Friday, March 20, 2009

ACK-093: Madhvacharya

ACK Description:

Madhvacharya taught men to look upon the world of matter and souls as real instead of as illusory and unreal in a philosophical sense. He therefore put forward a fresh ontological classification of reality into two orders, Svatantra and Paratantra - independent and dependent. God alone is the one independent reality. Hence the name Dvaita (dualism) given to his system.

Madhva freed the concept of Bhakti from the clutches of blind faith and placed it in its right perspective as informed faith in, and love of God, both based on a right understanding of his glory. He also rescued it from the pitfalls of sentimentalism, eroticism and other maladies.

Madhva lived a robust life of 79 years. He was a prolific writer in Sanskrit prose and verse. He wrote thirty-nine works which are collectively known as Sarvamula. These include commentaries on Rig Veda, Upanishads, Gita, Brahmasutras, Mahabharata, Bhagawat and critical works on logic and metaphysics, rituals and sadachara (right conduct). He also wrote a number of devotional hymns.

The Chaitanya Sampradaya of Bengal is deeply indebted to Madhva's philosophy in many respects. It includes in its guruparampara Madhva and his successors, Jayatirtha and Vyasatirtha. The followers of Madhva are found on Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra, Maharashtra, Goa and U.P.

Madhva's system has made a massive contribution to Indian philosophy through the writings of great commentators such as Jayatirtha, Vyasatirtha, Raghuthama, Vadiraja and Raghavendra, to mention only a few. The Haridasas of Karnataka, owing allegiance to Madhva philosophy, such as Purandara Dasa, Kanaka Dasa and Jagannatha Dasa have made equally significant contributions to Kannada religious literature.

Download ACK-093 "Madhvacharya"
(34 pages, 1200 px wide, 9.9 MB)
Author: Dr BNK Sharma
Illustrator: HS Chavan
Cover: C.M.Vitankar
Find more related information here:


Monday, March 16, 2009

ACK-092: Padmini

Rani Padmini of Chittorgarh

ACK Description:

In the history of India, Padmini of Chittor holds a very prominent position. She was a perfect model of ideal Indian womanhood. When the values cherished by her were threatened by Ala-ud-din Khilji, the mighty Afghan king of Delhi, she faced her problems with exceptional courage. A lesser woman would not have been able to face Ala-ud-din, but Padmini was no ordinary woman. She was a living example of virtuous womanhood.

It was this that inspired many a legend about her. This story of Padmini is based on Padmavat by the famous Sufi poet Malik Muhammed Jayasi and Gora-Badal by the poet Jaymal.

(34 pages, 1200 px wide, 8.45 MB)
Author: Yagya Sharma
Illustrator: Ram Waeerkar
Cover: Ram Waeerkar

