I Am Kalki, a new graphic novel that describes the 10th avatar of Vishnu, predicted to be born in the future to end the Kali Yug, took some detailed research by a team of writers, who scoured old Sanskrit texts like the Puranas and the Kalchakra Tantra, to gleam details like where Kalki would take birth, what he would look like, and the colour of his steed
In a world tainted by greed, corruption and crime, the arrival of the latest comic book, I Am Kalki from Vimanika Comics, a Delhi-based company that creates and produces comics based on mythology, is timely. The 10th and final Maha Avatar or incarnation of Vishnu is prophesised to be born in the future and bring an end to this age of destruction, also known as the Kali Yuga.
The brand, which has also created and produced Dashavatara, traces the birth and journey of the super boy who visits Earth in contemporary times to fight evil. But for Karan Vir Arora, founder and CEO of Vimanika Comics, there's more than a grain of truth to the legend. The research team that studied the legend found, interestingly enough, that the next avatar of Vishnu would take birth in Uttarakhand.
"The book is Vimanika's take on the legend of Kalki. Though we have stayed true to the basic narrative, we have taken big leaps of imagination in terms of art, stylisation and plot," says Arora. The leap of imagination was also accompanied by a leap of faith for many in the research team.
A group of researchers and script writers were hard at work for six months, says Arora. Although several versions exist as to where Kalki will be born, the team discovered that the birthplace could be Sambhal, a village in present-day Mordabad district of Uttarakhand. According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the birthplace is mentioned as Shambhala, a mythical and mystical kingdom located somewhere in the heart of Asia.
According to the Kalachakra Tantra (or time wheel), 'Kalkin' is mentioned as the title of the 25th ruler of the mythical Shambhala. The 'time wheel' prophesises that Kalki will be born in the home of a brahman in Shambhala village. "We followed the version where it is believed that Kalki will be born in Dev Bhoomi (as Uttarakhand is referred to) in a village called Shambala," says Arora.
Kshtish Padhey, one of the researchers in the team, says he and his teammates found specific references from the Mahabharata and the Kalki Purana, a prophetic tome in Sanskrit that describes the birth and life of Kalki, sometime in the 4,320th century. While the look of the character was decided by the art department, Padhey's contribution lay in detailing Kalki's character. For instance, references of Kalki riding a white horse and a description of his facial features gleamed from ancient texts were some of the suggestions Padhey made.
"After identifying basic characters, we adapted them to present time. We also identified segments and milestones that we would like to highlight from Kalki's imaginary life on earth," says Padhey. Clearly, a non believer. Arora points out how the Manga style of art preferred by the art department may have given Kalki a rough, edgier look. "We have tried to keep a cutting edge, sleek and lean look for Kalki. Though the art is a mix of Indian and European styles, our comic book characters are very Manga," he says. I Am Kalki published by Vimanika and priced at Rs 80. Available at all leading bookstores
What's in a name?
The name Kalki has several stories attached to it. While some believe that Kalki comes from the Sanskrit word 'Kalka' which means mud or dirt, others suggest that the 10th avatar of Vishnu signifies someone who will destroy the dirt or darkness from this world. Another etymological derivative of Kalki suggests a white horse, that he is shown riding in the graphic novel.