Epic Literature

The epic literature of India exclusively provides the stories for traditional theatre forms such as Kathakali and Ram Lila.  Furthermore, the stories of India’s epics are so embedded in India’s culture that they appear in different iterations in every kind of theatre, from Sanskrit drama to Bollywood films.  Knowing the basic elements of this literature is essential to accessing theatre in India.

The epic literature of India includes two major epic poems, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, as well as a large body of texts collectively called the Puranas, which consist of a variety of myths, stories, and tales associated with religious devotion (mostly to Vishnu).

The Bhagavad Gita, a part of the Mahabharata, expresses a metatheatrical worldview that has informed Indian religion and theatre for two thousand years.