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Ganesha Goes to Lunch: Classics From Mystic India

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King Kubera was the greediest man in the world. Hated and feared by many, he schemed to win the love of the beautiful goddess Parvati . . . but learned an important lesson when he invited her elephant-headed son Ganesha over for lunch one day . . . So goes one of the many delightful tales in this decidedly grown-up book of traditional Indian stories, retold for the modern King Kubera was the greediest man in the world. Hated and feared by many, he schemed to win the love of the beautiful goddess Parvati . . . but learned an important lesson when he invited her elephant-headed son Ganesha over for lunch one day . . . So goes one of the many delightful tales in this decidedly grown-up book of traditional Indian stories, retold for the modern reader. Author Kamla Kapur is well known in her native India as a poet and playwright, and her connection to these age-old stories is the reverent yet individualistic one we might expect from someone whose introduction tells of her hometown, where naked, dreadlocked holy men speed about on motorbikes. To collect these stories, Kapur relied on ancient sacred texts, modern scholarship, and chance encounters with interesting people who just happened to know a really good one about this time that Vishnu sank into the ocean, was incarnated as a pig, and had a really wonderful time. Like myths around the world, these are teaching stories that offer both a window into a fascinating culture that has endured for thousands of years, and a code for living that can be applied to the modern world.


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King Kubera was the greediest man in the world. Hated and feared by many, he schemed to win the love of the beautiful goddess Parvati . . . but learned an important lesson when he invited her elephant-headed son Ganesha over for lunch one day . . . So goes one of the many delightful tales in this decidedly grown-up book of traditional Indian stories, retold for the modern King Kubera was the greediest man in the world. Hated and feared by many, he schemed to win the love of the beautiful goddess Parvati . . . but learned an important lesson when he invited her elephant-headed son Ganesha over for lunch one day . . . So goes one of the many delightful tales in this decidedly grown-up book of traditional Indian stories, retold for the modern reader. Author Kamla Kapur is well known in her native India as a poet and playwright, and her connection to these age-old stories is the reverent yet individualistic one we might expect from someone whose introduction tells of her hometown, where naked, dreadlocked holy men speed about on motorbikes. To collect these stories, Kapur relied on ancient sacred texts, modern scholarship, and chance encounters with interesting people who just happened to know a really good one about this time that Vishnu sank into the ocean, was incarnated as a pig, and had a really wonderful time. Like myths around the world, these are teaching stories that offer both a window into a fascinating culture that has endured for thousands of years, and a code for living that can be applied to the modern world.

