Ramayana vs Mahabharata

Both Ramayana and Mahabharata are great work of art in itself. But Ramayana is more famous and recited in many house on a daily basis. Ramayana is considered as more religious book than Mahabharata. From the point of view of drama and thrill both are equally good works. Then why is this partiality towards Ramayana? Rama is more loved hero than Dharmaputra. The reason could be because, Ramayana is more popular with Ladies. Ladies don’t find the Mahabharata attractive as it is more on ethics of state craft. Whereas Ramayana is more on mundane relations such as Brothers (Rama and Bharata or Sugriva and Vali or Ravana and Vibhishana and Kumbakarna). Father and Son (Dasaratha and Rama, Vali and Angada, Ravana and Indrajit), Mother and son (Kausalya and Rama, Kaikeyi and Bharata, Sumitra and Lakshmana), Mother-in-law and daughter-in-law (Kaikeyi and Seetha, Kausalya and Seetha), master and servant (Rama and Hanuman), Friends (Rama and Sugriva) etc. The ethics and emotions are more common in our day to day life and can easily relate. Understanding them makes our life richer and livelier. Hence Ramayana has become more popular and is enacted as Drama even in far of places such as Indonesia, even by Muslims there etc.

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All Sloka Translations are from the site Valmiki Ramayana


20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. m.k.subramanian
    May 17, 2011 @ 13:52:06

    I wish to contribute some or reasons for the greater popularity of Ramayana.
    1. Ramayana is set in Threta Yuga and Maha Mahabharata is set in Dwapara Yuga. Threta Yuga being earlier period, realism was more proximate to human ideals.
    2. Yudhishtra tried to practice Dwapara ‘Yuga Dharma’. e.g. If Rama was willing to give up his kingdom for his brother, it was to uphold the spoken word of Dasaratha. But, Yudhishtra, born to ruling class, had no cause to give up kingdom, after the period of exile. His Dharma was to reestablish righteousness in the land. Duryodhana’s rule had to be corrected. Yudhishtra was too timid to wage war to uphold Dharma! Krishna had to preach Bhagavat Gita to persuade Arjuna in the battle field to fight the war for establishing Dharma. It is difficult for the masses to understand the logic of violence under any circumstance. Even Bhagavat Gita is beyond commoner’s grasp.
    3. Too many characters, analogies and illustrative anecdotes abound Mahabharata. [Ramayana has no flashback and it is a continuous narration. So masses find the narration more gripping.] In Mahabharata (like Arthur Hailey’s novel), there are too many characters, locations and perorations in metaphysics.
    4. Message of Mahabharata can be misunderstood if it is not correctly explained by eminent scholars.[Ramayana can be understood and interpreted differently for the masses and intellectuals.] For e.g. the conclusion can be erroneously drawn as follows: “Pandavas struggled all through life to establish Dharma. But when they succeeded, they paid a high price. They had fight a war and kill their kith and kin. How can they relish the victory? Duryodhana may not be righteous during the rule. But he enjoyed in his tenure a great deal!


    • mghariharan
      May 18, 2011 @ 12:28:33

      Excellent. I also wish to add. In Mahabharata there are no villains. It is always the dharma in ‘sankat’. The concept of evil is Christian and muslim concept which we have imbibed in our religion unknowingly. In Hinduism it is great people like Ravana (the greatest Samaveda follower- he is said to have given the notes to samavada) who is villain in Ramayana. Hanuman calls him punyavan. It is good people who do misdeeds like Dharmaptra who gambles his brother and wife and inherits misfortune. If you read Mahabharata carefully you will never find the righteousness on one side. It is always disputed and even great men like Bhishma cannot resolve the problem. But yes in the end righteousness wins that does not mean others did not have a case. Even today many situations are very complicated though people simplify it and take stance many times wrongly. That is why Plato calls them ‘trogolodytes’.


      • m.k.subramanian
        May 18, 2011 @ 20:18:29

        I take your points on Mahabharata. In Ramayana, I wish to share what I have heard from Shree Krishna Premi Maharaja.

        Ravana was great Brahmin, Siva Bhakta with countless positives. But one thing he lacked was ‘Sat sang”. So he became deeply possessed by desire of the flesh which he could not control and that became the cause for his downfall. One weakness results in complete down fall!

