Monday, November 6, 2017

Markandeya Purana - Review

Markandeya Purana, by Bibek Debroy

This is the tenth Purana that I am reviewing. Its name is the Markandeya Purana as you know. It is actually the shortest Purana. It has only nine thousand shlokas. I noticed that the last three Purana reviews that I had written were all satvik puranas, puranas that glorified Vishnu. I decided that it was time to move on to another type of Purana. I felt I had not written about rajasik puranas, puranas that glorify Brahma apart from the Brahma Purana. Between the rajsik puranas I decided to review the Markandeya Purana. This Purana was actually narrated by four birds to the sage Jaimini. Well, how did this happen and who were these birds who could talk.

There was once a rishi named Drona who married a woman named Tarkshi. One day, Tarkshi went to Kurukshetra when the great war between the Pandavas and Kauravas was happening. Arjuna and Bhagadatta were fighting when one of Arjuna’s arrows hit Tarkshi in the stomach. She died but four eggs fell out of her stomach. Bhagadatta’s elephant had a bell around his neck. A stray arrow sliced it off and it fell over the eggs protecting them till the end of the war. After the war ended a sage called Shamika found the birds and took care of them. They learnt to fly and speak. They bowed to Shamika and asked him to teach them the true knowledge. They then went to live at Mount Vindhya.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Bhagavata Purana - Review

Bhagavata Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

This is the ninth Purana that I am reviewing. Wow! I never knew I had read so many Puranas. This is the Bhagavata Purana as you know. It is the fifth Purana in the list of Mahapuranas. It is a satvik purana, a purana that glorifies Vishnu. It is not too lengthy. It is medium sized and has eighteen thousand shlokas. It is then split up In twelve sections(skandhas) which are further split up into many chapters. The tenth skandha is the longest and talks about Krishna. Let us move on now.

This Purana has been narrated by Romaharshan alias Suta. He was called Suta because his father was a charioteer who are often called sutas. The sages in the Namisharanya forest wanted to know more about Krishna and the shastras so they asked Romaharshana to recite a Purana that had all these things. The Bhagavata Purana was the one that fit the description best so it was recited.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Shrilok Homeless - Review

The Adventures of Shrilok Homeless

by Pika Nani

Have you ever imagined an Indian Sherlock Holmes? Well here it is in the form of ‘Shrilok Homeless’ by Pika Nani. Shrilok is exactly like Sherlock but there are a few variations in his habits that are suited more to the Indian style. If you look at the cover page closely you will see some recognizable buildings in the background. I you look even closer you will notice that the book is set in Mumbai. Shrilok uses his skills of logic, observation and deduction to solve ten cases and the last one is with his enemy Masterji (a tailor). I am going to review the very same book.
First of all, you must be very curious to know how Pika Nani turned Sherlock into Shrilok. Well first let us review the facts we know about Sherlock.
  • He has a companion in his cases that is Doctor Watson
  • He likes to blow on his pipe while thinking.
  • He plays the violin.
  • The only person to have outwitted him is a woman named Irene Adler.
  • His enemy is a professor named James Moriarty.
  • The inspector in the Sherlock Holmes books is Inspector Lestrade.
  • Sherlock is a private detective.
In Shrilok Homeless, everything above is changed so that it is suited to the Indian way. Let me write the facts below:
  • He has a companion named Rohan Doctor who studies in class VII.
  • He likes to drink chai while thinking.
  • He plays the flute.
  • The only person to have outwitted him is an 8- year old girl named Pari.
  • His enemy is a tailor named Masterji.
  • The inspector in this book is Inspector Divya Lokhande.
  • Shrilok is a chaiwallah.
Now you have seen that the author has cleverly twisted everything into an Indian manner. As the book is set in Mumbai few things are also related to ordinary Mumbai life. Few of the cases such as the ‘The Lunchbox’ and the ‘The Rose Diamond’ are related to Mumbai things. ‘The Lunchbox’ is related to a dabba and dabbawallas. ‘The Rose Diamond’ all starts with a simple vada pav. This gives the Indian touch needed. All the cases are quite interesting and funny. I like the book very much. My favourite case was ‘The Rose Diamond’. I found this case very interesting. The mystery really needed you to think to find the answer. My favourite part in the mystery was the part when they start interrogating the workers at the shop from where the diamond was stolen.
I had also gone to the launch of the book that was held at Hippocampus. Over there we met the author Pika Nani and had a fun session solving codes and learning more about the book. Let me give you an example of few codes. See if you can solve it. You can check your answers below. Here it is:
  2. Heat the cold lunch in the cool box Answers to Q1 and Q2
I enjoyed the book as it was simple yet really interesting and fun to read. You feel like you are solving the mystery along with Shrilok when you read the book. I liked the book but my sister did not. She found it boring. Few people might not like it but they are free to have their own opinions.
All the ten cases are amazing. Each one better than the other. I loved reading this book and had a really good experience.