30 review for Ganesha Goes to Lunch: Classics From Mystic India

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shalini M

    If I have to sum it up in one word, it would be - boring. My recommendation to anyone familiar with, or interested in, stories of Indian mythology, is to seriously avoid it. Let me clarify first - I have a keen interest in Indian mythology; I grew up listening to stories told by my grandmother, and reading them by bookloads as I grew older. They have always enchanted and intrigued me, always arousing a curiosity to find more - stories that I haven't come across, as well as hidden layers in the on If I have to sum it up in one word, it would be - boring. My recommendation to anyone familiar with, or interested in, stories of Indian mythology, is to seriously avoid it. Let me clarify first - I have a keen interest in Indian mythology; I grew up listening to stories told by my grandmother, and reading them by bookloads as I grew older. They have always enchanted and intrigued me, always arousing a curiosity to find more - stories that I haven't come across, as well as hidden layers in the ones that I have. Which is why I am on the lookout for new books on this subject matter. I have read several adaptations of the Mahabharata, and enjoyed most of them. I decided to buy this book based on the high Goodreads rating, and the blurb that indicated a promise of new stories, and of a retelling aimed for the modern reader. Disappointment would be an understatement, and the reasons are manifold. First, I have come across most of the stories earlier - only one or two were new to me. Second, the narrative was painfully labored - rather than capturing the beauty of the story in a lucid style, the author seemed more intent on creating a beauty of language. Hence, long sentences filled with similes and adjectives, at times appearing to be semantically incorrect (could be my misunderstanding), but difficult to comprehend in any case. It also has deviations from the conventional threads, which I found rather jarring. Usually I am open to interpretations and interpolations (I loved the Immortals of Meluha, and appreciated the premise of Asura), but in this case, the incidences tampered with were a little too familiar to accept the change. The book comes with a beautiful cover, and wonderful imagery inside, but all I can say is that an attractive presentation cannot compensate for the appeal of content. I had to push myself to finish it; but for a flight and a considerable wait at the airport, I might have abandoned it. A couple of stories into the book, I started wondering about the target audience. I felt that it is aimed for the western readers who view the ancient culture and tradition of the east as something exotic. An Indian reader would typically be familiar with the stories, and would have come across different yet interesting narratives of the same stories, and would not find an appeal in this collection. To get a counter-viewpoint, I had my brother take a look into it (he has a far greater knowledge of ancient texts like Puranas than I do), he dismissed it altogether. After finishing the book, I looked at the sources cited by the author, and found that most of the material was drawn from books by foreign authors, and prominent amongst them were adaptations of Mahabharata and Ramayana by one author. I don’t know how others feel about it, but I find it hugely ironic that an Indian author, to write a book on Indian mythology, would turn to a foreign author’s retelling of the great Indian epics. However, this is just an afterthought, and has nothing to do with my impression of the book, as I saw it after finishing the book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    The composition is beautiful - mythology and art go hand in hand. The detailed cover art and the renderings throughout the book were a wonderful addition. Some of the stories are classics, and others are from a more oral tradition, told to Kapur from various sources. This oral tradition is particularly interesting, as many of these cited stories are new to me - including the title story of "Ganesha Goes to Lunch". The book is broken up into sections, and each section includes a one-page introduc The composition is beautiful - mythology and art go hand in hand. The detailed cover art and the renderings throughout the book were a wonderful addition. Some of the stories are classics, and others are from a more oral tradition, told to Kapur from various sources. This oral tradition is particularly interesting, as many of these cited stories are new to me - including the title story of "Ganesha Goes to Lunch". The book is broken up into sections, and each section includes a one-page introduction to a certain god and his feats. Considering the vast nature of Hindu mythology, I wanted more from this book. Kapur focuses on the male gods, and the only goddess that gets any real screen time is Parvati in one incarnation (she's great!) but where are Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga, and Kali? If you are looking for a more comprehensive introduction to Hindu mythology, this is not it. However, it is a beautifully told and illustrated book of a sliver of the pantheon. 3.5 stars

