Preferred Citation: Richman, Paula, editor. Many Ramayanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1991 1991.



One Introduction: the Diversity of the Ramayana Tradition

In working out the ideas for this introduction I received invaluable aid from many individuals. I am grateful to Wendy Doniger, Michael Fisher, Rich Freeman, Sandria Freitag, Charles Hallisey, Philip Lutgendorf, Patricia Mathews, Sheldon Pollock, Sumathi Ramaswamy, Clinton Seely, David Shulman, H. Daniel Smith, and Sandra Zagarell for their comments and suggestions.

1. While an article in India Today titled "Epic Spin-offs" (15 July 1988, 72) men-

tions an audience of sixty million, other sources give the higher number cited here. It is difficult to obtain exact figures, because in the case of very popular programs like the Ramayana , the number of viewers watching a single television set appears to increase dramatically. See the Illustrated Weekly of Iadia's article titled "The Ramayan" (8 November 1987), 9.

2. This book includes an account of Sita's stay at Valmiki's forest hermitage, after she is banished by Rama. According to one tradition, Valmiki is said to have been an outcaste; several North Indian jatis of street sweepers (usually referred to by the euphemistic title "sanitation workers") claim descent from him. The possibility that the television Ramayana might conclude without portraying the episodes dealing with Sita and their purported ancestor upset a number of sanitation workers greatly. For an account of this incident and the political factors that led to the continuation of the serial, see "The Second Coming," India Today (31 August 1988), 81.

3. Philip Lutgendorf, "Ramayan: The Video," The Drama Review 34, no. 2 (Summer 1990): 128.

4. Romila Thapar, "The Ramayana Syndrome," Seminar , no. 353 (January 1989), 74.

5. For a historical discussion of Ramayana patronage, see Philip Lutgendorf, "Ram's Story in Shiva's City: Public Arenas and Private Patronage" in Culture and Power in Banaras: Community, Performance, and Environment. 1800-1980 , ed. Sandria B. Freitag (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989), 34-61.

6. Thapar, "The Ramayana Syndrome," 72.

7. Ibid.

6. Thapar, "The Ramayana Syndrome," 72.

7. Ibid.

8. For an account of the extraordinary new market for books on the Ramayana created by the television serial, see "Epic Spin-offs," 73. In addition, Lutgendorf notes a scholarly trend to pay more attention to Rama, who was earlier neglected in favor of studies on Krsna. See pp. 217-18, this volume.

9. The phrase "the Ramayana tradition" is used in this essay to refer to the many tellings of the Rama story as a whole, rather than to Valmiki's telling or some other specific telling limited to a particular region or particular time.

10. As Robert P. Goldman, general editor of a new English translation of Valmiki's Ramayana , says, "Few works of literature produced in any place at any time have been as popular, influential, imitated, and successful as the great and ancient Sanskrit epic poem, the Valmiki Ramayana " ( The Ramayana of Valmiki , vol. 1: Balakanda [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984], x). For an up-to-date overview of the history of Valmiki's text and the scholarship concerning it, consult the introductory essays to this seven-volume translation (vol. 1: Balakanda , trans. Robert P. Goldman, 1984; vol. 2: Ayodhyakanda , trans. Sheldon I. Pollock, 1986; vol. 3: Aranyakanda , trans. Sheldon I. Pollock, 1991; remaining four volumes, forthcoming).

11. The reader who immediately wants to learn about a competing telling of Rama's story that differs in religious affiliation, literary form, characterization, and overall message should turn ahead to the essay by Frank Reynolds, which discusses the Pali Dasaratha Jataka , an early Buddhist telling of the story of Rama. Although less popular than Valmiki in South Asia, this telling has had substantial influence on the Ramayana tradition in Southeast Asia. For an English translation of this telling, see E. B. Cowell, ed., The Jataka ; or, Stories of the Buddha's Former Births , 7 vols. (1895-1913; repr. London: Luzac and Co. for the Pali Text Society, 1956), 4:78-82. See also

Richard Gombrich, "The Vessantara Jataka, the Ramayana and the Dasaratha Jataka," Journal of the American Oriental Society 105, no. 3 (July-September 1985): 427-37.

12. Shulman describes Kampan's Iramavataram thus: "Perhaps the supreme achievement of Tamil letters, and certainly one of the great works of the world's religious literature, is Kampan's version of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana . No creation of Tamil poets has ever been so passionately loved as Kampan's Iramavataram ." See "The Clicheé as Ritual and Instrument: Iconic Puns in Kampan's Iramavataram ", Numen 25, no. 2 (August 1978): 135. For a recent English translation of the Aranyakanda of Kampan's poem, see George L. Hart and Hank Heifetz, trans., The Forest Book of the Ramayana of Kampan (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), which also contains an introductory essay that includes a comparison of Valmiki and Kampan. For studies of the uniqueness of Kampan's rendition of the story, see David Shulman, "The Cliché as Ritual and Instrument"; "The Crossing of the Wilderness: Landscape and Myth in the Tamil Story of Rama," Acta Orientalia 42 (1981): 21-54; and ''The Anthropology of the Avatar in Kampan's Iramavataram ," in Gilgul: Essays on Transformation, Revolution, and Permanence in the History of Religions , ed. Shaul Shaked, David Shulman, and Gedaliahu Stroumsa (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1987), 270-87.

13. There are many studies of Jain Ramayanas , among which the following are especially helpful: V. M. Kulkarni, "The Origin and Development of the Rams Story in Jaina Literature," Journal of the Oriental Institute of Baroda 9, no. 2 (December 1959): 189-204, and no. 3 (March 1960): 284-304; K. R. Chandra, A Critical Study of Paumacariyam (Muzaffarpur: Research Institute of Prakrit, Jainology and Ahimsa, 1970); and D. L. Narasimhachar, "Jaina Ramayanas," Indian Historical Quarterly 15, no. 4 (December 1939): 575-94.

14. For other studies of the Ramayana tradition that use the psychoanalytic method, see J. Moussaieff Masson, "Fratricide among the Monkeys: Psychoanalytic Observations on an Episode in the Valmikiramayanam," Journal of the American Oriental Society 95, no. 4 (October-December 1975): 672-78; "Hanuman as an Imaginary Companion," Journal of the American Oriental Society 101, no. 3 (July-September 1981): 355-60.

15. For a discussion of the geography—physical and emotional—of classical Tamil poetry, see A. K. Ramanujan, The Interior Landscape (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1967).

16. Especially noteworthy is the research of V. Raghavan, whose commitment to exploring the many Ramayanas in Asia led to a number of works including The Greater Ramayana (Varanasi: All-India Kashiraj Trust, 1973); The Ramayana in Greater India (Surat: South Gujarat University, 1975); and Some Old Lost Rams Plays (Annamalainagar: Annamalai University, 1961).

It is understandably beyond the scope of this essay to give a complete bibliography of works that analyze the Ramayana tradition, but especially useful are: Romila Thapar, Exile and the Kingdom: Some Thoughts on the Ramayana (Bangalore: The Mythic Society, 1978); V. Raghavan, ed., The Ramayana Tradition in Asia (Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1980); K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar, ed., Asian Variations on the Ramayana (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1980); J. L. Brockington, Righteous Rama: The Evolution of an Epic (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1984); P. Banerjee, Rams in Indian Literature, Art

and Thought , 2 vols. (Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan, 1986); Amal Sarkar, A Study on the Ramayanas (Calcutta: Rddhi-India, 1987).

     Recent work includes Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger and Laurie Sears, eds., The Boundaries of Tradition: Ramayana and Mahabharata Performances in South and Southeast Asia (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, 1990); Monika Thiel-Horstmann, ed., Contemporary Ramayana Traditions: Written, Oral, and Performed (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1991); Brenda E. F. Beck, "Core Triangles in the Folk Epics of India," and John D. Smith, "Scapegoats of the Gods: The Ideology of the Indian Epics," both in Stuart H. Blackburn et al., eds., Oral Epics in India (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989), 155-75 and 176-94.

     For bibliographies, see N. A. Gore, Bibliography of the Ramayana (Poona: By the author, 1943); H. Daniel Smith, Reading the Ramayana: A Bibliographic Guide for Students and College Teachers—Indian Variants on the Rama-Theme in English Translations , Foreign and Comparative Studies, South Asian special publications no. 4 (Syracuse: Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, 1983); H. Daniel Smith, Select Bibliography of Ramayana-related Studies , Ananthacharya Indological Series, no. 21 (Bombay, 1989); and Sudha Varma, Tulsidas Bibliography (forthcoming).

17. See Goldman, trans., The Ramayana of Valmiki , vol. 1: Balakanda , 14-29, for an overview of this scholarship.

18. Both Ramanujan, in his essay for this volume, and Kamil Zvelebil, in the introduction to his Two Tamil Folktales: The Story of King Matanakama and the Story of Peacock Ravana (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1987), suggest a set of motifs that appear only in the southern versions. In addition, it is important to remember that Valmiki's "version" is itself many versions.

19. Recent scholarship on the Ram Lila of Banaras has demonstrated the vitality and social significance of performance traditions in North India. See, among others, Linda Hess and Richard Schechner, "The Ramlila of Ramnagar," The Drama Review 21, no. 3 (September 1977): 51-82; Philip Lutgendorf, The Life of a Text: Performing the Ramcaritmanas of Tulsidas (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991); Anuradha Kapur, "The Ram Lila at Ramnagar: A North Indian Drama" (Ph.D. diss., University of Leeds, 1980). For an analysis of variety within the Ramayana performance tradition, see the discussion of the Nakkatayya festival, a rambunctious festival in Banaras based upon Surpanakha's mutilation, in the section entitled ''Cutting Off of the Nose" in Nits Kumar, "Popular Culture in Urban India: The Artisans of Banaras, c. 1884-1984" (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1984), 261-94; Sandria Freitag, "Behavior as Text: Popular Participation in the Story of Ram," presentation to the Society for Cultural Anthropology, Santa Monica, California, May 1990.

20. Rama's role as exemplar is especially evident in the Ayodhyakanda of Valmiki's Ramayana . Pollock shows that Valmiki portrays Rama as a moral paradigm rather than a developing character whose actions are a mixture of good and bad: "Rama and the others are evidently designed to be monovalent paradigms of conduct." See Sheldon I. Pollock, trans., The Ramayana of Valmiki , vol. 2: Ayodhyakanda , 50-51. As if to attest to the success of Valmiki's efforts, readings that attempt to rationalize away

Rama's moral rough spots recur frequently in devotional, apologetic, and scholarly writing. V. Raghavan himself wrote a devotional treatise extolling the virtues of Rama and vilifying Ravana for his lust and greed: see his The Two Brothers: Rams and Lakshmana (Madras: Ramayana Printing Works, 1976). In this slim book, which differs from many of his other writings in its personal quality, he discusses Rama's deeds entirely in terms of his absolute adherence to dharma, never once even referring to Rama's killing of Valin. Consider, as well, the way another author contrives to maintain Rama's reputation.

But this episode [the killing of Valin] has another redeeming side. . . . The very fact that this one incident has raised such a huge cry of criticism is itself an acknowledgement of Rama's superhuman excellence in all other respects. Therefore, this one stain only adds to the beauty of the portrait as the srivatsa mark [chest ornament] on the person of Visnu.

See Swami Siddhinathananda, "Sri Rama—Dharma Personified," Prabuddha Bharata 77, no. 8 (September 1972), 395. Also see Frank Whaling, The Rise of the Religious Significance of Rama (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1980), 39-48.

21. In "Divine Order and Divine Evil in the Tamil Tale of Rama" ( Journal of Asian Studies 38, no. 4 [August 1979]: 653), David Shulman assesses one of the most notorious of the morally ambiguous actions performed by Rama, namely, his murder of Valin.

22. For a discussion of how scholars have often overlooked the ambiguity of Sita's behavior, see Sally J. Sutherland, "Sita` and Draupadi: Aggressive Behavior and Female Role-Models in the Sanskrit Epics," Journal of the American Oriental Society 109, no. 1 (January-March 1989): 63.

23. Gloria Goodwin Raheja, "Subversion and Moral Evaluation in North Indian Women's Songs" (paper presented at the 41st annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Washington, D.C., March 1989), 2.

24. Ashis Nandy, The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Reco very of Self Under Colonialism (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1983), 20.

25. Philip Lutgendorf, "The View from the Ghats: Traditional Exegesis of a Hindu Epic," Journal of Asian Studies 48, no. 2 (May 1989): 272-88.

26. It is intriguing that E. V. Ramasami produced this decidedly regional interpretation at the same time that another Madrasi, C. Rajagopalachari, broadcast his telling of the Ramayana as a "national epic." See Joanne Punzo Waghorne, Images of Dharma: The Epic World of C. Rajagopalachari (Delhi: Chanakya Publications, 1985), 133-55. Perhaps the two—the regional and the national—help to constitute each other. Arjun Appadurai notes their interrelatedness in his recent article entitled "How to Make a National Cuisine: Cookbooks in Contemporary India" ( Comparative Studies in Society and History 30, no. 1 [January 1988]: 3-24): "The idea of an 'Indian' cuisine has emerged because of, rather than despite, the increasing articulation of regional and ethnic cuisines" (21). I am indebted to Charles Hallisey for pointing out this parallel to me.

27. That enormous task has barely been begun, but W. L. Smith has made a major contribution for Bengali, Oriya, and Assamese Ramayanas : see his Ramayana Traditions in Eastern India: Assam, Bengal, and Orissa (Stockholm: Department of Indolo-gy, University of Stockholm, 1988). See also Asit K. Banerjee, ed., The Ramayana in

Eastern India (Calcutta: Prajna, 1983). Other regional studies include C. R. Sharma, The Ramayana in Telugu and Tamil: A Comparative Study (Madras: Lakshminarayana Granthamala, 1973); A. Pandurangam, "Ramayana Versions in Tamil," Journal of Tamil Studies 21 (June 1982): 58-67.

28. See Mark Juergensmeyer, Religion as Social Vision (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1982), 169-80.

29. Although Narayana Rao's article in this volume deals only with Telugu women's songs, the emphases and perspectives characteristic of these songs seem to occur elsewhere in Indian women's Ramayana traditions. For example, some of the same emphasis on Rama's neglect of Sita and the importance of her twin sons is found among Maharashtran women: see Indira Junghare, "The Ramayana in Maharashtran Women's Folk Songs," Man in India 56, no. 4 (October-December 1976): 285-305. See especially the songs translated on pp. 297-301 of this article.

