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Thread: Hindu Graphic Novels and Comic Books

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    Hindu Graphic Novels and Comic Books

    Namaste,

    Ever since HDF member kumar_s mentioned the Hindu company Vimanika Comics and its beautiful art, I've become increasingly interested in exploring Hindu comic books and graphic novels. The art can be inspiring at times. Lengthy and complex sacred stories from the scriptures are compressed into the essential events, providing a convenient summary, and stories of individuals who are part of much larger story are retold on their own. Another advantage of Hindu graphic novels is that they can explore the questions that modern readers have about the gods, heroes, and villains portrayed within the scriptures, as when they explore the puzzles of the mixed moral journeys or dual moral character of Rāvaṇa or Karṇa. I would like this thread to be dedicated to discussing the merits of any Hindu graphic novels, comic books, or related art that any member has discovered.

    I recently ordered graphic novels, Dashaavatar: Volume One and The Sixth: The Legend of Karna, from Mumbai-based Vimanika Comics and, to give me something similar to explore during the long, long wait for delivery from Vimanika, I bought five graphic novels from New Delhi-based Campfire: Krishna: Defender of Dharma, Draupadi: The Fire-Born Princess, Ravana: Roar of the Demon King, Sita: Daughter of the Earth, and Tulsidas' Sundarkaand: Triumph of Hanuman, an adaptation of the section that is the heart of the Śrī Rāmacaritamānasa of the poet-saint Tulsīdāsa. (At one level it is about the deeds of Lord Hanumān, but it is also about devotion to God, discovering one's purpose and potential, overcoming obstacles, and, it is said, crossing the ocean of saṃsāra, which is the cycle of suffering and reincarnation, to reach the goal, much like the corresponding section of the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa.)

    Review of Tulsidas' Sundarkaand: Triumph of Hanuman

    Campfire (Kalyani Navyug Media Pvt. Ltd) leaves impression that it is not a very Hindu or spiritually-oriented company. Most of its graphic novels are adaptations of classics of Western literature. Its Hindu graphic novels are labeled "mythology*," separated from its classics, and grouped together with stories from the Greek myths. However, it turns out that some of Campfire's writers and artists are spiritual Hindus. I was pleased to read at the beginning of the graphic novel Tulsidas' Sundarkaand: Triumph of Hanuman these words from the author of the adaptation, Shyam Prakash: "This book is dedicated to Lord Salasar Balaji," meaning Lord Hanumān. On the page before the dedication, artist Sachin Nagar drew a Vaiṣṇava tilak or ūrdhva-puṇḍra (a symbolic mark representing the feet of Lord Viṣṇu), although not one belonging to any particular Vaiṣṇava sampradāya (Viṣṇu devotee tradition).

    The adaptation is skillful. Other Campfire artists dazzle the reader with more realistic styles, but Sachin Nagar's simpler style works here. The artist effectively portrays the calm faith, cheerfulness, and total devotion of Lord Hanumān that so inspire devotees of Lord Viṣṇu. We see the servant-hero single-mindedly, selflessly, and fearlessly overcoming all obstacles in faithful service of the Lord. Writer Shyam Prakash provides only the most essential dialogue, narration, and text for thought bubbles, incorporating information from outside of the sundara kāṇḍa to clarify what is happening when needed. However, I wish that Prakash had thought to include some of the opening verses of the sundara kāṇḍa section. Perhaps he omitted the first verse as too sectarian, but he might have included, "There is no other craving in my heart, O Lord [Rāma]...Grant me intense devotion to your feet..." (tr. Gita Press) to set the tone and provide a key for young readers as to one part of the deeper meaning of the story. He might also have found space for some of the great proverbs found throughout this section, such as "through the Lord's might, the most tiny snake might swallow Garuḍa" (ibid.). In spite of these omissions, the theme of devotion is clear enough throughout. I was also delighted to find that key scenes involving Vibhīṣaṇa, who is a virtuous devotee of Śrī Rāma, though Vibhīṣaṇa was born an asura among asuras (generally unrighteous spiritual beings opposed to God), were included.

    praṇām



    * While it's true that modern academics often use the word "myth" in a neutral sense to mean a sacred story that explains an origin, practice, or doctrine, the more common meaning of the word today is something that is widely believed but not true.






