Wednesday, 19 January, 2022
HomeOpinionPoVMid-life crisis is real and Devdutt Pattanaik's Twitter timeline proves it

Mid-life crisis is real and Devdutt Pattanaik’s Twitter timeline proves it

Mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik is the reason why you should never scroll through your hero’s Twitter page.

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Some of mythologist and author Devdutt Pattanaik’s recent tweets read like a 13-year-old troll’s.

Mid-life crisis is real and Devdutt Pattanaik’s activity on his social media accounts proves it. Casteist slurs, abusive jibes, sexist rants and an untriggered display of childlike anger are some examples of what his recent posts are all about. Because no person in the right frame of mind would resort to such name-calling, slut-shaming and continuous ranting.

On 12 March, the author posted, “Isn’t social distancing same as untouchability?”. His tweet sounded like the trash talk of men who consider women’s night outs at bars as proof that gender-based discrimination is in women’s favour.


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Countering trolls to becoming one himself

His 2015 book My Gita is an interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita that gave my interpretation of the text the power over one of the most inspiring yet disillusioning texts I’ve ever read. His retelling of Mahabharata and Ramayana made the epics more modern, and his 2011 book Secrets of Shiva made me feel closer to god.

How vividly I remember trembling as I stood up with a mic at St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai to ask Pattanaik a question. I also recall how fast my heart was beating and the wide smile I had for at least an hour after the author exclaimed, “Excellent question!”.

I have been one of those jobless commentators on Facebook engaging with trolls who rubbish his opinion as propaganda. In the recent CAA debates, I have held his article contrasting Hindutva with Hinduism as the holy Bible to shun anyone who tries to conflate the two.

That was until Devdutt Pattanaik became a troll himself, and his problematic social media rants cast a pall over any of his works I’ve read.


Also read: Brahmins on India’s elite campuses say studying science is natural to upper castes: Study


Devdutt’s casteism 

Shudra ho, Shudra raho”. When I recently read this comment (now deleted) posted by Devdutt Pattanaik in response to a tweet, I immediately convinced myself that his account must have been hacked. But the next day, I saw a full-page rant by a man-child undermining, abusing, gaslighting anyone and everyone who called him out, maintaining that no one should count ‘Shudra’ as a profane word.

I agree, ‘Shudra’ isn’t slang, but Pattanaik’s use of the word was profane. He asked a person to ‘shut up’ by directing him to ‘remain a Shudra’. Was he insinuating that Shudras are below his savarna self and that they don’t have the right to counter him? Should Shudras never speak up or remain silent on the diktat of their ‘upper-caste’ counterparts?

His recent tweet is an abomination. For a mythologist of his stature who regularly comments on Indian culture and opines on the shaping of Hindu dharma over the centuries, he shouldn’t be denying the centuries-long ostracisation of the Dalits.

Untouchability is a form of apartheid faced even today by lakhs of Indians, rendering them exposed to disease, death and destitution. How could Pattanaik equate it with a hand sanitiser-hoarding modern-day bourgeoisie who is looking at a global pandemic as an opportunity to avoid social contact?  No, how can you think about it, type it, tweet it and not even delete it? How can this insensitivity not occur to you?

And then there’s the misogyny 

“Chudail”, “daayan”, “b***h” are some of the distasteful words he’s used on Twitter of late, which is unsavoury language to put it politely.

One thing I have not understood in his tweets is the constant reference to ‘she must love BDSM’ and ‘You want BDSM?’ What’s the problem here – is having kinks supposed to be insulting? Why must he attack trolls with abusive language targeted at women? Does that make him feel more masculine, give him more power?  

It’s honestly baffling that a man with so many books to his credit, a stellar career, a degree that so many people wish for has to resort to insults suited to a 9th-grade puberty-stricken boy.

He also responded to everyone who agreed with the sentiment that “death is better than rape” with this: “You just want to burn women”. Pattanaik, should we remind you, no uterus, no opinion?

I hope that Pattanaik hasn’t gotten his hands on this article. The last thing I want to be called is a ‘BDSM loving b***h’ by someone I once admired. Never meet your heroes, and for god’s sake, never follow them on social media.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Shubhangi please tell us what is your qualification for diagnosing “Middle Life Crisis?”