30. Nirad C. Chaudhuri, The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian (New York: Macmillan, 1951), 188.

31. V. T. Rajshekar, Aggression on Indian Culture: Cultural Identity of Dalits and the Dominant Tradition of India (Bangalore: Dalit Sahitya Akademy, 1988), 13.

32. Robert Caldwell, The Tinnevelly Shanars: A Sketch of Their Religion and Their Moral Condition and Characteristics as a Caste (Madras: Christian Knowledge Society Press, 1849), 27-28. According to Bishop Caldwell's account, the Nadars celebrated the day on which Ravana carried Sita to Lanka as one of their religious festivals.

33. James Ryan, "Ravana, Tirukkural, and the Historical Roots of the Philosophy of Periyar" (paper presented at the 11th Annual Conference on South Asia, Madison, Wisconsin, November 1982).

34. Goldman likewise calls attention to the tradition of producing abridged ( samksipta ) versions of Valmiki's text: The Ramayana of Valmiki , vol. 1: Balakanda , 6, n. 10; 274.

Two Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation

This paper was originally written for the Conference on Comparison of Civilizations at the University of Pittsburgh, February 1987. I am indebted to the organizers of the conference for the opportunity to write and present it and to various colleagues who have commented on it, especially V. Narayana Rao, David Shulman, and Paula Richman.

1. I owe this Hindi folktale to Kirin Narayan of the University of Wisconsin.

2. Several works and collections of essays have appeared over the years on the many Ramayanas of South and Southeast Asia. I shall mention here only a few which were directly useful to me: Asit K. Banerjee, ed., The Ramayana in Eastern India (Calcutta: Prajna, 1983); P. Banerjee, Rama in Indian Literature, Art and Thought , 2 vols. (Delhi: Sundeep Prakashan, 1986);J. L. Brockington, Righteous Rama . The Evolution of an Epic (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1984); V. Raghavan, The Greater Ramayana (Varanasi: All-India Kashiraj Trust, 1973); V. Raghavan, The Ramayana in Greater India (Surat: South Gujarat University, 1975); V. Raghavan, ed., The Ramayana Tradition in Asia (Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1980); C. R. Sharma, The Ramayana in Telugu and Tamil: A Comparative Study (Madras: Lakshminarayana Granthamala, 1973); Dineshchandra Sen, The Bengali Ramayanas (Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1920); S. Singaravelu, "A Comparative Study of the Sanskrit, Tamil, Thai and Malay Versions of the Story of Rama with special reference to the Process of Acculturation in the Southeast Asian Versions," Journal of the Siam Society 56, pt. 2 (July 1968): 137-85.

3. Camille Bulcke, Ramkatha : Utpatti aur Vikas (The Rama story: Origin and development; Prayag: Hindi Parisad Prakasan, 1950; in Hindi). When I mentioned Bulcke's count of three hundred Ramayanas to a Kannada scholar, he said that he had recently counted over a thousand in Kannada alone; a Telugu scholar also mentioned a thousand in Telugu. Both counts included Rama stories in various genres. So the title of this paper is not to be taken literally.

4. See Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1978).

5. Through the practice of tapas —usually translated "austerities" or "penances" —a sage builds up a reserve of spiritual power, often to the point where his potency poses a threat to the gods (notably Indra). Anger or lust, however, immediately negates this power; hence Indra's subsequent claim that by angering Gautama he was doing the gods a favor.

6. Srimad Valmikiramayana , ed. by K. Chinnaswami Sastrigal and V. H. Subrahmanya Sastri (Madras: N. Ramaratnam, 1958), 1.47-48; translation by David Shulman and A. K. Ramanujan.

7. The translation in the body of this article contains selected verses from 1.9, the section known in Tamil as akalikaippatalam . The edition I cite is Kampar Iyarriya Iramayanam (Annamalai: Annamalai Palkalaikkalakam, 1957), vol. 1.

8. C. H. Tawney, trans., N.M. Penzer, ed., The Ocean of Story , 10 vols. (rev. ed. 1927; repr. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1968), 2:45-46.

9. See, for example, the discussion of such views as summarized in Robert P. Goldman, trans., The Ramayana of Valmiki , vol. 1: Balakanda (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 15. For a dissenting view, see Sheldon I. Pollock, ''The Divine King in the Indian Epic," Journal of the American Oriental Society 104, no. 3 (July-September 1984): 505-28.

10. A. K. Ramanujan, trans., Hymns for the Drowning: Poems for Visnu by Nammalvar (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981), 47.

11. Adhyatma Ramayana , II.4.77-78. See Rai Bahadur Lala Baij Nath, trans., The Adhyatma Ramayana (Allahabad: The Panini Office, 1913; reprinted as extra volume 1 in the Sacred Books of the Hindus , New York: AMS Press, 1974), 39.

12. See S. Singaravelu, "A Comparative Study of the Sanskrit, Tamil, Thai and Malay Versions of the Story of Rama."

13. Santosh N. Desai, "Ramayana—An Instrument of Historical Contact and Cultural Transmission Between India and Asia," Journal of Asian Studies 30, no. 1 (November 1970): 5.

14. Critical Study of Paumacariyam (Muzaffarpur: Research Institute of Prakrit, Jainology and Ahimsa, 1970), 234.

15. Rame Gowda, P. K. Rajasekara, and S. Basavaiah, eds., Janapada Ramayana (Folk Ramayanas) (Mysore: n.p., 1973; in Kannada).

16. Rame Gowda et al., Janapada Ramayana , 150-51; my translation.

17. See A. K. Ramanujan, "The Indian Oedipus," in Oedipus: A Folklore Casebook , ed. Alan Dundes and Lowell Edmunds (New York: Garland, 1983), 234-61.

18. Santosh N. Desai, Hinduism in Thai Life (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1980), 63. In the discussion of the Ramakirti to follow, I am indebted to the work of Desai and Singaravelu. For a translation of the Thai Ramayana, see Swami Satyananda Puri and Chhaoen Sarahiran, trans., The Ramakirti or Ramakien: The Thai Version of the Ramayana (Bangkok: Thai Bharat Cultural Lodge and Satyanand Puri Foundation, 1949).

19. Desai, Hinduism in Thai Life , 85.

20. Kampar Iyarriya Iramayanam , vol. 1, selected verses from I. I, in the section known as nattuppatalam .

21. See David Shulman, "Sita and Satakantharavana in a Tamil Folk Narrative," Journal of Indian Folkloristics 2, nos. 3/4 (1979): 1-26.

22. One source for Peirce's semiotic terminology is his "Logic as Semiotic," in Charles Sanders Peirce, Philosophical Writings of Peirce , ed. by Justus Buchler (1940; repr. New York: Dover, 1955), 88-119.

23. Dineshchandra Sen, Bengali Ramayanas .

24. Robert P. Goldman, ed., The Ramayana of Valmiki , 7 vols. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984-).

25. Personal communication from V. Narayana Rao.

26. I heard the Telugu tale to follow in Hyderabad in July 1988, and I have collected versions in Kannada and Tamil as well. For more examples of tales around the Ramayana , see A. K. Ramanujan, "Two Realms of Kannada Folklore," in Another Harmony: New Essays on the Folklore of India , ed. Stuart H. Blackburn and A. K. Ramanujan (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986), 41-75.

Three Ramayana, Rama Jataka, and Ramakien: A Comparative Study of Hindu and Buddhist Traditions

I would like to thank Mani Reynolds for her assistance in locating and interpreting Thai texts and materials. Charles Hallisey has, as always, proved a superb critic, offering numerous corrections and suggestions. All have been appreciated, and most have been incorporated into the text.

1. In this connection, I might note that this paper was originally written as the

inaugural lecture for a three-day Brown Symposium held at Southwestern University (Georgetown, Texas) in October 1988. The symposium was devoted to the Thai version of the Rama story and was supplemented by the performance of major segments of the story by a dance troupe from Thailand.

2. For a description of these kae bon ("releasing from the promise") rituals, see Chantat Tongchuay, Ramakien kap Wanakam Thongton Pak Tai (research paper no. 8, Institute for the Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge, Sinakharintharavirot University, Songkhla, Thailand, 1979; in Thai), 27-31.

3. The tendency unduly to privilege Hindu versions in general, and certain Hindu versions in particular, is evidenced by the common practice of referring to the various tellings of the Rama story by the essentially Hindu term Ramayana . The practical advantages of following this convention are obvious, but the fact that it implicitly privileges some versions over others should not be ignored.

4. I do not wish to imply here any radical dichotomy between classical and popular traditions. I use the term classical simply to signal the fact that the tellings of the Rama story that I will consider in this paper are fully developed Rama traditions that have been continuously transmitted over the course of many generations. Although these traditions are associated with particular literary texts, they have also been expressed in a variety of other media including, especially, dance and iconography.

5. A great amount of work has been done comparing various versions of the Rama story. Generally, however, the emphasis has been on literary elements of style and narrative detail rather than on differences in religious structure. So far as I am aware, the only wide-ranging attempt to compare Hindu and Buddhist versions that shows any significant concern for their religious structure is Harry Buck's now seriously dated essay, "The Figure of Rama in Asian Cultures," Asian Profile 1, no. 1 (August 1973): 133-58.

6. In dance performances and iconographic representations that lack introductory narratives to set the scene, the sense that the story is occurring in a primordial time is often evoked through the use or representation of masks charged with sacral significance.

7. In the remainder of this article, unless otherwise specified "Buddhism" refers to the Theravada tradition. The Rama story has, of course, had significant crystallizations in other Buddhist environments, and the Buddhist structure delineated below is to a considerable extent discernible in many of those other contexts as well. However, I have chosen to focus the discussion on Theravada materials. So far as I am aware, the full range of classical crystallizations of the Rama story within the Theravada tradition has never been seriously treated by a Theravada scholar. In part, this serious lacuna in Theravada scholarship can be traced to some very influential Buddhologists, who have concluded from the seeming paucity of classical Rama traditions in Sri Lanka that these traditions do not play a significant role in Theravada culture as a whole. For an example of this kind of over-generalization from the Sinhalese situation, see Richard Gombrich, "The Vessantara Jataka, the Ramayana and the Dasaratha Jataka" in Journal of the American Oriental Society 105, no. 3 (July-September 1985), 497-37. For a very brief but much more accurate assessment of the presence and role of the Rama story, both in Sri Lanka and in the Theravada countries of Southeast Asia, see Heinz Bechert, ''On the Popular Religion of the Sinhalese" in Buddhism in C e ylon and Studies on Religious Syncretism in Buddhist Countries , ed. Heinz Bechert (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1978), 230-31.

8. In the article cited in note 7, Richard Gombrich argues that the Dasaratha Jataka is a self-conscious "parody" of the Hindu Ramayana . In my judgment his argument, which seriously underplays some of the most distinctive characteristics of the Dasaratha Jataka that I will discuss, is not convincing.

9. The Phra Lak Phra Lam or the Phra Lam Sadok, 2 vols. (New Delhi: Indian Council for Cultural Relations, 1973). For a discussion of this text, which was found in the Laotian capital of Vientienne, see Vo Thu Tinh, Phra Lak/Phra Lam: Version Lao du Ramayana indien et les fresques murales du Vat Wat Oup Moung, Vientienne, vol. 1 of Littérature Lao (Vientienne: Vithanga, 1972).

10. Among the "sister texts" that have thus far been identified, there is a north Laotian version known as the P'ommachak (see the reference in Vo Thu Tinh, Phra Lak/Phra Lam ) and a fascinating variant called Gvay Dvorahbi (see Sachchidanand Sahai, The Ramayana in Laos: A Study in the Gvay Dvorahbi [Delhi: B. R. Publishing, 1976]). This latter text, based on the Dundubhi episode in the Rama story, involves the killing of a buffalo, which suggests that this telling of the tale may have served as a correlate or substitute for the buffalo sacrifices that have, in the past, been ubiquitous in Laos. At this point, however, this remains a topic for further research.

11. For a Southeast Asian rendition of Theravada cosmology and correlated cosmogony based directly on the Pali Tipitaka (Skt. Tripitaka) and early Pall commentaries, see chapter 10 of Frank E. Reynolds and Mani B. Reynolds, Three Worlds According to King Ruang, University of California Buddhist Research Series no. 4 (Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1982).

12. When details vary from text to text, I follow the Vientienne version.

13. Given that Siva is the preeminent god in the literary Ramakien tradition that was associated with the kings of Thailand in the Bangkok period, and probably in the earlier Ayudhya period as well, it is interesting to note the way he is portrayed in the Laotian tellings of the story. In the Vientienne text, Siva (Lao: Aysouane) is a second name that Indra gives to a Buddhist-type brahma deity, the only son of the original pair of brahms deities who came down to earth and established the city of Inthapatha. In the P'ommachak account from northern Laos, Siva is presented as a relatively minor deity who once became inebriated and as a result fell from heaven to earth. The fallen Siva becomes an ally of Ravana's father and an enemy of Indra and Dasaratha, the father of Rama. According to the story, a battle is fought and Siva and Ravana are defeated. (The P'ommachak version is summarized in Vo Thu Tinh, Phra Lak/Phra Lam , 87.) Though corroborating evidence is not available, it is very tempting to see in these accounts a political polemic in which the Thai monarchs are being "situated" within the Laotian world.

14. The one exception to this that I know of is the Laotian Gvay Dvorahbi text mentioned in note 10. In this text the story is presented as a sermon of the Buddha, but it does not (at least explicitly) take the form of a jataka story.

15. Within the broader Buddhist context an interesting variant was discovered by H. W. Bailey, which he discussed in his "The Rama Story in Khotanese," Journal of the American Oriental Society 59 (1939): 460-68. In this Khotanese version, Laksmana rather than Rama plays the leading role: the Gotama Buddha who tells the story identifies Laksmana as himself in a previous life, while Rama is identified as one who will be reborn as Metteya (Skt. Maitreya), the Buddha of the future who will appear at the end of the present age. Given the importance of non-Theravada, Sanskrit traditions in the history of the greater Laos area, it is perhaps interesting to note the

primacy seemingly given to Laksmana in the naming (though not in the content) of the Phra Lak/Phra Lain tradition.

16. The Phra Lak/Phra Lain narratives exhibit the general Buddhist tendency not to radicalize the distinction between good and evil. As in some (though by no means all) of the Hindu versions, Ravana is presented as a figure who evokes a considerable amount of admiration and sympathy.

