Ramayanapedia

A couple of weeks back, I saw something in Landmark that provided fodder for this post – A DVD box-set of Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana. A couple of days back, I saw a DVD-rip torrent of the same thing on the web, and that was when I realized that while Mr Sagar had actually done the people of India a great service by making that televised version, he had actually done great disservice to the epic itself. Not because he was inaccurate, but because he managed to convince most of our population that his version is the seminal, authentic version.

We are a diverse country but yet, at times, I am not entirely sure if we well and truly cherish that diversity. For instance, a lot of people would like to believe that our oldest epic is really one powerfully common story that connects all of us and gives us a unified sense of identity and provides us a clear delineation between good and evil. Like Mr Sagar’s version.

But,

according to the Dasaratha Jaataka,

Rama, at his father’s insistence, takes Lakshmana and Sita, and decides to spend a few years in the forest, generally chilling out, shooting game and making deer jerky and barbeque. News then reaches them through a Pushpaka SMS that reads “Dsrth is ded. pls cm hm”. Sita and Lakshmana flip out, start grieving mightily, shed bucketloads of tears and generally behave like characters in a Tamizh soap serial on Kalaignar TV. But Rama remains expressionless like Ajit in Billa and refuses to let grief overwhelm him. This is because, he is merely the Buddha in one of his many earlier births. He notes with characteristic detachment that all lives are impermanent, and goes on to lecture his sibling and wife on the need to conserve water by learning to keep ones tears in the thanni lorry of one’s mind. Later, all three return to the kingdom, where Rama-Buddha rules justly for many years.

According to Krrtibaasa’s Bengali Ramayana,

Rama was a Vaali-backstabbing, wife-dumping character who finally faces his 2 virtuous sons, Lava and Kusha, in battle, after the twins had dispatched Bharatha, Shatrughana and Lakshmana like VVS dispatches deliveries on middle and leg. While jackals and hyenas were enjoying full meals on the battlefield, Lava and Kusha proceed to humiliate and insult their father for trying to avoid fighting with his own blood (‘Ada chee, dialogue nirutthittu sanda podu nainaa’). Rama goes into a rage but ends up losing and still manages to wallow in some kshatriya pride despite falling to his own sons. He is happy that he has never been defeated by somebody from another lineage.

According to Bhavabhuti’s Uttararamacharita,

Lakshmana sends an IM message to Rama and Sita – “Dudez, you gotta check these Youtube videos out” and proceeds to share a bunch of video links, each of which show a different version of the story of the Ramayana. In some Rama is a hero and in some he is just another unscrupulous mortal. Some of the stories are about Raavana’s side of things, about how he rescued a willing Sita from an abusive husband and the tragedy that befell his family as he was pulled into an unnecessary war of aggression featuring bridge-constructing simians and invective spouting north indians (UPites) shouting – “Abe madraasi, baahar aaja” outside his gate. One other tale involves Sita jumping into Raavana’s funeral pyre after expressing disgust at Rama’s doubts about her fidelity. At the end, Rama reflects on all these versions and learns from his mistakes and becomes a better man.

Well, my translations might be a tad unnecessarily contemporary, but the main point is that there are several versions of the Ramaayana in India, from the well known, mainstream versions (Valmiki, Tulsi, Kamban etc) to the richly diverse folk tellings of rural India. Sort of like Linux, you know. A more or less common kernel with a thousand or more flavours evolving over a period of time. It’s almost as if the Ramaayana was composed open-source style. Perhaps there was somebody like Jimmy Wales who set up a wiki (short for Walmiki in those days) platform and invited poets and bards from all over India to collaboratively author the epic.

rp1

rp2

I can imagine that certain pages were very busy in terms of debate and discussion.

rp3

Perhaps they had some editorial guidelines as well,

rp4

And yet, some of the edits probably violated the Neutral Point of View guideline.

rp5

and perhaps, some of these spirited fights made it to the front page of digg in those days, along with other important news items of that age.

digg

72 Comments

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  1. Have been frantically checking my reader for yupdatesu from you. This is a master piece, was worth the wait!

    Loved the digg page!, will contribute to this thread a lil’ later, i’m just too excited to be the first commenter!

  2. ROTFLOL!! Beats ‘Facebook Mahabharata’ like Australia beatin India by 337 runs in the first test!!! Awesomely creative!

