- What is this society's definition of an epic hero? How do we know, based on examples from the stories themselves?
- How do the characters view the gods, and how do the gods treat humans?
- What do we learn about what this society considers proper or improper behavior, again based on the text itself? Who is punished or rewarded, and why?
- Is family love or romantic love more important in the text, and why?
The works in this chapter were written down starting around the 4th century B.C.E., but the three stories date back to much earlier in the oral tradition. All three works remain influential and ubiquitous in Indian society to this day: common knowledge that everyone knows, at least in some part. Rather than offering a list of values and beliefs, the stories demonstrate them in action: how to approach complicated moral issues, and what to do when life seems unfair. The answer is not always easy, and sometimes the choice is between two options that are not ideal. The best choice is often the most difficult one, and the expectations of society for these characters can seem overwhelming. The intervention of the gods in these cases becomes absolutely necessary.