Friday, August 8, 2025

ACK Guides for Indian Epics (MLLL-4993)

Welcome to the Amar Chitra Katha blog for my Indian Epics course at the University of Oklahoma (MLLL-4993-995); all the comic books are at the Reserve Desk in Bizzell Library. I hope you will enjoy them! Use the tabs across the top to see the titles: Ramayana - Mahabharata - Krishna - Deva/Devi (Gods and Goddesses) - Heroes and Heroines - Tales.

Some comic books have detailed reading guides, some have a brief summary, and each comic book has a blog post of its own. If you let me know which comic books most interest you by leaving a comment on that post, it will help me know which ones to focus on as I add more summaries and reading guides this semester.

~ ~ ~


Click refresh page for a random comic book, and click on the title to see the blog post for the comic book that grabs your attention.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Guide: Ravana Humbled

This is a guide to Ravana Humbled: An Arrogant King Finds New Friends (Volume 610). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Reserves call number: PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.610

See the detailed Reading Guide below.

The Feet of Shiva (pp. 1-9). Ravana happens to disturb Mount Kailasa while Shiva and Parvati are arguing. Shiva presses down with his toe, trapping Ravana beneath the mountain. Shiva is impressed by Ravana's courage, and gives him the sword Chandrahasa.
Additional reading: You can read other versions of this famous legend at Wikipedia: Ravananugraha. In other versions of the story, Shiva keeps Ravana imprisoned until Ravana's beautiful singing persuades Shiva to release him. In a Tamil version, Ravana makes the veena that he plays out of his own body parts!
~ ~ ~

The Mahishmati Episode (pp. 10-24). Ravana comes to the royal city of Mahishamati where Kartaveerya Arjuna is king (not to be confused the character in the Mahabharata who is also called Arjuna). Arjuna is bathing in the Narmada river and, provoked by his wives, he uses his arms to block the flow of the river.  Ravana, meanwhile, is worshiping a Shiva linga, but the flood of waters washes it away. Ravana challenges Arjuna to a fight, and Arjuna is the winner. Ravana's grandfather Pulastya begs Arjuna to set Ravana free, and he does, pledging friendship with him.
Additional reading: You can read more about Kartavirya Arjuna at Wikipedia. You can also read about the Narmada river, which is one of the seven sacred rivers of India.
~ ~ ~

INSERT: Ravana the Mighty (pp. 16-17). On the tenth day of the festival of Dussehra, the people burn Ravana in effigy, commemorating Rama's victory.
Additional reading: You can read more about Dussehra and the Ramlila (Rama Play) at Wikipedia. There are lots of Ramlila videos at YouTube also!
~ ~ ~

Tailpiece (pp. 25-31). Ravana comes to Kishkindha. The monkey Vali is engaged in prayer, so he does not salute Ravana. This makes Ravana angry! He grabs Vali's long belt, but then he gets tangled. As Vali leaps from one side of the river to the other and plunges into the water, he drags Ravana behind him. He even carries Ravana to the Himalayas. When Vali finally realizes what has happened, he sets Ravana free and vows friendship with him.
Additional reading: The monkey king Vali is one of the main characters in the Ramayana; you can read more about him at Wikipedia.

Guide: The Lord of Lanka

This is a guide to The Lord of Lanka: The Rise and Fall of a Demon King (Volume 541). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Reserves call number: PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.541

See the detailed Reading Guide below.

Sumali (pp. 1-4). The story begins with Sumali, ancient king of the rakshasas, and his daughter Kaikesi. While searching for a husband for her among men, he sees the great wealth of Kubera, king of Lanka and son of the sage Vishrava. He urges Kaikesi to seduce Vishrava. He marries her and they have four rakshasa children: Ravana, Kumbhakarna, Surpanakha, and Vibhishana.
Additional reading: You can read more about Sumali the asura and Vishrava the sage at Wikipedia. There is also a long article about Kubera.
~ ~ ~

Ravana's Sacrifice (pp. 4-7). The young Ravana is jealous of his half-brother Kubera's great wealth. He goes with his sister and two brothers to Gokarna to perform sacrifices. Ravana cuts off nine of his heads, casting them into the sacrificial fire. As he is about to cut off the last one, Brahma appears and grants him a boon. Brahma refuses to give him immortality but Ravana cannot die at the hand of a god, demon, rakshasa, serpent or spirit.
Additional reading: You can read more about the sacred city of Gokarna at Wikipedia.
~ ~ ~

Ravana Takes Lanka (pp. 7-10). Sumali urges Ravana to go capture Lanka from Kubera. Vishrava urges Kubera to go to Mount Kailash in the Himalayas, ceding Lanka to Ravana. Kubera was later distressed to hear of Ravana's wicked deeds. Ravana rides out to attack Kubera.
Additional reading: The sacred peak of Mount Kailash is famous for being the home of the god Shiva, as you will see in the next episode.
~ ~ ~

