Indian epic poetry

Indian epic poetry is the epic poetry written in the Indian subcontinent, traditionally called Kavya (or Kāvya; Sanskrit: काव्य, IAST: kāvyá). The Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which were originally composed in Sanskrit and later translated into many other Indian languages, and The Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature and Sangam literature are some of the oldest surviving epic poems ever written.[1]

Sanskrit epics

The ancient Sanskrit epics the Ramayana and Mahabharata comprise together the Itihāsa ("Writer has himself witnessed the story") or Mahākāvya ("Great Compositions"), a canon of Hindu scripture. Indeed, the epic form prevailed and verse remained until very recently the preferred form of Hindu literary works. Hero-worship is a central aspect of Indian culture, and thus readily lent itself to a literary tradition that abounded in epic poetry and literature. The Puranas, a massive collection of verse-form histories of India's many Hindu gods and goddesses, followed in this tradition. Itihāsas and Purāṇas are mentioned in the Atharva Veda[2] and referred to as the fourth Veda.[3]

The language of these texts, termed Epic Sanskrit, constitutes the earliest phase of Classical Sanskrit, following the latest stage of Vedic Sanskrit found in the Shrauta Sutras. The Suparṇākhyāna, a late Vedic poem considered to be among the "earliest traces of epic poetry in India," is an older, shorter precursor to the expanded legend of Garuda that is included within the Mahābhārata.[4][5]

The Buddhist kavi Aśvaghoṣa wrote two epics and one drama. He lived in the 1st-2nd century. He wrote a biography of the Buddha, titled Buddhacarita. His second epic is called Saundarananda and tells the story of the conversion of Nanda, the younger brother of the Buddha. The play he wrote is called Śariputraprakaraṇa, but of this play only a few fragments remained.

The famous poet and playwright Kālidāsa also wrote two epics: Raghuvamsha (The Dynasty of Raghu) and Kumarasambhava (The Birth of Kumar Kartikeya). Other Classical Sanskrit epics are the “Slaying of Śiśupāla” Śiśupālavadha of Māgha, “Arjuna and the Mountain Man” Kirātārjunīya of Bhāravi, the “Adventures of the Prince of Nishadha” Naiṣadhacarita of Śrīharṣa and "Bhaṭṭi's Poem" Bhaṭṭikāvya of Bhaṭṭi.

Tamil epics

The post-sangam period (2nd century-6th century) saw many great Tamil epics being written, including Cilappatikaram (or Silappadhikaram), Manimegalai, Civaka Cintamani, Valayapathi and Kundalakesi. Later, during the Chola period, Kamban (12th century) wrote what is considered one of the greatest Tamil epics — the Kamba Ramayanam of Kamban, based on the Valmiki Ramayana. The Thiruthondat Puranam (or Periya Puranam) of Chekkizhar is the great Tamil epic of the Shaiva Bhakti saints and is part of the religious scripture of Tamil Nadu's majority Shaivites.

Out of the five, Manimegalai and Kundalakesi are Buddhist religious works, Civaka Cintamani and Valayapathi are Tamil Jain works and Silappatikaram has a neutral religious view. They were written over a period of 1st century CE to 10th century CE and act as the historical evidence of social, religious, cultural and academic life of people during the era they were created. Civaka Cintamani introduced long verses called virutha pa in Tamil literature.,[6] while Silappatikaram used akaval meter (monologue), a style adopted from Sangam literature.

Tamil epics such as Silappathikaram and Periya Puranam are unique in Indian literature as they employ characters and stories associated with the people and language of the poets (Tamil) and take place within the Tamil country. This is in contrast to other Indian languages which are based on Sanskrit works and deal with Sanskrit mythology based on North Indian works.

