Monday, February 24, 2020

Microfiction: Two Small Stories on War

War's Oath

It demolishes bonds and guzzles blood.

Conflict and Carnage

War is chaos. Friends and enemies lay injured and dying; and, those who survive become mad from war. War's conflict and carnage spare no one.

What is left after war?

Author's Note:
Both the 6 word story and the 25 word story above are inspired by the war between the Pandavas and Kauravas in the Mahabharata. In this there are cousins against cousins, brothers against brothers, and even fathers against sons. I wanted to convey how horrible a wat really is. I've never seen war first hand but history is a lesson on how horrible war can be. The war in the Mahabharata really made me wonder why they would consider fighting each other when it just causes even more death and destruction.

Mahabharata by Arnold, Besant, Devee, Dutt, Ganguli, Kincaid, Macfie, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Seeger, and Tagore.

Reading Notes: Mahabharata (PDE) Part D

Story: Part D of the Mahabharata by Arnold, Besant, Devee, Dutt, Ganguli, Kincaid, Macfie, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Seeger, and Tagore.

Plot Points
  • Battle lasts many days till Bhishma can no longer fight and then Karna comes to the battlefield. At the end of the battle many sons are dead and there are many who mourn. 
  • The Pandavas took the kingdom but at a high cost and Yudhishthira decides on a horse sacrifice to get rid of his sins.
  • Elders who survived the war (king and queen etc) go to live in the jungle, visit the dead from the river when the Pandavas visit but then die in a fire. 
  • Krishna dies and then the Pandavas with their wife travel to leave the mortal world as well. Yudhishthira falls last and sees horrors before being reunited with his family.

The Pandavas back on the throne (image source)

Reading Notes: Mahabharata (PDE) Part C

Story: Part C of the Mahabharata by Arnold, Besant, Devee, Dutt, Ganguli, Kincaid, Macfie, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Seeger, and Tagore.

Plot Points
  • Pot that stays full of food after praying to sun god
  • Arjuna goes to mountain and prays and meet by God in the disguise of a Huntsman and given Divine weapons then on his own fights against sea monsters and demons
  • Duryodhana gets captured and then saved by the Pandavas who then decides to starve to death but is promised help from demons against the Pandavas
  • In final year of exile the brothers and their wife are hidden from being recognized and end up serving at a King Virata's court where a prince tries to get his hands on Draupadi but she runs to Bhima and he kills the prince
  • Exile over, the Kauravas attack Virata's kingdom but the Pandavas help defend them, then the Pandavas and allies prepare for war against Duryodhana who will refuse to give the brothers their kingdom back and the battle begins
  • Karna is told who his parents are and that the Pandavas are his brothers. He says it's too late to change sides but (of his brothers) will only fight Arjuna to the death

The armies face off before the battle 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Week 6 Story: The Prince and the Farmer

Once there were two very close friends. They were actually cousins who did not know each other for the first few years of their lives. One was a prince, Abhaji, and one was a farmer's son, Zhanni. The prince grew up in the palace, with a royal guard named Ramishi who was tasked to watch over him. One day, Ramishi told Abhaji that they must leave the palace due to rising tensions between the kingdom and a rival. They left the palace to live with the king's common born half-sister who had a son the same age as the prince. This son was Zhanni, the cousin and soon to be friend of Prince Abhaji.

They did not know what to make of each other at first. They had many scuffles and arguments and competitions, but they became as close as any two brothers. They spent five years together on the farm with Ramishi teaching them the ways of the sword and bow, and Zhanni's mother teaching them about courtly duties. These peaceful years ended with a message delivered to the prince. The message held news of the King's death. Abhaji and Ramishi were required to return to the palace where Abhaji would be crowned King. Then, because it was discovered that the previous king was assassinated by the rival kingdom, preparations to defend the kingdom began.

Back on the peaceful farm, Zhanni heard news of the approaching war and, wishing to help defend his friend and cousin's kingdom, decided to join the army of warriors. The army prepared to defend the kingdom and was divided up and  camped near each gate of the city. They were ready to defend the city at a moment's notice.

When news came of the rival kingdom's warriors approaching, Abhaji visited the different camps to inspect his troops and raise morale. In one of the camps, he saw a very familiar face and was shocked. However, being a king who must be in control at all times, the only sign of this shock was a slight widening of his eyes. Zhanni had seen Abhaji as well and, of course, he could read his cousin like a book. Zhanni gave a confident smile in response to the shock and worry that he saw in Abhaji's eyes. Zhanni was confident that both of them would make it out of the war alive.

The battle to defend the kingdom

Two days after the king's visit to the camps, the kingdom was attacked. The sound of metal clashing and bow strings twanging could be heard the entire day. At the end of the fight the fields were soaked in blood from both sides, but Abhaji's kingdom was safe once again. In the aftermath of the battle the king wandered around his injured warriors and gave them thanks and encouragement and well wishes. He also kept an eye out for Zhanni in the hope of finding him alive. When Zhanni was found he was laying amongst the injured and entirely covered in blood. Abhaji rushed to his cousin's side and reached out to feel for a pulse…

Which ending would you like to read? Is Zhanni alive? Or is he dead?

Monday, February 17, 2020

Reading Notes: Mahabharata (PDE) Part B

Story: Part B of the Mahabharata by Arnold, Besant, Devee, Dutt, Ganguli, Kincaid, Macfie, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Seeger, and Tagore.

Plot Notes
  • Rakshasi turns against her brother to save a man she fell in love with (Bhima) and later they get married and have a son.
  • Town "protected" by a rakshasa (but at a high cost) gets defeated by prince Bhima and the town celebrates.
  • The 5 princes (who had helped take over half of Drupada's kingdom) are each married to Drupada's daughter. r and then they are given a portion of their home kingdom to rule over but loose everything in a game of dice and then are exiled.

