Hindu mythology is an esoteric secret. Devdutt Pattanaik is one of those persons who has tried to interpret the underlaying meanings behind Hindu mythology and of course the Gods and Goddesses therein. Reading his books is sheer delight and 7 Secrets of the Goddess is no exception to it.
In the opening chapter Gaia’s Secret the author narrates how female form have been reverred through all times and cultures, chiefly because of her ability to give birth to a new life. He says that earlier virgin woman, meant a woman who was ready to bear a child. Every woman then was a virgin between the menstruations at the time of ovulation. This virginity is restored after childbirth. He then tells us how the sense of ownership and the dominance of the males degraded the status of the women and gave them a secondary status in the society.
Kali is undoubtedly most interesting and most scary form of the Hindu Goddesses. The author makes a very bold and perhaps far stretched conclusion that Radha has all the characteristics of Kali not in form but in thought. He refers to the unabashed love of the married Radha towards Krishna. Speaking of Kali, he further says that it is the Kali-side of Draupadi that makes her take the vow that she will wash her hair with the blood of the men who abused her. In fact, in these traditions, the story goes that Vishnu takes his various avatars such as Parshuram, Ram and Krishna only to satisfy the bloodlust of Kali, who wants to drink the blood of men who treat her with disrespect.
According to the author the head is the home of the Saraswati and perhaps that is the reason why Hindus paint their forehead with sacred marks. A dot, or the bindu, in the centre of the forehead is an indicator of human potential.
Speaking of Laxmi he says she is the daughter of Puloman, who rules the land below the earth and does not release Laxmi easily. Humanity has to invent complex agricultural and mining processes to procure wealth from the earth. Laxmi is attracted to men of actions that demonstrate strength and smartness. If you display strength and shrewdness, she will come to you. If you fail to do that, she will not stay with you for long.
The author adds to our knowledge by sharing with us that in the yagna-way there is no clear concept of God. There are only gods or devas. In the puja way gods/devas are replaced by God/Mahadeva, the tone is more emotional than technical.
There are interesting tales of Gauri, Durga, the more benign form of Kali and Vithhai in the book. In the latter case he elaborates the Purusha and Prakriti, and the traditions of seeing the female form in the male form.
This book is damn interesting. You will not put it down until you have reached the last page. All of us are accustomed to the authors illustrations. But over a period of time they had become repetitive. In this book we have rare pictures on every page on the left. The captions associated with them are prosaic. Better particulars of those images would have definitely helped an inquisitive reader to quench his thirst for knowledge.