The Indian comic book industry continues to grow exponentially, with various comic texts/books, in both Hindu and English. It is gaining popularity, especially among young people. As such, comic narratives, best illustrated Anant Pai’s famed single series, Amar Chitra Katha, being majorly based on traditional tales of the Hindu mythology, as well as on various historical figures, continue to inspire millions of ardent readers. It is proven by their enhanced sales volumes. This is not only true in the Republic of India, but also in other national jurisdictions. Besides, the Western world is being enchanted by various present narratives. Because an aspect of globalization has brought about greater interactivity, migration and an inter-connected society, Indian immigrants in the Western world make up a huge portion of the comic industry’s fan base.

This fan-base is majorly composed of the well doing and educated adult population, which as such pertains to the demographic segment. They want their offspring to read, write and understand English, with an additional aspect of accessing their Hindu cultural traditions. With the core importance of this genre of literature, replacing physical individuals as a primary source of various narratives of the Indian culture and society, it is no wonder that such literature enjoys the mass following around the world. As a flourishing genre, its dominance is best espoused through the great success of a single series, i.e. Amar Chitra Katha (the immortal illustrated story), as originally conceived and currently edited by Mr. Anant Pai, of the Indian Book House, located in Bombay (Pritchett, 76).

While a journey towards the aforementioned single series’ success was being tough, it is the resilience and input of various individuals, which provided for its exemplary success, as far as Hindu culture and folklore are concerned. Initially, the idea of providing the Western classics in English had received fair success. However, the floatation of some classics illustrated comics in Hindi translation had failed. Inadvertently, by refocusing on the production of the same issue in an English version, Pai was able to capture not only the imagination and interests of home populations, but also the globally spread Indian populace. The initial efforts were focused on demonstrating a series’ value, with reference to its role as a learning tool with handing out free copies to various institutions of learning and as well with arranging the testing for various students on what they had learnt from the same. As a result, the series became popular, with some spectacular results entailing its subscription by various school libraries.

Furtherance was the narrative’s emphasis/concentration on annual subscriptions, with a regular delivery by the way of mail encouraging its further dissemination within the larger Hindu populace. However, now a highly successful single series, its success was slow, as the sales volumes registered were extremely poor, especially within the first 3 years of its launch. An initial focus was based on the ideal of producing a specific comic at some time with these early series having fair sales ratings, with initial losses giving a way to increased sales, as more people became aware of the same. Initially, the series was losing money and began to undergo a dynamic shift as its popularity had steadily increased. With sales becoming more satisfactory, especially for those versions written in English, and majorly so, those ones were sold abroad. The Indian Book House, as the series’ publisher, embarked on the translation of the same into other languages (Pritchett, 77).

With translated versions being produced into 38 different languages, the year of 1980 witnessed the series’ increased production of a comic output, from the initial monthly production to the production on every fortnight. This was enhanced through both an extensive internally focused advertisement, as well as much fanfare, especially in other existing Amar Chitra Katha issues. A core characteristic of the publishing house’s strategy has been its publication of initial copies in the English language. Then, this was followed up by various translations into different languages, as informed by the potential sales’ volumes expected. It should be noted that the other languages preferred, with reference to the series’ translation, are majorly focused on the larger region of South East Asia, which is majorly influenced by some related religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism and Confucianism.

However, the English language continues to hold its dominance, with respect to readership, followed by Hindi. It is the only one numerically significant and, hence, regular Indian language. This is informed by various observations, especially regarding the greater regional arena of Asia, where these issues, both some individual and annual subscriptions, continue to be available. Furtherance is the availability of these issues, in a collective form, mostly as bound books being in the English language, with Hindi following related to volumes. The mid 1970s were to witness the increased strength, availability and influence of the series, partly because of the Indian Book House utilizing various innovative marketing techniques. This was to give the way to the 1975-year notice of the series, by a UNESCO publication (Pritchett, 78).

The following years witnessed a marked difference, in terms of the overall acceptance and perception as various issues, i.e. the most notable issue 46 – Valmiki (1976), which attracted the outrage from the Valmiki Sabha group of the Punjab Indians. This was because of the issue display of Brahman Valmiki’s early life as a thief. This was the way before he had composed the famous Ramayana. Offence was taken because this Hindu grouping had for a while sought to have their caste identity changing from that of a sweeper to that of Balmik. The controversy and anger caused was influential enough to necessitate his withdrawal of the issue from the circulation of both the Hindi and English versions consecutively. Another potentially reactive issue was to follow for some time, though he and his staff were exercising the extreme care not to in any way, offending the sensibility of the readers of a lower caste. This was due to the issues related to Chokhamela (1983, the issue 292) and Ravidas (1986, the issue 350) that both delved into a highly debatable question of ‘untouchability’ existing in the Hindu culture (Pritchett, 79).


