Amar Chitra Katha Classics  - Part 3 (Set of 50 Illustrated Books)

Amar Chitra Katha Classics - Part 3 (Set of 50 Illustrated Books)

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Author: Anant Pai
Painter/Illustrator/: Several Artistes
Publisher: India Book House
Year: 2007
Language: English
Pages: 1600
ISBN/UPC (if available): 817508281X / 152X et al


This collection includes 50 illustrated children books.

1. Tales of Yudhishthira:
Yudhishthira, the eldest of the five Pandava princes, was born to Kunti by the grace of Yama. His actions were free from passion and prejudice. He came to be considered the very embodiment of dharma and was respectfully referred to as Dharmaraja.

Yama, the awe-inspiring God of death, is also revered as the Lord of Justice. According to Hindu belief, all living beings reap the fruit of their actions after death. Yama administers justice to all the being brought before him. Since he metes out justice strictly according to Dharma, he is called Yamadharma? Yudhishthira emerged from the ordeals a stronger soul.

2. The Historic City of Delhi:
By tradition, the capital of the Pandava heroes is identified with Delhi, the capital of modern India. Relics found in Delhi indicate that this historic city was associated with the Maurya, Shunga, Shaka-Kushana, Gupta, Rajput and Sultanate periods.

Delhi boasts of a 5000-year-old turbulent history. Empires rose and fell, and were known by a number of different names – but Delhi always remained the essence of imperial power, of mighty rule and great ruin. Delhi thus presents a kaleidoscope of architectural design and style reflecting a fascinating and glorious past that few other capitals of the world can boast of.

3. Jallianwalla Bagh:
The April 13, 1919, incident at Jallianwalla Bagh has been a powerful symbol of British tyranny in India. The massacre of unarmed Indians, which left 400 dead and 1,200 wounded, aroused a universal surge of indignation against the British rulers. The tragedy prompted poet Rabindranath Tagore to refuse the knighthood conferred upon him by the British Government.

The sacrifice of the martyrs of Jallianwalla Bagh resulted in further intensification of the struggle for independence. It turned millions of loyal supporters of the British Raj into nationalists, thus becoming an important landmark in India’s struggle for freedom.

4. Chandra Shekhar Azad:
Chandra Shekhar Azad was a great revolutionary who lived and died for the Motherland. Together with his band of dedicated young men, he fought to liberate India from the foreign rulers.

The activities of Azad and his associates contributed in no small measure to the awakening of the Indian masses – a task which the national leaders of the day were trying to achieve through peaceful means.

5. Bahubali:
Bahubali was the son of Rishabhadeva, the first of the 24 Tirthankaras revered by the Jains. In his hour of triumph Bahubali gave away his kingdom to the very brother, he had defeated in single combat.

Centuries later, Chavundaraya, the commander-in-chief of a king of the Gangadynasty, was inspired to have a 57-foot-high image of Bahubali carved out of a huge rock at Shravana Belagola in Karnataka. Since Chavundaraya was also known as Gommata, the image came to be known as Gommateshwara.

Shravana Belagola is now an important pilgrim centre. Millions of people flock to it to witness the ‘Maha Mastaka Abhisheka’ when the gigantic image is given a ceremonial bath and anointed once every 12 years.

6. Tales of Balarama :
Balarama is also known as Baladeva and Balabhadra. Some episodes from his childhood and the tale of his wedding are narrated in this Amar Chitra Katha. The first story in this volume encapsulates a series of adventures with friends and demons. In the second story, Balarama changes the course of the River Yamuna to solve the water problems of a group of farmers. The tale of Balarama’s wedding to Revati is charmingly narrated in the third story. The last story is that of princess Lakshmana who loves Krishna. Her swayamwara is deliberately arranged to be so challenging that only Krishna could win.

7. Andhaka :
The story of Andhaka, the offspring of Shiva and Parvati, is given in the Shiva and Vamana Puranas. Andhaka is born blind and hideous inform, from the sweat of Parvati’s hand and the heat of Shiva’s eye. When given away as a boon to asura king. Hiranyaksha, Andhaka is surrounded by the crudeness and arrogance of the asuras through his growing years.

