Thursday, May 13, 2010

Amar Chitra Katha

Mythology is the study of the myths or folklore of ages gone by and been a part of the human life since the most ancient of civilizations.  I have been fascinated by the subject, especially Hindu Mythology since Anant Pai started his comic series Amar Chitra Katha.  The vivid imagery and the gripping storylines about my favorite characters suddenly stopped making Religion a bore.  The innumerable Hindu Gods and Goddesses suddenly had a story behind each of them rather than my just recollecting what each stood for. I understood the trinity of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer when the other Gods went to them each time when they were in trouble.  I could feel my spine tingle when I saw Maa Kali in her terrifying form with her long black hair, the garland of skulls and large eyes and blood red tongue and saw why the rakshasas had run amuck on her arrival.   My personal favorite has always been Indra and Vritra with the front cover of an image of a towering Vritra and a charging Indra with his thunderbolt embedded in my memory for good.

No TV serial made the stories of Ganesha, Lakshmi, Parvati, Indra, Dashavatar, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Goddesses come more alive than when I saw the sketches in ACK.  The later series of historical figures, our independence struggle leaders, the volumes on other religions such as Jesus Christ, Zarathushtra, Guru Tegh Bahadur added to my repertoire of wonderful tales and even History ceased to be boring.   

When people talk about making education interesting and interactive, I always find myself wondering as to why they simply don't convert all the history books and Geography books to comics!  I am sure that would gainfully employ lots of talented artists as well as make life much more fun for students apart from them remembering it better thanks to the visual aspect.

Ofcourse, ACK though had steered clear of most censures, the depiction of the evil Asuras as black skinned and the devas as fair skinned has always been controversial.  The violence depicted in several of the battlefields has also been subject to criticism and much has been said about how much blood should be shown to children.  Well, I ll say, in these terrorizing times of lurking terrorists, its better that they are aware of the bloodshed that exists in the world and the grief it causes. 

I am still a big fan of ACK, but now I do wish they came out with newer titles instead of basking in the glory of the ones I read as a kid.  I would certainly love to read about modern day heroes in an easier way than read their fat expensive biographies and also read about other cultures’ mythological characters such as the Egyptian and Greek.  Do tell me what was your favorite and what would you like to read in ACK?


  1. ACK is certainly very facinating and reader friendly. The illustrations are too good and expressions on the faces of the charecters are very lively. As Richa has mentioned, it would be very novel and interesting to have comics to teach the students history and geography instead of routine books.

    It would also be great to have biographies in comics instead of big and costly editions.

    Hope some one takes note of these suggestion. { I have taken but cannot implement :) }


  2. Yes. I m sure having more stories for adults in a comic form would encourage a whole horde of people not very interested in reading, to actually read. I know so many adults who read the archies, calvin and hobbes and a host of other comics. Why not have more serious stories in the comic book format then!

  3. Good Old days

    I became acquainted to ACK as my aaji used to read aloud the stories to us at bed time.

    The stories would be Hitopdesh,Tales of birbal,panchtantra,short stories from ramayan and mahabharata.

    The ACK graphics are so attractive and all demons were portrayed with dark complexion.

    ur post has really encouraged me to read ACK once again and refresh all the long lost memories.

    Keep writing

  4. @Amruta: hehe..yes, I guess, there is still a world of fantasy and stories that appeals to us all, as adults as well. I'm sure reading the ACKs will take you back in time and jog those old days back! Honestly I still can't resist reading those myself when I get one in my hands!

  5. A very interesting and well written blog. I am surprised at your sharp memory of the characters in such great detail to the extent that you can still recall to your mind the picture of Indra attacking Vritra,the virtuous asura who by some curse had to assume such terrible form to behold.These stories did a great job of inculcating all good values in u. I endorse your view that Amar chitra katha series come out with different titles and take up varied themes such as Greek mythology and thus help students and continue to enthrall readers for generations to come.
    I love reading all your blogs. Carry on with your good work of taking middle aged people like me down memory lane and making them think instead of remaining glued to the idiot box all the time!

  6. Thanks Aai for all your encouragement! It is you who has inculcated this reading habit which led to the joys of reading. I cannot imagine a life in which I would have missed out all these wonderful books in my childhood!

  7. i remember being bored by all the mythology tales and the long confusing names until one fine day when my dad got the Amar Chitra Katha Ramayan for me... the illustrations made the books much more livelier and ultimately made me aware of our rich culture :)

  8. @Bookworm: I absolutely agree. ACK has played such a huge role in familiarizing us with the rich culture and history we have and Uncle Pai's death is indeed a great loss to us. Its fortunate that he left us a great legacy though.

  9. I saw your mom's comment Richa. She sure sounds proud of you and your blog! I see that you are posting more frequently now too. Good, because you express yourself very well and cover a wide variety of subjects too.

    Amar Chitra Katha stories have been part of my children's growing up years and moms like me and yours were thrilled to find comics other than Phantom, Mandrake and the like on which we grew up, being able to buy these wonderful treasure troves for our kids.

  10. Really wonderful post. You have gotten deeper into the subject which is quite brilliant, even the pics u have added seem from ur collection. You have gone beyond Tinkle.


  11. @zephyr: Well, I guess, its the encouragement that makes me want to post more these days! I almost did not realize that Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkles were not a part of the previous generations' childhoods! Though ofcourse, I am sure, you must have read them along the way when your brats did!

    @Anuraag: Welcome to my blog. Thank you for your feedback. Well, I certainly have a huge collection of ACKs as well as Tinkles which I guess, will preserve for a lifetime (mine or the comics'!)

  12. wonderful and very entertaining post.

  13. I really loved them as a kid. Thanks for brining the memories back.