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Ramayana
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/17/21

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Ramayana
रामायणम्
Rama with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana during exile in forest, manuscript, ca. 1780
Information
Religion Hinduism
Author Valmiki
Language Sanskrit
Verses 24,000

Rāmāyana (/rɑːˈmɑːjənə/;[1][2] Sanskrit: रामायणम्,[3] IAST: Rāmāyaṇam pronounced [ɽaːˈmaːjɐɳɐm]) is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Mahābhārata. Along with the Mahābhārata, it forms the Hindu Itihasa.[4]

The epic, traditionally ascribed to the Maharishi Valmiki, narrates the life of Rama, a legendary prince of Ayodhya city in the kingdom of Kosala. The epic follows his fourteen-year exile to the forest urged by his father King Dasharatha, on the request of Rama's stepmother Kaikeyi; his travels across forests in the Indian subcontinent with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, the kidnapping of Sita by Ravana – the king of Lanka, that resulted in war; and Rama's eventual return to Ayodhya to be crowned king amidst jubilation and celebration.

The Ramayana is one of the largest ancient epics in world literature. It consists of nearly 24,000 verses (mostly set in the Shloka/Anustubh meter), divided into seven kāṇḍas, the first and the seventh being later additions.[5] It belongs to the genre of Itihasa, narratives of past events (purāvṛtta), interspersed with teachings on the goals of human life. Scholars' estimates for the earliest stage of the text range from the 7th to 4th centuries BCE,[6][7][unreliable source?] with later stages extending up to the 3rd century CE.[8]

More recent suggestions about dating include Grintser's suggestion that the period of formation for both epics is approximately from the 4th century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D., Ananda Guruge's placing of the Ramayana somewhere before 300 B.C., P.L. Bhargava's dating of 600 B.C., Goldman's suggestion of a date for the oldest parts no later than the middle of the 6th century B.C. but not before the beginning of the 7th century (then defined as 'sometime between 750 and 500 B.C.'), and Gregory Alles's arguments for a Sunga dating for the core (by which, however, he means basically the whole of the Ayodhya to Yuddha kandas) and a location for its author in the Northeast.69 [See Grintser 1974: 136-152, Guruge 199: 38; Bhargava 1965, Ramayana 1984: I, 22-23, Alles 1988-89] My own statement was that the first stage belongs to the period from about the 5th to the 4th century B.C. and this remains my view, even after taking into account the recent strong arguments for a later dating for the Buddha; in relative terms, therefore, this dating represents a limited upward revision.

The Balakanda has generally been recognised as being, equally with the Uttarakanda, a later addition to the original epic, although there have been attempts to argue that it is essential to the narrative or that some part of it is as old as the rest.70 [An example of the sfirst trend is that Ramashraya Sharma (1971: 6-7) finds references to the Balakanda at 2.110.36-50 (Sita's account of Rama bending Siva's bow) and 3.36.3-16 (Marica's account of his previous encounter with Rama), and to the Uttarakanda at 5.2.19-20 (Lanka built by Visvakarman and formerly occupied by Kubera), 8.14 (Ravana scarred by Visnu's cakra), 44.7-8 (Ravana's conquest of the gods), 49.24-26 (Rama is human and Sugriva a monkey -- implying Ravana's boon) and 1031* 2-3 (the shaking of Kailasa). Similarly, Goldman (Ramayana 1984:I, 64) asserts that 'the "genuine" books contain at least two references to the events of Book One', citing the same two passages and noting their close similarities with the relevant Balakanda passages; however, by declaring that these passages are summarising the Balakanda material he prejudges the issue of the direction of borrowing. More probably, the Bala and Uttara kanda passages are expanding on the hints in the other books.] Less attention has been drawn to the fact that parts of its narrative are totally unsupported elsewhere. For example, there is no evidence outside 1.15-17 that Rama and his brothers were born more or less simultaneouslky or that Laksmana and Satrughna are twins, which contrasts with Kusa and Lava being emphatically called yamajata in the Uttarakanda and Laksmana and Satrughna themselves being explicitly called twins by Kalidasa (Raghuvamsa 10.71). Nor is there any reference elsewhere in ...

-- The Sanskrit Epics, by John Brockington


There are many versions of Ramayana in Indian languages, besides Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain adaptations. There are also Cambodian (Reamker), Indonesian, Filipino, Thai (Ramakien), Lao, Burmese and Malay versions of the tale. Retellings include Kamban's Ramavataram in Tamil (c. 11th–12th century),...

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Kambar is generally dated after the vaishnavite philosopher, Ramanuja, as the poet refers to the latter in his work, the Sadagopar Andhadhi.


-- Kambar (poet), by Wikipedia


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A number of traditional biographies of Ramanuja are known, some written in 12th century, but some written centuries later such as the 17th or 18th century, particularly after the split of the Śrīvaiṣṇava community into the Vadakalais and Teṉkalais, where each community created its own version of Ramanuja's hagiography. The Muvāyirappaṭi Guruparamparāprabhāva by Brahmatantra Svatantra Jīyar represents the earliest Vadakalai biography, and reflects the Vadakalai view of the succession following Ramanuja. Ārāyirappaṭi Guruparamparāprabhāva, on the other hand, represents the Tenkalai biography. Other late biographies include the Yatirajavaibhavam by Andhrapurna.

Modern scholarship has questioned the reliability of these hagiographies. Scholars question their reliability because of claims which are impossible to verify, or whose historical basis is difficult to trace with claims such as Ramanuja learned the Vedas when he was an eight-day-old baby, he communicated with God as an adult, that he won philosophical debates with Buddhists, Advaitins and others because of supernatural means such as turning himself into "his divine self Sesha" to defeat the Buddhists, or God appearing in his dream when he prayed for arguments to answer Advaita scholars. According to J. A. B. van Buitenen, the hagiographies are "legendary biographies about him, in which a pious imagination has embroidered historical details".


-- Ramanuja, by Wikipedia


Gona Budda Reddy's Ranganatha Ramayanam in Telugu (c. 13th century), Madhava Kandali's Saptakanda Ramayana in Assamese (c. 14th century), Krittibas Ojha's Krittivasi Ramayan (also known as Shri Ram Panchali) in Bengali (c. 15th century), Sarala Das' Vilanka Ramayana (c. 15th century)[9][10][11][12] and Balarama Dasa's Jagamohana Ramayana (also known as the Dandi Ramayana) (c. 16th century) both in Odia, sant Eknath's Bhavarth Ramayan (c. 16th century) in Marathi, Tulsidas' Ramcharitamanas (c. 16th century) in Awadhi (which is an eastern form of Hindi) and Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan's Adhyathmaramayanam in Malayalam(c. 17th century).

