Two children's books recently brought out by Central Chinmaya Mission Trust dwell on ancient wisdom and values

Two books flaunting attractive covers, glossy print, endearing illustrations and unique tales are “Tarangini” and “Shiva's Fish Swish”, among the latest offerings from Central Chinmaya Mission Trust (CCMT), Mumbai. The Trust has been actively publishing children's literature for many years with several series like “Tarangini”, “Chinmaya Bal Katha” and “Tell me a Story” in its kitty but as Manisha Khemlani, Deputy CEO, CCMT, tells us, the trust is redesigning some of those. The recently released “Tarangini” and “Shiva's Fish Swish” (Chinmaya Bal Katha series) have been executed in a fun and contemporary manner to reach out to more and more children.

Khemlani informs us that the first “Tarangini” came out in 1960 and for a long time was printed on ordinary paper and bereft of sketches but now in the revitalised “Tarangini”, by Swami Chinmayananda and Swamini Saradapriyananda, the stories culled from different branches of Hindu mythology are accompanied by striking imagery. The content remains the same — inspiring moral stories of kings, poets, saints which can serve as useful references when challenges and problems crop up in daily life. The delightful tales — how Kabir got his teacher Swami Ramananda, another from Guru Nanak's life teaching a greedy man to shun his lust for wealth, Savitri's determination to bring back her husband from Yama, written like a play — attempt to pass on knowledge from the rich heritage.

“The children need to know their roots and learn from it but unfortunately even their parents don't know much. They might know the basics but not the details. These books try to do that. Children should know what's the reason behind a particular ritual. We want children to pick up values but it is equally necessary for the parents who read out the stories to their kids to be having those values,” says Khemlani, who says the trust is already working on the next volume of “Tarangini”. With a view to making it more accessible to children across different strata, they plan to come up with smaller and cheaper versions than these in the range of Rs.40 to 60, though they are otherwise priced around Rs.130.

While “Tarangini” is a collection of stories, “Shiva's Fish Swish” is just one story, an episode from Shiva and Parvati's life lavishly sprinkled with beautiful illustrations done by owlandbat.com. The author Nishita Chaitanya, who has many such books to her credit, writes easy, short sentences trying to highlight the relationship of a teacher and student in a playful way. She repeats a few sentences to drive home the message like “The Guru doesn't really punish us because His love is so great. He only makes us do what will make us better, stronger and wiser.” The images are 3D and stylised so that children can identify with the characters. Since the narrative gives a lot of scope for animals to be around, the artists have used them in abundance.

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