Homer and Vyasa- Iliad, Odyssey and the Mahabharata (Post No.5357)

Blind Poet Homer of Greece


Date: 24 August 2018


Time uploaded in London – 9-03 AM (British Summer Time)


Post No. 5357


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Greek poet
Lived 8 th century BCE

Of all the ancient poets of Greece Homer is the most mysterious and most extraordinary. He is known as the author of the two earliest works of European literature, the Iliad and the odyssey. Nothing at all is known for certain about his life, and many scholars have argued that he never even existed.

The Iliad and odyssey describe events during and soon after the Trojan war, a conflict between Ancient Greek s and citizens of a city called Troy around 1250 BCE. The works were probably composed several hundred years after this time. If Homer was a real person , he may have lived during the 8th century BCE. Those who argue that Homer is a myth say that the poems are the work of several generations of poets combined into one long text at a much later date.

Whatever the truth, the name of Homer was revered in Ancient Rome and Greece. The Iliad and the odyssey were regarded in much the same way as Christian Bible was later regarded in medieval Europe. They were the basic education al texts of the time q, and quotations from them were used to settle disputes and resolve moral problems.

Both the Iliad and the Odyssey are epic poems. They tell the stories of heroes and their incredible deeds in a mythical past when gods and goddesses interfere d directly in the lives of mortals. Characters and events from the Iliad and the odyssey were often used by the later Greek writers and are still referred to in the European literature today. James Joyce’s novel Ulysses, written around 3000 years later, is based on the adventures of Odysseus, hero of the odyssey.


Comparison of Homer and Vyasa

Vyasa wrote the longest epic in the world. His master piece Mahabharata has over 200,000 lines. If you compare it with Homer, the first poet of Greek literature, who wrote the Iliad and the odyssey, you will enormous know the size of the Hindu epic. Both of Homer’s epics have only 30 000 lines.

Dr F A Hassler of America says about the Mahabharata ,
“I have studied it more than any other work for a long time past, and I have made at least 1000 notes which I have arranged in alphabetical order for the purpose of study. The Mahabharata has opened to me, as it were, a new world, and I have been surprised beyond measure at the wisdom, truth, knowledge , wisdom and love of the right which I have found displayed in its pages. Not only so, but I have found many of the truths which may own heart has taught me in regard to the Supreme being and His creations set forth in beautiful, clear language”.

Professor Sylvan Levi says
“The Mahabharata  is not only the largest, but also the grandest of all the epics, as it contains throughout a lively teaching of morals under a glorious garment of poetry”

Mahabharata is an inexhaustible mine of proverbial philosophy— Macdonell’s Sanskrit literature.

American ethnologist Jeremiah Curtin says,
“I have never obtained more pleasure from reading any book in my life. The  Mahabharata will open the eyes of the world to the true character and intellectual rank of the people of India. The Mahabharata is a real mine of wealth not entirely known, I suppose, to anyone outside your country, but which will be known in time and valued in all civilized lands for the reason it contains information of the highest import to all men who seek to know in singleness of heart, the history of our race on earth, and the relations of man with the Infinite Power above us, around us and in us.”


Saint Hilarie Batholemy thus speaks of the Mahabharata in the Journal Des Savantes of September 1886 ,
“When a century ago Mr Wilkins published in Calcutta an extract from the grand poem Mahabharata, and made it known through the episode of the Bhagavad Gita, the world was dazzled with its magnificence. Vyasa the reputed author of the Mahabharata, appeared greater than even Homer, and it required a very little indeed to induce people to place India above Greece….. It has not the less been admitted that this prodigious Hindu epic is one of the grandest monuments of its kind of human intelligence and genius”.

Titus Munson Coan says,
“The Hindu epics have a nearer significance for us than anything in the Norse mythology. The Mahabharata, one of the longest of these poems, has wider romantic element in it than King Frithiop’s Saga; its action is cast upon a grander scale, and its heroes belittle all others in mythology. The Hindu poems, early though are, contain ethical and human elements that are unknown to the Norseman. It is in this that their enduring, their growing interest remains for the mind of Europe and America”.

Mon A Barth says ,
“Some portions of the Mahabharata may well compare with the purest and most beautiful productions of human genius. The Ramayana is three times as large as Homer’s Iliad and the Mahabharata four times as large as the Ramayana. Homers Iliad and odyssey have thirty thousand lines, the Mahabharata has two hundred twenty thousand lines, and in addition a supplement of sixteen thousand three hundred seventy four couplets. But it is not in size alone that the sacred epics of Valmiki and Vyasa excel They enchant by the wondrous story they tell us of an ancient people’s life, faith and valour. There is also a lively teaching of morals under a glorious garment of poetry. Matchless vivacity, unsurpassably tender and touching episodes, and a perfect store house of national antiquities, literature and ethics”.


Source book
Is Hindu a Superior Reality, Krishan Lal Jain, 1989


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