Sunday, January 31, 2010

superb elucidation of hindu trinity by mythologist devdutt pattanaik

jan 31st, 2010

i once met devdutt -- spellbinding storyteller. joseph campbell would have met his match with devdutt. (guy was trained as a doctor, then was a marketer for pharma, now i think he does mythology fulltime).

good elucidation of hindu trinity by devdutt pattanaik in mint:
 via Seesmic


witan said...

Don't you think Devdutt Pattanaik is making the common mistake of confusing between Brahma and Brahman? For example, see the following, quoted from wikipedia: “Brahman is the Absolute Godhead; Absolute Reality or universal substrate (not to be confused with the Creator god Lord Brahmā) in Hinduism.”
In fact, this one concept sets Hinduism apart from all other "religions", and it cannot be classifed as monotheism, pantheism, or polytheism, etc.
As for the reason why Brahma is allegedly not worshipped on earth, see wikipedia:
I have read in my childhood tnat Siva Bhagavan also snipped off (with his fingernails) one of Brahma's four heads as punishment. The skull stuck to his fingers and was removed much later, only through the grace of Karpakambal ...etc. I stop here, for I am not really an expert on the Puranas, and might commit mistakes.

Anjaneya said...

clicking on the link shows a blank page.

estheppan said...

Recommend you go through Shri Pattanaik's article here about his interview of Wendy Doniger-

Had posted the following comment on that article. However, the fellow didn't publish it.

-----comment posted on 21 Nov 09 but never appeared---
>>> "Anyone who is serious about studying Hinduism needs to study the works of Wendy Doniger ..... …it is good scholarship"

Shri Rajiv Malhotra uses chakra hermeneutics to analyse it thus-

"....... one may safely say that Wendy's children mentioned above reside at the lowest two chakras, at least in their scholarship. Kripal is seeing Hinduism from the anal perspective (in keeping with his own homophobia, and insecurity about his Roma heritage), which is a valid view, but by no means the truth. It is just one perspective, and not the highest vantage point, and nor is it the place where one should remain stuck forever. Likewise, Doniger and Caldwell seem to oscillate between the anal chakra and the genital chakra. This is why their interest and depiction of Hinduism is what it is." -

Harvard Professor Michael Witzel described wendy's translations of rig veda, jaiminiya brahmana and manusmriti in these stark terms-
" 'lacking common sense’, ‘unreliable’, ‘idiosyncratic’ ,and “a stream of unconnected George-Bush-like anacoluths “.

Shri Sankrant Sanu is more sober while discussing wendy's article on Encarta, which was consequently removed and replaced with one by Prof Arvind Sharma- "While Prof. Doniger is certainly free to pursue her specific areas of interest and scholarship in Hinduism, we do not believe that her article represents the mainstream of Hindu thought in both the selection of content and its interpretation"

further discussed here-

The interview questions seems well thought out.

Commenter a.b. succinctly above observes- " Wendy, having prosistuted herself for wordly gain, cannot ever find any meaning"
That observation may also apply to everybody in this world who prostitutes their efforts and their lives for materialistic gains.

The comment by one commenter named a.b. in that page is very striking. In that he mentions 'bilva leaf', which Pattanaik now interprets in his latest article in his own way.

Pattanaik's 'interpretation' of trimurtis is a travesty.

From what is seen in this latest article and his interview of Donkeiger, as well as from other stuff in his website and the talk he gave at TED, Mysore, it appears this fellow is a charlatan. Misinterpreting indian traditions and culture in his own way to suit his interests.

Don't be taken in.

Also, by your undeserved appreciation of the fellow, you may have influenced the minds of some 500 people visiting your website daily, who otherwise may have taken a neutral approach to pattanaik.

Inferno said...

brahma and brahman are one and the same. Not to be confused with brAhman or brAhmin. It is a problem with transliteration.

Vineet said...

This is a disappointing article. Lots of faulty surmises. The author should read Tattva Bodha by Adi Shankara to get his basics right on the Vedantic view of the individual personality and his/her linkage with the Cosmic Reality.
Vineet Sharma

witan said...


Please read again what I have quoted from wikipedia. There is no problem with transliteration there: Brahman and Brahmā .

Devdutt Pattanaik writes: "Hence the Vedic maxim: aham brahmasmi, I am Brahma." As far as I know, in the "vedic maxim" brahmasmi means I am Brahman (ब्रह्मण), not BrahmA (to use the same method of transliteration as you have). The word used by Pattanaik is obviously not Brahman (ब्रह्मण), but BrahmA (ब्रह्मा), though he has neglected to use upper case for the last 'a'.
Also, please note BrAhman is actually Hindi for the Sanskrit Brahmanah (ब्राह्मणः) and Brahmin is the corrupted Anglicized form for the same.

nizhal yoddha said...

hmmm... i think witan and others are right: there is some confusion between brahma and the (para)brahman. if i am not mistaken the brahmanda is the cosmic egg related to the formless, supreme brahman. whereas brahma is an anthropomorphic creator deity, and yes, there is the story of how he lied about the cosmic jyotirlinga and was cursed to not be worshipped.

there is the story of his 5th head being removed by siva, but i hadn't heard of it stuck to siva's nail.

roberto calasso's 'ka' has good stories that put a contemporary gloss on the ancient tales.

and esthappan's comment on devdutt's appreciation of doniger does make him look suspicious.

i may have to rethink devdutt. but the sad fact is that hindu education is so non-existent that even highly-educated people like the folks who read this blog, or atanu day who gushed over this article on twitter, or offstumped et al, really don't know enough to counter errors devdutt may be making.

but esthappan, you err when you say only 500 people read this blog. i know how many do, and it's a lot more. (of course, please encourage your friends to read this blog so that some of the stories we see that are ignored by the media, as well as our interpretations, get broader visibility).

Chirag Patel said...

You might like reading this "praaNaagnihotra vidhi" which is every householders duty to uplift his/her life:

I have written an article on three primordial deities - brahmaa, vishNu and shiva. It is in Gujarati. I will soon translate that in English. Basically, I believe that matter and energy are two different menifestations of the same basic element that we do not know yet. Per that, brahmaa is the nuclear strong force which allows that nucleus to be in tact and is basis of any atomic structure. Gravitational force is vishNu which is everywhere even in atoms and which allows sustainment of this enormous structue of cosmos. shiva is the nuclear weak force which allows self destruction.