The first characteristic we notice about Indian literature is that it is based on oiety, a deeply religious spirit. The Indians believed that a knowledge of God and a strong belief in Hinduism is necessary to save mankind. Their earliest poems, the Vedas, are the Bible of the Indians.
The second characteristic we notice about Indian literature is that the Indian literary masterpieces written in the form of epics, correspond to great epochs in the history of India. The Ramayana an the Mahabharata are the most importatant epics of India; the latter is the longest found in the world literature. The Indians believe in reincarnation, meaning that the soul of a person after death returns to the earth in the body of another person, animal or even a plant. Consequently, they believe in kindness to other people and to animals. They also abstain from destroying plants because in that plant might be reincarnated one’s dead elative.
Their gods are believed to be reincarnated into human beings or even animals. Thus the Ramayana is about the reincarnation of the creator god Vishnu in the person of Rama, who is a hero of the epic. The Mahabharata deals with another reincarnation of Vishnu in the person of Krishna. These reincarnations of Vishnu are called avatars or descending from the god.Vishnu is supposed to have ten avatars. Nine avatars have already taken place, and the tenth is yet to come. When this last avater takes place, Vishnu will descend from heaven to destroy the present world and restore peace and purity.
Tha Mahabharata is considered the greatest epic of India. It tells the story of a civil war that might have taken place in the early years of the Aryan occupation of India. Obviously, the products of many centuries and many hands, it is a long poem, almost as long as the combined epics of all Europe.
The Mahabharata tells of two rival bands of brothers, descentants of a common grandfather King Panda. When he died, he left his five sons in the care of his brother who was to be regent while his sons were still minors. The regent himself had many sons, and they coveted the kingdom for themselves. The result was a period of intrigues and battles which resulted in the exile of the five brothers.
Tha Ramayana recounts the adventures of Rama and his wife Sita. Legend has it that Sita was born of a furrow, the child of Mother Earth. Sita is regarded by the woman of India as the perfect sumbol of wifely devotion and self-sacrifice for the beloved.
Interesting enough, the Maranaw epic Darangan has many elemants and episodes derived from the Mahabharata and Ramayana.