Today’s prompt was to write about a book which I recently read, the impact it had on me and the reasons for the same.
At the outset let me confess that it has been at least a month now since I have read any book, and anybody who has been following my book reading habits on Goodreads since the start of 2014 will know that this is the longest that I have gone without reading a book this year. A plethora of reasons have contributed to this long gap, but that is material for another post and not this one.
Given this background, I am not going to restrict my discussion to just one book which I recently read, but am broadening the scope to a genre which I thoroughly enjoy and have learnt a lot from – Indian mythology.
The advent of high speed unlimited broadband has meant that most of us spend more time googling for resources in topics and subjects that we are interested in, and to me, this means more time, bandwidth and resources to search for stories from Indian mythology. And one such source has provided me with access to some of the best English translations of the great epics, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and other seminal Sanskrit works. To me, this has been a treasure trove of information on Indian mythological and religious texts.
As a child growing up in pre-satellite TV India, my primary source of Indian mythological stories were ones that my grandparents narrated to me as bedtime tales, Amar Chitra Katha comics and the BR Chopra TV serials – Ramayana and Mahabharata on Doordarshan. When I grew older, C Rajagopalachari’s abridged editions of both these great epics also provided a lot of information to me on stories from them.
However, the last couple of years have been quite an eye opener in terms of understanding the vast ocean of knowledge these epics were when it came to the lessons to be learnt, the characters in them, their stories, and the sheer variety of human emotions they dealt with.
Take the Ramayana as an example. While most of us immediately think of Rama, Sita’s abduction, Rama slaying Ravana and Hanuman’s exploits during the great war as the main points of this great epic, lots of little stories and incidents such as Kaikeyi’s motivation behind demanding that boon from Dasharatha, Vibhishana’s motivation behind switching sides in the great war, Sita’s travails after she is rescued by Rama, these are some parts of the epic that I read about only in the recent past. These give me a better, deeper and healthier understanding of the great epic itself. Further, reading multiple interpretations of the great epic, both online and offline also meant that I appreciate the nuances, lesser known tales and the human emotions behind the individual characters in these stories better today.
The Mahabharata still remains that formidable mountain range (notice I use the word ‘range’ here rather than ‘peak’ as the epic contains multiple stories within itself) which I still kind of struggle getting my hands around. Irrespective of the number of times I read about incidents which are popular like the Game of Dice, Abhimanyu’s death, the Palace of Illusions, I am left spell bound by the sheer depth of information and subsequent interpretative knowledge in this great epic. It is not simply that wise men of the past and present state that the Mahabharata is nothing, if not a lesson for all of us humans in how to lead our lives. All that we need in terms of knowledge, information and guidance are there in different parts of this great epic.
Another profound religious text that I have been introduced to in the recent past has been the Srimad Bhagavatham or the Bhagavatha Purana, one of the great Puranic texts of Hinduism, focusing on devotion to the Supreme Lord, Vishnu. This text provides so much of information about Krishna and other forms of Vishnu that it is mind-blowing at all levels. As is that wasn’t enough, there are so many other stories of deities, humans and others in this text that one could probably spend a better part of a lifetime trying to read, understand and imbibe the lessons here.
I could go on and on about some of the other epics that I have had the pleasure of having glanced through during the last couple of years, but I will restrict myself to these three for now. If, like me, you are a fan and aficionado of Indian mythology and religious texts, then you surely have to keep coming back to this blog from time to time to read up on some retellings of well known and lesser known tales in this genre.
This post has been written for Project 365 : A post a day where the objective is to publish at least one post a day based on the prompts provided by the WordPress team.