Devdutt Pattanaik is my favourite go to source for all things mythology and spiritual. I am a Hindu and like all other Hindus in my family, you will never find me belting out bhajans or having a ‘havan’ or ‘mata ki chowki’ in my house. I also have never undertaken a fast for any of the myriad reasons as my parents taught me to accept food and consider yourself blessed. As Keralites, we are so devoid of rituals that some think we are atheists. But, atheists we are not. We follow Hinduism as a way of life. I have never enforced my religion on my children. I want them to discover it on their own. But, they do follow the Hindu way of life believing in Karma, questioning everything around them, reasoning it and subtly changing our way of thinking. So, I was intrigued by the book ‘Faith : 40 insights into Hinduism’.
Sometime back, there was a program on Epic channel called ‘Devlok with Devdutt Pattanaik’ which was a Q&A session with the host. I loved watching it but found it bit difficult to retain all the details given by Devdutt. So, getting the questions in the book and looking up the answers is very interesting. The author has answered some very relevant questions and highlighted the hypocrisy of our own Hindutva brigade. Every query is answered with reference to the Vedas, Upanishads, the Puranams. No one can accuse Mr. Pattanaik as being biased.
The book is broadly split into questions on Belief, Customs, Scriptures, History. Here are some of the questions he has answered , ‘Can i be a Hindu and still an atheist?’ ‘Is Buddha an avatar of Vishnu?’ ‘Why are Hindus so ritualistic?’ to current questions like ‘Why do Hindus worship cows?’ The last question had torn me as we do not worship the cow and yet I am a Hindu.
The book ends with a light question ‘Is the samosa Indian or Vedic?’ The author explains that the samosa has come from the Middle East and used to contain meat. But, to Indianise it, the meat is replaced with potatoes. But, the potatoes are not of Indian origin, they are Portuguese. Can we imagine any of our dishes without the ubiquitous potato? He says, similar to the samosas, Hinduism has accepted many outside influences and made it its own, so much that you cannot even tell the difference between Indian and foreign.
Its an interesting read. If you have read Devdutt Pattanaik’s earlier books like Jaya, Myth and Mithya, his collection of Queer stories, Pregnant King, then you will surely enjoy reading this book. Also if you want to understand Hinduism a bit deeper, this is the book.
Thank you Harper Collins India for the review copy.