|Hinduism: Sacred Writings|
Mahabharata, Sanskrit for Great Story, is one of the great epic poems of ancient India. Written between 300 BC and AD 300, it was meant to be a secular work. However, because of its many religious qualities, it has given many ideas for Hindus to live by. The Mahabharata focuses on a contest between two noble families for the possession of a kingdom in northern India. One segment of the poem, the Bhagavad-Gita, is a dialogue between Krishna and the hero Arjuna on the meaning of life. It has given insight for centuries to devout Hindu believers on the true meaning of life.
Ramayana is the shorter of the two great Sanskrit epics of ancient India. Rich in descriptions and poetic language, the Ramayana consists of seven books and 24,000 couplets. Written in 3rd century BC, the Ramayana tells the story of Rama, and his wife, Sita. Rama and Sita are generally seen as ideal examples of great manly heroism and wifely devotion. Reciting the Ramayana is considered a religious act, and scenes from the epic are portrayed throughout India and Southeast Asia.