:
Eat healthy
Exercise
Take dancing lessons
Start the novel
Find love

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Twenty years is a long enough time. From asking other people to make my dreams comes true to fulfilling my own wishes. There is a difference, though.

It is the difference between faith and confidence.

An Idle Mind

At the doorway, Luke was saying “This place deserves a name”

The big guy yawned, “I’m bored”

“I’ll cure that” smirked Luke

“Big brothers are such wise guys!”

“Observe, lazy boy”Luke clapped his hands

“LET THERE BE LIGHT”

“Hey….L!” Big Guy squeaked.
“That’s a name…hell! Here…amuse yourself”

And Lucifer went to paint a signboard.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When I got tagged in the 55-word story thing, I thought “Oh, help”. Having managed a couple though, I’m hooked….it is tremendously satisfying…just the sort of creative challenge I was looking for. Since I’ve already tagged people, I’ll leave this open to whoever wants to pick it up. You know the rules..have fun!

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