Week 13 Reading: 7 Secrets of the Goddess, Part B

Secret of Gaia, Part 2

This part of the chapter introduces the idea that women are symbolically, in myth, attached to nature, while men are more attached to culture, or urban lifestyle. This is interesting. It’s obviously a simplistic understanding of the way that sex works, but I can see how many of the myths that I know match that dichotomy. Many times, women are something that need to be “tamed” by men in order to be fruitful, even though that’s a harmful practice.

The chapter provides an interesting analysis of honor through Sita’s example. It says that honor is often associated with a woman’s body, which is why Rama has to physically rescue Sita himself in order to prove his own honor. If Sita’s honor is tarnished, so is his.

The chapter briefly lists many different stories that show how in myth, women have been kept from places of power or divinity because of fear of their liberation. Some of the examples are: the Biblical female prophets like Miriam, Deborah, and Anna, the Marys from the Biblical New Testament, princesses from Arthurian legend and European fairy tales, the feminine divinities from Islam, etc. All of these are interesting short snips, and I wonder how I could turn them into a story. Or maybe a microfiction that is vague enough to be about them all.

Finally, the chapter talks a bit about the Hindu goddess: Devi, who is the supreme mother goddess. The book places her on the same plane as gods like Shiva and Vishnu and says that a sect of Hinduism placed Devi  before all other gods.

The dynamic between Devi and the other gods is interesting. Brahma desires Devi, Shiva wants Devi to be left alone but ultimately bears a child with her.

Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu, the three primary Hindu gods. Source: Flickr.


However the chapter concludes with an empowering description of Devi as a goddess that is fully independent from the male gods. She interacts with the gods, but she remains free and separate from them in a way that allows her to encompass all facets of relationship and power. She disrupts patriarchy by being secure in her independence. 

7 Secrets of the Goddess. Gaia’s Secret. Devdutt Pattanaik. Source.

Featured Image: Mother Earth, a statue in Quebec inspired by the creation story of the Haudenosaunee people. Source: Wikipedia.

Week 13 Reading: 7 Secrets of the Goddess, Part A

Gaia’s Secret, Part 1

I like how this chapter is essentially an overview of many of the mother goddess myths around the world, not just the Buddhist or Hindu tradition. 

The chapter starts with the story of Gaia, the Greek mother goddess, who gave birth to Cronus and the titans. Cronus did not want to be overpowered by his sons, so he ate his children, and Gaia had to save Zeus from being destroyed. However, once Zeus and the Olympians ascend, the book notes that Gaia is effectively sidelined. 

How did Gaia feel about having to stop Cronus from destroying his children? Did she resent being ignored/not worshipped for much of Greek history? 

Then the book talks about Sedna, an Inuit goddess, who was abused by her father and as a result gave birth to all of the mammals in the ocean.

Then we get to Adya, who created Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva by laying eggs. Adya sought to romance these gods, but it resulted in her destruction. How did she feel about being rejected? Were the male gods right to destroy her, or was she misunderstood? I feel like she was definitely killed out of spite and the male gods’ desire for power (or perhaps secret jealousy?). She’s definitely an interesting character that would be fun to explore or retell her story in a different setting.

Adi Shakti, the Supreme Goddess. Source: Wikipedia.

The book mentions the practice of castrating extra male livestock and questions if a similar mindset could apply to male humans. Obviously that is an excessive measure, but it also reminds me of the Amazons. At least in the Percy Jackson books, which is where I’m drawing this information, men took a subservient place in society compared to women. Women were free to choose which men to take as their husbands.

The elopements that the book talks about are interesting because it is a rejection of what we might consider traditional marital practices. Rukmani elopes with Krishna, and Subhadra elopes with Arjuna. In these stories we see value placed on love over filial duty.

Finally, the concept of sati is interesting because it seems like a good thing for a woman to have. It is fidelity, loyalty, and also sexual purity to one’s husband, but the book analyzes it as if it is something that was created to control women by making them reliant on a husband. What would happen if a woman rejected sati and didn’t throw herself on her husband’s funeral pyre? What if a woman valued her own body and personhood over what society told her she should be to her husband? 