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jaideep Khanduja

    http://pebbleinthestillwaters.blogspo... Book Review: Classic Tales From Mystic India by Kamla K Kapur: A Mystical Mist of Myths Classic Tales from Mystic India by Kamla K. Kapur published by Jaico Books is a fantastic read interestingly woven around the epic saga of Indian mythological stories about the Gods belonging to various era. Every country in the world has its own mythologies and stories woven around their myths. Indian mythology is quite rich in that aspect. The stories are not only wove http://pebbleinthestillwaters.blogspo... Book Review: Classic Tales From Mystic India by Kamla K Kapur: A Mystical Mist of Myths Classic Tales from Mystic India by Kamla K. Kapur published by Jaico Books is a fantastic read interestingly woven around the epic saga of Indian mythological stories about the Gods belonging to various era. Every country in the world has its own mythologies and stories woven around their myths. Indian mythology is quite rich in that aspect. The stories are not only woven so interestingly that they create an atmosphere of new learning and knowledge gaining, but it opens a new perspective for our learning acquired earlier. Full marks go to the author Kamla K. Kapur for choosing the collection of stories for each of the section and also for presenting these sections in a chronological sequence in her book Classic Tales from Mystic India. Basically the book has 6 sections. It starts with Stories of Vishnu where we have four interesting stories. The next section is about the Stories of Brahma with two stories. In next section of the Stories of Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha we will have a collection of three stories related to Lord Shiva. Next to it comes A Story of Krishna and some Parables where we will have bundle of four stories revolving around Krishna. The next section is Stories from the Ramayana having a collection of five interesting stories. And the last section is Classic Tales from Mystic India in which we will have a treat of six stories from the mythological saga of Pandavas and Kauravas. Overall Classic Tales from Mystic India by Kamla K. Kapur is a beautiful bouquet of 24 stories stored in 158 pages where each page promises to give you a new amount of information related to the mythologies of India. A must read for everyone for any age and in return you are bound to get a new bundle of information about of Gods and the life patterns during those era. The best part is the introduction information at the start of each section that gives you a proper base for the forthcoming stories in that section. In fact in the introduction part of each section I had some or the other piece of information that I didn't know earlier. Language is excellent and so are the illustrations related to the respective stories. Entirely Entangled is a story of Narada and Vishnu where Vishnu demonstrates him the power of Maya. Narad gets to know about it only once he experiences it himself and thus witnesses its power and how immensely he himself got grasped into it. On the Track of Love is another interesting story in which Narada is under the impression that he is the biggest and greatest disciple of Vishnu. On the other hand Vishnu gets him involved into a small exercise to make him acquainted with the real truth of life.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jean-Pierre Vidrine

    With the strong interest I have in mythologies, it's a little odd that I've been exposed to so little Hindu mythology. This book is a great introduction. Kapur retells classic and even not-so-ancient tales featuring figures of Hindu myth with a very poetic style that's so entertaining it feels like she's just saying what has to be said. Having already been so familiar with stories of the Greek and Norse gods and their battles with giants, titans, and each other, I was sort of expecting stories l With the strong interest I have in mythologies, it's a little odd that I've been exposed to so little Hindu mythology. This book is a great introduction. Kapur retells classic and even not-so-ancient tales featuring figures of Hindu myth with a very poetic style that's so entertaining it feels like she's just saying what has to be said. Having already been so familiar with stories of the Greek and Norse gods and their battles with giants, titans, and each other, I was sort of expecting stories like those. Well, I didn't get them. Not to say that I was disappointed. Though there are a few mentions of mythical battles, such things are not the focus of most of the tales. Some are about such simple things as people living quietly in the wilderness, but Kapur makes such things seem extraordinary in reading. Of course, like any great myths, these tales provide valuable insights and spiritual lessons that everyone should know, no matter your religious path. What was really striking was Kapur's assertion that some of the tales featuring the Hindu deities were outright made up by Hindu clergy for the simple purpose of conveying a spiritual lesson. Fundamentalist Bible-beaters could learn a practical lesson from that. This book was a wonderful read and a great comfort during some dark days. Plus, you can't pass up the wonderful title.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Puja

    Indian mythology is a fascinating subject and the stories are enticing for most people. What makes this book special is the vivid description by a writer who also happens to be a poet. Kapur writes beautifully and brings to life the rich and profound heritage of India. I really enjoyed being reminded of the tales that I grew up listening to from my parents and grandparents. The dramatization, spiritual and practical aspects, and the morals behind the stories, all make this collection a delightfu Indian mythology is a fascinating subject and the stories are enticing for most people. What makes this book special is the vivid description by a writer who also happens to be a poet. Kapur writes beautifully and brings to life the rich and profound heritage of India. I really enjoyed being reminded of the tales that I grew up listening to from my parents and grandparents. The dramatization, spiritual and practical aspects, and the morals behind the stories, all make this collection a delightful read. For people who are new to Indian mythology and appreciate some music in writing, this is a great book. One or two factual/historical/mythological errors don't affect the quality of the book. My favorite is the Mahabharata section.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Diwakar Narayan