Ravana and Shiva (pp. 11-15). Ravana defeats Kubera in battle and seizes the Pushpaka chariot. Despite a warning not to disturb Shiva, Ravana lifts up Mount Kailash. The mighty Shiva traps Ravana beneath the mountain, so Ravana begins to sing, beginning Shiva to release him. Pleased, Shiva releases Ravana and gives him a sword.
Additional reading: For a different version of this episode, see Ravana Humbled. See also the Wikipedia article which lists even more versions of the Ravananugraha.
~ ~ ~

Vedavati-Sita (pp. 15-18). Ravana finds the beautiful Vedavati meditating in the jungle. She rejects Ravana's advances and throws herself into the fire, vowing she will be reborn to destroy him. Ravana later found a beautiful baby inside a lotus, but his ministers predicted she would cause his death, so he cast her into the river. By a miracle she appeared before King Janaka, who adopted her as his own daughter. By breaking Shiva's bow, Rama won Sita as his wife.
Additional reading: You can read more about the famous legend of Vedavati at Wikipedia. Like Sita, she is an avatar of the goddess Lakshmi.
~ ~ ~

Rambha (pp. 21-23). Ravana happened to see the beautiful Rambha on Mount Kailash. She explains that she is going to marry Nalakubera, son of Kubera, Ravana's half-brother and rival. Ravana attempted to take Rambha for himself, and Nalakubera cursed him: if Ravana ever married a woman against her will, his heads will explode.
Additional reading: Rambha is an apsara; you can read more about her at Wikipedia.
~ ~ ~

Sita and Ravana (pp. 24-30). Ravana finds Sita in Dandaka forest and abducts her. Rama marches on Lanka with an army to rescue Sita. Vibhishana urges Ravana to return Sita and, when Ravana refuses, Vibhishana joins Rama's side. Ravana show Sita the head of Rama, and she faints, thinking he is dead. Later, the illusion vanishes.
Additional reading: The comic book does not name the friend who consoles Sita when she fears Rama is dead. That friend is Sarama, sometimes considered to be the wife of Vibhishana.
~ ~ ~

Ravana's Downfall (pp. 31-32). Rama defeats Ravana in battle and makes Vibhishana the new king of Lanka.
Additional reading: You can read more about Vibhishana at Wikipedia. He is considered one of the immortals known as Chiranjivis.

Guide: Ancestors of Rama

This is a guide to Ancestors of Rama: A Noble Inheritance (Volume 572). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Reserves call number: PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.572

See the detailed Reading Guide below.

King Dilipa (pp. 1-6). King Dilipa, Rama's great-great-grandfather, and his wife Sudakshina had no children. He consults the sage Vashishtha who explains that the divine cow, Surabhi, planned to bless Dilipa with many children, but because Dilipa was flirting with his young bride, he did not pay attention to Surabhi, so the blessing became a curse. They need to atone by honoring Nandini, Surabhi's daughter.
Additional reading: You can read about both Surabhi, also known as Kamadhenu, at Wikipedia. Nandini means "she who brings joy," and it thus also means "daughter."
~ ~ ~

Nandini (pp. 6-10). Nandini decides to test Dilipa's valor. When Dilipa sees her seized by a lion, he is ready to fight the lion, but finds he is paralyzed. The lion explains why he is going to kill the cow, and Dilipa offers his life in her place. Nandini created the illusion to test him, and now she grants his wish for a son. His name is Raghu.
Additional reading: You can read more about Raghu at Wikipedia. This entire dynasty was often referred to as the "Raghu Dynasty," or Raghuvamsha. The poem by the classical Sanskrit poet Kalidasa with that title — Raghuvamsha — is the source for the stories in this comic book. Here is an English translation of the poem.
~ ~ ~

Raghu (pp. 11-16). When Raghu is a young prince, Dilipa assigns him to guard the horse in an Ashwamedha, a horse sacrifice. Raghu thus defeats many kings, but some of them vow revenge. The god Indra is also angry at Raghu's ambitions. Even though Indra makes himself invisible, Raghu sees him take the horse and attacks Indra. Indra finally hurls his vajra weapon at Raghu, but Raghu survives and Indra rewards him. Dilipa then crowns Raghu as king.
Additional reading: You can read more about the horse sacrifice, Ashwamedha, at Wikipedia.
~ ~ ~

Raghu and Kubera (pp. 17-21). When the vengeful kings defy him, Raghu vows to conquer the whole world. He succeeds, and then he distributes all the wealth to the kings and his subjects. A sage arrives after the wealth has been distributed to ask for as massive sum to pay his teacher. Raghu realizes he will have to get the wealth from Kubera, the god of wealth, himself. Kubera, fearing Raghu's arrival, sends a shower of gold into the palace. The sage blesses Raghu, promising him a great son. This son is Aja.
Additional reading: The god Kubera once ruled Lanka, but when Ravana took over Lanka, Kubera went to live in the mythical city of Alaka in the Himalayas, which is where he is living during the time of this story. You can find out more about Kubera at Wikipedia.
~ ~ ~

