Epic Mythology

Epic Mythology

Epic Mythology

Epic Mythology

Excerpt

The mythology of the two epics of India represents in general the belief of the people of Northern India along the lower Ganges within a few centuries of the Christian era. For the Mahābhārata the time from 300 B. C. to 100 B. C. appears now to be the most probable date, though excellent authorities extend the limits from 400 B. C. to 400 A. D. The Mahābhārata as a whole is later than the Rāmāyaṇa; but R is metrically more advanced, the work of one author, a skilled metrician, who has improved the rougher epic form of the Mahābhārata, as his work represents a life less rude than that depicted in the great popular epic, this being the work of many hands and of different times. Both epics have received long additions. The germ of the Mahābhārata has been referred to the Vedic period and the Rāmāyaṇa has been assigned to pre-Buddhistic times (its germ also recognised as Vedic), but the data, in part negative, oppose the assumption that either epic poem existed before the fourth century B. C. Discussion is futile without a careful definition of the word "germ". That the Rāmāyaṇa was the norm, according to which the Mahābhārata was built, or that the Rāmāyaṇa was completed as it is to-day (barring the first and last books) before the Mahābhārata was begun, are theses impossible to establish. The Rāmāyaṇa has two flagrant additions, books one and seven. The Mahābhārata has been increased by the late addition of the Harivaṃśa (perhaps 200 A. D.), and much of the first book is late. By the fourth century this epic was recognised as a poem of one hundred thousand verses, and it has been argued that this implies the existence of the Harivaṃṛa at that time. Such may be the case . . .

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