Since his origins are divine, however, there is a different destiny in store for him. Through a boon, he gains physical beauty, but his heart continues to harbour evil.

His parents are instrumental in bringing about his ultimate spiritual transformation. Andhaka’s story aptly traces the journey of the soul and its ordeals through fire before it attains liberation.

8. The Fool’s Disciples:
This is the story of a simpleton named Paramartha who is suddenly catapulted into becoming the Mahtma Guru Paramrtha – complete with a band of foolish followers – is many adventures.

9. Ramanuja:
Ramanuja (1017-1137) the great Vaishnava saint-philosopher, upheld bhakti as the sole path to the realization of God.

He wrote commentaries on the Brahmasutras, the Upanishads and the Bhagwad Gita. It was his view that these three philosophical texts proclaim bhakti as the chief means of realsing God.

In his life and teachings, Ramanuja upheld that all humans are born equal and that caste or social status has no role-indetermining one’s relationship with god. He accepted Kanchi Purna, who was not a Brahmin, as his guru. One of his most worthy disciples, Dhanurdasa, was a non-Brahmin from a lower caste. For Ramanuja, a Vaishnava is worthy of respect; but he defined as a true Vaishnava only one who has abundant love for God.

10. Sultan Razia:
As a young woman, Razia has courage and intelligence so impressive that her wise father appointed her as his successor, much to the anger of her brother. In the struggle for power that followed her father's death, Razia emerged victorious, and became the first Sultana (Muslim woman ruler) of thirteenth-century India. She created a spirit of tolerance and harmony among different faiths, and was credited with founding new schools, libraries, and holy places for her people.

11. Aruni and Uttanka:
The stories of Aruni and Uttanka illustrate the special relationship that ought to exist between the teacher (guru) and the disciple (shishya). The faith of the student in his teacher is matched by the latter’s perception of the pupil’s abilities. The first story tells us of Aruni’s remarkable loyalty and perseverance towards his guru, Dhoumya, for whom he is willing to risk even his life. In the second story, Sage Gautama singles out Uttanka for tests more arduous than those he imposes on his other disciple, because he has complete faith in him.

12. Hiuen Tsang :
Hiuen Tsang, a Chinese pilgrim who came to India in A.D. 629, was the most distinguished Buddhist scholar of his times. He stayed in India for 16 long years, traveling extensively and holding discussions with Buddhist scholars all over the country. A keen intellect, an enquiring mind, profound scholarship and, above all, a deep attachment to India, were the hallmarks of his impressive personality.

Hiuen Tsang’s services to the spread of Buddhist knowledge in China are inestimable. His story illustrates the greatness of the human spirit in the face of heavy odds.

13. Jagdis Chandra Bose :
Jagdis Chandra Bose (1858-1937) was the first Indian scientist in modern times to have won international recognition. Gifted with a mind that was at once inquisitive and discerning. Bose wondered about the how and why of things from a very young age.

All along, he kept himself abreast of scientific and technological developments in the West. With Marconi who at about the same time worked independently half-way across the globe – he laid the foundations of radio broadcasting.

Though he began with Experimental Physics, his innate interest in living beings veered him towards the science of Biophysics. He invented extremely sensitive instruments that could detect and measure the responses of living organisms to external stimuli.

His contribution to the world of science was invaluable. As the 1945 edition of ‘Encyclopedia Britannica’ wrote: “His work was so much in advance of his time that its precise evolution was not possible.”

14. Veer Hammir:
The Rajput states had bravely withstood the repeated attempts of foreign invaders to subjugate them however, in 1303, Ala-ud-din Khilji succeeded in sacking Mewar and capturing Chittor.

Hammir’s velour and his role in founding the state of Mewar made his name a household word in Rajasthan. Many romantic tales, the most important of which is ‘Hammir-Kavya’ were woven around his heroic deeds.

