Thursday, 21 August 2014
Brajesh's Review : Shikhandi and Other Tales They Don’t Tell You
Another Devdutt Pattanaik special. By now, I am quite familiar and comfortable with his narration style. This book addresses the controversial issue of queer characters and queerness in Indian mythology. He handles the issue with great objectivity and each story is accompanied with his signature endearing drawings.
"Shikhandi and Other Tales They Don’t Tell You" opens with a lovely quote, which for me summarizes the entire hypocritical approach of modern religions around the LGBT issue. On page 1, the book says “Beware of a land where celibate men decide what is good sex”.
Then, over 170 pages he shares 30 stories which aren’t necessarily a part of the main-stream mythological narrative. While I was aware or some of the stories featuring characters of Shikhandi, Mohini, Aardhnarishwar and Brihanalla. I was happy to discover many a new characters like Makara, Chudala, Gopeshwara, Samaran, Aravan, Sudyumna, Pormannan, Samba, Alli and Pramilla. It was also satisfying to unearth newer stories around familiar characters of Mallinath, Maandhata, Urvashi, Bhagirath and Bahucharaji.
At the end of each story, Devdutt Pattanik gives a one or two page commentary exploring the queer aspects and interpretations of the story. Overall the book comes together beautifully between the story, sketches and commentary.
It is also interesting to note the range of sources from which the book draws the stories from. It doesn’t limit itself to only Vedic and Puranic literature, it also draws from stories from South Indian literature and folk traditions.
I recommend this book to be read by all supporters and opponents of the homosexuality. The last page of the book has a quote from Vedas which leaves the ideal takeaway for any reader. “Vikruti Evam Prakriti” which can be loosely translated as “all things queer are also a part of nature”.
Rating : 3.5 / 5