Describe the characteristics of classical Indian epic, with special reference to the Mahabharata.

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The epic, or the Mahakavya, is one of the earliest forms of Indian literature. It is also considered the specialty of the Sanskrit language. One of the characteristics of the classical Indian epic is the incorporation of visual art – meticulous depictions of the gods, humans, animals, scenery, etc. There is also heavy use of imagery – rich descriptions of festivals, forests, mountains, and seasons. Each stanza was often made to represent a single idea or image. The classical Indian epic was also originally orally transmitted, and so different versions exist (with minor alterations in details).

The Mahabharata, written by Ved Vyasa, is the longest Sanskrit epic with 74, 000 verses divided into 18 books. Like all classical epics, it is divided into chapters, or Sarga. Every chapter was specifically made to suit a certain theme or subject of the Sarga. One characteristic of the Mahabharata common to classical Indian epics is the significance of Hindu deities to the story. In the Mahabharata, for example, the Hindu deity Krishna helps Arjuna realize that he must fulfill his dharma. Classical Indian epics are also known to be sacred to Hindus, as they contain important moral teachings. The chief moral lesson of the Mahabharata is to stand for what you know is right, even if doing so leads to hardships and difficult choices.

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