Sunday, February 08, 2015

Amar Chitra Katha to Devdutt Pattanaik

We grew up reading Amar Chitra Katha, as did many in our generation. That was the place we got a 'consistent' version of our teachings, stories. Whether it was the Mahabharata or Ramayana presented in a simple, concise form. Whether it was the Jatakas tales or the Panchatantra it was the one series that we were hooked onto.

There were other wannabe books, but nothing like ACK.

Why books? Because there are only so many stories that parents and grandparents can tell you, so ACK taps into the speed of reading and that way you cover more than you can ever. All in all ACK was a winner and now, I see how it helps kids get an idea of a large part of our heritage better than any textbook ever can.

Not sure, if were not for ACK how we would have ever learnt much of these, because most schools barely cover any of the traditions. I am sure, somebody would have marketed and figured it out, but yes, for what it is worth, I am thankful for ACK for having bridged the gap and continuing to do so.

But what after that? I have been reading Devdutt Pattanaik for a while - not regularly, but intermittently and with a mix of curiosity and confusion. I really loved Jaya and even Business Sutra which I thought was about bringing a different perspective of learning from the stories that we have learnt from childhood.

But a few weeks ago, I read the 'Seven Secrets of Vishnu' and I was blown away. For the first time, I realized that his books take us deeper than ACK ever did (and in the format and age group it addressed it probably could not). But interestingly, atleast I felt that without the base of ACK it was impossible to read his works.

But all in all, it is a great path he has charted, of bringing traditional stories into the mainstream. It must have been difficult - given the general suspicion any Hindu tradition brings especially in the corporate arena and for this some credit must go to Kishore Biyanis Future group where Devdutt works as Chief Belief Officer. And Devdutt has been a trailblazer in this place.

I also think that the time is ripe for many more such initiatives that bring many of these traditions into the mainstream and make it more accessible for Indians and foreigners alike.

So, yes, thanks Devdutt for doing what practically nobody has managed to do - bring out the nuances behind the stories and be successful at that. 

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