    Did I love the book? Yes, I did… and I would keep this book for maybe my children to read. They contain morals, tell you about mythology in a modern way and teach you those lessons that our sacred texts have been teaching us for ages. Love, honesty, devotion, creation, justice, helpfulness, rivalry, peace, humanity and what not – you get all of it. I loved it because I never heard some of its stories, I loved it because it had mature and vignetted language, I loved it because the stories are cla Did I love the book? Yes, I did… and I would keep this book for maybe my children to read. They contain morals, tell you about mythology in a modern way and teach you those lessons that our sacred texts have been teaching us for ages. Love, honesty, devotion, creation, justice, helpfulness, rivalry, peace, humanity and what not – you get all of it. I loved it because I never heard some of its stories, I loved it because it had mature and vignetted language, I loved it because the stories are classic and I loved it because I love Indian Mythology.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Biogeek

    Finally someone who has taken my favorite stories from Indian myths and told then with the zest, energy and humor they deserve. I think this should be on a compulsory reading list for anyone thinking of discovering India, not just a "yoga teacher" as one reviewer on this site says. I am confused by another review that dismisses Kapur's writing as "soapy drivel" because in the same story he quotes in his review, she chooses to tell the tale from the perspective of Duryodhana, universally the vill Finally someone who has taken my favorite stories from Indian myths and told then with the zest, energy and humor they deserve. I think this should be on a compulsory reading list for anyone thinking of discovering India, not just a "yoga teacher" as one reviewer on this site says. I am confused by another review that dismisses Kapur's writing as "soapy drivel" because in the same story he quotes in his review, she chooses to tell the tale from the perspective of Duryodhana, universally the villain of the Mahabharata. While reading that story I even caught myself agreeing with Duryodhana. This collection reminds us that these myths do not have to be deeply spiritual and serious.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    “Indian myth in particular has a genius for clothing the infinite in human form,” writes the author in her introduction, which is one reason that this small collection of stories out of the Hindu tradition has such enormous appeal. Another reason is that Kamala Kapur, the author, is also a poet! Her imagery is lush and her language is musical, so not only are these myths a treat for the intellect, but they are a delight for the eye and ear as well.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    I finally got around to learning a bit about Hindu deities, a topic I've been drawn to for years. This is a revamped, highly accessible collection of traditional stories about Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma and many of their incarnations. Definitely one I would want to read to children as they grow up, alongside Grimm, Silverstein, Dahl, Seuss and Carroll. Also helped me mentally commit to reading the unabridged Bhagavad Gita. Onward!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peggy Bechko

    It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it. A collection of mythological tales from India well told. I love Ganesha so was expecting a bit for with his mythology in them, but it was a very enjoyable read. I really enjoy a book no & again that's a collection so I can read one story & put it aside for a while - then rad another. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it. A collection of mythological tales from India well told. I love Ganesha so was expecting a bit for with his mythology in them, but it was a very enjoyable read. I really enjoy a book no & again that's a collection so I can read one story & put it aside for a while - then rad another.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Watts

    This is a wonderful collection of some lovely Hindu stories retold by a master storyteller. I had the pleasure of meeting Kamla last month, and she's a wonderful writer/poet/activist. This collection of stories has a great flow to it... from beginning to end I was completely absorbed. If you have any interest in the folklore of India, I highly recommend this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jorge Rodighiero

    This was a birthday gift so I felt I had to finish it... but it was hard. The stories are written in an amateurish way; above all the mixture of modern terms and ancient ones was jarring. Reading about things that happened before our time with scientific terms spread ocassionaly took me out of the suspension of disbelief that a book should provide. I also thought that the stories were simplified, but I wanted to check first other reviews by Hindu people here in Goodreads... and they agree. Skip thi This was a birthday gift so I felt I had to finish it... but it was hard. The stories are written in an amateurish way; above all the mixture of modern terms and ancient ones was jarring. Reading about things that happened before our time with scientific terms spread ocassionaly took me out of the suspension of disbelief that a book should provide. I also thought that the stories were simplified, but I wanted to check first other reviews by Hindu people here in Goodreads... and they agree. Skip this book and check the original sources if you are interested in this particular mythology.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dan Mutter

    “The material world and it’s comforts exist for our delight, but you cannot destroy society and Mother Earth to get them. Learn what is enough, and remember that true wealth can only be built on the foundation of humility and love.”

