It was the British who moved India from its age-old caste-based system to a religious ecosystem and “suddenly the world is changing dramatically,” mythologist and author Devdutt Pattanaik said in a conversation with the executive director of the Indian Express, Anant Goenka Friday.
Pattanaik, whose new book Eden examines Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions from an Indian perspective, added: “The British come and say no, no, don’t look at caste, don’t look at vocation, look at religion. This is the key differentiator.
Speaking of how monotheistic religions emerged differently from Indian thought, he explained, “In the Eden pattern, you need a prophet to tell you what to do. The Indian model says everything has to change (over time). This “idea of impermanence”, he says, allows Indians to adapt very quickly and it’s a good idea to tell the world.
It is sad that we continually use colonial executives to explain ourselves. “I see smart people talking about multiple tools… it’s almost like we find out. It has always been there in India. It’s there in Jainism, Buddhism, it’s there in Hinduism.
While we are now wired to think that there can only be one idea, Pattanaik said that is not the way life works. “The left brain likes linear thinking and likes an idea that looks like a bigger decision. The right brain looks at perspective and has larger images. Indian thought leans to the right, it speaks of perspective.
He also equated the left brain with more tactical decisions and the right with strategic decisions. But “every tactical gesture will have a price and this idea does not exist in the Bible, the idea of karma, of a price to pay. What you find is a different way of explaining the same thing, they say if you follow the will of God, things will happen. But when you break with God’s will, things go wrong, ”he said.