Regional Compositions of Sri Ramayana, Part Nine

BY: SUN STAFF - 8.2 2018
Preparations for Rama's Coronation 


Serial presentation of the preeminent versions of Sri Ramayana.



Depending on the methods of counting, as many as three hundred versions of the epic Ramayana are known to exist. The oldest version, of course, is recognized to be the Sanskrit version attributed to the sage Valmiki. Following it have been versions done in many Asian countries outside of India, including Burma, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam and China.

The original Valmiki version has been adapted or translated into many regional languages, both in and outside of India. They are typically marked by thematic adaptations and plot twists. These include the 12th Century Tamil language Ramavataram, 14th Century Telugu Sri Ranganatha Ramayanam, the Khmer Reamker, the Old Javanese Kakawin Ramayana, and the Thai Ramakien, the Lao Phra Lak Phra Lam, and the Burmese Yama Zatdaw.

The manifestation of the core themes of the original Ramayana is far broader than can even be understood from a consideration of the different languages in which it appears, as its essence has been expressed in a diverse array of regional cultures and artistic mediums. For instance, the Ramayana has been expressed or interpreted in Lkhaon Khmer dance theatre, in the Mappila songs of the Muslims of Kerala and Lakshadweep, in the Indian operatic tradition of Yakshagana, and in the epic paintings still extant on, for instance, the walls of Thailand's Wat Phra Kaew palace temple.

In Indonesia, the tales of the Ramayana appear reflected in ballet performances, masked danced drama, and Wayang shadow puppetry. Angkor Wat in Siem Reap also has mural scenes from the epic Battle of Lanka on one of its outer walls.

Among the most prominent Sanskrit versions of Sri Ramayana, some deal primarily with recounting Valmiki's narrative, while others focus more on peripheral stories and/or philosophical expositions. We have already discussed a number of versions:

Adhyatma Ramayana 
Ananda Ramayana 
Bhavartha Ramayana
Bhusundi Ramayana
Giradhara Ramayana 
Kamba Ramayana 
Kŗttivasa Ramayana
Tulasikŗta Ramayana

As our series progresses, we will cover many more adaptations of Valmiki's Sanskrit Ramayana, including regional versions from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Assam, Bengal, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Jammu/Kashmir.