Friday, October 12, 2018

The Picturebook Ramayana

Thanks to Joanne's project this semester, I learned about this wonderful website: The Picturebook Ramayana, edited by H. Daniel Smith.

There are approximately 80 images, each one accompanied by a Sanskrit verse from Valmiki's Ramayana, a Romanization of the verse, and an English translation. For example, here is King Janaka discovering Sita:

[King Janaka recalled:] "And as I was tilling the ground, a girl-child came out from under the plow I gathered her up as I cleared that field, and I have named her 'Sita' after that furrow."

And the project includes the Uttara-kanda, with Rama's twin sons reciting the Ramayana to him:

Thereupon the sweet recitation commenced, divine to hear, like the sound of angels. Those who had assembled to listen found no surfeit in the richness of the song.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Peter Brook's Battlefield

Some of you may be watching the film version of Peter Brook's amazing production of the Mahabharata for this class. Brook is now 91 years old, and inspired by the Syrian civil war, Brook has created a new play inspired by the Mahabharata: Battlefield. It is the story of Yudhishthira, victor and survivor of the war. What will he do now? You can listen to this NPR broadcast to learn more; here is the transcript:

A photograph of the production:

Names of Hanuman

From Epified TV here is a video that shows some of the different names of Hanuman:

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Featured Author: Annie Besant

One of the sources I used for the Public Domain Edition of the Mahabharata is a book by Annie Besant: The Story of the Great War (1899). Annie Besant, who lived from 1847 to 1933, was a leading member of the Theosophy movement and also a supporter of Indian independence. You can read more about her life and accomplishments at Wikipedia.

If you want to read The Story of the Great War, you can do that for one, two, or three weeks of reading during the second half of the semester: Overview - Reading Guide.

Although she was once married to a clergyman, Annie Besant rejected Christianity and spent some time as a member of England's National Secular Society, but then in 1980 she met Helena Blavatsky, a co-founder of the Theosophical Society. Because of her interest in theosophy, Annie Besant traveled to India, and she eventually became president of the Theosophical Society which had its headquarters in India. She was also a member of the Indian National Congress, and was elected president of the Congress in 1917.

You can find many of Besant's books online, including her Introduction to Yoga, her translation of the Bhagavad-Gita, along with her autobiography. This photograph of Besant dates to 1897:

Here is an Indian postage stamp issued in her honor:

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Origin of the Coconut

You can read more about Trishanku at Wikipedia. Here is the graphic from Amar Chitra Katha:

Trishanku wanted to enter heaven with his mortal body. Assisted by Sage Vishvamitra, he ascended, only to be thrown down by the devas. As he hurtled down, Vishvamitra propped him up with a long pole. The pole changed into a coconut tree. Trishanku's head became the nut and his beard, the fibre around it. Take off the fibre and you can see his eyes!

Here is a picture from Wikimedia showing the "face" you can see in a coconut:

Fact Sheet: Indra

This is the Amar Chitra Katha fact sheet for Indra.

Vahanas: Airavata the elephant and Ucchaisravas (Uchchaihshravas) the horse
Spouse: Shachi
Capital City: Amaravati
Weapon: Vajra, or the thunderbolt
Guards the East Direction
The God of Rain
Born to Kashyapa and Aditi

Fact Sheet: Vayu

Another Amar Chitra Katha fact sheet: Vayu.

Born from the breath of Vishwapurusha, the Universal Being.
Also known as Pavana, the purifier.
Broke the peak of the Trikuta mountain and dropped it in the southern ocean. Legend has it that Lanka was built here.
The father of Bhima and Hanuman.
Guards the North-West direction.
Vahana: Antelope.
Acted as the arrow that Shiva used to burn down Tripura.