Book titled “Shikhandi and Other Tales They Don’t Tell You” by Devdutt Pattanaik is a compilation of 30 stories and incidents from Hindu scriptures and folk tales which border on the queer. These are stories that have homosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, cross dressing… undertones.
Many of us must be aware of the story of Shikhandi from the Mahabharata… who is regarded as eunuch or hijra… and who was responsible for the death of Bhishma. But there are numerous other characters in Hindu scriptures whose actions can be termed as queer.
Not all stories in the collection can be termed as dealing with queerness. Some of them get a homosexual overtone when we are forced to look at it in that way. For example the story of Chudala, Indra loosing his manhood due to curse…
Again not all cross dressing is performed to satisfy sexual desires. Cross dressing has been widely used as a method to overcome enemies. Some of the cross dressing instances from Hindu stories which was purely used as a trick have also been included in the book.
So stories that truly come under the category of queer are far and few in the collection. There are also no stories that can be purely termed as passionate gay love stories. Majority of stories narrate homosexual incidents that happen due to certain circumstances and are then ignored or completely forgotten.
But the book is still a good read as this is perhaps the first collection of stories from Hindu scriptures that is directly associated with homosexuality. We have had western scholars doing research on the topic which lacks readability. Here the stories are narrated in simple language with additional notes that gives fresh insight to the readers.
Shikhandi and Other Tales They Don’t Tell You
Published by Penguin Books
Author Devdutt Pattanaik
Price – Rupees 299/-