    Last edited by anucarh; 30 March 2015 at 06:12 AM. Reason: to fix an ambiguous sentence & correct a typo; I was finally able to add an image
    śrīmate nārāyaṇāya namaḥ

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    Re: Hindu Graphic Novels and Comic Books

    Namaste Anucarh Ji,

    Thanks for sharing your views and the review.

    I grew up reading Amar Chitra Katha(ACK) series as this was the most famous publication at that time.Though the comics are a bit simple and not very graphic unlike today's rich versions they were good in content.

    The first ACK book I read was Hanuman,which I got as a birthday gift when in standard 1.It was really good and opened up a new world for me.

    Later that year I got 'Tales of Durga', which is an abridged version of the Devi Mahatmyam(Markandeya Purana).This comic book had a deep impact on me.I still read the Mahatmyam often and it is one of my favorite Hindu scriptures.


    He dances in the golden hall of Chidambaram, Let us worship His rosy anklet girt Feet.

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    Re: Hindu Graphic Novels and Comic Books

    Namaste Ram ji,

    Thank you for introducing me to Amar Chitra Katha and for sharing your experiences. The content does look good. I would have enjoyed reading ACK books when I was a child. I see that the company published more than 300 titles! ACK performed a great service in introducing so many young people to so many scriptures and classics.

    > I still read the Mahatmyam often and it is one of my favorite Hindu scriptures.

    This is a scripture that I've wanted to read. I hope to read it some time this year.

    praṇām
    śrīmate nārāyaṇāya namaḥ

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    Re: Hindu Graphic Novels and Comic Books

    Namaste everyone,

    Vimanika Comics

    Mumbai-based Vimanika Comics was born on 17 April, 2008, when founder, CEO, and Editor in Chief Karan vir Arora decided to get involved in creating and publishing comic books and graphic novels with characters from Hindu scriptures and literature, characters who embody virtues no longer common in this world, in stories that always have a moral. His award-winning company employs "a team of 20 writers and artists" and reaches out to several researchers and scholars to try to keep their stories as faithful to the source material as possible. Vimanika's first big hit was its award-winning comic book series Moksha, which is now out of print. Unlike Amar Chitra Katha or Campfire, Vimanika's titles are difficult to find in the U.S. Here in the states they can only be ordered through the company website. Currently, the comic book company's future is uncertain, as it faces shrinking demand for comic books and fierce competition. It is now in the midst of a fundraising campaign in order to survive.

    The Ordering Experience

    My experience ordering from Vimanika was not ideal. The wait for delivery was surprisingly long (3 months in my case). The graphic novels arrived in flimsy packaging, not well-protected from possible damage. The exterior of one graphic novel had been treated poorly. It was creased, bent, scratched, punctured, and discolored along one edge. The beautiful interior art was well-preserved in both graphic novels, however, except for the small hole in the lower right corner of the ill-treated book, that went through the cover and the first nine pages. The poster inside each graphic novel was also well-preserved. I do not know how typical my experience is.

    Review of Karan Vir's Dashaavatar Volume 1

    Karan Vir's Dashaavatar
    tells the stories of ten major avatāras (incarnations) of Lord Viṣṇu that are listed in the Agni Purāṇa and the Garuḍa Purāṇa. Volume one tells the stories of matsyāvatāra (the fish incarnation) and kūrmāvatāra (the tortoise incarnation). The first thing one notices about this graphic novel is the unusual yet beautiful depiction of Lord Viṣṇu and Ādiśeṣa on the cover by award-winning artist Suresh Deegwal and Ratnakar Singh. Lord Viṣṇu carries a bow and arrows, much like his incarnation Śrī Rāma, but he is also wielding his Sudarśanacakra, his powerful wheel weapon, in his right hand. I would love to read an explanation of this art. I have never seen a depiction of Lord Viṣṇu like it. (The poster in the back is of the same picture, only much larger, and identifies the subject as Lord Viṣṇu.)

