Ramayana and Mahabharata

Indian Literature: Ramayana and Mahabharata

Ramayana

  • One of two great epics of Indian society.
  • The Ramayana of Valmiki is the original Ramayana.
  • It is called Adikavya and Maharishi Valmiki is known as Adi Kavi.
  • It presents a picture of an ideal society.

Mahabharata

  • It was written by Ved Vyas.
  • Originally, it was written in Sanskrit & contained 8800 verses and was called “Jaya” or the collection dealing with victory.
  • These were raised to 24,000 and came to be known as Bharata, named after one of the earliest Vedic tribes.
  • The final compilation brought the verses to 100,000, which came to be known as the Mahabharata or the Satasahasri Samhita.
  • It contains narrative, descriptive and didactic material, relating to conflict between the Kauravas and the Pandavas.

Bhagavad Gita

  • The Mahabharata contains the famous Bhagavad Gita which contains the essence of divine wisdom and is truly a universal gospel.
  • Though it is a very ancient scripture, its fundamental teachings are in use even today.
  • In the Bhagvad Gita, Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and prince and elaborates on different Yogic and Vedantic philosophies with examples and analogies.
  • This makes Gita a concise guide to Hindu philosophy and a parochial, self-contained guide to life.
  • In modern times Swami Vivekananda, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi and many others used the text to help inspire the Indian independence movement.
  • This was mainly because the Bhagvad Gita spoke of positiveness in human actions.
  • It also spoke of duty towards God and human beings alike forgetting about the results.
  • The Gita has been translated nearly in all the main langauges of the world.

Puranas

  • The Puranas occupy a unique position in the sacred literature of the Hindus.
  • They are regarded next in importance only to the Vedas and the Epics.
  • There are said to be 18 Puranas and about the same number of Upapuranas.
  • Their origin can be traced as far back as the time when Buddhism was gaining importance and was a major opponent of the Brahmanic culture.

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