The land of India is quite a phenomenon. It has produced many great works of literature art, science and technology. Countless books and scriptures of great wisdom have poured out of the wise men, the saints and sages of this land. Many of these books are still relevant today, and are in fact still taught in the traditional schools, called patashalas, in India. Even though they are hundreds and sometimes thousands of years old, we can still learn much from them. Let’s take a look at three of these ancient texts.
#1 The Upanishads
The Upanishads are one of the cornerstones of Indian philosophical thought. Considered by many, including Schopenhauer and Max Mueller as among the greatest expositions of logic known to man, the Upanishads include many fundamental truths of life, brought out in the form of debates between teacher and disciple. The Upanishads are 108 in number, and each of these deals with a specific area of exploration. Much can be gleaned about the fundamental nature of life, man and our experience of existence by reading these classic books of philosophy, which even predate the works of the ancient Greek philosophers.
#2 The Mahabharat
One of the two great epics of India, and the longest poem in the world at 110,000 verses or couplets, the Mahabharat is seven times longer than Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey combined! The Mahabharat was put down in its present form somewhere around 500BC, and was the culmination of a long tradition of oral story-telling. The story of the Mahabharat is a tour-de-force of human character, and includes every kind of human being in its narrative. The most despicable and the highest kind, the most cruel and the kindest. It represents every shade of human character and is an indispensible aid in revealing to us the many shades that exist within us ourselves.
#3 The Ramayana
The Ramayana is the other great epic of India. Not as long as the Mahabharat, it is still longer than Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey combined! The Ramayana is the story of Rama, a man who goes through the trials and tribulations of losing his kingdom, his wife kidnapped and then having to fight a war to save her. Despite this terrible sequence of events, Rama goes through his life with grace and dignity, doing only what he must. This is a lesson many of us and especially our leaders can learn from, in today’s world where anger and hatred are becoming the driving forces of conflict and war.