There’s no doubt that reading helps people learn about a variety of subjects, especially those that they never knew about before. What makes this possible is how the material is presented. If it’s displayed in an accessible manner, readers will be able to not only learn, but also enjoy it. I thought about this aspect of reading after taking a look at Love, Pride, Virtue, and Fate by Bharat Krishnan – a very handy and enjoyable introduction to Hindu mythology.
Love, Pride, Virtue, and Fate is a collection of 25 tales in Hindu mythology that explores the traits mentioned in the title. The author strives to make connections between these stories to those in other mythologies. For example, much like the Greek gods taking sides in the Trojan War in The Iliad, the Hindu ones fought alongside both the Pandavas and Kauravas during the Kurukshetra War in the epic poem “Mahabharata.”
As someone who knows very little about Hinduism, I found the book to be very useful when it comes to understanding that religion. Most of the tales are no more than 5 pages long, and the language feels elevated while also believable, as in anyone from the present day would say them, hence making them timeless. Some include black and white drawings depicting vital moments in the tales, and they’re done pretty well. Each of the stories always end with Krishnan explaining why he included it in the collection. This was easily my favorite part, for not only he connects these tales to those in other mythologies, especially the Christian and Greek ones, but also he thoughtfully explains how each of them reflect a part of the Hinduism mentality and its values.
One of my favorite tales is “The Elephant God.” It involves Shiva – the Hindu god of destruction – cutting off the head of his son Ganesha after the latter prevents entry to the former. It didn’t help that the former didn’t know that he had a son. As a result, his wife – the goddess Parvathi – refuses to speak to him until he finds their son. Luckily, Shiva is able to find an elephant and place it on Ganesha’s head, thus making him the remover of obstacles.
Another tale that I enjoyed reading was “Fate.” That one deals with Kannagi – a merchant’s wife. She finds out that her husband was taken to the palace on trumped-up charges of stealing an anklet from the queen. Even though she proves that the allegations were wrong, her husband is executed anyway. As a result, she burns down the palace and becomes a goddess. This is why one shouldn’t mess with a strong, confident woman when she’s angry.
Occasionally, Krishnan will mention something politics-related due to his experiences in that field, but he does it in a way that doesn’t distract the reader from the overall themes.
Overall, Love, Pride, Virtue, and Fate by Bharat Krishnan is a wholly accessible collection of 25 of the most beloved tales in Hindu mythology. I would recommend this book if anyone is looking into that subject in the general sense. Not only did I learn something from it, but I also enjoyed it too!
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