Great Indian authors have written grand epics that depict heroic characters performing virtuous deeds. Many of these epic tales feature fearsome and godly battles, while others highlight the soft side of human emotions. Despite seemingly unrealistic characters such as talking hawks and ten-headed monsters, and unlikely conflicts that feature bloody battles, many of these grand epics display many traditional values that Americans value in modern society. When construing three particular celebrated Indian epics (“the Mahabharata,” “the Bhagavad-Gita,” and “the Ramayana”), readers would easily glean the values and belief system that Ancient Indian society held in high esteem many thousands of years ago. Moreover, by comparing and contrasting respective ideals and principles, similarities between Ancient Indians and Americans would come to surface.
The Mahabharata teaches the value of integrity through the story of a deal between a king and a hawk. At a nearby river performing a ritual sacrifice, a king comes across an injured dove trying to escape the clutches of a hawk. He makes a vow to protect the dove and says, “This bird has come to me for asylum. It is my duty to protect it,” (From the Mahabharata). The hawk rebuts and cites his need for food; consequently, the king cuts a deal and promises to exchange his own flesh to compensate the hawk’s loss: “You shall have my flesh and nothing less,” (From the Mahabharata). The gods reward him for his integrity and bestow upon him the gift of prosperity. Certainly, our modern society values integrity to a great extent, but the king in this story goes above ordinary ethics and endures pain to protect an innocent life. While most Americans might not s...
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... integrity, duty, and honor. The mere prevalence of these regarded values in modern society indicates their utility and tenability. Even though modern Americans might not on a day-to-day basis physically sacrifice themselves, go to battle, or fight a ten headed monster, they share the same principles of integrity, duty and honor with heroes of Ancient Indian Literature toward their perspective towards life.
"From the Bhagavad-Gita." Prentice Hall Literature. Trans. Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood. Upper Saddle: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2004. 182-89. Print.
"From the Mahabharata." Prentice Hall Literature. Trans. R. K. Narayan. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2004. 174-81. Print.
"From the Ramayana." Prentice Hall Literature. Trans. R. K. Narayan. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2004. 190-98. Print.
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