The Puffin book of Hindu Gods and Goddesses
Hindu Gods and Goddesses can baffle anyone. One, they are so many of them. Two, they can change avatars and take different forms. Three, they are not just human, they can be animals or half human & half animals. They are not always divine and benevolent, they can take ferocious avatar – if the purpose deserves so. Is one of them supreme? Are they all related to each other? There is no single answer to any of this.
How do you acquaint children with them Hindu Gods & Goddesses in a way that they can absorb them in an easy to remember manner? Puffin Authors & Illustrators have tried to explain this using a simple technique. Have an illustration along with the basic traits of the Hindu Gods & Goddesses.
The descriptions include Name along with some alternate names, superpowers, partners, vahana or vehicle, home, symbols and a 1-2 sentence introduction. I only have a small objection to the word superpower which is essentially the element of the deity. So Lakshmi is the deity of wealth and prosperity, it is not her super power really. However, I understand the word superpower is something that children of today would relate to better than any other word.
I quite liked the structure of the book. It is divided into neat segments like:
- Vedic Gods & Goddesses
- Popular Gods & Goddesses
- Avatars – Shakti, Vishnu & Shiva Avatars
- Ashta Dikpalas – guardian of 8 directions
- Navagraha – the celestial bodies
The illustrations are nice – contemporary yet capturing all the key elements of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses covered in the book.
Some editing errors include no explanation of * put on the Vahana of Ganga. They call it Makara but show a dolphin on the illustration.
There is an inclination towards the South Indian Gods & Goddesses which means Venkateshwara, Ayappa and Meenakshi Amman get a generous mention. However, to be fair to authors, I could not think of many major deities that were missing.
Overall, it is like a ready reference book for children and adults. I am not sure if we can learn about any of the deities mentioned here from their profile only. To know about them or to remember them we will always go back to the stories associated with them. However, it is a great compilation of all their features in one place. You can always refer the book to see who rides which vehicle and whom to approach when you need to pray for something.
It would be a great gift for the young readers in your family and friend circles.