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7 Secrets From Hindu Calendar Art

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Hindu Calendar Art may be gaudy and kitsch, but it is the most modern and democratic expression of a mythic imagery that once adorned temple walls and palm leaf manuscripts. They speak a language that is indifferent to rationality. It is the language of a people’s faith. In this book, Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik, India’s renowned mythologist, translates this language and reveals Hindu Calendar Art may be gaudy and kitsch, but it is the most modern and democratic expression of a mythic imagery that once adorned temple walls and palm leaf manuscripts. They speak a language that is indifferent to rationality. It is the language of a people’s faith. In this book, Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik, India’s renowned mythologist, translates this language and reveals an ancient Indian truth that will certainly impact your life. Content: Ganesha’s secret – Different people see God differently Narayana’s secret – What dies is always reborn Ardhanari’s secret – God is within, Goddess without Shiva’s secret – Withdrawal leads to destruction Devi’s secret – Desire and destiny create life Vishnu’s secret – Detached engagement brings order Brahma’s secret – Human life is an opportunity


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Hindu Calendar Art may be gaudy and kitsch, but it is the most modern and democratic expression of a mythic imagery that once adorned temple walls and palm leaf manuscripts. They speak a language that is indifferent to rationality. It is the language of a people’s faith. In this book, Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik, India’s renowned mythologist, translates this language and reveals Hindu Calendar Art may be gaudy and kitsch, but it is the most modern and democratic expression of a mythic imagery that once adorned temple walls and palm leaf manuscripts. They speak a language that is indifferent to rationality. It is the language of a people’s faith. In this book, Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik, India’s renowned mythologist, translates this language and reveals an ancient Indian truth that will certainly impact your life. Content: Ganesha’s secret – Different people see God differently Narayana’s secret – What dies is always reborn Ardhanari’s secret – God is within, Goddess without Shiva’s secret – Withdrawal leads to destruction Devi’s secret – Desire and destiny create life Vishnu’s secret – Detached engagement brings order Brahma’s secret – Human life is an opportunity

30 review for 7 Secrets From Hindu Calendar Art

  1. 4 out of 5

    Avinash K

    Oohkayy... One more of those semi-researched books on Hindu mythology by Mr. Patnaik. Good for a travel read. Not much else. Could have been better.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shreya Vaid

    Hindu Calendar Art is something that we all have around our house, but never focus on. Our parents use it to see the auspicious dates and fasting days, and they keep on lying hanging either behind the door or in front of the window. But then, you can always trust Devdutt Pattanaik's amazing skills to decode mythology and art. In 7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art, Devdutt Pattanaik decodes this tool of democratic expression that was once hidden behind temple walls and palm leaves and is now avail Hindu Calendar Art is something that we all have around our house, but never focus on. Our parents use it to see the auspicious dates and fasting days, and they keep on lying hanging either behind the door or in front of the window. But then, you can always trust Devdutt Pattanaik's amazing skills to decode mythology and art. In 7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art, Devdutt Pattanaik decodes this tool of democratic expression that was once hidden behind temple walls and palm leaves and is now available to masses, each of them tweaking and making this art more beautiful. Hindu Mythology has millions of deities from different regions, like pieces of a Jigsaw Puzzle. Once you join the pictures, it all comes around to these three- Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh. The three pillars of Hindu mythology, who took numerous of avatars to teach men how to live, how to fight and how to live righteously. From Krishna to Hanuman, all the Avatars come around to these three. And they create perfect balance of this crooked world. In 7 Secrets from the Hindu Calendar Art, Devdutt Pattanaik has picked up images of Gods and Goddesses and has tried to decode them for people like me who only see the whole picture and not the details. And sometimes even when we try to decode, we end up decoding and understanding either in a wrong way or a funny way. An example from the book, where there is an image of Shiva with his eyes closed, a mendicant draped in animal hide seated in a cave atop a snow-clad mountain. I for one have seen this image thousand times, not just on Calendars but inside the home temple and numerous mythological books that I have read. But when you read Pattanaik's books, you get to know something more and meaningful out of simple things. Like, the Third Eye of Shiva represents disdain for desire, the indifference for things that are desirable as well as undesirable. The three horizontal lines on his forehead depict the destruction of the three worlds created by delusion. The rattle drum which Shiva fondly plays is to tame monkeys, which are a symbol of the restless mind. Shiva doesn't wear any fabric, he is either naked or covered with animal hide. (For obvious reasons now, he cannot be naked!). His half open eyes indicate a hesitant engagement with the worldly matters, which he succumbed to when he married the Goddess. And just like this, there are stories of Ganesha, Goddess, Krishna and other vibrant mythological characters of Hindus. The Hindu Calendar Art will enchant you when you will keep on deciphering meaning behind symbols and even why a certain God sits in a certain position. Devdutt Pattanaik has managed to enchant me again with 7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art. I loved the composition of different images, some of them even from different regions of India which I haven't seen before. When I first received this book I thought that the language might be a bit robotic, but it's nothing like that. It's pretty simple and easy to understand. Also, the stories behind each symbol and deity are pretty interesting. But I do have a very small complaint, the cover is intriguing, but the pictures inside are black and white. I would have loved some color on them to see them more clearly and sharply. But then, Pattanaik's words and sharp skill is enough to satiate my mythological taste buds. All in all, make sure to pick this beauty up if you are craving for some non-fiction mythological reading.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nate Rabe