7 Secrets of the Goddess. Gaia’s Secret. Devdutt Pattanaik. Source.

Featured Image: Mother Earth, a statue in Quebec inspired by the creation story of the Haudenosaunee people. Source: Wikipedia.

Week 12 Story Lab: Research

For my Story Lab, I spent time researching for my last Storybook story, which is going to be a duel between Hector and Rama.

I researched the duel between Hector and Ajax to remind myself of Hector’s character and some of the details of the episode, so I could figure out what parts I want to keep and change when I replace Ajax with Rama.

I read the Alfred Church translation of the Iliad, which can be found here. Here are some details I noticed that I want to remember:

Hector calls the Greeks out for continuing the war with a big speech. He’s very righteous and bold, and he demands the Greeks observe the rules of respectful combat, which is something Achilles later breaks. I definitely want my version of Hector to be accurate to this. He and Rama are both honorable warriors, they just happen to be on different sides of a disagreement.

Hector also doesn’t allow Ajax to insult him. He establishes that he’s an accomplished warrior. I like that Hector isn’t a doormat. He doesn’t waste his breath praising Ajax, and he demands respect for himself. I feel like Rama would do the same because Rama is righteous, but he still has a temper about Sita being captured.

Ajax and Hector fight ferociously, but Apollo interferes to help Hector. I like the intervention of the god because it’s a very Greek epic thing, but it happens in the Ramayana, too. Rama himself is divine, so I don’t think a god would need to help him directly, but I want to make it clear that he has some divinity helping him. Meanwhile, Apollo, Athena, or another Greek god would definitely need to help bolster Hector directly at some point. I like the theme of the gods getting involved in human affairs.

Then, night falls and the heralds have to force them to stop fighting. They end the fight with mutual respect. They “parted in friendship.” I want my story to end in a similar place. Hector and Rama are going to realize that they’re both evenly matched and that they don’t want to kill each other anyway. They both have similar dedication to their ideals. Even though Hector doesn’t agree with Priam and the ideology behind the war, he does his duty. Similarly, Rama is dedicated to being a man of his war, and when his father exiles him, he goes even though the circumstances behind the banishment were suspect.

They exchanged gifts. Hector gave Ajax a sword, and Ajax gave Hector a shield. I think it’s cool that the story ends with a friendly exchange. Hector and Rama could give each other special items to memorialize their duel. Hector could give Rama some Trojan artifact, and Rama could give Hector an Indian weapon, shield, or bow. It would be a good way to symbolize the exchange of values, ideas, and stories that defines my Storybook.

Evans, Robert Harding; Flaxman, John; John and Arthur Arch; Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme; Piroli, Tommaso; The Iliad of Homer engraved from the Compositions of John Flaxman R.A., sculptor, London 1805; Hector and Ajax Separated by the Heralds; (c) Royal Academy of Arts /
Fight between Rama and Ravana. Source: Wikimedia.

Week 12 Reading: Sita Sings the Blues, Part B

Once again, the visual storytelling here is really powerful. I love the extended dance/music animation after Dave breaks up with Nina. It really aligns Nina with Sita because they both went through similarly traumatizing breakups.

The fire imagery is apt because of Sita’s trial by fire to prove her purity, but it also represents the fire of her passion for Rama.

Sita Sings the Blues screenshot. Youtube. 52:09

The story about Adobi (spelling uncertain) was an interesting addition that I didn’t expect. He’s a commoner, specifically a launderer, and he catches his wife either sleeping with or simply spending time with another man. He beats and rejects her and says that he’s “Not like Rama,” which  implies that he looks down on Rama for accepting Sita back into his household.

The movie raises a really interesting nuance that I’m not sure of the answer to. The narrators argue that Rama had no choice but to cast Sita out, whether he wanted to or not. They imply it was more of a duty of his kingship than because of his own doubt about her virtue. Does that make his actions right? Would more harm have been done to other people within the kingdom if Rama had allowed Sita to stay? I tend to be on Sita’s side of the story, but the narrators raise a fair argument that Rama had to be above reproach for his citizens.

The ending of the story (and movie) is very powerful and well done. Rama asks for another purity ritual, and Sita chooses to prove her purity by summoning the earth. I think it really captures her heartbreak and her exhaustion at being questioned. In the movie, she’s excited as she runs toward the womb of the earth. She’s essentially choosing death (or divine ascension) over being continually questioned, and that’s a freeing experience for her. Her patience and devotion is what makes her special.