15. Raja Raja Chola:
One of the great kings of southern India during the medieval period was Raja Raja Chola (985-1014). During his 30-year reign, he extended and consolidated an empire that spanned the seas. In fact, his reign witnessed the beginning of Chola maritime power with interests in Lanka and Sri Vijaya, which comprises modern Java, Sumatra and a few other islands. He is also reputed to have sent trading envoys to China by land.

16. Ranjit Singh:
Ranjit singh was one of the most remarkable men in Indian history. His father left him heir to a tiny principality. When Ranjit Singh died, his rule extended over undivided Punjab, Kashmir, Ladakh, Multan and parts of Afghanistan. One of his generals, Zorawar Singh, even penetrated into the heart of Tibet. His army was one of the most disciplined and efficient in the whole of Asia. His rule was marked with prosperity and justice.

17. Subramania Bharati:
Subramania Bharati, the famous Tamil poet, writer and patriot, loved all people and cultures, and nourished a strong desire for freedom. He loved India with all his heart and suffered because he was a patriot. He was a true poet of freedom, and his fiery verses are sung to this day. He wrote prose too, which was widely regarded.

Bharati died when he was only 39.

18. Jayaprakash Narayan:
Jayaprakash was an avid reader and his wide reading was an important factor in shaping his intellect. He was an excellent student and did very well at both school and college.

When he was still a schoolboy, Jayaprakash committed his first act of rebellion – he disobeyed a rule because he considered it to be unjust – and he willingly paid the price of rebellion. To fight against injustice without considerations of personal safety, was hence forth to be the guiding principle of his life. During the struggle against the British, he told the judge who tried him for treason, that he would not accept “certain laws of a foreign government established by force in this country.”

19. Ram Shastri :
In the history of India, Ram Shastri stands unique as the ideal public servant. He was the chief justice under the Peshwas. His integrity in public affairs is a model for all times.

20. Jamsetji Tata:
Can you think of a man who has two sons and adopts a research institute as his third? That was Jamsetji Tata, the greatest Indian industrialist ever!

A man who thought big but also cared for the small, A man who provided generous scholarships to nurture the talent of tomorrow and made an endowment in his will for building India’s first institute of advanced scientific education – the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

When he establishment his steel plant, he made a quantum shift in the nature of his business. From a country of traders, India stepped into a world of industrialization. No wonder many assert that Jamsetji is the father of modern Indian industry.

21. Amar Singh Rathor:
Amar Singh Rathor, a brave Rajput warrior, was the Commander of shah Jahan’s army, and was held in great esteem by the Mughal Emperor himself. He was brave with a great sense of self-worth. As long as Shah Jahan honoured him, he fulfilled his duties zealously. But when the king, tricked by his jealous and scheming courtiers, hurt Amar Singh Rathor’s pride and self-respect, he fought the emperor with his small but courageous army and died a martyr’s death.

22. Lachit Barphukan:
Lachit Barphukan was a great general, like Shivaji, his contemporary in the Deccan, Lachit also fought relentlessly to curb the expansion of the Mughal Empire in Assam. It is unfortunate, however, that the sage of this great son of India, who stands on an equal footing with brave hearts like Rana Pratap and Shivaji, is little known outside his native Assam.

23. Banda Bahadur:
Few characters in Indian history have had as dazzling and dynamic a life as Banda Bahadur. It was he who paved the way for the foundation of the Sikh Kingdom.

Born a Rajput in Jammu, he renounced the world to become a vairagi. While living a secluded life by the banks of the river Godavari, he was asked by Guru Gobind Singh, the last of the ten Sikh gurus, to lead the revolt against Mughal tyranny. Banda lodged the flag of rebellion within a few miles of the Imperial capital. Over the next eight years, he ravaged the whole of North India and defeated the most powerful army of the time with his ill-equipped, untrained peasant militia.

24. Baji Rao – I:
As a military strategist and soldier, Peshwa Baji Rao-I is one of the greatest names in Indian history. Some historians even rank this excellent warrior with Napoleon Bonaparte. For a man born in the peace-loving and exclusively religious Brahmin community, this is indeed a remarkable achievement.