The Ramayana was an important influence on later Sanskrit poetry and Hindu life and culture. The characters Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Hanuman, and Ravana are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of the South Asian nations of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the South-East Asian countries of Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Its most important moral influence was the importance of virtue, in the life of a citizen and in the ideals of the formation of a state or of a functioning society.

Etymology

The name Rāmāyaṇa is composed of two words, Rāma and ayaṇa. Rāma, the name of the central figure of the epic, has two contextual meanings. In the Atharvaveda, it means "dark, dark-coloured, black" and is related to the word rātri which means "darkness or stillness of night". The other meaning, which can be found in the Mahabharata, is "pleasing, pleasant, charming, lovely, beautiful".[13][14] The word ayana means travel or journey. Thus, Ramayana means Rama's progress. But there is a minor catch. While ayana means travel or journey, ayaṇa is a meaningless word. This transformation of ayana into ayaṇa occurs because of a Sanskrit grammar rule known as internal sandhi.[15][16]

Textual characteristics

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An artist's impression of sage Valmiki composing the Ramayana

Genre

The Ramayana belongs to the genre of Itihasa, narratives of past events (purāvṛtta), which includes the Mahabharata, the Puranas and the Ramayana. The genre also includes teachings on the goals of human life. It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal husband and the ideal king. Like the Mahabharata, Ramayana presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and ethical elements.

Structure

In its extant form, Valmiki's Ramayana is an epic poem of some 24,000 verses, divided into seven kāṇḍas (Bālakāṇḍa, Ayodhyakāṇḍa, Araṇyakāṇḍa, Kiṣkindakāṇḍa, Sundarākāṇḍa, Yuddhakāṇḍa, Uttarakāṇḍa), and about 500 sargas (chapters).[5][17]

Dating

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Rama (left third from top) depicted in the Dashavatara, the ten avatars of Vishnu. Painting from Jaipur, now at the Victoria and Albert Museum

According to Hindu tradition, the narrative of the Ramayana takes place during a period of time known as Treta Yuga (2,163,102 BCE - 867,102 BCE).[18]

According to Robert P. Goldman, the oldest parts of the Ramayana date to between the mid-7th century BCE and the mid-6th century BCE. This is due to the narrative not mentioning Buddhism nor the prominence of Magadha. The text also mentions Ayodhya as the capital of Kosala, rather than its later name of Saketa or the successor capital of Shravasti.[6] In terms of narrative time, the action of the Ramayana predates the Mahabharata. However, it is felt that the general cultural background of the Ramayana is one of the post-urbanization periods of the eastern part of north India, while the Mahabharata reflects the Kuru areas west of this, from the Rigvedic to the late Vedic period. Scholarly estimates for the earliest stage of the text range from the 7th to 4th centuries BCE,[6][7][unreliable source?] with later stages extending up to the 3rd century CE.[8]

The names of the characters (Rama, Sita, Dasharatha, Janaka, Vashista, Vishwamitra) are all known only in the late Vedic literature. For instance, a king named Janaka appears in a lengthy dialogue in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad with no reference to Rama or the Ramayana.[19] However, nowhere in the surviving Vedic poetry is there a story similar to the Ramayana of Valmiki. According to the modern academic view, Vishnu, who, according to Bala Kanda, was incarnated as Rama, first came into prominence with the epics themselves and further, during the Puranic period of the later 1st millennium CE. Also, in the epic Mahabharata, there is a version of the Ramayana known as Ramopakhyana. This version is depicted as a narration to Yudhishthira.

Books two to six are the oldest portion of the epic, while the first and last books (Bala Kand and Uttara Kand, respectively) seem to be later additions. Style differences and narrative contradictions between these two volumes and the rest of the epic have led scholars since Hermann Jacobi to the present toward this consensus.[20]

Recensions

The Ramayana text has several regional renderings, recensions and sub recensions. Textual scholar Robert P. Goldman differentiates two major regional revisions: the northern (n) and the southern (s). Scholar Romesh Chunder Dutt writes that "the Ramayana, like the Mahabharata, is a growth of centuries, but the main story is more distinctly the creation of one mind."

A Times of India report dated 18 December 2015 informs about the discovery of a 6th-century manuscript of the Ramayana at the Asiatic Society library, Kolkata.[21]

There has been discussion as to whether the first and the last volumes (Bala Kand and Uttara Kand) of Valmiki's Ramayana were composed by the original author. The uttarākāṇḍa, the bālakāṇḍa, although frequently counted among the main ones, is not a part of the original epic. Though Balakanda is sometimes considered in the main epic, according to many Uttarakanda is certainly a later interpolation and thus is not attributed to the work of Maharshi Valmiki.[5] This fact is reaffirmed by the absence of these two Kāndas in the oldest manuscript.[21] Many Hindus don't believe they are integral parts of the scripture because of some style differences and narrative contradictions between these two volumes and the rest.[citation needed]

Characters

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Rama seated with Sita, fanned by Lakshmana, while Hanuman pays his respects

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Statue of Ravana at Koneswaram Hindu Temple, Sri Lanka.

Main article: List of characters in Ramayana

Ikshvaku Dynasty

• Dasharatha is king of Ayodhya and father of Rama. He has three queens, Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra, and four sons: Bharata, twins Lakshmana and Shatrughna, and Rama. Once, Kaikeyi saved Dasharatha in a war and as a reward, she got the privilege from Dasaratha to fulfill two of her wishes at any time in her lifetime. She made use of the opportunity and forced Dasharatha to make their son Bharata crown prince and send Rama into exile for 14 years. Dasharatha dies heartbroken after Rama goes into exile.
• Rama is the main character of the tale. Portrayed as the seventh avatar of god Vishnu, he is the eldest and favorite son of Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya and his Chief Queen, Kausalya. He is portrayed as the epitome of virtue. Dasharatha is forced by Kaikeyi to command Rama to relinquish his right to the throne for fourteen years and go into exile. Rama kills the evil demon Ravana, who abducted his wife Sita, and later returns to Ayodhya to form an ideal state.