    Was wondering what would the search for ‘Surpanka’ throw up on Ramayanpedia – probably something on the lines of:

    ‘An unbelievably hot babe doing modeling and ramp-walking in a beautiful forest ends up with her nose cut – just becoz two brothers couldn’t decide who to go first! Jealousy as they say is chin up for a man and nose cut for a woman’!

    😀

    Loved the post!

  3. Whoa!! You’ve outdone yourself! Will the brilliance never ebb?!

    Have to rush to work but JUST HAD to comment.

    The folk versions of the Ramayana – there is a telengana version in Andhra (done to death in Telugu films) which, perhaps , doesn’t really stray much from the ‘authorized version’ in terms of plot; but the style of its narration gives it a charming immediacy, making the characters seem real and human rather than divine and godlike. (Divine and godlike – think Arun Govil; think moronic, beatific smile; think impossibly convoluted, stilted language.)

  4. Was calling Vaali ‘Monkey’ a racist slur?

    (How do you manage to consistently churn out brilliant posts – what did your mother feed you as a child? and what does your wife give you for breakfast?)

  5. Great Post!! But my fav was that digg story about unemployed simian workers from a bridge construction project going on a rampage in Trichy ………. Can we get more details on that story please?? 🙂

  6. Have been reading ur posts for sometime now. This one is another gem. Brilliant post. 🙂 And loved the Krrtibaasa comment on the “v alliteration”.. Lol!

  7. LMAO… Wat do i say!!! You never fail to make ppl smile!!!! Laugh lik no one’s watchin is more lik the word here thou….. keep them coming 😉

  8. Okay, note to self : if ever on a date with Krrtibaasa, do not take him to watch V for Vendetta.

    LMAO 🙂 Super super post!

  9. Very Creative Work indeed !!
    Good reminiscene of the episodes by Ramanand Sagar (I remember the excitement I held waiting for it to appear on the Doordarshan!)..

    These attempts of your “Ramayana Remix” are god level hilarious.. I would love to see the following important terms brought into the storyline as well :
    “Lakshman Rekha “,
    “Pushpak Vimaan” (Ravana’s private helicopter), “Hanuman burning Lanka”, etc..

    Keep rolling on your humorous posts !!

  10. Ashok!
    With such a sense of humour (and I do not know any Tamil blog with this much Sarcasm & Nakkal!) you can rightly be called as the Crazy Mohan of Desi Blogosphere! Hats Off Buddy! Am in an Idea to compile your best posts (which will be a real tough job considering each of your posts’ humour!) & circulate it to my friends!

    Regards
    Venkatramanan

  11. Hey Ashok, Apart from loving this creativity-laden post I am amazed at the fact that Hindus are so flexible when it comes to talking about their Gods. And Rama is not just any God but he’s one of the superstars!

  12. Awesome… as always :

    only only KA can come up with such stuff — “…shooting game and making deer jerky and barbeque”
    “Rama remains expressionless like Ajit in Billa ..” lmao

  13. wow.. this is awesome, such creativity, post after post… just like prabhu and maxdavinci, your posts are my breakfast 😀

    “V” alliteration… OMG..

    what about the article on “birth of rama”, may be authors were arguing about whether to blame some fruits or plain old dasharatha..

  14. Loved the idea of the editable epic but I am afraid it will soon be taken over by D&D players. You’ll end up with Rama being a level 20 Air Genasi Wizard fighting the undead.

  15. Rock on man! Considering your open-mindedness to different versions of the Ramayana, I wonder if you have read Ashok Banker’s version (6 books in all)? He makes Ramayana a Lord Of The Rings style epic.

  16. Hilarious. The perfect medicine for the masses – a healthy dose of irreverence, practicality and “what-the-hell”-isms.
    Also, I was thinking that if Mike Procter had been around, he would have banned Rama from touching the bow-arrow for 14 days – for calling Vaali a monkey.
    Particularly enjoyed the open-source concept for the epics. That is a refreshingly new point of view. (thanks, Rahul, for pointing this site)

  17. “Lakshmana sends an IM message to Rama and Sita – Dudez, you gotta check these Youtube videos out” hahah thats so funny ~~~awesome writing mate~~~i hope no one makes a controversey out of it ~~~mate~~~

  18. Well, let’s see what Wikipedia actually says about Ramayana (as of now): “The Ramayana (Devanāgarī: Rāmāyaṇa, रामायण) is an ancient Sanskrit epic attributed to the poet Valmiki and an important part of the Hindu canon (smṛti).” – the first sentence.