    The book begins with an explanation of avatāras, their purpose, and of the daśāvatāra (the ten incarnations). There is a factual error here. The passage states, "There are ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu." The list of ten in the Purāṇas, however, is not meant to be exhaustive. It is one list of some major incarnations, not a list of all of Lord Viṣṇu's incarnations*. On the other hand, the writers surely must know this, since they included avatāras not on the list of ten, such as Mohinī, in the stories. This opening passage concludes with the significance of the ten incarnations, "The Dashaavataras reveal that divinity re-establishes Dharma or righteousness and destroys injustice from time to time, by appearing on earth in various incarnations," echoing the teaching of Bhagavad Gītā 4.7-8.

    The interior art is fairly realistic and only a little less beautiful than the cover art. Near the end of the book, Karan vir Arora explains the company's artistic philosophy as follows, "Our art is quite realistic anatomically, so you will see Devas and Asuras with six packs and muscles! We consider that Gods must appear fit, handsome and muscular! I personally believe that if they're Gods and Goddesses, then they should be really good looking!"

    If you've read Amar Chitra Katha's popular Dasha Avatar: The Ten Incarnations of Lord Vishnu and are wondering if there's anything different here besides the art, you will not be disappointed. These are not identical stories with different pictures. Vimanika's writers and artists were given much more space in which to tell each story. Vimanika's more elaborate telling of the matsyāvatāra story resolves the puzzle of the two Hayagrīvas (the evil asura Hayagrīva who stole the Vedas and the Hayagrīva who is an avatāra of Lord Viṣṇu). Interestingly, gone is the horn of Matsya that he used to pull the ship in the better known version of the story. Gone also is the rope that was tied to it. Here the nāga king Vāsuki functions much like a rope, tying a hornless Matsya to the ship. Vimanika relied on different sources for this adaptation of the story. The kūrmāvatāra story includes the sage Durvāsa's curse of Indra this time, the fourteen treasures, and the origins of the devas and asuras. The stories are well-paced and filled with great teachings about kindness to animals (think of King Satyavrata and the "little fish"), humility, courtesy, trust in God, learning to see things from a larger perspective, and more. There are a few minor typographical errors (such as "and" where there should be "an"), but they didn't affect my enjoyment of the stories. I really enjoyed this volume.

    If this book is any indication of the quality of Vimanika's other work, I'm sure to become a devoted fan.

    praṇām



    * There are several other lists, including a different list of 10 in the Nārāyaṇīya section of the Mahābhārata, a list of 22 in the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, as smaranam ji has mentioned, a list of 39 in the Ahirbhudhnya Saṁhitā, and others. If you add all of the names in all of the lists, not counting additional appearances of the same name, you find that more than sixty are specified. (I haven't done a precise count yet.) In addition to these, the Lord incarnated as a mango tree, according to the Viśvaksena Saṁhitā. Bhāgavata Purāṇa 1.3.26 says that the avatāras of Lord Viṣṇu are countless. Obviously, it is simply incorrect to say that the Lord is limited to ten.



    Last edited by anucarh; 30 March 2015 at 05:16 AM. Reason: forgot to mention typos in the graphic novel; finally figured out how to add pic
    śrīmate nārāyaṇāya namaḥ

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    Re: Hindu Graphic Novels and Comic Books

    Namaste Anucarh Ji,

    Interesting review.

    Three months is a very long time for delivery.They should try to deliver faster and damaged product is unpardonable.You should inform them that if they want to continue they better improve their service quality.

    There are forms of Rama with four arms holding both the Chakra and the bow.The two armed form is probably created by an artist
    .


