Lessons Indian novelists can learn from Ramayan and Mahabharat – Opinion

Lessons from Ramayan and Mahabharat Indian novelists can learn

Though there are sceptics who don’t believe that India had a glorious past and I cannot do anything to make them believe, India did have a glorious past and it is the TRUTH. Accepting or not accepting what is true does not make a huge difference in the existence of truth. Some people might ignore the Sun or the Moon in the sky and close their eyes. Does it affect these two heavenly spheres? Ramayan and Mahabharat are two civilisational treasures that Indians have. While we can learn many things by watching, reading and discussing our historical epics, are there any lessons that contemporary authors can take from these religious texts of Hindus? There is. In fact, there are many. India had a past that the world acknowledges today. It’s high time that our Indian authors take their lessons and excel in various world literature forums. Here are the lessons which I think will be useful for current generation authors in India or anywhere in the world. 

  1. Have it covered to the last inch: You may have read novels and dramas by renowned novelists and playwrights. However, you must be able to point out at least one flaw in those texts, technical flaws. Sometimes, you may find yourself unable to link one episode from another. Sometimes, you may think that the author has kept you in the dark about certain developments and it becomes irritating when things appear out of the blue. At times, the proper historical background is missing. And so on we can go with the loopholes that we may find in the best of the texts we have read. However, once you begin reading Ramayan or Mahabharat, you notice that the authors of our ancient history have written these epics so wonderfully that even a first-time reader will not find any problem in linking what needs to be linked and understanding what needs to be understood. Though it was our history and the writers of these epics were the people who could see the past, the present and the future at their convenience, they have set a perfect example for the creators of the literary texts. Do not give any space to the readers that may lead to uncertainty. What, why, how and when are the things that an author should take care of very seriously. 
  2. Let the Language do the talking: And it is always like that only. The language you use in your fiction does most of what we call creating an impact upon the mind of the reader. Howsoever versatile or full of qualities your plot is, unless you deliver it in a language that’s not only dignified or elevated but comprehensive as well, your fiction might not appeal to the readers at large. A good piece fiction is the result of a perfect amalgam of content, narrative, seriousness and a beautiful language that delivers the final output to the readers. You can have a look at the original versions of Mahabharat or Ramayan. You will understand how this amalgam works. So, just to appeal to the high school students, don’t let your language bite the dust. A better standard of language, in turn, will benefit your younger readers as well. 
  3. The conclusion of a work of written art should be elevated, serious and conclusive: Exactly what we see in Mahabharat – justice, Dharma, and righteousness wins over injustice, adharma and evil. Likewise, in Ramayan, we see the same. However, even if you are writing a fiction that employs negative narrative and an anti-hero plot, you can still make your conclusion exalted. Let the readers understand what is the summum bonum of all the progress you made in the plot, all the evolutions your characters underwent and all the widening your work’s theme went through. If that can happen and you can pull it off with an authority, the literature that you produce can reach the heights of possible perfection. In short, you must add seriousness to a certain degree when you write a novel. Casual works of literature have an ephemeral life. The readers forget predictable novels far easily and too early. Unless you deliver an idea that is timeless, you will not find yourself out of the books you write. 

These are the three findings I liked out of my several days’ work. Ramayan (also spelt & written as Ramayana by the Westerns and intellectuals who like to read our history with a colonial lense) and Mahabharat (Mahabharata also – same logic as above) are like the oceans having too many concepts, lessons and ideas to offer. However, are we ready (and prepared) to churn the oceans? The contemporary bastion of authors in India has bent too much on milking the book market loaded with self-publishing and book promotion companies. What they forget is that ultimately, it will be work that they produce will be the sole cause whether they are remembered or forgotten! Though there are a few writers in India who are still doing their best to contribute positivity and progressive literature with serious elements in their writings. That is why we are debating on the issues like Indianness in Indian English Literature and Indology and indigenisation of Indian literature. While it is good, it is not so good. We have a lot to do; we have a distance to cover; we have many efforts to make… Inspiration is everywhere in India and in Indian history if we care to look for it around us. Indian authors can contribute too much to our society and its evolution only if they can choose their heroes and concepts with a little broader view than what they have right now. 

Just think about the reasons we are unable to get Ramayan and Mahabharat out of our thinking. And then, think about 5 easy ways to forget the novels you have read last month… momentary and long-lasting have only ‘and’ between them. However, there is a void, an abyss and a gap that needs some extremely hard work if an author wants to cross that distance or bridge the gap. All the best! 


by Alok for Literature News