The Muse

The sheer variety of symbols and artefacts in use across the ages and geographies does not necessarily point to a multitude of assumptions and values from which they spring. The study of mythology and folklore then, is a reverse approach to anthropology. This blog is dedicated to my favourite symbols, tales and artefacts - both ancient and contemporary.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Legend of Ram... The Don

Human history is replete with instances when tales expand to epic proportions, and capture the minds of the populace. In time, the institution of religion decides to encash on this popularity to suit its own purpose.

The latest (relatively) in this category is the tale of Harry Potter, which the Vatican had promptly denounced, on the grounds that it glorified witchcraft. But perhaps religion is losing its hold on public consciousness - or it was simply beaten by the mania.

But one of the oldest in this category of tale-turned-scriptures is our own Ramayana. My interest in this tale is as deep as in Harry Potter. I've followed this epic since childhood - and in more than one version, always in the search of true story.

And so, I begin a series of posts on everything that is known or said about this tale, and I hope you enjoy it.
"Don की तलाश ग्यारह मुल्कों की police को है ..."  
 The relation seems loose, but it's there. The first aspect that one has to face in an attempt to study this tale is the sheer variety of versions. Not just national, but International. The legend of Rama is part of people's lives in all of south east Asia - Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Phillipines, ..., the lot. The King of Thailand is called Rama to this day (Presently, Rama the IXth) and the capital area in Bangkok is called Ayutthaya. Traditional shadow puppetry of Indonesia lives around this theme, and Indic temples and traditions accompany the tale in all of these countries.

Like the Don's infamy, Rama's fame covers a lot of ground. And while the plot remains the same, the characters sometimes go sea changes - Hanuman, for example. A paragon of asceticism in India, Hanuman is otherwise unanimously portrayed as being a womaniser elsewhere. This and many other things prompt the reader to probe beyond the facts, and to the real meaning behind these legends.

But most of all, the ancient coexistence of these variants tell us that the tale is older than religion itself, and has a profoundness that is universally revered.

8 comments:

Amit Sondhi said...

Kittens

Amit Sondhi said...

Hanuman as womaniser? Blasphemy! This will cause an existential crises in millions of Hanuman devotees in India. To resolve this, let's declare war on Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Phillipines (and Canada, just for lulz). One by one of course, not at once, cause that would be silly. We must not be silly. We be smart like that

Bunty said...

some food for thought!!

nice analogy :) gave me a reason to hit Google right away :)

Amit Sondhi said...

Oh, and we must not tell them what the war is for, because then they will laugh at us

Bunty said...

kabse so raha hai aapka blog...kab uthega?? wake up, ish!

Anonymous said...

Dear Ishita ! I came to read your blog. if you read Archetypal theory or Collective Unconsciousness by Jung, then you would find out that all mythical and historical including modern films follow same archetypal pattern-that is -war between Good and Evil. For a fresher like you, it may be fascinating. and the analogy between Don and Rama is just a fantasy :)

Ishita said...

@ Anonymous: thanks for visiting, and I hope to learn more, which I can't if you deny me the knowledge of your name and wisdom.

Anonymous said...

hey Ishita!I know all these because I'm a student of criticism in Literature :)