Draupadi's swayamvara (image source)

Character Notes
  • Draupadi - the Pandavas' wife, princess born as a boon to Drupada

Reading Notes: Mahabharata (PDE) Part A

Story: Part A of the Mahabharata by Arnold, Besant, Devee, Dutt, Ganguli, Kincaid, Macfie, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Seeger, and Tagore.

Plot Notes
  • Heir gives up his right to the throne for his father's happiness, but when his father passes, the older half brother gets killed in a war and the younger is too young to rule.
  • A scorned princess fasts and makes penance to ask for a boon which is granted by Shiva in the form of being reincarnated as a man to defeat her enemy.
  • Jealous prince (though not heir) plans the death of his cousin who is also a prince but it fails and then he comes up with another plan to get rid of all his cousins and their mother in a fire.
  • Two close friends get separated because Drupada takes over his father's kingdom. Drona becomes a brahmin who teaches warriors and then had them take over half Drupada's kingdoms because he turned his back on their friendship.

The Pandavas (image source)

Character Notes
  • Bhishma - original heir to throne, son of a king and a goddess, honourable, superior bowmen
  • Amba - scorned princess, sees Bhishma as the cause of her situation and wants revenge
  • Duryodhana - (Duru for short?) jealous and proud prince, oldest of his brothers, hates his cousins Bhima and Arjuna, will lie to further his own plans

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Microfiction: Two Small Stories in Lanka

A Surprising Event in Lanka
Monkey and demon sit down for a chat.
Demon then points where the damsel is at.

The Lanka News
Damsel found: kidnapper reported by brother.

Rock Fortress in Lanka - Palace Ruins on Top

Author's Note:
The two sentence story is inspired by Hanuman's meeting with Vibhishana in Lanka. In the original, Hanuman discovers Rama's name painted on a wall and there he meets Vibhishana who is able to tell Hanuman where Sita, who he came to find, is. The first sentence just kinda popped into my head and so I came up with a second sentence that fit. It sounds like it could be in iambic pentameter but I'm not completely sure if it is. I did match the number of syllables in the two sentences though and made them kinda rhyme.
The 6 word story is also inspired by the same event mentioned above. For this one I had started off thinking about how Sita was found easily because someone on the inside wanted to help. While playing around with the wording it somehow morphed into what sounds to me like a news article headline which seemed interesting.

Bibliography: Divine Archer by F. J. Gould

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Week 5 Story: Vibhishana's Reason

Vibhishana is sitting outside his house, deep in thought. He had just painted the wall of his house with the name "Rama" after hearing of his brother's misdeed. Ravana had kidnapped another's wife, the wife of Rama no less. Vibhishana could no longer see any hope for the dream he and his siblings had shared so long ago. Not with Ravana on the throne. As Vibhishana waits by his painted wall, he takes out a journal and begins to write.

Why do I want to help Rama? I used to think evil was born of chaos and disorder, but now? Now I believe evil is born from the corruption of what was once good. My brother is the reason I think this way. Ravana was once a man who wanted to bring order to this island full of rakshasas and even succeeded for a time. However, power corrupts and that corruption got to my brother.

This all began here when this land was full of chaos and disorder. There was no law nor king and any being who lived here could do whatever they wished. If you were strong and powerful you had nothing to worry about or fear; however, the weak would fear for their lives every day. This is the kind of world my siblings and I grew up in after our father was killed. Our father was a brahmin who taught us everything he could in the time we had with him. He taught us enough that we knew this sort of world we lived in was very wrong. So we decided to do something about it.

We went around and gathered allies in order to create a kingdom on this island, on Lanka. And my siblings and I were a very good team for this task. Each of us had our own strengths and weaknesses, of course, but those weaknesses were covered by others' strengths. Some of my siblings were gifted in illusion, some in strength, and some in mind. As a group we could strategize and dance circles around any other. Out of all my siblings, I was the most scholarly. I enjoyed traveling and learning as much as I could about everything, especially other lands and kingdoms.

We used what I learned from studying other kingdoms and laws to create our own kingdom here, in Lanka, with my brother Ravana as the chosen ruler. We had all decided that he should be the king because he was capable of ruling fairly and protecting Lanka from any enemy. The rest of us were his generals and advisors. His fair rulings did not last and his willingness to listen dwindled away. Not so long after gaining the throne of Lanka, Ravana started to change. He became more rash and had very little mercy for any who would not listen to his decrees. Soon enough I was the only one trying to advise him against his cruel actions. I tried to tell him to show mercy, tried to remind him why we built the city to begin with. He would not listen. And now he has stolen another's faithful wife without a sliver of remorse.

That is why I am here now. That is why I have decided to paint Rama's name on the side of my house. That is why I wait in the hope Rama will send a spy who I can help. That is why I declare myself a friend of Rama. I will help from inside Lanka. Though I fear this to be a lost cause, I will attempt to convince Ravana to return Sita to her husband. I will not give up until Ravana either kills me or throws me out of the kingdom... 

Author's Note:
The inspiration for this story is Vibhishana from The Divine Archer. Vibhishana is a rakshasa who sides with Rama after Ravana, Vibhishana's brother, kidnaps Sita, Rama's wife. In this version of the Ramayana, Hanuman finds the name "Rama" painted on a wall when he arrives in Lanka looking for any sign of Sita. There he meets Vibhishana who tells him where Sita is. Vibhishana also mentions he does not want to be in Lanka but wants to be a friend of Rama instead.
This started with me wondering why he didn't just leave if he didn't want to be there and I started thinking of a backstory. What I came up with sounded like something Vibhishana may say to someone or write in a journal so I went ahead and tried a journal entry like style for this story. And so I ended up with Vibhishana writing a journal entry of his thoughts as he waits for an ally of Rama to show up.

