The Ramayana and the Mahabharata: two epics of Asia
The religious and cultural life of the whole of the Indian subcontinent 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 essence the older, its nuclear story having been transmitted from the shadowy period following the composition of the Rig Veda, the oldest literature of India. A few of the names of rulers, sages and priests mentioned in the Mahabharata also occur in sources of the later Vedic period, and the story of the epic may have developed around traditions of a great battle which took place about 900 B.C.
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