Kannada epic poetry

Kannada epic poetry mainly consists of Jain religious literature and Lingayat literature. Asaga wrote Vardhaman Charitra, an epic which runs in 18 cantos, in 853 CE,[7] the first Sanskrit biography of the 24th and last tirthankara of Jainism, Mahavira, though his Kannada language version of Kalidasa's epic poem, Kumārasambhava, Karnataka Kumarasambhava Kavya is lost.[8] The most famous poet from this period is Pampa (902-975 CE), one of the most famous writers in the Kannada language. His Vikramarjuna Vijaya (also called the Pampabharatha) is hailed as a classic even to this day. With this and his other important work Ādi purāṇa he set a trend of poetic excellence for the Kannada poets of the future. The former work is an adaptation of the celebrated Mahabharata, and is the first such adaptation in Kannada. Noted for the strong human bent and the dignified style in his writing, Pampa has been one of the most influential writers in Kannada. He is identified as Adikavi "first poet". It is only in Kannada that we have a Ramayana and a Mahabharata based on the Jain tradition in addition to those based on Brahmanical tradition.

Shivakotiacharya was the first writer in prose style. His work Vaddaradhane is dated to 900 CE. Sri Ponna (939-966 CE) is also an important writer from the same period, with Shanti Purana as his magnum opus. Another major writer of the period is Ranna (949-? CE). His most famous works are the Jain religious work Ajita Tirthankara Purana and the Gada Yuddha, a birds' eye view of the Mahabharata set in the last day of the battle of Kurukshetra and relating the story of the Mahabharata through a series of flashbacks. Structurally, the poetry in this period is in the Champu style, essentially poetry interspersed with lyrical prose.

The Siribhoovalaya is a unique work of multilingual Kannada literature written by Kumudendu Muni, a Jain monk. The work is unique in that it does not employ letters, but is composed entirely in Kannada numerals.[9] The Saangathya metre of Kannada poetry is employed in the work. It uses numerals 1 through 64 and employs various patterns or bandhas in a frame of 729 (27×27) squares to represent letters in nearly 18 scripts and over 700 languages.[10] Some of the patterns used include the Chakrabandha, Hamsabandha, Varapadmabandha, Sagarabandha, Sarasabandha, Kruanchabandha, Mayurabandha, Ramapadabandha, Nakhabandha, etc. As each of these patterns are identified and decoded, the contents can be read. The work is said to have around 600,000 verses, nearly six times as big as the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata.

The Prabhulingaleele, Basava purana, Channabasavapurana and Basavarajavijaya are a few of the Lingayat epics.

Hindi epics

The first epic to appear in Hindi was Tulsidas' (1543–1623) Ramacharitamanas, also based on the Ramayana. It is considered a great classic of Hindi epic poetry and literature, and shows the author Tulsidas in complete command over all the important styles of composition — narrative, epic, lyrical and dialectic. He has given a divine character to Rama, the Hindu Avatar of Vishnu, portraying him as an ideal son, husband, brother and king.

In modern Hindi literature, Kamayani by Jaishankar Prasad has attained the status of an epic. The narrative of Kamayani is based on a popular mythological story, first mentioned in Satapatha Brahmana. It is a story of the great flood and the central characters of the epic poem are Manu (a male) and Shraddha (a female). Manu is representative of the human psyche and Shradha represents love. Another female character is Ida, who represents rationality. Some critics surmise that the three lead characters of Kamayani symbolize a synthesis of knowledge, action and desires in human life.

Apart from Kamayani; Kurukshetra (Epic Poetry) (1946), Rashmirathi (1952) and Urvashi (1961) by Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar' have attained the status of epic poetry.

Likewise Lalita Ke Aansoo[11] by Krant M. L. Verma (1978)[12] narrates the tragic story about the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri through his wife Lalita Shastri.[13]


  1. ^ Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: devraj to jyoti - Amaresh Datta - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  2. ^ Atharva Veda 11.7.24, 15.6.4
  3. ^ Chāndogya Upaniṣad 7.1.2,4
  4. ^ Moriz Winternitz (1996). A History of Indian Literature, Volume 1. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 291–292. ISBN 978-81-208-0264-3.
  5. ^ Jean Philippe Vogel (1995). Indian Serpent-lore: Or, The Nāgas in Hindu Legend and Art. Asian Educational Services. pp. 53–54. ISBN 978-81-206-1071-2.
  6. ^ Datta 2004, p. 720
  7. ^ Jain, Kailash Chand (1991). Lord Mahāvīra and his times, Lala S. L. Jain Research Series. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 25. ISBN 81-208-0805-3.
  8. ^ Jain, Kailash Chand (1991). Lord Mahāvīra and his times, Lala S. L. Jain Research Series. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 59. ISBN 81-208-0805-3.
  9. ^ "Introduction to Siribhoovalaya, from Deccan Herald". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 7 March 2007.
  10. ^ "Usage of Saangathya and frame of 729, from The Hindu newspaper". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 7 March 2007.
  11. ^ *Book:Lalita Ke Ansoo on worldcat
  12. ^ Hindustan (Hindi daily) New Delhi 12 January 1978 (ललिता के आँसू का विमोचन)
  13. ^ Panchjanya (newspaper) A literary review 24 February 1980