    So your entire premise from the very beginning is totally wrong, and very obviously so though no one has pointed it out. There aren’t several versions of Ramayana, there is only one Ramayna, the Valmiki Ramayana, the original one, the canonized one, of which centuries or millennia later there sprang up several versions, presumably because the country was in utter dearth of creativity and had to rehash an old epic which itself shows an utter dearth of creativity to begin with.

    Valmiki Ramayana is not the “Core” or kernel – as you imply somewhere, it is the whole of it. You say: “but the main point is that there are several versions of the Ramaayana in India, from the well known, mainstream versions (Valmiki, Tulsi, Kamban etc) to the richly diverse folk tellings of rural India.” This is your fundamental point on which the spoof is based, but this is much much worse than saying something like “There are several versions of Sholay, Ramesh Sippy’s, Ajit Diwani’s, Ram Gopal Verma’s” – Can you get any more misinformative, dude? There is only one Sholay, of which there have appeared a couple of versions so far, and in the next two thousand years, there are likely to be many more versions.

    So, I am very sorry to say, as far as the concept of disservice is concerned on which you begin, isn’t it you who are doing a great disservice by spreading misinformation? For me your spoof would perhaps work only if you’d cut out on the obvious misinformation, and started out on a more honest premise, something like this: “I was wondering how Ramayana would have come out if it originally developed as an open source version…” Instead, you make it sound like it did somewhat develop like that historically.

    Apart from that, I have a comment on your obseravation: “a lot of people would like to believe that our oldest epic is really one powerfully common story that connects all of us and gives us a unified sense of identity and provides us a clear delineation between good and evil.” It is indeed a common story, even the several much latter-day versions make changes only in the language and some details and tone of the epic, but do not change the ‘common story’ aspect of it. The entire story, and not just the ‘core’, remains the same even in the versions. So what are you talking about? Now, all the people who commented here may think this is a very funny write-up, which it is to some extent, but for me the sad part overshadows the fun(ny) part. It is to me very sad that an entire nation gets its unified sense of identity based on such an incredibly inane epic – and moreover has to derive its sense of “clear delineation between good and evil” – from a story which contains from the very beginning to the end stupendous morally objectionable acts. Remember Rama pouring lead into the ears of an untouchable who hears the scripture? But if one begins to analyze, the whole of Ramayana shows a monstrous lack of any commonsense notion of good and bad. But your observation is still true, though sad and unfortunate, that we consider Rama a paragon of moral virtue (someone who abandons his wife based on hearsay!). For me what is more sad is, someone like you, and in our age of internet, still seems to revere and think fondly of this total nonsense of epic proportions.

  19. Yippee yay, I was wondering why the “insulted sensitivities” comments hadn’t shown up yet.

    PS: I love how the heckle starts with “Lets see what Wikipedia says about ramayana.. Therefore, you are very wrong, you follow?” Heheh

    The word war begun has.
    (Yoda, circa 2007)

  20. Bikerdude,
    Thanks saar. Same to you and all that.

    Rambhai,
    Thank you very much. And it doesn’t matter if somebody makes a controversy out of it. I don’t take what I write very seriously.

    Voyage2stars,
    Welcome. And don’t take this post too seriously. In fact I’m not even sure that the entire country considers the epic to be central to its identity. A lot of people seem to thinkso, and that’s why I used the word “lot” and not “all” in my post.
    And as regards your notion that the Valmiki version is the original Sholay while the rest are Ram Gopal Varma versions, um, I’ll just have to say I disagree. The Jataka versions are incredibly unique and interesting in their own right, as is Krttibaasa’s perspective of a rather negative Raama. I hope you remember that Indian myths have an oral tradition. They change with each telling based on the historical and social context they are set in. So there are several versions. You should read “Questioning Ramayanas” by Paula Richman.
    And with respect to doing disservice, perhaps I am 🙂 It’s just a personal blog. Rest assured, this post is not going be used in a history text book. So I wouldn’t worry about spreading misinformation.
    And last, but not the least, I did a search for “revere” and synonyms of “revere”, such as “love, respect, admire” etc in the post and found no reference to my worshipping this character. If you must know, my favourite character in the epic is Jambavaan.

  21. Anna,

    Enna thaan naathikanaaga irundhaalum ippadi oru kaviya Ramayanathai keezhuchu naar naar agi podaradhu koncham over.