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Rama and the Vanara chiefs

• Sita (Vaidehi) is another of the tale's protagonists. She was the blood of sages who sacrificed their lives to develop the powerful force to get rid of earth from demons. This blood was collected in a pot and was buried in Earth, so she is called the daughter of Mother Earth, adopted by King Janaka and Rama's beloved wife. Rama went to Mithila and got a chance to marry her by breaking the Shiv Dhanush (bow) while trying to tie a knot to it in a competition organized by King Janaka of Mithila. The competition was to find the most suitable husband for Sita and many princes from different states competed to win her. Sita is the avatar of goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu. Sita is portrayed as the epitome of female purity and virtue. She follows her husband into exile and is abducted by the Lanka's king Ravana. She is imprisoned on the island of Lanka, until Rama rescues her by defeating Ravana. Later, she gives birth to twin boys Lava and Kusha.
• Bharata is the son of Dasharatha and Queen Kaikeyi. when he learns that his mother Kaikeyi has forced Rama into exile and caused Dasharatha to die brokenhearted, he storms out of the palace and goes in search of Rama in the forest. When Rama refuses to return from his exile to assume the throne, Bharata obtains Rama's sandals and places them on the throne as a gesture that Rama is the true king. Bharata then rules Ayodhya as the regent of Rama for the next fourteen years, staying outside the city of Ayodhya. He was married to Mandavi.
• Lakshmana (Saumitra) is a younger brother of Rama, who chose to go into exile with him. He is the son of King Dasharatha and Queen Sumitra and twin of Shatrughna. Lakshmana is portrayed as an avatar of Shesha, the nāga associated with the god Vishnu. He spends his time protecting Sita and Rama, during which time he fights the demoness Shurpanakha. He is forced to leave Sita, who was deceived by the demon Maricha into believing that Rama was in trouble. Sita is abducted by Ravana upon his leaving her. He was married to Sita's younger sister Urmila.
• Shatrughna (Shatrughna means Ripudaman: Killer of enemies) is a son of Dasharatha and his third wife Queen Sumitra. He is the youngest brother of Rama and also the twin brother of Lakshmana. He was married to Shrutakirti.

Allies of Rama

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The vanaras constructing the Rama Setu Bridge to Lanka, makaras and fish also aid the construction. A 9th century Prambanan bas-relief, Central Java, Indonesia.

Vanara

• Hanuman is a vanara belonging to the kingdom of Kishkindha. He is an ideal bhakta of Rama. He is born as son of Kesari, a Vanara king in Sumeru region and his wife Añjanā. He plays an important part in locating Sita and in the ensuing battle. Hanuman is incarnation of Lord Shiva.
• Sugriva, a vanara king who helped Rama regain Sita from Ravana. He had an agreement with Rama through which Vali – Sugriva's brother and king of Kishkindha – would be killed by Rama in exchange for Sugriva's help in finding Sita. Sugriva ultimately ascends the throne of Kishkindha after the slaying of Vali and fulfills his promise by putting the Vanara forces at Rama's disposal. He was son of God Surya and was married to Rumā.
• Angada is a vanara and the son of Vali (vanar king of Kishkindha before Sugriva) who helped Rama find his wife Sita and fight her abductor, Ravana, in Ramayana. He was son of Vali and Tara and nephew of Sugriva. Angada and Tara are instrumental in reconciling Rama and his brother, Lakshmana, with Sugriva after Sugriva fails to fulfill his promise to help Rama find and rescue his wife. Together they are able to convince Sugriva to honour his pledge to Rama instead of spending his time carousing and drinking.

Riksha

• Jambavan/Jamvanta is known as Riksharaj (King of the Rikshas). He is son of Lord Brahma. Rikshas are bears. In the epic Ramayana, Jambavantha helped Rama find his wife Sita and fight her abductor, Ravana. It is he who makes Hanuman realize his immense capabilities and encourages him to fly across the ocean to search for Sita in Lanka.

Griddha

• Jatayu, son of Aruṇa and nephew of Garuda. A demi-god who has the form of a vulture that tries to rescue Sita from Ravana. Jatayu fought valiantly with Ravana, but as Jatayu was very old, Ravana soon got the better of him. As Rama and Lakshmana chanced upon the stricken and dying Jatayu in their search for Sita, he informs them of the direction in which Ravana had gone.
• Sampati, son of Aruna, brother of Jatayu. Sampati's role proved to be instrumental in the search for Sita.

Rakshasa

• Vibhishana, youngest brother of Ravana. He was against the abduction of Sita and joined the forces of Rama when Ravana refused to return her. His intricate knowledge of Lanka was vital in the war and he was crowned king of Lanka by Rama after the fall of Ravana.

Foes Of Rama

Rakshasas


• Ravana, a Rakshasa, is the king of Lanka. He was the son of a sage named Vishrava and daitya princess Kaikesi. After performing severe penance for ten thousand years he received a boon from the creator-god Brahma: he could henceforth not be killed by gods, demons, or spirits. He is portrayed as a powerful demon king who disturbs the penances of rishis. Vishnu incarnates as the human Rama to defeat him, thus circumventing the boon given by Brahma.
• Indrajit or Meghnadha, the eldest son of Ravana who twice defeated Rama and Lakshmana in battle, before succumbing to Lakshmana. An adept of the magical arts, he coupled his supreme fighting skills with various stratagems to inflict heavy losses on Vanara army before his death.
• Kumbhakarna, brother of Ravana, famous for his eating and sleeping. He would sleep for months at a time and would be extremely ravenous upon waking up, consuming anything set before him. His monstrous size and loyalty made him an important part of Ravana's army. During the war, he decimated the Vanara army before Rama cut off his limbs and head.
• Shurpanakha, Ravana's demoness sister who fell in love with Rama and had the magical power to take any form she wanted. Lakshmana cut off Shurpanakha's nose when she tried to hurt Sita angered by Rama's refusal of her proposal of marriage. It is she who asked Ravana to abduct Sita as revenge for her insult.
• Subahu (Sanskrit: सुबाहु Subāhu, Tamil: சுபாகு Cupāku, Kannada: ಸುಬಾಹು, Thai: Sawahu), is a rakshasa character in the Ramayana. He and his mother, Tataka, took immense pleasure in harassing the munis of the jungle, especially Vishvamitra, by disrupting their yajnas with rains of flesh and blood.[22] Vishvamitra approached Dasharatha for help in getting rid of these pestilences. Dasharatha obliged by sending two of his sons, Rama and Lakshmana, to the forest with Vishvamitra, charging them to protect both the sage and his sacrificial fires.[citation needed] When Subahu and Maricha again attempted to rain flesh and blood on the sage's yajna, Subahu was killed by Rama.[23] Maricha escaped to Lanka. He was later killed by Rama when he took the form of a deer.

