Saturday, February 8, 2014

Neogi: Sacred Tales of India. Reading Guide.

Sacred Tales of India by D. N. Neogi, with illustrations by P. Ghose (1916).

This book is available at: Internet ArchiveHathi TrustGoogle BooksKindle (99 cents).

The Bride of Yama (7 pages). 

The Budhashthami is performed in honor of Parvati, the consort of god Shiva. It is performed on the "ashtami" which is the eighth day of the waxing moon when that day falls on "Budha" (Wednesday). The ceremony frees the worshipper from sins, including sins from previous births. The story that goes with this ceremony is about a poor Brahman, his wife, and his two children, Kaushik and Bijaya. They have a single bull, but thieves steal the bull and the children set out to find it. 

They encounter celestial beings who promise them their bull will be returned when they perform the Budhashtami ritual. They perform the ritual, and the goddess Parvarti herself returns the bull and grants the children whatever they wish. The boy Kaushik wishes to become a king, and the girl Bijaya chooses a celestial being — Yama, the king of the dead — as her husband. 

In the kingdom of the dead, she sees her mother suffering torments. She begs Yama for help, and Yama explains that her brother can give up some of the divine favor he acquired from the Budhashthami ceremony to aid their mother, but Kaushik refuses. Yama sends her to seek out a poor Brahman woman named Gautami to see if she will make the trade. At first the woman refuses, but Bijaya finally persuades her, and so the children's mother is freed from the torments of hell and goes to heaven.

The Slayer of Kangsa (5 pages)
The Sun's Twin Sons (5 pages)
The Consequences of Generosity (5 pages)
A Brahman's Ban (5 pages)
The Pir's Power (6 pages)
The Gander-Eater (4 pages)
The Fatal Oath (4 pages)
Sacrificed to Varuna (4 pages)
Saved from the Cat (6 pages)
The Wife Who Used to Eat the First Morsel (2 pages)
The Wife Who Cooked Beef (3 pages)
The Banished Girls (6 pages)

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