99 Thoughts on Ganesha by Devdutt Pattanaik

By | September 7, 2013

Having just finished ‘BUSINESS SUTRA’ by Devdutt Pattanaik- I picked up few other books by him. Nearing ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ – 99 thoughts on Ganesha seemed to be the right one to read. And to be honest I was disappointed in the shallowness of the whole content. Maybe I the self-acclaimed Ganesha follower failed to fins much new in the book.

The number 99 in the 99 thoughts is defended with an inane argument. ‘In the game of cricket, having scored 99 runs, when a batsman stands poised on the threshold of that much coveted century, he experiences the moment that is best associated with Ganesha. Fear and uncertainty envelopes him, between him and his achievement stands hurdles, both real and imaginary; a possible spin from the bowler can overwhelm him, his own anxiety can paralyze him, cheering fans can distract him. He needs devine intervention then. he needs to focus , get rid of all hurdles, perform, get the final run and achieve what he so longs for. In other words he needs to think of Ganapati’

Reading the book- makes it clear that this was just post rationalisation. Seems the author ran out of thoughts on Ganesha. Not really possible for a god that has so many symbolism- stories- shapes- temples associated with him.

To the new Generation which does not really have the advantage of mythology being transferred down through generation by  elders in the family narrating them, this download of information may seem interesting enough.  They will find some answers on Indian symbolism and rituals and iconography. And yet they will even after book be confused to see if Lakshmi was the sister- wife or mother to Ganesha. .

Having said that and clearly not liking 99 so called thoughts distributed across 13 sections like Creation, Family, Representation, Stories, symbols, Temples, Festivals, Rituals, Literature, History, Spread and wisdom. A chapters one too many for 99 thoughts- and that’s why none of the subjects get decent time in very constrained forced one-page-a-thought format. Though the line illustrations are far more interesting the few picture plates used are too shoddy. The thoughts and inputs become too iterative in nature with nothing fresh coming up for large part of the latter half of the book.

Yet the author can be complimented on the ardours journey of collating and segmenting a part of the vast Ganesha thoughts in this book. In my view it was more apt to title it – ‘Ganesha for beginners’

I have ‘JAYA- an illustrated retelling of Mahabharat’ by Devdutt waiting to be read- but will give myself a pause from mythology and maybe finish ‘TATALog’ by Harish Bhat- a batch mate from IIMA.

99 THOUGHTS ON GANESHA- by Devdutt Pattanaik. A JAICO BOOK. INR 195. Pages 221.  To know more about the author visit www.devdutt.com