vineri, 10 februarie 2012

Ramayana and Journey to the West

George Anca

22nd International Ramayana Conference
Birmingham, 1 – 4 September 2006

Ramayana and Journey to the West

Dr. George Anca, Romania

Ayana (Sanskrit) [from the verbal root i, ay to go] Going, walking; road, path, way. Used in astronomy for advancing, precession; the sun's progress northward or southward, from one solstice to the other, is an ayana or half-year, two ayanas making one year. Also the equinoctial and solstitial points, the term for the solstice being ayananta. Finally, ayana signifies circulatory courses or circulations, as of the universe.

Xi You Ji, known as Journey to the West to foreign readers, came out in the middle of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) by Wu Cheng'en (approximately 1500-1582). Also one of the four famous books in Chinese literature, it is referred to as the most brilliant Chinese mythological novel.
After attending the Fifth International Sammelan in Houston (July 2006), I went to Honolulu, New Orleans, back to Bucharest and written the book Hawaiian Snows. Then I read once again Jorney to the West/Xi You Ji by Wu Cheng’en, as I was supposed to be posted in Beijing University of Foreign Studies, what actually changed into coming to Birmingham Ramayana (Lord of the Rings included). On this way, Hanuman and Sun Wukong met obviously in my mind and the paper on the topic is in continuation with previous presentation on Ramayana in Romania, Sundara Kanda, Rama and Christ, Ramayanic Ahimsa, but also in such addresses like the following (from The Ibsenians):
Honorable Shri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat,
Vice-President of India,
President of Rajya Sabbha,
Mrs. Shekhawat,
Ladies and Gentlemen, 

On behalf of Romanian-Indian Cultural Association, I am most honored to welcome Your Excellency on this land of Sri Bhagavan-Dumnezeu.
We know Your Excellency’s creed is making friends and not foes.
On becoming the Chief Minister of the State of Rajasthan for the first time in 1977, Your Excellency launched the landmark programmes such as Anth Yodaya, Food for Work, and Apta Gaon Kaom, with focus on poverty alleviation.
Addressing Indian diaspora in Seychelles, Your Excellency said: „India has fascinated the rest of the world since time immemorial. The cultural ethos of our country has the capacity to stay deep rooted in the minds of its people, no matter where they live. It is the Indian way of life, all embracing, tolerant, multi-cultural, spiritual, which is our heritage and strength. This has been augmented by the Indian thirst for knowledge which has today found expression in our country being among the foremost in the knowledge revolution”.
About late M.S. Subhulakshmi, Your Excellency said: „She was the most precious jewel of the world music, like of whom are born once in ages”.
While releasing in June 2005 a book on life of Vivekananda, Vivekanandacharitam ritam, Your Excellency said: ”The teachings of Vivekananda are a blend of spirituality of Hindu’s, warmth of Buddhist’s, affection of Christian’s and the brotherhood of Muslim’s.”
Amita Bhose said that Mihai Eminescu is the only European poet who made India immortal in his own country. Actually, both Indians and ancient Dacians – the Romanians of today – shared the doctrine of immortality (Keith). According to Lucian Blaga, the best spirits of Romanian culture have been attracted by Indian thought. Sergiu Al George, in his book Archaic and Universal, draws emphasis on modern pillars of Romanian (reception of) India: Mihai Eminescu, Constantin Brancuşi, Lucian Blaga, Mircea Eliade.
The Romanian-Indian Cultural Association (RICA) started one year before the visit in Romania, in 1994, of Shri Shankar Dyal Sharma, then President of India. He received and encouraged us, he gave us the thick Constitution of India, with a smiling intimation: the greatest book on the earth...
Likewise, the goodwill visit of Your Excellency will stimulate us in more daring projects, such as a festival of Indian music and dance in Romania, production of an opera, Parvati, inspired by Kalidasa’s Kumarasambhava, organizing of a future edition of Ramayana Conference in Romania, Indian works published in Romanian classic and modern versions, and so on. We are sure, Your Excellency will empower the Indian Embassy, the new ambassador, shri Ram Mohan, in supporting our endeavours.
Many fellows of our association keep writing books on India: Adelina Patrichi, Florina Dobre, Constantin Mateescu, Julieta Moleanu, Marin Marian-Bălaşa, Bogdan Ficeac, Vasile Andru, Mircea Itu, Vlad Şovărel a.o. Mariana Saleh and Carmen Coţovanu, who performed today, are dealing with Indian music and dance, gathering around many new comers. Some scholarships for most promissing of our fellows would be welcomed.
My book of poems New York Ramayana, just released by the ambassador shri Ram Mohan, was written during the 21st Ramayana Conference in Queens, New York.A few excerpts: „without Hanuman’s help one can’t be Rama’s devotee”; „Pandit Ram Lall doesn’t advise Indians to come/in America”; Ramaraja...Ravanaraja..; „at Ayodhya reigned Dilipa Raghu Aja Dasaratha/ Rama avatar of Vishnu and more 24 solars in 19 cantos/from Raghuvamsa by Kalidasa”; „in the navy Pushpaka from Lanka to Ayodhya he shows to Seeta/Malyavat Pampa Chitrakuta Ganga Yamuna Sarayu”...Previously, I have published, among others, Mamma Trinidad, In recognition (connected with abhijnana/recognition concept at Kalidasa and after, a series of 9 volumes on Kali, The Indian ApoKALIpse.
Indeed, meeting Your Excellency, we feel allievated.
Jay Hind! Jay Romania!
(George Anca,  President, Romanian-Indian Association)