17. Given that the Vientienne version of the Phra Lak/Phra Lain account identifies Rama and Ravana as the rebirth precursors of the Buddha and Devadatta, it is not surprising that Rama and Ravana are (like the Buddha and Devadatta) depicted as cousins. In this same text the deformed child who was the rebirth precursor of Ravana demonstrates unmatched religious erudition by solving a set of riddles presented to him by Indra. Could it be that the text intends to highlight, in the figure of Ravana, the insufficiency of such religious erudition in the absence of proper attitudes and behavior? Certainly this combination of religious virtuosity with improper attitudes and behavior would make the parallel between Ravana and Devadatta very close indeed: according to the Buddhist tradition, Devadatta was an extremely erudite religious virtuoso who nonetheless harbored a degree of jealousy and anger that caused him to seek the Buddha's death.

18. Up to this point the most detailed research has focused on the literary and episodic connections between the modern Ramakien (which presumably preserves the characteristics of earlier Thai versions) and Tamil traditions. See, for example, S. Singaravelu, "A Comparative Study of the Sanskrit, Tamil, Thai and Malay Versions of the Story of Rama ," Journal of the Siam Society 56, pt. 2 (July 1968): 137-85; "The Rama Story in the Thai Cultural Tradition," Journal of the Siam Society 70, pts. 1 and 2 (July 1982): 215-25 (repr. in Asian Folklore Studies 44, no. 2 [1985]: 269-79); and "The Episode of Maiyarab in the Thai Ramakien and Its Possible Relation to Tamil Folklore," Indologica Taurinensia 13 (1985-86): 297-312.

19. For a discussion of the available evidence, see P. Schweisguth, Etude sur la littérature siamois (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1951).

20. Although the founder and early kings of the Chakri dynasty that founded the present Bangkok kingdom associated themselves closely with the figure of Rama, the now extremely common practice of designating them and their successors as Rama I, Rama II, and so on was not established until the time of Rama VI.

21. See, for example, Traiphum lok winitchai, chamlong chak chabap luang (Bangkok, 1913), which describes the Buddhist cosmos, including the various heavenly realms and their occupants.

22. The distinctively Buddhist elements are highlighted by Srisurang Poolthupya and Sumalaya Bangloy in Phrutikam Kong Tua Nai Rueng Ramakien Thai Prieb Tieb Kab Tua Lakhon Nai Mahakap Ramayana " (Research Document no. 12, Institute for Thai Studies, Thammasat University, Bangkok, 1981); and by Sathian Koset [Phaya Anuman Rajadhon], Uppakon Ramakien (Bangkok: Bannakan Press, 1972).

23. King Rama I, Ramakien , 2 vols. (Bangkok: Sinlapa Bannakhan, 1967), 1068. The rationalistic, skeptical attitude expressed toward Hindu mythology in this passage provides important confirmation of David Wyatt's thesis that the modernist orientation evident in the Buddhist reform movement led by Rama IV in the middle decades of the nineteenth century was prefigured in the workings and actions of Rama I. See Wyatt, "The 'Subtle Revolution' of King Rama I of Siam," in Moral Order and

the Question of Change: Essays on Southeast Asian Thought , ed. David Wyatt and Alexander Woodside (Monograph series no. 24, Yale University Southeast Asia Studies, New Haven, 1982), 9-52.

24. Whether or not Rama I was aware of earlier Buddhist tellings of the Rama story, he was in fact following a Buddhist tradition in using an epilogue to indicate the significance of the story he had told. In the Dasaratha Jataka and the Phra Lak/Phra Lam tellings of the tale, the crucial point that most explicitly reveals the Buddhist significance of the story (namely Rama's identity as a rebirth precursor of the Buddha and the identities of the other characters as rebirth precursors of the Buddha's "supporting cast") is always revealed in an epilogue.

25. See Mattani Rutnin, "The Modernization of Thai Dance-Drama, with Special Reference to the Reign of King Chulalongkorn" (Doctoral diss., School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1978), 1:14-15.

26. This point was strongly confirmed by the Ramakien musicians and dancers who performed at the Brown Symposium at which the original version of this paper was presented.

27. Another important iconic telling of the Ramakien story is the set of sculptures now located in Wat Jetupom in Bangkok. Although this set of sculptures is of great artistic interest, it has not—in recent years at least—had a significant cultic function.

28. For an extended account of this process, see my essay "The Holy Emerald Jewel" in Religion and the Legitimation of Power in Thailand, Laos and Burma , ed. Bardwell Smith (Chambersburg, Penn.: Anima Books, 1978), 175-93.

29. Northern Thai texts contain accounts of processions of the Emerald Buddha image in which unspecified jatakas were chanted, a practice that clearly highlights the association of the image with bodhisatta -hood and Buddhahood. It is theoretically possible that a Rama Jataka was among those jatakas , but I am not aware of any evidence to support this conjecture.

30. Unlike his two predecessors and most of his successors, Rama III followed a school of opinion that considered literary and performance renditions of the Rama story too frivolous to deserve the attention of a serious Buddhist. However, his convictions did not inhibit his interest in refurbishing the iconic presentation of the story that was an integral component of the cult supporting the legitimacy of his dynasty.

31. The setting of the Ramakien murals on the walls of the galleries around the central altar on which the Emerald Buddha is installed, especially when taken in conjunction with the fact that the chanting of jatakas is a common practice in the cult, is clearly intended to hint that Rama might be a rebirth precursor of the Buddha. There is, however, no evidence that this intimation has ever been explicitly formulated.

Four The Mutilation of Surpanakha

I wish to thank V. Narayana Rao for introducing me to the richness of the Ramayana tradition, and Paula Richman for her generous attention and helpful comments on several drafts of this essay.

For the sake of consistency and readability I have, unless otherwise indicated, used the standard Sanskrit forms and transliteration system for all names, terms, and places in the Ramayana .

1. As Wendy O'Flaherty has pointed out, a myth can be interpreted on several levels: the narrative, the divine, the cosmic, and the human—the last concerned with problems of human society and with the search for meaning in human life. See her Asceticism and Eroticism in the Mythology of Siva (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1973), 2. See also O'Flaherty, "Inside and Outside the Mouth of God" ( Daedalus 109, no. 2 [Spring 1980]: 103) for a discussion of myths as "social charters." In classifying the Rama story as a myth, I am defining a myth as a sacred story about supernatural beings and events that holds great significance for the members of a culture.

2. J. Moussaieff Masson, "Fratricide among the Monkeys: Psychoanalytic Observations on an Episode in the Valmikiramayanam," Journal oft he American Oriental Society 95, no. 4 (October-December 1975), 672.

3. David Shulman has discussed both these episodes from Kampan's Ramayana , the first in "Divine Order and Divine Evil in the Tamil Tale of Rama," Journal of Asian Studies 38, no. 4 (August 1979), 651-69; the second in his article for this volume.

4. The name Surpanakha means literally "one who has nails ( nakha ) like a winnowing basket ( surpa )." In modern Indian languages such as Hindi, it is sometimes used as an epithet to describe an ugly, pug-nosed woman.

5. In fact, the specter of Surpanakha so haunted my imagination that, as a respite from studying for doctoral prelims, I wrote my own version of the episode (now happily consigned to oblivion) in which Sita, recognizing her "submerged self" in Surpanakha, leaves Rama and flees with her to the Himalayas to join Kali, the Great Goddess. Such is the power of the Rama story, that it is able to transcend cultures and emerge in countless transformations.

6. Claude Levi-Strauss, The Savage Mind (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966).

7. I am following the Critical Edition of the Ramayana , ed. by G. H. Bhatt and U. P. Shah, vol. 3: Aranyakanda , ed. by P. C. Dinanji (Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1963), sargas 16-17. I have also consulted two other Sanskrit editions: Srimadvalmikiramayana , with Amrtakataka of Madhavayogi, ed. by N. S. Venkatanathacarya (Mysore: University of Mysore, 1965) and Srimadvalmikiya Ramayana , with Hindi translation (Gorakhpur: Gita Press, [1960]). In these two, the episode occupies sargas 17-18. In English translation, I have consulted volume 2 of Hari Prasad Shastri, trans., The Ramayana of Valmiki , 3 vols. (London: Shanti Sadan, 1957); and Sheldon I. Pollock, trans., The Ramayana of Valmiki , vol. 3: Aranyakanda (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991). Translations are my own unless otherwise noted.

8. Sheldon Pollock quotes the Southern recension as adding a line, which the Critical Edition omits: "For with your charming body you do not look like a raksasa woman to me." As he points out, the commentators find this remark difficult to explain, although it may be correct to view it as sarcastic (note on 16.16).

9. In the Southern recension, upon which the Critical Edition relies heavily, the beauty of Rama and the ugliness of Surpanakha are given special emphasis, while t he Bengali recension (23.18-25) clearly states that Surpanakha takes on a beautiful form. The following versions specifically mention Surpanakha's ugliness: Bhagavata Purana (9.10.9); Garuda Purana (143); Padma Purana ( Patala Khanda 36 and Uttara Khanda 269), Devi Bhdgavata Purana (3.28). See also Camille Bulcke, Ramkatha: Utpatti aur Vikas (Prayag: Hindi Parisad Prakasan, 1950; in Hindi), 414.

10. Pollock translates tan aham samatikranta as "But I am prepared to defy them" (note to 16.21). Surpanakha seems here to be boasting about her own power. In the Gita Press edition the following line reads aham prabhavasampanna svacchandabalagamini , "I am powerful and able to go where I please."

11. See the note to 17.1 in Pollock.

12. See, for example, Bulcke, Ramkatha , 14, and "The Ramayana: Its History and Character," Poona Orientalist 25, nos. 1-4 (January/October 1960), 41.

13. P.S. Subramanya Sastri, A Critical Study of Valmiki Ramayana (Thiruvaiyaru: [P.S. Krishnan], 1968), 26-28. The verse in question (17.4) reads:

apurvi bharyay carthi tarunah priyadarsanah |

anurupas ca te bharta rupasyasya bhavis yati ||

Pollock translates this as: "He has never had a woman before and is in need of a wife. He is young and handsome and will make a good husband, one suited to such beauty as yours."

14. Gita Press edition, 538; my translation from the Hindi. The verse in question is 17.11 in the Critical Edition:

etam virupam asatim karalam nirnatodarim |

bharyam vrddham parityajya tvam evaisa bhajisyati ||

15. K. Ramaswami Sastri, Studies in Ramayana (Baroda: State Department of Education, 1941), 100.

16. Bulcke, "The Ramayana," 58; Swami Siddhanathananda, "Sri Rama— Dharma Personified," Prabuddha Bharata 77, no. 8 (September 1972), 395.

17. C. Rajagopalachari, Ramayana (Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1958), 133. In the epilogue, however, he seems to change his mind and decry the banishment of Sita, saying that Rama, unlike Krsna, was unaware of his incarnation and that his divinity must have ended when he returned to Ayodhya. He also suggests that the banishment scene may be the result of a corruption in the text and his "heart rebels against it" (295-96).

18. Kampan is traditionally dated to the ninth century, although most scholars consider the twelfth century more probable. I have relied on the English translation of George L. Hart and Hank Heifetz, The Forest Book of the Ramayana of Kampan (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), patalam 5, from which all quotations are taken. I have also consulted "Kamban's Soorpanakha" from C. Rajagopalachari's retelling, 134-36, and S. Shankar Raju Naidu, A Comparative Study of Kamban Ramayanam and Tulasi Ramayan (Madras: University of Madras, 1971), 186-89 and 507-8.

19. Hart and Heifetz, The Forest Book of the Ramayana of Kampan 89.

20. For a discussion of traditional notions of karpu , see George L. Hart, The Poems of Ancient Tamil: Their Milieu and Their Sanskrit Counterparts (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1975), 96-98. For discussions of contemporary contexts, see Susan S. Wadley, ed., The Powers of Tamil Women , Foreign and Comparative Studies, South Asia series no. 6 (Syracuse: Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, 1980).

21. Hart and Heifetz, The Forest Book of the Ramayana of Kampan , 90.

22. Ibid., 101.

23. Ibid., 102.

24. Ibid., 109.

21. Hart and Heifetz, The Forest Book of the Ramayana of Kampan , 90.

22. Ibid., 101.

23. Ibid., 102.

24. Ibid., 109.

21. Hart and Heifetz, The Forest Book of the Ramayana of Kampan , 90.

22. Ibid., 101.

23. Ibid., 102.

24. Ibid., 109.

21. Hart and Heifetz, The Forest Book of the Ramayana of Kampan , 90.

22. Ibid., 101.

23. Ibid., 102.

24. Ibid., 109.

25. Voluntary sacrifice of a breast can also have powerful effects. In the Tamil classic Cilappatikaram , the main character, Kannaki, tears off her own breast and throws it into the city of Madurai, bringing about the city's destruction. In another tale from Madurai, Minaksi, the patron goddess of the city, loses her third breast when she first sets eyes on her future husband, Siva. See the various articles in Wadley, ed., Powers of Tamil Women , for further discussion of the significance of breasts in Tamil culture.

26. See Frank Whaling, The Rise of the Religious Significance of Rama (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1980), 105; Rai Bahadur Lala Baij Nath, trans., The Adhyatma Ramayana (Allahabad: The Panini Office, 1913; reprinted as extra volume I in the Sacred Books of the Hindus , New York: AMS Press, 1974).

27. I have used the Gita Press edition, Sri Ramcaritmanas , which contains the Hindi text and an English translation (Gorakhpur: Gita Press, 1968). The Surpanakha episode is on pp. 535-38.

28. Sri Ramcaritmanas , 535.

29. A discussion of Tulsidas's treatment of women is given by Geeta Patel, "Women, Untouchables, and Other Beasts in Tulsi Das' Ramayana " (paper presented at the 17th annual conference on South Asia, Madison, Wisconsin, November 1988).

30. Sri Ramcaritmanas , 535.

31. Ibid., 536.

32. Ibid.

30. Sri Ramcaritmanas , 535.

31. Ibid., 536.

32. Ibid.

30. Sri Ramcaritmanas , 535.

31. Ibid., 536.

32. Ibid.

33. Quoted in Arvind Kumar, A Study in the Ethics of the Banishment of Sita (New Delhi: Sarita Magazine, n.d. [1975?]), 28.

34. Pandit Radhesyam Kathavacak, Sriram-katha ( Radhesyam Ramayan ) (Bareli: Sri Radhesyam Pustakalay, 1960), 18-24: Aranyakanda , sankhya 10 ( Pancavati ). The book has been reprinted many times, often in pirated editions, but was probably written shortly before or after Indian independence in 1947.

35. Madan Mohanlal Sarma, Uttar Ramcarit , ed. by Pandit Radhesyam Kathavacak (Bareli: Sri Radhesyam Pustakalay, 1960), 25-26.

