Hindu deities argue over who has the best beast transport in this children’s picture book.
In Hindu mythology, the term vaahana, usually translated as mount or vehicle,refers to the animals that carry deities around. As explained in rhyming verse, eight divine children gather to play but then start debating the merits of their vaahana, each claiming theirs is the best. For example, Vishnu praises his eagle vaahana for its speed and strength, while Sariswati’s swan is said to be “the most perfect mix / Of beauty, brains, and brawn.” After a lengthy argument, the deities hear laughter nearby, which turns out to be the sound of their vaahana playing happily together; as far as they’re concerned, their differences don’t matter. The deities, “humbled and impressed,” decide to carry their vaahana home that day. In his third picture book,Jatkar entertainingly introduces elements of Hindu mythology, providing helpful character lists with pronunciations. Although the verses doesn’t always scan well due to inconsistent meters, the text vigorously conveys the mounts’ qualities. Durga’s lion, for example, “can crush many a bone / In his magnificent jaws!” The author’s collagelike, full-color images depict richly patterned characters that are all the more vibrant against the pages’ simple backgrounds.
A lighthearted, beautifully illustrated lesson on appreciating multiplicity through a Hindu lens.