Image Information:
Journal and Quill from the public domain (image source)

The Divine Archer by F. J. Gould

Monday, February 10, 2020

Reading Notes: The Divine Archer Part B

Story: The Divine Archer by F. J. Gould


  • Rama helps Sugriva get his kingdom back from tyrant brother Bali
  • Hanuman finds Sita in Ravan's city with Vibhishan's help
  • Female demon tells of a dream where she sees the city on fire and Ravan dead with Vibhishan on the throne
  • The battle 
  • Sita's test by fire
  • Return to Ayodhya where Rama becomes king but then exiles Sita due to listen to the people
  • Rama meets his sons and watches Sita swollowed by the earth

Character Note

  • Vibhishan does not wish to be in Lanka with his brother. He dreams of leaving to go to Ayodhya and being a comrade to Rama

Vibhishana meets Rama (image source)

Reading Notes: The Divine Archer Part A

Story: The Divine Archer by F. J. Gould

  • 4 princes born and city celebrates
  • Grow learning archery, manners, scriptures
  • Rama and Lakshman given task to help brahmins
  • Rama meets Sita and breaks Siva's bow to marry her
  • Devotee of Siva comes and tests Rama with Vishnu's bow
  • All 4 princes get married
  • Dasharatha decides to pass on the throne but Kaikeyi asks for the 2 boons
  • Rama, Sita and Lakshman leave, receive weapons from Agastya on the way and end up building a hut to live in over the winter
  • Dasharatha dies and Bharata returns home with other brother
  • Rakshasi wants Rama but he refuses so she goes to Ravan who steals Sita from Rama
  • Rama finds Jatayu and then two monkeys, Sugriva and Hanuman, find him
  • They decide to help each other out

Style Note
  • Parts of the story are as if the writer is talking to the reader

Rama breaks Shiva's bow (image source)

Microfiction: Brothers or Not?

The Worst Betrayal is a Brother's Betrayal
There once was two brothers who fought every fight together. But one day a misunderstanding that lead them to fight each other also left only one still standing.

A Brother's Devotion
Sugriva anxiously waited for any sign of his brother. But no sounds came from the cave. Was Vali dead? Could he have truly lost? Sugriva shoved that thought aside. No, there's no way he would lose. He's my big brother and I'll wait here for him until either he or the beast comes to get me. And so he waited, anxious but refusing to give up hope. Then he heard it. The was scuffling sounds from the cave. Out of the darkness approach Vali. He's alive! Of course he is, he's my brother. They greet each other, then head home.

The cave entrance (image source)

Author's Note: These two stories are both inspired by Sugriva and Vali. In the Ramayana Sugriva leaves his older brother behind in a cave. Thinking he's dead, Sugriva blocks the entrance and then takes over their kingdom as the new king. Vali was not dead however and ends up thinking he had been betrayed by his brother and exiles Sugriva.
For the 2 sentence story I wanted to focus on the boiled down event. And that is that there was a misunderstanding that ended with one brother dead. And that is the worst betrayal because neither one even tried to talk it through once the challenge was made.
The second story is a 100 word story. This one I decided to show what should have happened (in my opinion). Instead of leaving the cave and blocking it, I feel like a brother would wait even if there was a possibility of some monster coming out instead of his brother. So I wrote this one in Sugriva's POV to show his thoughts on that.

Bibliography: Ramayana, Public Domain Edition by M. Dutt, R. Dutt, Gould, Griffith, Hodgson, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Oman, Richardson, and Ryder.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Storybook Plan: Demon Brothers

The plan here continues from my project research post with a few additions or changes to the story ideas.

Two Themes:
  • No one is born evil
  • Fear of monsters creates monsters (aka evil is born in the minds of men)

  • Ilvala and Vatapi - can't leave these guys out of the story
  • Agastya 
  • Some rakshasas - possibly Kabandha and Vibhishana and others
  • Some brahmins and some townsfolk

Story Style Ideas:
  • Told as collection of stories that start with daring readers to learn the truth of the brothers whose end is so we'll known
  • Told as journal entries of a journal found in the Badami Cave Temple
  • Told as a story that is passed down through generations

Some Setting Info:
  • A forest (probably Dandaka Forest)
  • Badami (used to be called Vatapi)

Bhutanatha temple on the edge of Agastya lake in Badami - image source

Bibliography/Sources of Info:
  • Ilvala wikipedia page
  • Agastya Lake tourist info page
  •  Brahmin wikipedia page
  • Rakshasa wikipedia page
  • Ramayana, Public Domain Edition by M. Dutt, R. Dutt, Gould, Griffith, Hodgson, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Oman, Richardson, and Ryder.

The Story Outlines:

1. First will be the story “A Promise Made” where the two brothers come home to a hut in the forest and find their parents gone. When the parents never return the brothers decide to leave the place and swear an oath to let nothing separate them from then on. They run into different rakshasas while traveling and different humans as well and they determine that the two are not that different from each other.

2. Next is the story “Respect Grown” where the brothers are attacked for being rakshasas but they refuse to attack back and end up saved by a brahmin. The brothers stay for awhile and gain a ton of respect for brahmins and decide to always help them if they are in need of it. (They may be granted a boon while staying with the brahmin). Before leaving they end up helping a lost human child (through Vatapi transforming). They decide they want to unite the worlds of human and rakshasa. Ilvala talks to rakshasas and Vatapi talks to humans while transformed.

