The Complete Life of Krishna: Based on the Earliest Oral Traditions and the Sacred Scriptures by Vanamali: A Review

What Can I say? As with many others who were fortunate enough to read it, I agree this to be one of the best books I have ever read. Before reading, I was only expecting it to contain many of the numerous stories about Krishna, of his adventures, exploits, pranks, love, his words, deeds, of his part in the great epic Mahabharata, till his final ascension to his own abode at the end of his worldly sojourn.  In other words, I was expecting to read many of the stories which we already know and few others which form a part of Indian tradition and as a part of Hindu spiritual life, in which I happen to born.

The book nevertheless contain all these but it goes a step further in describing many of the essential points of Hindu philosophy and ways of life as a part of the wisdom  which makes the book much more important as a source of the essence of Hindu religion. The book begins with the author trying to establish the validity of Hindu religion and factual accuracy of the major events described in the principal Hindu scriptures. She has made an effort in the book to make the word “mythology” associated with the religion and mostly given by Western historians, irrelevant, and to establish the religion as a philosophy based on factual grounds. There is much more to learn from the book than simply written and oral traditions of Krishna, which itself are a great source of joy and devotion.

Lord Krishna was born nearly 5,000 years ago in a small place called Mathura, located approximately 145 kilometre south-east of India’s modern capital Delhi. Being one of the most recognizable and beloved gods of the Hindu pantheon, Lord Krishna is widely perceived in most traditions as the very incarnation of the Supreme God, who, according to Hindu philosophy takes birth in the human form for the spiritual benefit and salvation of His devotees.

The vivid details with which the various traditions are described and the associated purports and their significance glues one to the book. I will highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know the subtleties of Hindu philosophy along with enjoying the wonderful literary, sacred and tender rendition to the Supreme Lord.

Arabian Nights translated by Richard Francis Burton and A S Byatt: A Review

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A spicy blend of wit, humour, fatansy, adventure, wisdom and thrill is what we have as Arabian Nights. The timeless stories, packed with the horse sense and creativity of the east have enamoured people since ages and I am no exception. The narratives takes you to the splendid world of imagination, where Kings, vaziers, merchants, princes and princesses, fairies, genii-all play a power packed, adventurous, daredevil and venturous acts leading the way to some of the most thrilling experiences that beholds your attention and keeps you glued to the book. Of course, the some stories are long and the book needs to be covered in parts, reading some portion of it daily in order to absorb the previous chunk. Nevertheless, these so called stories of the east give a peeping view of the culture, life, polity, commerce, society and history of the medieval Islamic world of the Middle East including in some part of India where influenced by Islam. As they were translated, these stories became a part of life of the people both to its east and west, evolving on the way as they went by, moulding itself as per the needs of the region in question. In my opinion, stories are an important part of life and it would not be wrong to say that stories are something that make us, shapes ourselves and defines our personality. That is why all important cultures chose stories, allegories, narratives etc. to pass on their wisdom to the future generations and in the way furnishing tremendous joy and entertainment to its readers.
A word about translation: The stories are translated in an excellent way, using simple english, thus making the journey seamless and smooth, enabling to focus more on the joy rather than getting lost in heavy-weight words and consulting dictionary again and again. Overall, a highly likeable experience and a must-recommended.