More information on Rani Padmini

Rani Padmini was the queen of Chittor and the wife of King Rawal Ratan Singh.
The Indian Helen, as she is also known, Padmini is considered to be the epitome of Indian woman-hood and a personification of sacrifice and valour. Her story has been immortalized in Padmavat, an epic poem written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in the Awadhi language in the year 1540 [1].
In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Delhi Sultanate dominated the political milieu of Northern India. The Delhi Sultans made repeated attacks against their Rajput opponents, especially the Sisodias of Mewar, on one pretext or the other. The first sack of Chittor by Ala-ud-din Khilji in 1303 AD is traditionally considered to have been the result of his infatuation with, and lust for, Ratan Singh's wife, Padmini. [1]. Ala-ud-Din Khilji received support for his annexation attempts from two of Ratan Singh's own courtiers, namely the brothers, Raghav and Chetan. The duo had initially enjoyed Ratan Singh's highest confidence and had been privy to many State secrets which they then threatened to betray if they were not paid well for their silence. Ratan Singh had recently married the beautiful Padmini, the daughter of King Gandharvasen (also known as Hamir Sank) of Sinhala Dvipa (present-day Sri Lanka) and his wife, Queen Champavati, [2] and had received a handsome and generous dowry from her parents. The brothers demanded a large portion of this dowry as payment for their silence. Furious at their exhortation, Ratan Singh had them banished from Chittor, with the understanding that they would be killed if they were ever found on his territory again. In revenge, the brothers went to Delhi and instigated Ala-ud-din Khilji to attack Chittor by inflaming both the Sultan's lust for beautiful women and his uncompromising greed for land and more territory.
Since Ala-ud-din found that he and his opponent were evenly matched in military capabilities, he decided to resort to treachery and diplomacy to conquer Chittor. He sent word to Ratan Singh that he was willing to offer friendship if he could only behold Padmini's face just once, further claiming that he considered Padmini to be his sister. The unsuspecting Ratan Singh asked Padmini to meet her newfound 'brother', but the Queen, suspecting a trap, refused. Instead, she insisted that her husband only permit the Sultan to look at her reflection in a mirror. Ratan Singh agreed and sent for Ala-ud-din, who arrived to meet the Queen, accompanied by his most trusted generals and soldiers. While Ala-ud-din waited impatiently to meet Padmini, his generals carefully examined the fort's defenses to help them plan their attack of Chittor. Padmini stood by a lotus pool as Ala-ud-din gazed at her reflection in a mirror, stunned by her beauty. When he was further informed that he would not be able to personally meet Padmini, despite his claims of new-found kinship with the couple, the Sultan felt both humiliated and cheated. As Ratan Singh accompanied him out of the fort, as a good host should, his men fell upon the King and took him prisoner to the Sultan's camp.
Ala-ud-din then sent a note to Padmini that if she wished her husband to be released unharmed, that she should forthwith become his mistress. The Rani responded that she would meet the Sultan the next morning. At the crack of dawn the following day, one hundred and fifty palanquins (covered carriages in which royal ladies were carried about in medieval times) left the fort and made their way towards Ala-ud-din's camps. 150 able-bodied soldiers, led by Padmini's brother, Badal, emerged from these carriages and fell upon the Sultan's unsuspecting men in a sudden and unexpected attack. The Rajputs then returned to the fort, having rescued their King, and temporarily scoring a major victory over the Sultan of Delhi.
Ala-ud-din responded by laying siege to the fort of Chittor. After a long drawn out campaign, supplies within the fort gradually dwindled. Ratan Singh gave orders for the fort's gates to be flung open and an all-out attack be launched on the would-be invaders as they could not hold out any more. Padmini was aware that her her husband's troops were hopelessly outnumbered and that they would be defeated and dishonored. Rather than be raped and witness the Sultan's army pillaging Chittor, Padmini and her retinue of women decided to commit suicide. The children of the nobility were smuggled out of the fort with trusted aides and attendants in order to save them from the invaders.

Jauhar (Self Immolation)

The Jauhar place of Rani Padmini
At dawn on August 26, 1303, a huge pyre was lit in a room with a single door. The Queen and the noblewomen of her court, the wives, sisters and daughters of ministers and courtiers, bid their young children and menfolk farewell, dressed up in their wedding finery, went into the room with the pyre, locked the door behind them and jumped into the flames en masse. The men donned saffron robes, and threw open the gates of the fort. Almost all of the Rajputs perished in battle that day. The Sultan and his troops entered the fort, eager to rape and pillage, and were sorely disappointed when confronted with the evidence of the mass suicide.

Rani Padmini's life and death has the subject of many legends, ballads and even movies in recent years. Unfortunately, no images of her have been preserved although her courage and sacrifice continue to impress one today as they did during her lifetime more than seven centuries ago.

The above information has been taken from wikipedia source. (


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Answer to Aditya's query.

Aditya (adibud34) left a very good comment on the last post (Vasavadatta) where he enquired about the later life of Udayan and Vasavdatta and response of Pradhyotha (father of Vasavadatta) to their marrying. That sent me in some qustioning myself. Why this tale was named after Vasavadatta, when she apparantly had no greater role in this story. She only appears like just another character in the story among some other equally important characters.