        Sugriva, a coward, was a destitute. But he had ‘Sat Sang’ – Hanuman! It was Hanuman who facilitated friendship with Rama and he eventually gained all other material prosperity. One and only one virtue like ‘Sat Sang’,
        can make a world of difference!

        This the glory of ‘Sat Sang’ inherent in the narration of Ramayana!


  2. prakash
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 01:06:10

    Ramayana has a great teaching for a human. Lord Rama established Dharma by supreme sacrifice. instead of fighting with Bharata for the throne, he preferred to go on exile for 14 years. On the other hand Bharata was the extreme limit of sacrifice too. Instead of enjoying the kingdom he went to exile to persuade lord Rama to return and when he could not succeed he spent 14 years like an exile in outside the state living like lord Rama.The end result was glorious. Everyone became happy and forgave evils of kaikeyi.

    Ravana who was the vilion ofthe story had to die so he died and here also Lord has given him repeated chances to accept the dharma. The beauty of Ramayana is that the vilence was there only when it has become inevitable. The demons Ravana and his his associates were cause of not being lived peacefully by every human being and saints. So their ellimination is justified from every angle and in fact the real cause for Ravana to adhere to abduction of Sita and war with Lord Rama was to get a place in heaven for himself anf other demons an his followers.

    In contrast to Ramanyana, in Mahabharat the fight is between two real cousins which from any anagle seem to be justified neither then nor now. The elders like Bheeshma, Vidur, Dron etc have not played their role judiciously. they all were determined to establish Pandavas on hastinapur under any cost and over and above that lord krishna also went with pandavas. Todyay any epic like mahabharat r shrimadbhagwat gita or any great person may justifiy krishna;s role in Mahabharat and the end resut was very painful, Even pandavas felt dissatisfied on killing their cousins. In fact nobody has gained anything out of Mahabharat war.

    So clearly there are reasons for Ramayana being more popular .iamong Indian households.

    jai shri ram


  3. prakash
    Sep 12, 2011 @ 01:26:05

    I am in total agrement with the views expressed by m.k.subramanian.The total theme of Mahabharat is a unwanted loss to the country by waging a war between the sons of two real brothers. I do n’t know what is such great in shrimadbhagwadgita that is basically a preaching by Lord Krishna to Arjun to persuade him to fight the war against Kaurava.

    Better would have been the results if the preaching would have been other way round I mean lord should have motivated Arjuna to give up fight againt Kaurava because a war between two real brothr’s sons at that scale never heard except Mahabharata.


    • mghariharan
      Sep 12, 2011 @ 08:54:05

      Every extreme position is untenable. Not fighting a war costed us 700 years of foreign rule – Both Muslims and Christians. Yes Manusmriti advices to avoid going into war as results could be disastrous but when compelled we must. It also advises how to fight. In mahabharata Pandava’s ask for just 5 village and even that is denied. So fight they must and did. The advice given to Arjuna is do your duty (Dharma). Geetha also says having born as a kshatriya fight and don’t make an ass out out yourself. Even Mahatma Gandhi’s Non-violent approach is a fight. and fight we must.


  4. pcj
    Nov 17, 2011 @ 05:10:04

    Sir I am not suggesting that we should not fight. My disagreemnt is for justifying a fight between the family of two brothers where avoiding a fight or a sense of sacrifice could have been a better option. I can never digest two things of Mahabharat one is how lord Krishna justify or call sinners to all Kauravas and their companians. Sinner is a person who acts against the religious advancements or anything which impedes the betterment of society at large. We can look into this from this angels.

    Lord Rama also killed tarka, Ravan and so many demons but they were acting against dharma by terroring innocent pepole of rishi munis and do all evil acts whciha are aganinst the welfare of society.

    But what wrong Duryodhan, karna and other Kaurava were doing to the society. i have never heard that they were doing any anti religious activities. Secondly, the claim of Pandavas on Hastinapur throne can not be justified. Simply because Dhratrashtra was elder brother first right to throne was that of Dhrashtra. If Dhratrashtra is uneligible being a blind to be appointed as king then his son i.e. Duryodhana should get the right why pandavas. secondly, It was Yudhishthir and his brothers at fault who palyed gamble and lost themselves and their wife they were not forced to do so..

    Second objectionable event in Mahabharat is five brothers having a common wife. In our religion elder brother’s wife is equal to mother then by which sense we can justify Draupadi as wife of five Pandavas,

    If we still say that Mahabharat is greater then we need to answer the following questions.