25. Vasavadatta:
King Pradyota of Ujjaini is disturbed to learn from his minister that King Udayana of Kaushambi is a greater king that he is. He tricks Udayana into captivity. Pradyota then wants Udayana to teach him the secret of taming elephants. Udayana refuses to do so until Pradyota himself pays him the homage due to a guru. As Pradyota’s pride does not permit this, he sends his lovely daughter Vasavadatta to Udayana for the lessons, with a curtain screen separating them. Vasavadatta is told her teacher is a leper, and Udayana is told that his pupil is a hunch-backed relative of Pradyota.

What follows thereafter is encapsulated in this romantic tale.

26. Fa Hien:
This is the story of a Chinese monk named Fa Hien, who undertook a painfully long and arduous journey to India 1,600 year ago (399 AD) in pursuit of knowledge-to seek the true teachings of Buddha. It is the story of a man of immense courage, sincerity and faith.

27. Mangal Pande:
India did not win her freedom from the British without courageously fighting for it. Almost the entire period of colonial rule, from as far back as 1757 till the beginning of the great revolt of 1857, was punctuated by a series of struggles for independence.

28. Nachiketa and Other Stories:
The three stories depicted here are from the Upanishads, which are also called Vedanta or “the end of the Veda”. This is because they from the last branch of Vedic literature where one finds in them the final aim of the Vedas that of self-realisation.

These three stories are, in essence, about the guru and the pupil, where one who embarks on the path of true knowledge surely achieves it.

29. Baladity and Yashodharam :
Toward the middle of the 5th century AD, a section of the Hunas – a nomadic tribe from Central Asia – occupied Gandhara, which is modern-day Afghanistan. Skand Gupta, the able ruler of Magadh, successfully prevented them from advancing any further.

30. The Feless Boy and Other Buddhist Tales:
Gautama, as we all know, left home to discover a way to end all human misery. He became Buddha, the enlightened one, when one day in a flash the truth dawned on him as he sat meditating under the Bodhi tree in Gaya.

He came back with practical solutions which even a layman could adopt. Those who followed him had to first accept and comprehend the four Noble truths:
That worldly existence is full of misery.
That desire and attachment are the cause of worldly existence.
That worldly existence could be ended by keeping out desire and attachment.
That there is a way to do this.

31. The Cowherd of Alawi and Other Buddhist Tales:
Gautama, as we all know, left home to discover a way to end all human misery. He became Buddha, the enlightened one, when one day in a flash the truth dawned on him as he sat meditating under the Bodhi tree in Gaya.

He came back with practical solutions which even a layman could adopt. Those who followed him had to first accept and comprehend the four Noble truths:
That worldly existence is full of misery.
That desire and attachment are the cause of worldly existence.
That worldly existence could be ended by keeping out desire and attachment.
That there is a way to do this.

The last tale in this book is a Zen Buddhist tale from Japan.

Aniruddha was the son of Pradyumna and grandson of Krishna. Usha, the daughter of an Asura named Bana, saw him in a dream and became anxious to know if there was such a person. Her favourite companion, Chitralekha, drew the portraits of many gods and men. At last when she drew the portrait of Aniruddha, Usha recognized him. Chitralekha set out to bring Aniruddha to Usha. Then followed a series of adventures and a great battle between the Yadavas and the Asuras.

It is interesting to not that Asuras were not always annihilated but were often absorbed by marriages and alliances.

The story as narrated in this book is based on the Bhagawat Purana.

The book is a treasure-house of stories of the devotees of Lord Vishnu. Through each story the author seeks to prove that God does not forsake him who has implicit faith. The repeated attempts on the life of innocent Chandrahasa not only failed to materialize but finally boomeranged on the villain himself because of Chandrahasa’s implicit faith in the Lord.

Poet Laxmeesha of the 15th century made Jaimini Bharata popular in Karnataka through his Kannada rendering on which this book is based.

