Devdutt Pattanaik has a cult following and when he took the Algebra stage, it was immediately apparent why.
It’s impossible to corral the myths in an hour-long conversation – and equally impossible to recap in a short email – but starting with Hanuman, the subject of his newest book, Devdutt wove a spell on the audience as he talked karma and dharma; vivaad and samvaad; and how our ways of seeing our own myths and mythical characters are limited by the western frameworks we have so unknowingly adopted.
He pointed out that the hero-villain narrative was a Greek framework; the leader-follower structure a Biblical one. Yet, we view our own myths – from Ram and Hanuman, to Arjun-Krishna, and more, through these frameworks, when our myths offer a multiplicity of ways of seeing far more complex, more nuanced, and with a third lens: that of taking responsibility, and accepting the consequences of our actions. In the Hindu scheme of myth, he said, “God is an accountant, making entries in the ledger.”
There were insights into choice, framed through the lens of Indra, Shiva and Vishnu; into karma, which he sees not as the disabling ‘fatalism’, but as the enabling ‘taking responsibility’, and much else, but for that – watch the full session above.
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