Aja and the Elephant (pp. 21-23). Aja is a virtuous prince, and Raghu sends him to Vidarbha to compete for the hand of Indumati, daughter of King Bhoja in a swayamara. On the way, an elephant attacks Aja; when he spears the elephant, it transforms into a gandharva, a celestial musician, who gives Aja a magical spear.
Additional reading: For more about the celestial gandharvas, see Wikipedia. For the tradition of bride-choice (literally, self-choice), see the Wikipedia article about the swayamvara.
~ ~ ~

Indumati's Swayamvara (pp. 24-31). The other princes are intimidated by Aja's arrival at the swayamara. Princess Indumati inspects the competitors and chooses Aja, as Ganga joins the ocean. The rivals plan to attack the happy couple on their way home to Ayodhya. In the battle, Aja uses his magic spear, putting his enemies to sleep. Raghu then makes Aja king and Aja's son will be King Dasharatha, Rama's father.
Additional reading: You have now see the chain, starting with Dilipa (Rama's great-great-grandfather), his son Raghu (Rama's great-grandfather), Aja (Rama's grandfather), and you already know Dasharatha (Rama's father).

Guide: Dasharatha

This is a guide to Dasharatha: The Story of Rama's Father (Volume 570). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Reserves call number: PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.570

See the detailed Reading Guide below.

The Hunting Accident (pp. 1-4). The young Dasharatha accidentally kills a young boy while hunting in the dark and must tell the boy's old, blind parents what happened. The old man curses Dasharatha: "Your son too shall be parted from you, and you shall die grieving for him."
Additional reading: In other accounts this boy is named Shravan; you can learn more at Wikipedia.
~ ~ ~

Queen Kaikeyi (pp. 4-8). Dasharatha also married three women: Kaushalya, Kaikeyi (promising Kaikeyi's father Ashwapati that her son would be heir to the throne), and Sumitra, but none of them bore him a son. The god Indra had sought Dasharatha's help in the war between the gods (devas) and demons (asuras), and Kaikeyi rode with Dasharatha when he went to help Indra battle the asura Shambara. She saved his life on the battlefield, and he granted her two wishes whenever she wanted them.
Additional reading: You can read more both about the god Indra and the asura Shambara at Wikipedia.
~ ~ ~

The Sons of Dasharatha (pp. 8-10). Dasharatha decides to perform a sacrifice to the gods so that they will grant him a son. A celestial being emerged from the sacrificial fire for payasa (rice pudding); he told Dasharatha that if his wives ate the payasa, they would have sons. Kaushalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharata, and Sumitra to Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Rama was everyone's favorite; even Kaikeyi agreed that Rama would be the best king to rule after Dasharatha, although there was a rivalry between Kaushalya and Kaikeyi.
Additional reading: Another name for this rice pudding, called payasa in the comic book, is kheer. You can read more about it at Wikipedia.
~ ~ ~

Vishvamitra (pp. 11-15). Vishvamitra asks for Rama's help in doing battle with the rakshasas who disturb his sacrifices. Dasharatha reluctantly agrees to send Rama and Lakshmana. News then comes that Rama has won Sita, the daughter of King Janaka, as his bride, and Janaka offers his daughter Urmila as a bride for Lakshmana and his nieces as brides for Bharata and Shatrughna.
Additional reading: Vishvamitra is one of the most famous of the Indian sages, and he is involved in many adventures beyond the stories recounted in the Ramayana. You can read more about Vishvamitra at Wikipedia.
~ ~ ~

Dasharatha's Plans (pp. 15-19). Bharata's uncle, Yudhajit, has taken him to visit his grandfather, Ashwapati. Dasharatha decides to name Rama as "yuvarajah," or crown prince, the heir apparent. Rama is surprised that he will be made king while Bharata is away, but he agrees to his father's wishes. Kaikeyi's servant Manthara, eavesdropping, finds out what is happening and informs Kaikeyi.
Additional reading: You can learn more about Kaikeyi and her family in the article about Kaikeyi at Wikipedia.
~ ~ ~

Manthara and Kaikeyi (pp. 19-22). Kaikeyi is at first delighted to hear the news about Rama from Manthara, but Manthara then turns her heart against Rama, and she persuades Kaikeyi to ask for her two wishes from Dasharatha: to make Bharata king and to send Rama into exile.
Additional reading: In some versions of the story, Manthara has hated Rama ever since he was a small boy. You can read about that at Wikipedia.