    Agree with most other reviews but its a shame the only colour photo is on the cover. But highly informative

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sukanya

    Reading Pattanaik can wreak one's approach to faith, to life itself. If you are a believer, by the end of it, you will come to the following conclusions on why we need to believe in a God: A) Because life's tough and we need to know somebody gives a shit about us, no matter who we are. B) Because we are a lonely race and need a kind ear every now and then. And C) Maybe we just don't like ourselves enough and need to believe that there are beings more evolved than us, capable of a kindness which, q Reading Pattanaik can wreak one's approach to faith, to life itself. If you are a believer, by the end of it, you will come to the following conclusions on why we need to believe in a God: A) Because life's tough and we need to know somebody gives a shit about us, no matter who we are. B) Because we are a lonely race and need a kind ear every now and then. And C) Maybe we just don't like ourselves enough and need to believe that there are beings more evolved than us, capable of a kindness which, quite honestly, the daily struggles for survival has wrung out of us. Tough shit. And don't get me wrong - I think Pattanaik is absolutely brilliant! Reading Pattanaik, in the beginning,is absolutely liberating! Suddenly those childhood stories begin to take new meanings and one is astounded by the sudden clarity that seems to jet stream into one's consciousness. By jove! Everything seems to make absolute sense and one is almost frightened by the thought that one might have figured out all that is there to know about life and faith and philosophy and the whole shebang! And then before one suspects, it happens. So...hmmmmmm... (slow gulp) ...in all probability there isn't a Ganesh ji for real. (Uhh-ohh) And so...um-hmmmmm....Shiva apparently is just a symbolic representation of a certain state of mind and not the benign paternal figure with whom one has had long heart to hearts.(fffffuuu.....deep breaths!!) Right now I am in some deep deep shit. Really. Deep. And the very worst part of all of this is you know this is it. No one can undo what you know. You can't go back to happy, safe ignorance. And yet you aren't any closer to feeling sorted about life and faith and philosophy and the works. Is this all that is there to know about God? A construct of an agrarian society, besieged with agrarian issues; and hence mythologies woven around everyday social concerns of that time. If all Gods and Goddesses are representative of a quality, a concept, a noun, a verb, then they are all incomplete by themselves. That is why perhaps the detachment-seeking Shiva worships the worldly Vishnu and the domestic Vishnu worships the ascetic Shiva. As if trying to balance out their natural tendencies. But in all of this, even as you appreciate your new found awareness, and your ability to view the Gods in a compassionate way, you are left with a terrible void. An emptiness. That you have only your own thoughts to turn to every time you need some compassion. I suppose this, this easy access to knowledge, is a unique ailment of our times. If the mind isn't mature enough for a certain kind of knowledge (however good that knowledge may be!) it WILL resist.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Manu

    The 'secrets' part of the title might be a little marketing ploy, but having said that, the book definitely offers a great deal of insights and perspectives. The author uses calendar art to bring out the ideas, stories, symbols, rituals etc that contribute to the Hindu world view and defines the way in which we lead our lives. As is becoming a norm (with the author), the biggest takeaway from the book are the excellent interpretations that he comes up with - from something as basic as why the tr The 'secrets' part of the title might be a little marketing ploy, but having said that, the book definitely offers a great deal of insights and perspectives. The author uses calendar art to bring out the ideas, stories, symbols, rituals etc that contribute to the Hindu world view and defines the way in which we lead our lives. As is becoming a norm (with the author), the biggest takeaway from the book are the excellent interpretations that he comes up with - from something as basic as why the trinity have their respective roles (why Shiva is labeled a destroyer was quite a revelation for me) to the nuances and intricacies that separate the various gods and goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. eg. the association of verbs with gods and nouns with goddesses. His perspectives on creation and the debate around the constructs of the observer and the observation offer immense food for thought. I also found the interpretation of the last few incarnations of the Dashavatar quite interesting and plausible. The first half of the book worked better for me than the second, mostly because the latter focuses a little more on regional variations, cultural subtext etc as opposed to the more universal sections in the beginning. But on the whole, it's an excellent read which gave me an understanding of the 'why' behind our gods and the origins of the values and morals that have been a part of the world we live in.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Soumyabrata Sarkar

