Who can read all 300 Ramayanas?

Picture: Rama on currency note issued by Maharishi Maheshyogi Organisation. It is accepted at many places in Nederland

Part 4– Ramayana wonders

 

Millions of Lines

Millions of Words

300 versions from India to South East Asia

Literature spanning over 3000 years

Conflicting versions; Interesting interpretations!

Ramayana has made a great impact in the life of Indians. No other EPIC story in the world has made such an impact on any other community in the world. No one can read all the 300 different versions in one’s lifetime. It is in every major language of India- from Assamese to Tamil. One must have proficiency in Sanskrit to read Valmiki, in Tamil to read Kamban and in Hindi to read Tulsidas, leave alone the Pali and Prakrit versions. South East Asian countries have their own versions of Ramayana.

 

A sloka (couplet) says, “Saritham Ragunathasya Sathakoti Pravistharam, Ekaikam Aksharam Proktham Mahapathaka Nasanam” (Rough translation: Rama’s history is in THOUSAND MILLION couplets. If anyone says even a single letter from it, all the sins will vanish).

Scholars have listed up to 300 different versions of Ramayana. If we take the references to Ramakatha in various scriptures it will be more than 300 versions. All the singers, composers, writers, saints have sung about Rama. Ram Charit Manas of Tulasidas (in Hindi) and Kamba Ramayana (in Tamil) are read by millions. Valmiki, Kamban and Tulasidas are household names in India.

Shri Ramadasa Gauda in his book Hindutva lists some of the Ramayana works:

1.Maha Ramayana:

It is part of a dialogue between Siva and Parvati. It describes 99 Rasa Lilas of Sri Rama.It proclaims complete divinity of Rama.

2.Samvrta Ramayana

Author of this work is Narada. It contains 24,000 slokas.

3.Lomasa Ramayana

Dasaratha and Kausalya are spoken of as King Kumuda and queen Viramati reborn.

4. Agastya Ramayana

It gives the stor ofBhanupratapa Arimardana. Here King Kuntala and Sindhumati are described reborn as Dasarath and Kausalya. It contains 16,000 slokas.

5.Manjula Ramayana

Author is Sutiksna. This also give the story of Bhanupratapa.

6.Sarupadya Ramayana

Author Atri gives the Pupavatika episode describing meeting of Rama with Sita.

7.Mahamala Ramayana

Bhusundi removes the infatuation ofGaruda.

8.Sauharda Ramayana

Author Sarabhanga refers to the cleverness of Rama and lakshmana in comprehending and conversing in the language of the monkeys

9. Maniratna Ramayana

Vashista and Arundhati are the authors. It gives the Vasantotsava celebrated by Rama in Mithila and Ayodhya.

10.Saurya Ramayana

Hanuman and Surya are the authors. It gives Suka’s life. Suka is reborn as a washer man whose gossip resulted in the banishment of Sita.

11.Candra Ramayana

It is a dialogue between Hanuman and Candra. It gives the story of previous birth of Kaivata

12.Mainda Ramayana

It is in the form of a dialogue between Mainda and Kaurava

13.Suvarchasa Ramayana

It is a dialogue between Sugreeva and Tara. It contains a dialogue between thw washerman and his wife.

14.Deva Ramayana

It is in the form of a dialogue between Indra and Jayanta.

15. Svayambhuva Ramayana

Dialogue between Brahma and Narada. Sita is described as a daughter of Mandodari

16.Subrahma Ramayana

Narada and Brahma debates

17.Sravana Ramayana

Dialogue between Indra and Jayanta Janaka also comes to Citrakuta when Bharata visited.

18.Duranta Ramayana

Bharata’s greatness is extolled in a dialogue between Vasista and Janaka.

19.Campu Ramayana

It is a Dialogue between Siva and Narada. Reference to swayamvara conducted by Silanidhi is found in it.

20.Ananda Ramayana

Ananda Ramayana has nine cantos divided into 109 chapters (sargams). It has 12,252 slokas/couplets. This is also attributed to Valmiki. But this Valmiki may not be the contemporary of Rama. It differs with the original Valmiki Ramayana in many places.

21. Bhusundi Ramayana

The original dialogue between Bharata and Atri is narrated by Bhusundi to Sandilya. Holy places around Citrakuta are mentioned in it.

22.Mantra Ramayana

It is conspicuous by the absence Ramakatha. It gives different Ramamantras

23.Vedanta Ramayana

This gives the story of Parasurama.

