Sponsoring National Section: IBBY India – AWIC. text by Manorama Jafa, poster by Jagdish Joshi.
Books Are My Magic Eyes
Long ago, in ancient India there lived a boy, Kapil. He was fond of reading and he was also very curious. Questions whirled around in his head. Why was the sun round and why did the moon change its shape? Why did the trees grow tall? Why did the stars not fall off the sky above?
Kapil looked for the answers in the palm leaf books written by learned sages. And he read every book he found.
One day, Kapil was busy reading a book. His mother gave him a package and said, "Put your book away and take this food to your father. He must be very hungry."
Kapil got up with the book in his hand, picked up the package and walked away. He continued to read as he walked along the rough and uneven forest path. Suddenly, his foot struck a stone. He tripped and fell down. His toe began to bleed. Kapil picked himself up and kept on reading, his eyes fixed firmly on the book. Again he hit a stone and fell flat on the ground. This time it hurt much more, but the text on the palm leaf made him forget his injury.
Suddenly, there was a flash of lightning and melodious laughter. Kapil looked up. A beautiful lady, wearing a white sari, a halo of light around her head, smiled at him. She sat on a graceful white swan. She held a luminous scroll in one hand and a veena (a musical string instrument) in her other two hands. She stretched her fourth hand towards him and said, "Son, I am impressed by your thirst for knowledge. I grant you a boon. Tell me, what is it that you desire the most?"
Kapil blinked in awe. Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning was in front of him. Quickly, he folded his hands, bowed and mumbled, "Please, Goddess, grant me a second pair of eyes on my feet so that I may read as I walk."
"So be it," blessed the Goddess. She touched Kapil’s head and vanished into the clouds above.
Kapil looked down. A second pair of eyes now blinked on his feet. He jumped with joy. Then he raced down the winding forest path, his eyes on the book while his feet led him on.
With his love for reading, Kapil grew up to be one of the most learned sages in India. He was known far and wide for his profound wisdom. He was also given another name, ‘Chakshupad’ which in Sanskrit means "one with eyes on his feet."
Saraswati is the mythological goddess of learning, knowledge, music and speech.
This is an ancient Indian legend about a boy who discovered that knowledge comes through the words that wise men write on palm leaf manuscripts.
Books are our magic eyes. They give us knowledge and information and guide us along the difficult and uneven path of life.
The 2005 sponsor is the Indian Section of IBBY – Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (AWIC). Manorama Jafa, well-known author and Secretary General of AWIC, has rewritten the ancient Indian legend of Saraswati for ICBD. The 1998 Hans Christian Andersen Award nominee for India Jagdish Joshi has designed the poster.
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