Books Reviews


Pashu by Devdutt Pattanaik


  • A fish saves the world.
  • A horse flies across the sky.
  • A king discovers that his beloved wife is actually a frog.

Hindu mythology is full of tales in which animals play important roles. Some animals are looked upon with fear and dread, while some are worshipped along with the gods. Some shape the fate of the world, others form everlasting bonds with humans.

Where did the animals come from? From Vishnu’s avatars or Shiva’s asanas? How was a deer responsible for the events of the Ramayana? Why is Garuda the sworn enemy of the nagas? How did a mongoose teach Yudhishtira the true meaning of sacrifice?

Devdutt Pattanaik answers all these questions and more in this exquisitely illustrated book, retelling numerous animal stories from ancient texts, with his trademark charm and wit.


Yes, this book is for children. Even the author has categorized it so. However, reading Pashu was like meeting an old friend—rediscovering many things, reliving memories—quite an enjoyable experience.

As the years pass, many things go behind a thin curtain that envelops your memories. No matter how hard you try, some names and incidents escape you. Pashu helped me remove that curtain from at least one area: the mythological stories that my paternal grandfather used to tell me.

Not just that. My parents have always been kind to all animals and birds. My mother feeds and cares for those that come near our house. My brother and I have inherited some of that kindness. So, it is wonderful to know how important a role animals or pashu have in Hindu mythology.

Pattanaik shows how the animal kingdom is depicted in Hindu sacred books. This book has over 75 anecdotes accompanied by interesting illustrations. It can serve as an introduction to the uninitiated and a reminder to the well-versed. 

I enjoyed it because it does not preach; it just narrates and leaves you to draw your conclusions—spiritual or otherwise.

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