Picture: Indonesia released stamps with Ramayana characters during International Ramayana Conference

Rama’s name in Vedas

Rama’s name is in Rig Veda, Parisishta of Sama Veda and Patanjali’s Mahabhasya. Satapata Brahmana gives the list of performers of Asvamedha in which Rama’s name appeared. Following are other religious literature where Ramayana story is found:

1)Jaiminiya Asvameda 2)Mailravana Carita 3) Sahasramuka Ravanacaritam 4)Satyopakhyana 5) Hanumat samhita 6)Brhatkosalakhanda

Ramayana in Poetry

Ramayana is found in the poems of Kalidasa (Raghuvamsa), Pravarasena (Ravanavaho or Setubandha),  Bhatti (Ravanavadha), Kumaradasa (Janakiharana), Abhinanda (Ramacarita), Ksemendra ( Ramayana Manjari and Dasavatara Carita), Sakalyamalla (Udararaghava), Cakra Kavi (Janakiparinaya), Advaita Kavi (Ramalingamrta), Mohanaswami( Ramarahasya or Ramacarita) and the Dramas of Bhasa (Pratima and Abhiseka), Bhavabhuti ( Mahavira Carita and Uttararama Carita), Dinnaga (Kundamala), Murari( Anargharaghava), Rajasekhara (Balaramayana), Hanuman (Hanumannataka or Mahanataka), Saktibhadra ( Acaryacudamani), Yasovarman (Ramabyudaya), Mayuraja (Udattaraghava).

Ramayana in Dramas

Ramayana is in the dramas of Ksiraswami (Abhinavaraghava), Ramachandra (Raghuvilasa and Raghabyudaya), Jayadeva (Prasannaraghava), Hastimalla (Maithilikalyana)Subhata (Dutangada), Bhaskarabhatta (Unmattaraghava) Tryasamisradeva(Ramabdhyudaya), Mahadeva (Adbhutaramayana), Ramabhadra Dikshita (Janaki Parinaya).

Anonymous Ramayana Dramas : Chalita Ramayana, Krtya Ramayana, Mayapuspaka Ramayana and Svapnadarsana

Ramayana in Slesakavyas (Puns):

Dhanajaya (Raghavapandaviya), Madhavabhatta (Raghavapandaviya), Haradatta Suri (Raghava Naisadiya), Cidambara (Raghavapandaviya-Yadaviya), Gangadara mahadevakavi (Sankatanasana stotra).

Picture: Rama stamp issued by India

Ramayana in Vilomakavyas:

Suryadeva (Ramakrsna Vilomakavya), Venkatadhvari (Yadhavaraghaviya)

Ramayana in Citrakavyas

Krsnamohana( Ramalilamrta), Venkatesa (Citrabandha Ramayana)

Ramayana in Amorous Khandakavyas

Venkatadesika (Hamsasandesa or Hamsaduta), Rudravacaspati (Bhramaraduta), Vasudeva( Bhramara sandesa), Anonymous (Kapiduta), Venkatacarya( Kokilasandesa), Jayadeva (Rama Gitagovinda), Krsnacandra (Candraduta), Harisankara (Gitaraghava), Prabhakara ( Gitaraghava), Haryacarya( Janakigita), Harinatha (Ramavilasa), Visvanathasimha( Sangita raghunandana), Visvanatha (Raghavavilasa), Somesvara (Ramasataka)

Prose Romance and Campus

Ksemendra (Brhatkathamanjari), Somadeva (Kathasaritsagara), Bhoja (Campu Ramayana), Vasudeva (Ramakatha).

Ramayana in Regional languages and South East Asian languages are not listed here.

(Campu means Mixture of Prose and Poetry)

 

Continued in Part 5………………………………….

Please read other posts by Santanam Swaminathan about Rama: 1. Ram –the Best PR Man 2. தியாகராஜ சுவாமிகளுடன் 60 வினாடி பேட்டி 3.நாமும் அனுமார் ஆகலாம் 4.கம்பனுடன் 60 வினாடி பேட்டி 5.ராமாயண வினா-விடை (க்விஸ்) 5.Where is Rama Setu (Rama’s Bridge) ? 6.Did Sita Devi Die in Earth Quake? 7. Ramayana Wonders Part1 (8) . Ramayana Wonders Part2 :How many miles did Rama walk? (9) Ramayana Wonders Part 3 : Rama and Sanskrit G’ramma’r

Contact swami_48@yahoo.com

 

 

Ramayana Wonders-1

 

Ramayana and Mahabharata are two great epics in Sanskrit language. Hindus consider these two epics as their sacred literature. They worship the books. They won’t even touch them with unclean hands or on unclean days. Though the illiterate Hindus do not read the books the story is known to every Hindu through hymns, songs, lullabies, nursery rhymes, proverbs, paintings, sculptures, dances and religious/musical discourses. There are lot of hidden gems in the Ramayana.

Valmiki Ramayana is the original Ramayana written by Valmiki in 24,000 couplets. It is considered Adi Kavyam= First Epic. 

300 Different Ramyanas

1.There are 300 different Ramayana versions in the world. It is written in all major Indian languages in the olden days. Now it has been translated into all major western languages in the world.

2. Gayatri mantra in the Rig Veda is the holiest mantra for Hindus. One of the 300 Ramyanas is called Gayatri Ramayana. It is formed from 24 couplets from Valmiki Ramayana. Each couplet starts with one letter of Gayatri which has got 24 letters. Whoever reads these 24 hymns will get the merits of reading the full Ramayana.

