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Accidental Discovery of Hindu Epic Ramayana’s ‘New’ version portrays Sita and Lord Rama more as humans

The manuscript was accidently founded by scholars at the Asiatic Society library where they were researching on Vanhi Purana of the 6th century

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Lord Rama and Sita. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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August 16, 2016: A different version of the integral Hindu epic Ramayana, written by Valmiki has been extracted from a Sanskrit library in Kolkata. As much as it has moved the scholars who found it, it might as well widen the readers’ horizon.

Last year in December, the manuscript was found by accident at the Asiatic Society Library by scholars who were researching on Vanhi Purana of the 6th century. The scholars were searching through a global informational storage known as Catalogus Catalogorum, where they found that a manuscript of the other version of Ramayana was tucked at the 100-year-old Samskrita Sahitya Parishad, Kolkata.

A painting from Bala Kanda, where Rama and Lakshmana go to meet Vishwamitra. Source: Wikimedia Commons
A painting from Bala Kanda, where Rama and Lakshmana go to meet Vishwamitra.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

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This version of Ramayana is different from the one widely read by people out of its difference that this manuscript talks more about the separation of Sita and Lord Rama as a husband and wife than the separation of father and son. Ram and Sita have also been portrayed more as humans than God and goddess, mentioned indiadivine.org report.

The scholars found the second manuscript of Vanhi Purana in the library’s archives, and analysed the slokas that they were different yet familiar to Ramayana, for the story revolves around Ram, Sita, and Ravana. This manuscript, the Dasa Griba Rakshash Charitram Vadha, was perhaps a result of various interpolations.

The newly discovered version is also divided into five sections, instead of seven of the generalised Ramayana. It has also omitted Uttarkanda i.e., the last chapter of Ramayana, and Balakanda— the description of Rama’s childhood. There is also no mention of the curse that fell upon King Dashrath to send Rama on an exile of 14 years. The epic ends with the end of Rama’s exile (or vanvaas) and his return to ‘Ram-nagari’ Ayodhya.

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According to the indiadivine.org, in this version of Ramayana, the epic begins with Goddess Laxmi being cursed by Shukracharya, for his wife was killed by Narayana. Also, another curse that gets on Narayana and Laxmi talks about both bearing the separation. Dharitri, for being unable to witness the battle between demons and gods, cursed both of them.

A painting of Lanka-naresh Ravana. Source: Wikimedia Commons
A painting of Lanka-naresh Ravana. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Ram here is more human than God, with follies like anger and failure. Some interesting details – like the ages of Sita and Rama at the time of marriage and the date when Sita was abducted by Ravana -are in this version,” said Manabendu Bandyopadhyay, Historical and Archaeological Secretary at The Asiatic Society, Kolkata to a news portal.

– prepared by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    To be Frank, In my opinion the Ramayana is just a folklore that was recited in the ancient times to make kids understand that good always wins over evil. Like story of the rabbit and the tortoise.

  • Kabir Chaudhary

    To be Frank, In my opinion the Ramayana is just a folklore that was recited in the ancient times to make kids understand that good always wins over evil. Like story of the rabbit and the tortoise.

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The Scion of Ikshvaku: A retelling of Ramayana by Amish Tripathi

The book is simple yet written nicely. It can get you engrossed right away. Everything is explained well, it is graphic enough for a reader to play it as a movie in their head.

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'The Scion of Ikshvaku' is based on Ramayana, though it deviates from the original epic. Wikipedia
'The Scion of Ikshvaku' is based on Ramayana, though it deviates from the original epic. Wikipedia
  • Amish Tripathi’s ‘The Scion of Ikshvaku’ is a retelling of Ramayana.
  • The book is a surprise to all the readers who think that it will follow the conventional story line.
  • The book has garnered good responses and has also built anticipation for the other ones in the series.

Amish Tripathi is famous for taking elements from Hindu mythology and adding his own imagination to concoct exciting and thrilling reads. His earlier books on Shiva got rave reviews. And now he’s back, and this time he is retelling us one of our favourite mythological stories. The story of Ramayana.

The first book of the Ram Chandra series by Amish Tripathi, The Scion of Ikshvaku, was released on 22 June 2015 after what seemed to be the most expensive promotional drive for a book, which even included YouTube trailers.

Akshay Kumar at the cover launch of 'The Scion of Ikshvaku.' Wikimedia Commons
Akshay Kumar at the cover launch of ‘The Scion of Ikshvaku.’ Wikimedia Commons

How much did Tripathi succeed in retelling us the story of Ramayana? 

Amish Tripathi knows how to mix mythology with his plots, but how accurate was his mythology this time around? For anyone who knows the Ramayana and expects ‘The Scion of Ikshvaku’ to be the same, must prepare themselves for a shock.

But for those who know how Amish Tripathi goes with his stories, the book will meet all their expectations, for Amish knows how to bend and create a story.

His literary style is nothing classic. Many people don’t even like it, but one cannot help but admire how Amish always manages to create new stories from old, rusty ones. He has an exceptional ability to keep the essence of mythological tales while spinning wildly deviant plots around them.

The narration in ‘The Scion of Ikshvaku’ is very good, with crisp dialogues and suspense which was aptly built up paragraph through a paragraph.

Amish builds upon the epic Rama, in a very un-Ramayana like manner (He never used the word ‘Ramayana’ which is very clever of him). The differences with the epic tale are apparent right where he lists the major characters. Ram is just another human hero and the story is devoid of any magical elements.

The first and greatest difference between the Ramayana and The Scion of Ikshvaku is the depiction of Ram as an unloved prince. His father, King Dasaratha, considers Ram inauspicious and reason for all his misfortunes. The very foundation of the epic is laid differently in the story.

Many characters surprise us we move forward with the story. For example, Manthara instead of a poor handmaiden is shown as the wealthiest businesswoman of Ayodhya in Amish’s world.

Another example is Sita, who Amish appointed as the prime minister of Mithila in his story. Ravana also only has one head in Tripathi’s version, though with a horned helmet.

Amish Tripathi, the author who knows how to bend mythology to create amazing stories. Wikimedia Commons
Amish Tripathi, the author who knows how to bend mythology to create amazing stories. Wikimedia Commons

The intrigue deepens as we read further into the story. Amish has played with this epic and has made it into a story which surprises us at every turn of event. It is nothing like we would think it would be.

Amish is unapologetic about all the changes he made in mythology and that is his USP.

The book is full of examples of Amish’s imagination, but it is for the reader to find them and judge them. The author has packed his book with all the necessary drama-action-comedy masala, the combination which always gets guaranteed success.

Honestly, the book cannot claim any literary merit, but Amish’s easy prose and page-turning style are designed to be enjoyable, not analyzable.

The book is simple yet written nicely. It can get you engrossed right away. Everything is explained well, it is graphic enough for a reader to play it as a movie in their head. This s one book which once picked up, you won’t be able to leave until it is done.