Devdutt Pattanaik is a name synonymous with Indian mythology. Many of us grew up with fantastical tales of Rama-Sita, Krishna, and Shiva, but it was Pattanaik who put these epics in perspective.

From his best-selling books like Jaya and My Gita to his insightful TV shows, he has made these age-old stories accessible and engaging for the modern generation. Whether you’re a lifelong devotee of Indian epics or simply curious about the deeper meaning behind these fascinating tales, he has a way of making mythology relatable and even entertaining.

From a background in medicine to becoming a champion of mythology, Pattanaik’s journey is as fascinating as the stories he tells. He’s a bestselling author, illustrator, and speaker, and now even an audiobook narrator with his recently released Audible Original. Street 360 Degrees. The author sat down with to talk about the significance of mythology in modern India, Pride month, what a day in his life looks like, and everything in between.

Read the edited excerpts below:

Q. You have written a lot about and from the perspective of women in Indian mythology. Why?

Devdutt Pattanaik: There is a lot of knowledge in India, and it has to be presented in different ways for different groups of people. For many, it’s magazine articles, for others a book, and for some, it is the audio format. Street 360 Degrees, very specifically, shows women from different angles so that people do not have a singular and one-dimensional image of the traditional Indian woman as portrayed in the scriptures.

Q. How is listening and reading about mythology important for the modern generation?

Devdutt Pattanaik: Mythology helps you appreciate other people’s truths. If you want to be successful in life, you need to empathize with others. How they think, how they imagine the world β€” and that is what stories do, in general. But mythology, in particular, because it shows you how different parts of the world think differently. For example, the idea of ​​an all-powerful God comes from Christian and Islamic mythology. In Hindu mythology, it’s not and is rather ambiguous about the role of God in creation, and there is no concept of judgment day.

Q. Do you prefer audiobooks over the written medium?

Devdutt Pattanaik: I love audiobooks. If you’re reading a book, you can go back and forth from one chapter to another; you can underline words or phrases that you like. In an oral medium, you can’t do that. But it is something that you can listen to when you’re traveling in a crowded train or a bus or on a long flight, something that’s difficult to do with a book. I usually do that too when I’m taking walks or long flights.

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Q. What are the parallels you see between the modern world and mythology?

Devdutt Pattanaik: People around us are constantly talking about ambition. Basically, we’re Bakasura who is always hungry, always wants more. If you think about it, the people our ancient sages were talking about, we know them even now, in modern times. Likewise, all characters of mythology reveal some truths of the contemporary world.

Q. With Pride month around the corner, what is your opinion on people saying queerness is a Western concept?

Devdutt Pattanaik: When people say that queerness is a Western concept, it reveals that they are rather dumb and uneducated because they’ve never seen people around them.

Their cousins, nephews and nieces, and many around them might identify as queer but they’ve never seen it because they’re completely blind to it and have created a hostile ecosystem around them. So, these people don’t reveal themselves. People who keep looking at the West for all good things and bad need to return home.

Q. Not many know you’re a medical doctor by training, how did you find yourself where you are right now?

Devdutt Pattanaik: All opportunities are open to everyone. We walk the path we choose, but sometimes paths choose us. That’s how life happens.

Q. What is next on the cards for you?

Devdutt Pattanaik: I’m writing a book on Harappa and on Indian culture. Well, actually, I’m writing seven books at the time.

Q. What does a day in your life look like?

Devdutt Pattanaik: Every day for me is the same. A yoga teacher once told me ‘trees do not take holidays on Sundays’. I was so inspired by that line that I live every day the same way. I’m writing and researching in the mornings, focus on administrative tasks in the afternoons, and meet friends later in the evening.