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11795Re: [भारत- चिँतन:7940] Re : [IHRO] Re: [Janshakti] Ramayana: An 'epic' controver sy

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  • Rabinder Koul
    Oct 21, 2011
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      Sadanand ji:
      You are right it irritated me that Indians themselves are too eager to discredit their inheritance, because outsiders say so. Thank you for reminding me. I do not expect any of the leftists to change their opinion. However I just wanted to indicate that there is alternative view. 

      1. I have indicated both about the different recounting as well as translation. You in your haste have forgotten to notice "recounting". Agreed that rendering is a better choice of word than recounting. It was partly in hurry that i also said translations, but I was cognoscenti of that it is not a good point.  However as you point out different renderings is a better description. However any descent scholar would look at dating these renderings. Clearly oldest dating has precedence over others. And the oldest at least the kernel of the story is from what is called Vaalmiki Ramayana. As you have yourself stated. Once the story is heard by others and are enchanted by it, as is the case with Ramayana, they will render it in their own narration. In particular if they have only heard about it and they have a new tool of writing.  
      2. Calling oldest narration is not thoughtless, thoughtlessness is placing all narrations at the same footing. Even in case the Ramayana is considered to be a fictional creation of Vaalmiki, the original story is his creation, rest are copy cats or or what is called plagiarism. The plagiarism is looked down upon in modern days, but you are giving equal authenticity to plagiarized version of Ramayana. Academics don't treat the plagiarism among the Greeks with equal authenticity. They refer to the original text.. On the other hand if the core Ramayana is the narration of certain history, then later renderings have to be discarded from the narration of that history. In this case intent of the left and the colonizing west is to discredit the text and take away the belief in the historical aspect of Ramayana. I recognize it well so do other Hindus. 
      3. Recognition of Plurality based on concoctions and lies does no good. No edifice can be erected on the foundations of the lies. Recognition of plurality is good only when it is based on facts. Plagiarism cannot be called plurality. If it is to be used that way, then you must be at least consistent across in all circumstances at different places and times.  That is certainly not the case in Academia or the left.
      4. Multilayered  narrations is also called interpolation or corruption by later authors. Let us suppose that some one wrote a paper describing, and then others took that article and kept adding additional pieces to it.  One does not take all these different renderings at equal footing as you are advocating.  "Monolithic Hindutva" is your personal imagination of the other and constant Bombarding of these images buy Indian Media and western Academia. And your falling for it is not surprising but expected. Question you must ask yourself, is do all these Ramayana's refer to to Rama of the same location as Ayodhiya, same parentage etc. etc. If that is the case then core story is connected to Ayodhiya and a king from  there. That is the least you have to give. Are the main themes of the story have similarity etc. etc. If that is the case those elements are the core of the story.  You can not take that away in the name of multilayered narration. 
      5. On the other hand Multi-layered nomenclature has become a tool for discrediting the historical aspect of Ramayana. One can do the learning from these Multilayered aspects without projecting the multilayeredness as discrediting the historical aspects. And that is the main thrust of the many Ramayana narration of the populace.

      Ravindra Koul
      अस्मद्रूपसमाविष्ठ: स्वात्मनात्मानिवारणे 
      शिव: करोतु निजया नम: शक्त्या ततात्मने 

      On Oct 21, 2011, at 5:54 AM, Sadanand Patwardhan wrote:

      Hello Ravindra,
      In your hurry to make a forceful point, you have tripped over badly several times without even noticing.
      1. First of all these are not several translations of Ramayana, in fact, these are not even translations. These are different telling or rendering of Ramayana, which may have a kernel of common story but much else is acquired in it through the time, places and cultures through which a particular telling flows.
      2. Calling therefore Valmiki as the “sole” author of “authentic” Ramayana is thoughtless. Though, story kernel is credited to Valmiki, it is his telling of that story is what often is called “Valmiki Ramayana (Even you have called it: “Valalmiki (?) Ramayana”). It is a tacit recognition of the fact other telling (s) of Ramayana do exist, and they are not translations.
      3. Recognition of this plurality, which I think is its greatest beauty, is what people now a days like to deny by using words like ‘Sole’, ‘Authentic’, etc. Denial of that multilayered reality through the prism of monolithic Hindutva is denial of our culture and is its bane.
      4. Such different renderings are a reflection of the times, values, and ethos of their respective eras and much is to be learnt from these “cultural fossils”.
      On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 5:09 AM, Rabinder Koul <arrk00@...> wrote:

      You are such deranged idiot as are your sources. There are many translations of Ramayana or recounting of the story, but it is the Valalmiki Ramayana that is the sole Author of Authetic Ramayana.  You will hardly have capacity to understand that.