Neutral

Vanara


• Vali, was king of Kishkindha, husband of Tara, a son of Indra, elder brother of Sugriva and father of Angada. Bali was famous for the boon that he had received, according to which anyone who fought him in single-combat lost half his strength to Vali, thereby making Vali invulnerable to any enemy. He was killed by Rama, an Avatar of Vishnu. However, he was not an enemy of Rama. He was killed by Rama because Vali had fought with his brother Sugriva after some misunderstanding, who was a loyal ally of Rama.

Rakshasa

• Viswashrava, was the son of Pulastya and the grandson of Brahma, the Creator, and a powerful Rishi as described in the great Hindu scripture epic Ramayana of Ancient India. A scholar par excellence, he earned great powers through Tapasya, which in turn, earned him great name and fame amongst his fellow Rishis. Bharadwaja, in particular, was so impressed with Viswashrava that he gave him his daughter, Ilavida, in marriage. Ilavida bore Viswashrava a son, Kubera, the Lord of Wealth and the original ruler of Lanka.[24] In addition to Ravana, Viswashrava fathered Vibhishana, Kumbakarna and a daughter, Shurpanakha, through Kaikesi. He is said to have disowned his demonic family after witnessing Ravana's disrespectful treatment of his older brother, Kubera and returned to his first wife, Ilavida.[citation needed] According to the Mahabharata, however, Viswashrava's younger children were born as a result of a falling-out with his eldest: Kubera tried to placate his father by giving him three Rakshasis (two of whom, Raka and Pushpotkata/Pushpotata, seem to be Kaikesi's paternal half-sisters) and in due course Viswashrava impregnated all three of them. Pushpotata gave birth to Ravana and later to Kumbhakarna, Malini bore Vibhishana, and Raka had the unpleasant and unsociable twins Khara and Shurpanakha.[25]

Synopsis

Bala Kanda


Main article: Bala Kanda

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The marriage of the four sons of Dasharatha with the four daughters of Siradhvaja Janaka and Kushadhvaja. Rama and Sita, Lakshmana and Urmila, Bharata and Mandavi and Shatrughna with Shrutakirti.

This Sarga (section) details the stories of Rama's childhood and events related to the time-frame. Dasharatha was the King of Ayodhya. He had three wives: Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra. He was childless for a long time and anxious to have an heir, so he performs a fire sacrifice known as Putra-kameshti Yajna. As a consequence, Rama was first born to Kaushalya, Bharata was born to Kaikeyi, Lakshmana and Shatrughna were born to Sumitra. These sons are endowed, to various degrees, with the essence of the Supreme Trinity Entity Vishnu; Vishnu had opted to be born into mortality to combat the demon Ravana, who was oppressing the gods, and who could only be destroyed by a mortal. The boys were reared as the princes of the realm, receiving instructions from the scriptures and in warfare from Vashistha. When Rama was 16 years old, sage Vishwamitra comes to the court of Dasharatha in search of help against demons who were disturbing sacrificial rites. He chooses Rama, who is followed by Lakshmana, his constant companion throughout the story. Rama and Lakshmana receive instructions and supernatural weapons from Vishwamitra and proceed to destroy Tataka and many other demons.

Janaka was the King of Mithila. One day, a female child was found in the field by the King in the deep furrow dug by his plough. Overwhelmed with joy, the King regarded the child as a "miraculous gift of God". The child was named Sita, the Sanskrit word for furrow. Sita grew up to be a girl of unparalleled beauty and charm. The King had decided that who ever could lift and wield a heavy bow, presented to his ancestors by Shiva, could marry Sita. Sage Vishwamitra takes Rama and Lakshmana to Mithila to show the bow. Then Rama desires to lift it and goes on to wield the bow and when he draws the string, it broke.[26] Marriages were arranged between the sons of Dasharatha and daughters of Janaka. Rama marries Sita, Lakshmana to Urmila, Bharata to Mandavi and Shatrughna to Shrutakirti. The weddings were celebrated with great festivity in Mithila and the marriage party returns to Ayodhya.

Ayodhya Kanda

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Gold carving depiction of the legendary Ayodhya at the Ajmer Jain temple.

After Rama and Sita have been married, an elderly Dasharatha expresses his desire to crown Rama, to which the Kosala assembly and his subjects express their support. On the eve of the great event, Kaikeyi – her jealousy aroused by Manthara, a wicked maidservant – claims two boons that Dasharatha had long ago granted her. Kaikeyi demands Rama to be exiled into the wilderness for fourteen years, while the succession passes to her son Bharata. The heartbroken king, constrained by his rigid devotion to his given word, accedes to Kaikeyi's demands. Rama accepts his father's reluctant decree with absolute submission and calm self-control which characterizes him throughout the story. He is joined by Sita and Lakshmana. When he asks Sita not to follow him, she says, "the forest where you dwell is Ayodhya for me and Ayodhya without you is a veritable hell for me." After Rama's departure, King Dasharatha, unable to bear the grief, passes away. Meanwhile, Bharata, who was on a visit to his maternal uncle, learns about the events in Ayodhya. Bharata refuses to profit from his mother's wicked scheming and visits Rama in the forest. He requests Rama to return and rule. But Rama, determined to carry out his father's orders to the letter, refuses to return before the period of exile.

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Rama leaving for fourteen years of exile from Ayodhya.

Aranya Kanda

Main article: Aranya Kanda

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Ravana fights Jatayu as he carries off the kidnapped Sita. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma

After thirteen years of exile, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana journey southward along the banks of river Godavari, where they build cottages and live off the land. At the Panchavati forest they are visited by a rakshasi named Shurpanakha, sister of Ravana. She tries to seduce the brothers and, after failing, attempts to kill Sita. Lakshmana stops her by cutting off her nose and ears. Hearing of this, her brothers Khara and Dushan organise an attack against the princes. Rama defeats Khara and his raskshasas.

When the news of these events reach Ravana, he resolves to destroy Rama by capturing Sita with the aid of the rakshasa Maricha. Maricha, assuming the form of a golden deer, captivates Sita's attention. Entranced by the beauty of the deer, Sita pleads with Rama to capture it. Rama, aware that this is the ploy of the demons, cannot dissuade Sita from her desire and chases the deer into the forest, leaving Sita under Lakshmana's guard.

