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X for eXcellent Dashavatara! + eXploring eXploding Gravy in Xanadu

X is certainly one that challenges me each year, regardless of the theme I pick. And those have been poetry related the past few years now thanks to NaPoWriMo!. So I have to get creative with how I work with the letter X. For instance, with X for Dashavatara, I chose to use the fact that the Roman numeral X stands for 10. Dashavatara refers to the 10 avatars (incarnations) of Vishnu in Hindu mythology. The word Dashavatara derives from daśa, meaning “ten”, and avatāra, meaning “incarnation”.

Quick Notes on My Poem and books today

My poem today, while is about the Dashavatara, does have a touch of humor in it, inspired by other examples I looked at today in the writing of it. From the very first time I read/heard about it growing up in India, the Dashavatara has always fascinated me. It is an integral part of my life indeed, given my love for the festival of the Navratri golu, where my Dashavatara set never fails to make an appearance. So those touches of humor are simply to bring a smile on your faces, like they did for me when I wrote them down.

As for the books, the first one I picked today is Exploding Gravy (sounds like X after all). As a bonus, it is written by poet X.J. Kennedy (!!). The second one is the third in a series of anthologies compiled by Jane Yolen. By the way, all three can be used for the letter X, for those of you who need some ideas! Xanadu 3 is my pick simply because this was the one I was able to find to read. It is not strictly a book of poems, but rather has something of everything (essays/thoughts/short stories/poems).

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X for the Amazing Dashavatara

(note: see the quick notes above)

X, You are My Reason for a Dashavatara Index Poem
, (10): Vishnu, the many faces of; descent from the heavens; compared to comic book superheroes
Balarama, 8: warrior; plough, wielder of; a guiding force and mentor; embodiment of strength and power; elder brother, the one who was (un)surprisingly never a bother
Dashavatara: ten incarnations of Vishnu; cool parallels to evolutionary theory
Kalki, 10: warrior; the final incarnation; future incarnation; white horse, rider of; evil-destroyer and purity-restorer; one to turn to for tips on surviving the apocalypse; the ‘end is nigh’ message-bearer; cool sword wielder
Krishna, 9: warrior; the divine lover who embodies the paradoxes of existence; butter-stealer and snake-slayer; major player in the Mahabharata epic; flute, talented player of; playful; cows, herder of; charioteer; charming ladies’ man
Kurma, 2: tortoise/turtle: divine support and cosmic balance; the ocean of milk, churning of; the Devas quest for amrit (nectar of immortality), helper of; mountain bearer, of; shell-shock
Matsya, 1: horned fish; embodiment of salvation and protection; the great flood; story of, compared to Noah’s Ark; lead ship to safety, not a lighthouse; fast-growing; not just another fish in the sea; underwater exploration and transformation; described as “a fish out of water”
Narasimha, 4:man-lion; destructor of evil; Prahlad, protector of; dual nature and mythic symbolism; fierce battle and unusual form; known to appears out of pillars; (momentary) threshold dweller
Parasurama, 6: comparison to other warrior avatars; warrior sage who embodies the tension between duty and renunciation; axe, wielder and thrower of; questioned for his use of an axe
Rama, 7: Maryada Purushottam; ideal ruler; also warrior; importance of Ramayana epic to Hinduism; the ideal human who exemplifies dharma; righteousness, embodiment of; friends with monkeys in high places
Universe: Vishnu’s role as sustainer of the cosmos**
Vamana, 5: dwarf; giant, Trivikrama as; Sattvik, non-violent; first human-form incarnation; small but smart; clever tactics, triumph over arrogance; story of, requesting three paces of land from Bali; covered realms with steps; short jokes not allowed in this entry
Varaha, 3: boar; one who restores Mother Earth to her place in the universe; earth-retrieving mission; earth-shaking heroics; the restoration of balance and order, symbolic of; zodiac sign Taurus, association; a boar, not pig

Index Notes:

Animal (3/4): see Kurma, Matsya, Narasimha(see Human), Varaha
Human (7/6): see Balarama, Kalki, Krishna, Narasimha(see Animal), Parasurama, Rama, Vamana
Sage (2): see Parasurama, Vamana
Warrior (5): see Balarama, Kalki, Krishna, Parasurama, Rama


