Guwahati  
 
logo
  Guwahati,
North East »» Pre-monsoon rains hit Northeast, Mizoram remains cutoff•••Tension over girl trafficking from Reang refugee camps in Tripura •••Centre to raise digital literacy, curb electronics imports: Minister•••State »» AJYCP stages road blockade•••House panel visits bordering areas in Sivasagar district•••Assam Speaker visits Assam-Nagaland border areas•••National »» BJP's hat-trick win in Delhi civic poll routs AAP, Congress •••Willing to sit with Kejriwal to discuss betterment of Delhi: Tiwari •••Modi to launch air connectivity scheme on April 27 •••International »» Judge blocks Trump's order defunding 'sanctuary cities'•••China urges S. Korea, US to pull back THAAD equipment•••North, S. Korean women urge Trump to stop war rhetoric•••    
  Home » National News » Story
 
An ‘Upanishad’ on Greek mythology
 

Book Review

Title: Olympus - An Indian Retelling of the Greek Myths; Author: Devdutt Pattanaik;

By Vikas Datta

The Ancient Greeks’ enduring contributions to the world are the idea and practice of democracy, a system of philosophy but, above all, a colourful mythology whose influence, and reinterpretation, still permeates art, language and popular culture — as the success of the Percy Jackson books and movies show. But how does it compare with another tradition of similar vintage?

Given two of their most prominent heroes have the same vulnerable spot, a major epic deal with an overseas expedition to rescue kidnapped queens, their pantheons have specific deities for wisdom, and many other similarities (but also key differences), a comparison of Greek and Indian mythologies, both of which have been extensively written about but never fully contrasted, would be quite interesting.

And fulfilling this need with this book is India’s own “biographer and storyteller of the gods”.

Devdutt Pattanaik notes that while there are many books by “Western scholars to ‘explain’ Hindu mythology, but very few by Indian scholars that bother to ‘observe’ Western mythology”, and offers this work as “an attempt to bridge that gap”.

But he does not only provide yet another account of Greek mythology, but goes deeper to also weigh on the social and cultural millieus where it and its Indian counterpart flourished and the worldviews (finite, linear, seeking change; circular, allowing the world to change, respectively) they underpinned and fostered.

And Pattanaik, who describes himself as “a medical doctor by education, a leadership consultant by profession and a mythologist by passion”, provides an superb framing device too.

He chooses as his narrator, none other than the world-conquering hero who brought the Indian and Greek worlds — which did have some contact and one of the principal Greek gods is said to have been to India — much closer than ever for the next few millenia, and left such an impact that his name is hallowed in the subcontinent till now: Alexander the Great himself.

The story is from Alexander’s camp somewhere in what is now Pakistan as the king learns his weary soldiers don’t want to proceed further into the hot land, and his spies cite the alleged malefic effect of a naked sage nearby. His curiousity piqued by the effect of the gymnosophist, of whose ilk his tutor Aristotle had told him about, Alexander goes to question him.

But it is the latter who questions him and “an Upanishad was about to happen” between the warrior and a sage, as the ruler of most of the known world finds himself retelling “tales he heard long ago from his mother and father, servants, slaves, soldiers and tutors”.

In the eight sections “Zeus”, “Minos”, “Oedipus”, “Heracles”, “Jason”, “Helen”, “Odysseus” and “Aeneas” (an anachronism, as the “Aeneid”, which tells this story would not be written for another three centuries), Alexander acquaints his interlocutor with the Greek gods, and heroes and their quests. A brief preliminary interlude provides a reflection into the two interlocutors’ reactions and worldviews.

And while Pattanaik covers a lot of ground in his own quest, providing readers who think they are well acquainted with the subject, some new knowledge. (Did you know the ultimate tragic fate of Helen of Troy?)

But what makes this work stand out is that before his subject proper, the author seeks to provide a concise conceptual overview, which seeks to identify an underlying, uniting basis of Greek mythology with philosophy, its difference with the Abrahamic mythology, that inspired the three Semitic religions, which would wipe it from practice.

Then, in a separate box, he provides a contrast, in all its similarities and differences, with Indian mythology, and this can be found in every section subsequently.