36. See note 33.

37. Kumar, A Study in the Ethics of the Banishment of Sita , 59.

38. Ibid., 61.

37. Kumar, A Study in the Ethics of the Banishment of Sita , 59.

38. Ibid., 61.

39. Bulcke, Ramkatha , 415, gives an extensive list of which body parts are cut off in which versions.

40. Sasanka Sekher Parui, "Punishment of Women in Ancient India," Journal of the Oriental Institute of Baroda 26, no. 4 (June 1977), 362-68.

41. Parui ("Punishment of Women," 366-67) gives examples from various texts,

especially the Kathasaritsgara . For other sources of the "cut-off nose" motif, see Stith Thompson and Jonas Balys, The Oral Tales of India (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1958), 327, 386, and 401.

42. For example, a Bhutanese dance troupe which recently toured the United States performed a comic interlude in which husbands cut off their wives' noses at; a punishment for infidelity.

43. In the Rim Lila of Banaras, this episode, called the Nakkatayya, is one of the most elaborate, lasting all night and featuring a procession headed by a hijra (hermaphrodite) playing the role of Surpanakha. See Nits Kumar, "Popular Culture in Urban India: The Artisans of Banaras, c. 1884-1984" (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1984), 261-94.

44. The phrase is Wendy O'Flaherty's, in Asceticism and Eroticism in the Mythology of Siva .

45. Abhinavagupta, Dhvanyaloka, karika 5. The story itself is found in Valmiki Ramayana , 1.2.8-18. See J. Masson, "Who Killed Cock Kraunca Abhinavagupta's Reflections on the Origin of Aesthetic Experience," Journal of the Oriental Institute of Baroda 18, no. 3 (March 1969): 207-24.

46. O'Flaherty, Asceticism and Eroticism , 302-10.

47. Two of Dasaratha's wives, Kausalya and Kaikeyi, are similarly dichotomized: Kausalya is virtuous, whereas Kaikeyi is sexually attractive. See Robert P. Goldman, trans., The Ramayana of Valmiki , vol. 1: Balakanda (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 54.

48. An exception is the unique account of Surpanakha in the Brahmavaivarta Purana (Krsnajanmakhanda 62), in which after her disfigurement she goes to the sacred lake Puskara to perform austerities: see Bulcke, Ramkatha , 417. Receiving a boon from Brahma to get Rama as her husband in her next life, she is reborn as Kubja, the hunchbacked woman who becomes one of the wives of Krsna, as whom Rama is reborn.

49. For an excellent discussion in this vein, see Cornelia Dimmitt, "Sita: Fertility Goddess and Sakti ," in The Divine Consort: Radha and the Goddesses of India , ed. John Stratton Hawley and Donna Marie Wulff (Berkeley: Berkeley Religious Studies Series, 1982), 210-23.

50. Even female ascetics are suspect, as are unmarried women generally, since they are not under the control of a husband.

51. David Kinsley, Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986), 34.

Five Fire and Flood: The Testing of Sita in Kampan's Iramavataram

1. Iramavataram 11.1.83. I cite the edition with commentary by Vai. Mu. Kopalakirusnamacariyar, Kamparamayanam (Madras: Vai. Mu. Kopalakirusnamacariyar Kampeni, 1971).

2. See David Shulman, "Divine Order and Divine Evil in the Tamil Tale of Rama, " Journal of Asian Studies 38, no. 4 (August 1979): 651-69.

3. See, for example, Bhavabhuti, Uttararamacarita , Act I, where Rama calls himself a "monster" and an Untouchable because of what he must do to Sita—in order to preserve the good name of his family and his kingship; moreover, "the world itself is upside down" and "Rama was given life only in order to know pain" (v. 47). In Kalidasa's Raghuvamsa , 14.31-68, Rama says he simply cannot bear the libel spreading among his subjects, "like a drop of oil in water,'' and the poet adds that those who are rich in fame ( yasas ) value it more than their own bodies, and a fortiori more than any object of sense perception (35). Although this reduces Sita's status considerably, Rama is said to be truly torn as to the proper course; and the poet allows Sita to express (to Laksmana) something of the horror and protest that his decision entails.

4. The argument is developed in part in David Shulman, "Toward a Historical Poetics of the Sanskrit Epic," forthcoming in the International Folklore Review .

5. A Tamil Uttarakanda , attributed to Ottakkuttar, Kampan's legendary rival, does exist; the tradition (which is quite prepared to credit Kampan with various inferior works such as Erelupatu ) insists that this does not belong to Kampan's oeuvre.

6. I cite Srimad Valmikiramayana , ed. by K. Chinnaswami Sastrigal and V. H. Su-brahmanya Sastri (Madras: N. Ramaratnam, 1958), which generally follows the Southern recension.

7. Note following VI. 118.1 la: Srimad Valmikiramayana , ed. Chinnaswami Sastrigal and Subrahmanya Sastri, 901.

8. See the discussion of this incident in Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty, Hindu Myths (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1975), 198.

9. See discussion in my paper, "The Yaksa's Questions," in a forthcoming volume on enigmatic modes edited by Galit Hasan-Rokem and David Shulman. This verse is omitted by the Critical Edition (it appears as 3247 * in the notes).

10. I cannot agree with Robert Goldman, who explains the wide attestation of this section in the manuscript tradition and its consequent incorporation into the Critical Edition as the result of its being a "late and sectarian passage accepted with little change by all scribes": Robert P. Goldman, The Ramayana of Valmiki , vol. 1: Balakanda (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 44-45, n. 85.

11. This point will be taken up in greater detail in the forthcoming paper cited in note 4.

12. The corresponding (and contrasting) passage in the Mahabharata is the final chapter of the Svargarohanaparvan (XVIII.5), in which each of the heroes regains his divine self—but only after an apocalyptic war and the violent deaths of most of the dramatis personae. There it is death in battle that closes the cycle and allows a kind of negative reintegration, albeit not in this world but in the divine sphere.

13. Pittar, petaiyar , pattar ( = bhaktas ) : tarcirappuppayiram , 8.

14. Some scholars read this image in reverse: see the note by Kopalakirusnamacariyar on this verse ( Kamparamayanam , 666).

15. Translated by A. K. Ramanujan, p. 42 of this volume.

16. otiyav utampu torum uyir ena: translated by A. K. Ramanujan, p. 43 of this volume.

17. I cannot explore here the relation between the notion of fluid uyir filling endless bodies and the Tamil ideal of "liquefaction," of melting and mingling in love; but see the fine discussion by Margaret Trawick Egnor, The Sacred Spell and Other Conceptions of Lije in Tamil Culture (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1978), 13, 20-21, 50, 104-6.

18. See VI.119.15 in the Sanskrit text: "I received my name but not my birth from Janaka; I came from the earth. You devalue my conduct, you who are a judge of good conduct."

19. On palai , see George L. Hart, The Poems of Ancient Tamil: Their Milieu and Their Sanskrit Counterparts (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1975), 221-29; Paula Richman, Women, Branch Stories, and Religious Rhetoric in a Tamil Buddhist Text , Foreign and Comparative Studies, South Asia series no. 12 (Syracuse: Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, 1988), 62-68. Cf. David Shulman, "The Crossing of the Wilderness: Landscape and Myth in the Tamil Story of Rama," Acta Orientalia 42 (1981), 21-54.

20. In this respect, it bears a surprising resemblance to another Tamil genre, the kovai , a collection of love verses somewhat artificially arranged in preordained narrative sequence, from the lovers' first sight of one another until their final union. See Norman Cutler, Songs of Experience: The Poetics of Tamil Devotion (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987), 82-91. In Kampan, of course, this orderly sequence is ruled out.

21. Tolkappiyam , porulatikaram I.11; cf. Rm. Periyakaruppan, Tradition and Talent in Cankam Poetry (Madurai: Madurai Publishing House, 1976), 168-73.

22. There are other points in the Iramavataram where Sita complains, ironically, about Rama. For example, at V.5.7, Sita cries out from her captivity: "You told me to stay home in the great city, not to come to the forest; you said you would return in a

few days. Where is that vaunted compassion ( arul ) of yours now? I am all alone, and you are consuming my lonely life!" But verses such as these, reminiscent of the laments at unbearable separation in Nammalvar (e.g., Tiruvaymoli 5.4), are not meant to be taken at face value; they are a way of giving voice to the heroine's impatience and despair.

23. For a detailed discussion of this episode, see my "Divine Order and Divine Evil in the Tamil Tale of Rama."

24. The insistence on autonomy in the form of service or devotion, and in a context of rejection, is a topos known also from Nammalvar. Thus Tiruvaymoli 1.7.8: "Though he looses his hold on me, not even he can make my good heart let go of him."

25. The myrobalan in the hand is a proverbial image signifying intimate close-HESS.

26. Kopalakirusnamacariyar on ver' evam enr' oru porul (VI.37.94; Kamparamayanam , 780).

27. See Friedhelm Hardy, Viraha-bhakti: The Early History of Krsna Devotion in South India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1983), 526-47; David Shulman, "Remaking a Purana: Visnu's Rescue of Gajendra in Potana's Telugu Mahabhagavatamu ," forthcoming in a volume of purana studies edited by Wendy Doniger (O'Flaherty).

28. Dasaratha speaks to this effect in Va1miki, too, but only after Rama himself has announced that the trial was only intended to convince the world.

29. Large parts of the Iramavataram read like dramatic dialogues that seem to assume a context of performance; the art of the dialogue in Kampan deserves a separate study. All major events spark extended comments from nearly every potential speaker. In this regard, see the insightful remarks by Stuart Blackburn in this volume.

30. A good example is the demon Viradha's stotra to Rama, who has just dispatched him, at III. 1.47-60. Similar passages accompany the deaths of Kabandha, Valin, and other of the avatar's victims; they occur as well, in shorter forms, when various sages encounter Rama. We should also recall that the poet consistently keeps Rama's true identity before our eyes by using divine-mythic epithets for him and his entourage.

31. Cf. the similar conclusion by George Hart and Hank Heifetz in their introduction to The Forest Book of the Ramayana of Kampan (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 6: "Again and again, he [Rama] is recognized as an incarnation of Visnu by those who meet or confront him, but Rama rarely shows a direct awareness of himself as the supreme god."

32. Thus (at V.5.6, for example) Sita may even address Rama, in absentia, as "Narayana."

Six A Ramayana of Their Own: Women's Oral Tradition in Telugu

Sanskrit loan words in Telugu shorten the long vowel at the end of feminine nouns: Sita, Urmila. In the passages quoted from the songs these names appear without the final long vowel and with Telugu diacritics.

I am grateful to Kolavennu Malayavasini for collecting these Ramayana songs for me. Her cultural insights and her knowledge of the Ramayana song tradition have been very useful to me. Thanks are also due to Jaya Prabha, who collected several songs from her mother. Peter Claus and Robert Goldman read and commented on an earlier version of this paper when it was presented at the 40th annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies in San Francisco, March 1988. Joyce Flueckiger, A. K. Ramanujan, Joe Elder, Kirin Narayan, and Paula Richman read a later draft and made a number of suggestions for improvement. I am grateful to all of them. Responsibility for the interpretation (and misinterpretation) is entirely mine.

1. The songs women sing on the Ramayana theme have received extensive attention from Telugu scholars for some time. The earliest collections of these songs were made by Nandiraju Chelapati Rao, Strila Patalu (Eluru: Manjuvani Press, 1899), and Mangu Ranganatha Rao, Nuru Hindu Strila Patalu (c. 1905). The existence of these early collections is reported in Sripada Gopalakrishnamurti's introduction to another collection, Strila Ramayanapu Patalu , ed. "Krishnasri" (Hyderabad: Andhrasarasvataparishattu, 1955), but they were unavailable to me. A more recent collection of folk-songs, which includes several shorter women's Ramayana songs, is that of Nedunuri Gangadharam, Minneru (Rajahmundry: Sarasvathi Power Press, 1968). A small but extremely interesting collection, which includes Ramayana songs collected from low-caste women, is found in Sriramappagari Gangappa, ed., Janapadageyaramayanamu (Gunturu: By the author, 1983). Another collection, also by Gangappa, is Janapadageyalu (Vijayawada: Jayanti Publications, 1985), which includes a number of the Ramayana songs already published in his 1983 collection.

Earlier studies of these songs include: Hari Adiseshuvu, Janapadageyavanmayaparicayamu (Gunturu: Navyavijnanpracuranalu, 1954; repr. 1967), 245-50; Birudaraju Ramaraju, Telugujanapadageyasahityamu (Hyderabad: Janapadavijnanapracuranalu, 1958; 2d ed. 1978), 78-126; Tumati Donappa, Janapadakalasampada (Hyderabad: Abhinandanasamiti, Acarya Tumati Donappa Mudu Arvaila Pandaga, 1972; repr. 1987); Panda Samantakamani, Telugusahityamulo Ramakatha (Hyderabad: Andhrasa-

rasvataparishattu, 1972), 248-69; T. Gopalakrishna Rao, Folk Ramayanas in Telugu and Kannada (Nellore: Saroja Publications, 1984); and Kolavennu Malayavasini, Andhra Janapada Sahityamu: Ramayanamu (Visakhapatnam: By the author, 1986). Donappa includes several Ramayana songs from the Rayalasima region of Andhra Pradesh, unavailable in any other published collections. In addition, Gopalakrishna Rao mentions K. Srilakshmi's "Female Characters in Folk Songs Based on Ramayana" (M. Phil. thesis, Osmania University, Hyderabad, 1980), but unfortunately I was not able to consult it.

2. To continue the language metaphor, it may be said that there are Ramayanas whose grammar is less conventional, such as the DK (Dravida Khazagam) version popular in Tamilnadu: see Richman's essay in this volume. There are also several such Ramayanas in Telugu, most notably a recent feminist, Marxist version by Ranganayakamma entitled Ramayana Visavrksam (The Ramayana: A poison tree), 3 vols. (Hyderabad: Sweet Home Publications, 1974-76).

3. It should be noted that the popularity of these songs is waning: most young Brahmin women who attend college or university no longer sing these songs.

4. In 1955 Andhrasarasvataparishattu, a literary service organization in Hyderabad, assembled forty-two of these songs in one volume entitled Strila Ramayanapu Patalu , with a critical introduction by Sripada Gopalakrishnamurti, but no information is given about the methods of collection, the singers, or the context of singing. Absent also is information regarding the tunes to which these songs were sung. It is possible that the book drew chiefly or entirely on earlier printed sources. Gopalakrishnamurti's otherwise valuable introduction is silent about these matters. Even though the title page of the book says that it is edited by "Krishnasri"—presumably a pseudonym—the introduction indicates that Gopalakrishnamurti was not directly involved in the collection of these songs.

