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The Ramayana and the Manainli^f
TWO GREAT EPICS OF ASIA
Ravana shaking Mt. KailasaNumerous episodes from the Indian epic, the Ramayana, are carved n relief on the
walls of the great 8th-century temple, cut from the solid rock at Ellor, near Bombay.This relief, one of the most dramatic and monumental, depicts the episode in whichRavana, the demon-king, attempts to shake and uproot the sacred mountain Kailasa
(after which the temple is named) on which the god Shiva and the goddess Parvati
Here, imprisoned within Mt. Kailasa, Ravana strains his many arms in a
superhuman effort while Shiva with a single foot steadies the trembling mountain.
CourierDECEMBER 196720TH YEARNOW PUBLISHED IN ELEVEN EDITIONS
12 pages in full colour
Two great epics of India and South AsiaBy Arthur L. Basham
EnglishFrench An episode from the Mahabharata
By Anil de Si/vaArabic U.S.A.18
Poems in stone, tales in miniature
By B.N. GoswamyTHE EXILE OF RAMA
Published monthly by UNESCOThe United Nations
A poem from the Ramayana as told by Kamban32
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Carved by Khmer artists of Cambodia34
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Behind the screens in Cambodia's shadow theatre
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Ravana shaking Mt. Kailasa (India)
Unesco, Place de Fontenoy, Paris-7e. FranceEditor-in-Chief
Sandy KofflerAssistant Editor-in-Chief
Ren Caloz Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief Lucio Attinelli
Coyer photoDusserah is the name Indian festival held in of the popular September-Octculmination of
Edition: Ronald Fenton
ober each year symbolizing the triumphof good over evil. The
French SpanishRussian German
Edition: Jane Albert Hesse (Paris) Edition: Arturo Despouey (Paris)Edition: Victor Goliachkov (Paris) Edition: Hans Rieben (Berne)
nine nights of celebrations, it is linked with the story of the Ramanaya and innorthern India the festivities end with
ArabicJapanese Italian Hindi Tamil
Edition : Abdel Moneim El Sawi (Cairo)Edition: Edition: Edilion: Edition: Shin-lchi Hasegawa (Tokyo) Maria Remiddi (Rome) Annapuzha Charidrahasan (Delhi) Sri S. Govindarajulu (Madras)Olga Rodel
Ravana the demon-king. sal paste-board effigyRavana arrows bursts shot by into Rama
Here a colos ten-headedafter off fiery crackers
packed Research and Illustrations:Layout and Design:southern
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than a tragic figure and a victim of his ill-fated passion.
Two great epics of India and South Asia
AND THE RAMAYANAby Arthur L. Basham
T HElife of the
of the one.
Mahabharata is a Like the Greek
continent and much of the rest of Asia
has been deeply influenced by the two great epic poems of Hinduism, the Mahabharata (pronounced Ma-ha-bahra-ta, accent on "bah") and the Ramayana (pronounced Rah-my-ana, accent on "my"). Putting aside all question of their merits as literature, which by any standard are very high, they are among the most important poems in the world.Of the two the Mahabharata is in
stories of the Trojan war out of which emerged the Iliad, and like the cycle of Germanic myth and legend which crystalized into the Nibelungenlied, the Indian epic tells of a bitter quarrel which developed into a war of extermination. The five sons of Pandu are
the original. From its style and content it appears to be at least as old as the main narrative of the epic, and looks back to the days of small semi-tribal kingdoms before the time of the Buddha. Undoubtedly the most important . interpolation of the Mahabharata is the
unjustly deprived of their ancestral kingdom by their wicked cousins, the Kauravas, and they regain it after atremendous enemiesslain. .
influential text of modern Hinduism.
probably the most widely known outside India, and t has been translated
most of their friends are
into many languages and read by millions who know nothing else of theepic poem which contains it.'
shadowy period following the compo sition of the Rig Veda, the oldest literature of India. A few of the names
of rulers, sages and priests mentionedin the Mahabharata also occur in
Echoes of a heroic age are heard throughout the narrative portions of the epic, and the martial values of bravery, loyalty and truthfulness are much encouraged. Heroes and villains alike never refuse challenges, whetherto battle, to contests of skill, or to
A pretext for its inclusion is provided, just before the commencement of
the great battle, by the misgivings ofArjuna, the second of the five heroes,
sources of the later Vedic period, and
the story of the epic may have devel oped around traditions of a greatbattle which took place about 900 B.C.
games of chance, and few major char acters are guilty of serious cowardice.The atmosphere of the main narrative
Krishna strengthens Arjuna's resolu tion with this long religious poem, itself possibly a conflation of versesfromVishnu
But with the passing centuries the account was so enlarged and develop ed by the introduction of new characters and incidentsnow
is that of a society just emerging from tribalism, in which personal loyalty toone's chief and fellow clansmen is still
very strongly emphasized.But the Mahabharata as we have it
Shorter interpolations are numerous,and include the well known and beau
There is even some reason to believe
contains more than the poetic ac