Book Review: 7 Secrets of Shiva by Devdutt Pattanaik

Here’s my take on 7 Secrets of Shiva by Devdutt Pattanaik.

Front Cover - 7 Secrets of Shiva by Devdutt Pattanaik

BLURB

Shiva, ‘the destroyer’ among the Hindu trinity (of gods), is depicted in many contradictory manners. He is an ascetic who wears animal skin, his body smeared with ashes.

Contradictory to his wild nature, he is also depicted as having a family, with a beautiful wife and two children.

There are many more such varied representations of Shiva, the most prominent of these being the Linga and the Nataraja. The author, Devdutt Pattanaik, introduces the readers to these varied aspects and representations, and then sets about interpreting them. He explains the
different anomalies and conflicts in beliefs, as well as the symbolism, rituals and reasons behind Hindu worship.

REVIEW

7 Secrets of Shiva by Devdutt Pattanaik deals with various tales of Lord Shiva. 

The book is divided into seven parts. Each of the seven parts narrates different stories about Lord Shiva. 

What is the meaning of Shiva-ling? Why is he referred as fearless and the destroyer? How once a hermit Shiva turns into a householder Shankar? Indulge yourself in some fascinating tales by reading this book.

Ideas come and go. Societies rise and fall. But new life is always being created. Thus nothing ends forever. There is always a new beginning.’

Coming to the review, let’s dive into what 7 Secrets of Shiva holds. Lord Shiva is one of the most mysterious Gods of Hindu mythology. From time to time we have read various tales about his bravery, fearlessness, etc. in different books. Some books are presented to us in fictional forms while others were a work of nonfiction – like this very book.

Lord Shiva is known by various names such as Shankar, Bholenath, Pashupati, Kaal Bhairav, Natraaj, etc. In this book, the author has revealed different stories using various incidents of how or why he got those names.

Devdutt Pattanaik has used various images throughout the book to give readers detailed and clear descriptions. Use of images was an interesting idea which made reading more engaging.

This was my second book on Lord Shiva. The first book was fiction thus making my reads distinct. This book gave me a detailed insight into God, even though mythologies are mostly based on theories and it depends upon one whether to believe it or not.

Mockup - 7 Secrets of Shiva by Devdutt Pattanaik

I really like the theories put up by Devdutt Pattanaik and often accompanied by images to support them.

‘If people around us behave like deer, it means we are behaving like lions. If people around us behave like lions, it means they see us as deer. If people around us behave like dogs, friendly or hostile, it means we matter to them.’

The author, through his book, tries to explain human behavior and why humans behave in a certain way they behave. Every human is unique and so is their imagination which gives rise to different bhrahmand‘s.

‘One needs two eyes, one that selects and the other that rejects. When both eyes are shut it means nothing is selected or rejected, nothing is approved or disapproved, nothing is included or excluded. Everything is the same.’

I liked how 7 Secrets of Shiva gives deeper meaning to life. It reflects upon the humans’ fears and why they exist.

I would like to give this book 3.5 stars out of 5.

Since the book is a work of nonfiction, at some places I found the book a bit slow and repetitive. Along with this, few things were confusing probably because the events were not in a chronological order.

Lord Shiva’s stories are not time-bound, unlike other Gods’ who took avatars’ throughout various kaal‘s.

‘Shiva stories are located outside time and space.’

So no time and space factors make the events a bit complicated to understand but Devdutt Pattanaik has done his best to make things easier for the readers to understand.

Conclusion

Mythology has always been an interesting genre for me. I haven’t read many books in mythology even though I find the genre interesting. It is hard to find an engaging book which will keep me hooked throughout. If you like to read mythology, you should go for this book. It has some really fascinating theories.

Tell me which is your favorite mythology book in the comments below.

Saying bye for now with a few lines from the book.

‘Shiva helps us realise that heroes, villains and victims are creations of fear. When fear is destroyed, there is no hero or villain or victim. Shiva, the destroyer, thus offers wisdom to outgrow fear. This is liberation. This is moksha.’

Thanks and regards,

Kashish Agrawal

Also read: Book Review of The Story of a Long-Distance Marriage

7 Secrets of Shiva
The Hindu Trinity
Devdutt Pattanaik
History, Theory & Criticism
1 November 2016
234

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