Devdutt Pattanaik,
Indian Mythology:
Tales, Symbols & Rituals from the
Heart of the Subcontinent

(Inner Traditions, 2003)

When you get your copy of Indian Mythology, open it to one of the two colored photograph/plate sections and feast your eyes on these magnificent items of folklore in India. If you have a magnifying glass, you will undoubtedly become so caught up in these pictures that an hour will seem like five minutes.

The next thing that will catch your attention is the unusually high number of tables and charts in this book. I loved the way I could quickly find information in these and the way the author has reduced the complexity of the topics to phrases that fit into these tables. He takes things to the basic level and presents them in a way that is easy to understand.

Once you have completed your visual inspection of the book, you begin a rare journey into the world of the mythology of India. I used the word "rare" because there are few books that I have found that explain the myths and folklore in a way that westerners can readily comprehend. I have often been left confused about the entities and their appearances. This book eliminated all the confusion and allowed me to enjoy -- and understand -- these tales in a way that I never have.

I cannot praise this book highly enough. Pattanaik is a gifted teacher and writer. He has a knack for wading right through the obscure and transforming it into something concrete. His analysis and explanations of the myths and folktales provide the reader with common situations that are normally encountered in everyday living. The average reader will find many things to identify with in these tales.

If you are seeking a book that provides entertaining myths and folklore, this one has an abundance. The author also offers his own interpretation and analysis of the tales, showing how they translate into modern lessons for life.

Devdutt Pattanaik is a medical doctor who gave up his clinical practice to pursue his greatest interest in life, the mythology and folklore of India. He is the author of The Goddess in India and works that introduce Vishnu, Shiva and Devi. He freelances as a health communicator and lectures on Hindu rituals, philosophy, art and narratives.

Indian Mythology is a superb book. If you have any interest in mythology, folklore or Indian culture, be sure to order a copy for your personal reference library. It is not a book to be quickly scanned, but slowly digested. Plan to spend several hours with this one.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 25 April 2004

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