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Sunday, April 27, 2003
Books

Kidsí corner
Fun time with devtas & demons!
Prerana Trehan

Tales of Fabled Beasts, Gods and Demons
by Bulbul Sharma. Puffin Books. Pages 112. Rs 199.

Tales of Fabled Beasts, Gods and DemonsSOME of your parents might have a bone to pick with me. The new session has barely begun and I am already asking you to take a break and escape into the world of demons and devtas of Indian mythology to which Bulbul Sharma has opened a door for you with Tales of Fabled Beasts, Gods and Demons. The timing is not right, they might argue, but when one is talking about the ageless, timeless tales from mythology, the issue of time becomes irrelevant. There is no reason why their appeal, undiminished as it has been through centuries of telling and retelling, should be allowed to fade in the shadows of demanding curricula! And children, my bet is your parents will ask to borrow this book when you are through reading it because it reminds them of the long-lost thrill of their own childhood.

This is a world of drama and excitement populated with beings with magical powers and mind-boggling abilities. It might be unlike anything you have known or seen so far, but one thing is for sure, you will have plenty of fun as you accompany these gods and beasts in their many escapades. You can meet Vaataapi and Ilvala, two cunning rakshasa brothers who are careful to invite "only plump and well-built young men" to dinner so that they can make a meal of them. Hold on tightly to the tail of Hanuman, the playful Monkey God, as he leaps towards the sun, but take care not to laugh too loudly when he almost swallows it, mistaking it for a ripe fruit! Applaud the might of Devi, the Mother Goddess, when she slays Mahisasura, half-man, half-buffalo, whom the combined might of all the devtas couldnít destroy. Find out why serpents have forked tongues and why eagles prey on them. Join a group of children your age in a game of hide-and-seek with the clever cowherd Krishna who knows the best hiding places in the jungle. Meet the ruthless demon Agha who turns into a giant serpent and swallows whole the child Krishna and his playmates. Slip into the shadows of the dark and forbidding forest Dandaka to catch a glimpse of the terrible demoness Tataka, but be careful to stay out of sight otherwise she just might gobble you up. Learn about the mighty sage Agastya whose power was such that even the mighty Vindhya mountains bowed down to touch his feet.

 


Written in simple, everyday English, these stories will not have you reaching for a dictionary. Read them and watch the lively beings come alive in your mind, stretch your imagination and become one with these larger-than-life characters as they get involved in one adventure after the other on earth and in heaven and hell. And if ever your imagination fails you, striking, vivid illustrations by Sujata Singh take over the task of giving a colourful representation to these beings.

So if you love reading, pick up this colourful, slender volume and spend some unforgettable time in the company of Hanuman, Raktabija, Virbhadra, Hidimba, Kumbhakaran, Garuda and other equally interesting characters. And even if you donít, pick it up, nevertheless, for youíll have something to get your parents to read out to you on hot summer afternoons when outdoor play is impossible or late at night when the devtas, asuras, rakshasas and yakshinis leap out of the pages of the book and enact their fantastic tales under the cover of darkness. And watch as these wonderful legends work their magic on your mom and dad and make them forget, for some time at least, discipline, studies, timetables and homework, as they step back into their own childhood when, with wide-eyed wonder, they too heard the same stories.