Homer 15,693 lines and Valmiki 48,000 lines! (Post No.5347)

 

 

Homer 15,693 lines and Valmiki 48,000 lines! (Post No.5347)

 

Compiled by London swaminathan

Date: 21 August 2018

 

Time uploaded in London – 8-26 AM (British Summer Time)

 

Post No. 5347

 

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Hindus have two great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata; of these two Ramayana is older and Mahabharata is larger. There is nothing in the world that is not touched by Veda Vyasa, author of Mahabharata. Ramayana is famous for its simplicity and superb story.

A comparison with other great epics of the old world will give an idea of their enormous size.
Mahabharata has 2,20,000 lines
Ramayana has. 48,000 lines
Homer’s Iliad has 15,693 lines
Virgil’s Aeneid has 9868 lines
Iliad + odyssey together contain 30,000 lines

Professor Monier Williams says, “ Ramayana is undoubtedly one of the greatest treasure in Sanskrit literature. The classical purity, clearness and simplicity of  its style, the exquisite touches of true poetic feeing with which it abounds, its graphic descriptions of heroic incidents, nature’s grandest scenes, the deep acquaintance it displays with the conflicting workings and most refined emotions of the human heart, all entitle it to rank among the most beautiful compositions that appeared at any period or any country”.
“There are many graphical passages in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, which for beauty of description cannot be surpassed by anything in Homer,… that the the diction f Indian epics is more polished, regular and cultivated, and the language altogether in a more advanced stage of development than that of Homer”.

 

“The battle fields of the Ramayana and Mahabharata are not made barbarous by wanton cruelties, and the description of Ayodhya and Lanka imply far greater luxury refinement than those of Sparta and Troy. Ramayana and Mahabharata rise above the Homeric poems also in the fact that a deep religious meaning appears to underlie all the narrative, and that the wildest allegory may be intended to conceal a sublime moral, symbolizing conflict between good and evil, teaching hopelessness of victory in so terrible a contest with purity of souls, self-abnegation and the subjugation of passions.

Did Homer copy Ramayana?

Some critics hold that the Ramayana is the original of Iliad that the latter is only an adaptation of the former to the local circumstances of Greece; that Homer’s description of the Trojan war is merely a mythological account of the invasion of Lanka by Ram Chandra. The main plot, of course, is the same. Troy stands for Lanka (Tabropane), Sparta for Ayodhya, Menelaus for Rama, Paris for Ravana, Hector for Indrajit and Vibhishan; Helen for Sita, Agamemnon for Sugriva, Patroclus for Lakshmana, Nestor for Jambavan. Achilles is a mixture of Arjuna, Bhima and Lakshmana.

 

Anterior to Homer, Greek literature has no existence, even no name, and it is difficult to believe that, without any previous cultivation whatever, some of the highest and the noblest work in the whole range of literature should come into existence. The English literature did not begin with Milton, nor the Roman with Virgil; nor does the Sanskrit with Valmiki or Vyasa, as the Greek does with Homer.

 

M.Hippolyte Fauch, in the French translation of the Ramayana, says that, “Ramayana was composed before the Homeric poems’ and that Homer took his ideas from it.”

 

Schlegel calls ‘Ramayana the noblest of epics’.

Sir William Jones says,
“The Ramayana is an epic poem on the story of Rama, which, in unity of action, magnificence of imagery and elegance of style far surpasses the learned and elaborate work of Nonnus” .

 

(Nonnus was an Egyptian poet of Hellenized Egypt of fifth century CE. His epic on Dionysus contain 20,426 lines in Greek language)
After giving the argument of the Ramayana, with his usual moderation, Professor Heeren says, “Such in few words, is the chief subject of Ramayana, while the development and method of handling this simple argument is so remarkably rich and copious as to suffer little from a comparison in this respect with the most admired productions of the epic muse.”

 

Professor Dowden says, “Juliet is but a passionate girl before this perfect woman meaning Brutus’ Portia, but what becomes of Portia herself before this heavenly woman, this ethereal being, this celestial Sita?”

