courtesy internet
courtesy internet

THE PREGNANT KING

Author       Dr.Devdutt Pattnaik.

Publisher   Penguin Book India

ISBN          978-0-143-04347-6

Genre         fiction.

Dr.Pattnaik might have had an audience in mind, for me this is a book that said here is a story; you will get just what you are meant to get. Nothing more nothing less.

Dr.Devdutt Pattnaik who is a known name in re-interpreting the mythology is the author of the book   the pregnant king.

In the author’s note the author claims that the story has been narrated twice in the- Puranas. He has accepted that he his retelling is fictional when it comes to time line. Dr.Pattnaik has woven many lesser known myths in the manner of a bhagvat Purana to get us to ponder on points provided we can actually look beyond the story.  We tend to overlook the importance of the Bards; they were the historians and memory keepers of the society.

To me the focus of the book was to bring to the world the story of the transgender along with the philosophy of understanding the concept of sthira and chanchal or the unchanging and changeable of Hindu philosophy. The tale of the creation of the transgender the myth of the curse that they carry along with the gift that they are bestowed with is used.

Of course for those who are fed on the conventional Mahabharata lot of points maybe a little difficult to assimilate? For example King of Dhrupad, asking for a son who will kill Drona-acharya and a daughter who will destroy the Kuru begets Shikhandi first and gets Drishtadyumna and Draupadi only after Yajnic intervention later.

Everyone is familiar with sixteen feminine symbols that advertise erotic, but Dr.Pattnaik talks of fourteen masculine symbols

Dr.Pattnaik puts forth the question that contemporary religious leaders fail to address, that is who should rule the Kingdom the people who gambled their kingdom away or the people who could not keep their word.

I have heard many interpretations of the ajnathavasa, but here was the most apt, the Pandavas gambled their identity away. Dr.Pattnaik also dares to speculate over the Uttara-Arjuna situation which is very conveniently brushed aside by the conventional thinkers. The fact that Uttara lived with Arjuna for a year would reduce her bride price, so Virata offers Uttara to Arjuna, though the reason for Arjuna making her his daughter-in-law somehow is not very convincing.

The varnashrama is also quite well presented where the vanaprashta is about returning to the community as teachers while sansyasa was about detaching oneself from the society.

bahuchari maa image courtesy internet
bahuchari maa image courtesy internet

Another very interesting observation the connect of Kama and Yama. Yama the Lord of destiny and Kama the lord of desire create the moment just the way it should be. Also that Kama’s arrow makes one cling while Yama’s noose loosens your grip. He presents two aspects of success through the characters of Mandhata and Jayanta. Mandhata the detached measured, and dispassionate would make a great king he is the embodiment of Yama. While the outgoing Jayanta who is able to accept people for who they with their flaws, he is cheerful, enthusiastic and sensitive he makes a chakravarthi of the people. The man who people love to follow.

Dr.Pattanik makes very shrewd observations; one is that it is assumed that women are incorruptible while the truth is women are as susceptible to corruption as men it is just that they are conditioned to deny its existence. Once this denial is over come then women more ruthless than men.

The duality of Shiva-Shankar, where Shiva is the withdrawn inwards driven energy and when the same detached energy engages the world he becomes Shankar.

Another very interesting point of view shared by Dr.Pattnaik is that each time we consult a doctor, an astrologer a geomancer or sorcerer to change destiny we are challenging the destiny. My own observation is that we go to any of the above only when destiny means to deviate from the logical path.

Through the book Dr.Pattnaik guides us to understanding the male and female, the stira and chancala, the world and its duality the fact that we state something is natural in itself is arrogance of mankind that we understand for everything has more than what the eye can see.

As he aptly puts it scriptures are about acceptance, the duality, the constant and the changing. It is about finding the constant and accepting the changing. It is about masculinity representing finding the constant without, and femininity is about accepting the changing within. There is no single truth; the truth is when one truth is accepted the other is rejected.

Image courtesy internet
Image courtesy internet

Myths Used

  • The off springs of the Yajnaseni’s like Shikandi, Draupadi and Drishtadyumna.
  • The Ileshwara tradition.
  • The myth of Bhangavansha.
  • The legend of lajja gauri.
  • The legend of Iravana
  • The Myth of Bachari Devi
  • The legend of the birth of Vali—Sugriva

About The Author — http://devdutt.com/

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5 thoughts on “Delivering a Myth –book review

  1. I read long back. Its one of his few books I liked. Of course, he did go ballistic in his anti-Arjun tirades, but he always does that.
    Your review pinpoints quite many fascinating finer aspects which I never noted. Hmm, need to re-read it someday.

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