“Pralaya” by Vladimir Zaitsev, available for purchase at Amsterdam Art Gallery

All the summer weekends at California’s beaches and reading of Hindu mythology have the kids asking alot about waves, water and the concept of pralaya – thanks to Monsieur Matsya from our Das Avatar Puzzle (my son has sanctified the puzzle coin to be in his top rotation of toys – and has even slept with it a  few times – because “Matsya is so cute“).  For those unfamiliar with the story, Matsya is Vishnu’s first avatar – and he takes this form to save (essential) people/plants/animals from the imminent pralaya –  depicted as a “great flood” (and also to rescue the Vedas from the clutches of the rakshasha Hayagriva).  Technically, a pralaya is a period of dissolution or inactivity that lasts for 4,320,000,000 human years and is equal to one night in the life of Lord Brahma (and a kalpa, a period of creation/activity, lasts an equivalent period of years and is equal to one of Brahma’s days).

I’ve written before about my son’s obsession with tsunamis, even before the destructive events in Japan earlier this year.  So when it suddenly dawned on him that there was actually a water-wave event bigger than a tsunami, the why, why, why’s started pouring in! 

It’s difficult to temper the explanation of what a pralaya is without creating fear or apprehension in a child, but I explain to him that the pralaya happens when “the universe is going to sleep – because it needs its rest too.”  I reassure him that the pralaya happened a long time ago and won’t happen again for millions of years – but that doesn’t keep him from marveling at the unfathomable.  So this month “pa” is for pralaya.

I give the Avatar Puzzle full credit for igniting his interest in these stories – and having attractive visuals of all 10 avatars helps him comprehend that they are just different forms of Lord Vishnu, especially since we were careful to make sure each piece had the same “Vishnu face” when developing the puzzle.  To supplement the puzzle, I use the following resources:  Amar Chitra Katha Dasha Avatar and relevant excerpts from the Shree Krishna DVD Set (clips available on YouTube if you type in the name of the avatar, but I recommend buying the set – it’s an excellent production).


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