Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Review of MATSYA: The First Avatar (DASHAVATAR Book 1) by Sundari Venkatraman

When the world is full of evil, God takes different forms to eliminate that evil from the society. This series by Sundari Venkatraman deals with the ten forms of Vishnu Avatars. Asura Hayagriva had stolen the Vedas while Lord Brahma was sleeping. When Lord Vishnu comes to know about it, he decides to help to get the Vedas back. Taking the form of a fish, he descends on earth.  

King Satyavrath, lived a very pious life and his only wish was to get to see his lord, Vishnu, once. He discovers the fish and comes to know that it was magical. The fish tells him to be prepared for the time when the world will be destroyed, and he would need Satyavrath's help to save the creatures. 

Lord Vishnu then goes in search for Hayagriva, hiding in the woods and the fight between the good and the evil starts.

The Matsya Avatar is the first avatar of Lord Vishnu - in which Lord Vishnu takes the form of a fish.  

From my childhood, I have listened to these stories from my Dadu.  So I am no strangers to such tales. But what struck me here is the simplicity of the language used by the author. Whether in the description of the great Asura or the way the fight broke out between the good and evil has a profound effect on the world and its future. 

Let's start with the cover before we discuss the characters. I can see the author has given it a lot of thought. The image is of half human and half fish. A child can very well imagine how Vishnu would have looked in this Matsya Avatar. But then the fish was supposed to be golden in color. But if you see the remaining books in this series, you will understand that Ms. Venkatraman has created a signature style of her own in all her books. Whether they are romance, romantic shots or mythology. When I see a book on my kindle, without even checking out the name of the author, I know, it's hers. 

Now coming to the portrayal of the characters. Let's not forget that this book has been written for children. I think, between 3 to 10 years will benefit from the simplicity of these tales. Right now I can only speak for myself. Being out of India for all these years, I know that my son needs to know more about this roots. This series is helping me to tell him the stories. Of course, making him understand what  'kalpa' and 'yuga' are, is not easy for me but that way this short story had me scurrying to the laptop to find out the meanings, or should I say understanding, of these words, just shows how much it can teach an adult.

This series of short reads are not just stories, and they are what we need to pass on to our next generation. I even went to the extent of asking my son on what he learned from this book. He said, 'stealing is wrong,'. Frankly while reading this small book, I was thinking more intellectually. I would have loved to get a complicated answer like - when the good and evil fight, good always wins. Or how god will always descend when there is a lot of evil people in this society. But when a child killed an inner demon with the words, stealing is bad, I think as a mom, I am okay with that. 

Whether it was Vishnu's character to Brahma's character, those who study mythology will understand how true to the characterizations Ms. Venkatraman has been. 

But as no book is flawless, this book too has one big flaw. The shortness. Though my son would disagree, the reader in me wanted more. So here I am off to pick up the next one in the series. Stay tuned. 

A Quote from The Book:

The boat reached the point closest to them and came to a stop. Soon, all the animals and birds were transferred into it before the herbs, grains and seeds were stored safely within. King Satyavrath waited for the Sapta Rishis and their wives to settle in before he got on the boat finally. Just as he wondered what to do with Vasuki, the fish arrived.

The First Line of the book:

There were signs all around that the cycle of the four Yugas—over twenty-four thousand years—was coming to an end. A kalpa includes ten thousand years of Sathya Yuga or the golden age when truth, love, joy and peace prevails; five thousand years of Treta Yuga, also known as silver age when there’s seventy-five per cent of good and twenty-five per cent of evil in the world; five thousand years of Dwapara Yuga or bronze age that is half full of good and the other half turned evil and finally there’s Kali Yuga or iron age for four thousand years where barely a fourth of good is retained.

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

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2 comments:

  1. "When I see a book on my kindle, without even checking out the name of the author, I know, it's hers." All I can say is that I am humbled.
    Thank you so much for taking the time and making the effort to give me such a detailed and wonderful review, Rubina Ramesh. :D <3

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