The influential 2000-year-old Sanskrit epic of the Ramayana narrates the perennially popular allegory of the divine prince Rama who is reluctantly exiled for 14 years by his distraught father, Dasharatha.

After the King suddenly dies from grief and a guilt-stricken conscience triggered by the scheming of an ambitious second spouse, his eldest son Rama travels with wife Sita, and younger brother Laxman to the Indian pilgrimage city of Gaya, in Bihar to dutifully perform the traditional final rites of “pinda-daan,” the stipulated elaborate and compulsory Hindu ceremony believed to help those who have passed, procure permanent peace.

Gaya is also mentioned in the other major Sanskrit classic, the Mahabharata, the longest known poem with over 200,000 individual verse lines or 100,000 “shlokas” or couplets, featuring the sacred text, the Bhagavad Gita. Presenting instructive detailed discourses on a wide range of topics from philosophy and ethics, ambition and hubris, to uneasy peace and the earliest concept of “dharma yuddha” or a “just war,” the ancient accounts contain the teachings of various revered sages. The constantly retold pair of literary works portray idealised characters and the often-painful intricacies of relationships. ….