I wonder what Rama was thinking after the moment that Sita disappeared. The movies shows a single tear drop from his eye, but there had to be a lot of inner turmoil behind that. Did he regret what he had done? Was he angry at the circumstances that forced him to make the decision he did? Was he upset at Sita for leaving or did he understand? There are a lot of complexities here. I like to think that Rama wasn’t as dreadful as Dave was and that a lot of his decision to cast out Sita was based in self-sacrifice to rule his people (whether I agree with him or not).


Sita Sings the Blues. Nina Paley. 2008. YouTube.

Featured Image: Sita Sings the Blues screenshot. YouTube. 1:15:17

Week 12 Reading: Sita Sings the Blues, Part A

This movies retells the Ramayana through animation, and I’m really impressed with all of the different styles that are present throughout the piece. I wonder if that’s something that only works in film or if a written story can switch formats throughout the tale as well. That might be something fun to try. 

For example, when Sita is singing, the animation is bright and cartoonish. When the narrators are debating the story, they are done in the style of shadow puppets. When the story expands to tell Nina’s story, the animation style is shaky and simple, like a comic strip. 

I really like the parts where the narrators argue about different bits of the Ramayana. It reminds me a bit of the two old guys from the Muppets that bicker over the performances and crack jokes. I love that it shows how many different interpretations of the story there are, and it points out funny inconsistencies and weird details. I’m a big fan of metafiction and other self-aware stories, so it amuses me.

My favorite part is probably Sita’s song while Rama is fighting Ravana and the demons. It’s great contextual storytelling because it expresses Sita’s excitement about being rescued while also dramatizing the fight. 

The movie did a good job of demonstrating the emotion of Rama being cold toward Sita after she’s rescued. I really felt Sita’s heartbreak. Similarly, I like how Nina’s story parallels the Ramayana in many ways, and her relationship with Dave is strained after she goes to India. I wonder in what other ways the Ramayana story could be reflected in a modern setting or could parallel real life. 

Sita Sings the Blues title poster. Source.

The narrators discussed Ravana several times and wondered why he was considered such a villain when he never did anything expressly evil aside from kidnapping Sita. (I also think the way he took over Lanka was pretty bad, but they do have a point.) They also noted that he could have forced himself upon Sita but didn’t. I also recall that when Hanuman was captured in Lanka, Ravana was fairly merciful until he decided to burn Hanuman’s tail. I think the narrators are right that this might be a case where the villain is only villainous because of the point of view that the story is told in. I mean, he still should not have kidnapped Sita or tried to convince her to marry him, but Ravana otherwise wasn’t truly terrible.

I was interested in the part where the narrators discuss Pushpaka, the flying chariot that Rama and Sita use to return to Ayodhya. They propose that it’s like a bird or an airplane. It could really be anything according to the reader’s imagination, but it’s an interesting detail. I wonder what other things the Pushpaka could be used for. How was a built? Do Rama and Sita keep it after their travel or does it return to the gods? Maybe I could write a story that focuses more on the vehicle than a specific character or event in the story.


Sita Sings the Blues. Nina Paley. 2008. YouTube.

Featured Image: Sita Sings the Blues screenshot. YouTube. 1:39

Week 11 Story: The Procedure

“We have to hurry,” Vasak said. “Kanz could catch onto us at any minute.”

The captured pilot looked over his shoulder and listened for the clang of bootsteps in the brig hallway.

The spaceship was silent, though, except for the hum of the lower engines that propelled them slowly through the vacuum of space.

Dr. Dedi did not look away from his work. He bent over the unconscious body of a woman, whose face, even in sleep, was hard with determination and resolve. Her name was Delani, and it was her fate to mother a child enhanced with gifts that would allow him to grow up and overthrow Kanz, the evil governor of the star system.

Dedi admired her commitment to the procedure that would save them from their years of oppression, and he would not let the operation go wrong.

“Stop worrying and check on Rahana,” Dr. Dedi told Vasak.

Vasak glanced fretfully at his sedated wife before he walked to where a second woman was just coming out of sleep from an earlier procedure. She placed a protective hand on her stomach.

