2013 | 15: Text History and Society as Depicted in Indian Literature and Art. Part II. ŚRAVYA. Poetry & Prose | 209-236
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The Topos of the Four Ages of Humankind and the Question of Rāma’s Divinity

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The present paper explores the connection between the topos of the four ages of humankind, and kr̥tayuga in particular, and the way in which Rāma’s rule is described in the Rāmāyaṇa. This topos, commonly found in various literatures of the ancient world, is also attested in this epic, featuring in the account of Rāma’s rule in books one and six. The characteristic elements of kr̥tayuga, such as the earth’s spontaneous abundance and the absence of human miseries and suffering, make it clear that the king whose rule is described in such a way should be regarded as a divine human. The first part of this paper discusses the main problems connected with the Indian idea of king as presented especially by Edward W. Hopkins and Sheldon Pollock (king as a divine human or mortal god). The second part is devoted to the comparison of the descriptions of the world’s four periods in Indian, Greek, and Roman literature, with a focus on the similarities between them. In the third part of the paper emphasis is laid on the kr̥tayuga in particular and the way in which Rāma’s rule is described.
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