Happenings after Kamba Ramayanam
Columns, Point of View

Happenings after Kamba Ramayanam

September 21, 2021

By T.J.S. George

It is rather foolish, politically and socially, to question what God does. But sometimes God himself makes us raise questions. Familiar legends tell us about what happened one day when he allowed leaders of the world’s great democracies to meet him and ask him any questions. This is what followed.

Joe Biden asked God: “When will America become the most magnificent nation on earth admired by all?” God said: “In about five years.” Biden burst into tears. “Five years? I won’t be around to see it.”

Then Boris Johnson asked God how long it will take Great Britain to become a magnificent nation admired by all. God said: “About 25 years.” Johnson started crying: “Twenty-five years? I won’t be around to see it.”

It was then the turn of Narendra Modi, impeccably groomed, to ask God in shudh Hindi how long it will take India to become a splendid land admired by all.  On hearing this, God burst into tears.  Through sobs, God said: “I won’t be around to see it.”

Didn’t Kamba Ramayanam envisage India as a splendid land admired by all for the godliness that prevailed among its people?  Kambar looked at Ayodhya and wrote: “There were no guards because there were no thieves. None ever gave for none ever took. Since no one in that city ever stopped learning, none was ignorant and none fully learned.  Since everyone had as much as he needed, none was poor and none rich.”

In today’s India everyone is either poor or rich, none is learned and all are ignorant, none ever gives but all ever takes.  But we need not worry. If Kambar has become irrelevant, Narendra Modi has emerged not only relevant but ever ready to jump into action.  He is already out with “Ayodhya Vision – 2047,” an elaborate plan to celebrate the 100th anniversary of India’s independence.  It may be 26 long years away, but Modiji is a far-sighted leader whose ability to foresee things and plan well ahead has already benefited India as citizens know.  Reports say that he plans to develop Ayodhya as a modern city even as its ancient cultural heritage is maintained intact.  

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UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is currently an inspired man.  He is bursting with ideas of making Ayodhya an “international spiritual city” and the “City of Ram.” Given his record, Adityanath might well end up making a mess of the city.  When it was Faizabad, the first capital of the Nawabs of Awadh, it had the grandeur of an imperial capital.  After Yogi Adityanath renamed the district as Ayodhya in 2018, life has been patriotically dull.

These are days when Valmiki is forgotten and Tulsidas alone commands attention.  Adi Kavi Valmiki who composed the Adi Kavya had a literary grandeur that was in a class of its own.  His Kavya remained a literary work for more than 20 centuries until Tulsidas transformed it into a religious text in the 16th century.  Religion gained, literature lost.

Tulsidas made changes in Valmiki’s text with abandon.  Valmiki’s Hanuman, for example, was a human belonging to the vanara tribe while Tulsidas turned him into a undisguised monkey.  Valmiki’s Dasaratha had 350 wives, Tulsidas reduced it to three.  In Valmiki’s original, Sita was kidnapped by Ravana.  In the Tulsidas version, the kidnapped Sita was a clone of the real Sita; Rama had handed over the real Sita to Lord Agni before the kidnapping took place. 

The titles further underline the difference between the two versions.  Valmiki wrote Ramayana while Tulsidas wrote Ramacharitmanas.  Tamil poet Kambar made it even more obvious by naming his work Ramavataram.  

The way Ramayana spread to the cultures of Southeast Asia is a phenomenon by itself.  When you land in Jakarta, the first thing you notice is the imposing statue of Krishnopadesam just outside the exit gates.  In Bali the statue of Ghatotkacha in his magnificent chariot dominates the geography.  There are 4,600 Hindu temples in Bali and Vijaya Dasami is a national holiday there.  But don’t miss the point that these are cultural rather than religious features of life in that country.  Indonesia’s national hero Sukarno was named after Karnan.  The Wayang puppet shows built around Ramayana episodes are popular round the year.  Indonesia’s national bank is named after Kubera while its national airline is Garuda Indonesia.

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We should see these as evidence of the cultural influence India exerted in days gone by.  To see them as proof of India’s supremacy would be foolish.  Rather, we should see them as proof of the influence India has lost in the course of politics.

5 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Happenings after Kamba Ramayanam”

  1. Raj Anand says:

    What a pathetic view put across by T.J.S, in his zeal to take a shot at Modi/Yogi/BJP he has used Hinduism, what he does not understand is that none of the South East Asian counties have retained Hinduism because in the first place these were not driven by might. He confuses a Dharmic religion with Abrahamic like his.

    Hinduism flourished in south east Asia because Cholas did not use just might, it was trade / cultural and other interaction through which Hinduism spread there, no Gazwa nor crusade was fought for these.

    And inspite of the sly Islamic onslaught Indonesia has retained most of its Hindu roots, because they know the value of their culture and past.

