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Meet the Deities from Hindu Mythology

The Hindu mythology comprises of many deities who are worshipped in many forms across India. We all have heard stories about them and have been fascinated about by them. Award-winning author Sudha Murthy in her new book, The Man from the Egg brings together fascinating tales of the most powerful gods from the ancient world.
Here are a few of those deities:

How many of these deities did you know about?

The Birth of Parvati, An Excerpt from The Man from The Egg

Sudha Murthy in ‘The Man from the Egg’ weaves enchanting tales about the holy trinity in Hindu mythology. Consisting of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, the trinity is responsible for the survival of the human race and the world.
Here’s an excerpt chronicling the birth of goddess Parvati:
Taraka was a powerful and ambitious asura, and a devotee of Lord Brahma. One day he began a severe penance for Brahma, living on a mountain for a long period of time. pleased with Taraka’s devotion, the creator appeared before him.
‘O my lord!’ Taraka cried. ‘my life’s purpose has been fulfilled now that I have felt your presence.’
Brahma smiled. ‘tell me what your heart desires.’
‘I want to live forever,’ replied Taraka.
‘My dearest devotee, you know that such a boon is not possible. why don’t you ask me for something else?’
Taraka thought for some time. ‘I don’t want to die at the hands of just any man or god. if i must perish, I would rather it happened at the hands of the son of Shiva,’ he said, knowing full well that Shiva, grief-stricken by the loss of Dakshayani, was far from even the thought of marrying
again. So, the boon would actually make Taraka invincible and keep him safe from Yama, the god of death.
Brahma understood Taraka’s intention. nevertheless, he said, ‘So may it be.’
His penance now complete, Taraka descended from the mountain and returned to his abode. Over time, he created a powerful army headed by ten cruel generals. and then he went on a rampage, conquering kingdoms, abusing living beings on earth as well as the gods above. he terrorized them all so much that everyone began praying to Lord Vishnu.
Vishnu heard their pleas. ‘Shiva and parvati’s son will be the cause of taraka’s doom,’ he declared.
Himavat or Parvatraj, the king of the Himalayas, had a wife named Menaka. the queen really wanted a daughter who would grow up to become Shiva’s consort. when Menaka heard about Dakshayani, she instinctively knew that Shiva’s wife would be reborn as her daughter. She thus decided to go into deep meditation, convinced that destiny would soon take its course.
Menaka gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, whom she named Uma. as Uma was the daughter of Parvatraj, she was also known as Parvati, or Himani (from her father’s other name, Himavat), or Girija (meaning the daughter of the king of mountains), or Shailaja (meaning the daughter of the mountains).
Parvati was a charming child and unusually devoted to Shiva right from her birth. Even as an adult, she was always found either praying to Shiva or just talking about him. News of her beauty and intelligence spread far and wide. Though suitors came in hordes with the hope of winning her heart, Parvati could only think of Shiva and refused to entertain the
idea of marrying anyone else.
The devas were watching all this with great interest. they eagerly awaited the arrival of Parvati and Shiva’s son—the harbinger of Taraka’s death.
Shiva, on the other hand, deep in meditation atop the cold mount Kailash, remained unaware of what was going on. much to the concern of her parents, a determined Parvati made the arduous journey to Kailash and began serving Shiva. She took care of his surroundings, brought him fruits and made garlands for him every day. She wanted to be there the moment he opened his eyes so they could marry as soon as possible.
The gods sighed with relief and hoped that Shiva would soon awaken from his penance.
Days, months and years passed but Shiva showed no signs of emerging from his meditation. if he did not open his eyes, he would never see Parvati, which meant that he wouldn’t marry her or have a son. and if the current state of affairs continued, Taraka’s cruel reign would be the end of everybody.
Frustrated, the gods decided to take matters into their own hands. all the realms were in grave danger. they had to intervene and force Shiva to awaken, but who would take the risk? no one dared offer to be the one to disturb Shiva’s penance and become the target of his infamous temper.
Everyone knew that when he was extremely angry, his third eye would open and immediately spew a great fire that destroyed everything in its path. And yet the task needed to be done.
the gods decided to approach the diplomatic Lord Vishnu and beseech him to find a way to guarantee Shiva and Parvati’s marriage.
‘All right, let’s see how things turn out,’ Vishnu said with a mysterious smile.