3. There are more than 200 different types of plants described by Valmiki. More than 185 weapons are described by Valmiki!

3. Divya Prabanda Pasura Ramayana: An ingenious Tamil Periyacvachan Pillay selected Tamil Hymns from 12 Vaishnavite saints (known as Alvars) and composed a Ramayana. It is called Divya Prabanda Ramayana after the book Divya Prabandam, which contains 4000 hymns of the Tamil Vaishnavite Saints.

4.Nama Ramayana: The English word Name came from the Sanskrit word ‘Nama’. So this Ramayana is full of Rama’s name at the end of each line. No one knew who composed this. But this has been repeated by thousands every day. In sixty simple Sanskrit lines it relates the whole story of Ramayana. It begins with the line ‘Sudha Brahma Parathpara Rama’ and ends with ‘Ragupati Ragava Rajaram- Patita Pavana Sita Rama’.

3462 Similes

5.Ramayana has Seven Cantos, 24,000 couplets. But the seventh canto is considered a later addition. It has got 500 chapters. Ramayana has 3462 similes. Kalidasa who is famous for his similes has used less than half of this number. Valmiki’s 3462 similes belong to 13 different types.

In Sundara Kanda, more than 30 similes are used in just 22 couplets. A heap of similes are in canto 19 of this Kanda.

6.Jain Ramayana: Padma Sarita (pavuma sariya) is a Prakrit language book containing 118 pervas/sections. This big book has been dated to 4th Century AD by the German Scholar Jacobi. This book analyses Ramayana in a logical way and says Ten Heads for Ravana, Six Month Sleep of Kumbakarna  etc are wrong.

No ‘Sati’, so older than Mahabharata

7.In Ramayana the custom of Sati is not mentioned anywhere. All the wives of Dasaratha and other characters did not die with their husbands in the funeral pyre. So it is definitely older than the Mahabharata where there are numerous references to sati.

8.Cremation was practised by everyone. Dasaratha, Vali, Jatayu, Ravana and Andhamuni were all cremated. So burial was unknown to Ramyana. Dasaratha’s body was preserved in oil till Bharata came from Iran-Afganistan border. His mother Kaikeyi was from Kekaya which was in the border of modern Iran-Afganistan. Eldest son was supposed to do the cremation, a custom followed by the Hindus until today. Since Rama was banished Bharata had to do it.

 

Announcing Three Times

9.Janaka, father of Sita, repeats three times the decision to give her to Rama in marriage. This custom is followed around the world in many ceremonies (In Judicial Courts, Muslim Talaqs/divorces, going round the temple etc).

King lists differ from the king lists in thirteen Puranas. But it is not uncommon. We have similar conflicting and contradicting king lists of Sumerians and Egyptians.

Tamil Festival Pongal

10.Tamils celebrate Pongal, a Harvest festival on Makara Sankranti Day. A harvest festival known as AGRAYANA is mentioned in Valmiki Ramayana (III-16-16)

Ramayana says Candalas wore blue clothes. Sangam Tamil Literatures says Roman Body Guards wore blue clothes. Sanskrit literature says that those who were sentenced to death wore Red clothes.

Pet Birds: Parrots and Peacocks

11.Parrots and pea cocks were raised as pet birds. We have numerous references to parrots in Tamil and Sanskrit literature (Please read my posts Can Birds Predict Future, Animal Einsteins and Lie Detectors in the Upanishads)

Pet Birds (VI-75-20, II-65-5), caged female parrots (V-13-13), sportive peacocks (V-6-38), Parrot-Myna (II-53-22), parrots in palace (II-88-7) are some of the references to pet birds.

Elephants are mentioned in a number of places. Even 60 year old elephant (ii-67-20) is mentioned.

Swastika Symbol

12.Hindu Mangala (Auspicious) emblem Swastika is found around the world from pre historic times. But it is considered Hindu because they have been using it from Vedic/ Indus Valley days until today. Swastika is found on Royal raft (II-89-2) and panegyrists (II-16-46).

1000 pillar mandap ( now seen in Nayak Temples of Madurai, Tiruvannamalai etc) is mentioned in Ramayana (V-15-16 and VI-39-22)

Contd. in second part…………………………

Source Materials: India in the Ramayana Age by Shantikumar Nanooram Vyas; The Ramyana of Valmiki- translated by Hari Prasad Shastri and JM Macfie; Stotramala by LIFCO. Pictures are from Face Book and other websites. Thanks. Contact swami_48@yahoo.com

Please read other posts about Rama: 1. Ram –the Best PR Man 2. தியாகராஜ சுவாமிகளுடன் 60 வினாடி பேட்டி 3.நாமும் அனுமார் ஆகலாம் 4.கம்பனுடன் 60 வினாடி பேட்டி 5.ராமாயண வினா-விடை (க்விஸ்)