    1. In any modern civilised society can there be a rule like Mahabharata to fight or wage a war against .your own family say brothers to get your rights.

    2. Can any time in our society five brothers marry a single girl. Can it be said a good tradition.

    3. Was the role of Lord Krishna be justified in Mahabharat. Specially killing of Bheeshma, Dron., Karna . Duryodhana and cursing of Ashwasthama. What was their crime except that they did n,t favoured Pandavas, The real cause of tussle between Duryodhan and Karna with Pandavas is that Except Yudhisthir all Pandavas and even Draupadi were very egoistic and adament.


    • mghariharan
      Nov 17, 2011 @ 10:29:20

      Your question is pretty tough to answer. But These questions are correct and in the process of

      answering them you will find a lot that Hinduism offers on the subject of ethics and morals. Both

      christianity and islam are silent on this aspect.Please read manusmriti carefully and many of your

      questions will be answered or guided to answer.
      Let me see If your moral questions has been understood by me.
      1. In Mahabharata who is right is not said. Some people for their own reason said krishna is god

      and Dharma is on the side of god. Now if you park this concept and read you will notice following

      2. Manusmriti says King should not gamble. Yudhishtra who is son of Dharma(Yama) does this mistahe

      and suffers.
      In The mahabharata war Pandavas do commit many adharma If you want I will enumerate them. some are

      killing of Karna Killing of Bhishma Killing of Killing of Dronacharya. All these are wrong and

      said in single verse in manusmriti The sloka is
      न च हन्यात् स्तलारुढं नीबं न कत अन्जलिं न मुकेशं न असीनं न तव अस्मि इति वादिनम्: 7.91
      7.91. Let him not strike one who (in flight) has climbed on an eminence, nor a eunuch, nor one who

      joins the palms of his hands (in supplication), nor one who (flees) with flying hair, nor one who

      sits down, nor one who says ’I am thine;’
      This exact rules were violated by Pandavas. Read Mahabharata assuming it is a case study of

      education on Ethics and morals as defiend by manu ( manava Dharma) and many of your doubts will be

      I dont believe you should depend on others to solve your problems in religion You should go it

      alone and find your god. Dont do piggyback ride on saints and sadhus who make Crores of Rs. Ours

      is the only religion which explains everything by beautiful stories and done by real saints.

      Everything said by them is still valid.
      I appreciate your questioning hope my reply is of some use to you.


  5. C.S.Ramalakshmi
    Nov 15, 2012 @ 12:18:50

    All the ills of war and its aftermath have been extensively dealt with in the Arjuna Vishada Yoga in the beginning itself, which cannot be disputed even today.
    Krishna is in fact chided by Balarama for being partial towards Pandavas in the war.but still Krishna says, fight!
    Dharma and Adharma can be seen in contrast in the ruler’s behaviour.Duryodana ‘s stealthy ways to kill Kunti and her sons in the wax palace,his ungrateful remarks against his mentors even in open assembly,his ploy to kill the peace ambassodor Krishna , Duchadana’s inglorious molestation of Draupadi,all speak in ill light about the kurus’ misrule.Any ruler has in his hand, the resources of the land.If he does not follow ethics and justice in dealings with people, one cant expect him to rule the people of the land also properly.Misrule is Adharma.Greed is the root cause of misrule and adharama.
    Pandavas were not greedy, they would settle for even five villages.
    Aoout their gambilng spree,which is a lazy man’s game,that also would mean an aspect of misrule.That is why Krishna does not look their way for 13 years,after just giving that Akshaya patra, a minimum food security to his sister Draupadi. When they inherited Hastinapura, it was given on silver platter.But due to gambilng, they lost it all.Arjuna had to work very hard to earn all weapons and skills, even though he was a trained warrior in his student days.That was Krishna’s lesson, that nothing comes without physical exertion.Look at Rama,’Ramo Aklishta karmana’,the Prince of unwearied action!Not an iota of Adhrama in his veins.That is why could establish the Rama rajya,the rule of people’s welfare.
    All said and done, Dharma has got grey areas in Mahabharata.That is why Krishna plays the charioteer and strategist, but does not take up arms against the Kurus, unlike Rama who takes Ravana headlong, in Ramayana,where Dharma and Adharma are clear cut contrasts.


