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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.



One thought on “‘Jaya’

  1. I would like to share a correspondence I had with the author:

    On Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 12:55 PM, wrote:

    Your Email:
    Your Message: I read three of your books, Sita, Jaya, and Mithya. I want to congratulate you on the large amount of details and the nice illustrations. I did not read any reviews of your books. A few doubts rose in my mind.
    What is the projected audience for the books? In the introduction to Jaya you put a cautionary note about explicit sexual content, though the other two books also have similar matter.
    It is not clear which Ramayana or Mahabharata version is followed in the main text. Footnotes in boxed format give very interesting details but the main text source is not clear. Rajaji’s and Kamala Subramaniam’s versions strictly follow Valmiki or Vyasa. Recent tv versions mix material from various sources and give their twists solely for ‘prurient’ and exploitatory purposes and to add insult to injury a disclaimer of any responsibility is shown at the beginning! The beauty of the original Itihasas is that they can incite different reactions and responses from the readers and this resulted in the latter works projecting individual perspectives. An interesting fact that you may already know is that Kamban’s version in tamil underwent a scholarly but critical analysis of the Adikavya called ‘Valmiki’s Truths and Kamban’s Lies’ by Maraimalai Adigal.
    The role played by rishis in almost every birth and the inadequacy of men in general in this matter seems to be overly highlighted in the three books. If the matter is only a question of preserving progeny one can justify as Dharma but in many cases the so-called ascetic is described as more intent on the physical aspect.
    A simple straightforward telling of the story with no explanatory notes and with the beautiful illustrations will serve as a good introduction for the children. A detailed version expanding on the footnotes and explanations with citations to various sources can help research-minded readers.
    Thanks for reading this letter and hope you give some reply.
    Best wishes.
    Your Name: Arun Sekar

    On Tuesday, February 11, 2014 11:38 PM, Devdutt Pattanaik wrote:
    are older texts true, are newer texts false.
    are sanskrit texts true, and regional language false.
    is written word true, and oral false.
    Who decides what is true? you, or an authority?
    answer these questions yourself to yourself and you will find your truth.


    On 13-Feb-2014, at 1:34 am, I wrote:

    > are older texts true, are newer texts false.
    > are newer texts true, are older texts false.
    > what is new and what is old,
    > are sanskrit texts true, and regional language false.
    > are regional languages true, are sankrit texts false,
    > are false or true lie in a language, be it native or foreign,
    > is written word true, and oral false.
    > is spoken word true, and writing is false.
    > Who decides what is true? you, or an authority?
    > Who decides what is false, I, or a non-authority?
    > answer these questions yourself to yourself and you will find your truth.
    > question these questions to myself and seek for falsehood myself.
    > but when I speak out loud, I owe a purpose to my audience.

    To Me
    Today at 5:26 PM
    🙂 your rules my dear

    Sent from my iPhone

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