3. Last is the story “Evil is Born” where after the brothers have worked hard to get a position of power to work on their goal they are refused the boon of a son who could continue their work. And then the brothers snap, end up killing many brahmins and then are eventually defeated by Agastya.

4. A bonus story “Hope is Found” is several years later. Agastya comes across a half-rakshasa half-human child and takes him in. Agastya teaches the child all he can so that this child could be the bridge between the humans and rakshasas.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Week 4 Story: Protective Brother

The sun is out and the sky is clear and there are two young men who are making the most of it. It's a perfect day for hiking and that's exactly what these two brothers are doing. These brothers, Pati and Jata, love to hike. They enjoy breathing the clean air and smelling the trees and flowers of the surrounding nature. And this time they are in the mountains and prepared for a full day of hiking. These particular mountains can be dangerous for a careless hiker, especially because of the sheer cliffs and loose rocks. But this is the brothers' favorite place to hike and they have been here many times before.

"Hey Pati, how high up do you think we can hike this time?"

Pati sighs before replying. "We aren't competing so why does it matter how far we get? We keep going further each time we come anyway."
"Mm, yes but we could make the hike more interesting by making it a challenge." Jata responds with a daring tone.

"Oh alright, your on. We'll see how far we can get. Just be careful, alright Jata?" Pati give his brother a pointed stare.

"Yes I know brother. This isn't my first hike." Then Jata sets off following the path at a greater pace than before.

Pati follows his younger brother up the path, hoping he won't get careless in his excitement. But Pati worries for a good reason.

A little more time passes with the two brothers huffing along when the path turns from dirt to rocks. The brothers slow their pace. They know to be careful here. However, as Pati watches, Jata steps right on a loose rock. The rock starts to shift. Pati rushes forward, his heart in his throat. His hand reaches out for his brother. He grips hard onto Jata's shirt and pulls. Jata falls away from the cliff side. But Pati is falling towards it. Jata has no breath to scream as he watches his only brother disappear down the cliff side.

He scrambles to the edge of the cliff and looks down. Pati is sprawled on a ledge almost 20 feet below the edge. Jata hopes with all his heart that Pati had not landed on his head. "Pati!" he screams, "Pati say something!" Jata holds his breath, waiting. He hears a groan, and that is music to his ears. "Hold on, I'll secure a rope to come down and help you! I'll be right there!"
Jata works quickly and efficiently to anchor the rope then grabs his pack and carefully climbs down to his brother. When he gets there he finds that Pati has a badly broken leg. Thankfully, the leg is the worst injury and there is no sign of head trauma. Jata splints the leg and wraps it tightly to limit movement and prevent further injury. Both brothers have been very quiet during this but Jata breaks the silence. "I'm so sorry-"

Pati interrupts his brother. "Don't. I'm just glad you're safe, you idiot. And I have no energy to be mad at you right now anyway." Pati then gives a cheeky grin making Jata laugh in relief. Pati is not able to walk and Jata needs to leave to get help, but these brothers know that in the end they will be back hiking up the mountain again. And they will come again and again with no fear because they have full trust in each other.

Dangerous Mountain Path

Author's Note: This story was inspired by the story in the Ramayana of the vulture brothers, Jatayu and Sampati. In the original story the two brothers are flying high in the sky but they get too close to the sun. Jatayu, the younger brother, feints and falls to the ground. Sampati spreads his wings to shield his brother from the sun; however, the sun burns Sampati's wings and he falls and loses the ability to fly because his wings are burnt. I wanted to show how brothers will jump into danger for one another like the original story demonstrates. I decided to write these brothers as human hikers instead of vultures and of course that completely changes the specific events that happen although the main idea is still there. I also changed their names slightly, Jata is Jatayu and Pati is Sampati.

Bibliography: Ramayana, Public Domain Edition by M. Dutt, R. Dutt, Gould, Griffith, Hodgson, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Oman, Richardson, and Ryder. Web source

Monday, February 3, 2020

Reading Notes: PDE Ramayana Part D

Story: Ramayana Part A, Public Domain Edition by M. Dutt, R. Dutt, Gould, Griffith, Hodgson, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Oman, Richardson, and Ryder. Web source

Main Plot Points
  • The battle begins and many are injured and killed
  • Hanuman gets herbs from a mountain to heal allies
  • Lakshmana defeats Indrajit and Ravana mourns
  • Rama and Ravana battle til Rama wins
  • Vibhishana becomes king of Lanka
  • Rama and Sita are reunited but Rama tests Sita to prove her purity
  • After exile over, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana go back home
  • Bharata welcomes them home and Rama is crowned king
  • Sita is banished, gives birth to Rama's sons
  • Rama meets her again and asks if she would prove herself again, she does so by being swallowed by the earth
  • Rama lives on for a thousand years more before passing on and joining her

  • Indrajit - beloved son of Ravana, fierce warrior 
  • Kumbhakarna - brother of Ravana
  • previous characters - Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, Bharata, Hanuman

Sita's test of purity - aka Rama's an idiot

Reading Notes: PDE Ramayana Part C

Story: Ramayana Part A, Public Domain Edition by M. Dutt, R. Dutt, Gould, Griffith, Hodgson, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Oman, Richardson, and Ryder. Web source

Main Plot Points
  • Hanuman meet Rama and Lakshmana and bring them to Sugriva
  • Rama helps Sugriva get his throne and wife back from his brother Vali
  • Monkeys search for Sita and Hanuman finds her to be in Lanka after meeting Sampati
  • Hanuman reassures Sita, who has been told she will be killed in 2 months, but gets caught and his tail set on fire
  • Hanuman escapes, sets Lanka on fire, and returns to report
  •  Rama and Lakshmana with Sugriva and an army of monkeys and bears march toward Lanka
  • Vibhishana warns Ravana not to fight Rama and is exiled so he joins Rama

