This volume strikes a new note in the study of Indian epics-the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In it, for the first time, mythology is dissociated from the running threads of both the epic texts. The mythology of the two epics of India represents in general the belief of the people of Northern India along the lower Ganges within a few centuries of the Christian era. For the Mahabharata, the time from 300 B.C. to 400 A.D. The Mahabharata as a whole is later than the Ramayana, which is metrically more advanced and the work of one author. The rougher epic form of the Mahabharata, represents a life less rude than depicted in the Ramayana, and work of many hands and of different times. Epic mythology is, however, is fairly consistent. There is no great discrepancy between the character of any one god in the Mahabharata and that of the same god in Ramayana. Nor is the character of gods very different in different parts of the Mahabharata, save for the sectarian tendency to invert the positions of the three highest gods in favour of the sect.
Edward Washburn Hopkins ( September 8, 1857-1932)born in Northampton, Massachusetts, was an American Sanskrit scholar. He graduated at Columbia University in 1878, studied at Leipzig, where he received the degree of PH.D. in 1881. He joined as an instructor at Columbia University (1881-1885), and professor at Bryn Mawr (1885-1895). Later he became professor of Sanskrit and comparative philology in Yale University in 1895. He was secretary of the American Oriental Society papers, especially on numerical and temporal categories in early Sanskrit literature.His other publications include Caste in Ancient India (1881), Manu’s Lawbook (1884), Religions of India (1895), The Great Epic of India (1901), India Old and New (1901), History of Religions (1918), Origin and Evolution of Religion (1923), The Ethics of India (1924).