Devdutt Pattnaik is an Indian physician turned leadership consultant, mythologist, author and communicator who has written over 600 articles and 30 books on the areas of myth, religion, mythology and management. He also has a show called “Devlok with Devdutt Pattnaik” on Epic channel. A few of his noteworthy works on the relevance of sacred stories, symbols and rituals in modern times, are Myth = Mithya: A Handbook of Hindu Mythology, Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata, Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana, Business Sutra: An Indian Approach to Management, Shikhandi: And Other Tales they Don’t Tell You.
The Pregnant King is his first book in fiction. The story revolves around the Turuvasus of Vallabhi. The events take place in parallel with the war of Mahabharata. It is the story of a childless king, Yuvanashva. He worshipped the gods and begged them for a child. One day, an act of cruelty transformed his life forever.
This story is about a man who longs to be addressed as ” a mother ” by his child. “What sounds sweetest, being called Mother or being called Father?” It’s about a princess who is a king at heart and yet can never be respected as one just because she was a woman. It is about Shikhandi who inspite of being a woman was raised as a man. It is about Yaksha who gave up his manhood to help Shikhandi prove to the world that he was man enough. It is about 2 boys, Sumedha and Somvat who later turned to husband and wife under the names, Sumedha and Somvati who were killed just because the society was not able to accept their choices.
The basic idea of the story is not just about how a king fathers a child and rules over his kingdom. The story explores the conflict between desire and social obligations. The concept of gender of a person. What about the flesh? Is it just about the birth and lineage? What about the soul? The imperfection of human condition amd our stubborn refusal to make room for all those in between is what Pattnaik portrays rather beautifully.
“That’s what they were. Vehicles of an idea. Two ideas. No. One idea, two expressions. Two halves of the same idea. Mutually interdependent. Because within you is your soul, Adi-natha as Shiva, silent, observant, still. Around you is matter, Adi-natha as Shakti, ever-changing, enchanting, enlightening, enriching, empowering.”
It is definitely a 5/5 read!
– Mansi Ambalam