Anupama Ma's Reviews > Shikhandi and Other Stories They Don't Tell You

Shikhandi and Other Stories They Don't Tell You by Devdutt Pattanaik
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really liked it

This may be politically incorrect, multi-religiously blasphemous and all that jazz, but seriously what were our ancients smoking? It takes truly brilliant minds to come up with such fascinatingly kinky, twisted stories, attribute it all to gods and goddesses and have centuries of humankind unquestioningly believe in them . To be safe, let me clarify that I say this in a positive sense.

'Queer' is a term I absolutely detest, because the very definition of the word defeats the purpose of creating an all inclusive, tolerant society. I don't know if the purpose of this book was to say that 'queerness' has the blessings of the gods, be it Hindu, Roman, Greek, Assyrian or Egyptian. Or whether it is to convince the upholders of present day morality to look within before they judge. Or to say that it has existed over several millennia so let's not be hypocrites about it. Or to say it happens, deal with it. Or whether it is just another book on Indian mythology for contemporary readers. But I've loved every one of Devdutt Pattanaik's books and I did like this one too.

Most of these stories aren't new to me. I've known many of them since I was a child, thanks to Amar Chitra Katha. But reading them again through adult eyes and from the perspective of 'queerness' is what makes this almost mindblowing. Take Karthikeya for instance. From ACK, all I remember was babies born through a spark from Shiva's head, floating in a river and six beautiful celestial mothers adopting them. These babies then go on to become one baby and is the much loved, much revered god. A heartwarming, beautifully illustrated tale. But now, reading about it from this 'queer' angle, I'm sorry to say, I find his actual conception (if you can call it that) plain creepy. Shiva shoots his seed into the mouth of Agni, it is cooled by Vayu, it goes on to impregnate all the male Devas, then finds its way into the wombs of six totally clueless women who are so angry that they discard the foetus in the river. The baby(ies) survives inspite of that, a custody battle follows and in the end we get the god we know and worship as Skanda-Karthikeya-Muruga . How crazy is that.

The last time I read about Aravan, after maybe an ACK comic, was in Devdutt Pattanaik's Jaya. All I felt then was anger towards Arjuna for being so callous and unfeeling about his own son, one whom he didn't even remember and was ready to sacrifice. I was irritated with the son of Uloopi and Arjuna for wanting to help the father who had no clue about who he was. And the unfairness of it all. But I didn't give much thought to the queer angle of this tale. And the lesser said about what I think of Krishna the better.

There are thirty such stories in this book, twisted stories, stories of gods and men being castrated for showing restraint, for not showing restraint; men turning into women, women turning into men; deer eating seed and giving birth to humans with antlers; crossdressing gods, sons of gods and mere mortals; men taking the form of animals and sneaking into unwilling women's beds; Bhagirath ,whose very name means what it means, born to two women; men giving birth to men, men giving birth to women, men giving birth to iron maces. There are also tales from Rome, Greece, Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and other ancient civilizations where Things happened.

Maybe these stories started off with the good intention of encouraging ancient societies to embrace all kinds of people. Or maybe these stories were all made up by cunning men to justify their kinks. (I won't say women, it was a male dominated society) Or maybe these stories were just versions of pr0n or fantasy fiction back then.

But whatever it was meant to be, then and now, this book left me totally mindfucked. And looks like that was one bodypart that our gods or our ancestors didn't actually do.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
August 2, 2014 – Finished Reading
August 3, 2014 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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message 1: by Kuldeep (new) - added it

Kuldeep Singh That's one of the boldest reviews I've ever read!

message 2: by Kuldeep (new) - added it

Kuldeep Singh That's one of the boldest reviews I've ever read!

Anupama Ma Kuldeep wrote: "That's one of the boldest reviews I've ever read!"

:) I had to say what I had to say

Nithesh The last line - Hahaha. BTW this is @mlessp

message 5: by Paullomi (new)

Paullomi Haha I loved the review! You spoke my mind regards certain well publicised and loved characters of the Mahabharata.

message 6: by Shravanthi (new) - added it

Shravanthi I thought I'd buy this book to get clarity on the various stories and sexuality in Myths that I haven't understood. But looks like this book only adds to the confusion (and grossness) of the stories.

message 7: by Hasya (last edited Apr 07, 2017 05:43AM) (new)

Hasya Kavi It seems M. Karunanidhi went nuts deciphering these myths and wrote Confessions of a Dustbin. I was about to go nuts too when I somehow got hold of Parables. I think it will give you an idea of how to...well...not to see these myths as mere sexual fantasies or even liberality.

By the way, you are an excellent reviewer.

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