    BTW, had lodsa fun reading and laughing my pochchu off at the post. Keep entertaining us Anna

    Cheers……….Jam

  22. When I said the country, I also simply meant a lot of people (and also traditionally), so that’s fine. As for the versions, you would have even the slightest scope of disagreeing here if Rama’s story was a historical fact, and although Valmiki composed the original version, alternative oral traditions survived which were later rendered into various well-known versions. But just as Sholay was Sippy’s creation, Ramayana was Valmiki’s creation. And how can you even remotely compare Jain Ramayana and Buddhist Ramayana that may be popular in Indonesia and Thailand to the Valmiki Ramayana- I don’t understand. How many people in India have even the faintest clue that a version of Ramayana exists in the Buddhist Jataka tales? If only you said that although Valmiki’s Ramayana is the original and authentic version (considering Valmiki himself was part of the story, and moreover everything was supposedly divinely revealed to him, and considering it is considered the Adikavya) – on which RS’s Ramayana was largely based – there are other lesser known versions, such as [spoof here] — then I couldn’t have said anything. All I am saying is, there is no way you can categorize Valmiki’s Ramayana along with various other far more recent versions or rather renditions or interpretations of it. About the “revere” – this is the reference: “Mr Sagar had actually done the people of India a great service by making that televised version.” Only a “reverer” can say that Mr Sagar had done the people of India a great service in making those two infinitely moronic tv serials.

    Now coming to the actual spoof part of it, while it was entertaining, I wasn’t impressed. I used to see several modern ramayana and mahabharatha versions in college magazines, this is just a web take on it. However, if you tried a spoof on, for example, the practical difficulties Rama would have encountered while for example he was tracing Sita or building a bridge across the ocean (!) – I could have joined the folks here in cheering you, I guess. This is your personal blog of course, and I am just giving you a personal opinion.

  23. First Facebook Mahabharatha, now Ramayanapedia vaa? I sincerely would like to know what reels the womenfolk of your family fed you along with the daily dose of thayir sadam, when you were a wee lad!!

    ps: On an entirely diff note, have you read Ashok Banker’s Ramayana? Brilliant! Do read it, if you haven’t already.

  24. Hilarious!!
    Any latest update on unemployed simian riots in Trichy?
    Ah. em. 🙂 The union leader apparently accepted a large bribe from the government and made some questionable promises to the workers. So things are quiet now, uneasily though 🙂

  25. voyage2stars,
    Given that it is a myth, and that the author himself is a part of it, much of anything that is considered to be authoritatively true (like the fact that he is the only one who wrote it, and he is the earliest etc) are likely to be questionable as well.
    To say that I cannot categorize other versions of the Ramayana along with Valmiki’s version is like saying that the English Bible is nothing more than a shoddy derivation of the Jewish Torah/Talmud. The King James version has a beauty of its own (not the contents, I meant the sheer poetry and power of the language). And not only is the language the only difference, the English version is culturally an original artifact of its own despite the fact that it did come from a long line of translations (Hebrew to Greek to Latin to English).
    To a Therikkoothu artiste from South India who performs street plays loosely based on folk retellings of the Ramayana, Valmiki has no meaning, no social or historical connection. His version, as you rightly point out, does contain several instances of what is today, considered to be extreme cruelty or bigotry (the lead in the ear incident, the sita dumping etc), which is exactly why it’s all the more important not to ignore the historical retellings of any epic or myth.
    When R Sagar made the Ramayana, it was an era of DD, and in general, fairly low standards of production across the board. With the exception of rare geniuses like Ray, Adoor or Benegal, most TV and flim productions of the 80s were pretty crappy. But just the sheer achievement of making a televised version, that almost everybody in the country saw is something to be lauded. If you remember right, Sagar did leave out most of the really questionable incidents (the beheading of a lower-caste person who was meditating etc). So while it’s sort of cool to laugh at his version (and ive done that many times) it’s not so cool to give him no credit for what he did. It is a landmark in Indian TV history, although it may not have aged well.
    Every civilization/culture in the world has some version of the Hero myth (e.g, the Iliad, the Gilgamesh etc). The specific details often vary, but the archetype does not. The Ramayana is possibly the earliest Indic version of that archetypal myth (The hero’s journey). And one specific version set in one specific moment in history cannot assume precedence over others.

