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Top 10 Famous Indian Epic Poems of All Time

Updated on April 8, 2017
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The Great Indian Epic Poems

Indian Literature is one of earliest literatures of the world. It is believed that Rig Veda, the first work of literature in the world, was written in Sanskrit, one of the oldest Indian language. It was a well developed language when many of the present day popular languages did not come into being even in its rudimentary form. The earliest works of literature of India were epics, long poems, travelogues, plays, and collection of stories for children which were written in verse. A large number of great Indian epics were created during the first millennium BC. The most important epics of India are listed in this article.

Draupadi and Pandavas, Mahabharata

Draupadi and Pandavas, Mahabharata
Draupadi and Pandavas, Mahabharata | Source

The Mahabharata

The Mahabharata is considered as the lengthiest epic of the world. The Mahabharata, a Sanskrit epic, is believed to be written by Sage Ved Vyasa, who split the ancient Vedas into four, as a work to explain the essential philosophy of Vedas to common man who were not erudite enough to understand the great Vedas and Upanishads. It has more than 1,00,000 slokas (couplets) in 18 (Parvas) sections. The great work depicts the struggle for power between two group of cousins, the Kauravas and the Pandavas in Greater India.

Lord Rama and Sita

Ramapanchayan,
Ramapanchayan, | Source

The Ramayana

The Ramayana is the earliest epic of India. “Ramayana” means the journey of Rama. Ramayana was written in 6th century BC by Valmiki. He, a hunter turned sage, was the first poet in Sanskrit. The great epic narrates the story of Lord Rama who was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu in human form. Rama was the Maryada purushottam (the most righteous man on earth) and so he had to undergo many trails and tribulations. He had to gave up his wife and all his happiness for the sake of his subjects.

The Raghuvamsa

Raghuvamsa is a Sanskrit epic written by Kalidasa, the greatest among the ancient Indian writers, in 1st century AD. It narrates the mythical stories of the rulers of Solar dynasty which corresponds with ancient Indian chronicles. The narrative skill and creative genius of the master poet are very much evident in this great epic which has nineteen cantos.

The Buddhacharita

The Buddhacharita

Buddhacharita is a great epic which narrates the life of Buddha - from his birth to Nirvana. Buddhacharita, one of the best Sanskrit epic, was written by Asvogosha, a Buddhist poet in 2nd century AD. This epic is renowned for the details about Buddha's life which can be corroborated by available historical records and the facts available in other chronologies of that period. This epic consists of 28 cantos.

Shishupala Vadha

Shishupala Vadha is a Sanskrit epic dealing with the life of Shishupala, a king of an ancient Indian province, and his death by Pandavas. The story is taken from Mahabharata. The epic has been widely read as it blends hero worship and intense devotion in Indian religious landscape. The epic has been widely acclaimed for its use of ornate style and poetic techniques.

The Kiratarjuniya

It is a Sanskrit epic in which the God Shiva tests the strength of Arjuna, one of the Pandavas in the Mahabharata. Though Arjuna fails in the competition, he gets an opportunity to meet the Lord Siva and receive His blessings. The story has a moral that every human being should keep in mind that we have to respect others whatever their status. Its expounds the basic of Indian religious thought that every human being are a part of the omnipotent.

The Manimekalai

It is an Indian epic poem written in Tamil by Seethalai Saathanar, a Buddhist poet. Manimekalai is the daughter of Kovalan, the hero of Silappadikaram. The epic portrays her conversion to Buddhism. The Manimekali is a sequel to Silapadikaram.

The Silapadikaram

It is an Indian epic in Tamil Language written by Ilango Adigal . It deals with the myth of Kannagi, an ordinary housewife turned Goddess. The epic mentions the three ancient Tamil kingdoms and the life and time of that period very vividly.

The Kumara Sambava

The Kumarasambava

Kumārasambhava, a great epic poem, was written by Kalidasa in Sanskrit. It deals with the birth of Kumara Karthikeya as the son of Lord Siva and Parvati. The epic has been regarded as the finest among the later Sanskrit epic poems.

The Great Indian Epics

Have you read any of these Indian epic poems ?

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Shri Ramcharitmanas

Shri Ramcharitmanas was written by Tulsidas in Awadhi, an earliest form of Hindi, in fifth century AD. This epic is a retelling of the story of Ramayana, the story of Lord Rama, with very intense devotion.

© 2013 Kumar Paral

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  • ajwrites57 profile image

    AJ 

    4 years ago from Pennsylvania

    It's amazing how much poetry from bygone days goes unread and unnoticed by humans today. Kumar Paral the epics of yesteryear would seem worthy topics to study and enjoy!

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