The Presidential address on the eve of the 60th anniversary of Independence Day projecting India of 2020 as a developed country, presented also in Romania, on 15th August 2006, remembered me the visit of late president Dyal Shankar Sharma in Bucharest, his spiritual speech in occasion of receiving Honorary doctorate of Bucharest University, lectures of Prof. Satyavrat Shastri arrived for honorary doctorate of Orade University, but also the paper on Ramanuja by Mr. Basdeo from Trinidad at the 21st Ramayana Conference in New York. Ramaraja. Ramayana imposed its spiritual light over me also after reading Wu Cheng’en Journey to the West, seeing in the scriptures of India not only Buddhist Tripitaka but ayana of the lord on the earth, as a global chance for a peaceful world. Even the title “Journey to the West” I read also with mind to Ramayana Western career reaching now Birmingham, in the atmosphere of R.R. Tolkien, originated from here, Lord of the Rings.
According to C. Rajagopalachari (1957), “We cannot understand Greek life and Greek civilization without knowing all about Zeus, Apollo, Hercules, Venus, Hector, Priam, Achilles, Ulysses and others. So also one cannot understand Hindu dharma unless one knows Rama and Seeta, Bharata, Lakshmana, Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Hanuman”. About Rama’s divinity shared with his brothers, and being considered a half-Vishnu, the same author reminds that “Sruti tells us that even a fraction of the Supreme Being is whole and complete by itself.
Om Poornamadah Poornamidam Poornaat Poornamudachyate
Poornasya Poornamaadaaya Poornamevaavasishyate.’ “
Valmiki, Kamban and Tulsidas are universal revealers of Rama, but also of Hanuman. Peoples and devotees of Ramayana meet in growing bhakti, even uncounsciously. Translations, retranslations, retellings in different languages mix the ramayanic spring with the thirsted receiver in an ever fresh newness of divine spirit and beauty. The music of Hindi Ramcharit Manas, an Indian Divine Comedy or Carmina Burana, is heard also far out from temple in the hearts of different believers, beyond dry ecumenical talks. The joy to re-tell Raamaayana and awakening from a dream when it is over, made Rajagopalachary to equal in a subliminal way Raamaayana with Seeta herself: “When the Price left the city, he felt no sorrow; it was only when he lost Seeta that he knew grief. So with me too. When I had to step down from high office and heavy responsibility, I did not feel at a loss or wonder what to do next. But now, when I have come to the end of the tale of the Prince of Ayodhya, the void is like that of a shrine without a god.” ( C. Rajagopalachari, Ramayana, Bhartya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbay, 1996, p.313).
Leela/play, as unexplainable ways of Providence, makes an actor out of any bhakta or jnani. Ramlila has been declared by UNESCO in 2006 as part of the intangible cultural of the world,world, together among others with Romanian Calush/little horse dance, a whitsuntide custom. „In Romania, particularly in the Vrancea zone, but also in Maramures, and seemingly in other parts of the country, as well games with anthropomorphic masks have been practiced of old and vigil time, at the funerary ceremonial that preceded the burial of the dead. Some specialists would see in it the group of dead old men meeting the newly deceased one get, there also exists a zoomorphic vigil goat mask, in which the performer used to lament for the dead until the assistance would chase him away. As known, a close connection exists between funerary and fertility rites; however, one should not overlook the importance of the Christian burial ceremonial, the gravity of this act and the exigency of the church and the faithful in this matter. I would suggest, therefore, to have the significance of the vigil games with masks reviewed from a theological perspective.” (Sabina Ispas)
A site aims to study various versions of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana and arrive at a version of Ramayana that is most relevant to modern times.  Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is smriti („from memory”), an epic poem which narrates the journey of Virtue to annihilate vice. Sri  Rama is the Hero and aayana His journey.        
In almost all of North India, the Tulsidas Ramayana, also known as the Ramcharitmanasa, is the most popular. Goswami Tulsidas rewrote the Valmiki version in Hindi in about 1574, changing it somewhat to emphasize Rama as an avatara (incarnation) of Vishnu. Another notable change was that Sita had a duplicate, who was kidnapped while Sita remained safe.
        The Kamban Ramayana is popular in the state of Tamil Nadu, and is of course written in Tamil. Segments of the story were changed to better reflect Tamil ideas, including Ravana not being as cruel to Sita.
The easiest way to attain Lord Rama is to worship Hanuman: “Tumhare bhajan Ram ko pavae”; “Nothhing exist but God”; “You are the whole I am a part”; “I see that you are I and I am you”. One can see firstly an impish young monkey flying to the sun, becoming distracted and falling, thus earning his name which means “broken chin” (Li Min). Think also to Sun Wukong’s Journey to the West, and also to Hobbits journey through the wilderness, into maturity.