Read “Shrilok Homeless” By Pika Nani to find out more about Shrilok and his interesting adventures.

Explanation: You had to cross out every alternate letter to find the answer. It was quite simple.

Explanation: After each word related to temperature or weather you had to underline the next one.
So the code was:
Heat the cold lunch in the cool box
Answer was The Lunch Box.

© 2017, Anika Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

eGranth - Anvita and Anika's Book Newsletter - Sep 2017

Editor’s Note: This is the sixth newsletter. Last time my sister had edited it so this time I, Anika Agarwal, am the editor. In the August edition of the newsletter we had mentioned doing themed newsletters. Well, this edition is a themed one. The theme for this one is the Bookalicious section. That basically means that all the books in the newsletter are ones that we like. There is not a single book we don’t like in this edition. There is also one new addition to our newsletter. We have decided to give awards to our favourite books and the funniest book of the month. If you look in the top right corner of each page, you will notice a small badge, or trophy, telling you which section that particular book is in. Badges are for the normal sections. The trophies are for our favourite books, and the medals are for the funniest books. Hope you like these additions - Anika

George and the Blue Moon by Stephen and Lucy Hawking

Sci-Fi: Adventure
Age: 9-11
Reviewed by: Anika
Buy from: Amazon US, Amazon IN
George and the Blue Moon: This is the last and final book in the George series. In this book George and Annie are selected for an Astronaut training program that trains young kids who are interested in becoming astronauts when they grow up. After being fully trained these young astronauts were sent to Mars on an expedition to find out about life on the planet. Both the kids thought it would be fun and interesting, but they were in for a rude shock. The program was far from nice; it was quite the opposite. All the children at the program were put in pairs of two. Along with their partners the pairs had to undergo three very dangerous tasks without any adult supervision! Annie and her partner Leone were the best team by far. After some time, George and Annie start getting a bit suspicious as none of the tasks seemed like they would be useful later. When a plane that was carrying all the children of the program malfunctions, it seemed that their suspicions were turning out to be true. The plane would have crashed if Annie’s partner Leone had not taken charge and saved the day. To add to it all George and Annie meet their arch enemy Alioth Merak again! I really liked this book, though the ending was a bit sad. It could have been a bit better. Otherwise the book was amazing. My favourite part was when the plane malfunctions and Leone saves the day. I felt this was the second-best book in the George series. The best was ‘George and the Big Bang’ which was covered in the June newsletter.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Garuda Purana - Review

Garuda Purana (Great Epics of India: Puranas Book 17)

Translated by Bibek Debroy

This is the eighth purana that I am reviewing. It is easy for anyone to guess the name as at the start of the review it is given the “Garuda Purana”. This Purana is the seventeenth Purana in the list of Mahapuranas. In my Vishnu Purana review I had mentioned that I was taking a break from tamsik puranas and would be reviewing satvik puranas instead. The Garuda Purana is also a satvik purana. It is the third satvik purana that I am reviewing. This Purana is not very long. It has only nineteen thousand shlokas. These shlokas are divided into two parts – the purva khanda and the Uttara khanda. These parts are further divided into chapters. The purva khanda has two hundred and thirty-four chapters and the Uttara khanda has forty-five chapters.

I think this much introduction is enough so let us move on.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Vishnu Purana - Review

Vishnu Purana (Great Epics of India: Puranas Book 3)

Translated by Bibek Debroy
This is the seventh Purana that I am reviewing. The name of the Purana is obvious since the title says, “Vishnu Purana”. The Vishnu Purana is third in the list of Mahapuranas and is an important Purana. I decided to do the Vishnu Purana because it was a satvik purana, a purana that glorifies Vishnu. If you go to my blog you will see that recently I have written three continuous tamsik puranas, puranas that glorify Shiva, so this time I decided to have a break and switch to another type of Purana. Well here I am writing a satvik purana’s review. There are five other satvik Puranas. They are:
  1. Bhagavata Purana
  2. Padma Purana {reviewed this one}
  3. Narada Purana
  4. Varaha Purana
  5. Garuda Purana
This Purana has twenty-three thousand shlokas and these are divided into six sections. The last section is shorter than the rest. The Vishnu Purana is a medium sized Purana. As you must have read in my Shiva Purana review I have said that Vedavyasa has composed all the eighteen Mahapuranas. Well, when I read the Vishnu Purana I found that was not completely true. Vedavyasa had composed most of the Puranas except the Vishnu Purana. The Vishnu Purana was composed by Parashara, Vedavyasa’s father. Well I think this much introduction is enough. If you want a bit more information on what is a Purana read my first Purana review, the Shiva Purana Read its first and second paragraphs for information. Let us move on.

