Author:Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh

The maxims that can be gleaned from the Ramayana and Mahabharata are predominantly destruction of the wicked and protection of the righteous. Investigating into what is the predominant rasa of the Itihasas, the great aesthetician and scholar Anandavardhana says that the karuna rasa dominates in the Ramayana while the dominant rasa in the Mahabharata is shanta rasa. To this, we may add another rasa, that of ‘dharmavira’ – it would not be incorrect to do so. It is a predominant rasa in our epics.

In this discourse in Sanskrit, Shatavadhani Dr. R. Ganesh discusses the two great epics (or 'itihasa') of India, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. This pravachana was presented in 2014 at the annual Vitasta Summer Camp in Olympia, WA sponsored by Samskrita Bharati.

Kosambi goes on to question the veracity of the Mahabharata’s claim on the numbers:

“If a Mahabharata war had actually been fought on the scale reported, nearly five million fighting men
killed each other in an 18-day battle between Delhi and Thanesar…”
(M&R, p. 17)

One day, sometime during 1905-06, at about 10 in the morning, my grandfather’s brother was sitting at the veranda of our house, chatting with someone. At that time, a man came there, stood at a distance, and spoke in Telugu in a soft voice, “Right now, if I requested you for some food, would it be inconvenient?”

In both the Vedas and the Puranas we can see a lineage of seers and kings. Again and again we see a reference to the panchajana in the Vedas; it is a reference to the five tribes (or clans) – यदु, द्रुह्यु, तुर्वष, पुरु, and आनु. The group that primarily ruled our country are the Purus. The Yadus and the Turvashas were under them. The Aanus and Druhyus went to various parts and settled there, creating colonies. In summary, we can say that these five tribes/clans grew like five families/dynasties. All these are primarily associated with the चन्द्रवंश – the moon dynasty.

Sukanta Bhattacharya (1926-1947) is counted as one of the great Bengali poets along with Rabindranath Tagore, Jibanananda Das, and Kazi Nazrul. For someone who died at twenty, that is quite something. Many of his poems have sociopolitical undertones but are romantic at the core.

Ananda Coomaraswamy is one of the little-known figures of India. Which is baffling because a vague estimate of his works runs into more than 15,000 pages. It is all the more baffling because his range of subjects is almost beyond belief and his grasp of their intricate nuances is staggering.

The basic idea of the Gita was to convince Arjuna to fight the war and kill his enemies. Krishna tells Arjuna without mincing any words that he has to face his enemies and march ahead. And in the course of this persuasion, he uses various lines of argument (see for example, BG 2.31-33, 11.34). But this is not an empty exhortation. Krishna himself has killed others. He has killed his own people too. He killed his own maternal uncle Kamsa because the latter was not adhering to dharma and was ruling over the kingdom as a tyrant.

If you grew up in India or if you were associated with Indian culture in any form – literature, music, dance, or films – you would have heard the word dharma. Most Indian languages have this word as is or at least have the concept (for example, in Tamil, we use the word aram, which is similar to dharma).