  26. I suspect that when KA speaks about “many Ramayanas” he is referring to how diverse the retelling of what you refer to as ” original” Valmiki version of the story has been.
    Informed scholars (not wikis) like Paula Richman and others, debate that the Valmiki Ramyana may be the most popular but disagree that it is not the “authoritative” one because V’s version was an”open source version” anyway; a part of the oral tradition and no one can really say that the Valmiki Ramayana, though most well known, does not include many versions and little stories from anonymous oral renditions that he encapsulated as his consolidated epic story. Epic experts concede that there is no final proof that Valmiki’s version is his very own.
    Ramesh Sippy has proof that Sholay is his own through copywright laws but there is no absolute proof that the whole of Valmiki Ramayana is his own alone and could be the product of collaborative oral efforts. Hence each version is acceptable for those who find it important. I can’t dismiss the Thai’s version just because I see mine as the “original” one. It is insulting to say the Ramayana is just one story by Valmiki ; it’s marvel lies in how it lends itself to polycultural renditions and multicultural traditions and faiths and beliefs.
    It’s like Ramesh Sippy had three scriptwriters narrate him similar dacoit stories and he gathered those ideas to make Sholay which is remade in various versions across the years. His is what we’d call the original and the best and others that came after them varied versions, but his original may be the draft that he wrote from the ideas of his team of scriptwriters.
    Joyce’s Ullysses is important and beautiful as Homer’s Odyssey-and Western scholars debate how original Homer was in translating an oral story into his own!
    The flexibility of the oral story culture of the Ramayana epic and its moral questions remain in all the various versions that add colour to the many retellings.
    KA’s a web version of his own. The epic’s tradition allows it to be so.

  27. Now firstly the King James version is not really a ‘version’ – all Bible versions are more or less faithful translations of the same original Greek (New Testament) and Hebrew (OT) sources – differing only in the choice of words. So a comparison to Bible versions is not at all appropriate in this discussion. I completely agree with you that in the mythological context everything is questionable, even the existence of Valmiki as a single person. Both you and maami have stated several valid and interesting points. But such scholarly elucidation, while it is of general interest, are deviating from the points I’ve raised in response to the non-spoof parts of your post. You said in the post “he had actually done great disservice to the epic itself.” Now what is this epic? Any story, any book, any epic has to have a single identity, at least in the popular mind. That identity to Ramayana comes from what is known as Valmiki’s Adikavya. How did this epic come about, whether it was totally an original product of one mind or whether it was derived, is not of particular concern here, because the issue here is about Valmiki’s Ramayana and the versions succeeding it, most probably after a significant time gap; and also nothing can be clearly ascertained about the possible oral traditions preceding Valmiki anyway. Now my whole point here is that whether RS made that TV Ramayan or not, in popular imagination (and this is the keyword here, not scholarly conjecture) – there was and is a standard Ramayan story known to all Indians, already popularized by movies and Chandamama stories and such. Even the majority of Ramayana versions, or better to say, renditions or retellings, remain more or less faithful to this original version, differing only in language, description and details, but not in the storyline or facts. There are deviant versions too, like I’ve heard in Kambha Ramayana, Ravana is the protagonist, but they hardly figure in the popular mind.

    Here I have to clarify one point. Tamilnadu has significant anti-north sentiments, not at all familiar here in Andhra Pradesh. For us and for the rest of India (excepting perhaps TN), Ramayana means Valmiki Ramayana just as Mahabharatha means Vedavyasa’s Mahabharatha. In Andhra, we have Ranganatha Ramayana, Vishwanatha Ramayana etc, but we don’t ever parallely juxtapose them with Valmiki Ramayana, instead they are merely considered as translations, derivations, popularizations or elucidations. And similar would be the case in every other region of India, except possibly TN. This simple fact may be the root of all our debate here. Because of the simmering anti-north sentiments prevalent in your area, I think you people in TN tend to question the original and exalted status of Valmiki’s Ramayana, above and beyond all of its versions – and put it on par with, say, your Kambha Ramayana. This is very strange for me, but the thought has occurred to me just now. Since this seems to be the case, RS’s TV version, to the extent that it has popularized exactly what is already a popular story in popular mind, a strongly monolithic story, may seem to Tamilians to be doing a disservice to the Ramayana epic (that is to say, the Tamil version of it). (I’ve even heard that in order to cater to Tamil audience, RS incorporated some aspects from Tamil Ramayana.)

