I shall be short on
this theme: either you write volumes on the subject or you restrict
yourself to a couple of heroic epics. I selected the latter
possibility. You can find exhausting essays on the religious
literature, on the Vedic and Puranic verses in any of the great
Western or general Indian sites.
I was able to enjoy
only comparatively short translations of two of the most significant
epics of India (in English and partly in Hungarian as well), the
Mahabharata and Ramajana. I can tell you without exaggeration that I
found both shockingly rich and interesting. Both are expressions of
the unbelievable rich fantasy of Indian brain, full of beautiful
descriptions of nature and events, personalities. The level of
fantasy that is radiating from both makes it difficult to believe
that both are based on historic events. It is also impossible to
imagine that these epics have not been recorded in written for
centuries, but memorised by priests from generation to generation.
We are talking about thousands of pages, library-size epics.
You cannot have any
doubt regarding the historical background of Mahabharata. The title
means Great India, which would not have been awarded to something
false, and the site of the battle, described in it exists today as
well: Kurukshetra is an existing place of touristic value.
It is more important
to learn some interesting facts from Mahabharata, a few, selected by
The society at that
time, thousands of years ago was matriarchal and polyandrian. Hm, a
long way to sati.
The relatives (!),
forming adversary groups and fighting later cruel war at Kurukshetra,
abided themselves to strict rules of war. Lessons: nothing has
changed for times of historical longitude, relatives are the worst
enemies and everything has changed as far as the rules of fighting
wars are concerned.
The bible of
Hindus is a chapter of Mahabharata: Bhagavad Gita, which is a
philosophical essay, teaching us that the fulfilment of one’s
obligations is the supreme duty of human beings (a very rough
Ramajana is as
interesting a reading as Mahabharata. The love-story of Rama and
Sita, the war against the devil force of Ravanna, king of Sri Lanka,
the ways and means of fighting this war – the flying carrier,
Garuda, the monkey soldiers for example – are of tremendous
One of the stories of
Ramajana, about a golden deer, distracting the attention of Rama’s
brother from guarding Sita is exactly, almost word by word the same
as our legend of golden deer that is known by heart by every pupil
in Hungary. The similarity is more than surprising.
It is a must to read
these two exciting works.