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The Ramayana (Sanskrit: , Rmyaa, IPA: [rmj] ?) is an ancient Sanskrit epic.

It is ascribed to the Hindu sageValmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu canon (smti), considered to be itihsa.[1] The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India, the other being the Mahabharata.[2] It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife and the ideal king. The name Ramayana is a tatpurusha compound of Rma and ayana ("going, advancing"), translating to "Rama's Journey". The Ramayana consists of 24,000 verses in seven books (kas) and 500 cantos (sargas),[3] and tells the story of Rama (an Avatarof the Hindu preserver-God Vishnu), whose wife Sita is abducted by the demon king of Lanka, Ravana. Thematically, the epic explores the tenets of human existence and the concept of dharma.[4] Verses in the Ramayana are written in a 32-syllable meter called anustubh. The epic was an important influence on later Sanskrit poetry and Indian life and culture. Like its epic cousin the Mahbhrata, the Ramayana is not just an ordinary story: it contains the teachings of ancient Hindu sages and presents them in narrative allegory with philosophical and the devotional elements interspersed. The characters Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Hanuman and Ravana are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India. There are other versions of the Ramayana, notably Buddhist (Dasaratha Jataka No. 461) and Jain in India, and also Indonesian,Philippine, Thai, Lao, Burmese and Malay versions of the tale.

The Mahabharata (Sanskrit Mahbhrata , IPA: [mabart]) is one of the two major Sanskrit epics ofancient India, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa.[1]

Besides its epic narrative of the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kauravas and the Pandavas, the Mahabharatacontains much philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or purusharthas(12.161). The latter are enumerated as dharma (right action), artha (purpose), kama (pleasure), and moksha (liberation). Among the principal works and stories that are a part of the Mahabharata are the Bhagavad Gita, the story ofDamayanti, an abbreviated version of the Ramayana, and the Rishyasringa, often considered as works in their own right. Traditionally, the authorship of the Mahabharata is attributed to Vyasa. There have been many attempts to unravel its historical growth and compositional layers. The oldest preserved parts of the text are not thought to be appreciably older than around 400 BCE, though the origins of the story probably fall between the 8th and 9th centuries BCE.[2] The text probably reached its final form by the early Gupta period (ca. 4th c. CE).[3] The title may be translated as "the great tale of the Bhrata dynasty". According to the Mahabharata itself, the tale is extended from a shorter version of 24,000 verses called simply Bhrata.[4] With about one hundred thousand verses, long prose passages, or about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahabharata is roughly ten times the length of the Iliad and Odyssey combined, or about four times the length of the Ramayana.[5][6] W. J. Johnson has compared the importance of the Mahabharata to world civilization to that of the Bible, the works of Shakespeare, the works of Homer, Greek drama, and the Qur'an.[7]