Have you ever seen God? It is one of the difficult question ever asked. The answer to it is still inconlusive. It is our belief and faith in the existence of God, that we have become a devotee.
In her book, The Upside-Down King, the author has presented beautifully the tales of Lord Rama and Lord krishna.
Beginning with the time of Suryavamsha dynasty also called as Ikshvaku, once there lived a king Khatwanga(Dilip) his inadvertent disrespect towards a cow, kamadhenu, displeases the God , who in turn curses him with no heir to his throne.
Worried , he approaches his guru, Sage Vasishtha, who gives him a cow Nandini and asks him to protect it in any circumstances, faced by difficult situations he keeps his promise and get blessed with heir apparent Raghu.
The Suryavamsha, also, Raghuvamsha, from Raghu ,had a son named Aja who gets married to Indumati, had a son Dasharatha.
To King Dasharatha and Kausalya, Lord Rama is born and to Sumitra Lord Lakshmana and Shatrughna and to Kaikeyi , Bharata.
Valmiki , means a man with valmika, anthill, was once known as Ratnakara, was a highway robber, and thus survived with his family committing the sin, observing this Sage Narada disguised wanted to teach him a lesson and asked him, you can rob all of my possession, if your family members are ready to share the punishment of your sin, when not supported by his family, he comes to the Sage and asks for his forgiveness and the sage Narada replies affirmatively to chant Lord Rama’s name , but unable to pronounce he asks him to chant ” mara, mara, mara, literally on repetition translates to “Rama, rama, rama., Ratnakara does this so long that an anthill surrounds his body overtime, seeing this Sage Narada becomes happy of his devotion , breaks the anthill and blesses him, and thence his name “Valmiki“.
The book also explains about how the measurement of time, nimisha, came to be and why the holy ganges is tied to the hair of Shiva and the importance of immersing dead ashes in the Ganga.
Satyavrata was a popular Suryavanshi king of Ayodhya , he had a desire to go to heaven as a mortal being , which is impossible according to the law of Nature, undettered, he approached Sage Vasishta, to of no use, then tried to bribe his eldest son Sakti to help him, hearing this the sage cursed the king and from now on you will wander around the world aimlessly and without peace, named him Trishanku.
The king did not want to give up on his desire, he approached the other sage Vishwamitra, on hearing the incident he promised to create a heaven between the real and at earth, but the God Indra unpleased by the plan, forces him down to earth and the Sage through his power Upward, a tug of war begins and the king remains Upside down, from it the term Trishanku swarga , indicating a state in which a person is caught between his or her desires and possessions.
The conduct of Harishchandra and how inspite of many obstacles he remained true to his dharma was beautifully narrated.
How kubera, lord of wealth came to be and his relation to ravana was surprising to read.
The demon king Ravana born to Vishrava and kaikesi and how jealous of his step brother Vaisravana he conquers Lanka.
Lord Shiva pleased with ravana’s penanance gives him immortal power, misusing it he was creating havoc on common man conquering kingdoms.
Overtime, due to the blessings of Lord Shiva and parvati , Kesari and Anjana were blessed with Hanuman, the one with prominent chin , and his unquestionable devotion towards Lord Ram was well narrated.
The evil must always come to an end, helped by Vibhishana, Ravana’s brother, Lord Rama kills ravana.
In the other half, the author talks about the other incarnation, Lord krishna of Lunar or Chandravamsha dyanasty.
Narrated beautifully through the various tales, the reader will get to know more about the human side of Lord krishna.
The only word that comes to my mind after reading this book is Brilliant!
To present such voluminuos epics in a microcosm way, i think, speaks much more about the author.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: SUDHA MURTY, prolific writer and Chairperson of Infosys foundation.
PUBLISHER: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE INDIA( IMPRINT: PUFFIN).