Monday, August 14, 2017

Shravan - The Best Time to Read Interesting Books About Shiva By Preetha Rajah Kannan



The month of Shravan seems a particularly appropriate time to write about my journey into the world of mythology and my deep fascination with Lord Shiva, as depicted in the Tamil puranas. I started my voyage with Shiva in the City of Nectar, narrating Shiva’s divine play in ancient Madurai. I took the treasured tales of Paranjothi Munivar’s Thiruvilayaadal Puranam, passed on orally through the generations, and fleshed them out with the lavish play of an affectionate imagination. As a denizen of present-day Madurai, these stories are especially close to my heart. 

I threw myself happily into narrating the tales of ancient devas, asuras, sages, men and talking birds and beasts. Shiva blithely takes on the guise of beggar, saint, monarch, merchant, fisherman, hunter, warrior and woodcutter, walking through the three worlds slaying rampaging demons, performing his Ananda Tandava, and embracing good and bad alike. I delighted in portraying Shiva in all his multi-faceted mystique - the tender lover who woos and weds Goddess Meenakshi, the eternal Guru who dispenses wisdom, the fierce avenger whose third eye flashes fire, the generous benefactor who showers blessings on his devotees and, above all, the gentle prankster who embodies the essence of Vedic faith.

I continued my voyage with Son of Shiva, telling the story of Kartikeya, Commander-in-chief of the heavenly hosts, embodiment of wisdom and valour. Again, I recovered treasured childhood tales and knit them with fresh insights and content from Kachiappa Sivacharya’s Kandhapuranam.  Son of Shiva depicts the monumental battle between the forces of good and evil, as embodied by the devas and the asuras. It is as much a tale of Shiva as of his son. 

Daksha Prajapati, drunk on hubris, conducts a splendid sacrifice with the explicit objective of denigrating Lord Shiva. In a whirlwind of destruction, the awesome Veerabhadra lays waste to the yagna and punishes the participating gods and sages. However, the sinister echo of the infamous sacrifice returns to haunt the gods in the form of the formidable asura brothers, Surapadma, Taraka and Singhamuka. The asuras obtains powerful boons from Shiva, assert their supremacy over the entire cosmos and unleash a reign of terror. The traumatized gods implore Lord Shiva to deliver them from the demons’ depredations. In answer to their prayers, Kartikeya, Champion of the Gods, emerges from Shiva’s tejas. Armed with the invincible mystic spear bestowed on him by Shakti, Kartikeya takes on the forces of darkness in an electrifying confrontation which shakes the very foundations of the universe.

It was a joy to fill the pages of Son of Shiva with a host of fascinating characters, dark magic and cataclysmic events. The demon Vatapi takes on the guise of a goat to devour unsuspecting sages. The humble spider builds its web to shield Shiva from the elements. Every drop of blood shed by the asura general, Raktabheeja, transforms into a hideous clone. Kama is reduced to ashes by Shiva’s furious third eye. Parvati performs an incredible thousand years of penance to win Shiva’s heart. Vishnu receives the splendid Sudarshana Chakra from Shiva. Shiva annihilates the demon, Gajasura; breaks the Ganga’s fall on his matted locks; performs his cosmic dance; rises as a towering pillar of fire and shines in all his glory. 

I do hope both Shiva in the City of Nectar and Son of Shiva will be my readers’ door into a rich new world of insights and tales of Lord Shiva. Happy reading to you all!

Book Links:
Shiva in the City of Nectar
Son of Shiva

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