7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art

7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art

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Item Code: IHF073
Author: Devdutt Pattanaik
Publisher: Westland Ltd.
Edition: 2009
ISBN: 9788189975678
Pages: 187 (Illustrated Throughout In B/W)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.0” X 7.0”
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7 Secrets From Hindu Calendar Art

Dr Devdutt Pattanaik is a medical doctor by training, a business consultant by profession and a mythologist by passion. He writes and lectures extensively on the relevance of sacred stories, symbols and rituals in modern times, and it is in this capacity that he has joined the Future Group as Chief Belief Officer where his role is to help construct the culture of the entire organization because from beliefs come behaviour.

Dr Pattanaik regularly writes in the Economic Times, Times of India, Hindustan Times, First City magazine and Sunday Midday. His many books include Myth-Mithya, Book of Ram, and Pregnant King.

Author’s Note

The images in the book have been picked up from the street, from vendors who sit outside temples and sell their wares to pilgrims. Art historians have explained the origin of these images - how artists like Raja Ravi Varma and the printing technology of the nineteenth century ensured that these illustrations reached almost every Hindu household across India, and how they came to dominate the visualization of the common man’s faith. In recent times, foreign tourists have been captivated by their supernatural content and gaudy colours. Fashion gurus have used them on the catwalk, incorporating them on apparel and accessories to get the attention of consumers, collectors and the media. But few have stopped to think about them - where does this imagery come from? What are they saying? And, in ignorance, often innocence, sacred art has become fantasy art, used by some in ways that others consider disrespectful.

Attempts to explain the ‘fantastic’ imagery are usually either defensive, apologetic or chauvinistic, as one tries to legitimize the content using logic or comparisons with other religions. Faith can never be scientific and words like ‘sin’ and ‘prophet’ do not help in understanding the worldview of the Hindus.

To best appreciate Hindu art, one has to enter a new paradigm, a new way of explaining things. One has to explore new notions of perfection and possibility, quite different from the more familiar and more popular Greek, Biblical or Oriental worldviews. This book is an attempt to introduce the reader to this new paradigm.

The book consciously uses black and white renditions of the art so that the colors do not distract the reader from the content. Great attention as not been paid to the quality of the images as the point of the book is not the aesthetics of the image but the translation of this unique visual vocabulary created by our ancestors. I would have loved to list down and acknowledge each and every artist and printer; however, tracing them is virtually impossible since the images are not only mass-produced, but also constantly reproduced with minor changes by different artists; often, the same image is brought out by different printers.

Finally, like all things Hindu, the explanations is this book are just one of the many ways in which this art can be looked at Read this book, keeping in mind:

Within infinite myths lies the Eternal Truth
Who sees it all? Varuna has but a thousand eyes
Indra, a hundred
And I, only two.

Back of the Book

‘The book has little gems scattered all over within its narrative… (a) truly amazing book…7 Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art is arguably the most well-researched book of (Devdutt Pattanaik).’

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. Devdutta Pattanaik, India’s renowned mythologist, decodes these symbols to reveal a wisdom that has nourished India for thousands of years.


Author’s Note ix
1 Ganesha’s Secret1
2 Narayan’s Secret 33
3 Ardhanari’s Secret 59
4 Shiva’s Secret 79
5 Devi’s Secret 105
6 Vishnu’s Secret 123
7 Brahma’s Secret 155
Acknowledgements 177
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