34. The Adventures of Baddu and Chhotu:
Children love to hear stories –so do adults, if the story has relevance to their lives. It is this love which has kept alive for generations stories that have been handed down by an oral tradition.

Every time a story is retold it acquires a new colour and a new dimension. The grandmother who heard a story as a little girl from her grandmother will relish telling it to her grandchildren. A traveler from a distant land, who happens to hear a story during his journey, will later tell it to his own people, modifying it or adding to it little details to suit the change of place and context. This is how stories travel from one part of the world to another and why some stories of Aesop and Vishnu Sharma who wrote the Panchatantra, have much in common.

This Amar Chitra katha retells one of the most popular folk-takes of Bengal.

35. The Golden Mongoose and Other Tales from The Mahabharata :
Atithidevo bhava, or may your guest be a god to you, says one of the Upanishads. The Golden Mongoose and The Pigeon’s Sacrifice are stories that tell of the extent to which hospitality was carried in the old days.
The Enlightened Butcher speaks of duty and virtue and the inseparable link between the two in one’s quest for truth. All three stories in this Chitra Katha are retold from the Mahabharata.

36. The Queen’s Necklace and Other Tales from Jatakas:
The Jatakas on which the present title is based is a collection of five hundred and fifty stories, included in the Pali canon. They are tales in which the life of Bodhisatva in his previous births is narrated. The Boddhisatva is one, who by performing virtuous, king and intelligent acts, aspires to become a Buddha.

Jataka tales are based on folklore, legends and ballads of ancient India. We cannot assign a definite date to the Jataka stories. Taking into account archaeological and literary evidence it seems likely that they were compiled in the period, third century B C to fifth century A D. They give us invaluable information about ancient Indian civilization, culture and philosophy.

The Jataka stories have been very popular in the Buddhist world. These stories have been translated into almost all the languages of the Buddhist countries such as Chinese, Tibetan, Sinhalese, Siamese, Burmese, Japanese and also into many modern European languages. These stories have encouraged painting and sculpture in ancient India and other Buddhist counties. Sanchi, Bharhut, Amaravati and Ajanta in India, Borobudur in Java, Pegan in Burma and Sukhodaya in Thailand bear testimony to the popularity of these tales.

37. The Deadly Feast:
According to legend, several lifetimes as a Bodhisattva went into the making of the Buddha, the Enlightened One.

The Bodhisattva has come in many forms – man, monkey, deer, elephant, lion. Whatever his mortal body, he has spread the message of justice and wisdom, tempered with compassion. This wisdom of right thinking and right living, is preserved in the Jataka tales.

These tales are based on the folklore, legends and ballads of ancient India. We cannot assign a definite date to the Jataka stories. Taking into account archaeological and literary evidence it appears that they were compiled in the period, the third century B C to the fifth century AD. They give us invaluable information about ancient Indian civilization, culture and philosophy.

According to Maha Ummagga Jataka, the Bodhisattva was once born as Aushadha Kumar who was endowed with celestial knowledge and superhuman powers. Earlier, we had published the stories of Aushadha Kumar’s childhood (Battle of Wits) and his early life at the court of Mithila (The Priceless Gem). This issue of Amar Chitra Katha presents Aushadha Kumar in the role of the chief minister of Mithila.

38. The Priceless Gem:
All living creatures die to be born again, so the Hindus believe. Siddhartha who became the Buddha was no exception. It is believed several lifetimes as a Bodhisattva go into the making of the Buddha, the Enlightened One.

The Bodhisattva has come in many forms – man, monkey, deer, elephant, lion. Whatever his mortal body, he has spread the message of justice and wisdom, tempered with compassion. This wisdom, the wisdom of right thinking and right living, is preserved in the Jataka tales.

According to the Maha Ummagga Jataka, the Bodhisattva was once born as Aushadha Kumar who was endowed with celestial knowledge and superhuman powers. The present issue of Amar Chitra Katha presents the second set of the tales connected with Aushadha Kumar.

