Discussion on Ramayana versions too not taboo in DU

Scholars from varied fields held a public talk on Wednesday in Delhi University titled Ramayana - Versions and Subversions, pointing at the existence of the large number of versions of Ramayana.

The talk was held within the underlying context of A K Ramanujan's essay -300 Ramayanas which was scrapped from the University's History curriculum six months back. It was removed in the wake of protests held by right wing students who dubbed it ‘anti-Hindu and blasphemous’.

The academicians discussed various versions of Rama’s epic tale in Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and South Indian traditions.

Stressing the need to allow discussions on the different versions, Keshav Veluthat, professor of History, said: “While the popular Ramayana in the Hindi-speaking regions is Valmiki's, that does not mean it is the absolute. There are other versions which are still being read in other states. Things which we do not believe are sacrosanct and should not be considered as blasphemous,” he said. 

He added that Ramayana itself recognises its different versions. 

“In the 15th century Malayalam version of Ramayana when Rama is asked to go in exile, he does not want to take Sita with him. Then there is a dialogue between Sita and Rama, where Sita asks him in which version of Ramayana, Rama went alone for exile,” he said.

“Recreation, additions and deletions have going on since long. Ramanujan collected and compiled the different versions of Ramayana being read in South Asian countries, including India, but did not do any poetic or aesthetic analysis of the versions. He just presented the various versions,” said Murli Manohar Prasad, professor of Hindi, DU. 


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