Shikandi: And Other Tales They Don’t Tell You – Devdutt Pattanaik 5

Shikhandi - Devdutt Pattanaik

“Shikhandi: And other tales they don’t tell you” by Devdutt Pattanaik is a book with its theme around the various aspects of gender. Mr. Pattanaik defines it in detail as “I am a man, I dress like a man and I like men” and the various other combinations with man and woman. The stories are simple and bring to fore the various combinations of masculinity and femininity that we celebrate in India.

The worshipping of Iravana whose consort was Krishna, Arjuna who became Brihhannala, Krishna playing with the Gopis – who were men and women, Krishna sporting the long braid and nose ring and being comfortable with the feminine, Shiva and Vishnu (in the form of Mohini) creating Ayyappan – this book is a treasure of numerous such stories. It brings across the message that masculinity and femininity can be in either the outward appearances or internal thoughts & preferences or both.

This is a book that I would definitely recommend for people who are grappling with the concepts of gender diversity. Gender is not just explored in terms of sexuality but also in terms of the parental relationships – Does the mother love differently than the father? Are emotions related to gender? Does the soul have a gender? Or is gender only physical?

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  1. The book made me feel proud of the fact that I am an Indian. We had such an open culture in the past and the inclusivity of the past is amazing.
  2. The style of organizing the book with the story and the related concepts following it, makes it easy to remember the content.
  3. The stories are from across India – the lesser known stories of the Tayumanaswami from Trichy finds its place here. I have read this story on the walls of the Tayumanaswami temple, but have never read it in a book.
  4. Language is simple and care is taken to bring up controversial concepts in a gentle and factual manner.

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  1. Are there more such stories from the other parts of India to be explored?

Loved knowing what they don’t tell us. And what they don’t tell us also includes how many of these stories are a part of us but we don’t really dissect them with gender as the tool. When we do, it opens up a whole new world.

Loved the book!!!

Book Details:

Title Shikhandi: And other tales they don't tell you
Amazon Paperback
Amazon Kindle Edition
Flipkart Paperback
Flipkart eBook
Editor(s)/Author(s)/Illustrator(s)/Translator(s) Devdutt Pattanaik
Publisher Penguin

About Uma Sundaram

Uma is an avid reader and loves mythology, fiction, Chris Argyris (he is a genre all by himself) and the latest trends in management especially in the area of Learning. She has also written a book called Seetayana - The Untold Journey which has been self-published. She lives in Mumbai with her daughter (the inspiration for a lot of things), husband, mum and mil.

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5 thoughts on “Shikandi: And Other Tales They Don’t Tell You – Devdutt Pattanaik

  • Ravi

    //It brings across the message that masculinity and femininity can be in either the outward appearances or internal thoughts & preferences or both.//

    Even though masculinity and femininity are measured by the appearances, internal thoughts and preferences,the type of duty an individual takes responsibility for, for the survival of their family is the basic reason, why evolution made these differences.

    // Are there more such stories from the other parts of India to be explored?//
    Is it not a glaring truth?? Many untold, explosive version of stories lie in Bheel version of Mahabaratha,the Adivasi people of Central India.

    Interesting review.

  • Ravi

    Glad to,

    All these differences did not pop up in a single day. What we are now today is the result of the millions of years hard work of evolution. Every thing what we are now today has a purpose. Every thing started at a single point and evolved based on the requirement. Among species male,female classifications happened so that life in this planet can carry on further.

    Females had no choice but produce off-springs and to take care of them.No much physical work which made them bit weaker than males and to take care of their children which made them gentle and soft.
    Males on the other hand need to take care of their family, go for hunting, find food, climb trees which made them stronger and taller. This also made them tough and rough.

    This basically lies underneath the gender difference, and qualities which we cannot overlook.

    Earlier evolution was pivoted on the “urge to live further” in humans. Developments and changes happened according to this needs. Now it is based on culture and intellectual thinking. We would evolve according to this needs in future. Masculinity and femininity might have a completely different set of qualities thousands/millions of years later.

  • Uma

    I agree. Thank you for the thoughts. Maybe we are at a point of inflexion and that is the reason for a lot of churn and talk about the changing roles of men and women and increased awareness of gender.