Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Guide: Vaishno Devi

This is a guide to Vaishno Devi: Goddess of the Hills which is one of the comic books included in the three-pack Temples of India (Volume 829). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Call Number PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.829

Friday, February 14, 2020

Guide: Tales of Arjuna

This is a guide to Tales of Arjuna: The Exploits of an Exceptional Warrior (Volume 525). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Reserves call number: PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.525

See the detailed Reading Guide below.

Arjuna, The Monkey, and the Boy (pp. 1-8). When Arjuna comes to Rama's Bridge at Rameshwaram, he is surprised Rama used the help of monkeys instead of building a bridge of arrows. A monkey laughs and challenges Arjuna to build a bridge of arrows that will support his weight. With arrows from Agni's quiver, Arjuna builds the bridge, but it collapse when the monkey touches it. Arjuna tries again, and fails, so now he must immolate himself as promised. Just before Arjuna jumps into the flames, a mysterious boy appears on the scene who disputes the terms of the bet. The boy proposes to repeat the contest now with a witness, and this time the bridge holds, so the monkey makes himself gigantic, revealing himself as Hanuman. The bridge still holds, and Hanuman realizes the boy is Krishna in diguise; he and Arjuna both worship him as Vishnu. Vishnu explains that he wanted to teach them both a lesson about humility, and henceforth Arjuna will have Hanuman as the emblem on his flag.
Additional reading: You can learn more about Rameshwaram and its monuments at Wikipedia: Rameshwaram, and also in the article about Rama's Bridge, which is also known as Wikipedia: Adam's Bridge. Both Rama and Krishna are avatars of Vishnu; you can read more about Vishnu's avatars at Wikipedia: Dashavatara. Hanuman is indeed alive at the time of events of the Mahabharata; in a famous incident, Hanuman meets Bhima, too.
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Arjuna Defeats Indra (pp. 9-22). For twelve years, a king sacrifices to Agni, the fire god, pouring ghee (butter) into the sacrificial fire. All that butter makes Agni ill! Brahma tells him to go eat the Khandava forest to feel better. Indra is upset that Agni is burning the forest where Takshaka the king of the nagas lives, so Indra rains down on Agni. Brahma tells Agni to seek help from Arjuna and Krishna. Disguised as a brahmin, Agni asks them for help, and he summons Varuna to give the Gandiva bow and inexhaustible quiver to Arjuna, and the Sudarshana chakra to Krishna, along with a chariot. Krishna fights the forest dwellers, and Arjuna fights the gods, stopping Indra's rain with a canopy of arrows and rendering Indra powerless with the Vayavya, the weapon of Vayu, the wind god. Together, Krishna and Arjuna fight off all the gods, the nagas, and asuras. Indra hurls the peak of Mandara mountain at Arjuna, who shatters it with arrows. Indra is impressed, and when he learns Takshaka is safe, he yields. The Maya Asura seeks refuge with Arjuna, even as Agni keeps on burning. Indra bestows boons on Krishna and Arjuna, and Agni promises to help them at any time, and Maya promises to build a great palace for Yudhishthira, Arjuna's brother. This is the palace that drove Duryodhana, the elder of the Kaurava brothers, mad with envy, eventually leading to the Great War.
Additional reading: The famous burning of Khandava forest is an important event in the Mahabharata, and you can read more at Wikipedia: Khandava. For more about Takshaka, see this comic book: Parikshit (and Parikshit happens to be Arjuna's grandson).
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Arjuna Humbled (pp. 23-31). A brahmin who has lost nine sons already begs Arjuna for help, and Arjuna vows to protect the brahmin's tenth son, vowing to defeat even Yama, the god of death. When the son is born, Arjuna surrounds the brahmin's hut with arrows and stands outside to face Yama, yet the baby vanishes. Arjuna rides off in a celestial chariot to find the baby, but he fails. Now he must immolate himself as promised. Krishna intervenes, and he and Arjuna journey into the regions of night in the west, and finally they come to Vishnu's home. All the sons of the brahmin are there; Vishnu took them to get Arjuna's attention. Arjuna realizes that it is humility and faith that will be victorious, not vanity, and he takes the brahmin's ten sons back to their home.
Additional reading: This story forms the subject of a dance-drama from Kerala: "The progeny of Krishna" by the 18th-century poet Mandavappalli Ittiraricha Menon, based on a story in the Bhagavata Purana (X.89.22–66).

Monday, February 10, 2020

Guide: Shiva Parvati

This is a guide to Shiva Parvati: A Story of Divine Love (Volume 506). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Reserves call number: PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.506

Summary: The story begins after the death of Shiva's first consort, Sati. She is reborn as Parvati, daughter of the mountain king Himavat and the apsara Menaka. Narada tells Himavat that Parvati is destined to be Shiva's next consort, and he sends Parvati to attend Shiva in his meditations.

Meanwhile, Taraka is terrorizing the gods, and Brahma foresees that the son of Shiva and Parvati will be the one who defeats Taraka. Kama, god of love, and his wife Rati go to see Shiva and make him fall in love. Kama strikes Shiva with one of his arrows, and Shiva angrily burns him to ashes. The gods tell Rati that Kama will be restored to her on Shiva and Parvati's wedding day.

Parvati then practices austerities to try to win Shiva's love on her own. A wandering hermit seeks to persuade Parvati to abandon her quest, but she is steadfast, and this hermit turns out to be Shiva in disguise, testing her. They marry, and Shiva restores Kama to Rati. Together they raise the six-faced god Kartikeya, who grows up to defeat Taraka and restore peace to the gods in heaven.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Guide: Stories of Courage

This is a guide to Stories of Courage: Jataka Tales Of Valour And Victory (Volume 615). You can find it at Amazon.

Bizzell Call Number PN 6790 .I443 A437 v.615

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

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.