Thursday, December 16, 2010

Indian Epic Storybooks: Gurus, Yogis, Rishis

The gurus are central characters in the Indian epic tradition. Sometimes they are meditative sages living in the wilderness, while other gurus are military masterminds who are involved in the training of the epic warriors and sometimes even taking part in the battles themselves. This combination of sage and fighter is something you can see in Star Wars, too, for example, where the Jedi likewise combine the dimensions of wisdom and warfare.

You can take a look at some of the Storybooks about gurus from past semesters, and here is a list of some of the most famous gurus which you can read about at Wikipedia: Visvamitra, Vasishtha, Valmiki, Vyasa, Kapila, Gautama, Durvasas, Parasurama, Drona, Agastya, Bharadwaja, Atri, Jamadagni, and Rishyasringa.

You might also enjoy looking at these Wikipedia articles about the various terms used to describe these different "wise men" (and women) in the Hindu tradition: guru, yogi, rishi, sadhu, and sannyasa.

For some of these sages, like Drona or Parasurama, you could do an entire Storybook with four stories about that one character, while for the minor gurus, you would need to put together a collection of stories about four different gurus, with one story for each guru, choosing which gurus and stories you find most fascinating.

The image below shows Visvamitra with the young Rama and Lakshmana as Ahalya is freed from her imprisonment in the stone:


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