I for long have been a Hindu mythology lover and an ardent fan of Lord Shiva. Shiva is one of the principle deities in Hindu mythology and part of the supreme trinity of gods who look after the lifecycle of every human being from creation to destruction. Shiva has been idolised as a hermit, a family man and as the ‘linga’ which is Omni present and formless. I have always found his persona so intriguing that I often used to read anything and everything on him. During my pursuit, one fine day, I stumbled upon this book by Dr Devdutt Patnaik. Believe me, most of my questions seem to have been answered. Curious on what questions I had, well to start with a few:

Why do we see pictures of Lord Shankar worshipping the Shiva Linga?

Why would a god worship his own symbol?

Why do we address him as ‘Bhole Shankar’ and not ‘Bhole Shiva’?

Why do we always use ‘Shiv Parvathi’ and not ‘Shankar Parvathi’?

Why is Shankar always pictured with the goddess and his sons around him?

How can someone  who is depicted as the destroyer have a family and create life by having kids?

How can someone live life with such different personalities wherein one is a hermit, unassociated with any worldly possessions, surrounded by serpents, covered in ash, smoking weed, While the other playing with his son, caressing his wife?

Who is the destroyer – Shiva or Shankar?

How is it that we find it difficult to picture anyone with the name ‘Shiva’ to be easy going and fun loving, while ‘Shankar’ to be ‘aggressive’?

Intrigued, aren’t you?? Well, my journey through the book has been as vivid and exploratory as the questions above are. The most beautiful part is that it’s not a Q&A book, rather it has it’s own breezy flow of the narrative amazingly beaded through the moments and events from the intricate world of the old mythical world.

The book begins describing the true nature of Lord Shiva as the Supreme god through some long forgotten facts. Then it slowly builds on the events that would eventually give rise to Shankar, which is like another personality of the same person. Apart from mythology, what this book provides is a tale of how even a god transforms himself to fulfil his destiny.

It explains the true meaning of Shiva the destroyer, ambiguity in the symbol of mahadeva and the difference between Shiva and Vishnu. Shiva is described as the master of all art science, dance, yoga, Tantra etc.
Though quite close to ‘The 7 secrets of Lord Shiva’ by the same author, this book unravels some mystics surrounding Shiva. It defuses the argument around the “erotic ascetic” brought out by his image of the Lord of Phallus. There is a lot to know and understand and this book gives you the direct peep into all that wisdom. It takes you through the journey of Lord Shiva from Shiva, The Hermit to Shankar, The Householder. By the end of the book, one understands the idea for evolution of life from being carefree like Shiva to the more responsible like Shankar.

One of my favourites, I recommend this book to everyone of any age who has even slightest interest in Hindu Mythology. Believe me, lots of things which never made sense to you will suddenly seem to be very logical. It is as if you have been bestowed with a new perspective, the third eye 🙂

SS (Saurabh Sahni)

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