“Is it done?” Rahana asked.

Vasak squeezed the hand of his friend and fellow prisoner aboard Kanz’s malicious starship. “It’s done, and Kanz will have no idea that the child is actually Delani’s.”

Rahana smiled sleepily and closed her eyes.

“Are you sure this will work?” Vasak asked Dedi. “What if Kanz kills the eighth child anyway?”

Dr. Dedi did not answer for a long moment. He was engrossed in the most delicate part of the procedure. He squinted through an x-ray scope and used special finite lasers to place a fertilized egg in Delani’s womb. The egg had been developed in secret in a lab to give the future child unimaginable strength and maybe even powers that would border on the magical. The development was Dedi’s greatest achievement, but if Kanz found out about his research, he’d surely be killed.

The egg was also encased in a substance that would delay its development for several more months so it would be conceivable that Delani had miscarried her seventh child, who was now growing safely within Rahana. 

Dedi finished his task. He unwound his aching fingers from the laser controls and rubbed feeling back into his hands.

“Kanz will not catch on,” Dedi assured him. “When the children are born, our network of conspirators will ensure they get off the ship. We’ve already arranged a family to adopt them and raise them as their own. They will grow strong, and in time, they will bring about the end of Kanz’s tyranny.”

Author’s Note:

For this story, I wanted to experiment with a sci-fi setting! I drew inspiration from the story of Krishna and Balarama’s births. In the original story, Balarama is transferred to Rohani’s womb so he won’t be killed, and Krishna is born because a black hair with Vishnu’s spirit was inside Devaki’s womb. I paralleled this by having the fetus that will one day be Balarama be transferred through a medical procedure to a different mother, and Krishna, instead of being an incarnation of a god, is an embryo that has been genetically altered so he will be a great hero.


Shri Krishna of Dwarka, Chapter 1: The Coming of Krishna by Kincaid. Source.

Featured Image: Galaxy, Outer Space. Source – Pixabay.

Week 11 Reading: Kincaid Krishna Stories, Part B

The Death of Krishna

I’m excited for this story because the deaths of great heroes, princes, religious figures, etc. are always very important and interesting. Krishna’s death must be an epic event to fit such a man.

The story starts with a long backstory of how Samba, through deception, accidentally created a club that was cursed to destroy all of the Yadava nobles.

Just like always, people try to avoid fate. Samba and the others try to destroy the club, but nature brings it back to the path for the prophecy to come true. It’s a trope that really never gets old. We like to believe that we can’t outrun fate no matter how hard we try, for better or for worse.

I think the process by which the club comes back to haunt the nobles is fascinating. I love how there are multiple steps, from the dust particles washing ashore, to the rushes growing, where they’ll later be used as weapons. And then the handle accidentally becoming an arrowhead is perfect. I love how the club is no longer a club but still poised to seal its fate.

Then of course there are terrible omens that alert Krishna that something is wrong.

The nobles bring their fates upon themselves by getting into a petty argument. Then they kill each other, which is really sad. It seems a bit unlikely, but maybe if the insult was great enough, they felt honor-bound to fight it out.

I wonder why Krishna and Balarama didn’t participate in the quarrel that killed everyone else. Were they absent or just too mature to be pulled into it?

Balarama doesn’t die so much as ascend back to the divine realm. I think it’s touching that Krishna, despite knowing that he’s also divine, is so sad about it.

The Death of Krishna. Source.

Krishna is really chill when he’s mortally wounded. He directs Daruka to go tell everyone that he’s hurt, but then he disappears. That’s definitely mysterious, and they never find his body. What did they think? They seemed to know that he was dead, which is why they made a pyre and threw themselves on it.

The story ends with Dwarka being washed away, which is an interesting and dramatic ending. It’s almost like nature itself is upset that Krishna has died.


Shri Krishna of Dwarka, Chapter 13: The Passing of Krishna by Kincaid. Source.

Featured Image: Bow and arrows. Source – Pixy.

Week 11 Reading: Kincaid Krishna Stories, Part A

It’s really interesting that the Earth actually takes a kind of form in order to talk to Vishnu. You usually don’t see the earth being sentient, let alone becoming a cow.

