7 Secrets Of Shiva
by Devdutt Pattanaik
* * * * * / 5
The Greatest God Made Accessible
Shiva is a God that has truly transcended time and space. He is Mahadeva - greatest of Gods. His legends exist and have survived since eons ago. This book is a treat for all who find mythologies and ancient legends fascinating. In the must-read introduction, the author Devdutt explains his approach. A reconcilliation between East and West. He mentions how Western scholars look at Hindu mythology through the lens of western thought and philosophy, often referring to Western stream of understanding and analysis. And Indians are shy of the explicit exploits of their Gods, a result of Victorian colonial propriety. In this book Devdutt explores the myth through research of Vedas, Puranas, legends and temples. He goes to the basic philosophy of Hinduism to explain and interpret the mythology in its more accurate meaning.
For example, there are many Gods in Hindu mythology and many demons and a heaven and hell, but there is no equivalent of Satan. Lord Shiva is an ascetic and he also is a householder. He is worshiped in these 2 forms as well as a host of other forms - angry Rudra, united Ardhanareshwara, simpleton Bholenath, vengeful Kaal Bhairava, etc. So not only do we have more than one God, the God's themselves have myriad versions and avatars.
Shiva is eternal with no beginning and no end, he is infinite, no before no after, he grants boons and blessings to all who worship him. So even demons pray to him for benefiting from his benevolence. This is a unique thought process of a God who differentiates between no one and nothing. He has angry form, he has a compassionate form, he is a lover and husband, he is a father too, and he is formless divine. He can revive the dead, he can take away all fear of death. He provides for all his devotees and protects them from predation.
This book is insightful and at the same time simplified text of the vast pantheon and rich ancient culture of India. I was hooked from page one and read it within 2 days. It pulls you in with indepth interpretation of symbols, stories and rituals. It is a must have for any beginner or professional who wishes to unravel the mysteries of Shiva and understand Hindu thought process. Apart from all this there are many images from paintings and temples and excavations and sculptures that illustrate the book along with the image's descriptions.
Other books by Devdutt I look forward to reading are "7 Secrets of Vishnu" and "Myth = Mithya". Hope these books entertain and educate you all and brings understanding and order out of chaos.