I grew up in India hearing fascinatic stories of Gods and Demons. Of good and evil. Of spells and miracles. Of curses and boons. Of the Brahmastra and the Sudarshana Chakra. Over time, the student of science in me started questioning the veracity of the stories. My love thoughf for these stories continues undiminished. From the time I perstered my dad to tell me the same stories over and over again to reading them all over again recently, the joy in reading and hearing to these stories has never gone away. Now I am a dad and would like to pass on the baton, so to say. Turns out it is easier wanted than done.
Indian mythology is vast and interesting. It also happens to be twisted, bloody and really adult when you think about it. There is polygamy all over the place. There are murderers revered and idolized in the name of good. Karma is the oft cited reason for any act- good or bad. Explanations are far too easy. Evil is plain black and the good is plain white. Lines and shades of gray, while omnipresent is not given due respect atleast in material targeted at kids.
How do I tell my son that Krishna was OK to kill Kamsa?. How do I tell him that Dasharatha had all of three legal wives?. Is it OK to set fire to an entire country as Hanuman did to Lanka to justify the injustice Ravana meted out to one woman?. And Mahabharata is a minefield of treachery, lust, and every one of the seven sins, magnified in all glory as the the Vishwaroopa darshana. Someday, he will know of all this. But at the age that he is, is this the right material?. If no, then what else do I tell him about Indian Gods and Goddesses?
In the next post, I will continue on the top with a more detailed perspective on the immensely popular Amar Chitra Katha. I will also introduce some interesting material I found that could potentially bridge the gap. In the meantime, if you have thoughts on the matter, feel free to chime in.
Part 2 of this three part article is here.
Part 3 of this three part article is here.
Update (August 2013): I took things in my own hands and wrote a very kid friendly version of the Mahabharata. If you are interested, check out the official website of the book and find out how you can buy the version (digital or print) that appeals to you.