I wonder why Vishnu’s solution to the Earth’s problem is to come up with a plan that is going to take 20+ years to come to fruition instead of taking care of the problem. Of course stories are cooler and more meaningful when there’s a lot of build-up, but if I were the Earth, I’d be a bit annoyed.

I like that this story emphasizes that Krishna’s brother, Balarama, is also of divine construction, which is something I missed in the last Krishna tale.

I think Kansa’s characterization is interesting here. He’s obviously destructive and evil, but he spares Devaki’s life when confronted with reason. He also spares the lives of their earlier children. However, his character changes and his true evil comes out when he’s motivated by fear to murder all of the children and throw his cousin and his wife into prison. From then on, he operates from a place of fear that drives him to do terrible things.

Balarama’s birth is really interesting because it’s explained as a divine/magical process, but it also sounds a lot like intense modern medicine. Balarama, through the white hair, is sort of implanted in Devaki, and then he’s transferred to Rohini’s womb. I can see this happening in a more sci-fi setting, too.

I like that it’s storming while Vasudeva takes baby Krishna to safety. It adds a lot of tone and atmosphere.

Apparently Krishna can talk to Vasudeva even though he’s a baby? Thank makes sense because he’s divine, but I also like to imagine that since the piece uses no direct dialogue, Krishna isn’t literally talking but maybe communicating telepathically or through some other means (time travel?).

Vasudeva swaps Krishna for the baby girl that is actually Vishnu’s essence, which allows them to fool Kansa long enough for Krishna to escape with his new family.


Shri Krishna of Dwarka, Chapter 1: The Coming of Krishna by Kincaid. Source.

Featured Image: Yashoda and Baby Krishna by Vijayann Rajasabai. Flickr.

Week 10 Story: Link’s Flute

Link grew up with his little sister and grandmother in a little house in the southernmost forest of Hyrule. His grandmother and sister began having strange dreams about a darkness falling over the kingdom. (Link might have had these dreams, too, but he never remembered them because he slept too deeply.)

Frightened by the dreams, Grandmother decided the family should move to Kakariko Village to be safer surrounded by other people and protected by the soldiers of nearby Hyrule Castle. 

When they arrived in the new village, Link struggled to make friends. He played with his sister, but the other village children thought he was strange because he didn’t speak very often.

One of the village elders noticed Link’s solitude, and so he didn’t get too lonely, she gave him a beautiful wooden flute that had been passed down through her family for generations. Her family’s legend said that one day a great hero would use the flute to save all of Hyrule, and the village elder had a keen suspicion that Link would one day be that hero.

Link accepted the flute, and he practiced it for hours every day. The music came naturally to him. He found that when he played certain tunes, animals would dance, strange treasures would appear, and time would pass differently. However, when his sister played the same tunes, nothing happened.

There was a dense forest near Kakariko Village called the Lost Woods. Grandmother forbade Link and his sister from going into these woods because it was easy to get lost, and people who got lost in the forest would turn into monsters.

One day, though, many of the village children chased a ball into the woods. Link’s little sister was with them. The bar rolled on and on, and they followed it deep into the forest and became impossibly lost. Every time they took a turn, they seemed to be in the same spot where they began. Everything looked exactly the same. It was like they were going in circles.

Link was on the edge of the woods practicing his flute and noticed the others had never come out of the forest. He knew he had to rescue his sister and the other kids before something terrible happened, so he took his flute and set off into the Lost Woods.

He played a marching tune on his flute as he walked, and the music burned away the magic illusions that tricked the other children, and it revealed the path that the others had taken. Link followed this path, but he didn’t know what he would find at its end.

Finally, Link came to a toxic purple lake in the center of the woods. Poison smog rose from the surface of the pond, and the plants around the edges were dark and sickly. 

All of the village children lay unconscious at the edge of the lake, and a giant hooded serpent with green and violet markings rose out of the lake and slithered toward Link.

“I am Kalia,” the snake said. “Thessse children threw a ball in my pond and disssturbed my ressst. Now they sssleep, and you will join them!”

The serpent lashed out at Link, but he rolled sideways to escape. He had no weapon, but he raised his flute to his lips and began to play a lively pattern of notes that he called Forest Jig.

“What are you doing?” Kalia asked. He began to bob from side to side, controlled by the music. 

