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Mother, writer and daydreamer. Also chocoholic and chick-flick lover. But mainly mommy. To two boys, at that! When not escorting my Elder One (EO) to karate class, I'm trying to get in as many cuddles as possible from my Younger One (YO). And when not doing either, I'm hard-at-work trying to maintain a steady relationship with my laptop. And as for the Man I Married (MIM), well, let’s just put it this way – even though we share a bedroom, our most meaningful conversations are held over the cell-phone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Review: Devdutt Pattanaik's "7 Secrets of Vishnu"

When you are asked to review a book by one of your favourite authors, and that too, on a subject that you have been passionate about ever since you have been a little kid, then the task at hand can only be a pleasant one. Well, that is exactly what reviewing Devdutt Pattanaik’s “7 Secrets of Vishnu” was for me. I have been an avid mythology buff ever since I can remember and the passion has only intensified with time.

I have been reading Devdutt Pattanaik’s work for quite a while now. Not just me, in fact, but my eight-year-old son as well, who is a fan of Pattanaik’s “Adventures in Devlok” series.

The Hindu trinity, as we all know, comprises of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. The symbols and rituals connected to Each One are markedly different. And why not? It stands to reason as They represent different levels of consciousness. They do not look like Each Other, nor do They behave similarly and They perform different duties. Pattanaik’s “7 Secrets of Vishnu” attempts to help the reader decipher the symbology and unlock the secrets behind the stories and rituals associated with Lord Vishnu.

Through the stories of Vishnu, complex Hindu ideologies and philosophies have been communicated in an easy to read manner. Issues that we have always wondered about have been addressed beautifully by the author. Like, for example, why are the Devas and Asuras, both the offspring of Brahma, always at war? The saga of the never-ending battles between the Devas and the Asuras bring to light the emotional turmoil faced by both; the Devas also represent insecurity while the Asuras embody ambition and thus the constant state of unrest.

The book takes us through the various avatars assumed by Him on Earth. Divided into seven chapters, each one helps us in understanding key concepts and in delving into the mysteries of the Divine. I learnt so many new things from each of these chapters, which is always very exciting. For example, I learnt about Alakshmi, the Sister of Lakshmi who accompanies her Sister wherever She goes and She represents strife. The entire passage about how Lakshmi arose from amrit and Alakshmi from halahala – brilliant! Also the gem about how Shukracharya, guru to the Asuras, lost an eye when Vishnu descended to Earth as Vamana, the Brahmin dwarf, was a new story for me to imbibe and marvel over. The absolute crowning jewel for me was how Pattanaik beautifully explained that Luv-Kush’s victory over their father showed that dharma rests with Sita and not Ayodhya! Brilliant! As one who has always been furious over the treatment meted out to Sita in the epic, this one statement was a fist-pumping hurrah! moment. Yes, it has been explained time and again that Ram put his kingly duties above his personal needs, but that only serves to make him the Perfect King, not the Perfect Man.

The photographs of ancient artwork and temple sculptures help bring the book alive, especially with their little bubbles of explanation. Colour photography would have been greatly appreciated, of course, but that’s nitpicking. An index would also have been of great use, and I strongly suggest the publishers think of adding one in the next edition.

All in all, a great read and one I would urge all mythology buffs to immediately indulge in!

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at, Participate now to get free books!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Things They Say

We were at MaaJanoni's a few nights back. The boys were spending the night with her while I was going out for a night on the town. MaaJanoni was busy getting them ready for bed and getting them all powdered and fresh and cosy. Suddenly, the little guy looks up at her and says, "Manuku, tumi aabaar biyey koro naa keno?" (Manuku, why don't you get married again?)
I nearly dropped my eye-liner and turned around flabbergasted. Where did he get that idea from? What would MaaJanoni have to say?
She took a few seconds to recover and said, "Keno shona? Tumi toh aachho aamaar jonnyo." (But why my darling, you're there for me.)
EO: Naa. Tumi aabaar biyey koro. (No. You get married again.)
Maa: Kintu, aami jaakei biyey kori naa keno, shey toh buro hobey. (But no matter who I marry, that person will be an old man, naa.)
EO: Tumi biyey korley, aami okey Daduku boltey paarbo. (If you get married, I can have someone to call Daduku again.)

This exchange broke my heart for a million different reasons. First of all, the mere thought of someone replacing my beloved DaddyDearest was too painful to even contemplate. Secondly, MaaJanoni with someone else...even though I know it wasn't a match made in heaven, but still...someone else? And then, was my little boy afraid of losing whatever precious few memories he had of his grandfather that he thought a replacement would make it better? Was he so replaceable in my young son's mind? Was my father already just a mere thought in his memories?

I was a very sad and lost little girl that night.

And then, a couple of nights later, at a friend's beautiful farm-house in Shanti Niketan, we had gathered for an evening of fun and barbeque. The night sky was plastered with a zillion stars and it really was the most mesmerising, meditative and tranquil sight. Suddenly, breaking my world of calm and silence was my YO's voice, full of happy excitement: "Look, look! See? That brightest star there is my Daduku."

Of course I cried. All was right with my world again.
The other day, the MIM put on a slide show of the boys' photographs from the time the EO was four-years-old and the YO was a year old. The pictures were a melange of first day at school snaps, fancy dress snaps, picnic snaps and what-have-you. The boys giggled and squealed and recounted certain memories...their eyes shining big and bright. When it was over, my EO sagely remarked, "Oh how I miss those days!"

Oh how I laughed!

The YO then pulled at my sleeve and said he wanted to see the slide show again. I got comfy next to him and kept going 'oooh!' and 'aaaah!' and 'oh so sweet!' I finally said, "Oooof! Just look at my little babies! How sweet they were! Now they've grown sooooo big! Who will be my baby now?"

My adorable little boy just looked at me and said, "Sorry, Mamma."

I think I almost fell off the bed. I looked at him and simply (and stupidly, I might add) asked, "But why, my shona."

And he just simply and sweetly replied, "For growing up and becoming shooooo big. That'sh why."