Story of Sugriva and Vali
  • Vali was king and had Sugriva watch the entrance to a cave while he went in to fight
  • Sugriva believed Vali to be dead and seals the cave shut
  • Vali gets out but feels betrayed and banishes Sugriva

Story of Sampati and Jatayu
  • one day decided to fly far but Jatayu fell
  • Sampati shields Jatayu but also falls and looses wings
  • Jayayu and Sampati both help Rama find Sita

  • Sugriva - monkey king and younger brother of Vali
  • Tara is Vali's wife
  • Sampati - a large vulture, brother to Jatayu
  • Hanuman - monkey friend and son of wind god
  • Vibhishana - younger brother of Ravana
  • previous characters - Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Ravana

Cinereous Vulture - I imagine this is what Jatayu and Sampati would look like

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Topic Research: The Demon Brothers

The demon brothers Ilvala and Vatapi tricked and killed many brahmins after one refused Ilvala the boon of a son. Vatapi has the power of transformation and Ilvala knows a special mantra that allows him to call Vatapi back from death. They both end up dying at the hand of the sage Agastya who sees through their tricks. The follow are possibly the three stories I'd tell for the project.

1. First, a story to show why the two brothers are staying together and ruling together. And because I couldn't find anything on their past but I was thinking I'd write a story telling the reader that they were close since they were young but they ended up abandoned by their parents (maybe they wake up and they are alone with no trace of their parents) and swear an oath to let nothing separate them.

2. The next story would be something to show that even tho they are demons they are not evil. At least not yet. This could start off with them getting attacked by regular humans because of what they are but then they are saved by a brahmin. Here they decide to always show respect to brahmins and help them if they are in need of it. After separating from the brahmins the brothers see a child crying due to being separated from his parents. The brothers decide to help but because they are demons Vatapi transforms into a friendly dog to lead the boy home. I'd like one of them to point out how unfair their life is being born demons at the end of this story.

3. In the last story I'd like the beginning to show that even though they are demons they have worked hard to live a life they are happy with when the two start thinking about wanting to pass on their experiences. Then a brahmin visit them at the palace and after a meal Ilvala asks for the boon of a son. But the brahmin refuses saying something like "Boons such as that are not granted to demons." And this is the turning point where everything just becomes too much and they snap killing the brahmin. And then they start killing all brahmins that come visiting until the sage who saved them in the earlier story come and they are defeated. This would be the retelling of the story found on the wikipedia page on Ilvala.

The conclusion of these stories would show that often evil is created from the treatment and expectations of men.

The picture below could be the "palace" they live in at the end of their life.

The home of Vatapi and Ilvala

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Feedback Strategies

The two articles I read on giving feedback are the following: Be a Mirror: Give Readers Feedback That Fosters a Growth Mindset by Gravity Goldberg and Why Do So Many Managers Avoid Giving Praise? by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman.
They were both interesting to read. I thought the advice from Be a Mirror to "take yourself out of the feedback" is a good idea. Feedback should be focused on the writer and not the opinions of the reader. Also, it was nice to see some actual stats in the second article and I appreciate the lesson that positive reinforcement is important. If someone never gets something nice from doing there work or trying hard then the only reason they would continue to do so is their stubbornness. Both articles said the being specific in feedback is important. Which seems obvious to me because the more specific the feedback the easier it is to understand what you did well or what you can do to improve.
From reading these, what's important in giving feedback is being specific and making the feedback about the author and not about your own opinions. Honestly, if you don't like the type of story or the message then go read something else. But if you see something the author can improve or something they did really well, point it out, and do both if you can.

Funny comic on feedback

Microfiction: Two Small Stories Inspired by the Ramayana

Aftermath of Brothers, Battles and Bonds

"Rejoice, brother! We vanquished those fiends."

A Parent Always Worries

A worried Dasharatha sits on his throne, waiting for his sons to return. They had left for battle days ago and, if everything went well, should be home soon. So when the doors open he glances up in hope. Is it his sons? It is! He jumps up and rejoices.

Dasharatha worried for his sons

Author's Note: These two stories are inspired by the very first part of the Ramayana but I also had my version of it in mind. (You can find that version here). In both versions Dasharatha cares deeply for his sons and so sending them away to fight against demons worries him. In my version, I expanded on the first fight with a demon that occurs in the Ramayana and then they return home after defeating a group of demons who were harassing some sages, unlike the original in which their journey continues.
For the 6 word story above I wanted to try and convey what the brothers, Rama and Lakshmana, would be feeling once they defeat the demons and eventually came up with the idea to do that with a quote one of them might say.
For the 50 word story above I focused more on their father and what he would be feeling. All he can do is sit back and wait for them to come home so I chose to write about how his feelings of worry would turn into feelings of joy once his sons are home.

Bibliography: Ramayana, Public Domain Edition by M. Dutt, R. Dutt, Gould, Griffith, Hodgson, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Oman, Richardson, and Ryder. Web source

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Week 3 Story: The Brothers and their Battle

Rama and Lakshmana were practicing archery among the trees behind the palace when one of the servants told them the king was waiting for them in the throne room. They put away their bows and went inside to meet King Dasharatha.

As they walked into the room, they noticed their father was slumped on the throne with bowed shoulders as if weighed down by a heavy weight. The two princes froze at the unusual sight, their hearts speeding up with worry before hurrying to stand next to their father.