After some time, Sita hears Rama calling out to her; afraid for his life, she insists that Lakshmana rush to his aid. Lakshmana tries to assure her that Rama cannot be hurt that easily and that it is best if he continues to follow Rama's orders to protect her. On the verge of hysterics, Sita insists that it is not she but Rama who needs Lakshman's help. He obeys her wish but stipulates that she is not to leave the cottage or entertain any stranger. He draws a chalk outline, the Lakshmana rekha, around the cottage and casts a spell on it that prevents anyone from entering the boundary but allows people to exit. With the coast finally clear, Ravana appears in the guise of an ascetic requesting Sita's hospitality. Unaware of her guest's plan, Sita is tricked into leaving the rekha and is then forcibly carried away by Ravana.[27]

Jatayu, a vulture, tries to rescue Sita, but is mortally wounded. At Lanka, Sita is kept under the guard of rakshasis. Ravana asks Sita to marry him, but she refuses, being eternally devoted to Rama. Meanwhile, Rama and Lakshmana learn about Sita's abduction from Jatayu and immediately set out to save her. During their search, they meet Kabandha and the ascetic Shabari, who direct them towards Sugriva and Hanuman.

Kishkindha Kanda

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A stone bas-relief at Banteay Srei in Cambodia depicts the combat between Vali and Sugriva (middle). To the right, Rama fires his bow. To the left, Vali lies dying.

Kishkindha Kanda is set in the ape (Vanara) citadel Kishkindha. Rama and Lakshmana meet Hanuman, the biggest devotee of Rama, greatest of ape heroes and an adherent of Sugriva, the banished pretender to the throne of Kishkindha. Rama befriends Sugriva and helps him by killing his elder brother Vali thus regaining the kingdom of Kishkindha, in exchange for helping Rama to recover Sita.

However Sugriva soon forgets his promise and spends his time enjoying his newly gained power. The clever former ape queen Tara (wife of Vali) calmly intervenes to prevent an enraged Lakshmana from destroying the ape citadel. She then eloquently convinces Sugriva to honour his pledge. Sugriva then sends search parties to the four corners of the earth, only to return without success from north, east and west. The southern search party under the leadership of Angada and Hanuman learns from a vulture named Sampati (elder brother of Jatayu), that Sita was taken to Lanka.

Sundara Kanda

Main article: Sundara Kanda

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Ravana is meeting Sita at Ashokavana. Hanuman is seen on the tree.

Sundara Kanda forms the heart of Valmiki's Ramayana and consists of a detailed, vivid account of Hanuman's adventures. After learning about Sita, Hanuman assumes a gargantuan form and makes a colossal leap across the sea to Lanka. On the way he meets with many challenges like facing a Gandharva kanya who comes in the form of a demon to test his abilities. He encounters a mountain named Mainakudu who offers Hanuman assistance and offers him rest. Hanuman refuses because there is little time remaining to complete the search for Sita.

After entering into Lanka, he finds a demon, Lankini, who protects all of Lanka. Hanuman fights with her and subjugates her in order to get into Lanka. In the process Lankini, who had an earlier vision/warning from the gods therefore knows that the end of Lanka nears if someone defeats Lankini. Here, Hanuman explores the demons' kingdom and spies on Ravana. He locates Sita in Ashoka grove, where she is being wooed and threatened by Ravana and his rakshasis to marry Ravana. Hanuman reassures Sita, giving Rama's signet ring as a sign of good faith. He offers to carry Sita back to Rama; however, she refuses and says that it is not the dharma, stating that Ramyana will not have significance if Hanuman carries her to Rama – "When Rama is not there Ravana carried Sita forcibly and when Ravana was not there, Hanuman carried Sita back to Rama". She says that Rama himself must come and avenge the insult of her abduction.

Hanuman then wreaks havoc in Lanka by destroying trees and buildings and killing Ravana's warriors. He allows himself to be captured and delivered to Ravana. He gives a bold lecture to Ravana to release Sita. He is condemned and his tail is set on fire, but he escapes his bonds and leaping from roof to roof, sets fire to Ravana's citadel and makes the giant leap back from the island. The joyous search party returns to Kishkindha with the news.

Yuddha Kanda

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The Battle at Lanka, Ramyana by Sahibdin. It depicts the monkey army of the protagonist Rama (top left, blue figure) fighting Ravana—the demon-king of the Lanka—to save Rama's kidnapped wife, Sita. The painting depicts multiple events in the battle against the three-headed demon general Trishira, in bottom left. Trishira is beheaded by Hanuman, the monkey-companion of Rama.

Also known as Lanka Kanda, this book describes the war between the army of Rama and the army of Ravana. Having received Hanuman's report on Sita, Rama and Lakshmana proceed with their allies towards the shore of the southern sea. There they are joined by Ravana's renegade brother Vibhishana. The apes named Nala and Nila construct a floating bridge (known as Rama Setu)[28] across the sea, using stones that floated on water because they had Rama's name written on them. The princes and their army cross over to Lanka. A lengthy war ensues. During a battle, Ravana's son Indrajit hurls a powerful weapon at Lakshmana, who is badly wounded. So Hanuman assumes a gigantic form and flies from Lanka to the Himalayas. Upon reaching Mount Sumeru, Hanuman was unable to identify the herb that could cure Lakshmana and so decided to bring the entire mountain back to Lanka. Eventually, the war ends when Rama kills Ravana. Rama then installs Vibhishana on the throne of Lanka.

On meeting Sita, Rama agrees to Sita's request[29] to undergo an Agni Pariksha (test of fire) to prove her chastity, as he wants to get rid of the rumors surrounding her purity. When Sita plunges into the sacrificial fire, Agni, lord of fire raises Sita, unharmed, to the throne, attesting to her innocence. The episode of Agni Pariksha varies in the versions of Ramayana by Valmiki and Tulsidas. In Tulsidas's Ramacharitamanas, Sita was under the protection of Agni (see Maya Sita) so it was necessary to bring her out before reuniting with Rama.

Uttara Kanda

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Sita with Lava and Kusha

It conjectures Rama's reign of Ayodhya, the birth of Lava and Kusha, the Ashvamedha yajna and last days of Rama. At the expiration of his term of exile, Rama returns to Ayodhya with Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman, where the coronation is performed. On being asked to prove his devotion to Rama, Hanuman tears his chest open and to everyone's surprise, there is an image of Rama and Sita inside his chest. Rama rules Ayodhya and the reign is called Ram-Rajya (a place where the common folk is happy, fulfilled, and satisfied).

