Thursday, January 6, 2022

Krishna Vasudeva and Mathura, by Meenakshi Jain - Review

Vasudeva Krishna and Mathura, by Meenakshi Jain


Indians may know Mathura as an important railway station on the way to Agra, as the site of a large oil refinery and a place of connection with the Hindu god, Krishna. But not many will know of its significance in India’s socio-political landscape. Even fewer will know enough to separate fact from fiction. Meenakshi Jain’s Vasudeva Krishna and Mathura attempts to summarise, in a short and readable book, the available literature about Mathura, its history, and association with Vasudeva Krishna over the ages.

While the book is divided into 10 chapters, it can be broken into three logical parts. In the first part, going back to almost 3,000 years, ancient Sanskrit grammarian Yaska’s treatise Nirukta gives an indication of the transition from “the gods of sacrificial fires to the deities of the Epics and Puranas”. The Svetasvatara Upanishad propounded the idea of bhakti and there was also the emergence of images (murti, vigraha, pratima) where “images served the same purpose as Agni in Vedic rites”. There was a gradual merging of Bhagavata and Vaishnava, with Vasudeva Krishna being identified with the Vedic Vishnu.

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Writing fiction based on our epics is easy. Writing fiction based on our epics is tough. Somewhere along this dichotomy lies the secret to writing a story that holds your attention and interest while at the same time staying faithful to the original.