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Although Ramayan and Mahabharat are historical, are they most likely paraboles which have spiritual meanings attached to them? (A ‘parabole’ is a ‘casting/setting side by side’—using Latin-derived morphs an ‘apposition’ or ‘adjacency’. In rhetoric, it is a comparison, which sets two terms side-by-side; later it denotes a fiction which is ‘set beside’ and parallels (‘lies next to’) reality.) P.S. A humble request can people please not edit my question as it chances the meaning? I meant parabole and not parable. Thank you.

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    Both historical and metaphor.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 16:34
  • Yes. Each Story in our Scriptures are like parables. Like, Krishna preaching Arjuna on Kurukshetra can be understood as God telling the soul what to do in this illusionary world. Durga killed Mahishasura is like divinity which takes over the bad qualities. All Scriptures have divine meaning associated.
    – user9392
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 16:40
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    100 percent history.
    – Rama27
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 17:02
  • @NogShine Yes. I am sorry. Even I was feeling it is completely inappropriate to used a word like ignorant, but seeing people downvote without even reading the question, I did that. Would check it next time onwards. Thanks for your words. ;)
    – user9392
    Commented Nov 11, 2017 at 17:22
  • This brings me to a related question as to why all intelligent people unquestioningly believe that Sita was abandoned based on rumours and Vanavas is punishement? Entire story is a parabole with double layered meanings.Even in their real life they were rulers not village fools to obey 'mere' servants like dhobi and Manthara. Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 17:41

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Swami Vivekananda explained the life cycle of people by giving the example of Ramayana.

Complete Works/Volume 5/Sayings and Utterances:

Shri Râma was the Paramâtman and that Sitâ was the Jivâtman, and each man's or woman's body was the Lanka (Ceylon). The Jivatman which was enclosed in the body, or captured in the island of Lankâ, always desired to be in affinity with the Paramatman, or Shri Rama. But the Râkshasas would not allow it, and Rakshasas represented certain traits of character. For instance, Vibhishana represented Sattva Guna; Râvana, Rajas; and Kumbhakarna, Tamas. Sattva Guna means goodness; Rajas means lust and passions, and Tamas darkness, stupor, avarice, malice, and its concomitants. These Gunas keep back Sita, or Jivatman, which is in the body, or Lanka, from joining Paramatman, or Rama. Sita, thus imprisoned and trying to unite with her Lord, receives a visit from Hanumân, the Guru or divine teacher, who shows her the Lord's ring, which is Brahma-Jnâna, the supreme wisdom that destroys all illusions; and thus Sita finds the way to be at one with Shri Rama, or, in other words, the Jivatman finds itself one with the Paramatman.

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  • Rigveda says Asuras are noble tapasvis, rakshas are guardians of dharma. They are not villian. As tapasvi they have inner struggle, divine helps to kill maya ego bonds. Not gross body. Commented Jun 4, 2023 at 15:00
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This question's answer might not have citations or quotations. It is purely based on the belief of the individual. Although the stories had Avatars as protagonists, they calculated their life perfectly according to Dharmic standards and actions which would leave a meaningful imprint or lessons for people to follow. An avatar's actions are termed Leelas. Leelas have multiple spiritual meanings attached to them, for any type of Sadhaka. But considering the literal aspect, it wouldn't be a harm to believe either. Personally I believe they did happen.

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Ramayana and Mahabharata are historical epics that have many similarities:

  1. Both extend the message of Sanatana Dharma.

  2. God Rama had a miraculous birth, and so did the Pandava-s. God Rama had to work hard in a swayamvara to win the hand of Sita, and Arjuna had to fight to win over Draupadi.

  3. God Rama was obedient to kula-guru Rishi Vasishtha, and the Pandava-s towards Rishi Dhaumya. In general, the heroes were most respectful towards all elders. This signifies 'matru devo bhava, pitru devo bhava, acharya devo bhava, atithi devo bhava' as mentioned in Taittiriya Upanishad 1.11.2.

  4. Both epics stress on the importance of satsanga as universally highlighted in Vedic scriptures. God Rama counselled with God Hanuman, Sugreeva, Vibhishana; whereas Ravana listened to the advice of his wicked maternal Rakshasa uncles. In Mahabharata, Arjuna took refuge under God Krishna, whereas Duryodhana had Shakuni and Karna as his advisors.

  5. God Rama went on a rough 14 year forest exile, and Pandavas for 13 years. During the exile, God Rama met with Rishi-s Bharadwaja, Atri, Sharabhanga, Suteekshna and Agastya. During their tough exile, the Pandava met God Krishna, Maharishi Vyasa, Rishi-s Dhaumya, Markandeya, Lomasha, Durvasa, etc. Both, encountered difficulties during their exile.

  6. In Ramayana, Surya's son Sugreeva was responsible for the death of Indra's son Vali. In an interesting role reversal during the Mahabharata war, Indra’s son Arjuna killed Surya’s son Karna.

  7. Ramayana was fought to restore the honour of Sita, and Mahabharata was fought as a response to the dishonour suffered by Draupadi. As Manu Smriti 3.56-59 states 'yatra naryastu pujyante, ramante tatra devta'.

  8. God Rama worshipped Goddess Durga to emerge victorious against Kumbhakarna and Ravana. Arjuna worshipped Goddess Durga on the eve of the Mahabharata war. God Rama got assistance from God Shiva, God Kartikeya, Indra's charioteer Matali, and Surya (Aditya-hridayam). The Pandava-s got help from God Shiva, Indra, Surya (akshaya-patra) and Yamaraja. This indicates that the divine entities always assist those who abide in Dharma.

  9. Deadly weapons like Brahmastra were used in both Mahabharata and Ramayana. Both the wars convey that Dharma always win, irrespective of numerical strength or past records. But, karma is of paramount importance.

  10. As advised, both God Rama and Pandava-s performed Ashwamedha yagnya after winning against formidable rivals.

  11. Yoga Vasishtha is the spiritual text wherein Rishi Vasishtha showed God Rama the path to moksha. Bhagavad Geeta is the exact equivalent in Mahabharata.

  12. Hundreds of geographical locations related to both Ramayana and Mahabharata can be identified even today.

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