Nine Lives: A Short Book Review

For a lot of us who grew up in the 90s, religion was a big part of our lives. This was the time of Amar Chitra Katha’s graphic novels, and televised versions of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Over the years however, I’ve stayed away from writing about religion, and the quagmire of politics that goes with it, for obvious reasons. But William Dalrymple’s Nine Lives is a case study on how to write without the fear of criticism and controversy. Continue reading

Kutte… Kaminey…

Devdutt Pattanaik’s retelling of the Mahabharata‬ (Jaya) makes an interesting observation about dogs and why they’re considered inauspicious in Hindu‬ culture. There are (at least) two instances in the epic where dogs are shown in poor light – when a dog steals Yudhisthir’s footwear from outside Draupadi’s chambers and when a dog follows Yudhisthir on his ascent to the heavens. The first because it led Arjuna to violate the arrangement the Pandavas had with Draupadi. And the second because it was symbolic of attachment and stood for all that was worldly. And perhaps the reason why ‘kutte’ is still bandied about as an expletive is because this epic – along with its counterpart from an earlier age – has shaped our thought and behavior for centuries. Perhaps it is time we questioned our literal interpretation of these stories (as Devdutta Pattanaik points out in an article from 2009) for our fight against our chauvinistic minds is not just about changing our attitude towards women and issues like homosexuality but also animals.