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For some context, see this question, which I will also summarize: I plan to run a Dungeons & Dragons game soon for some people who follow Hindu faith. For those unfamiliar, it's like a cooperative story-telling experience where the players will be given choices and help shape the story.

The problem I'm facing is that D&D is a game of adventure, and heroes. And I would like to open my mind to be more inclusive of the Hindu view of a hero, specifically because D&D has a system called alignment which, although contentious, is a core component of the system. (Since there are spells/rituals like Protection From Evil, or Hallow, which makes ground holy)

I don't want my story to use my own cultural biases and force my players to adapt to a traditionally-western view of morality or heroism, I would rather make these values inclusive to what they would already view as good/lawful/evil/chaotic to facilitiate easier roleplaying from my players. (Make it easier to get into the minds of their characters, like method acting)

So, I would like to ask you, would you please explain to me what traits or actions define a "hero," from the Hindu perspective?

I apologize, my knowledge of Hinduism is pretty limited. I understand a little about the major deities described in the Bhagavad Gita and I've read summaries of the Ramayana, but I couldn't explain things like:

  • Why does one become favored by the gods?
  • What qualities make Rama heroic, aside from his status as an avatar of Vishnu? Was there a reason he was selected to be Vishnu's avatar?
  • Are there qualities that are viewed as traditionally "heroic?" In the west, and Christianity, there's heavy emphasis placed on things like charity and selflessness. I'm sure these are quite universal among many religions, but are there any tenets of Hinduism that are held more highly, from the perspective of "heroic" traits?
  • Similarly, are there any traits that are regarded as very "unheroic" or "villainous?" (again, from Christianity, the seven "deadly sins")
  • Finally, are there any things I should completely avoid when structuring a story in this way? I don't plan to cause offense with my story, so what things would be considered completely offensive to consider and should be left out completely? (e.g. again from Christianity, the Bible does depict ritual animal slaughter, but this would be frowned upon to promote as a typically modern Christian view)

I feel like I should state, in closing, that I do not plan to actually incorporate Hindu gods and texts into my campaign (since I don't know enough to do that properly, and would likely cause offense) -- D&D has its own set of gods and religions and I will be using those in-game, but I want these gods to have a slightly more Hindu-friendly view of morality so I can construct situations where my players can feel traditionally heroic.

  • The Hero worship culture can't be found in Indian EPICs. The purpose of composing Ramayana and Mahabharata was to drive Home the importance of Dharma. So Dharma is the Hero in those EPICs – Srimannarayana K V Dec 3 '19 at 16:50
  • Thank you @srimannarayanakv for your insight. This almost seems like an answer. I feel like it would be very helpful if you post this as an answer and include more info about: What is Dharma? Why is Dharma considered "good?" Why do you say there is no hero worship culture? In the absence of heroes, through what other vessels can Dharma be enacted or increased in the world? Does Dharma have an opposite, and what is it? -- Thanks again for your efforts, I appreciate it! – 3d12 Dec 3 '19 at 17:07
  • what is D & D ? – Lakhi Dec 3 '19 at 17:46
  • Ah, sorry @Lakhi I will edit this into my question, D&D is short for Dungeons and Dragons, a popular tabletop roleplaying game – 3d12 Dec 3 '19 at 17:49
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The questions are:

  • Why does one become favored by the gods?

  • What qualities make Rama heroic, aside from his status as an avatar of Vishnu? Was there a reason he was selected to be Vishnu's avatar?

  • Are there qualities that are viewed as traditionally "heroic?" In the west, and Christianity, there's heavy emphasis placed on things like charity and selflessness. I'm sure these are quite universal among many religions, but are there any tenets of Hinduism that are held more highly, from the perspective of "heroic" traits?

  • Similarly, are there any traits that are regarded as very "unheroic" or "villainous?" (again, from Christianity, the seven "deadly sins")

  • Finally, are there any things I should completely avoid when structuring a story in this way? I don't plan to cause offense with my story, so what things would be considered completely offensive to consider and should be left out completely? (e.g. again from Christianity, the Bible does depict ritual animal slaughter, but this would be frowned upon to promote as a typically modern Christian view)


The point-wise replies, according to my understanding, are:

1) There is no appeasement of the God, so that the God will favour one sect/class of people. The final goal of Human beings is SPIRITUALITY. A person, who practices SPIRITUALITY, realises that he is not the physical body, but the God itself - SELF REALISATION. I am THAT I am.

2) If you go by the Veda, there is ONE formless God. Many epithets like INDRA/VISHNU/VARUNA/AGNI, etc, were used to describe the same Almighty. (Rig Veda I.164.46).

3) The Hero worship culture can't be found in Indian EPICs. The purpose of composing Ramayana and Mahabharata was to drive Home the importance of Dharma. So Dharma is the Hero in those EPICs.

In Ramayana the central character is Sri Rama, whereas the central Character of Mahabharata is Yudhisthira, the eldest of Pandavas. In both the EPICs the underlying theme is DHARMA. Sri Rama and Yudhisthira were described by respective poets as dharmAtma - embodiment of Dharma (rAmO vigrahavAn dharmaha)

  1. Stress was given to noble character - Arya, but not to heroism. The character of Upholding Dharma was viewed as Arya, one who resorts to adharma was called anArya - fallen character.

Sri Hanuman says about Ravana, in Sundara Kanda, as follows:

पुनः च सो अचिन्तयद् आर्त रूपो | ध्रुवम् विशिष्टा गुणतो हि सीता | अथ अयम् अस्याम् क्ऱ्तवान् महात्मा | लन्का ईश्वरः कष्टम् अनार्य कर्म || ५-९-७३

Hanuma became gloomy and thought thus: "Seetha is definitely the best by virtues; then this lord of Lanka even though being great otherwise, did an evil and an un-gentlemanly deed - अनार्य कर्म - anArya karma with her."

5) Whatever you plan, that should not hurt the feelings/sentiments of the people following Hinduism.

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