Good and Evil in the Amar Chitra Katha

The comic book Heroes from the Mahabharata is a cartoon exploration of Indian mythology. It was written to target children and ultimately introduce them to Hindu Gods. The comic occurs at a time when the world was filled with negative energy and strife. The five stories demonstrate that good will always triumph over evil with the help of the gods who come and help the protagonists solve their problems and learn the hard lessons of life. Anant Pai majorly utilizes Pathos to bring out the emotions of extremely diverse characters through their personalities and Ethos to help his main audience, which consists of children and pre-teens, understand the great epics of Hindu mythology through his infamous and accurate depictions.

Heroes from the Mahabharata, as a whole, is filled with tales of adventure, triumph, justice, and instruction and each tale is crafted to connect with the real feelings and struggles that the audience would feel. This use of pathos is one of the reasons this kind of text would be so effective. The stories evoke emotions of bravery, humility, and perspective from the reader. Pai does a phenomenal job at capturing the emotions felt by Bhishma when he has to fight for the kingdom he has pledged allegiance to and against the sheer goodness of the Pandavas. The Pandava brothers respect him for his bravery, guidance, age and experience despite whose side Bhishma is fighting on. The reader experiences the contrasts in Bhishma’s feelings, his loyalty, and honesty throughout the comic story. Bhishma’s choices and relationships are described in detail which help define his personality and character.

The comic is written by Anant Pai, also called Uncle Pai, an Indian dual-degree holding educationalist that took the comic industry by storm. His life in India, exposure to Hindu practices and gods, as well as his degrees from the University of Bombay all play a role in establishing his credibility. In the story of Abhimanyu, good wins over evil when Abhimanyu and the Pandavas triumph over Drona and the Kauravas. Despite the fact that the Kauravas greatly outnumbered the Pandavas (one-hundred on five), Krishna’s divine intervention allowed for honor to defeat corruption. This shows that the Hindu gods have a vested interest in upholding morality. Pai’s work supports this idea, which deeply embedded in the Hindu culture, in an accurate and convincing manner.

All of the scenes follow a logical composition that can be described as the “problem, solution, lesson” arrangement. At first, there is some kind of problem that cannot be solved. Then, suddenly someone appears, normally a god or another character, and this individual has a solution to the problem. Lastly, there is some kind of lesson or perspective to be taught, through the characters, to the reader. For example, using Logos, he tries to teach the audience in a well-reasoned way that no matter where your loyalty lies, or what your promises are, you must always help goodness win the battle. This arrangement allows the story to progress in a way that would make sense, even to a child.

Timing, or Kairos, plays a huge role in the organization of the comic. It is important to notice that in each of the stories, whenever a character is left to their problems, they lose hope in their situation, some even going so far as to desire to end their lives. In every situation like this, Anant Pai crafts the story so that the gods show up at just the right time. He tries to bring to the audience’s attention the respect that teachers and students deserve for their hard work in an important time of the children’s lives, that is, their education. In Dronacharya, Pai tries to explain the relationship between a student and a teacher in the times of Mahabharata. He tells the story of Ekalavya, a young child, who believes that Drona is his “guru” and worships, learns the art of fighting through Drona’s idol and eventually sacrifices his thumb for his teacher.

In conclusion, Pai uses images, emotion, context, simple vocabulary and a logical flow in his writings to cater to the real audience, to bring out the real values and morals hidden in the stories and teach them to the children. This book is an epitome of the way Pai uses Pathos, Logos, Ethos and Kairos to describe how deep relationships were embedded and how much value morals had in the epics. Pai is successful in teaching a lesson to his readers through most of his comics: “good always triumphs over evil”.

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