Sunday, October 14, 2018

Guide: Vasantasena, A Dancer

This is a guide to Vasantasena, A Dancer and Her Most Precious Jewel (Volume 657). You can find it at Amazon.

All the ACK comic books are on Reserve in Bizzell, and the call number for this issue is: PN 6790.I443 A437 v. 657

You can find out more about Vasantasena at Wikipedia, and about Shudraka's play, The Little Clay Cart, in which she appears.

The evil king Palaka, aided by his wicked brother-in-law, Samasthanaka, who pursues the beautiful Vasantasena. She wants nothing to do with him, and is instead in love with a poor but good-hearted man named Charudatta (who has a wife and a son, but don't worry: he can take a second wife too). Through the twists and turns of the plot, Charaudatta comes into possession of Vasantasena's jewels, and then loses them, but through another series of twists and turns, Vasantasena gets her jewels back while her slave Madanika wins her freedom. Things all seem to be going well, but then Vasantasena unexpectedly falls into the clutches of the evil Samasthanaka again, while the king's rival, Aryaka, has escaped from prison and ends up taking Vasantasena's place in a carriage, much to Charudatta's surprise. Charudatta is then made to stand trial for a crime committed by Samasthanaka (or, rather, a crime Samasthanaka thinks he has committed). It all works out in the end, though, with yet more twists and turns in the plot that will probably remind you of a Shakespearean comedy, although this play was written a thousand years before Shakespeare!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Guide: Parashurama

This is a guide to Parashurama: Sixth Incarnation of Vishnu (Volume 764). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Reserves call number: PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.764

Summary: The story begins with Bhrigu and his son Richika who married Satyavati. Bhrigu gives his daughter-in-law and her mother sacred rice to produce sons, but they mix up the pots, and this leads to a mix-up in the lineage: Satyavati's son Jamadagni will have a son, Parashurama, who, although born a kshatriya, will live a brahmin's life. He is also an incarnation of Vishnu, born to put a stop to the warriors like Kartavirya Arjuna who are wreaking havoc on earth and in heaven.

So obedient is he to his father, Jamadagni, that he is willing to kill his own mother at his father's command. Kartavirya Arjuna steals the calf of Jamadagni's homa cow, but Parashurama slays Kartavirya and rescues the calf. Kartavirya's sons then kill Jamadagni in revenge, whereupon Parashurama slays the sons of Kartavirya and then all the kshatriya on the earth, generation after generation.

Mother Earth begs Kashyapa to make Parashurama stop the slaughter, and Parashurama then gives away all his wealth to the brahmins, and he gives his weapons to Drona. Parahsurama then departs for the Mahendra mountains to live the life of a hermit ascetic.

You can find out more about Parashurama at Wikipedia.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Guide: Garuda

This is a guide to Garuda: Vishnu's Divine Mount (Volume 547). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Reserves call number: PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.547

Summary: The sage Kashyapa's wives ask for sons: Kadru wants a thousand snakes (nagas), and Vinata asks for two sons as powerful as those snakes. Indra and the tiny Valakhilyas prepared the sacrificial fire, and to humble Indra the Valakhilyas pray that another Indra be born: he will be the lord of winged creatures, Garuda. Kadru's children hatch first, and the impatient Vinata cracks open one of her two eggs too early; her son Aruna, the sun's charioteer, is not fully formed. She waits until Garuda hatches and he then frees her from enslavement to her sister as a result of their bet about the color of the tail of Uchchaihshravas, the cosmic horse (Kadru cheated). To free his mother, Garuda must steal the heavenly amrita; he does so, but he also enables Indra to steal it back!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Guide: Tales of Shiva

This is a guide to Tales of Shiva: The Mighty Lord of Kailasa (Volume 549). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Reserves call number: PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.549

Summary: The first story, Shiva and Arjuna, is about Arjuna worshiping Shiva in the Himalayas; Shiva disguises himself as a kirata (hunter) to test Arjuna, and they both hunt Mukasura, a boar-demon. After they fight over the boar, Shiva is impressed and grants Arjuna one of his divine weapons: the Pashupata. The second story, Shiva the Fisherman, Shiva curses Parvati to be born as a fisherwoman. Shiva then takes the form of a fisherman in order to win Parvati's hand in marriage by defeating the shark (Nandi in disguise) who is terrorizing the village. The final story, Shiva and Markandeya, tells about the birth of the sage Markandeya and how Shiva saved him from Yama, the god of death.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Guide: Mahabharata

This is a guide to Mahabharata: The Great Epic of India (Volume 582). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Reserves call number: PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.582

Summary: Believe it or not, this single comic book provides an overview of the entire epic! It starts with the boyhood rivalry of the Pandavas and Kauravas, then the Pandavas' successes followed by their losing the game of dice and the years of exile (including the Gandharvas' defeat of Duryodhana and the story of Duryodhana's failed cattle raid).

The second half focuses on the great war, including Bhishma's fall, Arjuna's revenge for Abhimanyu, the death of Drona, the duel of Karna and Arjuna, and the final Kaurava defeat followed by Ashwatthaman's night raid, with Yudhishthira being crowned king in the end. You can read about all the main characters of the epic at Wikipedia.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Guide: Indra and Shachi

This is a guide to Indra and Shachi: The Lord of Heaven and his Devoted Wife (Volume 567). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Reserves call number: PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.567

Summary: The three-headed Trishiras, son of Tvashta, is a sworn enemy of Indra. Indra defeats Trishiras, but must do penance for his crime. Tvashta creates the asura Vritra to avenge his son's death. Indra pretends to make peace with Vritra and then kills him; ashamed of his deceit, he runs away, which causes chaos on earth. The gods invite the mortal Nahusha to take Indra's place, but they are not happy under his rule. Indra's queen, Shachi, flees Nahusha's advances. The gods seek out Indra and ask him to expel Nahusha from heaven. Upashruti, the night goddess, escorts Shachi to Indra and they come up with a plan to defeat Nahusha when he is being carried in a palanquin by the seven sages. One of the sages, Agastya, curses Nahusha to turn into a snake, and Indra again becomes king of heaven.