Spiritual Stories of India

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Chaman Lal
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This is a stiff-paper-covered paperback with twenty-six stories gathered chiefly from the great Indian epics. The preface speaks of the stories' specific relation to faith. There is one naïve line-drawing for each story, and an attribution of its author after each text. Most of these stories are not even close to being fables. They are often mystical or mythical. They offer, if you will, enlightenment rather than perception. Closer than most to being a fable--and funnier besides--is The Disbeliever (59). A good anecdote is Each in His Place Is Great (71). A typical story is perhaps Yayati (82), in which a father asks each of his five sons to give--or at least to lend--him his youth in exchange for his age. The father returns after years to the one son who generously agreed and tells him that sensual desire is never quenched by indulgence. Another is The Story of Shibi Rana (106). Shibi Rana, a king, wants to protect a dove pursued by an eagle. The king offers the eagle any food he wants in compensation, including his own flesh. The eagle demands that the flesh be taken only from the king's right side. When the dove is weighed on the scale with the king's flesh, the dove keeps getting heavier, until the sacrifice of Shibi Rana himself is necessary. Shibi finally weeps one tear, and the eagle puts a stop to it all, thundering that he wants no unwilling sacrifice. Shibi responds that the left side was weeping because only the right side was allowed to suffer for others. With that the eagle and dove turn into Indra and Agni. Even the gods reverence a hero like Shibi. The Rabbit in the Moon (110) is the great story of the rabbit who can bring nothing to the beggar, so he throws himself into the fire as his food. The beggar takes the half-roasted body of the rabbit out of the fire and presses it against his heart. Together they ascend to the moon. In one late story of sacrifice by Parvati to save a child in a crocodile's mouth, Lord Sankara is both the child and the crocodile (113)! The last story is the Jataka tale about the faithful white elephant (122). Here he helps secure power for the Boddhisatva, who is heir to the throne. Note the typo celegrity (6). Page 63 has mysteriously bled through onto the illustration on its verso.
Publications Division Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India,
Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India
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