  2. boregowda says:

    I can predict that India would become a splendid land admired by all when chamchas like you are no more

  3. Roopadarshi says:

    Interesting that Santa Claus Modi attracts too many admirer these days. His admirers will increase many fold, after his return from the States, meeting Joe Biden and other leaders, Having suckered in the Quad by the clever Wolf , good old Joe, to incur more wrath of China. Wherever he goes, Saint Modi is asking for more work visas for Indians, and Indians in thousands meanwhile swamp every immigration desk in every Western country, trying to escape Yogi Adityanath and Saint Modi’s India
    George states the obvious to many interested in India history and the spread of its culture to SE Asia. But what tangible purpose , it is serving today? Unequal country with billionaires in Mercedes , and the poverty -ridden souls trekking hundreds of miles by foot as recently as last year.
    This cultural supremacy does not mean anything to them.
    Indians always look back and not forward. The country despite the glory of Hinduism is mired deeply in political, institutional and societal corruption ,sans real friends outside because of t e constant preaching of its leaders about the greatness of India and its culture -‘the holier than thou’ attitude.. A few decades of quietness and introspection would be helpful.

  4. Murthy says:

    When you read George’s article, it is not very difficult to see the vitriolic hatred towards Hinduism and the sarcastic scorn towards Hindu gods and our beliefs!
    George wants to point out the differences between the Valmiki’s version of Ramayana, along with Tulsidas and Kamban’s versions trying to imply that Ramayana may not be true, and Rama did not exist as a Devine person. I don’t know what is the purpose of it, most likely he just like his Christian brothers from Kerala disliked Ajodhya verdict ! We are fully aware of how George Soros network and toolkits active in India and how they are trying to destroy Hinduism and act against every Hindu interest at any cost. Just recently they had a conference in USA regarding how to dismantle Hinduism! Modi is just a decoy to attack. We can see through your intentions!
    George, Please tell me! If you don’t believe in the existence of Rama, it is alright, but then, you can’t preach us about how Rama’s tolerance towards everybody! Remember, as per you, Rama never existed!! You can’t have the cake and eat it too! Also, if Jesus is portrayed as a tolerant and a noble person, how is it that the wolf gang of priests act so aggressively in India contrary to the preaching of Jesus? If you want to disrespect our belief in our gods, will you tolerate if we raised the suspicion about the birth of your ‘son of God;! Can we use the slang words that people use for such person?
    if 9 decades of your low pathetic life did not teach tolerance to other religions, either your religion is a FRAUD or you are no better than that low life Osama Bin Laden! At least he was open in his opinions! If you insulted Islam like you insult Hindus, I can assure you you will realize what is tolerance in the most painful way
    Lastly, because Hindu’s are tolerates the people like you scoundrels, God must have said, ‘Not in my life time’!

  5. Jalandhara says:

    I am puzzled why some posters are exercised about George’s article.
    I come from an orthodox Hindu family, where the study of Sanskrit and Vedas in early years of a male child was a must Though we were Mysoreeans by birth, as my ancestry was from Tamil Nadu , I read Valmiki Ramayana in Sanskrit, Kamba Ramayanam in Tamil, as well as Kalidasa’s Rahuvamsha in Sanskrit. The version of Rama’s stories differ in each. I consider them as works of excellent literary value centred around a historical figure-Rama. Rama embodied a set of values linked around rectitude, which was the message I got from my teachers then. That is what the great story of Ramayana as about.
    Did Rama existed as a person Perhaps. Did he as a person an invention-not likely, as Valmiki was said to have met Rama’s sons Lava and Kusha to narrate their father’s story. Ayodhya, as his place is believed by many Hindus. Thyagaraja, the saint composer believed Ramayana was a true story, and devised his rich Krithis placing Rama as the central figure. Purandara Dasa before him was a staunch devotee too.
    Ramanavami is celebrated to emphasise Rama as a God and about the message from his life.
    In summary, it is all about faith.
    Christianity revolves around a faith too. Jesus Christ was also a historical figure. Did he exist? Probably, given the evidence, one finds in Israel today. There are versions of the new Testament, , with Jesus as the Son of God and conveying the values similar to that of Ramayana of any version. Bible narrates stories like the preaching of Jesus , hailed from Nazareth, still exists, in Israel, on the mount near there. The Sermon he gave: ” the Sermon on the Mount” is core of his preaching-the values he wanted his followers to observe. As a historical person, centuries after Rama, another historical person, his followers, the Christians, identified the Mount where Jesus delivered his sermon, the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem through which he carried the Cross on which he was later crucified, and the Church of Nativity which contains the cave where baby Jesus was born.
    Again , all the above is a matter of faith.
    To me ,the most important aspect is to adhere to values as far as possible what Rama embodied which as mere mortals, it is very difficult given the issues we face in this modern world. . I believe Christians think similarly about Jesus when they celebrate Christmas every year.
    Best to leave it there.

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