Tales from India by Jamila Gavin: Stories of Creation and the Cosmos with sumptuous illustrations by Amanda Hall influenced by both contemporary and classical Indian art

Lord Brahma had opened his eyes. He looked around him and saw Nothing... Great tears welled up in his eyes. They rolled down his cheeks and fell into the sea of milk and became the Earth.

When I think of India, I think of rich colours, ancient civilisations, classical Indian art forms, a vast landscape and a burgeoning population, an emerging India developing at a rapid pace – new skyscrapers of glass standing next to spralling shantytowns.  One day I won’t just think of India.  One day I hope to see it with my own eyes and take it all in.

India has a long tradition of storytelling; merchants, travelling men, professional storytellers even, moving from place to place, telling, singing or performing stories.   And Tales from India by Jamila Gavin reflects this ancient craft beautifully.  Gavin has given a new voice to the Hindu stories of Creation and the Cosmos and to hear these stories is, as Gavin believes, to “gain a glimmer of understanding of this ancient time“, a time before the written word, when the earliest forms of these Hindu tales were created and passed on by world of mouth.  So, for example, “‘How the River Ganga Came to Earth’ somehow makes geographical sense, this very river flowing down as it does from the Himalayas into the Bay of Bengal, its tributaries spreading out like Lord Shiva’s hair” and “the sea of milk being churned into butter at the start of creation helps us to appreciate why the cow is a holy creature to Hindus”. 

But before Manu could resume his prayers, the fish was already calling out. "Manu, Manu! The river's too small, and I've grown so big".

The stories included in this beautiful book are: How the World Began; How Lord Shiva Became Blue-Throated; Manu, the Fish and the Flood; How the River Ganga Came to Earth; How Ganesh Got His Elephant’s Head; The Birth of Lord Krishna; Hanuman, the Greatest; The Choosing; The Battle of Eighteen Days; and Three Steps to Save the Universe.

His work completed, Manu found himself a cool stream, where he stood on one leg, raised his hands in prayer, and thanked Brahma for creating the Universe all over again.

The river plunged down mountainsides, into canyons and valleys, filling brooks and streams, waterfalls and pools, it ran over rocks and down gulleys, and rushed across the dry thirsty plains of the Earth below.

As the dark, moist body of a baby boy slid into the world, a shiver of excitement vibrated around the Universe...and Lord Indra sent a shower of raindrops and flowers tumbling down from the sky.

Yasoda ran over to her son and asked him, "Is it true? Have you been eating chalk?"

The princess emerged carrying her garland. Her eyes scanned the expectant faces. But there was only one face she was looking for.


This entry was posted in Age 4-6, Age 6-8, Age 8-10, Gavin, Jamila, Pre-teen, Teenage and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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