A Mythologist, speaker, illustrator, and author, that’s Devdutt Pattanaik for you. Devdutt Pattanaik books have garnered a lot of popularity in recent times after he rose to popularity from his show, Devlok on Epic TV. Pattanaik has authored over 41 books including My Gita, Sita, and Jaya that became popular instantly. His modern outlook on our ancient scriptures has opened new doors for modern readers.
Pattanaik holds a degree in Medicine as well as Comparative Mythology from Mumbai University. He worked in the field of Medicine for several years before settling for his passion, that is, Mythology. He also writes several regular columns for Times of India, Mid-Day, CN Traveller, and so on. Moreover, entertainment networks like Star TV have also consulted him for their programs including Devon Ke Dev Mahadev and Mahabharat among others.
Here is a list of some of his best works that all mythology lovers would enjoy reading :
1. My Gita
My Gita by Devdutt Pattanaik is the most popular addition to the list of best Devdutt Pattanaik books. Pattanaik has presented Gita in a completely different light. The traditional ‘Gita’ as we know it is the conversation between or rather the teachings of Krishna to Arjuna in the battle of Kurukshetra of Mahabharat. My Gita, however, presents a modern outlook on the same topic that is suited for the contemporary reader. Pattanaik highlights how Krishna nudges Arjuna to rise above all his attachments by carefully understanding them rather than judging them.
My Gita follows a similar approach to writing like all the other Devdutt Pattanaik books. The narration of the book is thematic and not verse-by-verse which makes it more understandable. The whole perspective offered by Pattanaik is new, open-minded, and above all, rational and relevant. This book is a must-read if you want to understand the holy Gita better, in relevance to today’s times.
2. Jaya: An illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata
Jaya: An illustrated retelling of Mahabharata is a simple yet addictive book that takes you through the whole journey of Mahabharata like never before. Pattanaik has beautifully woven the whole epic flawlessly by taking the help of a single narrative from the Sanskrit Classic. This book follows the same path of revelation as the other Devdutt Pattanaik books. Composed in about 108 chapters and 250 line drawings by Devdutt himself, Jaya is a must-read for anyone who wants to know more about Indian Mythology.
Pattanaik’s retelling of the epic, Jaya is extremely simple and easy to understand. It reflects on present-day scenarios making this book a contemporary read. What makes this book unique is the fact that it interprets Mahabharata and not just narrates the tale. There are numerous revelations in Jaya that you must be unfamiliar with right now, even if you are familiar with the Mahabharata. The whole narrative employed by Pattanaik is not only engaging but also non-trivial. Since Jaya is equally knowledgable and enjoyable, it makes its way to the category of best Devdutt Pattanaik books. Jaya is a compelling read indeed!
3. Sita: An illustrated retelling of the Ramayana
Sita: An illustrated retelling of Ramayana takes into account the whole story of Ramayana by placing Sita as the central character. Like other Devdutt Pattanaik books, this makes use of line drawings to illustrate the prose better. This book by Devdutt Pattanaik does not particularly focus on Ram entirely but on Sita, a unique approach to Ramayana in its true sense. The other characters including Laxamana, Hanuman among others are also shaped by Sita’s perspective. This Devdutt Pattanaik book explores Sita’s childhood, her stay in the forest, her kidnapping, and the consequences thereafter in a different light that is truly remarkable.
Pattanaik simplifies the concept of deep, complex, and intertwined mythology by his writing. He also uses various examples of old, traditional customs and rituals whose roots lie in the Ramayana. The artwork used in between the chapters is utterly unique and makes the book an interesting read. The author meticulously adds his own take after each chapter and presents a newfound perspective on the epic. Pattanaik never fails to impress with his wisdom and knowledge making this one of the best Devdutt Pattanaik books.
4. The Pregnant King
This is an extraordinary tale by Devdutt Pattanaik that questions gender roles and sexuality, making this the most unique in the category of Devdutt Pattanaik books. The story revolves around Yuvanashva, the king who gave birth to a son. Yuvanashva accidentally drinks a potion that was meant for his wives and hence, becomes pregnant. The Pregnant King not only talks about this tale but also about Shikhandi, Arjuna, and Krishna with similar stories.
Devdutt weaves an exquisite story that questions the myths of sexuality and gender. The central characters Shivalati and Yuvanashva are presented in utmost honesty. Themes of power, love, and identity are the backbone of this book. The Pregnant King makes the reader engage in passive thinking about the thin lines that divide man and woman. This makes for one of the best Devdutt Pattanaik books.
5. Myth = Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu Mythology
Myth = Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu mythology explores the various secrets, stories, and folklore that surround Hindu Mythology. Pattanaik offers an answer to all the common questions that surround life and death, nature and culture, and so on. He brings out the hidden meanings behind the Hindu symbols and rituals.
