Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Book Review: VAMANA: The Fifth Avatar by Sundari Venkatraman

This story is based on the Vamana Avatar of Lord Vishnu. Vamana means a dwarf, a form he takes to teach the world, humility. There are many forms of this story. In one version we have the God feeling threatened by Bali and in other, we have a mother trying to protect the future of her son. Ms. Venkatraman chose the version where the mother's love comes in the way of justice. Aditi prays to Lord Vishnu to save her son from the impending march of Bali towards Indra's throne. It will surprise you to read that this version is not a pure good vs evil form of battle. It's more of a political statement on the part of the Gods. I often wonder about the rights and wrongs of the mythological aspects of a story.

Myths are often created with a perspective in mind and who knows how it has been bent, mended and remade with the passage of time. Who are we to question the workings of the God but a questioning mind can't help asking - was it always right? Were the God's always correct? This question I have always asked myself when I had read about Bali and Vamana and also about Mohini Avatar of Lord Vishnu.

Ms. Venkatraman's version too has raised a few questions in my mind and I hope it does in yours too. They write such stories to question the minds of the readers, to challenge their thinking power and most of all to debate on the rights and the wrongs. This does not stagnate us but elevates us to the next level of thinking.

Bali promises to give three parts of this land to a small dwarf yet he smiles and gives it all up when that small dwarf takes the form of Trivikrama and takes everything away from Bali and the world is left with a lesson of humility and not being greedy about what others have. 

Such a short story had a huge dose of moral to impart. I am also glad that Bali's story was not left at that. He got his redemption as he richly deserved.

Coming to the story telling part of this short read, it is short enough to capture the minds of the young readers. A child of five to 10 would love it. As a mother what I would have loved are some graphics along with this novel. If we are out to reach the minds of the young readers, a few pictures might help.

Recommended for young mothers and kids between 5 to 12.. If you want your kids to know our mythological stories, here is one series you should not miss. 

A Quote from The Book:

Bali gazed up at his lord’s face, tears of joy pouring down his face. “A promise is a promise, my lord. Here, please place your foot on my head since that is the only thing I own as of now.”

The First Line of the book:

Bali, also known as Mahabali, ascended the throne as the asura king after his father Virochana. In appearance, Bali was like all the asuras, about thirty feet tall, muscular, his arms and legs appearing like pillars. He was dark, the colour of stone grey, with a rugged face and thick lips. He wore his hair long, the black curls falling way below his powerful shoulders, a golden crown set with all the nine precious gems, sitting pretty on his large head.

My Recommendation:
For kids and young parents. This collection is for keeps.

Author of the Book:

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Get Vamana: The Fifth Avatar  from Amazon



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1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much Rubina Ramesh for this awesome review. I am feeling so thrilled to see it. And yes, some graphics to help the reading along for young minds - wouldn't I love those!!! <3

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