Author: Meena Arora Nayak
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Date of Publication: 20 October 2018
Myths, stories, folktales and music are traditions of Indian culture. They are the tales that depict the human experience; both perfect and imperfect. The stories not only entertain us but they also explore the consequences of the choices we make. Sometimes these tales have a religious angle to them, some depict our own humanity and some just cannot be categorised in any bracket. But the one thing all these stories have in common is that they are rooted in the ethos of our culture.
The Blue Lotus by Meena Arora Nayak is a comprehensive collection of folktales, myths and legends from all over India and the various religions and cultures that inhabit it. The book is exhaustive in its reach and diverse in its approach. Here you will find gods who make the three worlds tremble, shape-shifting asuras, wandering rishis with formidable powers, enchanted forests, bewitching apsaras and magical heavenly palaces.
Some stories will seem familiar and some new. The Blue Lotus has tales from Hitopdesha, Panchatantra, Mahabharat, Ramayan, Vikram-Vetal, Puranas which I had read in my childhood. However, it also has stories which were entirely new to me. There are folktales from the Santhal and Khasi tribes, the Quran, the Old and New Testament of the Bible, stories from the Parsi culture and parables from Jainism and Janamsakhis of Sikhism.
The stories in The Blue Lotus are broadly divided into four categories:
- Roots and Rhizome: This section has a variety of stories from different cultures about the creation of the world.
- A Thousand Petals: This part brings in the world where it grows, procreates, forms kinship, desires, creates, bonds, fights, suffers and destroys.
- The Seeded Pod: This category deals with the finality of life and death.
- The Lotus: Here you’ll find stories about spirituality, rebirth and the continuity of life.
What I liked about The Blue Lotus is it’s scope and the choice of stories. Never have I ever come across such an in depth, exhaustive and interesting collection of folktales and myths from all over India. This book shows how much diversity we have in India. Readers will find some stories familiar but I am sure most of the stories in The Blue Lotus and rare and not heard outside it’s particular community. This book is an excellent source of regional literature.
The size of The Blue Lotus might intimidate some readers but don’t let that deter you. The Blue Lotus is an absolute joy to read. It is a great gift to readers of all ages.