    I read this at the last . . .after the Vishnu and the Shiva . . so, all in all there were some parts which I knew and kind of skipped and read over the lines . . . But as unusual it is a Devdutt Pattanaik book. . . so you can't overlook it . . you don't want to! It was really astonishing for me to find the subtle nuances of the calendar arts, that we all are familiar with and are seeing from such an early age. . . From calendars to other commodities like rice and wheat sacks also have them, not t I read this at the last . . .after the Vishnu and the Shiva . . so, all in all there were some parts which I knew and kind of skipped and read over the lines . . . But as unusual it is a Devdutt Pattanaik book. . . so you can't overlook it . . you don't want to! It was really astonishing for me to find the subtle nuances of the calendar arts, that we all are familiar with and are seeing from such an early age. . . From calendars to other commodities like rice and wheat sacks also have them, not to mention the Panjikas and all those graceful pictures with a halo in them . .. who knew that all these comes with so much insights and thoughts. . .it's as if I have beget a new pair of eyes to see the same thing again . . like I have switched on the RADIO-VISION or NIGHT-MODE oNN! :v :) All I can say, is that this book was really good and from now on, I am going to hunt down the clues in every calendar that I would find. he hhe! :)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sasitharani Jagadeshprabu

    Great book, Loved reading it, Since i have already read 7 secrets od shiva and vishnu i was quick to finish it. All three books are worth reading. Looking forward to read more books of Devdutt Patnaik..

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dhaval

    Another excellent book by Devdutt Pattanaik, an eye opener to the symbolism of art interwoven in every Hindu home. I go back and keenly observe the calendar art, or any Hindu art for that matter and try to fathom the meaning of the symbols present.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alok

    You will take a second look at any religious calendar on the walls after reading this.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elena

    Interesting details of hindu mythology in the pop calendar art.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Abhilash Ruhela

    We are lucky to have someone like Devdutt Pattanaik as one of the most popular authors in India who also manages to publish as many books as possible for him to do. This makes us read some very amazing facts about our mythology, religion and faith. I have just ended up reading o ne of his recently published books by Westland Publication named “7 Secrets From Hindu Calendar Art”. The book speaks about the images that we see since childhood in our home and others but never get to know the meaning We are lucky to have someone like Devdutt Pattanaik as one of the most popular authors in India who also manages to publish as many books as possible for him to do. This makes us read some very amazing facts about our mythology, religion and faith. I have just ended up reading o ne of his recently published books by Westland Publication named “7 Secrets From Hindu Calendar Art”. The book speaks about the images that we see since childhood in our home and others but never get to know the meaning and story behind these paintings. Pattanaik has tried to decode the meaning behind the images for the readers and believers of Hinduism. This is one of the quick-read types of book by Devdutt Pattanaik which can be completed in a single sitting and is best when you are travelling. I completed this book in a day sitting in the Mumbai local while traveling for office. The book shares many images which I had seen in my home, temples and everywhere and also got to see the ones from different regions of India which I would have never been able to explore. The concepts behind the images let us know that even if the images portray God in different forms, ultimately, they are one and the same. Devdutt Pattanaik discusses this very intelligently and wisely about how a single God is been modified in different forms for different purposes and messages. Devdutt also does not shy from telling the mistakes and confusion been created in few of the creative images but also tries to reason why it must have been portrayed in that form. The only problem with reading this book is that sometimes the image is not on the same page hence you have to turn the image every time to refer. The labeling over the image is also appropriately done. The book is nicely researched while some segments are mentioned just by the basic knowledge Pattanaik already had about mythology. The best part of the book is that the author does not try to insult any of the portrayals. This book is a one-time read for sure. I give it 3.5* out of 5. Thanks. ABHILASH RUHELA!!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shonel Teke

