Why did lord Shiva, at the instigation of brahma, tease parvati, why do we not use the champak flower to worship lord Shiva?
In which purana would you learn about a prayer for Lord Vishnu to protect you in all four directions with his sudarsana chakra, koumodaki gada, souanda hala, and shatana mushala?
Why did sita mata curse fire, the river phalgu, the ketaki flowers and the cow? Which purana tell us the story of the lake that turned four back swans to white, and why? Why did Draupadi have five husbands?
What does it means to read abridged translations of all nineteen Purana in one year?
This is the book of questions and answers, of those nineteen books, thirty-eight reviews, and the year that went by. Anvita and Ankita, sisters, read abridged translations of the nineteen maha Purana over the course of a year.
In addition to Thirty-eight reviews, there are also several anecdotes of their experiences through the year as they read and wrote, and how school, studies, exams and maniacal father drove the two ever greater depths of despair. In the book you will find over a hundred stories, factoids, and nuggets from the Purana over the course of a year. How parvati became Gauri , stories about Kurukshetra, the punya that accumulates of donation one give, episodes from the Mahabharata, different accounts of how Ganesha was born and how he broke a tusk , and many many more-as seen from the eyes of two young children!
Anvita and Anika are sisters,separated in age by two-and-a-half years and in temperament by several yugas. They were twelve and ten, respectively, when not reading the Puranas, They were bysy attending school, reading other book newsletters, learning painting, programming, and perfecting the art of driving their mother up the wall in the time that remained.
Anvita and Anika, the authors of this book and my daughters, started reading abridged translations of the Maha Puranas in April of 2017. At the time, they were twelve and ten years old, respectively. Over the next twelve months, in-between their school, exams, homework, holidays, festivals, extra-curriculur classes, and even more reading, they finished reading all nineteen translations. Why the number is nineteen and not eighteen is explained in the book, so hold your horses! As they read each Purana, they also wrote a review and posted it on their respective blogs. At the end of it all, there were thirty-eight reviews, amounting to a little over thirty-thousand words. It seemed too obvious a choice to compile them into a short e-book. This book is the result of those readings and reviews.
The entire corpus of the eighteen plus one maha Puranas is approximately four lakh shlokas long. At roughly 13 verses-per-page, that translates to more than thirty-thousand pages. What Anvita and Anika read instead were abridged English translations of the Puranas by Shri Bibek Debroy. Each of these translations is about twenty-five thousand words long, and therefore, a little less than one hundred pages in print length. These abridged translations would run into two-thousand pages in print-length, give or take a few, and this is what the two sisters read.
Why didn't Anvita and Anika read the complete Maha Puranas? That is a good question, and I do hope that as they grow older, they will read not only the unabridged maha Puranas, but read them in the original Sanskrit. At their ages, however, short and abridged English translations seemed the most practical alternative. While the reading was the primary motivation, I also nudged them to write short reviews of each Purana. The purpose was simple — writing is a second level of learning and it also gave them occasion and reason to go back to the Puranas and think more closely about what they wanted to include in these reviews. After some back-and-forth, both zeroed in on the format you will see for most of the reviews in this book — a brief description of the Purana itself, followed by two or three stories they found most interesting.
They did not read the Puranas in order, i.e., starting with the Brahma Purana and ending with the last one, the Brahmanda Purana. No, they decided to mix up the satvika, tamasika, and rajasika Puranas. Nor did they read at the same pace. After the first few months, Anika took the lead and maintained it till the end, and which gave her some reason to be happy. Or to gloat? Why Anvita lagged behind is something she has explained in-between the Purana reviews, in the anecdotes.
Children’s Books (54)
Brahma Sutras (85)
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