Mahagatha is an amazing, well-written, and illustrated compilation of 100 Tales from the Puranas that helps understanding Hindu mythology and culture better.
Mahagatha – 100 Tales from the Puranas by Satyarth Nayak
Publication Date : December 8, 2022
Publisher : HarperCollins
Read Date : January 9, 2023
Genre : Mythology / Anthology
Pages : 436
Tea for this book : White Tea
Disclaimer – I received review copy of this book as part of Blogchatter Book Review Program
This post contains affiliate links.
Do you know the story where Brahma and Vishnu race against each other or where Shiva battles Krishna? Where Indra attempts foeticide or where Rama punishes a Shudra? Do you know about Maya Sita or Narada’s monkey face? Or why Surya falls from the sky or why Chandra commits adultery?
The Puranas of Hinduism are a universe of wisdom, embodying a fundamental quest for answers that makes them forever relevant. Now, for the first time, 100 of the greatest mythological tales from these ancient texts have been handpicked and compiled into an epic illustrated edition. Besides popular legends of devas, asuras, sages and kings, Satyarth Nayak has dug up lesser-known stories, like the one where Vishnu is beheaded or where Saraswati curses Lakshmi or where Harishchandra tricks Varuna. Nayak also recounts these 100 tales in a unique chronological format, beginning with Creation in Satya Yuga and ending with the advent of Kali Yuga. Using Puranic markers, he constructs a narrative that travels through the four yugas, offering continuous and organic action. In such a reading, it is revealed that these stories are not isolated events but linked to each other in the grand scheme of things. That every occurrence has a past and a future. A cause and effect. An interconnected cycle of karma and karma-phal.
Delving into the minds of gods, demons and humans alike, Mahagatha seeks a deeper understanding of their motivations. The timelessness of their impulses speaks across the aeons to readers of today. Written in lively prose with charming illustrations, these 100 tales will entertain and enlighten, and make you connect the dots of Hindu mythology like never before.
Review of Mahagatha – 100 Tales from the Puranas
Mahagatha is a fantastic compilation of 100 diverse tales from Puranas (ancient legends and lore of Hindu mythology) well narrated in chronological order that started from the beginning of the universe to how Vishnu, Brahma, and Mahadeva originated and became Trinity/Triumvirate/ Trimurti, the creation of good and evil, gods and demon, four Vedas (scripture) and Yugas (time period), and events happened in those Yugas. These tales are derived from scriptures recorded approximately between 250 CE to 1500 CE by many scholars that still remain important to Hindu culture.
I grew up listening to major tales like Ramayan, Mahabharata, and incarnations of Vishnu on Earth but there are many other stories in this compilation that I wasn’t aware of nor I heard before like, how Vishnu was beheaded, how Goddess Ganga and Saraswati were cursed to be rivers, how Goddess Kali was created, pranks of Gods and their mistakes and actions that raise conflicts and questions, and tales showing how even gods aren’t exempt from their actions, and how every action (even of Gods’) have consequences and how every being is bound to the eternal cycle of beginning and end.
All tales are filled with wisdom, learning, curses and boons, karma, dharma, emotions, and evolutions beautifully narrated and illustrated bringing each story to life. As I have read/aware some of the mythology /legends of other countries, I enjoyed seeing little similarities like Manu and Brahmi were similar to Adam and Eve and there is a Matsya Avatar tale that is similar to Noah’s ark, and Indra is so very like Zeus not just in power but in nature.
Writing is lucid and gripping. Short chapters/tales make it fast-paced but as these are 100 tales, there are so many characters that are related to each other or descendants of characters from initial chapters that often make it hard to follow. Let’s just say it crates big complicated celestial family tree that if you try to follow you might get lost. Also, many tales and many characters mean so many details and information to grasp that slows the pace. I advise you to go slow and take your time.
As this is chronological order you cannot start with a random tale/chapter like normal anthologies unless you’re very much aware of which event happened in which Yuga and for what reason. Also, some chapters or tales continue the story of the previous tale which is another reason not to read them randomly.
As these tales are short, it doesn’t go much in depth, few stories felt like ended abruptly, while in few stories I didn’t like the use of word ‘agency’ for a group or race or gender, e.g., “I worship you, Devi, for you have opened my eyes. Bless me that I may be able to create the female agency. Bring forth the human pair who shall procreate on Earth.” There is also another sentence in one other story that used the word similarly (I forgot to tab that so I can’t point it as of now). It might be just me but to me, it just didn’t feel right.
Overall, Mahagatha is a unique, amazing, and well-written compilation of 100 tales from Puranas that helps understanding Hindu mythology and culture better.
I recommend this if you like,
Hindu Gods and Goddesses
Hindu culture and where it influenced from
Short stories collection
Tales in chronological order
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