    I have read Devdutt Pattnaik's retelling of the Mahabharata more than a year ago and I was in awe of the way in which he recreated the epic tale for non-Hindus and the modern man alike. However, the 7 Secrets from Hindu calendar art seems like a quick way of minting money, riding on the back of his more successful novels. This book has repetitive themes, multiple references to the same stories, and is a painful read. I mean no offence to any Hindu but the book starts off with a promise to not be I have read Devdutt Pattnaik's retelling of the Mahabharata more than a year ago and I was in awe of the way in which he recreated the epic tale for non-Hindus and the modern man alike. However, the 7 Secrets from Hindu calendar art seems like a quick way of minting money, riding on the back of his more successful novels. This book has repetitive themes, multiple references to the same stories, and is a painful read. I mean no offence to any Hindu but the book starts off with a promise to not be defensive. Yet that is exactly what it turns out to be. We see Pattnaik reiterating the differences between Vishnu (vedic) and Shiva (tantric), their interdependencies on each other, and the Mother Goddess, complementing themes of how the religion got divided into masculine and feminine, and little or no relevance to the 7 Secrets/chapters that have been divided. I did give it one star though because I did learn a few background stories that I had never heard of before, such as the myth of Balaji Thirupathi, Chamunda-Chotila, and a bit more about Khandoba (the presiding deity in my husband's hometown). Devdutt Pattnaik has awed me before, and while this is a sure miss, I do hope he can rebound with another pathbreaking book. While I wait for him to surprise me, I sure am skipping his "7 Secrets" series!!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sandeep Gautam

    Although I had read a major part of this book 5 or 6 years back, I had left a few chapters unread and so re-read the entire book and wasn't disappointed. Although some interpretations and extrapolations by Devdutt seem off the mark or too outrageous, they really make you think and at least make you aware of the rich mythological heritage of India. The rich illustrations / drawings provide the perfect backdrop for a book of this sort. Highly recommended if you are interested in mythology and espe Although I had read a major part of this book 5 or 6 years back, I had left a few chapters unread and so re-read the entire book and wasn't disappointed. Although some interpretations and extrapolations by Devdutt seem off the mark or too outrageous, they really make you think and at least make you aware of the rich mythological heritage of India. The rich illustrations / drawings provide the perfect backdrop for a book of this sort. Highly recommended if you are interested in mythology and especially in its interpretations.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rahul Murdeshwar

    Devdutt has managed to share one calendar art on each page (left side), explaining the real meaning and stories behind it on the right side page- he shares a lot of interesting points from images that many Indians have seen in their lives. Will 'open your mind' to a large extent. Well written and explained in simple terms through the story telling approach, this book is again easy to read and absorb. Devdutt has managed to share one calendar art on each page (left side), explaining the real meaning and stories behind it on the right side page- he shares a lot of interesting points from images that many Indians have seen in their lives. Will 'open your mind' to a large extent. Well written and explained in simple terms through the story telling approach, this book is again easy to read and absorb.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ramesh Patel

    Correct informative explations Unique visual vocabulary of Hindu Art which is explain in simple manner.Many information come to know first time,now my attitude for worship in any pictures or statue (Murti ) of God will definitely change.Efforts of Author is appreciable as it easily accessible to common man.

  16. 5 out of 5

    ankit

    This book tell about the position in which they are presented, their meaning on the different parts of the country etc etc. A must read book for a person who wants to know about the god or God. This book has cleared my some points of hindu dharma. So i recommend this book to those who wants to clear their points about Indian gods....

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sonali

    3.25-3.5 I had been wanting to read this author’s book and it finally happened. Also, found some parts revealing in terms of explanation of names and breakdowns. There was also nostalgia associated with some stories. There were typos and sometimes felt less continuity jumping from one to another God story. But enjoyed nevertheless.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anil Swarup

    Another remarkable offering from Devdutt Pattanaik. He makes Hindu mythology so incredibly intelligible to the uninitiated as well using statements like, "In Hindu world-view, death is a comma; there is no full-stop" to drive home an important tenet. Another remarkable offering from Devdutt Pattanaik. He makes Hindu mythology so incredibly intelligible to the uninitiated as well using statements like, "In Hindu world-view, death is a comma; there is no full-stop" to drive home an important tenet.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Prabhat

    God and god Now I look at all the calenders of Hindu god with some knowledge this book has given to me. It's excites you and forces you to notice what we never notice. This book will really change your attitude towards life and will bring contentment in you God and god Now I look at all the calenders of Hindu god with some knowledge this book has given to me. It's excites you and forces you to notice what we never notice. This book will really change your attitude towards life and will bring contentment in you

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sahil Pradhan

    while all forms of art have been well tapped. hindu iconography is still hidden within the temples and artisans. nice approach to bring it to public.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Vinay Leo