Hanuman's Character as Assessed by Sri Ram

Valmiki Ramayana, Sundar Kanda, Canto 3
Literal translation, verse by verse (Gita Press, Gorakhpur)S.
Addressing Ram and Lakshmana
Hanuman said:
Sent by that high-minded Sugriva, king of the leaders of monkeys, I, a monkey, Hanuman by name, have sought you. The said pious minded Sugriva actually seeks your friendship. Know me to be his minister, a monkey sprung from the loins of the wind-god and arrived here from Rsyamuk (mountain) in order to oblige Sugriva and disguised in the form of a recluse (Brahmin), capable as I am of going wherever I please and acting as I please.
Having spoken thus to the aforesaid heroes, Sri Ram and Lakshmana, Hanuman, for his part, who understood the true meaning of words and was an adept in expression, said nothing further.
Hearing the foregoing speech of Hanuman, the glorious Rama, who wore a most cheerful countenance, spoke (as follows) to his (half) brother Lakshamana, standing by his side:
Sri Rama said:
He who has arrived here in my presence is a minister of Sugriva, the high-minded chief of monkeys, whom alone (Sugriva) I was seeking. Answering in sweet words with affection the aforesaid monkey (Hanuman), who is a minister of Sugriva, knows how to speak and is a true tamer of foes, O Lakshmana!
To speak in the way he has done is not possible for one who has not studied Rgveda with an eye to its meaning, (who has) not memorized Yajurveda and has no knowledge of Samveda either. Surely the entire range of (Sanskrit) grammar has been studied by him in many ways, as is clear from the fact that nothing has been wrongly worded by him (even) though speaking a good deal. No fault of expression was noticed anywhere in his face nor even in his eyes, nor again in his forehead nor in his eyebrows nor in any one of his other limbs.
The speech from his bosom and articulated by his throat is marked by absence of prolixity (too great length; tedious length of speech), is unambiguous and unfaltering and does not make a grating impression (on one’s ears), uttered as it is in a modulated tone. He utters a wholesome, distinct and remarkable speech, that is grammatically correct, fluent and delightful to the mind.
Whose mind will not be rendered favourable by this wonderful speech, which has its seat in the three articulating organs (viz., the bosom, throat and head)? (To say nothing of others) the mind even of an enemy with his sword uplifted will be made friendly thereby. How can the progress of undertakings of a king in whose service no such envoy exists actually meet with success, O sinless brother? By the very pleading of an envoy, all the objects of a sovereign in whose service there happen to be agents adorned with hosts of such virtues are (surely) accomplished.
By Sri D.Ramkissoon B.A. (Hons)
The Legend : The Origin
Sri Hanumanji is an incarnation of Lord Siva.
 (Lord Siva) be Brihaspati (the preceptor of the gods) had an attendant by the name of Punjikasthala who was cursed to assume the body of a female monkey. The curse was to be removed on her giving birth to an incarnation of Lord Siva. Accordingly, she was born as Anjana and, together with her husband Kesari (so named on account of his being as brave as a lion), lived a life of chastity and purity. She performed intense Tapasya (austerities) for a great many years, during which period she worshipped Lord Siva who being pleased with her granted her a boon. She asked that He born to her so that she may be freed from the curse.
When Dasaratha, the king of Ayodhya was given the sacred payasa (pudding) by Agnideva to share among his wives so that they may have divine children (Ram, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna), by divine ordinance, a bird (kite) snatched a fragment of that pudding and, whilst flying over the forest, dropped it where Anjana was engaged in worship. Pavandev (the deity presiding over the wind) delivered that fragment of pudding to the outstretched hands of Anjana who immediately swallowed it. With that grace, she, in due course, gave birth to Hanumanji. Thus we find that Lord Siva incarnated as Hanumanji in the bodily form of a monkey through the grace and blessings of his god-father Pavandev, with Anjana and Kesari as his earthly parents.
As soon as Hanumanji was born, Anjana was released from the curse and wished to return to Heaven. Hanumanji asked his mother what his future would be and how he was to earn his living. She assured him that he would never be destroyed, and said that fruits as ripe as the rising sun would form his food. Thinking that the glowing and glittering sun was food to be eaten by him, the baby Hanumanji being divine in nature, made just one leap for it. He was 1600 miles from the sun when Rahu, who was exclusively enabled to harass the sun (thus causing eclipses or obstacles to the sun) complained to Indra (king of the gods in heaven) of this new threat to his power. Indra struck Hanumanji with his thunderbolt, wounding his chin and causing him to fall down to earth.
