Friday, August 26, 2011

Indian, Armenian Epic poetry

By Nelly Manucharyan,

I was thinking about posting such kind of material which will be interesting for both Armenian and Indian readers. It should be some historical literary work, including the entire range of knowledge about the heritage of Armenian and Indian people: their religion, mythology, ethics, philosophy, cosmology, etc. So the thoughts lead me to the Epic works of Armenians and Indians, in other words to Daredevils of Sasun (David of Sasun) and Mahabharata. While examining these epics I have found that our epic poems have so many similarities: in both works we can find a skillful juxtaposition of the ultimate themes of Right and Wrong; Action and Contemplation; Life and Death; Friendship and Enmity; Love and Hatred, etc. We will speak about these below. I will not go through the scientific analysis of the epics but try to describe the essence and spirit of these literary works.

 Hence, next two posts will be dedicated to Armenian epic- Daredevils of Sasun (David of Sasun) and Indian epic- Mahabharata. Hope our IAF members will enjoy these posts.

First a brief review what is called epic or epic poetry:
Epics are long poems that try to articulate the knowledge of the epoch, concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic events significant to a culture or nation, reflecting their problems and suggesting solutions to those problems.

In the East, the most famous works of epic poetry are the Ramayana and Mahabharata- for Indians, for Armenians it is the epic poem of Daredevils of Sasun (David of Sasun).

Daredevils of Sasun (David of Sasun)

Sasna Dzrer (Armenian: Սասնա Ծռեր, English: Daredevils of Sassoun, also translated as Daredevils of Sasun) is the title of an Old Armenian heroic epic / poem in four cycles (parts) and is about four generations of Sassoun's warriors. It is commonly cited as one of the most important works of Armenian folklore. This recital of the legendary deeds of four generations of strongmen in a warrior community in the Armenian highlands is in the tradition of heroic folktales that dramatize the story of a whole nation and voice its deepest sentiments and aspirations. The most accurate and complete title of this epic is "Սասնա Ծռեր" (Daredevils of Sassoun). It has however been published under various titles: "Սասունցի Դավիթ" (David of Sassoun), "Սանասար և Բաղդասար" (Sanasar and Balthazar), "Սասունցի Դավիթ կամ Մհերի դուռ" (David of Sassoun or Meherr's door) and many others. All these titles correspond with four cycles of the epic. The epic took shape in the 10th century based on an oral tradition spanning centuries. The basic text of the epic was first recorded in 1873 by Fr. G. Srvandzdyants. The epic begins with two brothers, Sanasar and Balthasar. The pair of brothers resurface in the Armenian epic as the immaculately conceived sons of the Armenian princess Dzovinar, who was taken from Armenia to Baghdad by the Caliph when most of Armenia was under Arab domination from (7-9th centuries).   The Caliph decides to kill them, but before he can, they escape to Armenia.   After slaying dragons, building cities, and restoring Armenia to prosperity, the brothers return to Baghdad to rescue their mother.
     In the epic of David of Sassoon, the Moslems (referred to as Musr or Egypt in this version of the epic) and their leader (referred to Melik - king) may have displaced the Assyrians, and two thousand years of history may be compressed into a single storylineThe next cycle is the story of David’s father, Lion Mher, who is the epitome of the noble, wise, fair and self-sacrificing father-king. Approaching old age without an heir, he accepts with gentility the passing of his generation as the price of the next generation.  
Lion Mher represents the strength of nature and rectitude of character that bears fruit in his son, David, who is raised an "orphan, no keeper on earth."       

Although King David lacks the dignity and heroic stature of more primitive epic heroes, he is full of life and energy, and his human failings add to his charm. The appeal of the epic is enhanced by the devils and spirits that figure prominently in the numerous incidents and situations involving David and his son Mher the Younger. An epic cannot be summed up in a single word or from a single point of view.   Each reader and listener will relate to certain characters and events in different ways.  Nevertheless, the image of David of Sassoon, his nobility, fearlessness, strength, and simplicity, while having special significance for Armenians, has a universal appeal that speaks to all peoples.