    Four Armed Sri SitaRamachandra Swamy,Bhadrachalam.





    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhadrachalam_Temple

    The interior art is fairly realistic and only a little less beautiful than the cover art. Near the end of the book, Karan vir Arora explains the company's artistic philosophy as follows, "Our art is quite realistic anatomically, so you will see Devas and Asuras with six packs and muscles! We consider that Gods must appear fit, handsome and muscular! I personally believe that if they're Gods and Goddesses, then they should be really good looking!"

    Hmm,I did not notice that before.I think this trend of portraying deities with handsome physique is being done since some time.I do agree that Devas may be shown as muscular and perfect but with six packs!! .Not sure if this a good trend though.

    An old image of Rama and Lakshmana with fit bodies.



    There are many avataras,more than 10,22,39 or 60 but from what other members said here before Sri Rama and Sri Krishna are more popular because they are 'complete' avataras.

    Wonderful review,keep continuing.

    Last edited by Ram11; 28 March 2015 at 08:47 AM.
    He dances in the golden hall of Chidambaram, Let us worship His rosy anklet girt Feet.

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    Re: Hindu Graphic Novels and Comic Books

    Namaste Ram ji,

    Thank you for your reply.

    > Three months is a very long time for delivery. They should try to deliver faster and damaged
    > product is unpardonable. You should inform them that if they want to continue they better
    > improve their service quality.

    Yes. I agree. It's a strange contradiction. The creative team at Vimanika seems to put such care into their product and have an obvious love and respect for the stories they tell. It's surprising not to see the same care in Vimanika's customer service. It should be part of their corporate culture. My hope is that this is not a consistent problem, that it is instead just an isolated incident. Even so, I'm going to make sure to let them know what I want to see the next time I order.

    > There are forms of Rama with four arms holding both the Chakra and the bow. The two
    > armed form is probably created by an artist.
    > Four Armed Sri SitaRamachandra Swamy,Bhadrachalam.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, Ram ji, and the great picture. I have never seen Lord Rāma like that before. It's a beautiful image. It surprised me because the positions of the śaṇkha (conch) and the cakra (wheel) appear to be reversed (at least from the perspective of the Śrī Vaiṣṇava writings that I've read). I like the image. I'll have to visit Bhadrachalam Temple some day.

    > I do agree that Devas may be shown as muscular and
    > perfect but with six packs!! .Not sure if this a good trend though.

    My guess is that you would probably appreciate at least some of Vimanika's art. The artists are very respectful of the deities they portray and use their art to show the power and greatness of each deity. You can see it in their work. The muscular abdomen or "six pack" that you often see in their art is just one part of a way of showing that a deity is mighty.

    > from what other members said here before Sri Rama and Sri Krishna are more popular because they are 'complete' avataras.

    This is definitely part of the Śrī Vaiṣṇava view. S.M. Srinivasa Chari, in his book Vaiṣṇavism: Its Philosophy, Theology, and Religious Discipline, gives several reasons for the greater importance of Śrī Rāma and Śrī Kṛṣṇa: (1.) they are "perfect ideal human beings symbolizing the very dharma," (2.) they were in the world much longer than brief incarnations like Matsya and Kūrma, (3.) they are pūrṇāvatāras (full incarnations), and (4.) because of the important teachings of the Rāmāyaṇa and the Bhagavad Gītā.

    Śrī Madhvācārya had a different teaching about them. According to the wonderful book Bhakti Schools of Vedānta by Svāmī Tapasyānanda (a great source of information about the Vaiṣṇava philosophies of Viśiṣṭādvaita, Dvaitādvaita, Dvaita, Śuddhādvaita, and Acintya-bhedābheda), he taught that "there is no difference" between the incarnations, that they are all "expression[s] of his entire nature," and that "all the divine attributes are residing in all incarnations." It's just that some incarnations manifest fewer attributes depending on the circumstances that require their presence and keep other attributes hidden. For the Brahmā Vaiṣṇavas who follow his teaching of Dvaita or Dualism, it would seem that all incarnations are equal. Śrī Madhvācārya even said that the "Supreme being can be adored in and through" any of them.