5. For example, Vaidikis, Niyogis, Golkondavyaparis, Madhvas Dravidas, etc., each group boasting numerous subdivisions.

6. In a work song, the lead singer sings the main text, while the refrain is repeated by the group of women working along with her. On my tape, however, one singer sings both the text and the refrain.

7. I was not able to acquire sung versions of several of the long songs, but they are available in print.

8. The author of "Kusalavula Yuddhamu" says that the song was composed "on behalf of" ( tarapuna ) the Ramayana of Valmiki, referring to himself/herself in the third person but without giving a name: varusaga idi valmiki ramayanamu tarapuna vrasenu i kavitanu . Because of the use of the masculine kavi , ''poet," in this line, scholars have concluded that the author is a man. It is not improbable that kavi would be used to indicate a woman poet: the feminine term kavayitri is more pedantic. In another song, "Kusalavakuccalakatha," the author refers to herself as sati , "auspicious woman," again without mentioning her name. Quite possibly women poets preferred not to give their names because to do so would be immodest. Only one song, " Sita Melukolupu ," mentions its author's name: Kurumaddali Venkatadasu, a man. Gopalakrishnamurti thinks that two other songs, "Lankayagamu" and "Lankasarathi," were also composed by men, because men as well as women sing them.

9. See Gopalakrishnamurti's introduction to Strila Ramayanapu Patalu , ix-x.

10. Apparently this was the practice in premodern Andhra; it is attested in carv-

ings on temple carts and kalamkari cloth paintings.

11. In another song, also with a "locked out" theme, it is Rama's turn to be locked out and Sita refuses to open the door for him. See M. N. Srinivas, "Some Telugu Folk Songs," Journal oft he University of Bombay 13, no. 1 (July 1944): 65-86, and no. 4 (January 1945): 15-29. See David Shulman, "Battle as Metaphor in Tamil Folk and Classical Traditions," in Another Harmony: New Essays on the Folklore of India , ed. Stuart H. Blackburn and A. K. Ramanujan (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986), 105-30, for a study of this song in a different perspective.

12. In reality, the mother-in-law is often a hindrance to the union of wife and husband. Women's folksongs make many references to quarrels between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.

13. Again, this motif is not unknown in literary. Ramayanas : for example, the Bengali Ramayana of Krttivasa tells a similar story. Interestingly, many of the themes in the women's Ramayanas are similar to ones found in Jain versions. It is possible that the Jain versions were popular with Telugu Brahmin women, or, alternatively, that the Jain Ramayana authors borrowed from the women's versions—or both. At this stage of our research, it is difficult to tell for sure.

14. In another version, Rama suggests that he will serve Laksmana in another birth; for now, it would be improper for an older brother to serve a younger one. Thus, in the next avatar, Rama (i.e., Visnu) is born as Krsna and Laksmana as Balarama, Krsna's older brother—so Laksmana now receives Rama's services. (I am grateful to Jays Prabha for this information.)

15. For information on castes among whom widow remarriage is permitted, see V. Narayana Rao, "Epics and Ideologies: Six Telugu Folk Epics," in Another Harmony , ed. Blackburn and Ramanujan, 131-64.

16. The reason why Srirama here stands for Sita is unknown to me.

17. In Sanskrit the name is Raghava; Bharta and Satrika are Bharata and Satrughna; Kaika is Kaikeyi; and Saumitri is Sumitra. (Such adaptations of Sanskrit names are common in the dialects of the castes described here.) Maridi is a Telugu kinship term for a husband's younger brother.

18. Edwin Ardener, "Belief and the Problem of Women" and "The Problem Revisited," both in Perceiving Women , ed. Shirley Ardener (London: Dent, 1975), 1-17 and 19-27, respectively.

19. Ramaraju, however, comments that the events in the later part of the song "Kusalvula Yuddhamu" are "blemished by impropriety" ( anaucitidosadusitamulu ), apparently referring to the harsh words Lava and Kusa speak against their father, Rama: Telugujanapadageyasahityamu , 117.

Seven The Raja's New Clothes: Redressing Ravana in Meghanadavadha Kavya

1. Yogindranath Bose, Maikela Madhusudana Dattera jivana-carita (The life of Michael Madhusudan Dutt) (5th ed.; Calcutta: Chakravarti, Chatterjee, & Co., 1925), 489. We are most fortunate to have a sizable collection of Dutt's letters preserved for us by his friends and published in the above biography and, in expanded form, in Ksetra Gupta, ed., Kavi Madhusudana o tamra patravali (Poet Madhusudan and his letters) (Calcutta: Grantha Nilaya, 1963). Nearly all of these were written in English, as is the case with the one cited here; a rare few are in Bengali. We also know he wrote in Italian, to Satyendranath Tagore, because Dutt himself tells us so, and in French, while he lived at Versailles—one of these letters being to the king of Italy, on the occasion of Dante's sixth birth centenary.

2. Nirad C. Chaudhuri, The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian (New York: Macmillan, 1951), 188.

3. See, for instance, Mohitlal Majumdar, Kavi Srimadhusudana (Poet Madhusudan) (3d ed.; Calcutta: Vidyodaya Library, 1975), 44-45; Nilima Ibrahim, Bamlara kavi Madhusudana (Bengal's poet Madhusudan) (3d ed.; Dhaka: Nawroz Kitabistana, 1978), 56; Suresh Candra Maitra, Maikela Madhusudana Datta: jivana o sahitya (Michael Madhusudan Dutt: His life and literature) (Calcutta: Puthipatra, 1975), 192; and Mobasher Ali, Madhusudana o navajagrti (Madhusudan and the Renaissance) (3d ed.; Dhaka: Muktadhara, 1981), 91.

4. Those interested in subversive similes and how Dutt used them might like to

read my "Homeric Similes, Occidental and Oriental: Tasso, Milton, and Bengal's Michael Madhusudan Dutt," Comparative Literature Studies 25, no. 1 (March 1988): 35-56.

5. Sushil Kumar De, Bengali Literature in the Nineteenth Century, 1757-1857 (2d ed.; Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1962), 480.

6. The earliest biography of Dutt gives his age as "about thirteen" at the time he entered Hindoo College—in 1837, according to that source: Bose, Jivana-carita , 25 and 48. An editor of Dutt's collected works cites a subsequent scholar's opinion—that the year was in fact 1833—and then notes that the college magazine dated 7 March 1834 mentions Dutt reading aloud at the college's awards ceremony: Ksetra Gupta, ed., Madhusudana racanavali (The collected works of Madhusudan) (Calcutta: Sahitya Samsad, 1965), xi. Hindoo College was at that time divided into a junior and a senior school, the former admitting boys between the ages of eight and twelve. See Asiatic Journal (September-December 1832), 114-15; cited in Brajendranath Bandyopadhyay, ed., Samvadapatre sekalera katha (From the periodicals of bygone days) (Calcutta: Bangiya-Sahitya-Parisad-Mandir, 1923), 2:15.

7. Goutam Chattopadhyay, ed., Awakening in Bengal in Early Nineteenth Century (Selected Documents ) (Calcutta: Progressive Publishers, 1965), 1:1xi-1xvii.

8. Bose, Jivana-carita , 114; letter dated October 1842.

9. Bose, Jivana-carita , 60; letter to Gour Dass Bysack dated 25 November 1842.

10. Gupta, Madhusudana racanavali , xiv.

11. Bose, Jivana-carita , 159-60; letter of J. E. D. Bethune to Gour Dass Bysack dated 20 July 1849.

12. According to Bethune:

If you do your duty, the English language will become to Bengal what, long ago, Greek and Latin were to England; and the ideas which you gain through English learning will, by your help, gradually be diffused by a vernacular literature through the masses of your countrymen. . . . [I have told] those young men in Calcutta, who have brought for my opinion, with intelligible pride, their English compositions in prose and verse. . . . [that they] would attain a more lasting reputation, either by original compositions in their own language, or by transfusing into it the master-pieces of English literature.

Quoted in Bose, Jivana-carita , 160-61.

13. Nilmani Mukherjee, A Bengali Zamindar: Jaykrishna Mukherjee of Uttarpara and His Times, 1808-1888 (Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1975), 169-70. The founders met in 1850; the Society came into being in 1851.

14. Bose, Jivana-carita , 161-62; letter of Bysack to Dutt, undated.

15. Bose, Jivana-carita , 182; letter to Bysack dated 18 August 1849.

16. Bose, Jivana-carita , 322; letter to Raj Narain Bose dated 1 July 1860.

17. Quoted in Homi Bhabha, "Indo-Anglian Attitudes," Times Literary Supplement , 3 February 1978, 136.

18. A. Berriedale Keith, A History of Sanskrit Literature (London: Oxford University Press, 1920), 137-39.

19. Canto 1, lines 55-58; subsequent citations appear in the text. All translations of Meghanadavadha Kavya are mine.

20. Although the length of the entire Ram Lila performance varies in different

towns and villages, the crucial event, the slaying of Ravana, happens on the same (lay everywhere. See Norvin Hein, The Miracle Plays of Mathura (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1972), 76-77 and appendix.

21. Bose, Jivana-carita , 480; letter to Raj Narain Bose, undated [1861].

22. Bandyopadhyay, ed., Samvadapatre sekalera katha , 2:16.

23. Bose, Jivana-carita , 480-81; letter to Raj Narain Bose, undated [1861].

24. Bose, Jivana-carita , 487; letter undated [1861]. Dutt's metre in Meghanadavadha Kavya and in his earlier, shorter work (which he referred to as an "epicling"), Tilottama sambhava (The birth of Tilottama), is a blend of Milton and medieval Bengali's most common narrative verse structure, called payara , a rhymed couplet of fourteen-foot lines, with partial caesura after the eighth foot in each line. In Dutt's supple hands, Milton's iambic pentameter gives way to payara's fourteen syllables, while payara's rhyming and eight-six scansion are sacrificed to the demands of Miltonic blank verse, replete with enjambment. To a friend, he wrote: "You want me to explain my system of versification for the conversion of your skeptical friend. I am sure there is very little in the system to explain; our language, as regards the doctrine of accent and quantity, is an 'apostate', that is to say, it cares as much for them as I do for the blessing of our Family-Priest! If your friends know English let them read the Paradise-Lost, and they will find how the verse, in which the Bengali poetaster writes, is constructed." Bose, Jivana-carita , 320-21; letter to Raj Narain Bose dated 1 July 1860.

25. Bose, Jivana-carita , 494; letter dated 29 August 1861. Jotindra Mohan Tagore may have been the first to take exception to the way Dutt has Laksmana slay Meghanada. Rather than engaging his adversary in open combat, Laksmana enters by stealth the raksasa's place of worship and fells an unarmed Meghanada, who is doing puja to Agni at the time and would have become invincible had he been allowed to complete the ritual. Many critics have subsequently concurred with Jotindra Mohan Tagore that Dutt might have gone a bit too far by casting Laksmana in this rather cowardly role. Dutt was, however, drawing on an aspect of the Ramayana tradition here. Although Laksmana does not slay Meghanada by stealth in the Ramayana , in Krttivasa's telling of the tale, Hanuman travels to the netherworld and there is instructed by Maya how, by stealth, to slay Mahiravana. Dutt has Maya (also referred to as Mahamaya) instruct Laksmana precisely how to vanquish his formidable opponent. Dutt thus borrowed a stratagem from Krttivasa but had a different character (albeit still on Rama's side) make use of it.

26. Pramathanath Bisi, Bamla sahityera naranari (Men and women in Bengali literature) (Calcutta: Maitri, 1953; repr. 1966), 25.

27. AR CY DAE (Romesh Chunder Dutt), The Literature of Bengal; Being an Attempt to Trace the Progress of the National Mind in Its Various Aspects, as Reflected in the Nation's Literature; from the Earliest Times to the Present Day; with Copious Extracts from the Best Writers (Calcutta: I. C. Bose & Co, 1877), 176.

28. Rabindranath Tagore, " Meghanadavadha kavya ," in Ravindra-racanavali (The collected works of Rabindranath Tagore) (Calcutta: Visvabharati, 1962), Addends 2:78-79.

29. Tagore, Jivanasmrti (Reminiscences), in Ravindra-racanvali (Calcutta: Visvabharati, 1944), 17:354.

30. Quoted in Buddhadeva Bose, '' Maikela " (Michael), in his Sahityacarca (Literary studies) (Calcutta: Signet Press, 1954), 35.

31. Pramatha Chaudhuri, " Sabuja patrera mukhapatra " (Sabuj Patra's manifesto), in Nana-katha (Miscellany) (Calcutta: By the author, 3 Hastings Street, [1919]), 109-10.

32. A. K. Ramanujan, "On Bharati and His Prose Poems" (paper presented at the 16th annual conference on South Asia, Madison, Wisconsin, November 1987), 3.

33. Marksavadi no. 5 (September[?] 1949): 132.

34. Chaudhuri, The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian , 183.

Eight Creating Conversations: The Rama Story as Puppet Play in Kerala

This essay is based on fieldwork carried out in Kerala in 1984, 1985, and 1989 with support from the Fulbright Program (CIES), and on research supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

1. The pioneering study of audiences in folk performances is Roger Abrahams, "The Complex Relations of Simple Forms," in Folklore Genres , ed. Dan Ben-Amos (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1976), 193-214. On audiences in puppet performances, see Frank Proschan, "Cocreation of the Comic in Puppetry," in Humor and Comedy in Puppetry: A Celebration of Popular Culture , ed. Dina Sherzer and Joel Sherzer (Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Press, 1987), 30-46.

2. For a more complete description of the Kerala shadow puppet tradition, see Friedrich Seltmann, Schattenspiel in Kerala (Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 1986); and Stuart H. Blackburn, "Hanging in the Balance: Rama in the Shadow Puppet Theater of Kerala," in Gender, Genre, and Power in South Asian Expressive Traditions , ed. Arjun Appadurai et al. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991).

3. These episodes and motifs—for example, the killing of Sambukumaran, the son of Surpanakha, or Rama's admission of guilt in the Valin episode—are, however, known in the wider Ramayana literature.

4. On Kampan's language, see George L. Hart and Hank Heifetz, The Forest Book of the Ramayana of Kampan (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), 7-19.