I searched and found some more information about this play and it proved to be a very exciting find and I felt thrilled by knowing the actual (and complete) story. What this ACK presented is only about 20% of the whole play.

The story of Udayan and Vasavadatta was well known and very popular among the general public in ancient India.It was made the subject of many plays and poems of that time. But most notably the great playwrite "Bhasa" compiled it in his greatest classic named "Swapnavasavadatta". Later other writers like Subandhu worked on the same theme and produced their versions of the story. During 5th century C.E., it appeared in Pali and Prakrut languages and it was present in Dhamma-pada-atthakatha. This ACK is based on this last source only.

Dear Aditya, for answer of your question, read the following paragraphs where Bhasa's "Swapnavasavadatta" is presented in condensed form.


Once upon a time “Vatsa kingdom was ruled by the great king Udhayana. He fell into love with a beautiful and striking young lady Vasavadatta, who is  the daughter of a   prominent King Prodhyatha. Udayana married Vasavadatta and made him his better half.The couple become illustration of made for each other and lead the way as “The greatest couple ”.

Once the neighbor King “ Aruni” attacked on  Udayana, in the battle Udayana accepted the defeat. Yougandharayana - The intelligent Prime minister   of Udayana,   thought to regain the territory from the cloches of Aruni. He approached Vasavadatta to sacrifice her life for the sake of his nation. She accepted, The sacrifice is that - she has to sacrifice her husband in account to accept the second marriage for her husband with Padmavathi , sister of the renowned king Dharshaka, a King of Magadha. But people know him as not only loyal to the people but also with Wife.

To safeguard the prestige of King ,accomplished Yougandharayana propagate the queen Vasavadatta was no more. After hearing the death of Vasavadatta, King was so anguish and went into agony. Later Proficient prime minister clandestinely appointed Vasavadatta as Chelikatthe namely “ Avanthika” (House maid to Princess padmavathi) at Princess Anthapuram. Later King Udayana got second marriage with Padmavathi.

One day the King sees Vasavadatta(Avantika), at the moment she disappears, then the king thought that Vasavadatta came in his dream. Based on this situation, this drama named  as  “ Swapna Vasavadatta”

 Later, King Udayana retaliated Aruni with the help of Dharshaka, subsequently Udayana regain his territory. All of a sudden, one fine morning King Pradhyotha sent a big size caricature of  Vasavadatta  to King Udayana as mark of gift. After watching the photograph of vasavadatta, Princess Padmavathi came to know that Vasavadatta alias Avanthika is other way wife of Prince. Then Padmavathi understood the sacrifice of Vasavadatta.

Padmavathi realize the sacrifice of Vasavadatta, She invite Vasavadatta  to remain as wife of King Udayana and allow them lead their life as it was earlier.

So this clearly suggests that King Pradyotha had accepted Udayan as his son-in-law. We also get to know the reason why "Vasavadatta" was chosen as title. Really thrilling tale of great sacrifice by her though finally everything settled well.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

ACK-090 and ACK-091 "Battle of Wits" and "Vasavadatta"

We are happy to present a double treat for our readers on the special occasion of Holi. Hope you find these interesting.

ACK-090 "Battle of Wits"

ACK Description:

All living creatures die to be born again, according to Hindu belief. Legend has it that several lifetimes as a Bodhisattva went into the making of the Buddha, the enlightened one.

The Bodhisattva came in many forms - man, monkey, deer, elephantom, lion. Whatever his mortal frame, he spread the message of justice and wisdom, tempered with compassion. This wisdom of right thinking and right living is persevered in the Jataka TAles.

We cannot assign a definite date to the Jataka Tales. Taking into account ardhaelogical and literary evidence, it appears that they were compiled between 300 B.C. and A.D. 500. They give us invaluable information about ancient indian Indian civilization, culture and thought.

According to Maha Ummagga Jataka, the Bodhisattva was once born as Aushadh Kumar, the son of Seth Shrivardhana of Yavamajjhaka. This Chitraa Katha recounts a few tales of the childhood of Aushadha Kumar.