    > Wonderful review, keep continuing.

    Thank you.

    I finally figured out how to add pictures of the art to these posts. I'd been having some difficulty with using "insert image," so I had to find a new method. I'll make sure all of my posts here have at least one sample of the art I mention.

    praṇām



    Art from Vimanika Comics (see also my previous post, now with Vimanika art):











    śrīmate nārāyaṇāya namaḥ

  7. #7

    Re: Hindu Graphic Novels and Comic Books

    Quote Originally Posted by anucarh View Post


    No Please! Why does it all have to be on the lines of Super-Spider-Bat-Whatever "Man" ? They are man-made. BhagavAn is not.
    Isn't there another such modern creation by Deepak Chopra's son?

    Where is the saumya, shuddh-sAttvic mUrti, ahaMkAra-shUnya transcendence, param-bhAva of parabramhan? Whether sending the Sudarshan or just giving Darshan, it is all missing.

    P.S. BhagavAn Shri KRshNa does not need those extra artificial muscles to accomplish anything.
    Last edited by smaranam; 30 March 2015 at 10:06 PM. Reason: another modern comic set

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    Re: Hindu Graphic Novels and Comic Books

    Quote Originally Posted by smaranam View Post
    No! Please Noooooooooooo! This so called "artwork" makes me sob! Why does it all have to be on the lines of Super-Spider-Bat-Whatever "Man" ? They are man-made. BhagavAn is not.
    Isn't there another such modern creation by Deepak Chopra's son? I should say they are doing a disservice.

    Amar Chitra Katha is it. Nothing can beat that. Sorry folks, but just nooooooooo

    Where is the saumya, shuddh-sAttvic mUrti, ahaMkAra-shUnya transcendence, param-bhAva of parabramhan? Whether sending the Sudarshan or just giving Darshan, it is all missing.

    P.S. BhagavAn Shri KRshNa does not need those extra artificial muscles to accomplish anything.

    Namaste smaranam ji,

    I respect your views. I do like many of the Amar Chitra Katha covers, especially the first two below. For the ACK fans:















    praṇām
    śrīmate nārāyaṇāya namaḥ

  9. #9

    Re: Hindu Graphic Novels and Comic Books

    Quote Originally Posted by anucarh View Post
    Namaste smaranam ji,

    I respect your views. I do like many of the Amar Chitra Katha covers, especially the first two below. For the ACK fans:
    praṇām
    praNAm Anucarh ji, thanks for the ACK pictures, for this thread, and for sharing the picture books on Hindu Dharma with everyone.

    I am very sorry if that sounded too harsh and rude but it was not directed towards you, of course. I trust you would know that it wasn't. It is what I felt like expressing for all those modern comics -- although well-meaning, afraid that they lose some primary essence and I would not want anyone's kids to take those Deity images home as "Look, This is Vishnu!"

    The Superman muscleman promotion is just like the Super-slim Barbie doll promotion (That reminds me of the Sita cartoon film some yrs ago). While we don't want children to mimmick these in mundane world, superimposing the already imposed human media standards on Vaidic Deva-DevatA is not fulfilling the right purpose IMHO.

    It makes the Deities look all the more mundane (Heroes in the mundane world) rather than divya transcendental Beings of the urdhva lokas.

    Just mu thoughts

    he gopAla rAdhA kRshNa govinda govinda ~

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    Re: Hindu Graphic Novels and Comic Books

    namaste,
    Thanks for posting these pictures. It brought back a lot of childhood memories...

    Quote Originally Posted by anucarh View Post
    Namaste smaranam ji,

    I respect your views. I do like many of the Amar Chitra Katha covers, especially the first two below. For the ACK fans:















    praṇām
    satay

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