I recently finished reading ‘Jaya’ by Devdutt Pattanaik.
Ever since I have been introduced to Mr. Pattanaik’s writings by a dear friend, I’ve been hooked to them. I don’t think that all of it that he writes is true and a fact. Of course, there are lot of things which are ‘his’ interpretations of the scriptures, of the facts. But, the thing I like is, that he has tried to gather the facts. And, he puts them down in a very simple, lay-man language way. He brings to fore, our daily life issues and puts them in perspective with the ancient scriptures.
I’ve never believed that the Hindu scriptures are mere epics, or myths. The Ramayana, The Mahabharata. I think there is enough evidence around us to prove that they did happen. Some of it, we may feel, is impossible to happen practically. But, then it was also impractical/impossible to speak to someone living 1000 miles away, till 50 years ago. Then, Man invented telephone and it’s no more impossible. So, I think it could very well be that we don’t have the understanding or knowledge of the technique, as of now, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen some day. Pushpak Vimaan, Arrows killing thousands in one go…think about it. They are no more impossible even today.
The epic has lots of stories, lot of characters, and lot many angles. Understanding, or even comprehending each one is a feat in its own way. The book picks each one, tells you the story, and then gives you a brief of the various sources and the various versions of the story that exist in our culture, in different parts of India. It highlights the points of importance. What to infer and what to observe in the story. Just like studying a case study. Understanding people of that times. Understanding their culture, their times and their circumstances. It makes you appreciate your ancestors, and realize your own potential in its own way.
The women of that time, which we’ve been commonly told as homely, and subservient, have been portrayed as the major players in the book. They are not just spectators to events, neither they are objects used for gaining more political power. It’s explained how these women brought about the major decisions which turned the course of history. e.g Bhishma’s father’s second wife, Guru Vyasa’s mother Satyavati.
The book has a lot to offer. And, I’m sure reading it again will bring something new to me. There are things which I don’t accept in the book, but then no one person can offer the complete truth. So, the quest would always continue till you find your own. But, till then, a good read, and a nice perspective.