Thursday, December 16, 2010

Indian Epic Storybooks: Love Stories

Although the story of Rama and Sita starts out as a kind of fairy tale as you have already seen in the reading for class, this most famous of epic couples certainly do not get to live happily-ever-after... especially in the extended version of the Ramayana where Rama drives Sita into exile when she is pregnant with their twin sons. So it is with the other stories of love in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata: these love stories are about not just passion and devotion but also jealousy and betrayal, all kinds of drama that makes for great storytelling. To get an idea of the projects students have done on this topic in the past, take a look at these Storybooks about love.

Both epics feature couples that you might want to write about. From the Ramayana, consider Rama and Sita, Ahalya and Gautama, Rambha and Nalakubara, Kaikeyi and Dasaratha, or Mandodari and Ravana. In the Thai version of the Ramayana, even Hanuman falls in love - with a mermaid named Suvannamaccha.

In the Mahabharata you can look at Santanu and Ganga (and Satyavati), Pandu and Madri (and Kunti), Draupadi and her husbands, Abhimanyu and UttaraNala and Damayanti, and Satyavan and Savitri.

There are also some very famous Hindu love stories that are not part of the epic readings we are doing for class, such as the story of Krishna and Radha or Shakuntala and Dushyanta.

The goddesses and apsaras are also involved in some passionate love stories; see the page about goddesses for more information.

Some of the most famous love stories involve a swayamwara, a marriage test, which would make a great topic for a Storybook. The swayamwara is important for the stories of Sita, AmbaDraupadi, and Damayanti.

You might also be interested to learn more about the Hindu god of love, Kamadeva; like Cupid, he wields a bow and arrow, as you can see in the image below.


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