The god-father Pavandev carried Hanumanji to Patala (the nether regions) and as he departed from the earth, all life was endangered. Brahma and all the other gods went to Patala and begged Pavandev to return. In order to appease him they conferred great boons on the baby Hanumanji. The blessings of all the gods made Hanumanji invincible and more powerful than any other being, divine or ordinary. Thus Hanumanji is an embodiment of the powers of all the gods and goddesses.
Hanumanji mentally chose Surya (the Sun-god) as his preceptor. Therefore he approached Surya with the request to be taught the scriptures so that he may manifest spiritually in daily life. Surya agreed to have Hanumanji as his disciple but pointed out that it was not possible for him to stop his journey across the sky as that would cause chaos in the world. But Hanumanji was so mighty that he surprised all the gods by facing his Guru, who had to be constantly moving, thus (Hanumanji) traversing the sky backwards and at the same time concentrating fully on his lessons.
In this way Hanumanji enabled Surya to perform his duty and to impart knowledge at the same time. Within a short period of 60 hours, Hanumanji mastered all the scriptures. Surya considered the manner in which Hanumanji accomplished his studies as sufficient dakshina (tuition fees), but Hanumanji pressed him to accept more. Surya then asked Hanumanji to assist his son Sugriva, who was living in Kishkindha, by being his minister and constant companion.
In the Service of Sri Rama
Sri Hanumanji met Sri Rama whilst Sri Rama was in banishment. Sri Rama, together with his brother Lakshamana, was searching for his wife Sita. (Sita was abducted by the demon Ravana). Their search had taken them to the vicinity of the Pampa Lake situated at the base of the mountain Risyamukha. Sugriva (together with his ministers) was hiding in this region. Sugriva was being persecuted by his brother Bali. Sugriva was suspicious that Rama and Lakshmana might have been sent by Bali to kill him. Therefore, to ascertain whether they were friends or foes, Hanumanji approached them in the guise of a Brahmin. His first words to them were such that Sri Rama immediately said to Lakshmana: "None can speak thus without mastering the Vedas and their branches. Nor is there any defect in his countenance, eyes, forehead, brows, or any of his limbs. His accents are wonderful, auspicious and captivating. Even an enemy who has his sword uplifted is moved. Indeed, success awaits the monarch whose emissaries are so accomplished."
When Lord Rama revealed his identity, Hanumanji fell prostrate before Him and Lord Rama picked him up and clasped him to His bosom. Sri Rama reveals His identity as the son of Dasaratha and prince of Ayodhya, but Hanumanji perceives Him to be the Lord of the universe and prostrates.
Thereafter the story of Hanumanji is inextricably interwoven with that of Lord Rama, and is exhaustively dealt with in the Ramayana of Valmiki and the Ramacharitamanasa of Goswami Tulasidas.
To summarise in a few words: Hanumanji introduces Lord Rama to Sugriva; goes off in search of Sita; discovers and consoles Sita in Lanka; Burns the city of Lanka and kills many demons; brings together Vibhishana and Lord Rama; returns to Lanka with Lord Rama, and features very prominently in the battle that ensues between Lord Rama and Ravana; saves the life of Lakshmana by bringing the Sanjivani (life giving herb) from the Himalayas; and served Lord Rama for as long as He lived a human life on earth.
Service to the Pandavas
Hanumanji met Bhima in the forest and recognised him as his spiritual brother. (They were both born with the blessings of Pavandev). Hanumanji promised to aid the Pandavas in the battle of Kurukshetra. There Hanumanji positions himself on the flag of Arjuna’s chariot, thus stabilising and protecting it. Hanumanji’s flag signifies sense control and mind control that gives victory to the higher nature over the lower nature. Wherever the servant of Lord Rama is, there, victory is secured.
Hanumanji is said to be Chiranjivi (immortal) and is present in the world even today. He is the link between the devotees and God, for, as instructed by the Lord, he serves, protects and inspires the servants of God. Saints like Tulasidas had the darshan (divine vision) of the Lord through the grace of Hanumanji.
In the epics of no other country is there a character so powerful, learned and philosophic as Hanumanji.
May we always proclaim, "Bajrangbally Ki Jai", victory to Hanumanji who has the strength of the thunderbolt.


