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British moved India from caste-based to religion-based ecosystem, changed everything drastically: Devdutt Pattanaik

Devdutt Pattanaik says in the Eden model, you need a prophet to tell you what to do. “The Indian model says everything has to change (with time).”

Understanding Eden: Anant Goenka in conversation with Devdutt Pattanaik

It was the British who moved India from its age-old caste based system to religion ecosystem and “suddenly the world changes drastically”, mythologist and author Devdutt Pattanaik said in a conversation with The Indian Express Executive Director Anant Goenka Friday.

Pattanaik, whose new book Eden looks at Jewish, Christian and Islamic Lore from an Indian lens, added: “The British come and say no, no, don’t look at caste, don’t look at vocation, look at religion. That’s the key differentiator”.

Talking about how monotheistic religions emerged differently from Indian thinking he explained: “In the Eden model, you need a prophet to tell you what to do. The Indian model says everything has to change (with time).” This “idea of impermanence”, according to him, allows Indians to adapt very rapidly and this is a good idea to tell the world.

It is sad that we are continuously using colonial frameworks to explain ourselves, he said. “I see some smart people talking about multiple tools…it’s almost like we are discovering it. This was always there in India. It’s there in Jainism, Buddhism, it’s there in Hinduism.”

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While we are now wired to think that there can only be one idea, Pattanaik said that’s not the way life works. “The left brain likes linear thinking and likes one idea that’s like a bigger decision. The right brain looks at perspective, and has larger pictures. Indian thought tilts towards the right, it talks about perspective.”

He also equated the left brain to more tactical decisions and the right to strategic ones. But “every tactical move will come at a price and this idea does not exist in the biblical, the idea of karma, of a price to be paid. What you find is a different way of explaining the same thing, they say if you follow God’s will, things will happen. But when you break away from God’s will, things will go wrong”, he said.

First published on: 24-12-2021 at 17:21 IST
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