5. Stan Harding, "Ramayana Shadow-Play in India," Asia (April 1935): 234. J. H. Cousins, "Dance-Drama and the Shadow Play," in The Arts and Crafts of Kerala , ed. Stella Kramrisch, J. H. Cousins, and R. Vasudevan Poduval (1948; repr., Cochin: Paico Publishing House, 1970), 212.

6. For a discussion of the interaction between puppeteers and their patrons and audiences in Java, see Ward Keeler, Javanese Shadow Plays, Javanese Selves (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987). Shadow puppet performances in India (except Kerala) use a temporary enclosed stage.

7. Philip Lutgendorf makes a similar point concerning interpretation of Tulsidas's Rama story: "The View from the Ghats: Traditional Exegesis of a Hindu Epic," Journal of Asian Studies 48, no. 2 (May 1989): 272-88.

8. The Kampan verse is VI. 15.111 ( tolotu tol ) in the death of Kumbhakarna episode (Vai. Mu. Kopalakirusnamacariyar edition, Madras, 1976); all further reference to Kampan verses are to this edition. One Kampan verse recited during this excerpt has been eliminated from the translation because the commentary simply restates it.

9. VI.15.114 ( ariyan aniya ). The folk alteration of this Kampan verse exemplifies the general principle of converting indirect to direct speech: its first line revised, the entire verse is now spoken by Vibhisana.

10. III.5.1 ( puviyinukku ) in the Surpanakha episode of the Forest Book.

11. See the essays by Ramanujan and Narayana Rao in this volume. For Surpanakha's marriage to Laksmana, see Komal Kothari. "Performers, Gods, and Heroes in the Oral Epics of Rajasthan," in Oral Epics in India , ed. Stuart H. Blackburn et al. (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989), 116.

12. " Ramayanam ranku, Bharatam bonku "; collected from Sampath Kumar, Hyderabad, July 1988.

14. A Kampan verse, VI.30.43 ( anuman , of the Mulapala Vatai episode in the War Book), not sung by the puppeteers in this scene, contains a proverb found in some form in all South Indian languages: "If Rama rules or Ravana rules, what's the difference?"

15. The other major figure given a voice in the puppet plays is the oracle-priest of Bhagavati temples.

16. These learned quotations ( piramanam ) in Tamil, and occasionally in Sanskrit, are aphorisms cited by the puppeteers to illustrate a point.

17. The singing of these blessings is called a natakam (here, "dance"). Ravana summons celestial dancing women, and the puppets representing these dancers are placed on the screen while the puppeteers (as singers in Ravana's court) sing devotional songs.

18. The legend is not known to all puppeteers, nor does it appear to have a textual source, although it is invariably mentioned in articles on the Kerala tradition. I collected this version from a puppeteer in a village near Palghat in 1985.

Nine E. V. Ramasami's Reading of the Ramayana

I am grateful to Marguerite Barnett, Sara Dickey, Michael Fisher, Sandria Freitag, Charles Hallisey, Eugene Irschick, Pat Mathews, Susan Munkres, Sumathi Ramaswamy, James Ryan, Sandra Zagarell, Eleanor Zelliot, Abbie Ziffren, and the members of the faculty seminar on religious innovation at the University of Washington, as well as students in my 1989 and 1990 seminars, for their comments on earlier drafts of this article. I also appreciate the financial support of Oberlin College, from whom I received a faculty research grant for this project.

For convenience's sake I have referred to E. V. Ramasami [Naicker] throughout the article as E.V.R. The common Tamil abbreviation is I. Ve. Ra., but that becomes a bit cumbersome in English prose, and most English writers refer to him as E.V.R. When writing his name out in full, I have omitted diacritics because "E. V. Ramasami" was the standard English form of his name in his publications. The same is true for other important Tamil figures of his period who used English spellings of their names.

1. E.V.R. decided to burn images of Rama in order to protest the fact that All-India Radio had refused to transmit a speech he made on the occasion of celebrating the birthday of the Buddha. See the front page of the Indian Express , 2 August 1956. For a description of the burning of Ravana in the Ramlila, see Linda Hess and Richard Schechner, "The Ramlila of Ramnagar," The Drama Review 21, no. 3 (September 1977), 63.

2. Technically, the term Dravidian refers to the family of languages spoken throughout South India. But the leaders of the Tamil separatist movement have expanded the term to encompass everything that they identify as South Indian culture.

3. The Hindu , I August 1956; Indian Express , I August 1956; Tinamani , I August 1956. The Tamilnadu Congress was dominated by Brahmins, so Kakkan's appeal did not have much effect on E.V.R.

4. The Hindu , I August 1956.

5. Tinamani , 2 August 1956, provides a breakdown of the number of people arrested throughout Tamilnadn. In Madras more than 90 people were arrested, while 120 were jailed in Tiruchirappalli (Trichy). For E.V.R.'s comment after his release, see the Indian Express , 2 August 1956.

6. In this very brief overview of E.V.R.'s life, I highlight only the events relevant to the development of his interpretation of the Ramayana . For the details of his life, see the widely consulted biography of his early years by A. Citamparanar, Tamilar Talaivar (Erode: Kuti Aracu Press, 1960; repr. Trichy: Periyar Self-Respect Propaganda Institution, 1979); also, E. Es. Venu, Periyar Oru Carittiram (Madras: Pumpukar Piracuram, 1980). In addition, a number of other works give some biographical information: K. M. Balasubramaniam, Periyar E. K Ramasami (Trichy: Periyar Self-Respect Propaganda Institution, 1973); D.G S., Periyar E. V. Ramaswamy: A Proper Perspective (Madras: Vairam Pathippagam, 1975); Ki. Viramani, Periyar Kalanciyam (Madras: Periyar Self-Respect Propaganda Institution, 1977); Anita Diehi, E. V. Ramaswami Naicker-Periyar: A Study of the Influence of a Personality in Contemporary South India (Lund: Scandinavian University Books, 1977).

7. For an analysis of the significance of E.V.R.'s youthful rebellions against caste, see Marguerite Ross Barnett, The Politics of Cultural Nationalism in South India (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), 34-36.

8. Citamparanar, Tamilar Talaivar , 41-51. For a discussion of E.V.R.'s involvement in regional politics, see Christopher J. Baker and David A. Washbrook, South India: Political Institutions and Political Change, 1880-1940 (Delhi: Macmillan, 1975), 27; Christopher Baker, "Leading up to Periyar: The Early Career of E. V. Ramaswarni Naicker," in Leadership in South Asia , ed. B. Pandey (Bombay: Vikas, 1978), 503-34;

and Christopher Baker, The Politics of South India, 1920-1937 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976), 192-94.

9. This place is also spelled Vaikom, and Vaikkom in English. For a discussion of this event, see E. Sa. Visswanathan, The Political Career of E. V. Ramasami Naicker (Madras: Ravi and Vasanth Publishers, 1983), 42-46.

10. Over the years E.V.R. launched a number of serials including Puratci (Revolt), Pakuttarivu (Discernment), and Vitutalai (Liberty).

11. Although E.V.R. is famous for the statement, "If you see a Brahmin and a snake on the road, kill the Brahmin first," he seems to have said such things largely to shock. In several places, he claimed he hated not individual Brahmins but brahminism as an institution. In a somewhat similar spirit, in an article for The Hindu , while maintaining that "Aryan" and "Dravidian" are two distinct groups, he commented: "My desire is not to perpetuate this difference but to unify the two opposing elements in society.'' See Barnett's analysis of his statement in Politics of Cultural Nationalism in South India , 71.

12. Much of E. V. Ramasami's exegesis of myths was intended for shock value and involved a deliberate overly literal reading of texts. For other texts which use the same kind of rhetoric, see Visittira Tevarkal Korttu (Wonderful court of deities) (Madras: Artisan and Co., 1929), in which various Hindu gods are tried in court for their improper deeds. (I am indebted to Eugene Irschick for this reference.) The puranas also came in for criticism. The procession which culminated E.V.R.'s 1971 Superstition Eradication Conference contained painted tableaux of many scenes from the puranas in which gods are engaged in what E.V.R. perceived to be obscene behavior. I discuss this and similar events in "Smashing, Burning, and Parading: E. V. Ramasami's Anti-Religion Agitations, 1953-1971" (paper presented at the Conference on Religion in South India, Brunswick, Maine, June 1989). For an analysis of E.V.R.'s contribution to atheism, see V. Anaimuthu, Contribution of Periyar E.V.R. to the Progress of Atheism (Tiruchirappalli: Periyar Nul Veliyittakam, 1980).

13. See Periyar E. V. Ramasami, Self-Respect Marriages (Madras: Periyar Self-Respect Propaganda Institution, 1983), which, according to the preface of this edition, is a translation of his Valkkai Tunai Nalam , first published in 1958. For more information about the self-respect marriage, see Nambi Arooran, Tamil Renaissance and Dravidian Nationalism (Madurai: Koodal, 1980), pp. 162-63; Lloyd Rudolph, "Urban Life and Populist Radicalism: Dravidian Politics in Madras," Journal of Asian Studies 20, no. 3 (May 1961), 289.

14. See Eugene F. Irschick, Politics and Social Conflict in South India: The Non-Brahman Movement and Tamil Separatism, 1916-1929 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1969), 34. In 1939 E.V.R. organized a conference during which he called for a separate and independent Dravida Nadu, a concept that paralleled the idea of Pakistan, at that time gaining support among the Muslim community. Robert L. Hardgrave, The Dravidian Movement (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1956), comments: "Naicker gave full support to the scheme for Pakistan and tried to enlist League support for the creation of Dravidasthan.... At the time of partition, Naicker tried to secure the help of Jinnah, so that Dravidasthan might be formed simultaneously with Pakistan. Jinnah refused assistance, and the British ignored the Dravidian agitations" (27, 32).

15. See Peter Worsley, The Trumpet Shall Sound: A Study of "Cargo" Cults in Melanesia , 3d ed. (New York: Schocken Books, 1968), ix-xxi.

16. This brief overview of E. V. Ramasami's milieu cannot possibly do justice to the complexity of the changes occurring in South India at the time. The reader interested in discussions of other historical and political factors during this period should consult the studies of Barnett, Irschick, Visswanathan, Hardgrave, Arooran, Diehl, and Baker cited above, as well as Robert L. Hardgrave, "The Justice Party and the Tamil Renaissance." in The Justice Party Golden Jubilee Souvenir (Madras: Shanmugam Press, 1968), 73-75; P. D. Devanandan, The Dravida Kazhagam (Bangalore: Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society, 1960); Dagmar Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Tamilsprache als Politisches Symbol: Politische Literatur in der Tamilsprache in den Jahren 1945 bis 1967 , Beiträge zur Südasienforschung Südasien-Institut Universität Heidelberg, vol. 74 (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner, 1984).

17. Scholars have paid a great deal of attention to this process of asserting some kind of nonnational identity, variously labeling it primordialism, nativism , or revivalism . See Hardgrave, Political Sociology , 6, for a discussion of primordialism in relation to the assertion of Dravidian identity. For a discussion of the concept of primordialism as an analytic category in anthropology, see Clifford Geertz, "The Integrative Revolution: Primordial Sentiments and Civil Politics in the New States" in Old Societies and New States , ed. Clifford Geertz (New York: Free Press, 1963); Charles F. Keyes, "Towards a New Formulation of the Concept of Ethnic Group," Ethnicity 3, no. 3 (September 1976), 202-13. For an analysis of the Dravidian material in relation to the concept of revivalism, see Eugene F. Irschick, Tamil Revivalism m the 1930s (Madras: Cre-A, 1986), 3-37.

18. V. Subramaniam, "Emergence and Eclipse of Tamil Brahmins," Economic and Political Weekly , Special Number (July 1969), 1133-34. Irschick provides statistical evidence of "the consistently strong domination of the Brahmans in many upper levels of government service." See his Politics and Social Conflict in South India , 13, as well as Hardgrave's discussion of Brahmin/non-Brahmin relationships ( Essays in the Political Sociology of South India , 11 ).

19. Barnett, Politics of Cultural Nationalism in South India , 25.

20. Irschick, Tamil Revivalism , 31.

21. Srinivasan's study of the development of periodicals in Madras shows the effectiveness of journals, pamphlets, and newssheets in shaping public opinion and bringing grievances to the attention of the government. See R. Srinivasan, "Madras Periodicals and Modernization of Values," Journal of the University of Bombay 40, no. 76 (Arts Number, October 1971), 150.

22. In addition to pamphlets. E.V.R. used another popular medium, theater, as well (see pages 193-94). The DK sponsored performances of the Ramayana based on E.V.R.'s interpretation of the text. Baskaran has shown the tremendous political power of theatrical performances m South India for the nationalist movement, a power that E.V.R. appropriated. See Theodore Baskaran, The Message Bearers: Nationalist Politics and the Entertainment Media in South India, 1880-1945 (Madras: Cre-A, 1981), 21-42.

23. For the rationale behind actions such as the Rama burning, see, for example, articles in Kuti Aracu on 3 March 1929, 18 December 1943, 8 January and 15 January 1944, 12 February 1944, 20 September 1947, and 13 January 1951. See also Vitutalai

on 5 November 1948, 27 May 1956, 29 July 1956, 9 August, 15 August, and 17 August 1956, and 13 September 1956. These articles have been reprinted in a collection of E.V.R.'s writings titled Periyar I Ve. Ra. Cintanaikal , ed. Ve. Anaimuttu, 3 vols. (Tiruchirappalli: Thinkers' Forum, 1974), 3:1430-64.

24. Periyar I. Ve. Ramacami, Iramayanappattirankal (1930; repr. Tirucci: Periyar Cuyamariyatai Piracara Niruvana Veliyitu, 1972); Iramayanakkurippukal (1964; repr. Tirucci: Periyar Cuyamariyatai Piracara Niruvana Veliyitu, 1972). Whenever I refer to the former text, I will do so by the title Characters in the Ramayana rather than by the Tamil title. Characters in the Ramayana thus refers to the original Tamil text with which I am working, as opposed to the later English translation entitled The Ramayana (A True Reading ). From now on, page numbers from the Tamil text will be cited in the body of this paper. I have limited my analysis to pp. 1-104: E.V.R.'s discussion of the relationship between the Ramayana and the Skanda Purana (pp. 105-16) lies beyond the scope of my inquiry here.

25. The pamphlet's publication history has been pieced together from the fragmentary information given in the front of various editions and from the bibliography of E. V. Ramasami's writings provided in Cintanaikal , l:xcv-xcvi.