Buddha/Vithoba/Jagannath, ‘9’: Buddha: the enlightened one who teaches the path to liberation; sometimes replaces Balarama (and Krishna moves to #8); Vithoba/Jagannath: region specific manifestations of Vishnu, sometimes replaces Balarama (and Krishna moves to #8)
~ Vidya Tiru @ LadyInReadWrites

The Day 28 Prompts Used for X stands for 10 aka Dashavatara

NaPoWriMo’s Day 28 prompt is to write your own index poem. You could start with found language from an actual index, or you could invent an index, somewhat in the style of this poem by Kell Connor

The APAD Day 28 prompt over at Writer’s Digest is to take the phrase “You Are (blank),” replace the blank with a new word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles might include: “You Are My Only Hope,” “You Are Really Pushing It,” “You Are in the Wrong Room,” and/or “You Are a Poeming Machine.”

The index I came up with is inspired by creative ones across many books, including the below(haven’t read any of these books, but went looking for books with cool indexes):

  • House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
  • The Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  • The Well-Tempered City by Jonathan F.P. Rose
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. 

References and Further Reading

My (e)X Books

eXploding Gravy

Exploding Gravy: Poems to Make You Laugh by X.J. Kennedy and yillustrated by Joy Allen (Children’s Humorous Poetry | 8 – 11 years)

Description: Do you like to laugh? To smile? Do you like poetry? If you like one, two or all of the above, this is the book for you. Inside these covers you’ll find the best funny poems of X. J. Kennedy, a poet who knows what tickles us, all combined in a collection that pleases the car and delights the mind

My Quick Thoughts

This book is kind of a mixed bag for me. I totally adored some of the poems that made me smile and even LOL as I read them. But some of the others did not work for me. Sure, they were silly, but kind of like the humor that my kids laugh at, and I am left wondering why! Which is why I also am sure that those poems will very likely appeal to younger audiences. So this is one of those books I am recommending for the intended audience of younger readers (mostly).

I recall reading a poetry anthology compiled by X. J. Kennedy – Knock at a Star – that I think was a really cool collection of poems. My review of that book is here.

Xanadu 3

Xanadu 3 compiled by Jane Yolen (Anthology/Fantasy/Poetry/Literature)

Description: A collection of thirty-four original tales features the works of such noted fantasy writers as Marvin Bell, Ruth Berman, Jo Clayton, Christine Crow, Tanith Lee, Midori Snyder, and Terri Windling

My Quick Thoughts

Like I mentioned earlier, this book is a collection of many things, including a few poems. And I did love the poems within this. It even has one titled Xanadu, plus an introductory essay by Jane Yolen with the name Xanada and Purlock, Too.

I am also enjoying the other inclusions within this anthology, and so if you get a chance, do read it. (Note: it is available on the Internet Archive, which is where I read it)

And Now, the End of the Post

Linking up to BlogChatterA2ZBlogging from A-to-Z April ChallengeNaPoWriMo, and the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

Image of the Hindu god Vishnu (centre) surrounded by his ten major avatars. and pin title says X for eXcellent Dashavatara! + eXploring eXploding Gravy in Xanadu

9 thoughts on “X for eXcellent Dashavatara! + eXploring eXploding Gravy in Xanadu

  1. I’ve heard of Exploding Gravy book of poems from my 10 year old granddaughter. The only thing I know about Xanadu 3 is that’s the name of a condo in Myrtle Beach! LOL

  2. Vidya, I am charmed by your poem that references the Dashavatara. But I am entranced by the book, Exploding Gravy! I even tried the Internet Archive and was very interested in the poem. I was able to read one page before it mandated I subscribe in order to continue. It has been a long day, so no subscribing. Thanks for another super intelligent post.

  3. Your article on Dashavatara and Exploding Gravy in Xanadu was a delightful and informative read. Your writing style and attention to detail kept me engaged throughout the post, and I learned a lot about Hindu mythology and culture. Looking forward to reading more from you!

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