Books about mythology and inspired by mythology (and especially Indian mythology) are quite interesting to read.
Queerness isn’t only modern, Western or sexual, says mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik. Take a close look at the vast written and oral traditions in Hinduism, some over two thousand years old, and you will find many overlooked tales, such as those of Shikhandi, who became a man to satisfy her wife; Mahadeva, who became a woman to deliver his devotee’s child; Chudala, who became a man to enlighten her husband; Samavan, who became the wife of his male friend; and many more . .
There are so many tales unheard of and so many tales that I’ve been told by my grandmother while growing up. This book’s titular character was familiar, so I picked it up, but I was happy to discover and read some stories for the first time.
Be it the life of Shikhandi or the wisdom of Chudala, this book kept me intrigued. I was pleasantly surprised to know there’s a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva as Thayumanaswami. I remember reading about Sumedhas and Samavan earlier too, as well as Rishyashrunga.
If the familiarity of tales from mythology is a positive, the author’s thoughts and explanations about the particular story at times become a bonus. Some are very interesting to follow. The introduction to the book felt a bit too detailed, but it was nice to read about queerness in different mythology from around the world.
This is definitely a book to read again.
Title: Shikhandi, and Other Stories They Don’t Tell You
Author: Devdutt Pattanaik
No. of Pages: 196
Publisher: Penguin Books
Rating: 8 out of 10