Pattanaik goes on to give us a fast trip of a strand of civilisation, from the Ancient Greek world to the present era of Globalisation, during which he also offers a explanation (rather simplified and debatable) of the division between India and Bharat, as well as a vigorous contrast of Western and Eastern (chiefly Indian) thought.

Ultimately, Indian readers don’t end with knowing all about Greek mythology, but their own too, and the curious ways in which cultural motifs travel and influence each other. (IANS)


.
       
Maximum
 
Minimum
 
oC
oC
oC
oC
oC
oC
oC
oC
oC
oC
oC
oC
 Arunachal News
Chowna Mein seeks cultural exchanges for 'one Arunachal'
Doctors' body demands one-man-one-rank post
Tawang District Hospital bags Kayakalp Award
'SC, ST welfare on Government?s agenda'
 Meghalaya News
FKJGP's 25 years of celebration: Training programme held
21st century is the ending era of Congress: BJYM
City to celebrate 116 anniversary of Swami Vivekananda
Clean cooking fuel to poor rural households
 Northeast News
Pre-monsoon rains hit Northeast, Mizoram remains cutoff
Tension over girl trafficking from Reang refugee camps in Tripura
Centre to raise digital literacy, curb electronics imports: Minister
 Cachar News
CPM presses for publication of draft roll of NRC
Heavy rains affect normal life in Silchar
 National News
BJP's hat-trick win in Delhi civic poll routs AAP, Congress
Willing to sit with Kejriwal to discuss betterment of Delhi: Tiwari
Modi to launch air connectivity scheme on April 27
Hyderabad's Nizam was a visionary, says President
 International News
Judge blocks Trump's order defunding 'sanctuary cities'
China urges S. Korea, US to pull back THAAD equipment
North, S. Korean women urge Trump to stop war rhetoric
China convicts US woman for spying
 State-1
AJYCP stages road blockade
House panel visits bordering areas in Sivasagar district
Assam Speaker visits Assam-Nagaland border areas
Demand for separate electoral rolls for KAAC election constitutionally valid: HTL
 State-2
Journalists' exposure tour flagged off
Power tillers distributed among farmers in Nagaon
Eminent medical practitioner's demise condoled
Brisk preparations on for Bohagi Bidaai celebration
 Local Sports
Rs 50,000 for ailing archer
Big win for Tinsukia CA
 Sports
Sindhu, Jayaram advance, Saina, Prannoy lose in Asia Championships
Harbhajan lashes out at 'racist' Jet Airways pilot
IPL: Kolkata register facile seven-wicket win against Pune
Murray in third round of Barcelona Open
 Editorial
Escalating violence
Is it Cold War-II already?
Media shouldn't sensationalize earthquakes
Letters to the Editor
 Op-Ed (Sunday)
Of Oppenheimer and the Bhagwat Gita
Threat of Governor's rule looms large in J&K
The Art of Advertisement
 
Assam
 
Assam is a northeastern state of India with its capital at Dispur located in the city of Guwahati.
 
more...
Nagaland
 
Nagaland is a northeastern state of India with its capital at Kohima. located in the Guwahati city.
 
more...
Mizoram
 
Mizoram is a northeastern state of India with its capital at Aizwal. located in the Guwahati city.
 
more...
Meghalaya
 
Meghalaya is a northeastern state of India with its capital at Shillong. located in the Guwahati.
 
more...
Manipur
 
Manipur is a northeastern state of India with its capital at Imphal.
 
more...
Tripura
 
Tripura is a northeastern state of India with its capital at Agartala.
 
more...
Arunachal Pradesh
 
Arunachal Pradesh is a northeastern state of India with its capital at Itanagar.
 
more...
Sikkim
 
Sikkim is a northeastern state of India with its capital at Gangtok.
 
more...
Home  |  Guwahati City  |  Editorial  |  International  |  National  |  Business  |  Arunachal  |  Meghalaya   |  Northeast  |  State  |  Cachar  |  Sports   |  Local Sports
 Archive  |  Melange  |  Saturday Fare  |  Junior Sentinel  |  Multilingual  |  About Us  |  Contact Us  |  Advertise with us  |  Dongmusa