Book Review: Pashu - Animal Tales from Hindu Mythology by Devdutt Pattanaik

posted by R's Mom , April 07, 2015

Devdutt Pattanaik can as well be crowned the mythology king of India. His books are wonderful reads and each book is a treasure of tales and awesome illustrations. I must confess at the start of this review that am a big fan of his writing especially those for children. He has this amazing ability to use age-old mythology and explain it with today's life situations.

Pashu published by Penguin Books is a collection of animal tales from mythology. The author starts off with explaining who Prajapati is and then writes about the different myths around the origin of animal life. We then learn about the different wives of Prajapati and who gives birth to what kind of creatures. For example, Timi gave birth to animals who swim while Surabhi gave birth to animals with hooves. The entire book is divided into stories from the six different kinds of creatures - ones that swim, ones that fly, ones that creep and crawl, ones with hooves, ones with paws and ones who are different. The approach is very interesting as each section then tells us stories of those kinds of creatures.

From the more popular ones of Jatayu and Garuda to many unknown ones (at least to me!), the book is like this treasure house which you can keep referring to tell stories to kids. References to Ramayana, Mahabharata as well as Krishna's stories ensure some familiarity. I loved reading each of them and must admit there were scores of stories I was totally unaware of!

Read the book to get a peek into our rich mythology where animals and birds play an important role in teaching us so many morals and values. The 6-year-old in the house who is into mythology currently thanks to her grandmom's visit, loved the stories as I read them aloud for her and pesters me every day to read at least ten of them the exquisite illustrations enhance the book's readability.

Definitely recommended.

Buy Now: Toka ShopAmazon USA | Amazon India

Interview with Devdutt Pattanaik – Author of Pashu, Animals Tales from Hindu Mythology

Devdutt Pattanaik

We spoke to Devdutt Pattanaik , a renowned author, mythologist, and leadership consultant, whose work focuses on deriving management insights from mythology to reveal a very Indian approach to modern business. He has written books for children including Hanuman’s Ramayan , Fun in Devlok series as well as the latest, reviewed by us, Pashu. He shares his thoughts on mythology, parenting and the one book on mythology, he would recommend to children.

IMC: How did you decide to write about Hindu Mythology?

Devdutt Pattanaik: I write on mythology, not only Hindu Mythology. So I write on Greek, Chinese, Abrahamic, Buddhist, Jain mythologies too, even secular and atheist mythologies. It began as a hobby but then I realized many gaps in the writings of academicians and scholars and so am trying to present newer perspectives through my writings. You never talk down to children or talk up to adults.

IMC: You have written books for children and adults both. How different is it writing for different age groups?

Devdutt Pattanaik: For children, you focus on a single theme. For adults, you can focus on multiple themes. That is the fundamental difference. You never talk down to children or talk up to adults.

IMC: Who are your three favorite characters from Hindu mythology and why?

Devdutt Pattanaik: I have no favorites. Each character is wonderful in their context.

IMC: What are your opinions on today’s parenting techniques as compared to those in earlier times which you would have read about in our mythological stories?

Devdutt Pattanaik: Today children are being increasingly ‘domesticated’ and ‘transformed’ more than ‘nurtured’. This is best explained by an analogy where children are seen as plants. We don’t see the child as a papaya tree that he/she is, because we want him or her want to be a mango tree. So we work hard to make the papaya tree a mango tree by using various gardening and bio-engineering techniques. And we do so by ‘outsourcing’ parenthood to maids and teachers. They are merely assistants. We are the soil that created the child and the gardener who has to raise the child, respecting its capacity and capability.

It (Pashu) reminds children that their parents, teachers, friends and they themselves are animals too.

IMC: If there is one book you would recommend for children based on mythology, what would it be and why?

Devdutt Pattanaik: Pashu. It reminds children that their parents, teachers, friends and they themselves are animals too.

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