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January 24, 2015

Zee JLF Conversations: Devdutt Pattanaik

Text by Nittal Chandarana. Image courtesy Zee Jaipur Literature Festival

“The idea of God is the greatest myth! There’s someone out there who will take care of you; without any proof, you believe it.”

Verve speaks to author Devdutt Pattanaik on myth, fact and fiction

On acquiring material for stories
“It’s all there on Google, you only need to see where it is. People don’t look for it. If you look for it, it’s there.”

On his favourite myth
“The idea of ‘God’ is the greatest myth! There’s someone out there who will take care of you; without any proof, you believe it.”

On fact and fiction
“Define fact for me… is India a fact? 500 years ago nobody would have considered India as a nation state even existed. We have decided it is fact; it doesn’t exist in nature. There’s no concept like ‘India’ in nature. Ten people came together and decided India exists; ten people came together and decided God exists. It’s a democratic process. That’s what we call truth. What we call fact is basically people coming together and agreeing on something. For instance, India and Pakistan; 1930s India is different from the India of 1947. We assume certain things are true and fight for stuff that does not exist.”

On personal reading
“I don’t read for my work…so it’s more encyclopaedias; I love encyclopaedias. I’ve never enjoyed fiction.”

On the Zee JLF
“It creates a buzz about books and that’s good enough. Of the 100,000 people who attend it, maybe 0.1% will decide to read and those who read will continue to do so. Maybe a small audience will emerge and that is important.”

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