Tulsidas's greatest poem, popularly called Tulsi-krita Ramayana, but entitled by its author Ramacharitamanasa, or "the Lake of Rama's Deeds", was begun in the year 1574, and completed in two years and seven months. A large portion of the poem was composed at Banaras, where the poet spent most of his later life.
The Ramacharitamanasa is as well known among Hindus in upper India. Many of its verses are popular proverbs in that region; an apt quotation from them by a stranger has the immediate effect of instilling confidence in the listener. Tulsidas' phrases have passed into common speech, and are used by millions of Hindi speakers (and even speakers of Urdu) without the speakers being conscious of their origin. Not only are his sayings proverbial: his doctrine actually forms the most powerful religious influence in present-day Hinduism; and, though he founded no school and was never known as a guru or master, he is everywhere accepted as both poet and saint, an inspired and authoritative guide in religion and the conduct of life.
Tulsidas professed himself the humble follower of his teacher, Narhari-Das, from whom as a boy in Sukar-khet he first heard the tale of Rama's exploits that would form the subject of the Ramacharitamanasa. (Narhari-Das was the sixth in spiritual descent from Ramananda, the founder of popular Vaishnavism in northern India.)
The poem is a revisiting of the great theme of Valmiki (the ancient author of the Ramayana), but is not a mere retelling of the Sanskrit epic. Where Valmiki has condensed the story, Tulsidas has expanded, and, conversely, wherever the elder poet has lingered longest, there his successor has condensed. Ramacharitamanasa consists of seven books, of which the first two, entitled Childhood and Ayodhya, make up more than half the work. (The second book, an expansive recounting of the meeting of Rama with his brother Bharata in the forest, is often the most admired.)
The tale begins at King Dasaratha's court, and tells of the birth and boyhood of Rama and his three brothers, his marriage with Sita, his voluntary exile, the unfortunate result of Kaikeyi's guile and Dasaratha's rash vow, the dwelling-together of Rama and Sita in the great central Indian forest, her abduction by Ravana, Rama's expedition to Lanka and the overthrow of the ravisher, and life at Ayodhya after the return of the reunited pair. It is written in pure Baiswari or Eastern Hindi, in stanzas called chaupais, broken by 'dohas' or couplets, with an occasional sortha and chhand – the latter a hurrying metre of many rhymes and alliterations.

