Monday, May 29, 2017

Lanka's Princess, by Kavita Kane

Lanka's Princess, by Kavita Kane

This book is about Surpanakha, also called Lanka’s princess. Surpanakha 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 Surpanakha 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.

Now, the question is, was Surpanakha evil? Or was it because of some event or tragedy she turned evil. Let’s find out.

Linga Purana, by Bibek Debroy

Linga Purana, translated by Bibek Debroy

This time I am reviewing the Linga Purana. This is the fourth Purana that I have read and am reviewing. The Linga Purana is number 11 in the list of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This Purana is a tamasik Purana, a Purana that glorifies Shiva. The Linga Purana is a comparatively short Purana because it is just eleven thousand shlokas long. It is divided into two parts. The first part is known as Purva bhaga and has one hundred and eight chapters. The second part is known as Uttara bhaga and has fifty-five chapters.
This Purana like most other Puranas is narrated by Sauti or Lomaharshana, a disciple of Vedvyasa to some sages living in the Namisharanya forest.
There were many interesting stories in the Purana but I would like to narrate one very interesting story.

One story

I’m sure that most of you might have heard about this amazing tirtha named Sthaneshwara tirtha. This tirtha is known as the place where wonderful things happen. I would like to share the story of this tirtha with you.
Once there lived a sage named Dadhichi. He had a friend named Kshupa. Dadhichi was a of the Brahmin class while Kshupa was of the kshatriya class. One day both the friends started arguing about the superiority of brahmins over kshatriyas and vice versa. Kshupa believed kshatriyas were superior while Dadhichi said that brahmins were superior. Soon they had argued as to come to blows. The sage hit Kshupa with his fist on his head. Kshupa had the Vajra {Indra’s thunderbolt} in his position at the time. Using the Vajra, he struck Dadhichi and killed him. Before dying he called out to Shukracharya, the guru of the asuras. Shukracharya knew the art of bringing the dead back to life. He resurrected Dadhichi. Shukracharya then asked Dadhichi to learn the art of bringing dead back to life from Shiva. The sage began immense tapasya and managed to please Shiva. He got three boons. They were:
  1. He would be prosperous.
  2. His bones would be as hard as the Vajra.
  3. No one could kill him.
After obtaining these boons Dadhichi went and kicked Kshupa. Kshupa hurled the Vajra at Dadhichi but the sage was not hurt due to Shiva’s boons. Kshupa started praying to Vishnu to get stronger. Finally, Vishnu appeared and Kshupa desired to be able to kill Dadhichi. Vishnu was unable to do so as Dadhichi was fortified by Shiva’s boon but promised to try. Vishnu went to Dadhichi in the guise of a brahmin. Dadhichi immediately saw through the disguise. Vishnu asked Dadhichi to tell Kshupa he was scared. However, when Kshupa came Dadhichi did not say what Vishnu asked him to say instead he said why should he be scared if Shiva was there. An angry Vishnu hurled the sudarshan chakra at him but of no avail. Then Vishnu threw the Brahma Astra but even that had no effect. Other gods came to help Vishnu in his fight but they too were defeated. Dadhichi took a handful of straw and threw it at the gods. Almost magically the straws turned into burning tridents and burnt everyone. Finally, even Vishnu gave up and Kshupa accepted that brahmins were superior. The place where all of this happened is known as Sthaneshwara tirtha.

The Linga Purana is the fourth Purana that I have read and was interesting to read. Compared to the other Puranas that I have read, this Purana comes at number 3. This Purana concentrates more on the creation and destruction of the Universe. It also talks a lot about the geography of the Earth. The Linga Purana has less stories and most of them have been mentioned in other Puranas. In a few stories, there is a twist which is added to glorify Shiva. The story of Sthaneshwara was the only story that I had not read before.
The other Puranas that I have read and reviewed are the Padma, Shiva and Brahma Puranas. The reviews are all available on my blog.

Book info: Kindle India

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Anvita and Anika's Book Newsletter - May 2017

Editor: This is the May issue of our newsletter. It is the second issue. This time I, Anika Agarwal, am the editor. In the previous newsletter, we had written about the reading that we had done in March. This time we have written about the reading that we have done in April. You might have noticed that we have changed the template of the heading. It might continue in the next few issues before we decide on one that we like best. You also might notice that there are few different books with the same authors as in the previous newsletter. This time we have concentrated the newsletter on many series of books. Read and enjoy!

Puranas: This book is about a Purana. A Purana is one of the sacred texts of the Hindus. a sacred text. There are many Puranas. The truth is that no one person wrote the Puranas. Many people wrote them. There are 18 main ones. These main ones are known as Mahapuranas. It is believed that Vedvyasa wrote the Mahapuranas. Vedvyasa is the same person who wrote the Mahabharata and compiled the Vedas. Mahapuranas are mostly concentrated on the three main Hindu Gods. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is considered the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer. The Vishnu concentrated Puranas are called the ‘satvik puranas’. The Brahma concentrated Puranas are called the ‘rajsik puranas’. The Shiva concentrated Puranas are called the ‘tamsik puranas. All lists widely agree on the numbering of the Puranas except the fourth Mahapurana. Some people say the fourth Mahapurana is the Shiva Purana. While others say the fourth Mahapurana is the Vayu Purana. My sister and I have read four of the Puranas. They were really nice. We have even reviewed them on our bog. The versions of the Puranas that we read were unabridged ones. They were written by Bibek Debroy. His versions were easy and simple to understand. I enjoyed reading them. [Brahmna Purana, Shiva Purana, Padma Purana, Matsya Purana]