The first title, The Battle of Wits, presented the tales connected with the childhood of Aushadaha Kumar. This issue presents stories of Aushadha Kumar at the court of Mithila.

39. King Kusha :
King Kusha is an adaptation of the Kusha Jataka, one of the five hundred and fifty stories included in the Pali canon. The Jataka tales are woven round the life of the Bodhisattva, who lived many lives on this earth before he evolved into the Buddha, the Enlightened One.

The Jataka stories have been very popular in the Buddhist world. These stories have not only been translated into almost all the languages closely related to Buddhism – Chinese, Tibetan, Sinhalese, Siamese, Burmese, Japanese- but also into many modern European languages. These stories have also been depicted in the paintings and sculptures of ancient India and other Ajanta in India, Borobudur in Java, Pegan in Burma and Sukhodaya in Siam bear testimony to the popularity of these tales.

Maharana Kumbha was a scion of the Sisodiya branch of the House of Hammir. Maharana Kumbha was not only a great sovereign and military commander but also a great scholar and musicologist.

Among the galaxy of Rajput sovereigns Maharana Kumbha occupies a pre-eminent position. His natural abilities and achievements place him in the forefront of the great rulers not only of Mewar, but of the whole of India. The material for this Chitra Katha has been drawn from the famous book on the life of Kumbha by Harbilas Sarda.

41. Tanaji:
Maratha history is full of incidents of great valour and heroism. Tanaji is one of the Maratha warriors who shone like a meteor in the horizon of early Maratha history.

Tanaji was a friend of Shivaji from his early childhood days and was steadfast in his devotion to the cause. He stood by Shivaji in all the perilous adventures undertaken by him in the early years. The task of climbing Kondana was not an easy one. It was a well-guarded fort and the only access was from the side of a precipice, which was considered insurmountable. The great historian, Sir H G Rawlinson, says, it was a task, which the Mawlas alone, perhaps of any troops in the world, could hope to cope with successfully.

Simhagad, near Poona, is a living monument to the memory of this great soldier. The present work is mainly based on Shivaji, the Maratha, his life and times-H G Rawlinson and Shivasamsmriti-G S Sardesai.

Noor Jahan is one of the most fascinating figures of Mughal India. Noor Jahan was famous for her beauty and wisdom. She was an accomplished poet. She made the rose perfume, invented by her mother, popular. She was adept in embroidery, and the fabrics and dresses designed by her dominated the world of fashion for many years.

As Abdul Rashid observes, Fact and fiction have woven a web of romance around this colourful personality. According to popular legends, from which material from this book has been drawn, Noor Jahan and Jahangir were childhood playmates. But all the available evidence suggests that the two met for the fist time at the Meena Bazaar, the royal bazzar held annually at the palace of the emperor.

The story of Chand Bibi is imprinted on the Indian mind as an example of all that is noble and brave in the human spirit.

Into this turbulent scene entered a woman who was to make a sharp impact on history. This woman was Chand Bibi, the sister of Burhan-ul-Mulk. She had been married to Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur. After her husband’s death, being childless, she returned to Ahmednagar to train her nephew, Prince Bahadur, in the ways of kingship.

Tegh Bhahadur became the Guru of the Sikhs at a time when the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb’s policy of religious intolerance and persecution had antagonized a vast section of his subjects. Denied the freedom to follow their faith, the Hindus of Kashmir approached Guru Tegh Bahadur for help and guidance.
Great ingenuity was used in devising new kinds of torture for the Guru and his closest disciples, but Aurangzeb failed to crush their spirit. Thus for a great principle which today is cherished by people in most parts of the world, the Guru laid down his life. Even to this day, he is remembered as Hindu-di-chadar, (literally, the coverlet of India), protector of India’s honour.

45. Veer Savarkar - In the Andaman:
No textbook of history will tell you the hardships Indian revolutionaries had to suffer and the sacrifices they had to make for their country’s freedom. This Amar Chitra Katha highlights the life of revolutionaries who were exiled to the dreaded cellular prison in Port Blair in the Andaman Islands.

