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Book Reviews

Shikhandi – my review

For an author embracing populism as a newly-minted TV personality, this is a bold premise indeed. But then I always find Devdutt Pattanaik much more adventurous and open in his books compared to his TV avatar.

“Shikhandi: and other tales they don’t tell you” is a book focussed on alternate sexuality – the queerness, the fluidity of gender, the acceptance of the “not normal”: from eunuchs to same-sex relationships suggestive of homosexuality to gender changing gods, Pattanaik covers a lot of territory. Shikhandi, of course, is the most well known of these stories, coming as it does from the Mahabharat; most others would be quiet unknown to a majority of readers. From sources as diverse as the Puraans to folk-tales, Pattanaik takes a delightful romp across India; picking up tales that seem curiously at ease with gender-fluidity, quasi-homosexuality, and other “irregularities” that have modern religious fundamentalists frothing at the mouth.

True there are some stories where it is quite a stretch to believe the point Devdutt tries to make, but overall it is a charming read and argues for a much more inclusive, open-minded, and accepting culture than the one we live in at present.


About hbhatnagar

I need to fill this up with much better content than I had populated it with earlier. Why I write a blog maybe? I started blogging in 2009 or thereabouts. I was a newly turned atheist and wanted to converse with others of the same persuasion. We're not exactly a big population group in India! It didn't go very well and I sort of lost interest, posting a few things now and then. I got a lot more regular over the last few months and have been posting almost daily since February '15. I was, and am suffering from depression and things had gotten out of control. I had chronicled it in my posts, but I have removed them. Not because I wanted to hide that facet of my life; if that were the case, I wouldn't be writing this. But I was lucky to come across many, many wonderful people out here who helped me. Even if it was just to post and tell me I wasn't alone. I can't tell you how thankful I am for all of you. I've tried since, to tell my own story as an attempt at catharsis (didn't work) and as a means of telling others that they weren't alone either, not in their depression, nor in their cutting or burning, nor in their thoughts of and attempts at suicide. So this blog has taken shape, being at different points in time my showcase, my comedy club, my art gallery, my book club, my therapist, my close friend, my innermost dark self....but always my little corner of the world. You are all welcome to visit and I hope you stay awhile! A few points about me because I don't want to lead anyone on. I'm Indian, the brown-skinned variety; if race, ethnicity or skin colour is an issue, you don't have to get to know me any more than what you see on my blog. I'm 40, so if age is an issue, please be informed accordingly. I was a doctor, an ophthalmic surgeon for 10 years before I quit practice. I am a depressive, have been for some time, so some things do trigger me for no rhyme or reason; I don't expect anyone to understand that this happens, just maybe accept that it does. If not, I am sorry.


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