Home : Indian Literature : Sanskrit Literature : Indian Epics : Mahabharata
The longest Sanskrit epic ever written, Mahabharata has a collection of more than 74,000 verses, divided into 18 books. The Mahabharata story is much revered in India and basically among the Hindus. The Mahabharata contains the Bhagawad Gita, the famous gospel of duty that was taught to the great warrior, Arjuna by Lord Krishna. The Mahabharata dwells on the aspect of the important goals of a human being in his mortal life. The epic aims at making people realize the relation between the individual and the society and how they both are inter dependent on each other. Read on further a summary of Mahabharata, the greatest epic ever.
The epic revolves around the struggle for the throne of the kingdom of Hastinapura. The struggle is between two branches of the same family, the Kauravas and Pandavas. The Kauravas were collectively the hundred sons of the blind king Dhritarashtra and the Pandavas were the five sons of Pandu, who died of a curse. The five brothers named Yudhisthira (eldest son), Arjuna, Bheema, Nakula and Sahdeva were always obedient and dutiful, which made them the most loved in the kingdom. Each of the Pandavas had a special virtue in them that made them stand apart from the rest of the world. This made the Kauravas hate them and they planned many devious ways to get rid of them. Mahabharata
As time went by, the Pandavas got married and shared a common wife named Draupadi. The Kauravas got even more enraged and challenged the Pandavas to a game of gamble. The Pandavas lost and were banished from the kingdom for an exile of 12 years. There was a condition that if they were recognized by the end of 12 years, they would have to begin from scratch.
One of the most important and dramatic character in this epic is Lord Krishna. He was the sole advisor, guide and true friend of the Pandavas and helped them in each and every difficulty in their exile. He is said to be the incarnation of God, who came to earth in human form to relieve the world of evil people and restore faith in his devotees. During the great battle of Kurukshetra fought between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, Lord Krishna took upon himself the duty of driving Arjuna's chariot. He imparted the valuable and practical lessons of the Bhagawad Gita, a text of the conversation between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, where Lord Krishna shows Arjuna a glimpse of his majestic divine form.
The Pandavas won the battle and ruled over Hastinapura for a number of years. It is said that Dhritarashtra and his wife retired into the forest to lead a stress-free life of an ascetic and Krishna left after around thirty six years after the battle took place. When the Pandavas realized that it was time to leave this earth, they all set out on a journey towards the North on foot. It is said that the gates of heaven opened on the northern horizon. One by one they dropped dead, until Yudhisthira finally reached the gates of heaven to be united once again with his brothers and wife.
Home : Indian Literature : Sanskrit Literature : Indian Epics : Ramayana
Ramayana is one of the most read and famous epics of all times. Maharshi Valmiki wrote the Ramayana epic. Every boy and girl in India knows the Ramayana story by heart. Every Hindu has the highest respect for this great epic, which is also given the status of a holy book. The flawless values and idealistic principles highlighted in the epic are something that is taught to every kid in a household. Given here is a summary of Ramayana epic by Valmiki.
Long time back, in the kingdom of Ayodhya, there lived a noble king known as Dashratha. He had three wives, but no children. After performing an elaborate Yagna to please Gods, he was granted with four sons. The eldest one was called Rama and was known for his idealist values and outlook. He is considered to be the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The king decided to crown Rama, as he was the rightful heir to the throne.
But the king's second wife, Kaikeyi grew jealous and she wanted her son to be the king. She reminded the king of a promise he gave her long back and made him announce that hr son would be the king. Rama was exiled for a period of 14 years.Ramayana Being the obedient son and an idealist, Rama obeyed his father and bid farewell to the kingdom and riches and donned the robes of an ascetic.
Thus set out Rama with Sita and Lakshmana on his 14 year long exile in the forests of India. Then one day, a Demoness saw Rama and was mesmerized by his charming personality. She tried to seduce him but he ignored her completely. She then tries to seduce Lakshmana, but enraged, he cuts off her nose. Thoroughly insulted, she goes back to her brother Ravana, the Demon king of Lanka and complains about what happened. Ravana seeks revenge by abducting Sita and captivating her in his palace. Determined and confident, Rama sets out to find her. He is helped by a group of monkeys who put in their best efforts to get Sita back from Lanka. Ravana is spoken of as a powerful demon, who was blessed by many Gods. His only flaw was vanity.
A battle ensued between the monkey army of Rama and the demon army of Ravana. In the end, Rama emerged victorious and was united with Sita. By this time, their exile had ended and they returned back to their kingdom victorious. Rama was crowned the king and he proved himself to be a devoted ruler. The moral of this epic is good always triumphs over evil. No matter what happens, one must never accept anything wrong and never deter from his path of duties of life.
The Upanishads form a part of the Vedas and are essentially a set of ancient mystic teachings and imparting of knowledge. The term Upanishad has been derived from three words: "Upa" (near), Ni (down) and shad (to sit), i.e., sitting down near. During ancient times, pupils used to sit near the teacher in a circle to learn the holy teachings and sacred scriptures. The Upanishad philosophy basically indicates learning from a spiritual teacher. The exact number of classical Upanishads is not known. Scholars differ when it comes to estimating the number of Upanishads that exist. It is estimated that there are around 350 Upanishads that exist today.
The Upanishads provide us with spiritual knowledge and philosophical reasoning. Upanishads aim at attaining a level of understanding beyond ordinary knowledge about living. They aim at seeking a higher level of understanding about survival. They seek to create awareness about our purpose in life. They dwell on the psychology of the human mind. They speak about consciousness, sub-consciousness and dreams. They go beyond ordinary knowing and aim at a higher level of realization.
The Upanishads also contain information on the divine power of the word "Aum". This word is said to have cosmic vibrations and is said to underlie all forms of existence and trinity principles. For creating sound, one needs to have atleast two things that strike against each other. But Aum is one sound that is created without any help or friction. Thus, this is the sound of the Universe, the vibrations that you feel inside when you close your ears. The Upanishads aim at making our lives more meaningful by making us realize the importance of self-realization that goes a long way into shaping the kind of individual we become.