7 Secrets of Vishnu, By Devdutt Pattanaik - Abhinav's reviewNote:
Since I first wrote this and other reviews of Devdutt Pattanaik's books, I have gained a better understanding of Hindu texts and scriptures. I believe Devdutt Pattanaik's writings are influenced heavily by western frameworks and agendas on the one hand, and introduce subtle and sometimes outright distortions in the interpretation of these texts. A small sample of the kinds of outright errors and distortions that would shame any scholar of Hinduism can be found in this blog post.
I therefore do not recommend any of Devdutt Pattanaik's books that I have reviewed on my blog. - Abhinav, Nov 3, 2017.
The author covers briefly the trinity in Hinduism, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. After that the book dwells on Vishnu, looked at primarily from the prism of the avatars of the lord - all ten of them, the Dashavatar.
The most fascinating chapter is the first one, "Mohini's Secret, which describes how Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva are connected to each other.
Each avatar is unique, each the result of the needs of the time, and each with its learnings. The avatar of Narasimha avatar is a powerful reminder of the limitations of the human imagination, as Hiranyakashyap learns.
(the Hiranyakashyipu) "episode in Vishnu lore is a reminder that divinity cannot be limited by human imagination or human memory. There is always something in the universe that surprises us." [page 105]
"In Vishnu lore, there is a general discomfort with the idea of offering people whatever they desire. A man who offers another whatever he or she desires is in effect being arrogant and over-estimating his capability and capacity." [page 113]
"The idea of bad gods and good demons is confounding. But it emerges from the presumption that the division of gods and demons is made on ethical and moral terms. This is, more often than not, the result of poor English translations of Hindu mythology in the 18th century, which declared Devas as "good" and Asuras as "bad"." [page 117]
"The word evil is often used to describe Asuras. But this word 'evil' makes no sense in Hinduism. Evil means the 'absence of God'. This idea does not exist in Hinduism because, for Hindus, the whole world is a manifestation of the divine. So, nothing can be evil." [page 119]