The Mahabharata (Sanskrit Mahābhārata महाभारत,  IPA: [məɦaːˈbʱaːrət̪ə]) is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Ramayana. Besides its epic narrative of the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kauravas and the Pandavas, the Mahabharata contains much philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life"-dharma (right action), artha (purpose), kama (pleasure), and moksha (liberation). Traditionally, the authorship of the Mahabharata is attributed to Vyasa. the origins of the story probably fall between the 8th and 9th centuries BCE. The text probably reached its final form by the early Gupta period (ca. 4th c. CE). The title may be translated as "the great tale of the Bhārata dynasty"

The book has eighteen parvas and many sub parvas. There are many interrelated side stories in the Mahabharata which try to reflect the then society. 

Mahabharata, though it deals with the war between cousins, it is about the way a person should see life. It shows that there is good and evil in this world and there exists a constant fight between them.Mahabharata, has been able to capture the knowledge and life style of the people during the Dwaparayuga.

The main characters in the epic are the descendants of the clan of Bharata, hence it is titled Mahabharata, meaning the stories about the people of bharata. The story is about a war for power between the cousins. the descendents of Bharata, son of King Dushyanta and Shakuntala, namely the Pandavas and their cousins, the Kauravas. The jealousy, anger and vanity of the Kauravas in depriving the noble Pandavas of their rights leads ultimately to a bitter and bloody war. The Kauravas are killed one by one. The Pandavas establish a rule based on Dharma, i.e. the Righteousness and Truth. The dead heroes, by the grace of Holy Vyasa, all emerge from the sacred Ganges and purged off their sins, meet in Heaven where there is no rancour or malice. The universal lesson is spelt by righteous Yudhisthir: ’’ In all cases, war is evil….he who gains victory, also suffers losses’’. This remains valid for all times and for all nations and individuals. 

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Comparing  Epics

As I’ve mentioned while examining Armenian Daredevils of Sasun (David of Sasun) and Indian “Mahabharata” epics I have found that our epic poems have so many similarities: in both works we can find a skillful juxtaposition of the ultimate themes of Right and Wrong; Action and Contemplation; Life and Death; Friendship and Enmity; Love and Hatred, etc.

In the scientific report of Dr.of Philology Armen Petrosyan the author speaks about the similarities found in the names of heroes, epic motives of Armenian and Indian epics. This analysis had been carried out by different scholars. Thus, we can see common names & motives in these two literary works: in Daredevils of Sasun (David of Sasun) Sanasar as a hero of thunder and a Gemini corresponds to Indian God Indra from “Mahabharata”, who is also a Gemini and a God of thunder. Or let’s see another similar facts: like Armenian Sanasar and Baghdasar were born from a spring water of Katnaghbyur their mother had drunk, Indian Rama and brothers were born from a KHEER (dish made of milk & rice which is semi-fluid) their mother had taken. But the most interesting are the facts of name similarities: in the Armenian version the Gemini brothers’ mother is Sarah, who becomes pregnant by the water of horse’s footprint, and in the Indian version Gemini brothers’ mother - Saranyu becomes pregnant by her husband who turned into a horse. There are striking typological comparable episodes between Aram Nahapet and Indian hero Rama, accounted for historical relations.

You can find  useful information from these websites:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Armenia Celebrates India’s 65th Independence Day


The Celebration of India’s 65th Independence Day in Armenia took place on August 15, at 10 o’clock in the morning at the India House- the official residence of Indian ambassador in Armenia.

Armenian Hindi Students singing 
India's National Anthem "Jana Gana Mana"
The Independence Day of India is celebrated on the 15th of August to commemorate its independence from British rule and its birth as a sovereign nation in 1947. The day is a National Holiday in India. The celebrations take place all over the country as well as outside its borders.
Here in Armenia there became a tradition for Indian embassy to celebrate this national holiday far from India. Yesterday on August 15 at 10 o’clock in the morning the Embassy of India in Armenia cordially invited IAF executive team members and other guests to India House-his official residence in Yerevan.

