Thursday, December 16, 2010

Indian Epic Storybooks: Families

Family relationships are extremely important in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, offering up stories with many different kinds of themes, both positive and negative. If you are interested in the psychological drama of the epics, doing a Storybook based on family relationships can be a great choice!


The theme of brothers and brotherhood is central to both epics; of all the family relationships, it is probably the most important. In the Ramayana, you have Rama and his brothers along with Ravana and his brothers, plus minor characters such as the monkey brothers Vali and Sugriva, the bird brothers Sampati and Jatayu, and the demon brothers Vatapi and Ilwala. In the Mahahbarata, you have Pandu and Dhritarashtra, the Pandava brothers, plus their brother Karna (one of my favorite characters!), along with Duryodhana and his brothers, as well as Krishna and Balarama. You might also get some ideas from looking at these past Storybooks about brothers.

There are not as many sister characters in the epics, but there are a few noteworthy brother-and-sister pairs, such as Ravana and his sister Surpanakha, Krishna and his sister Subhadra, along with Hidimba and his sister Hidimbi.


Another great angle to explore is the relationship between fathers and/or mothers and their children. For many of the major characters in both epics, we learn a lot about their relationship to their father or to their mother. In the Ramayana, for example, you could consider characters like Rama's father Dasaratha or Ravana as father of Indrajit. For the role of mothers, you can look to such contrasting characters as Kaikeyi and Sita. In the Mahabharata, there are even more family roles that are crucial to the story, with father characters like PanduDhritarashtra, Drona, and Drupada, along with mothers like Kunti and Ganga.


If you are interested in the relationships between husbands and wives, check out the page about love, which includes the many famous couples from both epics.

(image source:
Draupadi and her husbands,
a.k.a. the Pandava brothers)


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