The Ramayana Its Origin and Growth- A Statistical Study
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The Ramayana Its Origin and Growth- A Statistical Study

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Item Code: UAJ411
Author: M.R. Yardi
Publisher: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Insitute, Pune
Language: English
Edition: 2022
ISBN: 9788193747049
Pages: 320
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 530 gm
A conspicuous upsurge of interest in the Ramayana may be said to be a prominent feature of Indological studies in recent times.

From among the many indications of this welcome trend I may just refer to the veritable spate of conferences, symposia, and seminars dealing with various aspects of the study and research relating to the Ramayana which have been and are still being organized at local, national. and international levels, both in India and abroad. A sort of official sanction had already been given to such efforts by UNESCO when it actively blessed the project of the preparation and publication of a comprehensive International inventory of Ramayana studies undertaken by the Union Academic International, Brielle’s, which, as a member of the Conseil International de la Philosophies et des Sciences Humaines, Paris, had been duly associated with UNESCO. The Sahitya Akademy of India also had readily agreed to collaborate in that project.

I had the honor to represent the Sahitya Academy at One of the meetings convened by the Union Academic International In that connection at Brielle’s as long ago as 1959. It is, indeed matter of great gratification that the Sahitya Academy has only recently published A Critical Inventory of Ramayana Studies in the World, in two volumes- Volume 1:· Indian languages and English, 1991, pages Ixxv+515; Volume II: foreign languages, 1993, pages 127.

Many are the questions which have been raised and discussed at some length at the Ramayana conferences, symposia. and seminars, as also independently. They relate mainly to such topics . as the extent and nature of the historicity of the Ramayana. the geography of the Ramayana (particularly the location of Lanka), the Identification of the Minerals, Raksasas, etc the culture-historical implications of Rama's expedition is the south', the agriculture- myth la the Ramayana'. and the Rama-story as prevalent outside India. Other themes like the poetry of Valmiki which entitles him to the prestigious position of Adikavis. the sublime characterization in the Ramayana and the text-critical study and editions and translations! of the Ramayana occurred in these discussions as a matter of course.

The textual problem posed by the Ramayana itahsa has been summarized by Weber in a slogan, as many Ramayana as there are manuscripts' (Gorge, p. 25). Many manuscripts contain passages which are not to be found In others, and they different regards the arrangements of cantos, verses and words. The Ramayana is very aptly described by Hopkins as a concordant discord· or more appropriately a concord full of discord. As a result of this study it is food that tube original RamQ1/tJta41 by Valmiki is a harmonious whole and that the discordant elements in it are due to accretions which have taken place Over a long, period.

Fortunately the Critical Edition of Valmiki's Brahamo prepared by the Oriental Institute, M. S University of Baroda. was available for this study. As Shah. the critical editor of the , UuarakatuJo, bas pointed out, different versions have been formed due to the predilection of each scribe to select, as his adarsh or exemplar codex, the manuscript written in his own regional script with which he is thoroughly acquainted. In this way there are various versions of the Ramayana like the Maithili, the Bengali, the· Saladin, the Grantham, the Malayalam etc.

These versions are broadly grouped together under two main recessions, namely. the Northern (N) and the Southern (S). The Northern recession bas three further important divisors (a) Sired or the North-Western Group, (b) Nepali or North-Eastern Group and. < c) Oevanigar! version. The Nepali or None-Eastern Group had two further subdivisions. (i) Maithili version and (ii) Bengali version. The Southern Recession his three main decisions.