~ ~ ~

Kaikeyi and Dasharatha (pp. 23-27). Despite Dasharatha's desperate protests, Kaikeyi insists that he honor his promise and grant her wish that Bharata be made king and Rama go into exile for fourteen years.
Additional reading: The place where Kaikeyi awaits Dasharatha is the kopa gruha (or kopa bhavan, kopa mandir), the "anger room." 
~ ~ ~

Dasharatha's End (pp. 28-32). Rama learns of the change in plans and obeys without question, and departs into exile with Lakshmana and Sita. Dasharatha rejects Kaikeyi and spends his last days with Kaushalya. On the sixth night of Rama's exile, he remembers the old curse and dies. Bharata, however, will not rule in Rama's stead; he refuses to be crowned king and places Rama's sandals on the throne.
Additional reading: The Sanskrit term for these slippers or sandals is paduka; you can read more at Wikipedia.

Guide: Vali

This is a guide to Vali: The Downfall of an Arrogant King (Volume 546). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Reserves call number: PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.546

See the detailed Reading Guide below.

Dundubhi (pp. 1-7). When Vali was king of Kishkindha, a mighty rakshasa named Dundubhi roamed the world. After terrifying the Ocean, Dundubhi went to do battle with Himavan (the Himalayas). Himavan tells Dundubhi that Vali would make a worthy opponent. Dundhubi turned himself into a water buffalo and went to Kishkindha. Vali defeated Dundhubi and threw his carcass on Rishyamuka mountain, near the hermitage of the rishi Matanga, and for this the rishi cursed Vali: if he set foot on the mountain, he would die.
Additional reading: As you can see, Vali has extraordinary powers. You can read more about the legend of Vali's super-strength at Wikipedia.
~ ~ ~

Mayavi (pp. 7-12). Next, Dundubhi's son Mayavi came to challenge Vali. Vali's brother, Sugriva, also joins in the chase. Mayavi runs into a cave. Vali goes into the cave and tells Sugriva to wait outside. Days pass. When Sugriva hears a loud roar and sees blood flowing out of the cave, he concludes that Vali is dead. To trap Mayavi inside, he seals up the cave with a giant boulder. But Vali was alive, and found himself trapped in the cave.
Additional reading: In other versions of the story, Mayavi is not Dundubhi's son but his brother. In that version they are the children of the divine architect Maya and the apsara Hema, which makes them brothers of Mandodari, who will later be the wife of Ravana; this version of the story appears in the Uttara Kanda section of Valmiki's Ramayana.
~ ~ ~

King Sugriva (pp. 13-17). In Vali's absence, Sugriva becomes king, with Hanuman as his minister. But Vali finally pushes aside the boulder. He returns home and accuse Sugriva of having trapped him on purpose. Sugriva had to leave the kingdom, but Vali took his wife, Ruma, for himself. Hanuman and Sugriva went to Rishyamuka where Vali could not follow them.
Additional reading: You can read more about Vali's main wife Tara at Wikipedia, and there is also a brief article about Ruma, who is Sugriva's main wife. In some versions of the story, Tara is not a monkey but is instead an apsara, a celestial being.
~ ~ ~

Rama and Lakshmana (pp. 18-24). When Sugriva sees Rama and Lakshmana in the forest, he suspects they are Vali's agents. He sends Hanuman, in disguise, to investigate. Rama explains that he is seeking Sugriva to ask for his help in rescuing Sita. Hanuman carries them on his shoulders to meet Sugriva. Rama and Sugriva vow to help each other. Rama proves his strength by kicking aside Dundhubi's skeleton. He also does better than Vali once did in a test of archery.
Additional reading: Hanuman has many supernatural powers, including the ability to change his shape and his size, along with the ability to fly. For more about Hanuman, see the detailed Wikipedia article.
~ ~ ~

Sugriva Fights Vali (pp. 25-29). Sugriva calls Vali out to fight with him but runs away when Vali gets the upper hand. Rama explains that he could not tell one brother from another, so he was not able to intervene. Rama gives Sugriva a garland to wear around his neck. Again, Sugriva challenges Vali. From his hiding place, Rama shoots an arrow at Vali.
Additional reading: The fact that Rama killed Vali in such an apparently dishonorable way has provoked much discussion, with different storytellers and commentators finding ingenious ways in which to justify Rama's actions. There is a nice discussion of this in Stuart Blackburn's Inside the Drama House, which you can read online here: Rama's Confession.
~ ~ ~

Vali's Death (pp. 29-31). Vali protests that what Rama did was not right, and Rama justifies himself. Vali tells his wife Tara and his son Angada to trust Rama, and Vali entrusts his wife and son to Sugriva, bestowing on Sugriva his golden chain.
Additional reading: Other versions of the story tell us that this golden chain was a gift to Vali from the god Indra, his father. In some versions, this chain is what gives him the supernatural ability to take half of the strength of his opponents.