"You called for us, father?" asked Rama.

The king spoke quietly, "My sons, I am afraid that you both will need to leave our home for a time. A sage has come from another kingdom to ask for a favor I must grant. He wants Rama to defeat a group of troublesome and dangerous demons who are interrupting the sages' offerings." The king voice hardened, "I want Lakshmana to go with you and you both must watch out for each other. You will keep each other safe. Do you understand me?"

"Of course, father. We will be back before you know it." Rama and Lakshmana spoke together. They looked at each other giddy at the thought of an adventure and left to pack and gather their swords, bows and plenty of arrows.

Rama and Lakshmana set out on their adventure

The boys began their adventure the next morning with the sage as their guide. They were slowly making their way through thick vines, swinging their swords and chopping away until they came out into an open area.

The party of three stopped in their tracks. A figure was laying, spread out on vibrant green grass, in the middle of the clearing. The sage slowly and quietly stepped back behind the two princes who cautiously stepped forward. Their hearts sped up and they quickly reached for their bows, each notching and arrow. Hearing them, the figure turned revealing the figure of a woman. Smirking at them, she said, "You lovely boys look so tasty." Then she pounced at them with dagger like claws.

The boys shot at her and injured her but couldn't manage to bring themselves to kill the demon. They were troubled at the thought of killing someone who, ignoring the claws, looks like a normal woman. The boys were twisting and dodging while taking turns shooting arrows. They were unsure of what to do besides simply keep her back. The stalemate broke when she got smart and swiftly slid behind Lakshmana out of Rama's line of sight. Lakshmana brought his bow up to block her hands, buying time for Rama to move into a better position. Rama watched with beating heart and sweating hands as she grappled with Lakshmana's bow with one clawed hand and went for his neck with the other. Rama raised his bow, quickly aimed and fired. The arrow shot true and the demon woman fell with an arrow through her eye socket. Rama ran towards his brother to check on him. Neither Lakshmana nor Rama were badly injured. They both sagged with relief and hugged each other tightly letting their hearts calm down.

Rama clasped his brothers arm saying, "I am glad your safe. I swear to you, brother, I will never again hesitate no matter the appearance of our enemy."

"And nor will I. You may have had to kill today, but you saved my life in doing so." said Lakshmana and patted his brother's shoulder in both thanks and comfort.

The party continued on their way and the two princes were now resolved to do anything to return safely to their father. When the fight against the group of demons came, both brothers fought with every single one of their senses and with calm and sharp focus on the enemy. In the end, the man-eating demons lay scattered on the ground, dead. The boys succeeded in keeping their promise to the King, and returned home safe and sound.

Author's Note: This story was inspired by the beginning of the Ramayana and I wanted to focus on Rama's first true battle in the story. In the original story two princes, Rama and Lakshmana, leave their home with a sage who had asked their father for a favor. The favor is to help get rid of rakshasas (man-eating demons) who are troubling a group of sages living near a city of another kingdom. Along the way the two brothers fight against a rakshasi (female demon) but hesitate to kill her because of her gender. This is the fight with Thataka who is hideous and misshapen and in the fight she becomes invisible and then Rama kills her by sound alone. And then he receives holy weapons that he uses to kill the rest of the rakshasas. The original continues from there but mine does not. I kept the main plot points of the part of the story I retold but added some dialog and details in order to lead into the story and keep it flowing. I ended the story after the brothers help the sage in order to emphasize the first time the boys actually have to fight for real. The entire battle scene with the she demon is different from the original fight with Thataka. I changed and added the specific events of the fight and tried not to make Rama seem as superhuman as the original story does. I also completely dropped the talking holy weapons because that's so realistic.

Image information: The image above was found here

Bibliography: Ramayana, Public Domain Edition by M. Dutt, R. Dutt, Gould, Griffith, Hodgson, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Oman, Richardson, and Ryder. Web source

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Reading Notes: PDE Ramayana Part B

Story: Ramayana, Public Domain Edition by M. Dutt, R. Dutt, Gould, Griffith, Hodgson, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Oman, Richardson, and Ryder. Web source

  • Dandaka jungle

  • Bharata comes home and is upset at his mother
  • Goes to find Rama and offer throne but denied on account of father's honor
  • Bharata decided rule for Rama till returns
  • Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita come across rakshasi who wants Rama as a husband
  • The boys beat her away and fight others who come to revenge her
  • Rakshasi goes to her brother Ravana and asks him to take Sita from Rama
  • Ravana and a brother come up with a plan to separate the boys from Sita and it works (the rakshasa as a deer plan that Lakshmana felt was off)
  • Ravana decides he wants Sita as a wife and take her to his kingdom where he tries to woo her but her heart will always be Rama's
  • Rama reacts strongly to Sita missing and Lakshmana tries to comfort him
  • The boys find the king of vultures who tell them Ravana took Sita
  • A rakshasa (cursed spirit) told them to look for the ape chief Sugriva

  • Ravana - rakshasa king of Lanka, arrogant but is strong
  • Shurpanakha - sister of Ravana, spiteful
  • Jatayu - king of vultures, protective of Sita who calls him friend
  • Bharata - brother of Rama, son of Kaikeyi, loyal to his brothers, did not desire throne for himself
  • Those already in previous post: Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita

Historical Picture of Ravana (image source)

Reading Notes: PDE Ramayana Part A

Story: Ramayana Part A, Public Domain Edition by M. Dutt, R. Dutt, Gould, Griffith, Hodgson, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Oman, Richardson, and Ryder. Web source

