Last updateWed, 18 Apr 2018 1am

Why Devdutt Pattanaik’s Hermit Simile is Wrong

Why Devdutt Pattanaik hermit simile is wrong

In a recent column in, Devdutt Pattanaik has raised three important points - Celibacy, Non-violence and Purity in his article – How celibacy nonviolence and purity work to establish patriarchy in India. The column is rather shallow and Devdutt seems to have either exhibited sheer ignorance based opinions or one that is motivated by mischief. The response will be mainly from a Hindu POV, though he has bundled Buddhism and Jainism.

The author is one of the famous “Wendy's Child” and has desperately applied a Freudian and western prism of today and anachronistically applied to several millennia. This by itself is a huge fatal flaw in this opinionated article. The author is either trying to get cheap popularity points to his base or trying to please his masters as how good Sepoy he is.

Let us examine his wrong misinterpretations being peddled as great wisdom.

The author's theory of tracing the origins of institutionalized misogyny, queerphobia, hierarchy, discrimination and untouchability, which are the hallmarks of patriarchy in Indian society is definitely motivated.

One can statistically connect irrelevant matters too, without any meaning. 


The author's ignorance and lack of reverence or even understanding for great spiritual giants like Ramana Maharishi, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda is very evident. He has oversimplified without any depth. One can either get Adhikara by deep analysis that is in line with great rishis or with personal experiences. In this case, it is safe to conclude the lack of Adhikara is only worsened by the lack of regard.

In Eastern traditions, when the inner spiritual urge to embark on a quest consumes an atman, it does not get bound by the rules of society. Does the author even care to know that there existed great mahatmas who assumed that Purusha, the Supreme Self, alone is the truth, male and hence all the jeevatmas were deemed as woman? We see Meera make this reference to the male yogis who object to her. We see Thirumangai Alwar and Vallalar even dress as woman. The likes of the author will idiotically conclude them as transvestites.

Is there anything beyond sex obsession Wendy and her children can even understand? Having such people explain about Indian spirituality is the biggest lunacy one can come across.

The hodge podge reading one line here and one story there makes it ripe for misinterpretation, as it gives the appearance of a well-read person.

The author makes a wild claim that Celibacy is reason behind misogyny in our society. But fails to even explain one word except from jumping from one story or parable or simile to another.

The greatest laughing point was where he makes one about celibate Bhishma refusing to fight transgender Shikhandi. This is coming from the author who keep misrepresenting Mahabharata as Jaya. He may be hallucinating himself as Vyasa.

First, Bhishma's celibacy has nothing to do with Shikhandi episode. Secondly, Shikhandi was not a transgender. (Most characterization of Shikandi as eunuch is wrong. He was born as a female reincarnation of Amba, who got the blessing of Karthikeya to be the reason for Bhishma's death. Born a she, yet married off to another princess, finds himself the reason his father in law wants to destroy his kingdom. She meets a Yaksha who switches temporarily his maleness and eventually gets blessed to be a male. No one questions his being male as his son is also a participant in the Mahabharata war, except Bhishma, who is bound by dharma. So Shikandi is neither a eunuch, transvestite or transgender nor a woman.) He is converted from one gender to another. He is not having any notions about his gender. Bhishma knows his past and cannot treat him exclusively as a male. One must note Bhishma did not have any qualms fighting Arjuna, who was a eunuch for an entire year.

If at all one were to entertain even the author's wrong POV, it only makes Bhishma more correct as he did not want to lift his weapon against a woman. The author wants to label this as misogyny. This is called delusion.

The author has failed to understand that in spiritual path one has to overcome different layers of limitations. The bodily attributes of hunger, sex, thirst, sleep are primordial pressures. A sadak overcomes these. Celibacy, fasting etc were provided as prescriptions to overcome these obstacles. 

Of course for a person with borrowed knowledge it will be similar to Duryodhana trying to halt Arjuna with Drona's armor. I can understand why a sepoy will find it hard to understand spirituality.