Many went insane and a few committed suicide. But Veer Savarkar refused to be daunted. He valiantly continued the fight for human dignity and freedom, even in prison.

What was the secret of Savarkar’s strength? He was utterly confident that India would achieve freedom. That conviction gave him hope and courage to overcome depression and keep fighting wherever he was – inside or outside the prison.

46. Rash Behari Bose - SUBHAS CHANDRA BOSE:
The national movement for independence in India threw up figures larger than life, who surrendered themselves to a cause bigger than anything they had ever known.

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose stands out as a dynamic, restless force in an era which had chosen the path of Gandhi, the path of peace and non-violent non-co-operation. Bengal chose to voice its protest militantly and Subhas Chandra Bose was a true son of Bengal.

His stirring victory slogan Jai Hind drew India into one united whole. To this day, on occasions of national importance, it reminds us that we are one people.

47. The Adventures of Agad Datta:
The stories in this Chitra Katha are taken from Vasudeva Hindee (The Travels of Vasudeva), the oldest extant collection of Jain stories. The author of this collection, originally written in Prakrit around 500 BC, is Sanghadas Gani Vachak.

Through the eyes of his hero, Vasudeva, a traveler, Vachak gives us a glimpse of the society of the times.

From the stories included in this book, for instance, we know that the merchants of ancient India were full of enterprise and the spirit of adventure. They explored new territories and established trade links with the outside world.

48. Kannagi:
Kannagi, a gem of a housewife, a paragon of chastity, has been immortalized in the pages of Silappadikaaram, the famous Tamil epic of Ilango, the Chera prince-turned-ascetic. It is the story of a clash between three anklets: the anklet of the home, the anklet of the stage and the anklet of the palace.

An ill-fated housewife, Kannagi losses her husband, Kovalan, to the art of a dancer, Madhavi, and finds him again only to lose him to the blind law of a king. Her story is set in the three ancient cities of South India-Poompuhar the Chola capital where she grew up; Madurai the Pandya capital where she fell; and Vanji the Chera capital which placed her on a pedestal.

The epic is a rich record of a great civilization, vivid with descriptions of edifices, shrines, docks, market-places, squares, of laws and rituals, of Natya Shastra (Science of Dance), musicology and musical instruments of the day. Known for its high dramatic content, Silappadikaaram is a shining jewel in Tamil literature.

The memory of Ilango and his immortal classic has recently been perpetuated by the Tamil Nadu Government by erecting at Kaveripattinam, a magnificent seven-storey art gallery Silappadikaaram Kalaikoodam, in ancient Dravidian architectural style. The structure narrates the story in stone carvings.

The wit and wisdom of Birbal had endeared him not only to Akbar, but also to a vast majority of the subjects of the Mughal empire. He had the rare distinction of achieving immense popularity during his lifetime, next only to that of Akbar. He was a good administrator, a good soldier and, perhaps what pleased Akbar the most, a good jester. Less known is the fact that he was also a good poet. He wrote under the pen-name, Brahma and a collection of his poems is preserved in the Bharatpur museum.

Though popularly Known as Birbal, his real name was Maheshdas. It is believed that he belonged to a poor Brahmin family of Trivikrampur, (now known as Tikawanpur), on the bank of the River Yamuna. It was only by virtue of his sharp intellect that the rose to be a minister at the court of Akbar. His phenomenal success made many courtiers jealous of him and if the popular accounts are to be believed, they were ever busy plotting against him. According to the popular legend even his death, while he was on an expedition to Afghanistan at the head of a large military force, was due to treachery. Though he was killed in the battle, the expedition was successful and subdued the turbulent province.

Akbar had found in Birbal a true friend and sympathizer. Of the handful of followers of the Din-e-Elahi, the new faith preached by Akbar, there was only one Hindu-Birbal.

50. Jayadratha:
Jayadratha is one of the most despicable characters to be found in the Mahabharata. He terrorized th