  2. Shubhangi your problem seems to stem from the fact that once you were in total owe with his intellect and ideas. Now you feel his language and way of responding to tweets from trolls does not meet your standards. You are entitled to your opinion as to the appropriateness (or lack thereof) his responses.

    When you make someone a hero you need to understand as to why you did that. If I admire a cricketer for his prowess on the field that is where it ends or a Bollywood star to wow me on screen performance that is all I expect. It would be my mistake if I were to judge the cricketer or Bollywood star as per my expectation on their performance on Social media.

    I am 73 and have read and discussed a lot about our Ramayan and Geeta etc., and I have not found anyone come even close to connecting with me on these subjects (My Geeta is aligned with his Geeta) So that is all I admire him for and that is all I expect from him. Once you develop this notion you are less likely to react to the other aspects of the life of your heroes.

  3. Well, it would be casteist to hyper-woke individuals who cant resist the taste of binaries (while opposing the use of same in situations that is against the liberandu code of conduct).
    “Shudra ho” is offensive, but nothing beyond that? Well, its time to target a Hindu and a Savarna so who needs context anyway? But Context is snatched open when its time for hyper-wokes who need to scream and be loud to validate their existence to bring out issues of violence in Delhi Pogroms, etc.
    For some people who truly see Hinduism as evil as ISIS, there cant be logic. Only competitive use of victim cards help the best in these cases. So, this article is more likely by a man or woman who sees Hinduism as evil and binary forms of argument is needed when it comes to Blaming Hindu savaranas but leaves the table during gender-non-binary experiences.

  4. Devdutt need no defence !! And he does not care now, and at some point of time we indeed need to stop caring. This extraordinatory orator has served us his life’s hardwork in a platter . He is the kindest and most generous to give it away so easily to his readers and viewers but the problem is whether we can digest this ? I will try to go on in my own journey with some frameworks some of which are ofcourse Devdutt’s, but must admit he is the only person I can feel connected any time and all the time. Thank you for giving such contentment.

  5. A few days ago The Print released a casteist video on how RSS ideology and Ambedkarism are alike. You yourself is casteist. You don’t even understand his sarcasm and just taking the literal sense of the word “Shudra” as a gaali. Moreover this article is from a person who hasn’t even read any of Devdutt’s 50+ books, even if you have read, then you should focus on your Comprehending skill. Instead of smearing this educated and Articulate Scholar.

  6. Whatever the case may be, or however rotten his behavior may seem, nothing can undermine the fact that he is an extraordinarily knowledgeable person

  7. This is like one mad guy commenting about another mad guy, based on twitter posts. After sometimes, it will come saying my twitter was hacked and those were not my posts. Well, neither of the writers justifies their sudden outburst.

  8. Problem with author of this article is she is not getting devdutt’s witty sarcastic twits targetting hindutva troll and their idiology..

  9. Knowledge without experience is a disaster. Classic case of someone educated beyond his intelligence. If an 8 year child gets too much knowledge for his age he will go bonkers and become dull. I think same has happened to Devdutt..he just thinks he knows everything and he is above everyone..he has become what he always says one should not become…sad 🙁

  10. If one really reads Devdutts writing…one understands that
    – ‘Shudra’ is reference to lowly thought.
    -Varna is not about birth but evolution.
    If u read the horoscope of Dr Kalam…u realize that he is a Brahmi . So….grow up.
    Most people like the author want to wallow jn the Pseudo hindu approach. It only seems right that Devdutt starts running deeper. ..deeper than Ramanand Sagar or B R Chopra. And nobody seems to know anything better anyways….all the silly stupid opposition is in such shallow logic. If u think like an idiot…don’t expect him to suffer u. No one is forcing u to follow him.

  11. Isnt accusing someone of mid life crisis an ageist remark?? I would say this is Nehruist meltdown. In interviews he just would’nt take a stand .. which always came across as lack of intellectual rigor or trying to hide the real self under garb of middle path. As true as the Atheism of Javed Akthar.

      • He may be crazy in his conduct, but he is much more knowledgeable than any of us. And more importantly he makes an effort to fact-check historical grounds for religious extremist movements. And after all it’s a person’s work that really matters. these comments don’t mean shit. So, unless you yourself have achieved something significant, you should really watch your mouth before calling someone a crazy loony.

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