      Ravindra Koul
      अस्मद्रूपसमाविष्ठ: स्वात्मनात्मानिवारणे 
      शिव: करोतु निजया नम: शक्त्या ततात्मने
      On Oct 20, 2011, at 12:23 AM, Sukla Sen wrote:



      19 October 2011 Last updated at 17:08 GMT

      Ramayana: An 'epic' controversy

      "How many Ramayanas? Three hundred? Three thousand? At the end of some Ramayanas, a question is sometimes asked: How many Ramayanas have there been?" wondered the late poet and scholar AK Ramanujan of the Indian epic in a compelling essay he wrote for a University of Pittsburgh conference in 1987.

      Twenty four years later, the essay, Three Hundred Ramayanas:Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation, finds itself at the centre of a fresh controversy. It has been dropped from the history syllabus of Delhi University after protests from hardline Hindu groups and a number of teachers. They believe the many versions recounted in the essay offend Hindu beliefs.

      As Dr Ramanujan tells the story, the number of versions of the epic which have existed in India and the rest of south-east Asia for the past 2,500 years or more is simply "astonishing". Though Valmiki's Sanskrit poem Ramayana is the most influential among Indians, Ram's story is available in at least 22 languages, including Chinese, Laotian, Thai and Tibetan. Many of these languages have more than one telling of the epic.

      Popular epic

      Twenty-five or more renditions of the epic in various genres - epics, poems, mythological stories - have been in Sanskrit alone, wrote Dr Ramanujan. There are sculptures, mask plays, puppet plays and shadow plays around the epic. One researcher, Camille Bulcke, counted 300 tellings of the epic.

      Millions of Indians have read and "watched" the epic in a popular comic book and a hit TV series. I remember the soap nearly shutting down India on Sunday mornings in the mid-1980s - streets would be deserted, shops would be closed and people would bathe and garland their TV sets before the serial began.

      Hindu groups first protested against the inclusion of Dr Ramanujan's essay in the syllabus in 2008. At that time, the head of Delhi University's history department was also assaulted by some hot heads. But the teachers had stuck to their guns and refused to drop the essay.

      Three years later, bowing to renewed pressure, the university's top academic body decided to take the essay out of the history syllabus, though, reportedly, a minority of teachers protested against the decision. One of them, Abha Dev Habib, described the decision as "very regressive and unfortunate".

      So why have the right-wing groups railed against Dr Ramanujan's essay?

      Journalist Sugata Srinivasaraju suggests that the groups love the "soap telling" of the epic poem which iconises Ram and "want the narrative to retain the structure and simplicity of a bedtime story so that you fall asleep in consent and total belief as you listen to it". Literary critic Nilanjana S Ray writes in her blog that this may "have been part of the general climate of intolerance and the battle over who had the right to tell the country's history and its myths that was part of the Indian landscape between the 1980s and the 2000s". She talks about how self-appointed censors wilfully scan texts for "offensive" phrases.

      Ms Ray is correct. Last year Mumbai University withdrew Rohinton Mistry's novel Such a Long Journey - shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1991 - from its curriculum after the nationalist Shiv Sena staged protests against its "derogatory" references to party members. Mr Mistry said the move was "a sorry spectacle of book-burning".

      Last year the state of Gujarat banned Pulitzer Prize-winning author Joseph Lelyveld's incisive Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India long before it had been released in India. Gujarat's ruling Hindu nationalist politicians had been told that the book sensationalised Gandhi's friendship with a German man, who may have been homosexual. All this was far from true, but the ban stayed.


      And everybody remembers how India swiftly banned Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses in 1998 because some clerics said it had insulted Islam. The Indian-born Rushdie had said he was "hurt and humiliated" by the decision.

      The attacks on freedom of expression by the right-wing fringe extend beyond India. This July, a screening of Sita Sings the Blues, an award-winning take on the epic by American animator Nina Paley, in New York was cancelled after a local Hindu group bombarded the organisers with hundreds of protest emails. A man attending a lecture by American Indologist Wendy Doniger in London in 2003 threw an egg at her. He was apparently incensed "by the sexual thrust of her paper on one of our most sacred epics".

      Salil Tripathi, who has written a book on Hindu nationalist attacks on free expression, finds Hindu groups engaging in "competitive intolerance" after realising that other faiths are able to "attract attention by challenging text, interpretations, films, books, music and imagery".

      Many would agree with this. But the ease with which attacks on free expression can be mounted in a country which never tires of calling itself the world's largest democracy betrays a weak and inffectual state, which often fails to respect and protect dissenters. That, many believe, means mischievous, trouble-making minorities can easily subdue and attack dissent.

      Peace Is Doable


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