As a result, a great caution continued to be exhibited, with regard to the preparation of various issues, especially the portrayal of various characters from different minority communities. It related to the aspect of educational contribution that the series is most focused on. This is opposed to a business angle of publication; and this as such may be viewed as an alluring aspect of the single series. In addition, there is the production of the ‘all comics’ magazine Tinkle being mainly focused on young children as well as of Partha being targeted at older children. They are both mainly aimed at instilling positivity, hard work and self-development. With such diversity, as well as a massive reading, it is no wonder that the series has transformed into a loosely integrated self-improvement and entertainment empire. It is being divergent through various media, i.e. comics, magazines, children’s books, correspondence courses, audio cassettes and even videotapes (Pritchett, 81).

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This 25 year-long Pai-driven and sustained composition, being much-imitated, now stands among 500 comics and texts. It has this immense compilation of work presenting itself as a long-lasting and highly valuable avenue of education being critical in enhancing a greater knowledge of the Hindu culture, traditions and mythology. Though being focused majorly on the educational aspect, sales volumes also do matter as only those meeting a specific criterion and those being constantly reprinted. While sales do matter, a number of other considerations are taken into account. There is the tension existing between some educational and financial values, which are quite powerful. This as such continues to epitomize itself by the way of a constant warring attitude between the two competing goals. Despite these two competitive angles, with regard to the series’ production and circulation, it continues to pride itself, especially on its greater scope and completeness best portraying taxonomy of the glorious and still highly diverse heritage of India (Pritchett, 83).

With over 13,000 pages written of the Hindu culture, heritage and a traditional way of life, the single series provides a case scenario of universality, where Indian parents/guardians are provided with a means of passing their greater knowledge of the Indian culture, traditions and a way of life to newer generations. This provides the means of supporting and preserving the same, through various narratives that depict different interactions, activities, a role-play and capacities. As such, they go on to strengthen the highly diverse nature of the Indian/Hindu culture and traditions. It should be noted that these ones are developed along the lines of a Hindu caste system and, as such, depict various interactions for the further strengthening of this diversity within the larger Indian/Hindu populace (Pritchett, 89).

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McLain (2008), through the text Holy Super Heroine, a comic book for the interpretation of the Hindu “Devi Mahatmya” scripture, further expounds on the aforementioned role in the greater Indian and also Hindu global population of Amar Chitra Katha (the immortal picture stories/comic series). Through this, there is a greater focus on Anant Pai’s discourse of authenticity, surrounding the aforementioned comic books’ series, in general, and, particularly, so on the recreation and production of The Tales of Durga. This is rooted in Pai’s greater acknowledgement. It tells of the need to be as authentically creative as possible, with reference to the greater portrayal of the “Devi Mahatmya” scripture. This is true especially with regard to the presence of various miracles, as found in the existing classical Sanskrit text; thus, the need to faithfully render the same through various comic editions is produced (McLain, 298).

As such, the comic series provides a medium through which various individual inputs display a modern perspective/interpretation of past Indian cultural practices, traditions and mythology. Furtherance is the provision of various Hindu attitudes and interpretations of some past historical events, myths and mythological figures, displaying the intertwined nature of the Hindu religion and practice as well as the existent diversity notwithstanding. A case example would be the issue in The Tales of Durga where Durga (a goddess), upon shooting arrows at the demon Raktabeeja, raises some new demons from each drop of blood drawn. Symbolism, hence, authentically shows with this proving that violence cannot be countered by violence in order to achieve a lasting peace. As such, the authentic teaching here shows that for the one to counter violence there is, hence, a need for doing/engaging into something good. The latter one has the capacity of changing such negative contexts (McLain, 299).

Towards achieving a greater authentic credibility, as a way of enhancing accuracy, the aforementioned comic single series has been marketed basing on the true depiction of folklore and mythology. This, hence, provides the current and future generations of Hindu population with a culturally conscious historical narrative. It is easily deciphered and understood. Consequently, much recasting has occurred throughout the series of the long and checkered history, the original symbolic meanings of the scripture have remained the same ones. There is neither insertion of new interpolations present, nor evident facts, which are left as unchecked. Thus, consumers of such media are assured of gaining some true/factual historical and mythical truths, by the way of some “original Indian sources.” They are not only concise and visually appealing, but also funny to get engaged into.

