Monday, January 6, 2014

Indian Epics Topics Brainstorm

1. Possible Topic: The god Shiva. I was really attracted to the different images of Shiva that I saw in the image gallery. It does not look like he is a main figure in the epics, but he does show up (I saw his name in the Reading Guides), and I know I would like to learn more. I noticed this reference to a story about Shiva and of course this story got my attention: Shiva tears off the head of his son. That sounds like an intense story that would make for a good project.
Research so far. Obviously, for this project I would be learning a lot about Shiva. The Wikipedia article had some information about Shiva and music and dancing, and I see that Ravana (who is important for the Ramayana!) is also connected to Shiva, especially because of music and dancing. I also read that he is "the destroying principle" which fits with what I had heard about Shiva before. The Wikipedia article about Shiva was really useful and had many great images, too, like this one:

2. Possible Topic: Animal Characters. I love animal stories, so I think this is a topic that I would really enjoy. On the topics list there were many different kinds of animals listed: eagle, cow, bull, horse, elephant — lots of animals. There are a lot of monkey characters in the Ramayana! I really liked this story: the squirrels help build a bridge to Lanka. I think it would be so cool to include a story in my project about squirrels, so maybe I would focus on the animals who were Rama's allies.
Research so far. Of the animals listed on the topic page, I was most interested in the squirrels and the elephants, and then at Wikipedia I read about a god with an elephant head: Ganesha. But he is not an actual elephant: I found out that he is the son of Shiva, the one who got his head torn off by his father, and then Shiva replaced it with an elephant head. Since Ganesha and Shiva are connected like this, that means I could tell the story of Ganesha and his elephant head as part of an animal Storybook, or in a Shiva Storybook.

3. Possible Topic: Rakshasas. Well, I have to say that this topic caught my attention because the artwork for the demons that I saw in the image gallery was pretty amazing. There are all different ways of depicting the demons: sometimes they look barely human, other times they are gigantic in size, and then of course I kept seeing Ravana images with his ten heads. Wow!
Research so far: The demons topic page said Ravana was one of the most important demon characters, so I looked him up at Wikipedia. It was a really long article; there are lots and LOTS of stories about him, so it would be easy to do a whole Storybook just about him. The pictures are very cool! Calling Ravana a "demon" seems fair enough (even if he does have some positive qualities and talents), so he could be one of those rakshasas who merits the name of "demon" with all the negative connotations that the word has. But then I read about his brother, and he seems like a good guy. I'm also not sure about asuras and raskshasas and all the words that might be translated "demon," so that will be something to research more.

4. Possible Topic: Birth Stories. This is probably the topic that intrigues me the most. People born from fish??? The list of characters on the births topic page did not mean anything to me, so I had to start by doing some research just to understand the topic. I read some birth stories in the Reading Guides and it looks like there are a lot of really weird and memorable birth stories to work with in the epics we are reading for class.
Research so far: I clicked on the links for some of the characters listed here to read about their births. I loved the story about Hanuman as a baby monkey thinking the sun was a mango that he could eat (there was great picture in Wikipedia illustrating that story). From reading we did in class so far, I already know about Sita being born out of the ground. Then I read about the king who was born blind because his mother closed her eyes when he was conceived. I think I have to do this project; all these birth stories are really weird and cool. There would be so many ways to tell them, too, from different points of view and so on.

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