|1001 Rama and 1001 Ramayana|
However, there is one thing that hit me, whenever I discuss Ramayana with a new person, I learn something new, something that is much more beautiful and earthly than my understanding of the epic. I wonder how many Ramayana seems to exist there in the world and in order to know that, I researched about it unwittingly.
I tried to find the exact answer, a random blog on the internet says, there are 101 Rama and 101 Ramayanas. Later I found an essay about Ramayana by A. K. Ramanujan, The Three Hundred Ramayanas. Ramanujan first pointed out that there are three hundred Ramayanas, but after researching a bit, he added another hundred versions to that list. Finally, he concluded that there are more than 1000 Ramayanas only in Kannada and it is hard to count them all.
Ramanujan summed up his research by recounting a popular story from Ramayana. Once Rama lost his wedding ring, he requested Hanuman to find his ring and told him about the importance of the ring as it is the only thing of Sita that he posses. After listening to Rama’s request, Hanuman promised him to find the ring. Hanuman traveled, all over the world to find Rama’s ring, but he could not able to locate the ring. In his search, he decides to take a plunge in the Netherworld for the ring. He requested Netherworld’s King for help, and the King came up with a platter, full of identical rings. Little confused Hanuman asked Netherworld’s King for help again and the King replied every ring belongs to Rama as there are more than thousands of Rama and whenever one of his forms drops the ring, he catches it and put on the platter.
It is a popular legend that Ramayana exists way before Valmiki first weaved it in its present form, Paulastyavadha and it may be true. One can see Valmiki Maryada Purshottamma is a way different from Philosopher King of Kamban, Tulsidas’ Raghava, Gandhi’s Ahimsawadi and the one you know. It made me realize Rama is much more than what we think of him. Rama is the desire, Rama is the perfection and Rama is the urge to find oneself. In that way, one can say, there are thousands of Rama and there is only one.
Meanwhile, Happy Diwali :)
Photo Credit: Nairaun15