BOOK REVIEW: LEADER by Devdutt Pattanaik


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–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    Hello and welcome friends. The book for today is ‘LEADER—50 insights from mythology’ by none other than Devdutt Pattanaik. This manuscript has seen the light of the day through renowned publishers HarperCollins. The price of this book is rupees 499. It was published in the year 2017 under management classification.

    Devdutt Pattanaik as we all know since 1996 has written over thirty books and 700 columns, on how stories, symbols, and rituals that construct the subjective truth of myths, of ancient, and modern cultures around the world.

    The book is indeed unique in many senses where, the author has tried to link the happenings and beliefs of mythology with our day-to-day life, especially, management of business enterprises. To write such a book, the author, obviously needed to have, vast cross section insights, into mythology, and its perfect syncretism for the safeguard of mankind. And the author has done exactly that.

    The book totals up to 235 pages. It has 50 chapters, and each chapter has a management lesson that emanates out of, either, a mythological tenet, or a mythological happening. Each chapter is some four to five pages long, written in plain English. Sentences are, quite well structured, with no wastage of words. And it touches everyone’s life, for most of us are actually struggling, in some form or the other, in this formidable orbit of life.

    I may not be in a position to narrate each and every episode or chapter of the book to you. But I would certainly like to take you through certain mythological names, events, episodes and tenets in the book that construct each chapter and then connects it with the relevant modern day episodes of business and the corporate world. The book encircles Mahabharata, Krishna, Arjuna, Vishwaroopa, Panadvas, Krishna, Draupadi, Kauravas, Duryodhana, Yudhistira, Dronacharya, Drupada, Kurukshetra, Bhagvata, Karna, Bhisma-Pitahmah, Bheem, Shikhandi, Elephant, Ashwatthama, Shalya, Bhagavata Purana, Khandavaprastha, Mathura, Kansa, Narada, Dwarka, Sudama, Uttanka, Gandhari, Sukant, Sharda, Kaliya the serpent, Hastinapur and Vyasa. These names itself will give you a flavour of the book.

    The author also connects Mahadeva, Shiva, Parvati, Rama, Ramayana, Rishi Vishwamitra, King Dasharatha, Bharata, Hanuman, Kumbhakarna, Vibhisana, Ayodhya, Ravana, Lanka, Garuda, Kartikeya, Ganesh, Shiv-puran, Daksha Prajapati, Varuna, Vishnu, Deva, Asuras, Lakshmi, Vishnu-Purana, Manu, Upanishads, nymph-Tilottama, Kama and Menka. These names only tell you in which circuit the book is indeed moving.

    The very name Devdutt Pattanaik might instil, in some prospective readers that the book has a Hindu flare. Where, I would like to clarify the book only has a Corporate and business flare backed up by episodic mythology, that is relevant to prove the point. No wonder it has episodes from Bible and Quran and talks of Prophet, Nathan, David, Muhammad, Ramzan, Archangel Gabriel, Mecca, Arabs, Europe, Persia, Christianity and Islam.

    It is refreshing to read about Greek Gods, Olympic Motto —Citius, Altius, Fortius—that translates into faster, higher, stronger. Then you have Ulysses, Hercules, Achilles, Odysseus, Apollo, Sea-God Poseidon, Greek God Hermes, Greek—Sisyphus, Greek heaven of the Elysian Fields, and how the author connects it to modern times.

    The book draws lessons from Brahma, Durga, Kamakhya, Shruti, Rishis, Yagnas, Raja-suya Yagna, Ashrama-dharma, Ashwamedha yagya, Mount Meru and Vishwakarma. It gives due importance to animals such as Boar, Eagle, Lion and horse. It spins a situational, positional and devotional story out of Chandra Gupta Maurya, Chanakya, Vikramaditya & Vetal, Chatrapati Shivaji, Shaunaka—the sage, Vaishampayana and Maa Santoshi Vrat.

    Both mythology and life is incomplete without stars and planets. The author brings around an episode with Brihaspati—Jupiter and Shukra—Venus.

    The author reminds of the greatness of Gautama, Buddha, Agastaya Muni, Nahusha, Indradyuma, Rishi Markandeya, Savitri, Satyavan, Shaktimuni and Harishchandra.

    Indian mythology has always had a lineage of folk tales where the author has included episodes of Akbar-Birbal, Shekchilli, Ganguteli, Raja Bhoj, Gobar ka Ganesh to convey lessons for modern day.

    And last but not the least the author even takes tips from Vivah-marriage, masculine, feminine, Americano—Pavlonian, Alpha-Male, Mughals, Jahapanah, Palki & Palanquin.

    We all think we know a lot about our own religion. But the reality is quite different. You will find it out when you read the book. For example we all think Duryodhana broke a lot of rules in Mahabharat. But did he actually do so? Find out. Read the book. I would give it eight of ten. A must read.

By Kamlesh Tripathi



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