Excerpt from 'Bharat: The Man Who Built a Nation'

Dr Vineet Agarwal brilliantly retells the story of the son of Dushyant and Shakuntala, the grandson of Brahmarishi Vishwamitra in his latest book, Bharat: The Man Who Built a Nation.
Here’s an excerpt from the book.
Voices filled the royal hall of Hastinapur, bouncing off the two dozen marble pillars that supported the high vaulted ceiling. Wide latticed windows provided illumination as well as ventilation to the cavernous hall that was full of people watching the royal debate.
Aileen, ruler of the Puru kingdom, sat on a beautifully carved sandalwood throne that had been fashioned to resemble the vehicle of the moon god, the founding father of the Chandravansh. It was shaped like a chariot drawn by eight antelopes, and the king occupied the central seat, sheltered by a silver umbrella. The elderly king was presiding over a debate between his eldest son and the royal council. Of his five sons, Dushyant, the eldest, was quite simply the best.
Since the day he had first stepped into the court, the crown prince had shown a flair for solving the tricky situations that arose in the running of a kingdom. Dushyant was almost twenty-five now, and towered over his sire. Aileen saw a glimpse of his own younger self in him; they had the same tan complexion, sharp nose and dark eyes but the king had a greying beard and his face had assimilated fine lines from years of looking after the kingdom, while his son’s visage had the freshness of youth. Rigorous training had made Dushyant’s body lithe like that of a cheetah and his mind as sharp as a needle. He was practical and perceptive, and even now seemed to be winning the debate that had almost reached its conclusion.
For more than a prehar now, the councillors and the prince had been debating the need to change old policies followed by the kingdom—three hours and counting. Aileen had been trying to get his council to formulate new guidelines for more inclusive development, but to no avail. Change was not easy for anyone, let alone senior members of the court who were set in their ways and accustomed to their lavish lifestyles, but the king hoped that his son would be able to convince them.
Rising to his full six feet, Dushyant addressed the assembly emphatically, ‘The time has come for Hastinapur to introspect. We must decide which of our traditions are redundant and which can be retained. As the wielder of Shiva’s axe, Parshu Raam showed us, there is no place for practices that encourage corruption in this new world order.’
Aileen watched the seasoned councillors wince, a tiny smile playing on his lips. The use of Parshu-Raam’s name was a clever touch. Over the past year, the son of Rishi Yamdagni had gone on a rampage, annihilating autocratic rulers from the Himalayas to the southern ocean, paving the way for a new and just class of kings. Brahmins, Vaishyas and Shudras were the new Kshatriyas of Nabhi-varsh and what remained of the old guard was still haunted by the prospect of Parshu Raam’s return. Aileen himself had been lucky to escape with his life. His superior, Kartavirya Arjun, the emperor of the world, had not been so fortunate.
Dushyant’s closing argument had made even the most reluctant of councillors agree to the demand for modernization and as they passed a unanimous motion in favour of the idea, Aileen dismissed the court for the day and called his son to the throne.
‘My son,’ he said in a tone that betrayed his satisfaction, ‘seeing the way you have convinced the senior councillors to change their stance for the benefit of the people, I am confident that you are quite ready to look after the affairs of this kingdom. Acharya Dirghatamas, other senior members of the family and I concur that the time has come to pass on the crown of Puruvansh.’

6 Quotes You Must Read on Gender and Sexuality

While many use religion to justify why they are being unfair to a person’s gender and sexuality, Devdutt Pattanaik in his books The Pregnant King and Shikhandi And Other Queer Tales They Don’t Tell You shows how mythologies across the world appreciate what we deem as queer.
Here are 6 quotes on what it means to be a man, a woman, or a queer.
What it feels to be a woman
Repercussion of Patriarchy
The meaning of queer in different mythologies
Should the queer hide or be heard like the thunderous clap of the hijra?
The functions of the forms
Traces of feminism in Hindu mythology
Read Devdutt Pattanaik’s The Pregnant King and Shikhandi And Other Queer Tales They Don’t Tell You and make sense of queerness and the diversity in society.

Behind the Scenes of ‘Vyasa’: From the Sketchbook of Illustrator Sankha Banerjee

Vyasa by Sibaji Bandopadhyay, is a stunning rendition of the beginning of the Mahabharata, the first of a trilogy that sets the stage for the grand battle of Kurukshetra.
Breathing life into the story is illustrator Sankha Banerjee, whose stunning artwork almost gives a cinematic edge to a story that has been retold through generations.
Here’s taking a peek into the sketchbook of Sankha Banejee, the magician at work.
The Epilogue
The servant girl who loved Vyasa
‘City of elephants’ — Hastinapura
Sauti is a dancer story-teller
Another one from the sketchbook
Stunning, don’t you think? Don’t wait to grab your copy now!