Excursions Of A Bibliophile

What are u reading these days?

On reading the essay “Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation” by A. K. Ramanujan

Posted by Vish Mangalapalli on August 18, 2019

” Now, is there a common core to the Rama stories, except the most skeletal set of relations like that of Rama, his brother, his wife, and the antagonist Ravana who abducts her? Are the stories bound together only by certain family resemblances, as Wittgenstein might say ? Or is it like Aristotle’s jack knife? When the philosopher asked an old carpenter how long he had had his knife, the latter said, “Oh, I’ve had it for thirty years. I’ve changed the blade a few times and the handle a few times, but it’s the same knife.” Some shadow of a relational structure claims the name of Ramayana for all these tellings, but on closer look one is not necessarily all that like another. Like a collection of people with the same proper name, they make a class in name alone.”

I have read this twice over today… well written for its perspective and thought… Personally, I found nothing remotely objectionable in this essay and so am wondering what that hulla- gulla was that got created in Delhi University about this essay…. if anything it demonstrates the richness of Ramayana and outlines a few important concepts viz.

1. Puranas and Pratipuranas ( The Hindu interpretation of Ramayana vs. the Jaina interpretation of Ramayana was utterly new to me)
2. Ramayana as a story and Ramayana as a discourse
3. Differences in translations: Iconic vs. Symbolic

One vague thought that kept coming to my mind again and again as I read through the essay was that Hindutva will definitely bring ill-repute to Hinduism…..in the same way that Wahabbism has brought ill-repute to Islam….

Addendum: For all those who think that they are going to protect the culture and develop a single version of truth.. here are a couple of definitions

Hindutvavaadi: is some one who tries to protect Hindu Gods and Hinduism

Hindu: is some one who believes that the Hindu Gods and Hinduism will protect him…

Prof. Ashish Nandy

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