Link jumped onto the top of Kalia’s head and danced along to his flute tune. The music of the flute roused the village children from their slumber, and they watched Link fight the monster in awe of his talent.

Kalia couldn’t take the unnerving nature of Link’s music any longer. “Ssstop!” he protested. “I will withdraw!”

Link jumped from Kalia’s head, and the serpent plunged back into its pond and disappeared.

Link changed the tune to a song of purification, and the purple toxins in the lake disappeared until the pond was beautiful and clear.

Link embraced his sister and led all of the children safely back to the village. 

When the village elder heard of what happened, she knew for sure that Link would grow up to be the hero Hyrule needed in its darkest hour.

Author’s Note:

This story is based on the Krishna stories I watched on Epified’s YouTube channel. Specifically, this is an adaptation of “Dreams and Music,” which is about Krishna learning to play the flute and using his magical talents to stop a giant snake from killing his friends.

I’m a huge Legend of Zelda fan, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how much Krishna is like Link, especially since he loves playing the flute and Link very often plays a musical instrument. Also, Krishna is a reincarnated version of Vishnu just like Link is reincarnated throughout the video game series.

I chose to make up an origin story for my own version of Link that parallels Krishna’s story. When I watched the original, I imagined that Kalia would be a very good dungeon boss fight, and the mysterious forest seemed like a perfect way to weave in the franchise’s mind-boggling maze: The Lost Woods.

I hope you enjoyed the story, and I really look forward to hearing your feedback!


Krishna Episode 7: Dreams and Music. Epified. YouTube.

Featured Image: Screenshot of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild title screen. Screenshot by Brett Chalupa. Flickr.

Image 1: Wooden Flutes. Pixy.

Image 2: Dark, foggy forest. Pixy.

Week 10 Reading: Epified Krishna, Part B

Episode 18: Krishna Kills Kamsa

Everyone loves a gladiator-style arena scene. It’s super dramatic and it puts all of the important characters in the same place in a dramatic setting where they are surrounded by spectators. It’s a fitting place for Krishna to take down Kamsa because all the people of the city can see it and know that Krishna fought honorably.

It’s cool that Krishna has a sidekick in Balram. Krishna could probably do everything necessary on his own, but he and Balram have been together their whole lives. It solidifies their relationship that they fight together.

Krishna and Balram have to overcome a whole series of obstacles in order to make it to Kamsa. First, they fight the wrestlers. They’re the “Level 1” obstacle and don’t pose a challenge to the brothers, but it does hype up the crowd. Since Kamsa has been so oppressive to the people of Mathura, everyone is on Krishna’s side, which adds to the excitement of the scene.

Krishna and Balram fight Kamsa’s wrestlers. Source: Wikipedia.

Next, Krishna and Balram have to face Parashuram’s bow in a similar challenge to Rama’s when he went to claim Sita. I like that the video takes the time to explain the history of the bow because it’s an important piece of the story. It’s an ancient relic created by Shiva for Vishnu. Krishna can lift it because he’s an avatar of Vishnu. The bow has even been part of Krishna’s family for generations, which has a lot of prophetic significance.

I always wonder why the bow breaking has significance in this story and the one with Rama. It seems like breaking the bow would be bad, but I think it’s done to signal just how strong and divine the avatars are. 

The story doesn’t explain the “yagya” very well, so I looked it up. It’s a sacrifice ritual that Kamsa must have been performing when Krishna showed up. Because of the prophecy, Kamsa knows that his death is imminent.

Kamsa tries to run away while Krishna and Balram fight the guards, which shows how cowardly he is. He’s not an honorable king and can’t accept his fate with dignity.

Krishna goes god-mode while fighting Kamsa, which is really cool. Very “Avatar State-“like. He keeps Balram by his side during the fight, and that’s cool because Balram is just a regular human. He can still make a difference, though, and Krishna doesn’t baby him just because he’s not an avatar.

There’s a big triumphant scene at the end when Kamsa is dead because the people are free from the tyrant. I love triumphant scenes—like the throne room scene from Star Wars—because it ties the story together and the heroes get their rewards!


Krishna Episode 18: Krishna Kills Kama. Epified. Youtube.

Featured Image: Gladiator Arena at Sunset. Trey Ratcliff. Flickr.

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