Monday, December 23, 2013

Book Review : Brahma Dreaming

Title : Brahma Dreaming
Author : John Jackson
Illustrator : Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini
Publisher : JJ Books
ISBN : 978-0-9569212-8-4

"Through the ages of this world the minds of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer think and dream. And from their dreams come all the things that are, and all the things that happen, in the heavens and in the world and in the underworld. From these dreams come all these stories and all the stories that have ever been, and all the stories that are not yet told. "

Brahma Dreaming is an anthology of tales taken from Hindu Mythology categorized under three broad sections - 'Tales of Creation', 'Tales of Destruction' and 'Tales of Preservation'. It is believed that Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh(Shiva) form the holy trinity and hence are the forces to create, nurture and demolish. It is marvelous how the author has done the arduous task of picking up some tales from grand Indian mythological ocean. The stories that are under Destruction and Preservation sections are primarily stories of Shiva ad Vishnu respectively but those in Creation part are not all Brahma stories. The beginning is beautiful which sets the stage for more interesting and adventurous stories full of flying demons, battles, kings and warriors and much more.

Though every religion has its own set of mythological stories, there is an underlying common thread that connects all of them together. All such legends have high amount of melodramatic content and comprise of ingredients of immortal themes like - love, affection, respect, hatred, deceit, revenge, sorrow and greed. As one reads the story, it becomes clear that even Gods experience similar sensitivities, vulnerabilities and challenges like any human does. This subtle reassurance makes the tales relatable and a great medium to learn life lessons.

All the stories are exciting and thrilling God stories, perfect - to be read to small children, for young readers as well as for grown ups. However, the stories are exciting as they are, there is not much of a value addition by the author in narrating the same. They are just re-told and that too in a very simplistic style, not attempting to go beyond what has already been told in so many ways by multitude of story tellers already.

'Brahma Dreaming' is a large book with gorgeous page-length illustrations. Daniela Terrazzini's black and white illustrations with a hint of red here and there, work as perfect accompaniment to the allegorical text. Having said that, illustrations are quite misleading in the sense that they do not bring in the essence of the culture to which these stories belong. The pictures do not have signatory Indian soul in them which is sorely missed while one proceeds through the book.
The paper and production quality of the book is supreme. It is pleasure to read such an exquisitely created book.  

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