Through a basis on the existent Indian/Hindu texts, folklore, mythology and traditions, Pai strives to inculcate a lasting impression of the Hindu history in not only existing generations of Hindu Indians in the greater global arena, but also future generations to come. Hence, an evolutionary journey is charted, with respect to the recreation of the Hindu mythology and folklore, amongst other pertinent facets of such Hindu culture and traditions. Pai continues to provide a current content analysis of various interactions as existent, through the continuous utility of other team members, with the greater aim to depict as vividly as possible all facets of the Hindu society. For example, while recreating The Tales of Durga, he gave the script writing to Subba Rao, who even though being a Hindu, was not devoted to Durga (McLain, 301).

His choice of scriptwriter was based on the latter strong research skills, which were crucial for the tough job of balancing various facets of the Hindu way of life. This was because Rao had been a teacher after his experience with the mindset of children. Further still, this was his authorship due to the experienced handling, understanding and disseminating knowledge derived from various textbooks with the greater strength in the history. He had the articulation of mythology, emanated from a resourceful and detailed research, with a small category of issues being his own findings. In writing the aforementioned work, he, hence, read deeply the original texts, did the further research and resourcefully compiled the script.

Other famous writers that should be included into various works included Souren Roy for his knowledge of Bengal, with Menon knowing some aspects pertaining to Kerala. With the depiction of Sikh issues, there was a Sikh artist, whose valued input provided readers with a better understanding of this facet of the Hindu community. These measures provide a proof of the intense focus that Pai had given to providing material texts with the best form of a symbolic depiction. It pertained to various social facets existing being careful not to raise the resentment as mentioned above. With both, an artistic angle and the authorship recreated on explicit instructions, he aimed at retaining different miracles present within the greater Hindu religion and the authentic originality of various texts being retained (Richman, 2000).

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By utilizing the existing knowledge, artistry, contextual genius and experience, Pai was able to reproduce texts that could not be deemed as mere comics, but rather as some reference points to the Hindu masses as their places of the settlement notwithstanding. Furtherance was the need to capture the attention and, hence, conscience of the modern Hindu family, through producing works which would be utilized as reference points/material by the same populace, with regard to the Hindu society. Hence, through the practiced policy of accurately (without any changes) recasting mythology, by the way of such a medium, there was a re-igniting of popular debates related to some variations within a scriptural interpretation.

This provided a ground for a greater discussion, within the society, as the place and standing of various facets of their society. This is due to the fact that Hinduism possesses a huge collection of authoritative scriptures, as best depicted in the existence of many tales of god Rama; both written in vernacular languages of India and the Sanskrit. Thus, there has been a greater focus on maintaining such distinctions, though some form of referencing to other related aspects allowed, with a greater aim of fostering the appreciation of diversity within the general Hindu social strata. Consequently, physical and spiritual; tangible and supernatural, they are depicted as the means of displaying the balance of life or even the universe as we know it (Richman, 2004).

There is a form of blend, within the comics’ arena, of the visual imagery and verbal language being with the former one as closely associated with both the direct human experience and perception. Meanwhile, the latter one is essentially portrayed in a linear system. Thus, the talented utility of an image-word combination encourages various readers of such a medium to focus more on such presented details as: the visual surrounding landscapes; universal patterns; a character posture; expressions; and narrative texts. These are the experiences undergone or exposed to various facets of the society; hence, their vivid, yet comical, recreation encourages a greater focus, understanding and a constructive debate. As such, these ones are majorly influenced by the projection of various experiences. There is a greater interaction with the characters portrayed, transporting the readers’ minds to such contexts and experiences (Barry, 107).

Thus, a meaning, and, in some ways, a purpose is derived from the sequential display of various characters’ lives, actions, a way of life, surroundings and, most importantly, some spiritual as well as cultural aspects. There is the maximization of a narrative clarity, with the encouragement of a strong character identity, around which the given narrative is organized. Quite few challenges were encountered related to portraying the given mythological figure in a physical form, since the difficulty had been often experienced in transforming a challenging text into the understandable/tangible visual media. Here, Goddess Durga is not in a character form, firstly taking the form of Yoganidra (Vishnu’s yogic sleep). As such, it is represented in the intangible transcendent form. Later on, she is depicted in the character form, during the second story, going against all norms of a classical comic book’s continuity. Here she is a hero or heroine that must be presented to the readers during their first interaction with such a medium (Barry, 109).

To conclude, it should be said that though various challenges have been overcome, with some criticism and bad experiences felt, Anant Pai and his team have done a great job of preserving Hindu culture in a lasting form. This may be named as the greatest evolutionary journey of the Hindu Myth recollection, through some ‘new and improved’ modern means of communication and information dissemination. This is evident with the great interest various pertinent works elicited varied reactions, debates and constructive criticism. At the same time, they strived towards preserving the greater Hindu culture and religion.

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