As easy as it sounds, but Pattanaik has undertaken a huge responsibility by creating this book that unites numerous characters from the epics and centuries of wisdom, knowledge, and philosophy all in one book. The book is narrated in a semi-chronological manner. Pattanaik gives you a deep insight into our holy texts and you will find yourself engaged in a lot of thought about Hindu mythology. The intricacies of the language in Pattanaik’s writing are sure to impress you which makes this one of the best Devdutt Pattanaik books. If you are curious to know more about Hinduism, this book is a must-read!
Based on his popular television show on Epic TV which was titled the same, that is, Devlok, this book by Devdutt Pattanaik is the beginner’s guide to Indian Mythology. Unlike other Devdutt Pattanaik books, this book is narrated in a question-answer format wherein the author answers all the questions that may strike you then and now about Mythology. Pattanaik talks about a variety of subjects including Vedas, Upanishads, Heaven and Hell, Ramayana and Mahabharata, and the various eras among others.
The language used by Pattanaik is fairly simple and very easy to understand. Pattanaik forms his own interpretation of all the Mythological subjects, hence, making his writing unique of all. As all the other best Devdutt Pattanaik books include drawings by him, this book sure lacks that but the writing style is compelling enough and makes up for the loss. If you want to refresh your knowledge about Indian Mythology, this is your pick!
7. Shikhandi and Other Tales They Don’t Tell You
Dealing with the queerness of the characters from our Puranas, Shikandi and other tales is a collection of stories that takes into account the characters which have been overlooked or their story not paid heed to. A number of age-old traditions that are mentioned in our holy texts have been followed without a doubt for a long time. Numerous stories like that of Shikandi’s who became a man to satisfy her wife and Mahadeva who became a woman to deliver his devotee’s baby, this book covers it all.
This book by Devdutt Pattanaik compiles about thirty-odd and queer tales from our Puranas, Vedas, and folklores. All of these tales will help you understand how sexuality was treated back then. The stories are extremely intriguing and fascinating and you will find yourself amused by how the deities perceived sex or intercourse in their time. Like the other Devdutt Pattanaik books including The Pregnant King, this book will make you question the norms that divide men and women in our society.
8. Krishna’s Secret
Pattanaik’s book, Krishna’s Secret is based on the Hindu God with a mischievous grin and shimmering glory on his face. Being called the most unusual God among the other deities, Krishna has played the role of a cowherd to a charioteer. Krishna’s Secret is an extract from 7 Secrets of Vishnu and forms an eminent example of one of the best Devdutt Pattanaik books.
Devdutt Pattanaik presents a very simple and profound picture of one of the most unique God that ever existed. He has simplified the life story of Krishna through his writings. There is also a clear emphasis on the wisdom imparted by Krishna on the aspect of Dharma. Like the other Devdutt Pattanaik books, this one also presents several paintings and scriptures depicting Krishna. All in all, this is a short and concise read that will help you gain a lot about Lord Krishna is a short span of time.
9. 7 Secrets of Shiva
In this book by Devdutt Pattanaik, the author attempts to reveal the secrets of Indian Mythology that lie with The Destroyer, Shiva. Shiva is a part of the Trimurti, the main three Gods of Hindus. Dressed in animal skin with the moon gracing his forehead and Goddess Ganga flowing from atop his head. Mahadeva and his stories have a deep-rooted and profound meaning in Hindu Mythology. Pattanaik beautifully describes the various avatars and also depicts several differences between Vishnu and Shiva.
Unlike other Devdutt Pattanaik books, this book is less-detailed and only up to the point. Pattanaik presents the image of shiva in a completely different light which is equally interesting and refreshing. He explores and goes through all the versions of Shiva and tries to form a common point between them. Pattanaik’s interpretation of Mahadeva is not only about him but all the other Demigods as well. The deeply hidden secrets that surround Mahadeva finds its way in our own ancestry.
10. Ganesha’s Secret: Food alone does not satisfy hunger
Centred around lord Ganpati, the “remover of obstacles”, this book by Devdutt Pattanaik seeks to discover the different secrets that surround this deity. Pattanaik narrates a number of stories that are untold in the books of Mythology. From Ganesha’s birth to Shiva and Shakti’s lovemaking as elephants and whatnot, this book unravels a lot of events. Several stories surround his birth and all of them are put forth brilliantly by Pattanaik.
Much like the other Devdutt Pattanaik books like 7 Secrets of Shiva, this book also brings out the lesser-known facts about Ganesha. Ganesha’s Secret also clearly describes the theory behind his names like Vinayak and Ganpati. All the idols and portraits worshipped at temples and at home have a different hidden meaning as well. This book by Devdutt Pattanaik puts forth the answers to all our queries about Ganesha. The epitome of knowledge and wisdom, Ganesh or Ganpati is more than his name. If this intrigues the inner nerd in you, then this book should be in your reading list!
If you enjoyed reading this, also check out the best books on Indian history.