The day I fell into cow dung - Hindi

जिस दिन मैं गोबर मे गिरी 

एक सड़ती शाम मै 5th Cross Road पर चल रही थी | तभी मुझे एक बहुत गंदी बदबू आयी | जब मैने नज़र उठाके अपने आगे - पीछे देखा , मेरी नज़र एक गोबर के ढेर पर पड़ी | वही बदबू  का कारण था और गोबर का कारण एक भैंस थी जो मेरे  बहुत पास खड़ी थी| दुर्भाग्यवश तभी एक आदमी जिसका ध्यान पूरी तरह एक किताब में था एक दुकान से बहार निकला | वह किताब पढ़ते -पढ़ते जा रहा था और उसने अपना पैर सीधा गोबर के ढेर मे डाल दिया | आदमी आश्चर्यचकित नीचे देखता है |

सीधा दो क्षण के बाद मुझे एक इतनी ज़ोर से चीख आई की दरवाज़े और खिड़खियाँ खड़-खड़खड़ाने लगे | उस चीख का स्रोत वही दुर्भाग्यशाली आदमी ही था | वह आदमी चीखता और भागता हुआ नज़र आ रहा था | उस आदमी की किताब भी गोबर मे गिर गयी थी | मुझे पक्का लग रहा था कि अगर किताब बोल सकती तो वह भी चीख़ती हुई नज़र आती |

तभी मुझे शोरगुल सुनाई दिया | पूछने पर मुझे पता चला कि पास मे Bannerghatta zoo से एक हाथी भाग निकल पड़ा था और 5th Cross Road कि तरफ़ आ रहा था | जब मैन पीछे मुड़कर देखा तो मैंने देखा कि हाथी सीधा मेरे  तरफ़ ही आ रहा था |  इसे पहले कि मैं भाग सकती मैं लड़खड़ाकर मुँह के बल गोबर के ढेर मे गिर गई | मै इतनी ज़ोर से चीखी कि पक्षी भी उड़ गए | मुझे यकीन नही आ रहा था कि मैं गोबर मे गिर गयी थी | मैं फिर जल्दी से उठकर सबसे पास वाले नल पर गयी और अपना मुँह धो लिया | मैं फिर अपना थैला उठाने गई जो गिर गया था जब मैं गिर गयी थी | जब मैं जा रही थी मैंने फिर से उसी गोबर के ढेर मै अपना पैर रख दिया| पर मुझे यह घर जाने पर ही पता चला | घर पहुँचने पर  मैने एक और चीख निकाली | मै बहुत दुर्भाग्यशाली थी | उस दिन के बाद मैं कभी 5th Cross Road पर कभी नहीं गई और मैं भैंस और गोबर से बहुत नफरत करती हूँ | 

 The End 

© 2017, अनिका अग्रवाल Anika Agarwal

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Vayu Purana - Review

Vayu Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

This is the sixth Purana that I am reviewing. The name of the Purana as you can probably guess from the title is the Vayu Purana. The Vayu Purana has a bit of confusion surrounding it when you come to the list of Mahapuranas. This is because some people believe the Vayu Purana is fourth in the list of Mahapuranas whereas others believe the Shiva Purana is the fourth purana. However, the Vayu Purana is an important Purana.

This purana is a tamsik purana, a purana that glorifies Shiva. This Purana is a medium sized Purana and it has twenty-four thousand shlokas in all. These shlokas are divided into two parts. They are then further divided into one hundred and twelve chapters. There is just one last point before I start the review. The Vayu Purana is so named because it is believed that Vayu himself recited it.

Enough of introduction. Now, I would like to summarize and tell you my favourite story from this Purana. I am also sure that this is a story that very few would have heard.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Anvita and Anika's Book Newsletter - July 2017


eGranth - The July, 2017 Books Newsletter

Editor: Our July Newsletter is finally out. I know it has come after a long wait and I’m sorry for the delay but we finally completed it. This time we have added two brand new sections. Hope you enjoy the additions. This time I, Anika donned the editor's cap. My sister provided the content for quite a few books. She has given the content for at least eight to nine books and they are very well written. Well here are this issue's sections:
  • Epic Reading
  • Notable Books
  • Classic books
  • Yikes! I read what?
  • All work no play
  • Horrific Horror
  • Tickled my stomach

Epic Reading

This section contains books on the Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is the first section and has two books. If you are a fan of the Ramayana and all myths related to it, this section is just right for you.