    This is exactly like if in hundred years from now, AP were to develop anti-north sentiments, and RGV’s Aag could be regarded on par with Sippy’s Sholay simply because RGV belongs to AP. And we would argue Sippy’s was not the original story, he brought it from some Chambal valley folklore including the mehbooba song, from which RGV too derived his inspiration, and both are therefore equally valid versions in their own right. So, in AP (and only here), people could deem Sholay to be a Chambal Valley open source story! Ridiculous as it may sound, in theory it is quite plausible. So the whole argument between us is now clear. In TN, maybe really people think Ramayana is an open source story, though such a notion would be completely alien in AP and the rest of India. So you were merely expressing the standard TN’s viewpoint and making it a launchpad for your spoof, but I didn’t get it one bit until now. So, now my only complaint with your piece would be that it would be better if you mentioned somewhere this TN vs. Rest of India difference of viewpoints and that you are strictly speaking for TN. Well, in Indonesia, they may argue Rama was born in Java and not in UP, and Ravana belonged to Malaysia, because their folklore tells them so, and who would we be to argue with them? They are correct, you are correct, and I am correct, as long as we represent a significant section of population.

    As for your defence of RS’s TV serial, it may be cool or it may be uncool, but my point again was not that. I was only saying that even if he made the coolest version, only a person innately believing in the greatness and relevance of the Ramayana epic (kernel!) would say that someone did service to the nation by televising it! And I was just complaining against that particular remark. To me, it was merely a morbid morose propaganda for hindutva.

    So to briefly sum up my feedback, if I were posting similar material, and had the spoofs and the doctored screenshots ready with me, I would simply say something like this. “I was watching a torrent of TV Ramayana, and it occurred to me that people generally subscribe to one standard story are not aware that there are so many versions of it. Here is, for example, [the first spoof section]. And after Valmiki’s Ramayana became incredibly popular and beloved, there was a spree of Ramayana writing. It was like everyone who could write was trying to add some of his own imagination to it. And surely if they had Internet in those days, they could have started a wiki. [Second spoof section here].

    Simple.

  28. Veluchera Narayana Rao ( unless you are him and a Sanksrit and harikatha scholar rolled into one) said that the most beautiful verses in Telugu Ramayana came from the oral renditions by women at the farm and at households who made up songs for each occasion. I am talking about little lesser known versions than the popular Vakmiki version.
    Dragging Tamil anti north bits here, I am afraid, is facile argument.

  29. Voyage2stars,
    1) I’m afraid you are incorrect with regard to the bibles. Very few translations are “faithful”, and the council of Nicaea was set up just to address that very issue. The outcome of that council was to arrive at a single, agreed upon creed and quash the rest as heresies.

    2) Actually, I’m not sure where this whole Tamil angle came from. I sure don’t mention it in my post. In fact, the Kambha ramayana (which I don’t talk about) is fairly similar in storyline and tone to the Valmiki version (and not ravana-centric as you claim) , so this post is not about him and his version at all. I could have picked from several versions, but in the interest of brevity, I picked the Bengali, Jataka and Bhavabhuti versions because they represented a fair diversity from the original.
    So that would make the rest of your TN/Rest of India argument slightly questionable, given that you simply made the assumption about me being TN-centric, TN-people not liking Valmiki etc.
    And when you say “How did this epic come about, whether it was totally an original product of one mind or whether it was derived, is not of particular concern here“, well..that is exactly the point of the post – how did this epic come about. The diversity of versions found everywhere cannot historically be traced back to a single version. That would be a specious argument. While the Valmiki version is popular, the crux of this post simply questions 2 things
    1. Is it the only version worth paying attention to, because several folk versions address important and more contemporary social issues (gender, caste etc)
    2. Perhaps even the original itself wasn’t really a single man’s effort, as some people would like us to believe. Perhaps, Valmiki collated a large number of local stories and myths into one poem. We don’t know this to be true, but neither do we know that it was actually just one man and his original imagination. Occam’s razor will tell us that the second is rather unlikely.

  30. 1. Well, about the Bible at least there is absolutely no issue. The Council of Nicaea was held in 4th century to determine what books should be included in the Church’s Bible, and what books should be excluded. The official Bible came into being then. The translation business began one thousand years later. KJV appeared in 16th century. All the Bible versions and translations are absolutely faithful to the original in meaning, line to line, and this is apparent from the fact that Bible verses have the same number reference (ex: Mat 14:13) in any version.

