Book review: Namaha is replete with lines that make you think

Updated: Sep 29, 2019, 08:06 IST | Jane Borges | Mumbai

In his new graphic book, Abhishek Singh introduces us to the world of the divine with powerful imagery and storytelling

Author Abhishek Singh
Author Abhishek Singh

There is a certain fluidity in the drawings of Abhishek Singh's new graphic book, Namaha: Stories from The Land of Gods and Goddesses (Wonder House), that immediately pull you into the milieu he has created. We are in the world of the divine, where sages, kings and elements of nature are in conversation with the gods, whose wisdom shines through every story.

Singh, whose critically acclaimed Krishna: A Journey Within (Image Comics) was the first graphic novel by an Indian origin writer/artist to be published in the American comic book history, has pushed the envelope with this book. That he is a keen student of literature, only amplifies his art—a combination of ink pen drawings and water colours. This particular collection brings together material inspired by the ancient wisdom literature of India. As Singh writes in the book, they are stories that he'd like to believe have travelled to us "from a time, where illuminated minds learnt from the forests and the stars".

Cover of the book, Namaha
Cover of the book, Namaha

All the stories are re-imaginations of the Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads. The meditative rhythm of Singh's text only lends beautifully to the experience. "Mother, without you, how will I find a place of happiness in this world of broken spirits?" a son asks, in the story, Ansuya. "Wait for the night. That is when everything blends as one. Don't be afraid, just imagine you are inside the womb again," she responds.

An ink drawing of Ganesh enveloping a baby elephant in his trunk is the most maternal picture of a God bestowing comfort. Another verse that moved us was in the story, The Flute, where the banyan trees and marigold flowers ask Lord Krishna, "Why do you play the flute?" He responds, "Because it's a 'wind' instrument, played by one's breath. But then, whose breath is that we are breathing into this reed? Is it the trees, is the air they take and give back?"

An illustration from Namaha. Pic courtesy/Wonder House
An illustration from Namaha. Pic courtesy/Wonder House

Singh's book is replete with lines that make you think, and make you wise. His drawings have always been exceptional. Namaha is not any different: in some, his gods look like majestic conquerors of everything between land and sea, who have to be both feared and revered. But, then there is also Krishna, sitting demurely on a branch as a peacock listens to his music, and Shiva and Parvati in a vulnerable, loved-up moment that also makes these gods very real. But, this book should also be read for the stories, because they are told by a gifted storyteller.

Price: Rs 999
To buy:

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