  • Ayodhya in Koshala kingdom
  • Jungle filled with rakshasas
  • Videha

  • King Dasharatha sacrifices a horse to ask for a son and gets 4
  • Sage Vishvamitra comes for a favor and takes Rama and Lakshmana to battle rakshasas
  • Rama defeated a rakshasi and gains divine weapons
  • Rama and Sita meet and Rama declared worthy after breaking Shiva’s bow and then they are married
  • Rama gets the bow of Vishnu when a follower of Shiva comes to see what happened to the bow
  • Rama and Sita go back to his home
  • King Dasharatha decides to declare Rama his heir but is stopped by Kaikeyi who wants her son to be heir and forces the issue
  • Rama is exiled and Sita and Lakshmana go with him
  • Dasharatha dies from grief of losing 2 sons

  • King Dasharatha - ruler of Koshala, living in Ayodhya
  • Rama - son of Dasharatha and Kaushalya, avatar of Vishnu, strong and honorable 
  • Lakshmana - son of Dasharatha and Sumitra, younger brother of Rama, loyal and strong
  • Sita - daughter of Janaka, princess, kind and humble, sheltered
  • Kaushalya, Kaikeyi, Sumtra - Queens of Koshala
  • Brahmins - “priests, teachers and protectors of sacred learning” - wikipedia page
  • The hag - ugly, jealous, hateful

Possible Changes:
  • Telling the story from either Rama or Lakshmana's POV

Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Microfiction: Two Small Stories on Karma

Karma Through Claws
Claws closed, karma killed the crane.

The Termination of the Trickster
There once was a trickster who loved false promises. However, in the end he met his match, was outwitted, and would never again make a false promise.

The crab who dished out Karma

Author's Note: For these two microfictions I chose to write the same original story. The original is about a crane who tricks some fish into getting eaten by promising them to move them to a bigger lake. In the end, the crane tries to do the same to a crab but is outwitted and the Crab uses his pincers to chop off the cranes head.
For the 6 word story I wanted to make sure I used the word karma since that is what got the crane in the end and then I noticed I could used alliteration and keep the message of the story so I did so just for fun. I the two sentence story I wanted to try being vague about who or what the characters are to focus the readers attention on the events.

Bibliography: "The Cunning Crane and the Crab" from The Giant Crab, and Other Tales from Old India by W. H. D. Rouse. Web Source

Positive Thinking and Feedback Thoughts

The fear of making mistakes or not doing well can stop anyone from even attempting something new. The goal is to get past the fear or self-doubt and try anyway because mistakes are the greatest learning tool. There are certainly examples in my life that I've learned from mistakes and that learning is still with me today.
Getting feedback on pretty much anything can be very helpful because someone else might think of something you did not consider. Also, it's always good to have a second set of eyes because it can be easy to miss your own mistakes, especially in writing.
Two articles I read had some very good advice. The first one, Seven Ways to Crush Self-Doubt in Creative Work by John Spencer, goes well with Growth Mindset and tells us that we should not be comparing ourselves to others nor attempting to be perfect. This is good advice because it is way too easy to compare ourselves to others and find more reasons to doubt ourselves because of that. Also, in attempting to be perfect can erase the character of the individual in their work and that is no good. The other article, A Simple 5-Second Habit to Rewire Your Harshly Self-Critical Brain by Joel Almeida, uses science to tell us that we can develop our brains to be more helpful and stop being too critical of ourselves. This reminds me of a saying I've heard, "Life is what you make it." And thus is completely true because there is huge difference in the enjoyment someone gets out of something depending on their attitude.

Positive Thinking Cat

Topic Brainstorm

I basically have no previous knowledge on any of these topics except for a few references and what I have read for this class so far. The following are the topics that I am considering:

Epic brothers - I am interested in the topic of brothers because family has always been important to me and I also have a younger brother. For this topic it would be fun to tell a story of two brothers who always have each other's back and can always rely on each other. I could do this by taking two brothers and either retelling a story of an adventure or creating a new adventure for them to go on. What I would like to do with this topic is put the brothers in a situation where one ends up helping the other with something and then they get dragged into trouble in which they work together to get out of. Here are two links I found that look promising on the demon brothers who I would most likely end up writing about: Ilvala Wikipedia page and The Story of Ilvala and Vatapi from

Creation stories - This topic seems interesting because a big question about life is "Why are we here?" And to understand the end of something, it is good to look at the beginning. Every place has it's own creation stories and for this topic, since there are different creation stories and myths for Indian epics, I think it would be interesting to try and combine some of them into one story. I could tell them in such a way that some character is teaching someone else. And this is a link I found: Hindu creation myths Wikipedia page

Supernatural characters from Ramayana - I have always found supernatural creatures and stories interesting. For this it would be fun to create new origin story for a character or take a character that is seen as bad and make him/her or at least more "grey" and relatable. These are a couple links I found: Ashura vs Rakshasa video and Rakshasa Wikipedia page

Supernatural Beings of Indian Epics

The Chiranjivi immortals - This topic also goes along with the supernatural which I have always found interesting. For this I would most likely tell a story of one of the immortals from their birth to gaining immortality and then what they might be doing in the modern world today.  Here are two links: Chiranjivi Wikipedia page and The 8 Immortals video

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Week 2 Story: The Crew's Salvation

This is a story of the rescue of a captain and his crew. It begins on a day that was not going very well for the captain and his crew. They were out to sea on their ship and the weather had taken a turn for the worse. The waves were crashing and the wind was screaming and the rain was pounding. The crew and her ship were fighting together against the storm until they could fight no more. Then, when there was land barely in sight, an excessively large wave tipped the ship sending her crew into the sea. The men all found themselves washed ashore on an island and soon they began to see figures approaching. It was a group of women coming near. These women offered dry clothes, warm beds and hot meals and the captain could not refuse such generosity. They were led to a beautiful city with houses of stone with thick thatch roofing with fires already lit for warmth. Once they were dry, warm and full, conversation started up.