  • Arthur Anthony Macdonell (1900). "The epics" . A History of Sanskrit Literature. New York: D. Appleton and company.
  • Oliver Fallon (2009). "Introduction". Bhatti’s Poem: The Death of Rávana (Bhaṭṭikāvya). New York: New York University Press, Clay Sanskrit Library.

Bayalāṭa Kannada: ಬಯಲಾಟ or Bayalāṭada (ಬಯಲಾಟದ) is a form of Yakshagana found in southern Indian region of Karnataka featuring stories from Indian epic poetry and the Puranas rendered as dance and drama. Bayalāṭa literally means open theater drama and marks the end of harvest season. The most popular theme for bayalāṭa is the story of Kōṭi and Cennayya, which has deep-rooted significance for the people of Tulu Nadu.

The Yakshagana stage is set before the village temple on a sandy beach or in open fields. A low platform about 16' 10 20' with bamboo poles at each corner garlanded with flowers, plantain and mango leaves, and roofed with matted palm leaves. At sunset the sound of a chande, a high pitched drum, announces forthcoming performances.


Charvaka (IAST: Cārvāka), originally known as Lokāyata and Bārhaspatya, is the ancient school of Indian materialism. Charvaka holds direct perception, empiricism, and conditional inference as proper sources of knowledge, embraces philosophical skepticism and rejects Vedas, Vedic ritualism, and supernaturalism.Ajita Kesakambali is credited as the forerunner of the Charvakas, while Brihaspati is usually referred to as the founder of Charvaka or Lokāyata philosophy. Much of the primary literature of Charvaka, the Barhaspatya sutras (ca. 600 BCE), are missing or lost. Its teachings have been compiled from historic secondary literature such as those found in the shastras, sutras, and the Indian epic poetry as well as in the dialogues of Gautama Buddha and from Jain literature.One of the widely studied principles of Charvaka philosophy was its rejection of inference as a means to establish valid, universal knowledge, and metaphysical truths. In other words, the Charvaka epistemology states that whenever one infers a truth from a set of observations or truths, one must acknowledge doubt; inferred knowledge is conditional.Charvaka is categorized as a heterodox school of Indian philosophy. It is considered an example of atheistic schools in the Hindu tradition.

Epic (genre)

An epic is traditionally a genre of poetry, known as epic poetry. In modern terms, epic is often extended to describing other art forms, such as epic theatre, films, music, novels, television series, and video games, wherein the story has a theme of grandeur and heroism, just as in epic poetry. Scholars argue that the epic has long since become "disembedded" from its origins in oral poetry, appearing in successive narrative media throughout history.

Folklore of India

The folklore of India compasses the folklore of the nation of India and the Indian subcontinent. India is an ethnically and religiously diverse country. Given this diversity, it is difficult to generalize widely about the folklore of India as a unit.

Although India is a Hindu-majority country, with more than three-fourths of the population identifying themselves as Hindus, there is no single, unified, and all-pervading concept of identity present in it. It is because of the flexible nature of Hinduism which allows various heterogeneous traditions, numerous regional cultures and even different religions to grow and flourish. Folk religion in Hinduism may explain the rationale behind local religious practices, and contain local myths that explain the existence of local religious customs or the rituals. These sorts of local variation have a higher status in Hinduism than comparable customs would have in religions such as Christianity or Islam. However, folklore as currently understood goes beyond religious or supernatural beliefs and practices, and compasses the entire body of social tradition whose chief vehicle of transmission is oral or outside institutional channels.