  14. 4 out of 5

    SHVETAL

    A good book comprising of several popular and not so popular fables from Indian mythology. Each of the chapters are perfect delight for the author to read and visualise. The conversations are articulated perfectly to bring out the true characteristics and feelings of the protagonists.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Prashanth Adurthi

    Really interesting book interspersed with passages inappropriate for a kid :).. good book all in all..

  16. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    A somewhat enjoyable and philosophical read. It didn't pull me in enough to keep me motivated to read, but I imagine most other people would like it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nancy McQueen

    Easy to enjoy and delightful artwork

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tamanna

    loved the stories. So well written. Meditative.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amrit Sinha

    India is a land of stories. You have all sort of kings and queens, their historical exploits and sagas; numerous Gods and Goddesses, each defined by their mighty deeds, demons and rakshasas who have met their end in the hands of goods; great men and women who have achieved supernatural feats; and two of the most widely known epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata. It’s impossible not to grow up listening to such tales from your grandparents and parents. That’s how most of our childhoods are framed, an India is a land of stories. You have all sort of kings and queens, their historical exploits and sagas; numerous Gods and Goddesses, each defined by their mighty deeds, demons and rakshasas who have met their end in the hands of goods; great men and women who have achieved supernatural feats; and two of the most widely known epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata. It’s impossible not to grow up listening to such tales from your grandparents and parents. That’s how most of our childhoods are framed, and we adore these mythological heroes. Kamla K. Kapur’s 'Classic Tales from Mystic India' helped me relive my childhood, as I traveled back into time, reading the age-old stories that never fail to fascinate. The heroic grandeur of Shiva, the calm poise of Vishnu, the mystical halo of Brahma, the bravery of Ganesha, the vast knowledge of Krishna and the ever enticing characters from Ramayana and Mahabharata – Kamla K. Kapur provides a mesmerizing concoction of tales that you would definitely love to read, and relish. The book is divided into several parts, each dealing with stories related to a particular character. You start with Vishnu, and then gradually progress to tales of Brahma, Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha and Krishna. The last two sections are dedicated to Ramayana and Mahabharata. I wouldn't pick out a particular favorite among the stories. Rather, I would honestly admit that all the tales are perfectly narrated. Mythological tales have always been my favorite, and thus I enjoyed reading each one of them. Add to that the brilliant story telling by the author, and you have a book that you would like to read over and over again. The authenticity of Gods and Goddesses, and the other Heroes in Hindu mythology have always been debated. We do not know if the Gods really existed, and if yes, whether all the stories that we have read about them are true or not. We do not know if the great epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata – were historical events that happened in reality. We hardly get to read about them in History, and even if we do, there is no mention of the dates or other evidences that can vouch for their authenticity. However, we do have to agree that the stories surrounding these epics and mythologies are always tempting, and whether you believe them to be true or not, there is no way you can stay away from the charm of these accounts. Do not go by my words, as my taste of books may be different from yours. However, do pick up a copy of this book to savor the beauty of Kamla K. Kapur’s narration. Her choice of words is immaculate, and she does a good job of re-telling the traditional stories that fit the fancy of modern readers. The stories are crisp and short, and full of wisdom and knowledge. This is a quick read, and augurs well for a train journey (that’s what I did). Revive the magic of our ancient legend, and soak in the depths of the beautiful mythological chronicles that define our county, India.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Durvankur Patil