    Having read the other books in this "box" earlier, I must say this hasn't been my favourite read. It's an okay read though... the illustrations make it even interesting at times. Having read the other books in this "box" earlier, I must say this hasn't been my favourite read. It's an okay read though... the illustrations make it even interesting at times.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laura Duque perez

    I insist that all the art should have been in Color. Good book for me as an introduction of Indian culture and Hinduism.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rakesh

    Predictable or repeatative Ok. Story is being repeated many times from his other book. Can be skipped if u read too much of Devdutt.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Surya Prakash

    A well written content on the symbolism, meaning, science and spirituality underlying Hinduism.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Zafer Bozkaya

    Detailed information.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Parvati Mohan

    In places, this book is too simplistic or sounds preachy. For instance, there's the part in Chapter 6 about the need for marriage and property to regulate unfettered sexual desire. That said, it makes for an interesting read because I learnt some interesting things that I did not know, despite having been raised Hindu. I was surprised to learn that Lord Krishna is depicted without the flute after he ends his association with Radha, to signify the end of innocence. In a nutshell, this is a fascinat In places, this book is too simplistic or sounds preachy. For instance, there's the part in Chapter 6 about the need for marriage and property to regulate unfettered sexual desire. That said, it makes for an interesting read because I learnt some interesting things that I did not know, despite having been raised Hindu. I was surprised to learn that Lord Krishna is depicted without the flute after he ends his association with Radha, to signify the end of innocence. In a nutshell, this is a fascinating concept that didn't quite reach its potential. I think it's a little more suited to Hindus or people already familiar with Hinduism, as this lot will be better able to take this with a pinch of salt.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Riteeka Rawat

    Hindu mythology abounds with fascinating gods, goddesses and characters whose visual representations - through calendar art - are equally colourful. Hindu calendar art may seem fantastic and kitsch, but it is in fact the most democratic expression of a mythic imagery that was once restricted to temple walls and palm leaf manuscripts. These portraits of the Hindu pantheon of gods and the stories that surround them can be found on the walls and puja rooms of almost every Hindu household in India. Hindu mythology abounds with fascinating gods, goddesses and characters whose visual representations - through calendar art - are equally colourful. Hindu calendar art may seem fantastic and kitsch, but it is in fact the most democratic expression of a mythic imagery that was once restricted to temple walls and palm leaf manuscripts. These portraits of the Hindu pantheon of gods and the stories that surround them can be found on the walls and puja rooms of almost every Hindu household in India. Rich in symbols, each image is a piece of an ancient metaphysical jigsaw puzzle. In this book Dr.Devdutt Pattanaik, India's renowned mythologist, decodes these symbols to reveal a wisdom that has nourished India for thousands of years.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Guru

    Complete let down. What promised to be a great topic is utterly destroyed by the author's freewheeling, often ridiculous, explanations. Pattanaik offers no background of his research (if there was any) nor does suggest any further reading material. Some of his "secrets" are more or less like the silly theories about the "hidden meaning" of some poem or book or movie, offered by a eloquent friend after a drink too many. I think the book targets people who have never seen the said artwork and are Complete let down. What promised to be a great topic is utterly destroyed by the author's freewheeling, often ridiculous, explanations. Pattanaik offers no background of his research (if there was any) nor does suggest any further reading material. Some of his "secrets" are more or less like the silly theories about the "hidden meaning" of some poem or book or movie, offered by a eloquent friend after a drink too many. I think the book targets people who have never seen the said artwork and are willing to accept any exotic story.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nitya Iyer

    This book proved to be really helpful in sorting out some of the finer details of Hindu mythology that I've never paid too much attention to. I've long known the basics of course, but the illustrations and explanations finally filled in some of the gaps in my understanding of certain stories. Useful reference. This book proved to be really helpful in sorting out some of the finer details of Hindu mythology that I've never paid too much attention to. I've long known the basics of course, but the illustrations and explanations finally filled in some of the gaps in my understanding of certain stories. Useful reference.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Vidhya Nair

    This book is a useful tool that helps you understand symbolism and the metaphysical aspects of Hindu iconography. Many of the images of gods & goddess discuss values & codes of conduct, regional dieties and the way material reality & spiritual piety can coexist in a householder's life. Recommended as a guide to understand and appreciation of Hindu art. This book is a useful tool that helps you understand symbolism and the metaphysical aspects of Hindu iconography. Many of the images of gods & goddess discuss values & codes of conduct, regional dieties and the way material reality & spiritual piety can coexist in a householder's life. Recommended as a guide to understand and appreciation of Hindu art.

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