The different versions of Ramayana prevalent in various parts of India became the point of discussion again at Delhi University on Wednesday. About 100 teachers and students gathered at the Arts Faculty campus for a public talk on Ramayana Versions and Subversions to discuss the different tellings of the epic.
The talk was organised by Forum for Academic Freedom,a front of student and teacher organisations in the University,in the backdrop of the controversy surrounding the removal of A K Ramanujans essay Three Hundred Ramayanas – Five examples and Three thoughts on Translation from the Universitys BA Honours syllabus by the University Academic Council.
The event saw Delhi University professors and other academics speak on different aspects of the Ramayana Tradition,and was followed by a discussion where students posed their questions to the panel of speakers.
Murli Manohar Prasad Singh,retired professor of Hindi from DU and editor of Naya Path,a literary magazine that came out with the first-ever hindi translation of Ramanujans essay,spoke of the Jain and Buddhist traditions of the Ramayana.
There are different tellings of the Ramayana in addition to the dominant version. In the Jain tradition,Raavan is not a villain but a devout Jain disciple. In Buddhist traditions,Sita is sister of Ram… The common argument that Ramanujans essay is not based on history and,hence,can be removed does not stand ground as it is an essay that deals with cultural anthropology and forms a part of an inter-disciplinary course for students. It was not taught only to students of History, Singh said.
Other speakers at the talk chaired by K M Shrimali,professor of History,DU,included Kesavan Veluthat,professor of history,DU,Paarivendan,Supreme Court lawyer,and Vishwanath Tripathi,retired professor of Hindi,DU.