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Comparing Ramayan and Mahabharat Epics

by Vikas Kamat
First Online: July 06, 2008
Page Last Updated: May 09, 2017

The following table compares the two great Hindu epics, Ramayan and Mahabharat. Please also see the much more detailed sections on each of these epics for characters, tales, and the art forms these epics have inspired.


The Ramayana

The Mahabharat

The story of Rama, the prince and eventual emperor of India; the epic precedes the Mahabharat by substantial period. It is a story of idealism and characters are much easily be categorized into heroes and villains. The central theme is a fraternal war to decide which of the two sides is right in a moral dispute. Krishna acts as a mediatory, first as a diplomat, then as a war time counsel. The characters are vivid, and the epic provides a guideline for humans to live a life of virtues amidst conflicting interests.
Said to have written by sage Valmiki. Version written by saint Tulasidas is also widely recited.

Stamp Honoring Sage Valmiki

Saint Tulasidas Writing His Masterpiece Ramacharitamanas

Said to have written by sage Vyasa. A predominant part, the Bhagavad-Gita is narrated by Sanjay, an aid to the blind emperor Dhritarashta. It is believed that Ganesh assisted as the copy-writer, using his tooth as a pen.

Writing of Mahabharat

Set in Ayodhya, encompasses the route from Northern Indian to Srilanka. The names and cultures of the places still bear resemblance to present day. Set in  Northern India, the war involved factions from as far as present day Afghanistan and South India. The Nagas and the Himalayan region features prominently in the story.
Main characters: Dasharatha, Kaikeyi, Rama, Lakshman, Sita, Rawana, Vibhishan Main Characters: Bhishma, Dhritarashtra, the Pandavas, Karna, Duryodhana, Krishna, Kunti, Gandhari, Drona
See Also:



See Also:

Indian Mythology

Kamadeva and his wife RatiSage Sandipani Teaching Krishna and SudhamaLion Faced Vishnu Destroys HiranyakashipuGaruda, the King of BirdsGaruda the Mythical BirdMatsyavatar -- Vishnu as the Rescuing FishThe Descent of Ganga
Mythical CharacterWriting of MahabharatHanuman Mistakes the Sun for a FruitSati SavitriGandhari with a MaidDraupadis WeddingSavitri and Satyvan by Artist Ardhenduprasad Banerji
Killing of ValiTwo Headed BirdBhishma Lies on the Bed of ArrowsHumiliation of Draupadi and Krishnas RescueContest to Marry DraupadiCelestials from a Sanskrit TextCelestial Creature in Kavi Art
Krishna Rescues the Elephant from the CrocodileSix Headed Deity Riding a SwanVishnu as a Wild Boar (Varahavatar)Eight Handed Lord GaneshLord Brahma and Adhiti - 19th Century IllustrationPainting from Srinivasa Temple, MulbagilWall Painting of Hanuman in Rajasthan
The Humiliation of ShurpanakhiFantastic AnimalsThe Army of Super CreaturesThree Legged Devotee Bhringi Agni the FireArjuna Quenches Bhishmas Thirst as he Lies on a Bed of Arrows and Krishna Looks OnCelestial Dharani rides a Turtle
Divesting of DraupadiFour Headed BrahmaKrishna Kills a Charging ElephantMythical AnimalNaga-Nagini ConjugationNarad Teaching KayadhuNarad Advising a Devotee
Parashurama and RamaIcon of Vishnu as Boar

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