Thursday, November 03, 2005

Tales from Indian Epics

At a time when folk music wafted slowly across the fertile plains of India, when birds and bees sucked delicious nectar from the rainbow of flowers on the shores of gigantic rivers, when men and women had plenty of food and clothes, when treasures of pearls, sapphire, and gold were found in abundance, when just and strong kings ruled over people with kindness and compassion, and women were treated with love and respect, talented poets and charming storytellers walked across India creating intricate tales upon the laps of which Indian mythology flourished. The stories have been passed on from grandparents to grandchildren for a thousand years, teaching them the path of right and wrong, the virtues of Dharma and the simple joys of contentment.

From the only copy of a handetched, palm-leaf manuscript of the Bhagawata by one of his ancestors, Holalkere Chandrasekhar composes the book "Tales from Indian Epics". The book starts with the story of how Valmiki's outburst of grief, upon seeing a hunter's arrow piece the heart of a male crane in the midst of passionate love, morphs into a verse in the meter of a Sloka, a four-line poem, with each line containing eight syllables of equal weight.

The book then starts its spectacular ride through high mountains covered with snow, dark caves illuminated by the red glow from the eyes of serpants with hundred heads, through the antechambers of palaces carved out of sandalwood, across mighty oceans and swift rivers, to magical worlds with trecherous demons and resplendent heros, across vigorous wars between mighty kings and through lands of tranquil peace. Stories of angry Ganga countered by the strength of Siva (He balances her furious force by letting her fall on his head first); of Prahalad's devotion to Vishnu despite his Asura lineage; of the love between Pururavas, the King of Hasti, and his beautiful and devoted wife Urvashi; the anger of Durvasa and Krishna's clever ploys; the hilariously stupid acts of Bhasmasura; the tricks of dwarf Vamana and the integrity of King Bali; the churning of the ocean of milk and many, many more stories transport the reader to a different world, on a neverending journey that is pleasantly exciting right through the last page.

While a perfunctory read will amuse, excite and make your day, an indepth read will lead you to question the meaning of Dharma and beckon deep philosophical thoughts to be slowly ruminated upon. Overall, this book is a wonderful read any time of the day, especially if you have little kids roaming around the house searching for mischief. For a brief while, you can captivate them with stories of flying Garudas and slithering Sheshas, watch their gaping mouths and sparkling eyes in amusement and let the old couple next door catch their first morsels of daytime silence in years!


Blogger ligne said...

sounds enthralling. it seems like a serious or perhaps a novel version of all the different amar chitra kathas.

6:51 PM  
Blogger littlecow said...

Its not serious - probably more like amar chitra kathas (which I have not read). This is just the kind of book that you can go to sleep and feel utterly content!

11:16 PM  
Blogger littlecow said...

there is a "with" somewhere in the previous comment which seems to be missing...

11:19 PM  

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