THESE TWO are the undisputed pride of Hinduism. They have set many examples to follow in our day to day life. But if we analyse them in little more detail, we find that they have few similarities. They are as different as chalk and cheese. In most of the cases we will see they are quite opposite to each other.
If Ramayana has harmonic, beautiful relationships then Mahabharata has ugly, awful relationships. In family whenever there is warm relationship, then a comparison with Ramayana is made and whenever there is cold relationship between the family members, it is said Mahabharata is occurring in that family.
Characteristics of God
Lord Vishnu came to the world
as Ram in ‘Ramayana’ and Krishna in ‘Mahabharata’. But like the two epics, they both were poles apart. Lord Ram was an idealistic person in every aspect. He was exemplary in every way; he was an ideal son, ideal husband, and ideal brother. In one term he was Purushottam. In contrast, Lord Krishna has a different nature. He was very mischievous in his childhood stealing butter and troubling all the village girls. Then he started his ‘leela’ with Radha. Afterwards, he married so many women like Rukmini, Satyabhama, Jambavati to name a few while Lord Ram had only one wife and did not think of any other woman. However, in some areas Lord Krishna was ahead of Lord Ram. Lord Krishna was the complete incarnation of the Lord. Hence, he had many magical powers like lifting the mountain on his little finger etc. So if Lord Ram was idealistic then Lord Krishna was realistic. In today’s world following Lord Krishna’s views or Bhagavad Gita will be the perfect guide for us.
Laxman vs Balaram
Laxman was a truly devoted brother. He always followed Lord Ram everywhere and anywhere. In contrast, Balaram didn’t follow Lord Krishna so devotedly. For example, Balaram was more inclined towards Duryodhana than to any Pandava. Balaram wanted his Subhadra to be married to Duryodhana instead of Arjuna. Laxman was never inclined towards any evil person.
Now consider the two women, Sita and Draupadi. Sita was pativrata, being completely devoted to her husband, while Draupadi had five husbands. Sita was very soft spoken and always ready to follow the instructions of her husband even if it was agnipariksha. But Draupadi was quite different. She had a loose tongue. For example, when Duryodhana was fooled by the illusion of the Pandavas’ palace in Indraprastha, Draupadi mocked him calling him blind. Also given Draupadi’s characteristics, she would have never given agnipariksha. Also Sita, the incarnation of Goddess Laxmi, did more memorable works than her Dwapad Yuga’s counterpart, Rukmini.
The villains of both the epics were also different. Ravana was son of a Brahmin and hence, he was devoted to God. He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. However, his ego got the better of him and he took the wrong path. This was not the case of Duryodhana. He hardly had any faith on any kind in God. Also unlike Ravana he did not have a boon from any God. However, both of them made the sin of hurting women which ultimately resulted in wars.
The great wars
If we see the battle of Ram vs Ravan and Pandavas vs Kauravas, you will find many differences. In ‘Ramayana’ the war took place between demons and man (along with monkeys). In contrast, the Kurukshetra war took place between the relatives which is more difficult to understand. Also the war in ‘Ramayana’ was fair while in ‘Mahabharata’ many codes of the war were violated. In ‘Ramayana’, the Lord himself fought the war directly. But in ‘Mahabharata’ he was only a guide showing the Pandavas the right path rather than fighting on their behalf.
So from the differences it was clear that the two epics were poles apart. However, they have some similarities also. Both gave us the message of following dharma and to remove adharma. So we can conclude they were two individuals following different paths but had the same goal ie dharma.