    • mghariharan
      Nov 16, 2012 @ 20:23:58

      Thanks for long letter; many things that you have said are correct.
      Mahabharata brings out situations where Dharma is in quandary. probably that is what you meant because Dharma is not grey. Like Christians we also tend to believe the winner is always correct. Not so Hinduism understands even Son of Dharma under necessity can lie. Also Yudhishtra himself confesses he was greedy (during gambling )to Draupadi. So These works are great mater piece in human behavior and gives us guidance how to follow Dharma . It is no correct to simplify that Kauravas are wrong and Pandavas were always correct.


  6. C.S.Ramalakshmi
    Nov 15, 2012 @ 12:31:26

    That pointer to Sugriva having Satsang,and Ravana not having one, was simply excellent.Vey inspiring.Thanks for the contribution.


    • mghariharan
      Nov 16, 2012 @ 20:16:30

      Why Ravana had Kumbhakarna and vibhishan both objected to his action. Vibhishana walked out but Kumbhakarna opted to fight for his brother. These are very delicate moral and ethical problems. Valmiki keeps these things in proper perspective. But post impact of Christianity and Islam many try to justify things based on just thumb rules and try to simplify. The ‘pracharakas’ are not competent people to explain these nuances. Unfortunately many people knowledgeable also do not read valmiki Ramaya and comment.


  7. point of view
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 13:32:53

    Great disscussion but please stop saying “muslims and christians.” I don’t think it is right to characterize such a diverse population as such. This is saying that all Hindus are caste driven discriminators and hypocrites as we pray to goddess but justify sati. Also, both are great epics, Ram lived in a simpler age with ideal men and women that were willing to make great sacrifices. However, Mahabharat explores the grey shades of dharma…for me mahabharat’s characters are closer to the people of today. All of us have our inner conflicts and demons. Mahabharat is a commentary on how to live in such a world with shades of grey and no exact cut out of right vs. wrong, where as in ramayan we see the ideal humans must all aspire to be. As humans we all like the hope and what can be compared with the present situation, therefore we tend to like ramayan better. God is god and no matter who, what, he/she I think some leelas of the supreme are beyond our grasp. A quote form psychology: ” If my brain was smart enough to understand its workings then it still wouldn’t be able to comprehend its mysteries.” This means that if we could understand ourselves then our brain would be even more primitive that we could understand it.

    PS: I do agree that ramayan tends to be more loved and the fact that in the mahabharat tons of innocent and great people died. Ex: Karna (so sad) 😦


    • mghariharan
      Jan 08, 2013 @ 12:46:28

      It is not clear what you are insinuating but Hindus absorb good qualities of other religion. Many of us studied in convent schools and Indian education system is based on these schools. We respect our school fathers and sisters but do nopt change our religion. many od the concepts that you think are right are derived from other religions etc.


  8. point of view
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 13:34:53

    i ment “This is LIKE saying that all Hindus are caste driven discriminators and hypocrites as we pray to goddess but justify sati, kill girls, and under educate them even though the goddess of learning is Saraswati Mata


    • mghariharan
      Jan 08, 2013 @ 12:42:51

      These are just you perceptions. Hiduism aborbs the good qualities of all relighion and we are the most educated society. You may not be aware that all white men are illierate and under qualified compared to Hindus. Japan follows India’s CBSE course. Education to scheduled caste is high priority and many are getting highly educated. Our Ex-President Narayanan is from lowermost cast but still topped in presidency with gold medal. There many such examples to prove that your concepts are not based on facts.


  9. pc
    Apr 14, 2013 @ 20:28:18

    My conclusion is that Lord Rama and Ramayan were superior in all aspects and very relevant for today’s society. Every human being should do his karma that’s true but one has to differentiate which karma is good for society and which is bad. Pandavas defeated Kauravas only due to Lord Krishna was in their favour. Lord Krishna did all wrongs to eliminate Bhishma,Dron and Karna just to favour his relatives, Pandavas. Lord Rama got more respect even in his human form during his life time as well as today’s society. Lord Rama was worshipped by lord Shiva and all saints. Lord Rama safeguarded common man. Lord Rama has never biased in any body’s favour. Ramayan dipicts all these qualities of lord rama. On the other hand Mahabharat is more like a story rather than an epic.


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