Indian Epics and Gods


Mahabharata (The great Indian Epic) written by Ved Vyasa



Mahabharata is the longest epic poem in the world, originally written in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. It was composed by Ved Vyasa several thousand years ago.

Mahabharata belongs not only to India but to the world too. It is a parable of the human race and carries a universal message - victory comes to those who stay on the righteous path.


Part one

Part -2: The conspiracy by Kauravas


PART -3: Pandavas return to Hastinapur after marrying Draupadi



Part -4: Arjuna goes to exile for 12 years



Part -5: Yagna performed by Yudhister to prove supremacy



Part-6: Indraprashta the kingdom of Pandava lost in gamble



Part-7: Arjuna's Quest for weapons to fight the Mahabharata war



Part-8: Duryodhana lost the war against Pandava



Part-9: Pandava's 13th year of exile of agyatvasa



Part-10: The great war declared



Part -11: The great Mahabharata war begins



Part-12: After the war




  This "telling" of the Ramayana story was adapted by Larry Tominberg for classroom use. If a teacher is unable to provide fuller copies of the text for use with the lessons in Spotlight on Ramayana: An Enduring Tradition, this version should be used  

Major Deities of the Oldest Hindu Religion of the World


Agni is the god of fire who was prominent mostly during the Vedic period. Since fire was the means of sacrifice, Agni was regarded as the mediator between heaven and earth and hence between the gods and humans. He is closely linked with the Vedic god Soma who is a personification of the intoxicating soma plant that is sacrificed to become the drink of immortality. Agni appears in the epic Ramayana when Sita undergoes her trial by fire.


Brahma is the first of the so-called Hindu "Trinity". He is the great four-headed god of creation. Although he still maintains a place in Hindu mythology, he no longer has any real importance in Hindu daily worship. His consort is Saraswari, the goddess of wisdom and his vehicle is a goose.


Ganesh is the elephant-headed son of the god Siva and his wife Parvati. He is the patron god of scribes and the remover of obstacles. Because of this latter aspect, invocations are made to Ganesh at the beginning of any undertaking in order to insure its success. In Hindu mythology, there are differing accounts of how Ganesh acquired the head of an elephant. In each of them, however, he is said to have come between Siva and Parvati in some way (usually with sexual overtones) and was rashly beheaded by his father who promptly replaced his head with that of an elephant's.


Indra is the example par excellence of a king and warrior-god. He is sometimes referred to as the Hercules of Vedic mythology. His importance reaches a high point near the end of the Vedic period and then begins to decline somewhat. He is well known from one famous battle in which he acquired the title "slayer of Vrtra" since he killed Vrtra, the demon of drought and thereby released the waters that were imprisoned by him. He also appears in several places in the Ramayana epic. In one story, he acquires a thousand eyes (vaginas in some versions) all over his body as a punishment for sleeping with the wife of the holy man Gautama.


Kali is one of four major Hindu goddesses that each have an association with the god Siva. Besides Kali, these include Parvati, Uma, and Durga. Kali is most frequently portrayed in her terrible blood-drenched form. Around her neck hangs a necklace of human skulls and her tongue hangs out dripping with blood. Around her waist are human hands while she holds a decapitated head. Despite her terrible form, she is adored still today by certain groups of Hindus, especially in the region of Bengal.


In Sanskrit, the word kama means "desire" and the proper name Kama is used for the Hindu god of love. Kama is often compared to the figure of Cupid from Greco-Roman mythology and in fact there are many interesting similarities between the two figures. The most obvious is his representation as a beautiful youth armed with a bow and arrows. His bow is made of sugar cane, his string from a line of honey bees, and his arrows are each tipped with a flower.


Siva's name literally means "auspicious" and it is an appropriate description of him. He is often portrayed as a king, yogi, or ascetic in Hindu mythology and art. His importance earns him a place as the third member of the Hindu "trinity" in which he is usually thought of as the god who destroys (recall, Brahma is the Creator and Vishnu the Preserver). Actually, he is one of the more complex images of deity in the Hindu pantheon. His destructive power leads ultimately to good for he removes impurity for the sake of liberation. Like in other places in Hindu religion, we find in Siva the union of opposite principles which make him a representation of the totality of life. He is at the same time creator and destroyer, ascetic and erotic, life-denying and life-affirming, spiritual and material. He combines the Hindu life-stages (asramas) of householder and ascetic. In at least one depiction, he exhibits both male and female qualities. In the West, he is best known in his form as Siva "Nataraj" -- Lord of the Dance -- who dances the world both into and out of existence. Several attributes or associations which are related to Siva are his bull (Nandi), cobra snake, phallus (lingum), trident, matted hair, and tiger-skin loincloth. His wives include Parvati and Sati and his sons are Ganesh (elephant-headed) and Skanda (many-headed).


As the second member of the Hindu "trinity", Vishnu is generally said to be the Preserver or Sustainer of life, especially in his associations with the principles of order, righteousness, and truth (dharma). Every now and then, when these are threatened, he come out of his transcendence in order to restore order. In each case, he takes on an earthly form and becomes incarnated. There are a total of ten incarnations (avatars) of Vishnu. These include a fish, tortoise, man-lion, boar, dwarf, Parasu-Rama, Rama (of Ramayana fame), Krisna, Buddha, and Kalki, who is yet to come. Vishnu is often depicted reclining on a coiled and many-headed cobra which rests on the cosmic waters. Out of his naval blossoms a lotus which hold Brahma, the god of creation whose responsibilities Vishnu has assumed. Beside him is his consort, Lakshmi. In his four hands he holds a conch shell, mace, lotus, and discus.

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