Journey to the West
The novel 'Journey to the West' (Xiyouji), attributed to Wu Cheng'en (c.1500-82), opens with the birth from a stone egg of Monkey, who progresses from becoming the King of the Monkeys on the Mountain of Flowers and Fruit, to achieving supernatural Daoist skills. Bounding through the skies on clouds, he creates havoc on his visits to heaven in the vain hope of achieving ever higher celestial office. Having eaten the peaches of immortality specially grown for the banquet to be held by the Heavenly Queen Mother of the West, and upset the Jade Emperor and other deities, he is finally incarcerated beneath the Mountain of the Five Elements by the Buddha. Released to accompany the monk Xuanzang on his quest to obtain the holy Buddhist scriptures from India, these two, and three other pilgrims - Pigsy, Monk Sha and the dragon horse - overcome 81 calamities and confrontations in the form of supernatural phenomena and monsters before reaching their goal and returning to China with the texts.
The story is loosely based on an actual journey undertaken by the monk Xuanzang in the 7th century across the desert wastes of Chinese Central Asia to India (equated with Paradise in the novel), the home of Buddhism, to collect Buddhist texts for translation into Chinese.
Although the hero would seem to be Xuanzang, it is Monkey's sarcasm, humour, wit and exuberance together with the dynamism of the many other characters that have captivated countless generations of readers. These qualities have given rise to the production down to the present day of many popular arts and crafts connected with the characters. Apart from numerous illustrated woodblock printed books, representations are found in ceramics, shadow puppets, papercuts, children's toys, dramas and operas, as well as modern comics, film animations and television series. Items in the exhibition include many such forms which reflect the wide appeal of the pilgrims escapades. Other exhibits relate to the real pilgrimage undertaken by Xuanzang.