The author wants to mix all the three dharmic religions freely so he can cook up his own theories. Can the author even read Kama Sutra and understand it is more than mere sexual positions? Even Thirukkural has one full set of chapters to KAMATHUPPAL, pleasure. This is clear evidence that the perverted stance taken by the author is wrong.

The oversimplification of all these topics to make it fit into the Freudian prism and to please his masters seems to be the sole purpose of this provocative article.

The author again gives ample proof of misguided motivation and ignorance. Perhaps if the author cared to read the episode in Mahabharata where Vishwamitra is ready to steal dog meat from even a chandala, he can understand. (Provided he can get rid of his prism and prejudice)

The author definitely lacks depth on this topic despite quoting several incidents. Ahimsa Paramo Dharma is incomplete. Dharma himsa tathaiva cha is the remainder part of it. This cut and paste technology of quotes has definitely been a bane to our understanding of scriptures. We must thank people like Devdutt who highlight our lacuna.

Again the title is non-violence, but the author cheaply peddles his anti-vegetarian argument. Can one see the deception?

The author must first come to US and lecture the growing vegan and vegetarian movement. Just because he has gone to medical school does not make him an authority in nutritional science just like his peddling Jaya does not make him an authority in Mahabharata.

The crux is to reflect on the unity of consciousness. Vallalar wept whenever he saw a wilted plant, as he could relate with the consciousness or atman of the plant. This is inculcated through the discipline of Non-violence.

The same author fails to understand why we had robust kshatriya clans even taking on the British till mid to late 19th century. Where goes his theory of non-violence as all these kings were advised by the so called Hermit class. Why did Harihara and Bukka start Vijayanagaram Empire? Why didn’t their guru Sringeri Shankaracharya tell them it is wrong to kill?


This is the ultimate nonsense. Why does the author fail to see the evidence gathered in Saraswati Valley Civilization sites about the idea of Cleanliness and purity? It is evidence throughout Gita where Krishna keeps repeating Shaucha as key step. Of course the author is wiser than Krishna that he seems to have all the cosmic wisdom routed only through him.

Purity of body is simple to start, followed by purity of mind. The external malas can only be removed with sustained effort just like internal malas. Is the author taking bath once in a decade? Just like he eats daily, doesn’t he clean daily?  The idea of cleanliness has been disintegrating with time. There is archeological evidence that Harappan cities had toilets in every house and even public ones. There is record of public garbage disposal facilities. Contrast it with current Indian cities and villages. Does this mean that we are encouraging being unclean nowadays or are we losing the value attached to purity?

The author dances around lots of topics and not even giving one simple justification to his perverted opinion being peddled as wisdom from a smart man.


If one were to listen to the lunacy of such Sepoys whatever little knowledge we have about our past will also be filled with manufactured myths which he specializes in.

Simple question, do great mahatmas like Swami Sivananda encourage non-touchism? Is misogynism and ideas like queerphobia an individual's lack of internal growth or a problem of society? It is both, but rooted in the individual. The individual gets confused with corrupted knowledge coming from tamasic perversions of the original. We must take time to question did Vallalar encourage misogynism because he was celibate and also in a woman's garb. We must ask serious questions on the motives dished out by Sepoys like DP. He lacks not just adhikara but also seems to be morally bankrupt as he is deliberately tying up unrelated ideas to spin his own tales of myth.

DP kind of characters are good examples of what happens if things go exactly opposite to the experiences of Valmiki. A hunter transforms his inner side to write a great Ramayana. Here is a self-styled expert who reads and writes about Mahabharata in his perverted style and harms whatever little dharma is existing with his Freudian sexist prism.

Ask the question, if we follow Valmiki, we can get to the feet of Rama. If we follow Devdutt Pattanaik, we may get titillations of perversion misinterpreting great truths of Hinduism and earn the title Best Sepoy and Best Wendy's child. Decide for yourself. My choice is Rama's feet. What is your choice? 

Author: Satchitananda

Published: August 17, 2016

Photo credit:

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. Jagrit Bharat is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Jagrit Bharat and Jagrit Bharat does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.