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To the enchanted world

Published : Dec 7, 2015, 6:18 am IST
Updated : Dec 7, 2015, 6:18 am IST

“In a world full of gadgets and smartphones, somewhere the ancient Indian culture and mythology has taken a back seat among today’s younger generation,” says the organisers of Litventure 2015.

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“In a world full of gadgets and smartphones, somewhere the ancient Indian culture and mythology has taken a back seat among today’s younger generation,” says the organisers of Litventure 2015. To bring back their attention to the great epics of India, For Writers, By Authors (FWBA), a popular Indian writers’ forum on Facebook in collaboration with Sip N Read, a start-up for connecting authors and readers brings mythologist, writer and professor Utkarsh Patel for a talk session.

Considering Utkarsh quit his comfortable corporate job to follow his inherent passion for mythology is in itself a trajectory of epic standards. Apart from devices such as hyperbole, Utkarsh is going to shed some light borrowed from his expertise on how to read mythology. “My approach is theoretical and scientific. The primary question we address is why read epics. Of course there is an element of entertainment. But if you look beyond, there a lot more that the authors are trying to tell you,” he explains.

Utkarsh is a professor of Comparative Mythology at the Mumbai University and has qualifications in Indian and World Mythology. After writing on his popular blog “This is Utkarsh Speaking” for six years, he decided to write a book. Titled Shakuntala — The Woman Wronged Utkarsh explores the famous character and tried to portray a different and often ignored facet of the character. “Most people assume that it was Kalidasa who had first written about Shakuntala, but actually it was Vyas. Though in the original epic not much is spoken about her, I feel she precedes those characters like Draupadi and Satyavati. Our myths are very much a man’s world since most authors were male. Although they have given moments of heroism to the women characters, by and large, they haven’t been explored much,” he explains.

At the event, some of the subjects that he is going to discuss includes the relevance of mythology in today’s world. “When the writers had written these epics, I don’t think they had thought that people of today would read and try to make meaning out of it. However, the problem is that the younger generation knows a lot about Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings, which is a good thing but they don’t know anything about their own culture. I don’t say this out of some superficial patriotism. There are eminent scholars from all across the world who have been researching on our epics and they still continue to work. There must be something that has hooked them. All I am saying is that don’t ignore what’s in your backyard.”

Utkarsh will also touch upon the tradition of writing mythologies. Lately, some of the most popular Indian fiction writers, namely, Amish Tripathi, Ashwin Sanghi and Anand Neelkantan, have been churning works of fiction with characters and events from mythology. “Since I am more academic I will try to give references and footnotes. My book is also completely fictional, but I have added the references. But the major difference comes from picking up characters from mythology and placing them in your world or reinterpreting the text in a different way. For example, you can pick Naarad Muni, Raavan and someone else and put them together. Or maybe you could bring Robinson Crusoe and Friday in India, will it be a true fiction or a myth Like I can’t have mythical characters say ‘LOL’ even if I am trying to put them in today’s time, unless I intend to make a spoof.” These are some of the big debates around mythology that he will try to address in his session.

On December 12, 11.45 am-12.45 pm At Children’s Academy, B.L.Murarka Marg, Malad East