Mythology has a unique way of offering insights into the human condition and understanding the world we inhabit. Devdutt Pattanaik, a prominent mythologist and writer with a global following, has made it his mission to decode the intricate tapestry of Hindu sacred lore, legends, folklore, fables, and parables. Through his extensive body of work, he has bridged the gap between ancient wisdom and modern life, transcending geographical and cultural boundaries.
Devdutt Pattanaik's journey began in the vibrant city of Mumbai, where he spent his childhood and student life in the suburb of Chembur. He attended Our Lady of Perpetual Succour High School, where the seeds of his intellectual curiosity were sown. His educational journey took an unconventional turn as he pursued a degree in medicine (M.B.B.S.) at Grant Medical College, Mumbai. Yet, his true calling lay beyond the realm of medicine.
Devdutt Pattanaik's passion for mythology led him to acquire a diploma in Comparative Mythology from Mumbai University, which marked the beginning of his exploration into the realm of myths and legends.
While Devdutt Pattanaik spent 14 years in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, he always nurtured a deep love for writing. In his spare time, he wrote articles and books on mythology, and his passion eventually became his full-time profession. His first book, "Shiva: An Introduction," was published in 1997, providing readers with an engaging insight into the world of Lord Shiva.
One of the distinctive features of Pattanaik's work is his ability to illustrate his books. By combining his expertise in mythology and art, he provides readers with a holistic experience, making the stories more visually appealing and engaging.
In 2009, Devdutt Pattanaik had the honour of speaking at the first TED conference held in India, where he shared his insights into mythology and its relevance in contemporary society. His captivating presentation left a lasting impact, propelling him to international recognition.
Pattanaik's influence extends beyond the realm of literature. He has been a consultant for mythological television series such as "Mahabharata" and "Siya Ke Ram" on Star TV network. These adaptations have challenged conventional narratives and brought new interpretations to these timeless tales. Additionally, he has been the story consultant at the Indian television network Star TV, where "Devon Ke Dev...Mahadev" is based on his work.
His work in television further expanded with the show "Devlok with Devdutt Pattanaik," which aired in 2015, aimed at demystifying Indian mythology and traditions. In recognition of his contributions to the field, Pattanaik made his debut on the Forbes India Celeb 100 list in 2016.
Pattanaik's insightful perspective and storytelling prowess also found a home in audiobooks. Audible Originals (India) featured his audiobook titled "Suno Mahabharat Devdutt Pattanaik ke Saath" and "Revisiting Mahabharata with Devdutt Pattanaik." In these shows, he delves into the intricacies of the Mahabharata, its impact on the world, and the timeless Vedic principles of karma and dharma.
Devdutt Pattanaik's view on mythology goes beyond ancient tales; he believes that myth is essential for any society, as it shapes our understanding of right and wrong, good and bad, heaven and hell, and our rights and duties. In his work, he aims to make knowledge accessible to everyone and strives to get the goddess Saraswati out of the closet, encouraging her to flow everywhere.
Pattanaik has authored a multitude of books, each offering unique insights into various aspects of Hindu mythology. His book "Business Sutra: An Indian Approach to Management" delves into the relationship between individual beliefs and corporate beliefs, addressing the disharmony that arises when they conflict. This work challenges the traditional view of treating people merely as resources, emphasising the importance of aligning individual and institutional beliefs.
In his book "Olympus: An Indian Retelling of Greek Mythology," Pattanaik offers a fresh perspective on Greek mythology from an Indian standpoint. The acclaimed author Neil Gaiman praised Pattanaik's ability to explain mythology in simple words and appreciated his unique approach to storytelling.
Devdutt Pattanaik's influence extends beyond the realm of mythology. He has been open about his own identity as a gay man, coming out to his parents in his thirties. Following the decriminalisation of homosexuality in India in 2018, Pattanaik publicly embraced his identity in a televised interview. In his writings, he has celebrated the presence and dignity of LGBTQ+ individuals in Indian mythology, showing how karmic faiths can affirm their place in the world.
Devdutt Pattanaik's work has garnered widespread recognition, earning him a place among the top bestselling Indian authors. His books, including "Devlok," based on the television show of the same name, have enjoyed remarkable success, appealing to a broad audience. Forbes India acknowledged his contributions by including him in their list of the top 100 celebrities in the country.
Fiction author Ashwin Sanghi praised Pattanaik's ability to explain mythology in simple terms, making it accessible to a wide audience. Psychologist Urmi Chanda-Vaz referred to him as "India's most beloved mythology explicator." Academic Shiv Visvanathan lauded Pattanaik for turning myth-reading into an open and playful activity akin to games like Chinese Checkers or Scrabble.
Devdutt Pattanaik's contribution to the world of mythology and literature is immeasurable. His unique approach to storytelling, coupled with his illustrative skills, has made ancient wisdom accessible to modern readers. By breaking down complex mythological concepts and applying them to various facets of life, he has created a bridge between the past and the present, enriching our understanding of the timeless stories that continue to shape our world.