(33 pages, 1200 px wide, 8.9 MB)
Script: Yagya Sharma
Illustrations: Ram Waeerkar
Cover: Ram Waeerkar

ACK-091 "Vasavadatta"

ACK Description:

King Pradyota wanted to be considered greater than neighboring king Udayana who famous for his ability to cast a spell on elephants in the enemy army. Pradyota plants a white elephant in the forest at the common boundary of their rival kingdoms, tricking Udayana into coming to get it. Pradyota's men waiting inside the fake elephant, capture Udayana.

Chided by Udayana for unbecoming conduct, Pradyota offers to free him if Udayana teaches him how to cast a spell on elephants. Udayana demands homage due to a guru for the instruction. Pradyota considers it demeaning and asks Udayana to teach a hunchback instead. The hunchback is none other than his daughter Vasavadatta who is told that the guru is diseased and so they would be separated by curtains. In the course of this instruction, a verbal tiff between teacher and taught brings them face-to-face and the inevitable happens...

This old story has been narrated in Pali prose and Sanskrit verse and has provided plots for two Sanskrit plays.

 (35 pages, 1200 px wide, 8.85 MB)
Author:Meena Talim
Illustrator: Pratap Mulick 
Cover:  Pratap Mulick

Wishing all the visitors and readers of this blog a very happy and colorful holi.

Monday, March 9, 2009

ACK-089: Ramana Maharshi

ACK Description:

Bhagwan Sri Ramana Maharshi was born Venkataraman Iyer in 1897 in the South Indian village of Tiruchuzhi. When he was young, he was sent to Madurai to study. He became spiritually awakened at the age of 16, after which he came to Tiruvannamalai where the sacred Arunachala Hill is located.

Ramana Maharshi was a saint, mystic and gyani. At Tiruvannamalai, thousands came to him from across the world, seeking spiritual guidance and solace. Even today, seekers of truth find a haven at Sri Ramanasramam, the ashram where he had lived for nearly three decades.

This Amar Chitra Katha follows the journey of young Venkataraman who learned to look deep within himself for all the answers and went on to become the renowned Bhagwan Sri Ramana Maharshi.

(32 pages, 1200 px wide, 9.4 MB)

Author: Gayatri Madan Dutt
Illustrator: G. R. Naik

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Other information resources on Ramana Maharshi

1. Official website by his devotees:

An excellently made and beautifully maintainted official website.

             (will open in a new tab/window)

2. Wikipedia Page:
          (opens in a new tab/window)

Sri Ramana Maharshi (Tamil: ரமண மஹரிஷி)(December 30, 1879 – April 14, 1950), born Venkataraman Iyer, was an Indian sage. He was born to a Tamil Hindu Brahmin family in Tiruchuzhi, Tamil Nadu. After having attained liberation at the age of 16, he left home for Arunachala, a mountain considered sacred by Hindus, at Tiruvannamalai, and lived there for the rest of his life. Arunachala is located in Tamil Nadu, South India.[1] Although born a Brahmin, after having attained moksha he declared himself an "Atiasrami", a Sastraic state of unattachment to anything in life and beyond all caste restrictions[2].

Sri Ramana maintained that the purest form of his teachings was the powerful silence which radiated from his presence and quieted the minds of those attuned to it. He gave verbal teachings only for the benefit of those who could not understand his silence.[3] His verbal teachings were said to flow from his direct experience of Consciousness as the only existing reality.[4] When asked for advice, he recommended self-enquiry as the fastest path to moksha. Though his primary teaching is associated with Non-dualism, Advaita Vedanta, and Jnana yoga, he highly recommended Bhakti, and gave his approval to a variety of paths and practices.[5]


Thursday, March 5, 2009

ACK-088: Megasthenes

ACK Description:

Megasthenes was among the first foreigners to have visited India in historical times and given an eyewitness account of conditions prevailing in this country during the fourth century B.C. He was the ambassador of Seleucus Nicator at the court of Chandragupta Maurya and he had the opportunity to travel extensively in the country and observe closely the proceedings at the royal court, various aspects of military and civil administration, the geography of the country, the social and economic conditions of the people and the political institutions. He put down his observations in four volumes entitled 'Indica'. 'Indica' in its original form has now been lost, but some later writers like Diodorus, Pliny, Strabo and Arrian have quoted from the work. Barring the few instances where Megasthenes had to rely on hearsay, his account of India is highly valued for its accuracy and authenticity. This story of Megasthenes is based on his own account of India of his times. For purposes of coherence and lucidity we have adopted a sequence of our own to this narration. However, historically the record is accurate.

(30 pages, 1200 px wide, 8.6 MB) 
Script: Shubha Khandekar
Illustrations: Souren Roy
Cover: Ramesh Umrotkar

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Info from Wikipedia

Megasthenes (Μεγασθένης, ca. 350 BC - 290 BC) was a Greek traveller and geographer. He was born in Asia Minor and became an ambassador of Seleucus I of Syria to the court of Sandrocottus (Chandragupta Maurya) of India, in Pataliputra. However the exact date of his embassy is uncertain. Scholars place it before 288 BC, which was the date of Chandragupta's death.

Arrian explains that Megasthenes lived in Arachosia, with the satrap Sibyrtius, from where he visited India:

"Megasthenes lived with Sibyrtius, satrap of Arachosia, and often speaks of his visiting Sandracottus, the king of the Indians." Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri [1]

We have more definite information regarding the parts of India which Megasthenes visited. He entered the country through the district of the Pentapotamia of the rivers of which he gave a full account (thought to be the five affluents of the Indus, forming the Punjab region), and proceeded from there by the royal road to Pataliputra. There are accounts of Megasthenes having visited Madurai (then, a bustling city and capital of Pandya Kingdom), but appears not to have visited any other parts of India. His observations were recorded in Indika, a work that served as an important source to many later writers such as Strabo and Arrian. He describes such features as the Himalayas and the island of Sri Lanka. He also described India's caste system.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

ACK-087: Balram Ki Kathayen

After a long time we are presenting a Hindi ACK. Some voices were heard demanding a Hindi version. So, lets enjoy this one.


Balarama was Krishna's elder brother and his mate in  their joint exploits. Balarama is simple-minded and  depends on his physical strength in combat.
Balarama's symbol was his plough. He used the plough to  make a channel from the river Yamuna to a far-off dry  land. It was the plough that procured for him the  suitable bride Revati.
Balarama and Krishna jontly fought with Kamsa in their  early years. But Balarama kept himself away from the  later war of Kauravas and Pandavas.

Download ACK-087: Balram Ki Kathayen
(31 pages, 1000 px wide, 6.9 MB only)

Story: Meera Ugra
Illustrations: Raam Vaeerkar

बलराम की कथाएँ

कृष्ण के बड़े भाई बलराम, कृष्ण के बचपन के साहसिक कार्य, युद्ध और उपलब्धि में सहभागी रहे. बल और  वीरता में अद्वितीय होने के बावजूद रिश्तेदारों में युद्ध के विचार से भी उन्हें पीड़ा होती, इसलिए पांडवों और कौरवों के  बीच हुए महाभारत के युद्ध में वे तटस्थ रहे.

बलदेव और बलभद्र भी बलराम के ही नाम हैं. इस अमर चित्र कथा में प्रस्तुत हैं कुछ उनके बचपन और उनके  विवाह की कथाएँ.

More information about Balram

1. From Wikipedia (condensed from the main source):

Balarama (बलराम, Balarāma), also known as Baladeva, Baldau, Balabhadra and Halayudha, is the elder brother of the divine being, Krishna in Hinduism. Within Vaishnavism and a number of South Indian, Hindu traditions Balarama is worshipped as an avatar of Vishnu, and he is also listed as such in the Bhagavata Purana.[1] Within both the Vaishnava traditions and Hinduism generally he is acknowledged as being a manifestation of Shesha, the serpent on whom Vishnu rests.