IAF Executive Team Members 
with Hon Indian Ambassador
The ceremony of flag hoisting took place in the green and sunny backyard garden. While H.E. Mr Achal K. Malhotra was hoisting the Indian Tri-Color flag bursting with rose petals, the Amenian Students of Yerevan Humanitarian Institute studying Hindi were singing the national anthem of India "Jana-Gana-Mana" followed by another Hindi song performed by the students of Galik College in Ijevan.
Hon. Ambassador of India H.E. Achal K. Malhotra 
hoisting Indian National Tricolor

Mr. Ambassador read the speech of the President of India H.E. Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil on the eve of the 65th Independence Day at New Dehli on August 14, 2011.
Hon Ambassador presenting 
India President's Speech
Among the invited guests there were all IAF executive team members,  Indians working and studying in Armenia as well as Armenians having social and cultural relationship with India.

After the official part of the Day guests were invited to have light refreshments, discussing different news both from India and Armenia, exchanging the impressions and experiences of different spheres of intercultural life.

The IAF Solidarity

Friday, August 12, 2011

IAF: Unleashing Youth Power!

(International Youth Day Special)
By Rananjay Anand

On 17 December 1999, in its resolution 54/120, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of the Ministers, responsible for Youth, (Lisbon, 8-12 August, 1998), that 12 August be declared International Youth Day (IYD).

Exactly before two years from now, in August 2009, a group was created on a Social Networking Site Facebook, with a humble name "India-Armenia Friendship" with an intention to gather like-minded people and have a proper interaction between its people to bridge the gap created in the course of history. 

Two years have passed since then. You all have been there. You loved it, you celebrated it, you enjoyed it, you fought for it, you struggled for it, you made new friends, and you showed your anger and complaints too, i.e in a nutshell, a wholesome amalgamation of two different cultures with all colors of emotions and feelings. You have witnessed IAF's great journey so far, by being the part of this Caravan.

Now exactly after two years, I'm proud to announce IAF in its Physical Avatar. A real transformation from Facebook based virtual group to a legally existing NGO in Armenia. My dear friends, let me take this opportunity to congratulate you all by announcing that your virtual IAF has been legally registered as "Indo-Armenian Friendship" NGO in Armenia. From now onward August 12 will be celebrated by us as "IAF Founding Day" every year. This is the real transformation of Youth Power.

The International Youth Day (IYD) is something special this year. "Change Our World" has been chosen as the theme for IYD 2011 as it not only expresses the level of impact that young people strive to achieve, but also reflects the notion of a Global Citizenship. IAF envisages the same Global Perspective of having a Global Platform for Youth from every corner of the world, to come together and change the world. This inspired us to form "Society For Promotion Of Global Understanding"  aka (SPGU), based in India, armed with its country specific chapters through collaborations and creations around Globe. And IAF being the first country specific arm of SPGU, is exactly the "Torch-Bearer" of this theme excellently.

The world is facing myriad of problems: Poverty, Hunger, Unemployment, Natural Calamities, Global Warming, Clash of different cultures, sects & religions, and the list goes endless..Who will be facing this?? Can we afford to sit idle?? As young people we must realize that we are the ones who will be affected tomorrow by today's decision. Do we need to approach Problem to Solution or is it Solution to Problem approach  for all solution?? To my mind we must strive for the later case. 

It is our latent and creative ideas or voices, that will shape the future; We are Young, active and full of energy, we embrace challenges and are open to new and different experiences. With our intense desire for positive change, we have the ability to move beyond the geography and time restrictions and are undoubtedly the dynamic group of people that are the primary enablers of the Social Change. We need to unleash the untapped potential.

We hereby request to all those who can be our stakeholders to realize the theme this year and work together to ensure that policies and processes are in place to provide continuous investments in youth, to encourage youth mind to participate and take the challenge head-on and to improve the Intercultural Understanding among youth. IAF would like to continue with the spirit of IYD forever.

We, the Youth need support and encouragement from all around; be it Government, Corporate Houses, Private sector businesses, National and International Foundations, Philanthropists, Civil Society Organizations or other Stakeholders, we want to see them to work with us for a sustainable future. Youth need to be included at all levels of Decision-making to ensure that their need are met. This will provide the solution.

Let's dream a world, World of Togetherness. Come, join and be the force to reckon with.

To See The Change, Be The Change!