Book Review: 7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art

Hindu Calendar Art is something that we all have around our house, but never focus on. Our parents use it to see the auspicious dates and fasting days, and they keep on lying hanging either behind the door or in front of the window. But then, you can always trust Devdutt Pattanaik’s amazing skills to decode mythology and art. In 7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art, Devdutt Pattanaik decodes this tool of democratic expression that was once hidden behind temple walls and palm leaves and is now available to masses, each of them tweaking and making this art more beautiful.

Hindu Mythology has millions of deities from different regions, like pieces of a Jigsaw Puzzle. Once you join the pictures, it all comes around to these three- Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh. The three pillars of Hindu mythology, who took numerous of avatars to teach men how to live, how to fight and how to live righteously. From Krishna to Hanuman, all the Avatars come around to these three. And they create perfect balance of this crooked world.

In 7 Secrets from the Hindu Calendar Art, Devdutt Pattanaik has picked up images of Gods and Goddesses and has tried to decode them for people like me who only see the whole picture and not the details. And sometimes even when we try to decode, we end up decoding and understanding either in a wrong way or a funny way.

An example from the book, where there is an image of Shiva with his eyes closed, a mendicant draped in animal hide seated in a cave atop a snow-clad mountain. I for one have seen this image thousand times, not just on Calendars but inside the home temple and numerous mythological books that I have read. But when you read Pattanaik’s books, you get to know something more and meaningful out of simple things.

Like, the Third Eye of Shiva represents disdain for desire, the indifference for things that are desirable as well as undesirable. The three horizontal lines on his forehead depict the destruction of the three worlds created by delusion. The rattle drum which Shiva fondly plays is to tame monkeys, which are a symbol of the restless mind. Shiva doesn’t wear any fabric, he is either naked or covered with animal hide. (For obvious reasons now, he cannot be naked!). His half open eyes indicate a hesitant engagement with the worldly matters, which he succumbed to when he married the Goddess.

And just like this, there are stories of Ganesha, Goddess, Krishna and other vibrant mythological characters of Hindus. The Hindu Calendar Art will enchant you when you will keep on deciphering meaning behind symbols and even why a certain God sits in a certain position. Devdutt Pattanaik has managed to enchant me again with 7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art.

I loved the composition of different images, some of them even from different regions of India which I haven’t seen before. When I first received this book I thought that the language might be a bit robotic, but it’s nothing like that. It’s pretty simple and easy to understand. Also, the stories behind each symbol and deity are pretty interesting.

But I do have a very small complaint, the cover is intriguing, but the pictures inside are black and white. I would have loved some color on them to see them more clearly and sharply. But then, Pattanaik’s words and sharp skill is enough to satiate my mythological taste buds. All in all, make sure to pick this beauty up if you are craving for some non-fiction mythological reading.

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