Monday, 17 November 2014

7 Secrets Of The Goddess

I loved the title '7 Secrets of the Goddess' & the resplendent book-cover of Mr. Devdutt Pattanaik's latest book. Thus, I became interested to read & volunteered to be a part of the BlogAdda Book Review Program.

Mr. Devdutt Pattanaik, a doctor, consultant  & mythologist, juggles many roles with ease. 
I have been planning to read his previous books such as '7 Secret of  Shiva' & '7 Secrets of Vishnu'. Thanks to BlogAdda, I got introduced to the latest book of the author.

As I haven't read any of his previous books, I cannot compare his latest offering with the previous ones. This is an advantage.

However, I committed a mistake of judging the book from its cover. On the cover, seeing a beautiful Goddess (from the book, I learnt later that she is Goddess Balambika- the daughter of humanity), I felt the book is only about Indian Goddesses.

7 Secrets of the Goddess - Book (Cover)
'7 Secrets of the Goddess' has the word "the" in the title.

 It's not about one particular Goddess. It's about the Goddesses all over the world.

'Never judge a book from its cover'- I again reminded myself.
The author's research is impressive as he has covered stories/legends/myths from around the world. His hard-work and effort shines through.

Having read many world-tales earlier, I was familiar with quite a number of stories. However, I found different versions from what I had read or knew about the same. 

Personally I felt the author could have been more specific to our India & included a couple of extra references to our home-states & country. 
He could have referred to terms by their correct names- Pattachitra (and not Patta paintings as has been used in the book.)

I found some important Goddesses like Santoshi Maa, Sabitri (who got her husband back from Yamraj), Karni Mata (Goddess of Rat-temple)  etc & events don't find a mention in the book. 
(Please refer to my notes at the end of this post for more.) 

It's believed that there are 33 crores Hindu Gods & Goddesses. We can find deities being worshipped in not just in temples- in so many lanes, under the trees, near the river-bank/origin etc. Bhubaneswar, the Temple City, the capital of Odisha, once had 1,00,000 temples, and even now hundreds exist with so many Goddesses.  This Durga Puja many Pandals in Odisha like the Bhubaneswar's Sahid Nagar Durga Puja 2014 Pandal displayed some important Goddesses. 
And this is just one city of India...
India has so many states with their own local Goddesses and interesting stories...

The facts-
1. We cannot include everyone
2. What's important for me, may not be important for you.

In our secular India, the cradle of so many religions, there are a staggering number of Goddesses when we include the different religions. Taking the world into picture, it's simply mind-boggling! Had the book just focused on Hindu Goddesses, then also it'd be constrained. Somehow I felt- there are some glaring exclusions because/though the book has included so much.

Uncle Pai (Anant Pai) started the Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) comics as in a Quiz-show he found that Indian kids have more info about Western Gods, Goddesses & culture, while they couldn't answer simple questions from Indian mythology.

I have grown up with Tinkle & ACK & most of what I know is is from these comics, the books I have read and from the stories of my grandmother & Mom. 

Here's where I found the mismatch- I have received the stories in a version suitable for a young person. While this book presents the sexual connotations and deeper/different versions/descriptions. I feel the meaning is open to interpretation. Different authors have interpreted the same stories differently. This has been happening for centuries...
This book challenged my knowledge and what I knew, presenting a different view.
Was Devi Sita really the daughter of Ravana?

I loved the photographs and images with explanations on the left hand side pages. So many pictures that tell stories around the world! I did wish the images were in color though for better visual impact & more elaborate stories. (I know there's a much higher cost for so many color pictures. Just sharing my honest wish!)

You can read the '7 Secrets of the Goddess' & learn about the seven secrets of the Goddess in seven forms-
1. Gaia
2. Kali
3. Gauri
4. Durga
5. Lakshmi
6. Saraswati
7. Vitthai

The book '7 Secrets of the Goddess' is sure to supplement your knowledge and to set you thinking. I have been  thinking a lot as my ideas have been challenged ever since I read the book. It has made me want to discover more. 
I thank the author & BlogAdda for this opportunity.

My Rating- 3/5

Note- I have used Goddess all throughout my post & haven't distinguished it from ' goddess' unlike the author's explanation 'on capitalisation'.

Some additional notes (not concerning the book).
These are from my Granny & Mom's stories from Odisha that I would have loved to read in the book-

This is the Odia month of Margashira. In Odisha, it's celebrated as Manabasha Gurubar when Maa Lakshmi is worshipped on Thursdays in the month of November/December.
Check this pic by @PuriWaves
Goddess is prayed. On Wednesday nights, womenfolk decorate the floors with Alpana called Jhoti/Jhuti with attractive designs to please MaaLakshmi and invite her to their homes.

It's believed that Maa Lakshmi, a stickler for cleanliness & correct procedures, will visit anyone who takes care to strictly follow the rules while praying to her. As per legend, Maa Lakshmi had even visited a lower caste woman, who had sincerely prayed to her. When her brother-in-law, Lord Balabhadra and her husband, Lord Jagannath, had problems with her said visit, Maa Lakshmi left their home. As Maa Lakshmi had deserted them, the brothers got no food to eat and had to remain hungry for many days. At the end when they realized their blunder, finally, they got food to eat by Maa Lakshmi's grace.

Shri Jagannath Temple's kitchen is one of the oldest and biggest kitchens in the world that still functions as per traditional rules & rituals. It is believed Maa Lakshmi herself overlooks the cooking there. Small wonder, the Mahaprasad called Abhada tastes divine!

This is the Goddess who 
- is against casteism and is pro-devotion.
- wields power & is against injustice.
- demands equality & inclusiveness from her spouse. 

Odisha has many temples dedicated to Goddesses like Biraja temple in Jajpur, 64 Yogini Temple in Hirapur etc & important Shakti Peeths - Bimala Temple in Puri's Shri Jagannath Temple, Maa Tara Tarini Temple in Berhampur, Ganjam to name a few. Apart from celestial Goddesses, there are legends like Kalijayi, who's worshipped on an island named after her in Chilika Lake in Odisha.

Similarly other states of India have famous & lesser known temples too.
Incredible India has so much in store! Yeh Dil Maange More!

There are a lot of secrets that we don't know & need to learn, discover & explore.

I feel these need to be highlighted so that everyone can be aware & know more...


  1. Thanks for the interesting review....

    1. Thanks for your appreciation, Loco :)

  2. Seven Secrets! Very appropriate words for S! Very interesting too! Christianity doesn't have any goddesses, so it is always fascinating to read about them in other cultures.
    Have a lovely day and weekend.
    Wil, ABCW Team.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your views, Wil :)
      Glad this interested you!
      We have so many Goddesses that we don't know them all...
      Thanks. You have a great week too!

  3. Very exhaustive review Anita! You are privileged to be blessed with so many forms of goddesses that one just gets overwhelmed. There is so much to know. It is an education, really! Thanks for sharing!


    1. Thank you for sharing such nice words!
      Yes, we are blessed :)
      Lovely to hear from you. My pleasure!


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