Indian classical dance

Indian classical dance, or Shastriya Nritya, is an umbrella term for various performance arts rooted in religious Hindu musical theatre styles, whose theory and practice can be traced to the Sanskrit text Natya Shastra.The number of recognized classical dances range from eight to more, depending on the source and scholar. The Sangeet Natak Akademi recognizes eight – Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathakali, Sattriya, Manipuri and Mohiniyattam. Scholars such as Drid Williams add Chhau, Yakshagana and Bhagavata Mela to the list. The Culture Ministry of the Government of India includes Chhau in its classical list. These dances are traditionally regional, all of them include music and recitation in local language or Sanskrit, and they represent a unity of core ideas in a diversity of styles, costumes and expression. Indian classical dance is made from India and classical dance is played by various actors.

Indian comics

Indian comics (known as Chitrakatha) are comic books and graphic novels associated with the culture of India published a number of Indian languages and English.

India has a long tradition of comic readership and themes associated with extensive mythologies and folk-tales have appeared as children's comic books for decades. Indian comics often have large publication. The comic industry was at its peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s and during this period popular comics were easily sold more than 500,000 copies over the course of its shelf life of several weeks. Currently, it only sell around 50,000 copies over a similar period. India's once-flourishing comic industry is in sharp decline because of increasing competition from satellite television (children's television channels) and the gaming industry.Over the last three decades Diamond Comics, Raj Comics, Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha have established vast distribution networks countrywide and are read by hundreds of thousands of children in a wide range of languages. Famous comic creators from India include Aabid Surti, Uncle Pai and cartoonist Pran Kumar Sharma and famous characters are Chacha Chaudhary, Bahadur, Detective Moochhwala, Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruva, Doga, Ved, Varun, Karma, Suppandi and Shikari Shambhu. Anant Pai, affectionately known as "Uncle Pai," is credited with helping to launch India's comic book industry in the 1960s with his "Amar Chitra Katha" series chronicling the ancient Hindu mythologies.

Indian poetry

Indian poetry and Indian literature in general, has a long history dating back to Vedic times. They were written in various Indian languages such as Vedic Sanskrit, Classical Sanskrit, Hindi, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali and Urdu. Poetry in foreign languages such as Persian and English also has a strong influence on Indian poetry. The poetry reflects diverse spiritual traditions within India. In particular, many Indian poets have been inspired by mystical experiences.Poetry is the oldest form of literature and has a rich written and oral tradition.


Itihaas may refer to:

Indian epic poetry

Itihaas (1987 film), a 1987 film

Itihaas (TV series), a TV series by Balaji Telefilms (1996–1997)

Itihaas (1997 film), a 1997 film

Itihasa, historical portions of the Brāhmaṇas


Jambavana also known as Jambavanta is a character originating in Indian epic poetry, popularly found in Ramyana (story of Lord Rama, Bhagwan Vishnu's avatar as a human on Earth). The King of Bears, he is an asiastic or sloth bear in Indian epic tradition (though he is also described as a monkey in other scriptures), immortal to all but his father Brahma. Several times he is mentioned as Kapishreshtha (Foremost among the monkeys) and other epithets generally given to the Vanaras. He is known as Riksharaj (King of the Rikshas). Rikshas are earlier described as similar to Vanaras but in later versions of Ramayana Rikshas are described as bears. He was created by Brahma, to assist Rama in his struggle against Ravana.Jambavana was present at the churning of the ocean, and is supposed to have circled Vamana seven times when he was acquiring the three worlds from Mahabali.

Kachchhi Ghodi dance

Kachchhi Ghodi dance, also spelled Kachhi Ghodi and Kachhi Gori, is an Indian folk dance that originated in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. It has since been adopted and performed throughout the rest of the country. Dancers wear novelty horse costumes, and participate in mock fights, while a singer narrates folk tales about local bandits. It is commonly performed during wedding ceremonies to welcome and entertain the bridegroom’s party, and during other social settings. Performing the dance is also a profession for some individuals.

List of magazines in India

This is a list of magazines published in India, sorted on basis of language.

Lists of television channels in India

There are currently 872 permitted private satellite television channels in India as of September 2018. Numerous regional channels are also available throughout India, often distributed according to languages.


