ENG | HINDI

Book Review: Brahma Dreaming by John Jackson

To someone who is new to Indian mythology and would like to know the basic premise behind the major events in it, John Jackson’s ‘˜Brahma Dreaming’ is the perfect answer, and a must read.

Are you a fan of Hindu mythology? Did you enjoy listening to mythological tales by your granny when you were a kid? Well who doesn’t?

Mythological tales are colourful and complex. With 330 million perceived Gods and incarnations, it is like a maze or a complex equation. The three principal Gods of Hindus – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – are together known as Trimurti. Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the preserver, and Shiva is the destroyer. Together, they keep the cycle of life moving.

Brahma meditates and dreams, and in his dreams he creates everything – us, the universe, earth, plants, rivers, deserts, birds, animals and insects. Vishnu rests on a serpent and once in a while incarnates in human form to protect the world from evil. When evil reaches a tipping point, Shiva destroys the world with his third eye so that Brahma can create the world anew. Hindu mythology brims with tales of these three Gods; tales of creation, tales of preservation and tales of destruction.

John Jackson’s ‘Brahma Dreaming’ is a collections of tales based on these basic nature of these three Gods. The authors narration is unassuming, simple and straightforward. Unlike the temptation which may cloud other authors’ mind, he has made no attempt to give logical explanation behind the divine acts and interventions. It is just the way your grandfather would have told you.

The book, divided in three parts – tales of creation, tales of preservation and tales of destruction, starts with the birth of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva from the energy of Aum, and ends with the death of Krishna, in the hands of a hunter, Jara. The three parts of the book are again divided into short stories, each describing an interesting event. ‘The Milk Ocean’ tells the story of Devas and Asuras churning the ocean for amrit. ‘The Lie’ tells the story of Kadru, and how she invented lying. ‘The Fish’ narrates the Hindu version of ‘Noah’s Ark’. The tales of destruction has stories about Shiva and Parvati’s marriage, the birth of Kartikeya and Ganesha, Savitri and Satyavan, etc. The tales of preservation mostly covers Ramayana and Mahabharata. 

“The sound of Aum filled the whole of the space and the void, and Aum was in everywhere and through everywhere and was everywhere. The sound of Aum became power and the power had a form with three faces. They were the faces of the Lords of Creation – Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer.”

The book is enrich with wonderful illustrations by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini. These are very intricate and quite unlike the images we hold in our minds. They depict characters with a very interesting mix of Indian features and western attires.

To someone who is new to Indian mythology and would like to know the basic premise behind the major events in it, John Jackson’s ‘Brahma Dreaming’ is the perfect answer, and a must read.

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