When I read Devdutt Patnaik first time through “Shiva to Shankara”, I was completely blown over by his interpretation and understanding of the Hindu culture. I understood that as the ancient people, what we follow is not a religion but is a “Way of Life”. No wonder, immediately after that what I got on my book shelf was another profound work of his, “Myth = Mithya”. The book is one of the finest efforts to distinguish between the Myths and False notions from the popular Hindu culture. For a start, after reading the book, I now know the logical reasoning behind celebrating “Nagapanchmi”….:)
This book decodes the complex Hindu mythology and rituals, introduces the myths and then goes on to narrate the tales from Puranas and Upanishads. Hindus believe there is one God (with a capital G) for nearly 330 million gods for every caste, profession, village and even for your specific household.
The book is full of little insights and observations. For instance if the open palms of the god or goddess is pointing towards the earth, then the mortals are being granted prosperity. If the open palm points to the sky, the mortals are being given reassurance. The book would help you understand the questions that have been crawling in your head ever since you heard the mystical stories about the gods from your grandparents. A few examples are:
Why the villainous Kauravas went to heaven and the virtuous Pandavas (all except Yudhishtira) were sent to hell;
Why Rama despite abandoning the innocent Sita remains the model king;
Why the blood-drinking Kali is another form of the milk-giving Gauri;
why Shiva wrenched off the fifth head of Brahma;
Difference between Rishi and Yogi;
The book opened my eyes to a whole new world and made me dig deeper and explore for the reasons behind a lot of things we say and do that are linked with god and religion in our daily lives. Anybody interested in Hindu mythology, grab one copy.