This book (kanda) is not considered to be a part of the original epic but instead a later addition to the earliest layers of the Valmiki Ramayana and is considered to be highly interpolated. In this book, as time passes in the reign of Rama, spies start getting rumours that people are questioning Sita's purity as she stayed in the home of another man for almost a year without her husband. The common folk start gossiping about Sita and question Rama's decision to make her Queen. Rama is extremely distraught on hearing the news, but finally tells Lakshmana that the purity of the Queen of Ayodhya has to be above any gossip and rumour. Ram instructs him to take Sita to a forest outside Ayodhya and leave her there with a heavy heart. Lakshmana reluctantly drops Sita in a forest for another exile.

Sita finds refuge in Sage Valmiki's ashram, where she gives birth to twin boys, Lava and Kusha. Meanwhile, Rama conducts an Ashwamedha yajna (A holy declaration of the authority of the king) and in absence of Sita places a golden statue of Sita. Lava and Kusha capture the horse (sign of the yajna) and defeat the whole army of Ayodhya which come to protect the horse. Later on, both the brothers defeat Lakshmana, Bharata (Ramayana), Shatrughan and other warriors and take Hanuman as prisoner. Finally Rama himself arrives and defeats the two mighty brothers. Valmiki updates Sita about this development and advises both the brothers to go to Ayodhya and tell the story of Sita's sacrifice to the common folk. Both brothers arrive at Ayodhya but face many difficulties while convincing the people. Hanuman helps both the brothers in this task. At one point, Valmiki brings Sita forward. Seeing Sita, Rama is teary eyed and realises that Lava and Kusha are his own sons. Again complicit Nagarsen (one of the primaries who instigated the hatred towards Sita) challenges Sita's character and asks her to prove her purity. Sita is overflown with emotions and decides to go back to Mother Earth from where she emerged. She says that, "If I am pure, this earth will open and swallow me whole." At that very moment, the earth opens up and swallows Sita. Rama rules Ayodhya for many years and finally takes Samadhi into Sarayu river along with his three brothers and leaves the world. He goes back to Vaikuntha in his Vishnu form (Lakshman as Shesh Naga, Bharat as his conch and Shatrughan as the Sudarshan Chakra) and meets Sita there who by then assumed the form of Lakshmi.

Versions

See also: Versions of Ramayana

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The epic story of Ramyana was adopted by several cultures across Asia. Shown here is a Thai historic artwork depicting the battle which took place between Rama and Ravana.

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Relief with part of the Ramayana epic, shows Rama killed the golden deer that turn out to be the demon Maricha in disguise. Prambanan Trimurti temple near Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia.

As in many oral epics, multiple versions of the Ramayana survive. In particular, the Ramayana related in north India differs in important respects from that preserved in south India and the rest of southeast Asia. There is an extensive tradition of oral storytelling based on Ramayana in Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam and Maldives.

India

There are diverse regional versions of the Ramayana written by various authors in India. Some of them differ significantly from each other. A West Bengal manuscript from the 6th century presents the epic without two of its kandas. During the 12th century, Kamban wrote Ramavataram, known popularly as Kambaramayanam in Tamil, but references to Ramayana story appear in Tamil literature as early as 3rd century CE. A Telugu version, Ranganatha Ramayanam, was written by Gona Budda Reddy in the 14th century. The earliest translation to a regional Indo-Aryan language is the early 14th century Saptakanda Ramayana in Assamese by Madhava Kandali. Valmiki's Ramayana inspired Sri Ramacharit Manas by Tulsidas in 1576, an epic Awadhi (a dialect of Hindi) version with a slant more grounded in a different realm of Hindu literature, that of bhakti; it is an acknowledged masterpiece of India, popularly known as Tulsi-krita Ramayana. Gujarati poet Premanand wrote a version of the Ramayana in the 17th century. Other versions include Krittivasi Ramayan, a Bengali version by Krittibas Ojha in the 15th century; Vilanka Ramayana by 15th century poet Sarala Dasa[30] and Jagamohana Ramayana (also known as Dandi Ramayana) by 16th century poet Balarama Dasa, both in Odia; a Torave Ramayana in Kannada by 16th-century poet Narahari; Adhyathmaramayanam, a Malayalam version by Thunchaththu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan in the 16th century; in Marathi by Sridhara in the 18th century; in Maithili by Chanda Jha in the 19th century; and in the 20th century, Rashtrakavi Kuvempu's Sri Ramayana Darshanam in Kannada and Srimad Ramayana Kalpavrikshamu in Telugu by Viswanatha Satyanarayana who received Jnanapeeth award for this work.

There is a sub-plot to the Ramayana, prevalent in some parts of India, relating the adventures of Ahiravan and Mahi Ravana, evil brother of Ravana, which enhances the role of Hanuman in the story. Hanuman rescues Rama and Lakshmana after they are kidnapped by the Ahi-Mahi Ravana at the behest of Ravana and held prisoner in a cave, to be sacrificed to the goddess Kali. Adbhuta Ramayana is a version that is obscure but also attributed to Valmiki – intended as a supplementary to the original Valmiki Ramayana. In this variant of the narrative, Sita is accorded far more prominence, such as elaboration of the events surrounding her birth – in this case to Ravana's wife, Mandodari as well as her conquest of Ravana's older brother in the Mahakali form.t
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Early medieval recension from Bengal

Chance discovery of a 6th century manuscript reveals insights into the evolution of the narrative. Importantly, the ‘Daśagrīvā Rākṣasa Charitrām Vadham’ (Slaying of the Ten-Headed Giant) manuscript contains only five kandas (chapters), and ends with the trio’s triumphant return to Ayodhya.[31][32]

Missing from this particular recension are the ‘Balakanda’ dealing with Rama’s childhood, and the ‘Uttarakanda’ – which narrates (a) Rama’s divinity as an avatar of Vishnu, (b) the events leading up to the exile of Sita, (c) the death of Rama’s devoted brother, Lakshmana. These are also the only two books where the Sage Valmiki appears as a character.[33]

The manuscript was discovered in 2015, from an archive compiled by the German Indologist Theodor Aufrecht.

Early references in Tamil literature

Main article: Ramayana in Tamil literature

Even before Kambar wrote the Ramavataram in Tamil in the 12th century AD, there are many ancient references to the story of Ramayana, implying that the story was familiar in the Tamil lands even before the Common Era. References to the story can be found in the Sangam literature of Akanaṉūṟu,(dated 1st century BCE)[34] and Purananuru (dated 300 BC),[35][36] the twin epics of Silappatikaram (dated 2nd Century CE)[37] and Manimekalai (cantos 5, 17 and 18),[38][39][40] and the Alvar literature of Kulasekhara Alvar, Thirumangai Alvar, Andal and Nammalvar (dated between 5th and 10th Centuries CE).[41] Even the songs of the Nayanmars have references to Ravana and his devotion to Lord Siva.