26. See Georg Bühler, trans., The Laws of Manu (1886; repr. New York: Dover Publications, 1969), 195-96 (V. 147-158), 85 (III.55-59), 71-72 (II.225-237). For E.V.R.'s critique of The Laws of Manu , see his Manu: Code of Injustice to Non-Brahmins (1961; repr. Madras: Periyar Self-Respect Propaganda Institution, 1981).

27. Some of E.V.R.'s conclusions about Kaikeyi are consonant with those presented by Sanskritist Sally Sutherland in her paper titled "Seduction, Counter-Seduction, and Sexual Role Models: Bedroom Politics in Indian Epics" (forthcoming in the Journal of Indian Philosophy ).

28. R. K. Narayan, The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1977), 97.

29. For an analysis of the ambivalent presentation of this episode in the twelfth-century rendition of the Ramayana by Kampan, see David Shulman, "Divine Order and Divine Evil in the Tamil Tale of Rama," Journal of Asian Studies 38, no. 4 (August 1979), 651-69.

30. Kamil Zvelebil, The Smile of Murugan: On Tamil Literature of South India (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1973), 247-60.

31. Notable among the authors cited are R. C. Dutt, R. Mukherjee, S. C. Dass, Nagendra Ghosh, Feroz Khan, James Murray, H. G. Wells, Vincent Smith, Sir William Wilson Hunter, and Sir Henry Johnson.

32. Swami Vivekananda, Speeches and Writings of Swami Vivekananda (Madras: G. A. Natesan, 1922). The passage that E.V.R. quotes is located on p. 530, but since E.V.R. himself gives no page reference or bibliographical information, I cannot tell whether he consulted this edition. Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovey of India (New York: J. Day, 1946). This is the first edition; again E.V.R. gives no indication which edition he used.

33. Maraimalaiyatikal, Arivuraikkottu (1921; repr. Madras: Pari Nilayam, 1967). The passage E.V.R. quotes is located on pp. 150-51 in this edition.

34. For a translation and analysis of the story of Aputtiran, see Paula Richman, Women, Branch Stories, and Religious Rhetoric in a Tamil Buddhist Text , Foreign and Comparative Studies, South Asia series no. 12 (Syracuse: Maxwell School of Citizenship

and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, 1988), 123-42. Although there is no solid evidence that E.V.R. drew on the Manimekalai —which is the only extant Tamil Buddhist text—he greatly admired Buddhists, considering them his intellectual precursors.

35. Compare E.V.R.'s chapter entitled "The Hoax about Gods" in Periyarana, ed . and trans. M. Dharmalingam (Trichy: Periyar Self-Respect Propaganda Institution, 1975), 81-109.

36. Irschick, Tamil Revivalism , 83. On the Siddhars, see also Kamil Zvelebil, The Poets of the Powers (London: Rider and Co., 1973).

37. A. K. Ramanujan, Speaking of Siva (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1973).

38 Irschick, Tamil Revivalism , 85-89; see note 6. above, for the biography.

39. G. Devika, "The Emergence of Cultural Consciousness in Tamilnadu between 1890 and 1915: A Study of the Ideas of Maraimalai Atikal" (Master of Philosophy thesis, Jawaharlal Nehru University, 1986), 1.

40. K. R. Chandra, A Critical Study of Paumacariyam (Muzaffarpur: Research Institute of Prakrit, Jainology and Ahimsa, 1970), 120-38.

41. Dineshchandra Sen, The Bengali Ramayanas (Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1920), 28.

42. D. T. Suzuki, trans., The Lankavatara Sutra (Boulder, Colo.: Prajna Press, 1978), 4-6.

43. See Clinton Seely, "The Raja's New Clothes," in this volume. Irschick notes that Madhusudan Dutt wrote his work after he returned from a trip to Madras ( Politics and Social Conflict in South India , 284, n. 23). Nandy mentions that Asit Bando-padhyay, a Bengali literary critic, traced Dutt's interpretation of the Ramayana to a Jain Ramayana : Ashis Nandy, The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1983), 19, n. 29.

44. Nandy, The Intimate Enemy , 20.

45. See Barbara Metcalf, Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), for an analysis of this form of debate.

46. Kenneth Jones, "Hindu-Christian Polemics in Nineteenth-Century Punjab" (paper presented for the panel "Vernacular Religious Polemics and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century India," 37th annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Philadelphia, 1985), ms. p. 16; Dayananda Sarasvati is quoted on ms. p. 12. The passage from Revelations reads, in the King James version: "And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand; and I heard the number of them."

47. Irschick, Politics and Social Conflict in South India , 283-84.

48. T. Ponemballem Pillai, "The Morality of the Ramayana," Malabar Quarterly Review 8, no. 2 (June 1909), 83. V. P. Subramania Mudaliar also summarizes Sundaram Pillai's ideas concerning the Ramayana and caste: see "A Critical Review of the Story of Ramayana and An Account of South Indian Castes Based on the Views of the Late Prof. P. Sundaram Pillai, M.A.," Tamil Antiquary 1, no. 2 (1908): 1-48.

49. M. S. Purnalingam Pillai, Ravana the Great: King of Lanka (Munnirpallam: The Bibliotheca, 1928), 78. Such works were only the beginning of a set of explorations into the Ramayana from a Dravidian perspective. See, for example, Cantiracekara Palavar, Iramayana, Araycci , 5 vols. (Madras: Kuti Aracu Patippakam, 1929-49); Arinar Anna, Kamparacam (Madras: Bharati Patippakam, 1986).

50. At times E.V.R. criticizes Rama for being cruel to Sita after she returns from Lanka, but in other places he implies that she was a wanton woman who became pregnant by Ravana ( Characters in the Ramayana , 27 and 48-49). Cf. Rudolph, who describes the way "Dravidian" interpretations of the Ramayana have focused on Sita, in this way: "Sita is no longer the devoted Hindu wife, the model for Brahmanical culture; rather she is Ravana's paramour who did not resist but 'clung like a vine' when she was abducted. Whether Sita struggled or clung has become, like many other points in this epic, a matter for bitter, even violent dispute" ("Urban Life and Populist Radicalism," 288).

51. Periyar E. V. Ramasami, The Ramayana (A True Reading ), 3d ed. (Madras: Periyar Self-Respect Propaganda Institution, 1980). E. V. Ramasami (A Pen Portrait ) was written in 1962 by "an admirer" (repr. Madras: Dravidian Kazhagam, 1984).

52. For an account of these riots, see Michael H. Fisher, A Clash of Cultures: Awadh, the British, and the Mughals (Riverdale: Riverdale Company, 1987), 227-34.

53. Organiser , 1 May 1971. For a discussion of the origin of the drama, see Venu, Periyar Oru Carittiram , 19-20.

54. For the DMK's use of film, see Robert Hardgrave, "When Stars Displace the Gods: The Folk Culture of Cinema in Tamil Nadu," in his Essays in the Political Sociology of South India , 92-100. For accounts of the relationship between the DK and the DMK, see ibid., 39-80; Barnett, Politics of Cultural Nationalism in South India , 69-158; P. Spratt, D.M.K. in Power (Bombay: Nachiketa Publications, 1970), chap. 2.

Ten Ramayana Exegesis in Tenkalai Srivaisnavism

1. For more information on the divergence between the schools, see my Srivaisnava Theological Dispute: Manavalamamuni and Vedanta Desika (Madras: New Era Publications, 1988).

2. See the list of abbreviations, above.

3. Another doctrinal difference between the two schools hinges on the issue of whether Sri is a jiva or individual soul (the Tenkalai view), or an aspect of the Lord himself (the Vatakalai view). Although this issue might seem unrelated to the basic soteriological dispute, I submit that the Tenkalai insist on Sri's status as jiva in part so that they may continue to use the example of Sita in the Ramayana to support their soteriological doctrines. If Sita were not a dependent soul like us, then her attitude and behavior in the context of her rescue by Rama would not be a model for salvation that we could emulate.

4. Ram . V.22.20, quoted by Manavalamamuni in SVB 82.

5. Manavalamamuni's commentary on JS 28 quotes a Sanskrit passage he attributes to the Sanatkumara Samhita in which the analogy between prapatti and the Brahmastra is made, but I have not been able to locate this passage in available editions.


haro'pi narpitah kanthe sparsasamrodhabhiruna |
avayor antare jatah parvatas santo drumah ||

This sloka, quoted in full by Manavalamamuni in SVB 162, is not found in current editions of Valmiki's Ramayana .

7. It is important to note that although the Tenkalai acaryas prefer to cite the Valmiki Ramayana when possible, they are not limited to its version of events in applying their allegorical method. References to incidents from the Rama story contained in the hymns of the Alvars and Pancaratra texts, for example, are also cited. It is the Rama legend as a whole that has scriptural authority, not just Valmiki's version.

8. John Dominic Crossan, The Dark Interval: Towards a Theology of Story (Niles, 111.: Argus Communications, 1975), 66. Subsequent references to this work are given in the text.

9. Frank Burch Brown and Elizabeth Struthers Malbon, "Parabling as a Via Negativa : A Critical Review of the Work of John Dominic Crossan," Journal of Religion 64, no. 4 (October 1984), 537.

10. I am indebted for this idea to Gunther Cologne, "The Parable as a Literary Genre" (M. A. thesis, Arizona State University, 1984). Cologne points out that "it is exactly the paradox of the parable, the unquieting and disturbing effect created through the reversal of the hearer's expectations, that causes him or her to search for an explanation" (22). Cologne's insight, based on his analysis of literary parables and Rabbinic mashals , certainly seems to apply to the Srivaisnava telling of Ramayana incidents. Furthermore, it can help reinstate the structural and functional connection between parable and allegory which Crossan et al. have artificially severed.

Eleven The Secret Life of Ramcandra of Ayodhya

Research for this paper was carried out in India between 1982 and 1987, initially under a Fulbright-Hays fellowship and later under a faculty development grant from the University of Iowa. The author wishes to acknowledge the kind assistance of Dr. Bhagavati Prasad Singh of Gorakhpur, and of Pandit Ramkumar Das of Mani Par-vat, Ayodhya, and the helpful suggestions of Paul Greenough, Sheldon Pollock, and Paula Richman.

1. 1.30b. Hanuman Prasad Poddar, ed., Ramcaritmanas (Gorakhpur: Gita Press, 1938; reprinted in numerous editions). Numbers refer to book or kand , stanza (a series of verses ending in a doha or couplet; when more than one couplet completes a stanza, a roman letter is added to the couplet number), and individual line within a stanza.

2. Frederick Salmon Growse, trans., The Ramayana of Tulasi Dasa (Cawnpore: E. Samuel, 1891; repr. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1978), lv.

3. Examples of significant work on contemporary expressions of Krsna devotionalism include Milton Singer, ed., Krishna: Myths, Rites, and Attitudes (Honolulu:

East-West Center Press, 1966); Norvin Hein, The Miracle Plays of Mathura (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972); and John Stratton Hawley, At Play With Krishna (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981). The emerging literature on Ram includes Frank Whaling, The Rise of the Religious Significance of Rama (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1980); Hans, Ayodbya (Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1986); and Peter van der Veer, Gods on Earth (London: Athlone Press, 1988). On Ramcaritmanas performance, see Philip Lutgendorf, The Life of a Text: Performing the Ramcaritmanas of Tulsidas (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991).

4. On the theology and dramatic theory of the Gosvamis and its influence on sectarian practice, see David, Acting as a Way of Salvation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); and Donna M. Wulff, Drama as a Mode of Religions Realization (Chico, Calif.: Scholar's Press, 1984), especially pp. 7-44.

5. On the historical developments which permitted the "reclamation" of Ayodhya by Vaisnavas, see Bakker, Ayodhya , 135-53, and van der Veer, Gods on Earth , 38-40.

6. An example appears in Bhagavati Prasad Singh. Rambhakti mem rasik sampraday (Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh: Avadh Sahitya Mandir, 1957), facing p. 274.

7. There is a growing literature on the therapeutic use of visualization techniques; for an extensive discussion and bibliography, see Jeanne Achterberg, Imagery in Healing (Boston: New Science Library, 1985). (I am grateful to Susan Lutgendorf for this reference.)

8. On the meanings of smaran , see Haberman, Acting as a Way of Salvation , 63-64, 124-26.

9. The ontological status of places and things seen in visualization has begun to concern Western health researchers as well. Therapist Gerald Epstein, for example, has suggested that since visualizations can produce tangible effects on the physical body, they must be regarded as possessing some kind of reality; see "The Image in Medicine: Notes of a Clinician," in Advances 3, no. 1 (Winter 1986): 22-31; especially p. 23.

10. Thus the name Rampriya Saran means "one who takes refuge in Ram's beloved"—i.e., in Sita.

11. Ronald Stuart McGregor, "The Dhyan manjari of Agradas ," in Bhakti in Current Research: 1979-1982 , ed. Monika Thiel-Horstmann (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1983), 237-44.

12. Kenneth Bryant, Poems to the Child-God (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), 72-75. Bryant borrows the phrase "verbal icon" from the title of a book by literary critics W. K. Wimsatt and Monroe C. Beardsley, but significantly reinterprets it for the Indian context.

13. Cf. Haberman's interesting comparison of Vaisnava role-playing with the acting method developed by Constantin Stanislavski: Acting as a Way of Salvation , 67-70.

14. See Singh, Rambhakti mem rasik sampraday , for examples of the catalogues developed for sakhis (pp. 238-40) and for sakhas (pp. 245-47).

15. Some non- rasiks dispute the attribution of some of the "Agra-ali" songs to Agradas, claiming that they arc forgeries perpetrated by latter-day sectarians with a view to proving the antiquity of their tradition (Pandit Ramkumar Das; private conversation, July 1987). Such "forgeries" may, however, equally well reflect the widespread practice of assuming the voice and persona of a revered poet-saint in order to

express conventional sentiments associated with his teachings; see John Stratton Hawley, "Author and Authority in the Bhakti Poetry of North India," Journal of Asian Studies 47, no. 2 (May 1988): 269-90.

