The Great Indian Epic (Itihasa) of Ramayana and Mahabharata | What do the Ramayana and Mahabharata tell us?

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The Ramayana was conceived by sage Valmiki, and is the history of the family of the Solar Race, descended from King Ikshavaku, in which was born the great incarnation, Avatara of Vishnu, Sri Ramachandra and his three brothers. All the four brothers are the expansions of Lord Vishnu, also known as Lord Narayana who lies on the causal ocean of the universe, on His couch, on the body of the Serpent God, Lord Sheshanaga, who is an eternal associate and expansion of the Supreme Lord Narayana Himself.

The story of their (Sri Ramachandra and his brothers) birth, education, and marriages, the exile of Ramachandra, the carrying off and recovery of Sita, his wife, the destruction of Ravana the Rakshasa, and the reign of Ramachandra, are detailed at length in the Scripture, the Ramayana. The exploits of Sri Rama gives a vivid picture of Indian life, as led towards the close of the Treta Yuga, and is intended to provide, in the life of Ramachandra and his brothers, a model of fraternal affection and mutual service, leading to prosperity and general welfare, that may serve as a lesson and inspiration in true Aryan living, and a model of kingship for all Aryan rulers. It is, perhaps, almost needless to add, that the life of Srimati Sita Devi has always been, and is, regarded as the most perfect example of womanly fidelity, chastity and sweetness to be found in any literature of any other time in history, which also includes modern times.

The Mahabharata was compiled by Sri Vyasa Deva, an expansion of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, early in the Kali Yuga. The story is far more complicated and more modern than that of the Ramayana, and relates the varying fortunes of a family of the Lunar Race, which, rent by jealousies and rivalries, perished by baneful strife. Against this dark background stands out the figure of the Avatara, Lord Sri Krishna, dominating the whole, surrounded by the Pandava family, which triumphs by virtue of its righteous cause over the Kurus ; while, among the latter, shine forth the heroic Bheeshma, Drona, and Karna the splendid but doomed defenders of wrongful sovereignty. The story fitly opens the Kali Yuga, in which good and evil contend with almost equal forces, and in which, ethical problems and the complicated workings of Karma baffle and bewilder the mind; in the destruction of the best and wisest of the Kshatriya caste it seems to presage the coming invasions of India, and in the gloom of its closing earthly scenes to forecast the darkness that was soon to settle down on Aryavarta, undivided Bharath.

The main thread of the story is constantly broken by interludes, consisting of instructive lessons and stories, among which are the immortal discourse of Bheeshma on Dharma, and the most famous jewel of Aryan literature, the Bhagavad-Gita. The whole forms an encyclopedia of history, morals and religion, unsurpassed, unrivalled, by any other epic in the world.

The Ramayana lays down the inner value systems, for man to follow, so that he can transform himself, into being the upholder of a clear conscience that shall enlighten his life, irrespective of how the outer world might be laid out or appear to be. The Ramayana is a preset book of values, presented against the narrative of the Life of Sri Rama, the best among men. The divinity within man is presented in the character of Sri Rama. Who other than Lord Rama can be the ideal role model, for the seeker of Truth? The characters in the Ramayana represent the many emotive shades that lie dormant within man, but have not been explored enough, owing to inattention or perhaps by the pressures of unnecessary turmoil ravaging the current, outside world. The din of the world can be shut only if Truth is awakened within our hearts and the epic of Ramayana is an invitation to the modern man, to rise and listen to the inner voice, from where the characters of the Ramayana continue to beckon us.

The Mahabharata is the marathon tale of our currently convoluted and disturbed mind. A mind which is harrowed by the forest fire of anger, greed, lust, pride, bodily attachment and envy. The Mahabharata is a reflection of how we are today, with the type of politics we play onto others and of how we are trapped in return, by the world. Understanding the Mahabharata is a lesson for one to learn, that evil cannot win at any cost, however mammoth it may appear to be. It is the story of the good represented by the five Pandavas and evil represented by the rest of the Kuru dynasty with King Dhritarashtra, Duryodhana and Shakuni as the chief kingpins of evil. However, the one who is the pivot around which the tale unfurls, is Lord Sri Krishna, the originator of the plot. He is the Supreme Lord, who conveys various lessons to the future generations, through this authentic narrative. He weaves together, as if magically, the shredded value systems, once again, that existed in prior times almost 1.7 million years ago during the times of the Ramayana. He revives the same value systems through the Song of the Bhagavad Gita that Sri Rama had once conveyed as the narrative, through His life. The Bhagavad Gita, is a blessing for the people of the current age that details the perfect philosophy of Life and serves as the means to revive lost values. In a rendition of 700 Verses and 18 Chapters the Gita remolds the sculpture of the perfect man built on the edifice of everlasting Truth and Moral values.