        

Stamps on Homer and Virgil

Source Book:- Is Hindu A Superior Reality, Krishan Lal Jain, Akshat Publications, 1989

–subham–

 

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1 Comment

  1. Interesting feature. Those who read our Ramayana and Mahabharata , and the Homeric epics are bound to notice many similarities . But it may not be possible to establish one to one correspondence between our characters and the Greek figures. Certain themes are surely common, but not the same. The Greek epics seem to be a mix up of the themes and characters of our Ramayana and Mahabharata. There must have been some pre-historic incident registered in the memory of the human race and different cultures have dealt with it in different manner.
    The Iliad is an explanation of what happened due to the wrath of Achilles.

    Rage- Goddess, sing the rage of Peleus’ son Achilles,
    murderous, doomed, that cost the Achaeans countless losses,
    hurling down to the House of Death so many sturdy souls,
    great fighters’ souls,but made their bodies carrion,
    feasts for the dogs and birds,
    and the will of Zeus was moving towards its end.
    [Translation by Robert Fagles, Penguin.]

    Though the Trojan war happened due to the abduction of Helen, she was not innocent , after all. Sita is a totally sublime character and Valmiki says he is singing the great story of Sita: Sitaya charitam mahat. Western civilization can never conceive of such a character.
    Rama is certainly enraged, but he does not reveal it till the end of the war. However, the rage was not due to the mere abduction of Sita.It was due to the blot on the great name of his dynasty. In fact, Rama’s main motive in marching on Lanka and fighting with Ravana was not just to rescue Sita.. It was mainly to avenge the bad name that came to his Ikshvaku dynasty due to the abduction. This Rama himself makes clear after the end of the war. It almost seems that rescue of Sita was only incidental- though it is hard for devotees to accept this position One should read the relevant Sarga in the Ramayana. [ ” I did not engage in this ferocious fight for your sake; you must know this” , Rama says directly to Sita. Yuddha Kanda, Sarga 119, verses 15,16.]

    The Mahabharata is more complex. But wrath is certainly there! We have the wrath of Draupadi, expressed as her oath. We have the wrath of Bhima. But ultimately it is the wrath of Kunti, at the disgrace shown to Draupadi in the Raja Sabha that clinches the issue and prompts the war. And after the great war we have the wrath of Gandhari, which makes her curse the Yadu clan.
    Thus, both the Greek and Indian epics record how the victors too suffered as a result of the war! In deed, there is no victor, but Fate! This is the lesson of all wars in all of history!

    Compared to the Iliad, the Odyssey dealing with the adventures of Odysseus appears to be minor, though it is not without its moments of intense human drama.It can me compared to the episodes we witness during the 13 years of the forest dwelling of the Pandavas. And we can see some broad parallels.

    We have so many places associated with the Ramayana and Mahabharata in India. Archaeologists have located Troy ( in fact 7 settlements there, belonging to different epochs) which shows that the epics are not pure imagination. Our scientists have also located the old Dwaraka under the sea, and many settlements on the banks of the ancient Saraswati river as revealed in our Itihasa; but our wily politicians and pseudo-secular press are not talking about it openly! All this historical knowledge lies buried due to human idiocy and hidden agendas driven by anti-Indian forces.

    There is no doubt that Homer is a divinely inspired poet; the story that he was blind may indicate that what he wrote was due to insight and inspiration, not mere external sight. In both the Greek and our Itihasas, we see how humans and Devas rubbed shoulders; but the Greek gods appear more capricious and scheming. However, it illustrates the point that Fate cannot be outwitted by human endeavour. This is a grim message we get from all these works. But the Greek epics do not have the depth of either the philosophic insight or range of human emotions that our Itihasas contain and evoke. The basic theme of our Itihasa is Dharma – the overwhelming guide of life. Such a grand and fundamental theme is missing in the Greek epics. [Chaturvedi Badrinath has written a beautiful book on the theme of Dharma in the Mahabharata- Mahabharata: An Inquiry in The Human Condition. Orient Blackswan, 2007]

    The Greek epics are entertaining, our Itihasas edify and elevate. Deep study of our Itihasa transforms our character and consciousness. This certainly cannot be said of the Greek epics, whatever may be their poetic significance.
    .

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