16. Singh, Rambhakti mem sampraday , 9-10.

17. Ibid., 241-42.

18. Ibid., 307-9. On the Krsnaite side of the debate, see Haberman, Acting as a Way of Salvation , 94-114.

16. Singh, Rambhakti mem sampraday , 9-10.

17. Ibid., 241-42.

18. Ibid., 307-9. On the Krsnaite side of the debate, see Haberman, Acting as a Way of Salvation , 94-114.

16. Singh, Rambhakti mem sampraday , 9-10.

17. Ibid., 241-42.

18. Ibid., 307-9. On the Krsnaite side of the debate, see Haberman, Acting as a Way of Salvation , 94-114.

19. Singh, Rambhakti mem rasik sampraday , 240-41.

20. Ibid., 253.

19. Singh, Rambhakti mem rasik sampraday , 240-41.

20. Ibid., 253.

21. See, for example, the three-volume Manas commentary entitled Bal vinodini (For the amusement of children) by Mahant Gangadas of Ayodhya (Ayodhya: Maniramdas ki Chavni, 1969), in which the author regards himself and fellow devotees as child-playmates of Ram. Note also the spiritual practice of the famous nineteenth-century scholar Umapati Tripathi of Ayodhya, who scandalized his contemporaries by visualizing himself as the teacher of the youthful Ram; van der Veer, Gods on Earth , 13-14.

22. Poddar, ed., Ramcaritmanas , 7.75.5.

23. Singh, Rambhakti mem rasik sampraday , 399.

24. Based on oral versions by Srinath Misra (13 February 1983) and Ramnarayan Sukla (3 August 1983). Singh gives a different version, in which Prayagdas is sent to Ayodhya by his guru: Rambhakti mem rasik sampraday , 402.

25. Singh, Rambhakti mem rasik sampraday , 281; concerning the Sitayan , see p. 394.

26. Ibid., 403.

25. Singh, Rambhakti mem rasik sampraday , 281; concerning the Sitayan , see p. 394.

26. Ibid., 403.

27. On the history of the Banaras Ram Lila, see Lutgendorf, The Life of a Text , chapter 5.

28. Singh, Rambhakti mem rasik sampraday , 365. While Singh implies that this invisible kingdom was meant to serve as an alternative to the cultural model presented by the Mughals, he points to the ironic fact that the physical details in which it was imagined were inevitably based on the most recent model of imperial grandeur—the Mughals themselves.

29. McGregor, "The Dhyan manjari of Agradas," 241-43.

30. Bhagavati Prasad Singh, " Bhusundi Ramayana and Its Influence on the Medieval Ramayana Literature," in The Ramayana Tradition in Asia , ed. V. Raghavan (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1980), 475-504, at p. 479; Bakker, Ayodhya , 142.

31. van der Veer, Gods on Earth , 165-72.

32. Singh, Ram bhakti mem rasik sampraday , 171.

33. Joseph T. O'Connell, "Social Implications of the Gaudiya Vaisnava Movement" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1970), 171-206; cited in Haberman, Acting as a Way of Salvation , 43-44.

34. Haberman, Acting as a Way of Salvation , 43.

35. Singh, Ram bhakti mem rasik sampraday , 365-66.

36. van der Veer, Gods on Earth , 37-40.

37. The title of the latter work poses difficulties for the translator, who may shy away from the (literal but perhaps misleading) "Nectar of the Phallus of Ram." According to B. P. Singh, a major portion of this text is indeed devoted to descriptions of Ram and Sita's dalliance, but bearing in mind the wider range of meanings of linga in Indian culture (as "symbol," "signifier," or "emblem of power'') one might do

better to render it "Nectar of the Essence of Ram"—it being understood that, for the rasik tradition, erotic energy is one of the Lord's essential attributes.

38. Bakker, Ayodhya , 110-17.

39. Singh, Ram bhakti mem rasik sampraday , 159; Lutgendorf, The Life of a Text , chapter 3.

40. Singh, Ram bhakti mem rasik sampraday , 472.

41. Ibid., 365-66.

40. Singh, Ram bhakti mem rasik sampraday , 472.

41. Ibid., 365-66.

42. Jean Leclercq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God (New York: Fordham University Press, 1961), 84-86.

Twelve Personalizing the Ramayan: Ramnamis and Their Use of the Ramcaritmanas

I would like to thank the entire Ramnami Samaj for sharing their beliefs, their practices, and their lives with me. Without such openness, this research would have never been possible. I would also like to thank Professor Barbara Holdrege (University of California, Santa Barbara) for her invaluable advice and editorial assistance in the preparation of this material.

In Hindi, as in many of the regional languages of North India, the final a of a word, unless preceded by a double consonant, is dropped. Since this essay deals with the Hindi-speaking Ramnami Samaj, I will generally follow the standard Hindi transliteration of terms, with two exceptions:

(1) The names of Sanskrit texts are given m Sanskrit transliteration.
(2) In transliterating verses I have chosen to retain the final a of Hindi words that is dropped in ordinary speech, since it is pronounced in the chanting and in the recitation of verses.

I have chosen to transliterate the Hindi anusvar as n

1. North Indians refer to Tulsidas's Ramcaritmanas in a variety of ways, including "Tulsi Ramayan," " Manas ," or simply " Ramayan ." Of these designations '' Manas " is by far the most common and will he used throughout the present essay. North Indians generally refer to Valmiki's Sanskrit Ramayana as either "Valmiki Ramayan " or "Sanskrt Ramayan. "

2. Since there are no universally accepted demarcations of the categories sruti and smrti , I have chosen to begin with the prevailing Western academic definitions, which largely reflect contemporary orthodox Hindu beliefs. Supplementary views expressed by recent Indological scholars will be mentioned in the notes. Brian K. Smith points out that throughout the history of Hinduism, new texts have been composed and given the name "Upanisad," thus bringing them into the corpus of sruti —a process which clearly contradicts the supposedly bounded nature of the category: Reflections on Resemblance, Ritual, and Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 21.

3. Both Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty ( Other People's Myths [New York: Macmillan, 1988], 58) and Sheldon Pollock ("The 'Revelation' of 'Tradition': Sruti , Smrti , and the Sanskrit Discourse of Power" in Lex et Litterae [Festschrift Oscar Botto ], forthcoming) mention the fact that the chanted Veda was heard by the worshipers as a part of the explanation for the term sruti .

4. The innate power of mantras is activated through their recitation by srotriyas ("masters of sruti "). This belief in the inherent power of sounds underlies both the later concept of bija ("seed") mantras in the Tantric schools and the devotional sects' belief in the power of the Name of God. O'Flaherty ( Other People's Myths , 61), Brian K. Smith, and others point out that an understanding of the Vedas was considered by some to be of great importance. However, this was not crucial for the ritual use of the text, which was its primary raison d'être. Barbara A. Holdrege offers an extensive discussion of various conceptions of the Veda and their influence on the modes of preservation and memorization of the Samhitas in "Veda and Torah: Ontological Conceptions of Scripture in the Brahmanical and Judaic Traditions" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1987).

5. Thomas B. Coburn, "'Scripture' in India: Towards a Typology of the Word in Hindu Life," Journal of the American Academy oar Religion 52, no. 3 (September 1984): 448. Coburn presents an illuminating discussion of various approaches to the understanding of sruti and smrti and encourages a rethinking of traditional categorizations. The theoretical approach adopted in this section was to some extent inspired by his article.

6. William Graham, Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 5.

7. J. L. Brockington, Righteous Rama: The Evolution of an Epic (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1984), 206-13, 307-27.

8. In contemporary times, the Manas has occasionally been referred to as the "Fifth Veda" or the "Hindi Veda." According to Hindu cosmology, the world is now passing through the Kali Yug, the age of darkness, in which bhakti is the highest form of religious practice. Many devotional groups thus maintain that texts such as the Manas that extol bhakti have replaced the Vedas in delineating sruti for this age.

9. The process of vedacization is discussed in Sheldon Pollock, "From Discourse of Ritual to Discourse of Power in Sanskrit Culture"; and in Philip Lutgendorf, "The Power of Sacred Story: Ramayana Recitation in Contemporary North India," in Ritual and Power , special issue of the Journal of Ritual Studies (4, no. 1 [Summer 1990]), ed. Barbara A. Holdrege.

10. Philip Lutgendorf, "The Power of Sacred Story," p. 138.

11. As previously mentioned, texts of the smrti category are open-ended, i.e., subject to additions, interpolations, etc. As early as the nineteenth century, distinctly marked additions were made to the written text of Tulsidas's Manas by various publishers. These addenda, usually consisting of commentaries on events in the narrative or supplementary episodes in the life of Ram, most likely had their inception in the repertoires of the kathavacaks (storytellers) and Ramanandi ascetics who carried the Ram story from village to village. Owing in all probability to their popularity, certain of these additions eventually came to be included in some printed editions as part of the text. Although they are labeled ksepak ("addition, interpolation"), many readers have come to believe them to have been written by Tulsidas himself.

12. Lutgendorf, "The Power of Sacred Story," pp. 124-26.

13. The account presented here of Parasuram's life and of the formation of the Ramnami sect is based on his oral hagiography, recounted to me by several elder members of the sect.

14. The level of literacy in Madhya Pradesh is one of the lowest in India. At the turn of the century it was less than 10 percent, those classified as literate living primarily in the urban areas. Illiteracy among village harijans most likely exceeded 95 percent during this period. Even for those who are literate, understanding the Manas is extremely difficult, for it is written in a medieval dialect of Avadhi, while the Ramnamis speak a contemporary Chhattisgarhi dialect. Although in present times both are considered dialects of Hindi, medieval Avadhi is sufficiently different from modern Hindi dialects to discourage most speakers from gaining more than a cursory understanding of the Manas in its original language. When reading for understanding, rather than for ritual purposes, North Indians often use a text that provides a modem Hindi translation of each verse.

15. It should be noted that individual chanting of ramnam has never been a fundamental part of Ramnami practice. The sect maintains that if one is going to chant ramnam , one should do so in the company of others so that all can partake of its benefits.

16. For a more extensive discussion of the Ramnami Samaj and their various uses of the Name, see Ramdas Lamb, "Ramnamis, Ramnam , and the Role of the Low Caste in the Ram Bhakti Tradition" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Santa Barbara, [1991]).

17. These numbers are approximations based on hundreds of hours spent sitting and listening to Ramnami bhajan .

18. In the Ramnamis' view the authoritativeness of a verse or text is determined not by its author but by its content. Sect members cite the example of Ravan, the demon king of Lanka, who on occasion in the Manas speaks words of great wisdom, thus illustrating that even demons can speak truth. The Ramnamis say that ultimately it is truth they seek, irrespective of its source.

19. Owing to the predominance of the doha (2 lines, 24 beats) and the caupai (4 lines of 4 parts, 64 beats) in the Manas , these two verse forms have set the metrical parameters of the Ramnamis' chanting style and thus have also determined which verses can be incorporated into bhajans . For a detailed explanation of the structure of Manas verses, see Philip Lutgendorf, The Life of a Text: Performing the Ramcaritmanas of Tulsidas (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991).

20. Most of the supplemental writings used by the Ramnamis are in fact obscure texts with regional popularity at best, discovered by vidvans . Various verses from them have become popular with sect members because their contents and meter happen to make them suitable for chanting.

21. Nirgun bhakti is the practice of devotion to God, conceived of as not limited by, and therefore transcending, all forms. Most schools of Hindu devotionalism see the divine as sagun , perceptible to humans through one or several particular forms. Kabir's bhakti is exclusively nirgun and that of Raghunathdas primarily nirgun . For both, the name "Ram" is a primary focus of much devotion.

22. For Hindus Hanuman is obviously more than just a monkey. He is said to be the eleventh incarnation of Siva and the epitome of devotion. For the Ramnamis, however, the status of any being, human or divine, lies in his or her relationship of subservience to nirgun Ram.

23. In its original form the verse reads: Vipra dhenu sura santa hita linha manuja avatara | ( Ramcaritmanas 1.192). This is revised by the Ramnamis to: Ramnam dena sura santa . . . |

24. Citavata pantha raheun dins rati | Aba prabhu dekhi jurdani chati ||
Natha sakala sadhana main hina | Kinhi krpa jani jana dina || (3.6.2)

25. Aba mohi bha barosa Hanumanta |
Binu Hari krpa milahi nahiñ santa || (5.7.2)

26. Ki tumha Hari dasanha mahañ koi | Moreñ hradya priti ati hoi ||
Ki tumha Ramu dina anuragi | Ayahu mohi karana bardmagi || (5.6.4)

27. Natha Dasanana kara maiñ brata | Nisicara bans janama surtrata || (5.45.4)

28. Dhanya dhanya tain dhanya Bibhisana |
Bhayahu tata nisicara kula bhusana || (6.64.4)

29. It should be noted that vidvan is not an official designation. Any sect member who studies the Manas and/or other texts and actively takes part in philosophical dialogues may be called a vidvan . Although the term has been in use for over four decades, in recent years many Ramnamis have chosen to refer to active takkar participants as gyanis rather than vidvans . This is to emphasize that their primary focus is wisdom, as opposed to intellectual knowledge.

30. Not all verses are selected strictly on the basis of philosophical viewpoint. Many verses are learned simply as a matter of course, as a result of participation in the chanting, and thus are not necessarily in complete harmony with a Ramnami's

own philosophy. A sect member may also memorize certain commonly repeated verses without understanding them, solely out of a desire to join in whenever they are recited.

31. I sat in on one late night takkar that involved verses drawn solely from the Visram Sagar ; it lasted for nearly five hours. The participants were seven erudite vidvans , who continued until after I fell asleep.

32. Sivanandan Ram, Sur Sadhu Bharadvaj, and Sriram Lahare, Ram Rasik Gita (Raipur: Sriram Lahare, 1979).

33. The Ramnami Samaj holds a mela , or festival, every year in a different village in Chhattisgarh. The 1989 mela was the eightieth annual gathering.

34. Kahahiñ beda itihasa purana | Vidhi prapancu guna avaguna sana || (1.6.2)

35. Jarda cetana juna dosamaya bisva kinha kartara |
Santa hansa guna gahahin paya parihari bari bikara || (1.6 )
In India, enlightened saints, with their ability to distinguish the self from the nonself and good from evil, are often compared to swans ( hamsas ), who when given a mixture of milk and water are said to have the ability to separate out the milk, leaving behind the water.

36. Graha bhosaja jala pavana pata pai kujoga sujoga |
Hohin kubastu jubastu jaga lakhahiñ sulacchana loga || (1.7A)
Asa bibeka jaba dei Vidhata | Taba taji dosa gunahiñ manu rata ||
Kala subhau karama bariai | Bhaleu prakrti basa cukai bhalai || (1 .7.1)

37. The verse as it was chanted was a modification of a Manas caupai :
Siyaramamaya saba jaga jani | Karauñ pranama jori juga pani || (1.8.1)
The responding Ramnami replaced " Siyaramamaya " ("filled with Sita and Ram") with " Ramram namamaya '' ("filled with ramnam ").


Preferred Citation: Richman, Paula, editor. Many Ramayanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1991 1991.