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Now, a dictionary of demons!

Historian Nandita Krishna's The Book of Demons reveals some of the interesting connotations about Ravana and his ilk.

books Updated: Oct 15, 2007 17:51 IST

Interested in knowing about the grandfather of the demon King Ravana? Or may be his children? Ravana, the archetypal 'Rakshasa,' was a gentleman yet ogre and son of a Brahmin, a great scholar of Sanskrit and devout worshipper of Shiva and if author Nandita Krishna, a Chennai-based historian and environmentalist is to be believed, Rama and Ravana did exist.

<b1>"The story Ramayana is graphically very correct besides which there are any number of local traditions and temples all along Rama's route. It is unlikely that 3000 years ago somebody could have travelled around the country inventing local traditions regarding Rama's visit," Krishna says in her book The Book of Demons, which includes a dictionary of demons and Sanskrit Literature.'

"The discovery of a man-made shoal bridge in the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka is also significant," the author says. Sri Lanka also has local traditions such as the cave at Ravana Ella falls where Ravana is believed to have hidden Sita from and the garden of Asoka trees where Ravana once kept Sita prisoner.

There is a record in an early issue of the Bellary District Gazetteer of a Vanara tribe in the region, she says. From the Rigveda to myriad of folk narratives, the belief in demons prevails all over India, says Krishna, who is also Director of C.P.Ramaswami Institute of Indological Research, Chennai.

"Male or female, human, animal, plant or simply a concept, demons play a pivotal role in the country's mythical traditions" she says. The author thus tells about Gajamukha, the elephant-faced demon who was transformed into a mouse by Ganesha and then converted into his vehicle.