Buddhist version

Main article: Dasaratha Jataka

In the Buddhist variant of the Ramayana (Dasaratha Jataka), Dasharatha was king of Benares and not Ayodhya. Rama (called Rāmapaṇḍita in this version) was the son of Kaushalya, first wife of Dasharatha. Lakṣmaṇa (Lakkhaṇa) was a sibling of Rama and son of Sumitra, the second wife of Dasharatha. Sita was the wife of Rama. To protect his children from his wife Kaikeyi, who wished to promote her son Bharata, Dasharatha sent the three to a hermitage in the Himalayas for a twelve-year exile. After nine years, Dasharatha died and Lakkhaṇa and Sita returned; Rāmapaṇḍita, in deference to his father's wishes, remained in exile for a further two years. This version does not include the abduction of Sītā.There is no Ravan in this version i.e. no Ram-ravan war.

In the explanatory commentary on Jātaka, Rāmapaṇḍita is said to have been a previous birth of the Buddha, and Sita as previous birth of Yasodharā(Rahula-Mata).

But, Ravana appears in other Buddhist literature, the Lankavatara Sutra.

Jain versions

Main articles: Rama in Jainism and Salakapurusa

Jain versions of the Ramayana can be found in the various Jain agamas like Saṅghadāsagaṇī Vāchaka's Vasudevahiṇḍī (circa 4th century CE),[42] Ravisena's Padmapurana (story of Padmaja and Rama, Padmaja being the name of Sita), Hemacandra's Trisastisalakapurusa charitra (hagiography of 63 illustrious persons), Sanghadasa's Vasudevahindi and Uttarapurana by Gunabhadara. According to Jain cosmology, every half time cycle has nine sets of Balarama, Vasudeva and prativasudeva. Rama, Lakshmana and Ravana are the eighth Baldeva, Vasudeva and prativasudeva respectively. Padmanabh Jaini notes that, unlike in the Hindu Puranas, the names Baladeva and Vasudeva are not restricted to Balarama and Krishna in Jain Puranas. Instead they serve as names of two distinct classes of mighty brothers, who appear nine times in each half time cycle and jointly rule half the earth as half-chakravartins. Jaini traces the origin of this list of brothers to the jinacharitra (lives of jinas) by Acharya Bhadrabahu (3d–4th century BCE).

In the Jain epic of Ramayana, it is not Rama who kills Ravana as told in the Hindu version. Perhaps this is because Rama, a liberated Jain Soul in his last life, is unwilling to kill.[43] Instead, it is Lakshmana who kills Ravana (as Vasudeva killes Prativasudeva).[43] In the end, Rama, who led an upright life, renounces his kingdom, becomes a Jain monk and attains moksha. On the other hand, Lakshmana and Ravana go to Hell. However, it is predicted that ultimately they both will be reborn as upright persons and attain liberation in their future births. According to Jain texts, Ravana will be the future Tirthankara (omniscient teacher) of Jainism.

The Jain versions have some variations from Valmiki's Ramayana. Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya had four queens: Aparajita, Sumitra, Suprabha and Kaikeyi. These four queens had four sons. Aparajita's son was Padma and he became known by the name of Rama. Sumitra's son was Narayana: he came to be known by another name, Lakshmana. Kaikeyi's son was Bharata and Suprabha's son was Shatrughna. Furthermore, not much was thought of Rama's fidelity to Sita. According to the Jain version, Rama had four chief queens: Maithili, Prabhavati, Ratinibha, and Sridama. Furthermore, Sita takes renunciation as a Jain ascetic after Rama abandons her and is reborn in heaven as Indra. Rama, after Lakshman's death, also renounces his kingdom and becomes a Jain monk. Ultimately, he attains Kevala Jnana omniscience and finally liberation. Rama predicts that Ravana and Lakshmana, who were in the fourth hell, will attain liberation in their future births. Accordingly, Ravana is the future Tirthankara of the next half ascending time cycle and Sita will be his Ganadhara.

Sikh version

In Guru Granth Sahib, there is a description of two types of Ramayana. One is a spiritual Ramayana which is the actual subject of Guru Granth Sahib, in which Ravana is ego, Sita is budhi (intellect), Rama is inner soul and Laxman is mann (attention, mind). Guru Granth Sahib also believes in the existence of Dashavatara who were kings of their times which tried their best to restore order to the world. King Rama (Ramchandra) was one of those who is not covered in Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Granth Sahib states:

ਹੁਕਮਿ ਉਪਾਏ ਦਸ ਅਉਤਾਰਾ॥
हुकमि उपाए दस अउतारा॥
By hukam (supreme command), he created his ten incarnations


Rather there is no Ramayana written by any Guru. Guru Gobind Singh however is known to have written Ram Avatar in a text which is highly debated on its authenticity. Guru Gobind Singh clearly states that though all the 24 avatars incarnated for the betterment of the world, but fell prey to ego and therefore were destroyed by the supreme creator.

He also said that the almighty, invisible, all prevailing God created great numbers of Indras, Moons and Suns, Deities, Demons and sages, and also numerous saints and Brahmanas (enlightened people). But they too were caught in the noose of death (Kaal) (transmigration of the soul).

Nepal

Besides being the site of discovery of the oldest surviving manuscript of the Ramayana, Nepal gave rise to two regional variants in mid 19th – early 20th century. One, written by Bhanubhakta Acharya, is considered the first epic of Nepali language, while the other, written by Siddhidas Mahaju in Nepal Bhasa was a foundational influence in the Nepal Bhasa renaissance.

Ramayana written by Bhanubhakta Acharya is one of the most popular verses in Nepal. The popularization of the Ramayana and its tale, originally written in Sanskrit Language was greatly enhanced by the work of Bhanubhakta. Mainly because of his writing of Nepali Ramayana, Bhanubhakta is also called Aadi Kavi or The Pioneering Poet.

Southeast Asian

Cambodia


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Cambodian classical dancers as Sita and Ravana, the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh (c. 1920s)

The Cambodian version of the Ramayana, Reamker (Khmer: រាមកេរ្ដិ៍ - Glory of Rama), is the most famous story of Khmer literature since the Kingdom of Funan era. It adapts the Hindu concepts to Buddhist themes and shows the balance of good and evil in the world. The Reamker has several differences from the original Ramayana, including scenes not included in the original and emphasis on Hanuman and Sovanna Maccha, a retelling which influences the Thai and Lao versions. Reamker in Cambodia is not confined to the realm of literature but extends to all Cambodian art forms, such as sculpture, Khmer classical dance, theatre known as lakhorn luang (the foundation of the royal ballet), poetry and the mural and bas-reliefs seen at the Silver Pagoda and Angkor Wat.