The Bhagavata Purana describes Krishna as the original Supreme Personality of Godhead from whom everything else emanates. As part of this divine 'emanation', Krishna's very first expansion is Balarama, and from Balarama all other incarnations of God then appear. Of the three transcendental elements described in Sanskrit as sat, cit and ananda (eternity, knowledge and bliss), Balarama is in charge of eternity and knowledge. Hence he worshipped as the supreme teacher or Adiguru.

Balarama was born to Vasudeva and Devaki. Kamsa, the brother of Devaki and an evil king, was intent upon killing all the children of his sister because of a prediction that he would die at the hands of her eighth son. Kansa thus threw his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva into prison, and proceeded to kill each of their children as they were born. However, the seventh child was transferred miraculously from Devaki's womb to the womb of Rohini, who had desired a child of her own. Thus Balarama's other name is also Saṃkarṣaṇa which describes the transfer of the child from the womb. The child was formally named Rama, but because of his great strength he was called Balarama (Strong Rama), Baladeva or Balabhadra.

Thus, Rohini actually gave birth to Balarama and raised him. Balarama spent his childhood as a cowherd boy with his brother Krishna and friends. He later married Revati, the daughter of King Kakudmi, ruler of Kuśasthalī or Anarta[2]

Balarama famously taught both Duryodhana of the Kauravas and Bhima of the Pandavas the art of fighting with a mace. When war broke between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, Balarama was equally affectionate to both parties and so decided to be neutral. Eventually when Bhima (of greater strength) defeated Duryodhana (of greater skill) by dealing a blow below the navel with his mace (a move against the rules of mace combat), Balarama threatened to kill Bhima. This was only prevented when Krishna reminded Balarama of Bhima's vow to kill Duryodhana by crushing the very thigh he exposed to his wife Draupadi.

2. From Mythical Folklore (condensed from the main source):

BALARAMA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] (Balabhadra and Baladeva are other forms of this name.) The elder brother of Krishna. When Krishna is regarded as a full manifestation of Vishnu, Balarama is recognized as the seventh Avatara or incarnation in his place. According to this view, which is the favorite one of the Vaishnavas, Krishna is a full divinity and Balarama an incarnation; but the story of their birth, as told in the Mahabharata, places them more upon an equality.

It says that Vishnu took two hairs, a white and a black one, and that these became Bala-Rama and Krishna, the children of Devaki. Balarama was of fair complexion, Krishna was very dark.

As soon as Balarama was born, he was carried away to Gokula to preserve his life from the tyrant Kansa, and he was there nurtured by Nanda as a child of Rohini. He and Krishna grew up together, and he took part in many of Krishna's boyish freaks and adventures.

His earliest exploit was the killing of the great Asura Dhenuka, who had the form of an ass. This demon attacked him, but Balarama seized his assailant, whirled him round by his legs till he was dead, and cast his carcase into a tree. Another Asura attempted to carry off Balarama on his shoulders, but the boy beat out the demon's brains with his fists.

When Krishna went to Mathura, Balarama accompanied him, and manfully supported him till Kansa was killed. Once, when Balarama was intoxicated, he called upon the Yamuna river to come to him, that he might bathe; but his command not being heeded, he plunged his ploughshare into the river, and dragged the waters whithersoever he went, until they were obliged to assume a human form and beseech his forgiveness. This action gained for him the title Yamunabhid and KaIindikarshana, breaker or dragger of the Yamuna. He killed Rukmin in a gambling brawl. When Samba, son of Krishna, was detained as a prisoner at Hastinapura by Duryodhana, Balarama demanded his release, and, being refused, he thrust his ploughshare under the ramparts of the city, and drew them towards him, thus compelling the Kauravas to give up their prisoner. Lastly, he killed the great ape Dwivida, who had stolen his weapons and derided him.