Indian Literature – Indian Epic Poetry

  • Which of the below traditionally called as Kavya ?
    • Indian epic poetry
  • Which of the below are Kavyas ?
    • Ramyana
    • MahaBharatha
    • Both
    • None
  • What are the great epics of Tamil literature ?
    • Silappatikāram (Cilappatikaram)
    • Manimekalai
    • Civaka Cintamani
    • Valayapathi
    • Kundalakesi
    • All of the above
  • Which of the following is known historically as ‘the poetry of the noble ones”
    • Sangam literature
  • Which is the earliest known Literature of South India ?
    • Sangam literature


Sanskrit epics

  • Which of the below are canon of Hindu Scripture
    • Tihihasa
    • Mahakavya
  • Which type of veda  Itihāsa and Puranas are mentioned in
    • the Atharva Veda
  • Which is a late Vedic poem considered to be among the “earliest traces of epic poetry in India,”
    • Suparṇākhyāna


  • Who wrote a biography of the Buddha, titled Buddhacarita ?
  • Who wrote “Saundarananda” epic ?
    • Aśvaghoṣa
  • Which epic tells the story of the conversion of Nanda, the younger brother of the Buddha.
    • Saundarananda


  • The drama called “Śariputraprakaraṇa” is written by
    • Aśvaghoṣa


  • Raghuvamsha (The Dynasty of Raghu) and Kumarasambhava (The Birth of Kumar Kartikeya) is written by
    • Kalidasa

Kalidasa also wrote

  • Slaying of Śiśupāla Śiśupālavadha of Māgha
    • considered one of the five Sanskrit mahakavyas,
    • Magha (poet)
    • 7th or 8th century
    • Shishupala, king of the Chedis in central India, after insulting Lord Krishna several times in an assembly, finally enrages him and has his head struck off.


  • Arjuna and the Mountain Man Kirātārjunīya of Bhāravi
    • it consists of eighteen cantos describing the combat between Arjuna and Lord Shiva (in the guise of a kirāta, or “mountain-dwelling hunter”) at Indrakeeladri Hills in present-day Vijayawada.


  • the Adventures of the Prince of Nishadha Naisadhacarita of Sriharsa
  • Bhaṭṭi’s Poem Bhaṭṭikavya of Bhaṭṭi
    • Ravaṇavadha is another title


Hindi epics

  •  Jaishankar Prasad ((1889–1937)) Kamayani Hindi epic poem (Mahakavya) Hindi literature.
    • based on a popular mythological story, first mentioned in Satapatha Brahmana 1936
    • It is a story of the great flood and the central characters of the epic poem are Manu (a male) and Shraddha (a female).
  • What are the famous personalities in Kamayani written by Jaishankar Prasad ?
    • Manu
    • Ida
    • Sraddha
    • All of the above


  • Manu is representative of the human psyche
  • Shradha represents love.
  • Another female character is Ida, who represents rationality.
  • Some critics surmise that the three lead characters of Kamayani symbolize a synthesis of knowledge, action and desires in human life. It inspires humans to live a life based on “karm” and not on fortunes


  • Works of Jaishankar
      • Poetry
        Kānan kusum (The Forest Flower)
        Mahārānā kā mahatv (The Maharana’s greatness)
        Jharnā (The Waterfall)
        Ānsū (The tear)
        Lahar (The wave)
        Kāmāyanī (an epic about Manu and the flood)
        Prem pathik (The Love Wanderer)
        Aatmkathya (Autobiography)
      • Drama
        Ek Ghoont (A sip)
        Skandagupta (On Emperor Skandagupta)
        Chandragupta (On Emperor Chandragupta Maurya)
        Janmejay kā Yagya
        Rajyashrī (Royal Bliss)
        Janmejay ka Naag-Yagy
        Story collections
        Pratidhvani (The Echo)
        Akashdeep (Internal Lamp)
        Indrajāl (Hypnosis)
        Sandeh (Doubt)
        Daasi (Maid)
        Chitra Mandir
        Kankal (The Skeleton)
        Titli (The Butterfly)
        Iravati ( not completed)
        Poetic drama


  • Which of the below commentary on the Śukla (white) Yajurveda is attributed to vedic sage “It is attributed to the Vedic sage “Yajnavalkya:
    • Shatapatha Brahmana
    • Commentaries on the Vedas
      • Brahmanas
  • Which Hindi Poet has been hailed as a Rashtrakavi (‘national poet’) ?
    • Ramdhari Singh Dinkar
  • Dinakar’s Poet mainly influenced by
    • Rabindranath Tagore
  • Which book narrates the tragic story about the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri through his wife Lalita Shastri ?
    • Lalita Ke Aansoo by Krant M. L. Verma (1978)


Tamil epics

  • Post-sangam period (2nd century-6th century) saw many great Tamil epics being written, including
    • Cilappatikaram (or Silappadhikaram),
    • Manimekalai,
    • Civaka Cintamani,
    • Valayapathi and
    • Kundalakesi.

