Epics (Kavya in Hindi) refer to long narrative poems. In India, there are two main epics viz. Ramayana and Mahabharata.
- It was written by Maharishi Valmiki and consists of 24,000 verses in seven books (Kandas) and 500 sargas) and tells the story of Rama.
- Verses in the Ramayana are written in a 32-syllable meter called anustubh and ranges in 50000 lines in total. Ramayan is known as Adi Kavya (first poem of India) and Valmiki is also regarded as India’s First Poet.
- Father Kamil Bulke, author of Ramakatha, has identified over 300 variants of Ramayana. It inspired Tulsikrita Ramayan “Ram Charit Manas” in 1576 by Tulsi Das.
- The Mahabharta is attributed to Maharishi Vyas and the tale known as Bharta is a shorter version of 24,000 verses, while the Mahabharta contains 1 Lakh verses and 1.8 million words which make it 10 times longer than “Iliad and Odyssey combined” and 4 times of Ramayana.
- It is divided into total 18 parvas (chapters) plus the Harivamsa supplement.
- Bhagavad Gita is part of Bhishma Parva of Mahabharata.
- The largest chapter in Mahabharata is Shanti Parva.
Oldest Epic of the World
Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2500–1300 BCE), recorded in ancient Sumer during the Neo-Sumerian Empire, is recognized as oldest epic.