Indira Ananthakrishnan
EPIC TALES OF WISDOM by By Nityanand Charan Das. Illustrations by Nirzara Verulkar Red Panda, 2023, 120 pp., INR 250.00
November 2023, volume 47, No 11

Hinduism as we call it today has been known as Sanatana Dharma to the ancients. It has shown people from time immemorial the right way of performing worldly duties that are sustained by value-based restraints and natural laws. To explain the how and wherefores of this, Vedic systems were born. Myths, legends and folklore developed, the most popular ones being the Ramayana, the Mahabharata including Bhagavad Gita and the Puranas. They established the meaning and purpose of life on earth with the help of drama presentation and message-packed stories. Though based on Hindu spiritual tradition and culture, they impart messages that are universal and timeless.
Fortunate are the readers of the book Epic Tales of Wisdom. It is a varied and interesting collection of thirty-six stories well chosen from the above mentioned spectrum and presented in a happy, child-like format by a stalwart spiritual guru, Nityanand Charan Das. In a well-expressed introduction by the author himself, he says: ‘Happiness comes with connecting to our spiritual core, which is the purpose of Epic Tales of Wisdom’.The illustrations need special mention. They match the child-oriented presentation of the script and are made attractive by their simple strokes in one colour, black.
Stories such as the ones in the book originally flowered in the oral tradition. There were many storytellers and the listeners were many more. Neither the teller nor the listener was tired of the activity. The stories got repeated frequently till the messages conveyed by the stories were embedded in the system and seamlessly adopted in day-to-day living.
The stories in this book need to be read again and again, silently or aloud, and understood, so that the values imparted by them become a way of life.
Some stories in the book, like ‘Sage Agasthya and Vatapi’, or ‘Who is the Greatest?’ need some adult guidance so that their significance is not lost or misunderstood or misinterpreted. One child, after reading ‘The Divine Protector’ asked me what happened to the father with ‘broken legs’!
The humour in the stories, coupled with the illustrations, will captivate the child reader. Actually, the reader need not necessarily be a child. The stories will interest all age groups including grownups, because somewhere down the line some of us may have missed the bus and neglected to hold on to values that lead us down the right path.