    2) I said I “heard” this thing about Kambha Ramayana, I didn’t claim anything. (Net Source: “for instance within the ancient Kambha Ramayana, in which Ravana is a protagonist”). First of all I didn’t know, you were roughly sticking to the original versions in your spoof – one would simply think you were making them up entirely. But if you gave one or two line introduction of each version, highlighting differences, perhaps it would then give the sense that your summaries correspond to the original versions, despite the modernistic references. Okay, you insist you were not being TN-centric, and I had to assume that you were, simply because I couldn’t come up with any other explanation.

    3. About the originality and supremacy of Valmiki Ramayana, this is what people believe in (still I am not sure about TN, but the rest of India). Incidentally, scholarship and research, so far as I can ascertain, seems to totally back up this view – that Valmiki Ramayana is the source of all the extant versions. About Bhavabhuti’s Mahavir Charitam that you specified, for example, this is what a net source says: This drama is based on Ramayana of Valmiki. Dramatist depicts the character of Shri Rama, showing his bravery and valour…. About Krittibas’ Ramayana, all the Googled sources are saying things like “was the translation of the great Indian epic of Ramayana to Bangla” or “the most popular poet to adapt Ramayana into Bengali” or “Krittibas was probably the first to retell the Ramayana in Bengali”. So the keywords are “translation” “adaptation” “retelling” – all heavily based on Valmiki Ramayana which remains the Baap. As for the Buddhist Ramayana, net sources say: “in Buddhist Ramayana, Rama and Sita are brother and sister and are the children of Ravana.” Is this a bad joke? – better not even talk about it, leave alone comparing it in any way to Valmiki’s.

    This is all what I have been saying: Valmiki’s Ramayana remains the original and definitive compostion. This is what the general populace believes in and scholarship agrees about. Valmiki owns Ramayana as Microsoft owns IE. There are many browsers based on IE, for example the one I am using now Avant, but you can’t say IE is an open source like FF. Ramayana is not and has never been an open source. Now historically, MS may have purchased the core of its IE from some company, but that’s of no particular significance; Valmiki’s Ramayana may have been sourced from some unknown sources, but once it was composed – we have the Ramayana as we know today, versions and translations are secondary.

    I’ll give you a final sum up of my feedback in one line: Your focus is the spoof, and it would have worked much better if you simply acknowledged the integrity and top position in hierarchy of Valmiki’s Ramayana, and made a wiki thing about it adaptations of it.

    Has been nice interacting with you. And I would join with the rest of your audience here in saying: Keep them coming.

    Phalachandra
    Voyage2Stars.com

  31. Pedda Rayudu, you are advertising a movie that is over ten years old. Better change your name to Robo.

    And Bickerdude, I really liked you much better in your Yoda role than your more recent one of singing silly around the trees

  32. Voyage2Stars,
    Thank you for the debate. I guess we disagree on the “Valmiki owns Raamayana as much as Microsoft owns IE” bit. Actually, IE was originally built by Spyglass, which took the NCSA Mosaic source code and created IE 1.0. So much for Microsoft owning it 🙂 Ofcourse, they “own” it now, like Valmiki “owns” his version.

  33. lol!

    Ramayana in tanglish should be the next new revolution.

    Rama and seetha were happy doing gilma in the kaadu while lakshman was doing bodygaurd velai for them. But oru naal pepparapaennu oru deer coming. ……

  34. Well said. History is always misinetrpreted to suit the people in power. Ramayana is always a hindu version and never been an epic which states the good and bad characteristics of the characters. Just like our Tamil movies, hero is always right.

    Heard about Himba ramayana through one of my Tamil ayya. He says that it talks more about the censored parts of Valmiki’s Ramayana.

  35. I am going to change my name to Bickerdude.
    Not to mention my clothes, as I run around various trees singing songs.

    PS: Pedda rayudu, btw I think your nameudu kicks assudu, all the way up to the starsudu. So romba feel pannadhe about what voyageudu said about itudu. Freeya Vittudu.

    What would you do without my profound interjections in this discussion I say? Eh? Tellmetellme.

  36. another masterpeice by KA! have to admit that reading thru the comments was equally entertaining too 🙂

    btw, finally posted after a long, long time. will be posting more frequently from now on… (hope to, at least!)

    😀

  37. This is PRayudu’s i’ll girl speakingu:
    My Dahling Dudeu, I can’t be bothered to react to confused minds.
    Let’s get on your bike for an earthly voyage. We’ll leave the galaxies out for those who are stuck on nursery rhymes.
    My Nanna approves of you.