(a) Telugu version, (b) Grantham version and (c) Malayalam version. The constitution of the critical text bas broadly followed the principles laid down by Dr. V. S. Sukthankar in his Pronomena , .appeared to the Critical Edition of Batakita

The Editor of Balakirtana, G. H. Bhatt, has mentioned that the following principles were adopted in preparing the Critical Edition. When the Nandi recessions agreed. the text was accepted. Where they did not agree, the S version was preferred as it seemed to have preserved the text in its older or original form. But when the S version did not suit the context or appeared absurd, the N text was preferred. If all the Mss. of any Ode version omitted & passage or a verse, it was a case for relegating the passage or verse to a footnote as a star passage or to the Appendix depending 'upon Its size

The critical edition of any work gives us only a reliable text which existed at a particular time, depending upon the dates of the earliest Mss. available. The Critical Edition. as It turned out from this study seems to have existed in the first century A. D. and this is a remarkable achievement, considering that the oldest Ms. available to the Conical Editors was one from Nepal dated 1020 A. D. This shows that the methods used for the preparation of the Critical text were sound and effective. This text.

however van tams nearly 18000 slokes. It is. therefore. necessary to devise a method by which we can find out the accretions, which have taken place since the composmon of the epic poem and indicate. if possible, the different stages of its growth, Brockington (pp. 16-61) has made an e-extensive study of the linguistic features to the Critical text of Ramayana and made an admirable' attempt to fix the stages of its growth. This method, however. is open to the objector, firstly that there is a subjective element in the choice of. the linguistic features. Secondly. no author can write continuously in a homogeneous style and a method has to be found by which we can separate the chance variations In his: style from those which are significantly different. Both these r conditions are fully satisfied in this statistical study.

Valmiki, the author of the Original Riima1lotuJ. enjoys the reputation of being an (jaikavi, the first poet in' Sanskrit lay literature. However, we have very little information as to who he was and when he lived. He must have lived at least two centuries before Val Sampaya, the author of original Barajas, who mentions him by name (VII. 118-48) and refers to him as bhagavo' (XIII. 18.7). This suggests that he must have been held in great veneration in Vaisampayana's time (tenth century B. C.). On the basis of the available information. his date has been fixed all the 12th century B. Conley a generation after Ramayana (See Chapter 5).

Srauta mentions Valmiki as a maharani a few times and also as a Bhargava once. The Buddhist scholar Savage states in his Buadhacarita (1.43) that Valmiki was a descendent of Bhargava Cyavana. The Bhargavas were a proud race with a clannish mentality. Had Valmikis been a member of the Bhargava clan, he would have declared it with pride. He does not mention it In the original Ramayana. The different Pur0tuJ. present Valmiki as a robber and this story has been adopted in the Amanda Ramayana and various Ramiillat1a~ in the Indian languages (Critical Note 1.1). This legend seems to have become current at a late stage with the growth of the cult of Ramabhakti and was intended to show how the repetition of the Ramayana could transform a sinner into a great rama and gifted poet. What Valmiki composed was undoubtedly a heroines, which describes Rama's war with Ravan), the Dravidian king of Lanka. to rescue his wife Sita. Although there is a great deal of exaggeration interspersed with the miraculous in this description, the historicity of tile Aryan conquest of the Dravidians and the principal characters in the original Ramayana is beyond doubt.

Valmiki’s Ramayana is undoubtedly a superb poem of high literary quality. There is no reason to doubt the literary tradition that it is the adikavya, the first long poem in Sanskrit literature, though as pointed out by Brockington (p. 189), the concept of Ramayana as an adikavya accurse in the late phalusruti of the Yudahak But we get an allusion to e. kavi or poet in the Baluko1J.q.a (4. 20). which belongs to the original Ramayana. Valmiki's Sloka meter is described as musical with equal syllables and adapted to the rhythm of stringed instrument (centre, I. 2. 17).' The poet underscores this musical connection between its recitation' and singing by juxtaposing the two verbs, path to recite' and gain 'to sing'. The increasing veneration of Rama and Valmiki's artistic presentation of the story has been factors in the popularity to the epic in India and also in Southeast Asia. The Ramayana is indeed the fountain source of Rama literature not only in Indian languages, both ancient and modern, but also in the languages of Southeast Asia. The popularity of the Rama story can be gauged from the fact that it has been transcribed in all literary form!', namely long poems, lynch, dramas, one-act plays. prose and prose mixed with poetry

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