Out of the five,

Manimegalai and Kundalakesi are Buddhist religious works,

Civaka Cintamani and Valayapathi are Tamil Jain works

  • Silappatikaram has a neutral religious view
    • Ilango Adigal attributed to him
    • Jain Monk and the brother of Chera king Chenkuttuvan
    • Silappatikaram is divided into three kantams
      • Puharkkandam
      • Maturaikkandam
      • Vanchikkandam


  • Civaka Cintamani introduced long verses called virutha pa in Tamil literature, while Silappatikaram used akaval meter (monologue), a style adopted from Sangam literature


  • Later, during the Chola period, Kamban (12th century) wrote what is considered one of the greatest Tamil epics — the Kamba Ramayanam of Kamban, based on the Valmiki Ramayana.


  • The Thiruthondat Puranam (or Periya Puranam) of Chekkizhar is the great Tamil epic of the Shaiva Bhakti saints and is part of the religious scripture of Tamil Nadu’s majority Shaivites.



Kannada epic poetry

  • mainly consists of Jain religious literature and Lingayat literature
    • Lingayatism – Veera Saivism is a Hindu denomination based on Shaivism
  • Asaga wrote Vardhaman Charitra, an epic
    •  runs in 18 cantos, in 853 CE
  • First Sanskrit biography of the 24th and last tirthankara of Jainism, Mahavira, though his Kannada-language version of Kalidasa’s epic poem, Kumārasambhava, Karnataka Kumarasambhava Kavya is lost


  • The most famous poet from this period is Pampa (902-975 CE), one of the most famous writers in the Kannada language.


  • His Vikramarjuna Vijaya (also called the Pampabharatha) is hailed as a classic even to this day.


  • With this and his other important work Ādi purāṇa he set a trend of poetic excellence for the Kannada poets of the future.


  • The former work is an adaptation of the celebrated Mahabharata, and is the first such adaptation in Kannada.
  • Noted for the strong human bent and the dignified style in his writing, Pampa has been one of the most influential writers in Kannada.
  • He is identified as Adikavi “first poet”. It is only in Kannada that we have a Ramayana and a Mahabharata based on the Jain tradition in addition to those based on Brahmanical tradition.

Shivakotiacharya was the first writer in prose style. His work Vaddaradhane is dated to 900 CE. Sri Ponna (939-966 CE) is also an important writer from the same period, with Shanti Purana as his magnum opus.

Another major writer of the period is Ranna (949-? CE). His most famous works are the Jain religious work Ajita Tirthankara Purana and the Gada Yuddha, a birds’ eye view of the Mahabharata set in the last day of the battle of Kurukshetra and relating the story of the Mahabharata through a series of flashbacks. Structurally, the poetry in this period is in the Champu style, essentially poetry interspersed with lyrical prose.

The Siribhoovalaya is a unique work of multilingual Kannada literature written by Kumudendu Muni, a Jain monk. The work is unique in that it does not employ letters, but is composed entirely in Kannada numerals.

The Saangathya metre of Kannada poetry is employed in the work. It uses numerals 1 through 64 and employs various patterns or bandhas in a frame of 729 (27×27) squares to represent letters in nearly 18 scripts and over 700 languages.

Some of the patterns used include the Chakrabandha, Hamsabandha, Varapadmabandha, Sagarabandha, Sarasabandha, Kruanchabandha, Mayurabandha, Ramapadabandha, and Nakhabandha.

As each of these patterns are identified and decoded, the contents can be read. The work is said to have around 600,000 verses, nearly six times as big as the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata.

The Prabhulingaleele, Basava purana, Channabasavapurana and Basavarajavijaya are a few of the Lingayat epics.



Assamese epics

In 14th century Madhav Kandali dubbed the epic Ramayana as Saptakanda Ramayana. In chronology, among vernacular translations of the original Sanskrit, Kandali’s Ramayana comes after Kamban’s (Tamil, 12th century), and ahead of Kirttivas’ (Bengali, 15th century), Tulsidas’ (Awadhi, 16th century), Balaram Das’ (Oriya) etc. Thus it becomes the first rendition of the Ramayana into an Indo-Aryan language in the Indian subcontinent.[14]



Manipuri epics

Meitei language, a 3500 years old Sino-Tibetan language of North East India is a language with a rich granary of epic poetries, mostly written in Meitei script in PuYa, the Manipuri manuscripts.

Khamba Thoibi is regarded as the greatest of all the Meitei epics. It consists of approximately 34,000 verses, even longer than the Ramayana. The epic poetry has fifteen chapters (Pandups) and ninety two sections (Taangkaks). It is based on the legendary love story of Khamba, a hero in Kanglei mythology and Thoibi, the then princess of Moirang. The work is composed by Hijam Anganghal, a legendary bard, born in Samurou.

Another epic is Numit Kappa, literally meaning “Shooting at the Sun”. This 1st century BC Meitei epic is based on the story of the hero Khwai Nungjeng Piba, who shoots one of the two shining suns from the sky, to create the night.[citation needed]

There is Ougri, which are the collection of epic poetries, associated with religious themes. Other epics include Shingel Indu by Hijam Anganghal, Khongjom Tirtha by Nilabir Sharma, Chingoi Baruni by Gokul Shastri, Kansa Vadha by A. Dorendrajit, and Vasudeva Mahakavya by Chingangbam Kalachand.

However, Great Sanskrit epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana were translated into Meitei language in the Medieval times.

Other translated epics include Meghnad Badh Kavya, Bhagavad Gita, and Ashtakam.


Learn & Apply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!