Indian epic poetry

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Indian epic poetry is the epic poetry written in the Indian subcontinent, traditionally called Kavya (or Kāvya; Sanskrit: काव्य, IAST: kāvyá). The Ramayana and the Mahabharata, which were originally composed in Sanskrit and later translated into many other Indian languages, and the Five Great Epics of Tamil literature and Sangam literature are some of the oldest surviving epic poems ever written.


  • “in parts of their careers, Arjuna and Odysseus show similarities so numerous and detailed that they must be cognate figures, sharing an origin in the proto-hero of an oral proto-narrative. (…) Either the proto-journey was like the Greek and contained nothing relating to yoga, in which case the yogic aspect of the Sanskrit story was an innovation that developed in the Indian branch of the tradition. Or the proto journey was like the Sanskrit and was quasi-yogic or proto-yogic in character, in which case Greek epic tradition largely or wholly eliminated that aspect of the story. I shall argue for the second scenario, claiming both that the proto-narrative shared certain features with yoga and that the telling of such a story makes it likely that there already existed ritual practices ancestral to yoga. (…) I argue that some significant and fairly precisely identifiable features of yoga go back to the culture of those who told the proto-narrative (…) may well have been proto-Indo-European speakers.” ... “it is a priori quite likely that the account of the proto-hero's journey served as a myth explaining and justifying ritual practices ancestral to yoga as we know it.”
    • (Allen 1998:3) Nick Allen. quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2018). Still no trace of an Aryan invasion: A collection on Indo-European origins. quoting Allen, Nicholas, 1998: “The indo-european prehistory of yoga”, International Journal of Hindu Studies 2 (1):1-20 (1998).

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