“The Very, Extremely ,Most Naughty Asura Tales” by story teller par excellence Anand Neelakantan marks his debut in to the world of children’s books. Published by Puffin Books and whimsically illustrated by Subhadeep Roy & Shiladitya Bose, the book with its glossy colour pages is a delight from the moment you tear you open the package . The introduction by none other than Mr. Mahabali, sets the tone for these engaging asura tales by introducing us to the hilarious chaos create by the twins Kundakka and Mundakka , being dragged to school until they landup finally with Grandpa Guruji who promises not to teach them any boring Maths or Social Studies or Geography but only tell them stories.
Tale 1 of the famous Bhasmasura, starts in childhood showing a bit of his vulnerable side , a clumsy child teased by all yet naughty and angry on the face of it , resentful with only an equally friendless repulsive naughty pig Nakura for company. As the tale evolves in to Shiva granting him a boon to turn anything he turns to ashes, the tale is told masterfully with a energetic read aloud songs of “Burn down, Burn down” as Shiva has to run away from Bhasma trying to turn him to ashes until Vishnu as Mohini tricks him to his doom.
The tale of Shumba and Nishumba and their disciples – Chanda and Munda unfolds the tale of how Pravati created Kaushiki, and Kali rose to slay Raktabeeja -a fiery tale perfect for the Navratri season.The third tale , probably my son’s favourite , titled Banasura’s Greta concert , has the story of how Banasura, son of the great King of Kerala – Mahabali, procured a boon from Shiva to be his protector. After you have had your fill of lighter with this funny tale, then we learn of how the father, fearing for his own life, locks up his beloved daughter in a Agnigarh, and then gets Lord Shiva and his ganas enraptured in by his scintillating music played with thousand hands. Then a kidnapping and war with Vishu. What a cracker of a tale!
The tales of Atapi and Vatapi who had not dreams of ruling the world but only to keep their humongous appetite filled by lazy devious ways and how they met their match in Sage Agastya , The karma and Dharma of Kanmashapada warns us against many ills of hunting, of lying, of arrogance even for good deeds and the danger of wrong application of new knowledge… and the last tale titled ‘Kalakanj’s Stairway to Heaven’ is fun filled delightful tale of how misplaced goals always take a fall.
Each of these Puranik tales has a fantastic song , perfect for a read aloud in a booming asura voice. In addition there are tiny tit bits of information about some places and temples in India which makes the folk tales even more relevant.
Strongly recommend this beautiful add to any bookcase, which adds more layers of flashback, mirth and depth to the traditional tales , giving it a 2020 upgrade with visual delight and music punched into a fantastically narrated tale!
Questions related to mythology in a different post here-https://archanablogs.wordpress.com/…/talking-indian…/