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The Upside Down King (Unusual Tales About Rama and Krishna)

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Back of the Book The tales in this collection revolve around the two most popular avatars of Lord Vishnu—Rama and Krishna—and their lineages. Countless stories about the two abound, yet most are simply disappearing from the hearts and minds of the, present generation. Bestselling author Sudha Murty takes you on an arresting tour, all the while telling you of the days when demons and deities walked alongside humans, animals could talk and gods granted the most glorious boon...
Back of the Book

The tales in this collection revolve around the two most popular avatars of Lord Vishnu—Rama and Krishna—and their lineages. Countless stories about the two abound, yet most are simply disappearing from the hearts and minds of the, present generation.

Bestselling author Sudha Murty takes you on an arresting tour, all the while telling you of the days when demons and deities walked alongside humans, animals could talk and gods granted the most glorious boons to common people.

About the Author

Sudha Murty was born in 1950 in Shiggaon, north Karnataka. She did her MTech in computer science, and is now the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation. A prolific writer in English and Kannada, she has written novels, technical books, travelogues, collections of short stories and non-fictional pieces, and eight bestselling books for children. Her books have been translated into all the major Indian languages. Sudha Murty is the recipient of the R.K. Narayan Award for Literature (2006), the Padma Shri (2006), the Attimabbe Award from the Government of Karnataka for excellence in Kannada literature (2011) and, most recently, the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Crossword Book Awards.


In India, Lord Rama and Lord Krishna play an important role in the daily lives of people. Irrespective of the state one is in or the language spoken in that region, everybody knows them! It is not surprising then that milestones from their personal lives are celebrated in various ways. For example, the festival of Ramanavami marks the day of Lord Rama's birth, and Vijayadashami or Dussehra is famously celebrated to recall the victory of Rama over the misguided Ravana. Meanwhile, Krishnashtami or Janmashtami is the day Lord Krishna was born, and Diwali is known to be the day that Krishna killed Narakasura.

Due to their association with Rama and Krishna, places like Ayodhya, Mathura, Dwarka, Govardhan, Panchavati and Chitrakoot have become popular pilgrimage destinations.

Both Rama and Krishna are believed to be the human incarnations of Lord Vishnu, the eternal protector; yet, there is a stark difference between their personalities and approaches.

Rama was born in Treta Yuga, the second of the four eras that define the age of the world. His stories are often depicted in paintings, literature, dance and music. The epic Ramayana exists in many versions in different languages and with different titles, such as Valmiki Ramayana, Adbhuta Ramayana, Uttara Ramayana, Tulsi Ramayana, Kamba Ramayana, Jain Ramayana, Pampa Ramayana, and so on. Despite the differences between the versions, the core of the story remains the same.

Rama is worshipped as the ideal man, son and ruler. He was an obedient son and very devoted to his wife, Sita. His reign, Rama Rajya, is believed to have been perfect, with no crime, misery, poverty or corruption. His was a kingdom of peace and happiness, where the subjects were taken great care of by their king, and they in turn loved and worshipped him akin to God. Such were the tales of Rama's exemplary archery that it was said that an arrow shot by him was certain to reach its destination, no matter what that might be. The word ramabana derives from this legend, indicating that the event in context is certain to occur.

Rama was highly dharmic and made all his decisions based on right and wrong as accorded by his dharma. He believed that like an ascetic, a ruler too must lead his life completely detached from worldly thoughts and desires; only then could he be a fair and just king. However, this belief came at a grave personal cost—estrangement from his beloved wife, Sita.

Lord Krishna, however, was very different from Lord Rama. He was born in Dvapara yuga. Though born a royal, he was taken away by his father in the middle of the night to save him from his uncle, who planned to kill him at birth. His father handed over his precious son to his friend Nanda and Nanda's wife, Yashoda. Hence, Krishna grew up in the village of Gokul as a cowherd. Eventually, his destiny led him to Mathura, where he slayed his cruel uncle Kamsa. Despite the opportunity to become king of the land, Krishna did not accept it. Later, he moved his clan to the kingdom of Dwarka to save his people from war, misery and certain death at the hands of his enemy Jarasandha. In the great war of Mahabharata, Krishna was Arjuna's charioteer and guide; he never participated in the actual war even though he played a critical role in the outcome.

Krishna's story is described in the Bhagavata, which details the lives of all the avatars of Lord Vishnu. Just like the Ramayana, it has many versions in different languages. Unlike Rama, Krishna is perceived to be a romantic, much loved by everyone, and exuding a certain godlike charm that enthrals young and old alike. Songs and hymns often tell tales of his Raasleela (his dance with the gopis), his love for Radha and his unique camaraderie with the Pandavas. People adore Krishna because of his compassion, the happiness associated with him, his charm and the magical melody of his flute. He frequently comes across as a ray of hope.

We have all heard commonly told stories of the lives of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna. Many versions of these abound and can be easily found in books and on the Internet. I wanted to delve a little deeper and bring out the tales of their human side, instead of just reflecting on them as gods. And this is why you now hold this book in your hands.


  Acknowledgements ix
  Introduction xi
  Raghunandanam Rama  
I The Solar Dynasty 3
1 The Man in the Anthill 9
2 A Measurement of Time 15
3 From the Heavens to the Earth 18
4 The upside-Down king 24
5 The Promise of a Promise 28
6 The Tree of Gold 42
7 Ravana, the Complex Asura 47
8 How Not to Outsmart a God 65
9 Hanuman 73
10 The Ball of Sand and the five Witnesses 84
11 The Power of a Name 87
12 The End of Rama 94
13 Time Travel 100
14 Ramayana in Different Countries 103
  Krishnam Vande Jagatguru  
II The Lunar Dynasty 109
15 The Diamond that produced Gold 112
16 Krishna and His Enemies 120
17 Visions of a Blind Grandmother 133
18 The Groom in a Dream 138
19 Krishna's Consorts 147
20 Three and a Half Diamonds 150
21 The Demon Who Spat 164
22 The sage who Wanted Water 170
23 The End of Krishna 175

Sample Pages

Item Code: NAP403 Author: Sudha Murty Cover: Paperback Edition: 2018 Publisher: Puffin Books ISBN: 9780143442332 Language: English Size: 8.0 inch X 5.0 inch Pages: 200 (Throughout B/W Illustration) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 160 gms
Price: $16.00
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