Mahākāvya (lit. great kāvya, court epic), also known as sargabandha, is a genre of Indian epic poetry in classical Sanskrit literature. The genre is characterised by ornate and elaborate descriptions of scenery, love, battles and so on — in short, everything that tests a poet's skill at description. Typical examples of mahākāvya are the Kiratarjuniya and the Shishupala Vadha.

It is considered the most prestigious form in Sanskrit literature. The genre evolved from the earlier epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. Despite the length of mahākāvyas (15-30 cantos, a total of about 1500-3000 verses), they are still much shorter than the Ramayana (500 cantos, 24000 verses) and the Mahabharata (about 100000 verses).

National poetry

This is a list of articles about poetry in a single language or produced by a single nation.

World languages will tend to have a large body of poetry contributed to by several nations (Anglosphere, Francophonie, Latin America, German-speaking Europe), while for smaller languages, the body of poetry in a particular language will be identical to the national poetry of the nation or ethnicity associated with that language.

National symbols of India

The Republic of India has been several official national symbols including a historical document, a flag, an emblem, an anthem, a memorial tower as well as several national heroes. All the symbols were picked up at various times. The design of the national flag was officially adopted by the Constituent Assemblyman just before independence, on the 22nd of July in 1947. There are also several other symbols including the national animal, bird, flower, fruit and tree and game.

Samhita Arni

Samhita Arni is an Indian writer who writes in English. She is best known for her adaptations of Indian epic poetry.

Satya Pir

Satya Pir (Bengali: সত্যপীর) is a belief system found in Bengal created by the fusion of Islam and local religions. Experts maintain that the Muslim Satya Pir and the Hindu Satyanarayan Puja essentially represent the same beliefs and rituals.

A century ago in Bengal, the ritual called, pujah was mainly performed by Hindu women and was interchangeably called Satya pir Pujah or Satya Narayan pujah.

According to the author, Dwijendra Nath Neogi, some Muslims at that time also performed the pujah. The author gives alternate theories as to how Pir and Narayan got associated. In one theory, he proposes that Brahmins during the Islamic era in Bengal changed Narayan into Pir in order for the Muslims to believe that they were worshipping an Islamic saint. The other theory says the worship started as that of a Muslim saint or Pir and later the Pir was changed into Narayan.In folklores, Narayan and Pir get mixed such as one supplicant will address him as Satya Narayana, implying that he is an avatar of Krishna, while another one in a different tale will be told that Satya Pir has just come from Mecca, which would make him Muslim.In Orissa, the state adjacent to Bengal, Sufism gained popularity and led to the emergence of the Satya-Pir tradition. Even today Hindus worship Satyanarayan and pir together.Satya pir is worshipped by some Buddhists in Bangladesh.

Shivarahasya Purana

Shivarahasya Purana (Sanskrit: शिव रहस्य पुराण; IAST: śiva rahasya purāṇa) is one of the 'Shaiva Upapuranas' or ancillary Purana regarding Shiva and Shaivite worship and is also considered 'Indian epic poetry' (Sanskrit: Itihāsa).

The book is dedicated to detailed explanation of Shaivite thoughts, rituals and religious myths. The manuscripts are found in various ancient literature. However, to date there has been no critical study of these manuscripts. It is one of the first few works of the acclaimed Saint Ribhu, who was taught by Shiva himself.

The book consists of twelve parts and has about one hundred thousand verses.The Kannada translation of the book was published in 30 volumes in 1950.

Vana Parva

Vana Parva or Aranya Parva, also known as the “Book of the Forest”, is the third of eighteen parvas of the Indian epic Mahabharata. Aranya Parva traditionally has 21 sub-books and 324 chapters. The critical edition of Aranya Parva has 16 sub-books and 299 chapters. It is one of the longest books in the Epic.It discusses the twelve-year sojourn of the Pandavas in the forest, the lessons they learn there and how it builds their character.It is one of the longest of the 18 books in the Mahabharata, and contains numerous discussions on virtues and ethics, along with myths of Arjuna, Yudhishthara, Bhima tales of “Nahusha the snake and Yudhishthira” as well as “Ushinara and the hawk”, love stories of “Nala and Damayanti”, as well as “Savitri and Satyavan”.

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