Ramayana reinvented for alien times and stage

Author: Rashmee Z. Ahmed
Publication: The Times of India
Date: April 19, 2001.
The Ramayana has come to the London stage in symbolic obeisance to a hydra-headed phenomenon the West's fascination with exotic Eastern faiths and a growing hunger within young British Hindus to develop a strong cultural identity.
The play, complete with multi-cultural, multi-religious cast, an Afro-Caribbean Ravana, Ayesha Dharkar as Sita and an English Surpanakha sporting green high heels and conical pink Madonna-like bosoms, is running to packed houses, in what its director, Sri Lankan Tamil Indu Rubasingham calls "yet another instance of this amazing ancient story speaking to a community at its time and place and in a way it can understand".
The end result is a quasi-spiritual version of London street life, an exercise the play's writer, Peter Oswald, accepts is a difficult "balance between the human and the divine".
Leading British Hindus say they are encouraged by the second theatrical attempt after Peter Brooks' Mahabharata at bringing Hinduism to a western society increasingly searching for faddish oriental solutions to life's eternal problems. Shaunaka Rishi Das, a white Irish convert and practising Hindu priest for nearly 20 years, believes the play will promote a cultural exchange that will help British Hindus forge their own identity and learn about themselves.
"We have 1.5 million Hindus here, but they have traditionally kept their heads down and gone about their business. The third generation is very British but India has a sacred place in its life. They want to know more about how to integrate without being assimilated," he said.
The statistics may be arguable and perhaps exaggerated by half-a-million, but it is true that British Hindus are increasingly drawn to making a more public statement of their faith. After half-a-century of making almost no political bid for prominence, community leaders now point with pride to Lord Navnit Dholakia, a leading Liberal Democrat peer who bears Ganesh on his coat of arms.
In response to a perceived hunger for self-knowledge, the four-year-old Oxford Centre for Vaishnav and Hindu Studies is sponsoring Britain's first Hindu Youth Festival, visualised as an attempt to give youth culture intellectual gravitas from Hindu scripture. Alongside plans for the festival is the Oxford Centre's ongoing first survey of British Hinduism through oral history.
They are not misjudging the market. Earlier this year, Channel 4 brought the Mahakumbh Mela into millions of ordinary British homes, but Hindus here complained about its billing as "the greatest show on earth" and much of its focus "on freakery".
But Das, who converted to Hinduism 22 years ago, stresses they are not looking for a market, just to help the young ones find themselves. "We are not evangelical. We are not looking for mass conversions, but The Ramayana on the London stage might help lead people to more traditional sources of the katha".
A straw poll of the largely white, middle-aged audience of the Ramayana reveals mixed feelings. "It's different," says one lady. "Is this a spiritual story, of huge significance to Indians?" asks another in bewilderment. "I was expecting a classic," complains a disappointed old gent.
For, this is definitely not Brooks' nine-hour long epic production of the Mahabharata, but a lively exercise in cultural cross-pollination. Rubasingham, who told this paper that she originally declined the project because "this was too big a story", said she ultimately felt the Ramayana could symbolise multi-cultural Britain and the confusion of Asians living here.
"I always knew the story, I never remember being told it, my brother's name is Lav, this story affects every structure of Asian life, so I decided on mixed Kathakali and western theatrical styles and east-west music," says Rubasingham.
She chose as writer Oswald, a writer-in-residence at Shakespeare's Globe, whose previous brush with Indian theatre included Shakuntala. The two decided on clowning, what Oswald calls a pseudo-Shakespearean burlesque and a thorough "integration of religion and art".
But in the attempt to make the Ramayana accessible to the West, was it necessary for Sugreev to swig beer and Ravana's son, Indrajeet, to leer at Sita, who manifestly casts off her divinity? Shaunaka Rishi Das says he is tolerant, "The West is ignorant of us, that's why they're doing this. But the fact that they are doing it at all is reason to celebrate".
Meanwhile, like carrying coal to Newcastle, there are also plans to export the British Ramayana to India

T. S. Eliot's "Journey of The Magi"

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the
cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill
beating the darkness,
three trees on the low sky,
And an old
white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say)
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the
old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Un comentariu:

  1. Dear George,
    I was really inspired reading your comments on the Indo-Romanian equations from ancient times to today!I am now an Associate Professor in the Dept.of English,Delhi University.Rupendra Guha Majumdar()