  38. hi!
    it was fun reading the way u interpreted the epic. i went thru the other posts too in which some people dont seem to be quite supportive or agreeing to ur point of view. n e way to some extent i agree with wat u said (but only to sm extent) and i personally feel that respecting the epics is 1 thing and deriving morals n lessons frm it, quite different.
    Not even the people who enact the roles of Gods n Goddesses actually imbibe or even follow qualities like truth etc. in their real life. Thus wat matters is not the authenticity of the “real” or the “Core” text, hw people interpret it, n how much justice does it do to the original version, but what u actually learn frm it, as a person may get much more enlightened by something which is not exactly the true version than the real version itself.
    In my view basically these epics are about the moral qualities so to say like being honest, compassionate , truthful etc in our evryday life, but if we luk closely…. Evryday, we lie in such small-small things of which there is no need n still keep on fighting against the people who interpret or say smthng wrong abt these epics, just pretending hw strongly we feel for them, but i question, wat’s the use of it? r we at all learning n e thing “Good” frm n e of these epics? n if not thn whydo we shw so much of untruthful concern for them?

  39. @voyage2stars:
    I think Valmiki ramayana is not the most “popular” version of Ramayana in North India — I think Ramcharitamanas by Tulsidas is read and recited by more people than the elitist Sanskrit text

  40. Krishashok – Best blog to read when you are glum
    Voyage2stars – Best site to go to when you are suffering from insomnia

    @ Deepshikha, morals are very simple, at least for me. Its about doing what feels right deep inside of me. I dont need epic stories to tell me that. By the way, did your significant other lie to you recently?

  41. This comment has nothing whatsoever to do with this post. Just wanted to tell you that I stumbled onto your blog, started at Facebook Mahabharatha and went on to read it all in the last couple of days! Orey the louvvs I have for your blog! Keep up the good work!

  42. Thalaiva,

    ROFL yet again. Great job dude. You ought to be in the movies ;).

    Re: the long and winding exchange between voyage n you, interesting reading, but man, why pour out so much concern over something that is essentially a laugh over breakfast.

    Voyage, no offense, but get a life man, a joke’s a joke, no relation to reality required. You don’t need to analyze it to shreds.

    LMFAO @bi(c)kerdude and pedda rayudu.

    Thenga Chutney, would love to see you develop your theme.

  43. Hilarious: and you haven’t even touched the Ramayana versions from other lands. In one version (Thai? Balinese?), Sita gives the middle finger to Rama when the latter asks for the trial-by-fire, and she runs away with Hanuman, who has been waiting patiently all along..

  44. Good Blog again.Though an old one I am reading now.

    How about creating a Harry Potter kind of epic in the modern age now.Web 2.0’s social aspects have simply no limits.It is spawning off so many versions of the everything….

    I am now really studying hard the aspects of Web 2.0 and really want to get into the research of web 2.0 after reading your blogs.

    You really owe me for changing my career interest. 🙂

  45. In the voice of Sundaram Master (who happens to chair/judge/entertain/just-be-there for almost all dance talent shows) — “Super …… Super … Soooooooper” 🙂

  46. Mr. Smart-ass,

    Kudos to you on being a much liberalized and liberated being.
    As to you haphazardly quoting some leftist bottom feeders and making PC statements, a dose of reality may

    need to be injected into the region containing your grey matter(of course,if present).

    The Ramayana is only one, but like good Indians we do have alternative opinions. Even the regional

    author go to great lengths to preserve the spirit of the epic, and no one has dared to change the story

    itself, though they may have passed a few comments here and there. These comments in no way change the

    nature of the epic as you have incorrectly concluded. They merely provide a literary counterpoint to the

    ideas expressed in the epic. And yes, for each and every Indian, whether a Brahmanan or a tribal, the

    epic embodies and gives a concrete view of dharmam and its application. Thus it is a constant companion

    of all sanatana dharmis and a source of inspiration and guidance to them.
    You perversely quote the Jaina and Buddhist polemics as though they were great works of art. In truth those hacks could do nothing better than reorient the characters to propagate their viewpoint. Your comparisons are mischievous and an anti Hindu(and Brahmana) streak is more than obvious.

    Just because you are a bhrashta you need not feel compelled to convert other to your fold.

  47. Great blog machi!

    Anyone who can say “Even the regional author go to great lengths to preserve the spirit of the epic, and no one has dared to change the story “, is obviously not familiar with more than one version of the epic.

    Highly recommend the book Many Ramayanas!

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