We have two Epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, just as in the West they have two Epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey. These two parallel movements of Epic stories, known as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, give us a complete picture of the process of the advancement of the human soul towards its Perfection.
It is not to be taken as a surprise that the culture of Bharatavarsha is a culture of the Spirit, so that anything that is said and done or believed in, is directly or indirectly connected with the march of the Spirit to the recognition of its Perfection.
We have no other culture here except the culture of the Spirit. A connecting of the visible phenomena with what underlies the phenomena, is the significance of the Epics.
And these two master-strokes of genius given to us by Valmiki and Vyasa, in the form of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, give us the religion of India.
There were some over-enthusiastic orientalists in the West particularly, and sometimes in the East also, who began to believe that the culture of India is in the Vedas and the Upanishads.
But, if we bestow a little thought on the actual situation, it will become clear that if the Vedas and the Upanishads were the sole basis of the culture of India, the Indian culture would have been wiped out like the cultures of Egypt, Greece or Rome. These cultures are only names to us now.
They do not actually exist now. They vanished from the process of time on account of their inflexibility, their rigidity of character and their emphasis on a particular aspect of human life. If, as people often believe, the dicta of the Vedas and Upanishads alone were to be taken as the foundation of Indian culture, there would have been no Indian culture today.
It would have gone to the winds, because what we have in the Vedas and the Upanishads are 'principles', like theorems of geometry or algebra, which are wonderful enough, which are the basis of all scientific approaches and discoveries.
Nevertheless, they are principles, and the masses do not live on principles. When we talk or when we move about in the streets, we do not think of the principles behind speaking and walking. We work with the peculiar manifestation of our personality which is spontaneous in its nature.
Principles somehow have the aroma of fixity and rigidity. They cannot be changed. But, emotion seeks a spontaneous expression of itself and this feature, this peculiarity of human nature was taken notice of by the sages of the Vedic times themselves.
To be continued ..