 "My men and I are very thankful for the help you have given us," the captain began "but do you mind if I ask why there are no men around?"

The oldest of the women stepped forward to answer, "Because we are a coastal city all of our men were sailors like you, however, it has been many years since they last set sail and we have lost hope of them ever returning."

One of the younger women excitedly exclaimed "Oh! You could all stay here with us. We all would really love the company." This statement was accompanied by many nods from the women.

The captain looked around at his happy and relaxed crew before replying, "We would greatly appreciate being allowed to stay longer and it is the least we can do to repay your kindness." He paused for just a moment before adding, "Perhaps you would allow us the use of tools and supplies to build ourselves a new ship while we are here?"

All of the women looked around at each other and grinned before the oldest replied, "Of course. Such a project will be a long one and we would be glad for your company during that time."

That night the weather finally calmed and the crew slept very well, except for the captain. He was awake pondering the situation and the plan of building a ship from the ground up. Some time into his pondering, he heard a noise from outside. Thinking there must be an animal, he went to investigate but what he found was the frightening truth of the city. The women were outside and heading towards what looked like a prison. When arriving there, they tore apart and ate a very bloody meal. What was most frightening was that the meal they ate was human flesh. These lovely ladies were not ladies at all, they were she-goblins! The captain crept away slow and silent and eventually found himself walking along the shore with horrors in his mind. He knew that he and his crew needed to get away now or they would all be kept and eaten like livestock. Then, as if in answer to his prayer of saving his crew, he came across a bright hope. His ship had washed ashore and was mostly intact!

The next day he gathered his crew away from their hosts and told them of both his discoveries. Although there were some among the crew who did not believe the women to be man-eating monsters, his crew trusted him and so agreed to keep the ship a secret from the city's inhabitants. Throughout the day they gathered supplies to fix their ship and when night came they snuck out to the shore. There they worked long and hard the entire night and when the day was just barely brightening they finally set sail with all aboard. And thus, the crew rescued themselves to face the open seas once more.

A crew and their ship
The image can be found on Flickr here

Author's Note: The idea of this story came from "Goblin City" in which the she-goblins desire husbands and then eat them once they are bored of them. In the original, there is a fairy that sends a flying horse to save the crew members who believed the captains warning. I changed the ending big time because I wanted it to be a little more realistic.

Bibliography: "Goblin City" from The Giant Crab, and Other Tales from Old India by W. H. D. Rouse. Web Source: Goblins

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Reading Notes: Week 2 Anthology

Story: "Goblin City" from The Giant Crab, and Other Tales from Old India
Author: W. H. D. Rouse

  • City on the island of Ceylon that is solely inhabited by man eating she-goblins
  • There is a prison in the city
  • Can infer that the city buildings and layout look normal
  • Can infer that there is farm land or pasture outside the city

Main Plot Points
  • Crew of 500 men are shipwrecked near the city
  • She-goblins convince men to marry them
  • The captain discovers the truth and warns the crew
  • The crew that believe him are saved by a fairy sending a flying horse
  • The crew that didn't believe him are eaten

  • She-goblins: have magic used to deceive the men and desire husbands that they will then eat
  • The captain: cares for his crew and wants to save them
  • Crew: possibly veteran sailors

  • 3rd person point of view
  • Story is a telling of events
  • Reader is told the truth if the she-goblins from the start
  • Little to no dialog and details of the environment

Possible Improvements/Changes
  • More descriptive details
  • Point of view focused on a single character (the captain)
  • Add more dialog

Old Map of Ceylon - source

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Week 2 Reading Overview

For the Ramayana story I will read the Public Domain Edition. I decided on this because of the convenience of having the story on a website I can read on any device and the ability to choose whether to listen to the story, read it or both.

For the two Comic books I choose the following:
Ganesha - This one sounds interesting to me because it seems to be an origin story of how Ganesha gets an elephant head. It also may have some family elements and family has always been very important to me.
Konark - This one sounds interesting because it is a history of a temple over some time and also seems like it also has some family elements.

For the two videos I chose the following:
Ancient Technology - Atlantis and India - I chose this one because I have always found technology interesting and I am curious to see how the video ties Atlantis and India together.
Symbols of Divinity - I chose this one because I am curious to learn about the different symbols and see how they compare to symbols I know of growing up here in the US.

Lord Shiva - source

This is a picture of a statue of Lord Shiva outside a temple. I chose this one because the angle the picture is taken really makes the statue look impressive.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Time Strategies

For this semester, at least for this class, I believe working ahead will be the best strategy. And for classes where I can't work ahead, the best strategy would be to just start the work when it is given. That way I can get a feel for how long it will take and can then plan on working so many hours a day on it to get it done on time without getting swamped with work. Bellow is the two articles I read and found very interesting and because of them, I plan to keep in mind my end goal and make sure that I stay motivated to do my work as well as start work by determining a small first step and just doing it. Another great strategy I will follow this semester is to separate myself from distractions as much as possible.

The Important Habit of Just Starting
I found this one very interesting because thinking back on my own experiences I have noticed this is very true. There's been many time where something seems to big or daunting and so I never start. And there are other times where I've found if I just start it then I'll be able to finish it even if it was something I wasn't looking forward to doing or thought would be hard to finish.

How to Beat Procrastination
I decided to read this one because procrastination is one of my major weaknesses. This goes along well with the previous mentioned article because there are both about starting a project and focusing on the future goal.

A procrastinators reasoning...