Lanka’s Princess - This is yet another book written by Kavita Kane. This book is about Shurpanakha also called Lanka’s princess. Shurpanakha means hard as nails. She is the sister of Ravan. Ravan is an asura and the villain of the great epic the Ramayana. The first opinion that forms in your head, if you have read the Ramayana is that Shurpanakha is an evil shape shifting monster. She had tried to kill Sita, but had her nose and ears sliced of by Lakshmana brother of Ram. If you are hearing about the Ramayana for the first time, then after reading this you too would have formed a bad opinion about her. This book is different. It portrays the not well-known side of Shurpanakha. Kavita Kane has tried to sympathize with Shurpanakha while being fair to Ram and Lakshman. She has succeeded in doing so. I as a kid think the book could have done well without the overwhelming romance between Shurpanakha and Vidyujiva. Others might find this important or interesting but I didn’t care about this much. In the book Kavita Kane describes the small and trivial yet crucial events in Shurpanakha life that has not been written in other versions of the Ramayana. She has described most of the story from Shurpanakha eyes and concentrating on her emotions too. It has been a nice experience reading this book. You can also visit my blog to know more about this book. [k] [link]

Scion of Ikshvaku - This book is written by Amish, and is his second series which he has written. The first one was the Meluha series, and this is the second one, the Ram Chandra series. I want to give you a small idea on the storyline. The story covers the birth of Rama, his marriage and it ends when they are in exile and Sita is abducted, and Rama sees the Pushpak Vimana taking off with her. This is not the original Ramayana, but it is a fictional retelling of it. Amish has added his own changes to the story, with the basic storyline. I really liked the book. He added so many twists, which made the story one which you will read. I found each change in the story unique. The start of the book is slow, but later you really start to enjoy it. You might have to read some parts of the book again to understand it. It is a worthwhile book to read. It describes many things in detail, making it simple for the reader to understand. It is very different from the Ramayana and has many things that have been changed, but it does not make it unpleasant to read. [v] [link]

Notable Books

This section has all the must-read books. It contains the books that we thought most children would like. Trust me the books in here are totally amazing. Even if you are reluctant to read the books in here, do not miss them out. There is no need to buy them, just get them as an e-book or borrow it from a friend or library. The moment you start reading these books you will fall in love with them and would want to buy them. If they don't spark your interest follow the fifty-page rule before you put it down. They are totally amazing.

Esperanza Rising - This book is written by Pam Munoz Ryan. It was given to me by my cousin. As most of the books she gives me are nice, I started reading it. The story was about a young girl named Esperanza. It talks about how she struggles in her survival in the escape from Mexico to the United States. It starts with the unfortunate and sad death of her father and the way she her mother and servants, escape from the mercy of her cruel uncles to the United States. Even after reaching the United States luck is no better. They must do very tough work to survive and when things could get no worse, Esperanza’s mother falls sick. Can Esperanza stay strong and support her mother in this struggle? Read ‘Esperanza Rising’ to find out. This book was very nice. It gave the message to show hope and strength in even the worst of times. This book was based on the author’s grandmother’s experience on hermove from Mexico to the United States. There ae a few Mexican words in it which you may not understand but otherwise it was an amazing experience reading this. [k] [link]

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Matsya Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy - Review

Matsya Purana - Translated by Bibek Debroy

This time I am reviewing the Matsya Purana. This is the fifth Purana that I am reviewing, that has been written by Bibek Debroy. The Matsya Purana comes sixteenth in the list of Mahapuranas. The Matsya Purana has fifteen thousand couplets. It is a medium sized Purana. There are fourteen thousand shlokas which are divided into two hundred and ninety-one chapters. You might get a bit confused at this point because I earlier mentioned fifteen thousand shlokas but in the fifth line I mentioned the division of only fourteen thousand shlokas. The book doesn’t mention the division of the last thousand shlokas. Well, that must means that the last thousand shlokas have not been divided into chapters at all. The Matsya Purana is a tamsik Purana, a Purana that glorifies Shiva. Lomaharshana is the narrator of the Puranas to some sages in the namisharanya forest.
This Purana was originally recited to Manu by Lord Vishnu in his Matsya avatar. It is also considered as the most holy of Puranas because it was recited by Vishnu himself. Well, the question now is how and when did Manu hear the Matsya Purana? It so happened that Manu was meditating at the foothills of Mount Malaya. A pleased Brahma appeared and asked Manu what he wanted. Manu replied that he wanted to be the one to save the world from destruction in the current era. Brahma granted the boon and disappeared. Soon, the time of destruction dawned. As promised, Manu got a boat and collected all the great rishis and animals in the boat. However, before all this had happened, Manu had found a fish that had kept growing size. It became so large that it was too big for the whole ocean. Well that same fish came back and helped Manu steer the boat in the tossing and turning waves that were engulfing the entire Universe. The fish was none other than Vishnu in his Matsya avatar. Manu asked many questions, and the answers of the fish were written down in the Matsya Purana.