Book Review: Shikhandi And Other Tales They Don’t Tell You

Book Cover Via
Book Cover

Many in India uses our culture and religious roots in the arguments. Many times, it looks like bringing gun to a knife fight. Last time, when it was widely used in argument was the event of Supreme Courts’ controversial decision on Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, dealing with LGBT’s rights in India. Also, the moralist used this arguments against the women role in the society, specially when it comes to mindless arguments of provoking the sex-offenders.

With 30 stories from ancient Hindu Mythology, this is Devdutt Pattanaik attempt to shut them for once and all. Shikhandi and Other Tales They don’t Tell You is the collection of stories from Puranas, Mahabharata, Ramayana and other religious texts that refers to “queerness” and its non-subjective treatment in the “cultural context” of India.

The three Men who Know What its Like to be A Woman
The three Men who Know What its Like to be A Woman

In the first half of the book, Devdutt establish the context of “Queerness” from the global mythological sphere bringing stories from Vikings, Egyptian Gods, Bibliographic readings and Chinese legends. As we move forward to the next part, he brings these stories that challenges our social and cultural perception on sexuality. To be honest, if you have read other books from Devdutt, like Jaya, SitaPregnant King, or Myth= Mithya (click on the highlights to read my review of these books) ; you will find many stories repeated here. Like the story of Shikhandi, that is beautifully used in Pregnant King in explaining the sexual complexity of the king who gives birth to a child from his thigh. Or the story of Arjun losing his manhood due to curse of Urvashi in Jaya. Yes, these stories are repeated but still the author adds value and fresh perspective to them.

I gave Shikhandi and Other Tales They don’t Tell You by Devdutt Pattanaik a 4 out of 5 stars in the goodreads. This book will help in taking the queer agenda in the mainstream. It will be an eye-opener for many, who shield behind cultural and religious excuses in these matters.

21 Comments Add yours

  1. Sounds like an interesting read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, its a good read. Thank you for stopping by. 🙂


  2. Share the same sentiment as Mridula’s…and the illustrations are absolutely fantastic!


    1. Yes, Devdutt specializes in his hand drawn illustrations. Do try Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of Mahabharata from the same author. Here is the link of the book review:


  3. A short but precise review, looks like an interesting one… 🙂


  4. indrani says:

    Good the author is highlighting these stories.
    Makes me keen to pick it up.


    1. Yes, he made a very vocal objection when the announcement of Sec 377 was made. Do give it a try


  5. Shikhandi…a character one of the most fascinating amongst the many of our stories, a good review, created enough interest in me regarding the book


    1. Thank you Datta for your comment. Shikhandi is very interesting, always leave us curious. I also like the Krishna Udayshankar’s interpretation of the character in her book Govinda.


      1. Hi, may I make a point? Like many authors before her, she too seems casually and needlessly dismissive of Arjun’s achievements.
        Being an ardent Arjun fan, I found it very irksome that she basically ‘Cut’ Arjun’s triumphs and ‘Pasted’ them to Shikhandi.

        I mean, her Arjun needs to learn the difference between fire-tipped and fire-tailed arrows from princess Uttara! Whilst Krishn’s trusted warrior-ally and Subhadra’s dream man is Shikhandi!

        Interpretation is not the same as Distortion.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. See, the point she makes in the book is that she is using history as reference only and yes there was lot of bending of characters but still there was some fresh point of view.

        But I like your anger for Arjun. Such fan following he has 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  6. beloome says:

    Looks like this would be an interesting read. Have read a few writings of Devdutt Patnaik, will be picking it up soon. Thanks for the review 🙂


    1. You will not be disappointed by the book. Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comment


  7. narenkandala says:

    Sounds very interesting..Thanks for the review :)..Nagini


    1. 🙂
      Thank you for stopping by


  8. shruthinayak86 says:

    Will surely pick one copy when I am in India… he is indeed an amazing writer…


    1. Yes, you will enjoy the book. Thanks for the comment


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