    I would term this book as an instant time traveler. It took me back in the presence of my gran, who spoke about God, Goddesses and a bit of Cosmology. Ganesha Goes to Lunch: Classics From Mystic India is your quintessential story book that introduced you to fascinating characters from the Indian mythology; some new and many who we already knew. There are but a few times, when I actually read the preface of a book. I was glad that I read this one, as it gave me an insight into the thinking of Kaml I would term this book as an instant time traveler. It took me back in the presence of my gran, who spoke about God, Goddesses and a bit of Cosmology. Ganesha Goes to Lunch: Classics From Mystic India is your quintessential story book that introduced you to fascinating characters from the Indian mythology; some new and many who we already knew. There are but a few times, when I actually read the preface of a book. I was glad that I read this one, as it gave me an insight into the thinking of Kamla K. Kapur . One thought of her with which I could easily connect with her is "Mythology is a work in progress". No one can claim an accuracy on what happened eons ago and especially with Indian mythology, which has new stories and dimensions added by every single person. For a book that spans about 170 odd pages, it is something that I might read out to my kids someday. It's simplicity and rational points are things that I would like to instill in the generation to come. I hope that Kamla comes up with an edition with more colorful pages and pictures, depicting the stories. It will make for a stellar read, transporting you further back in your childhood, when books were about colors and interesting pictures.

  21. 4 out of 5

    John

    I hated this book. It takes Hindu mythology and turns into soapy drivel. "As he gazed at Krishna, beatific and innocent in slumber, tears came to Arjuna's eyes. How long it had been since he had beheld his Lord's dear, dear face! Only a month, but that month felt like an eternity. Arjuna gazed at Krishna long and deep. All the energy and beauty of the universe lay before him on that bed." It reminds me of the trite and patronising Bible stories I used to read when I was a kid. Truly vomitous.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vinay Leo

    http://wp.me/p2J8yh-2tz Mythology, particularly Indian mythology, is something I have grown up reading, hearing and loving. So a book with tales from that was particularly appealing to me, especially with the cover design. The stories were mostly known, but I enjoyed reading them again. The unknown ones, they added to my knowledge. A couple of small technical details I could find, but not ones that affected the read. This book will be part of my "to be read again" shelf for a long time to come. http://wp.me/p2J8yh-2tz Mythology, particularly Indian mythology, is something I have grown up reading, hearing and loving. So a book with tales from that was particularly appealing to me, especially with the cover design. The stories were mostly known, but I enjoyed reading them again. The unknown ones, they added to my knowledge. A couple of small technical details I could find, but not ones that affected the read. This book will be part of my "to be read again" shelf for a long time to come.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Av

    wonderful book. This book has illustrations of what really happened in the past. It contains moral stories of Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna, Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu. It has short stories from the great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. I learn t about the history. These stories can easily be communicated to kids too.

  24. 4 out of 5

    M

    There are some books that will always linger in your mind as one of the best you have read. This book is one of them. Nestled in 150 pages the author has squeezed some deep Hindu philosophy using simple to understand Puranic tales. Highly recommended especially for those lazy Sunday's when light reading becomes a pleasure.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ami Negandhi

    Sounded like and interesting book, which is why I bought it...the stories are certainly not meant for children; and I was dissapointed in the way the author changed traditional mythology. Just not my cup of tea.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sundeep Supertramp

    The actual review of this book is posted on my blog... To read the review of this book, click here... The actual review of this book is posted on my blog... To read the review of this book, click here...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    These are richly told stories about the deities peopling Hindu mythology. Kapur introduces each section with enough context that a beginner can place the story and understand some of its ramifications. I have no complaints, save that I would love many more similar stories from Kamla K. Kapur.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Vande

    Here, Occidentals. Here you are. The solution to your intermittent admonishment to someday figure out how those Hindu gods and goddesses relate to each other. Lovely, clever prose. Bite size stories. Great.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julianna

    Delightful read, funny, colorfully written, wise lessons on life contained within the stories. Great intro to the world of Hindu deities with all their human-like qualities despite being of the divine realm.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

    This is a collection of tales about the three main gods from Hindu mythology - Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva retold by Kapur - each offering a message about life.

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