Title: The Magical Adventures of Krishna
Sub-title: How a Mischief Maker Saved the World
Author: Vatsala Sperling
Illustrated by: Pieter Weltevrede
Publisher: Bear Club Books (www.innertraditions.com)
Genre: Mythology / Folklore / Hinduism
Presentation: Hard bound with beautifully illustrated dust jacket
Recommended for: Children of all ages who can read or are willing to listen
When an opportunity arose for reviewing this book, I was pretty excited to see how a well known mythological / historical tale will be presented to the western world by the Indian author (from her name I knew that Vatsala is from India or has absorbed all the Indian traditions and values). I received the book in India, from USA. Reminds me that the earth is round!
Since the book is short, it could be read in just one sitting of less than an hour. The main story of Krishna's birth and His killing of His demon uncle Kamsa (the author spells it as Kansa, both sound similar though Kamsa comes closer to the original Sanskrit sound), is told in about 25 pages including beautiful color illustrations. Children, who can read will love the text and the colorful illustrations and younger chidren would love to sit in the lap of the adult and watch the colorful figrures while the story is being read and explained to them!
Krishna's birth and His exploits in killing the many demons that were sent by His uncle Kamsa to kill Him are narrated well by Vatsala. Her style is simple and at the same time she holds the reader's attention.
The illustrations by Pieter Weltevrede add great value to the excellent narration.
The result is an excellent introduction to Krishna Tatva and Krishna Consciousness to those not yet exposed. To others, it would be one more opportunity to enjoy the nectar of Krishna's love for the whole creation.
I have the following observations and comments.
Nanda, the husband of Yashoda is conspicuous by his absence. Probably Vatsala thought he has no role in the story, but I felt that he deserved a place and for the sake of completion of the story.
Another character that I would have liked to see in this book is that of Puthana (Poothana if you prefer that spelling), a she demon, who came in disguise to kill baby Krishna by feeding him her breast milk laced with poison painted on the nipples. Krishna, of course knew all about her and killed her by sucking her milk and her prana (life force). Why the author left that story is not known.
What she did not mention is that He gave salvation to all the demons that He killed.
Vatsala mentions in the book that Radha is an incarnation of Lakshmi, the consort of Narayana, Vishnu. I have not come across that interpretation and on the other hand, I have read that Lakshmi is an amsa (part) of Radha, who is Feminine Aspect of the Supreme Deity, Krishna being the Masculine Aspect and they reside in Goloka. Their partial aspects are seen as Brahma, Vishnu / Narayana and Siva with their respective consorts etc.
These are not of course important and don't interfere with the reading and enjoyment of the book.
In any case, this beautiful book will probably whet your appetite to read more about Krishna.
I have great pleasure in recommending this book to children and parents, teachers, other elders and care takers of children.