Indonesia

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Lakshmana, Rama and Sita during their exile in Dandaka Forest depicted in Javanese dance

There are several Indonesian adaptations of Ramayana, including the Javanese Kakawin Ramayana[44][45] and Balinese Ramakavaca.[46] The first half of Kakawin Ramayana is similar to the original Sanskrit version, while the latter half is very different. One of the recognizable modifications is the inclusion of the indigenous Javanese guardian demigod, Semar, and his sons, Gareng, Petruk, and Bagong who make up the numerically significant four Punokawan or "clown servants". Kakawin Ramayana is believed to have been written in Central Java circa 870 AD during the reign of Mpu Sindok in the Medang Kingdom.[47] The Javanese Kakawin Ramayana is not based on Valmiki's epic, which was then the most famous version of Rama's story, but based on Ravanavadha or the "Ravana massacre", which is the sixth or seventh century poem by Indian poet Bhattikavya.[48]

Kakawin Ramayana was further developed on the neighboring island of Bali becoming the Balinese Ramakavaca. The bas-reliefs of Ramayana and Krishnayana scenes are carved on balustrades of the 9th century Prambanan temple in Yogyakarta,[49] as well as in the 14th century Penataran temple in East Java.[50] In Indonesia, the Ramayana is a deeply ingrained aspect of the culture, especially among Javanese, Balinese and Sundanese people, and has become the source of moral and spiritual guidance as well as aesthetic expression and entertainment, for example in wayang and traditional dances.[51] The Balinese kecak dance for example, retells the story of the Ramayana, with dancers playing the roles of Rama, Sita, Lakhsmana, Jatayu, Hanuman, Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Indrajit surrounded by a troupe of over 50 bare-chested men who serve as the chorus chanting "cak". The performance also includes a fire show to describe the burning of Lanka by Hanuman.[52] In Yogyakarta, the Wayang Wong Javanese dance also retells the Ramayana. One example of a dance production of the Ramayana in Java is the Ramayana Ballet performed on the Trimurti Prambanan open air stage, with the three main prasad spires of the Prambanan Hindu temple as a backdrop.[53]

Laos

Phra Lak Phra Lam is a Lao language version, whose title comes from Lakshmana and Rama. The story of Lakshmana and Rama is told as the previous life of Gautama buddha.

Malaysia

The Hikayat Seri Rama of Malaysia incorporated element of both Hindu and Islamic mythology.[54][55][56]

Myanmar

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Rama (Yama) and Sita (Me Thida) in Yama Zatdaw, the Burmese version of Ramyana

Yama Zatdaw is the Burmese version of Ramayana. It is also considered the unofficial national epic of Myanmar. There are nine known pieces of the Yama Zatdaw in Myanmar. The Burmese name for the story itself is Yamayana, while zatdaw refers to the acted play or being part of the jataka tales of Theravada Buddhism. This Burmese version is also heavily influenced by Ramakien (Thai version of Ramayana) which resulted from various invasions by Konbaung Dynasty kings toward the Ayutthaya Kingdom.

Philippines

Main article: Maharadia Lawana

The Maharadia Lawana, an epic poem of the Maranao people of the Philippines, has been regarded as an indigenized version of the Ramayana since it was documented and translated into English by Professor Juan R. Francisco and Nagasura Madale in 1968.[57](p"264")[58] The poem, which had not been written down before Francisco and Madale's translation,[57](p"264") narrates the adventures of the monkey-king, Maharadia Lawana, whom the Gods have gifted with immortality.[57]

Francisco, an indologist from the University of the Philippines Manila, believed that the Ramayana narrative arrived in the Philippines some time between the 17th to 19th centuries, via interactions with Javanese and Malaysian cultures which traded extensively with India.[59](p101)

By the time it was documented in the 1960s, the character names, place names, and the precise episodes and events in Maharadia Lawana's narrative already had some notable differences from those of the Ramayana. Francisco believed that this was a sign of "indigenization", and suggested that some changes had already been introduced in Malaysia and Java even before the story was heard by the Maranao, and that upon reaching the Maranao homeland, the story was "further indigenized to suit Philippine cultural perspectives and orientations."[59](p"103")

Thailand

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The Thai retelling of the tale—Ramakien—is popularly expressed in traditional regional dance theatre

Thailand's popular national epic Ramakien (Thai:รามเกียรติ์, from Sanskrit rāmakīrti, glory of Ram) is derived from the Hindu epic. In Ramakien, Sita is the daughter of Ravana and Mandodari (thotsakan and montho). Vibhishana (phiphek), the astrologer brother of Ravana, predicts the death of Ravana from the horoscope of Sita. Ravana has thrown her into the water, but she is later rescued by Janaka (chanok).[43]:149 While the main story is identical to that of Ramayana, many other aspects were transposed into a Thai context, such as the clothes, weapons, topography and elements of nature, which are described as being Thai in style. It has an expanded role for Hanuman and he is portrayed as a lascivious character. Ramakien can be seen in an elaborate illustration at Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok.

Critical edition

A critical edition of the text was compiled in India in the 1960s and 1970s, by the Oriental Institute at Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India, utilizing dozens of manuscripts collected from across India and the surrounding region.[60] An English language translation of the critical edition was completed in November 2016 by Sanskrit scholar Robert P. Goldman of the University of California, Berkeley.[61]

Critical editions

Any edition that attempts to construct a text of a work using all the available evidence is "critical," whatever its methodology. Critical editions require collation of the different manuscript witnesses, and the construction of a reading text out of the results of that collation. Most critical editions use a base manuscript, whose readings they accept except where there is reason not to do so, but some are more eclectic than others. Critical editions encourage readers to think about the work, more than about its specific manuscript presentation, and may well be more informative on such topics as the work's sources, historical context, form, style, and other literary matters.

Critical editions you may be familiar with include The Riverside Chaucer, edited by Larry Benson, and The Vision of Piers Plowman by William Langland, edited by A.V.C. Schmidt. In general, a critical edition will contain a single (edited) version of the text, along with substantial introductory matter, explanatory, and textual notes.

-- Types of Editions, Harvard's Geoffrey Chaucer Website


Influence on culture and art

See also: Ramayana Ballet

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A Ramlila actor wears the traditional attire of Ravana.

One of the most important literary works of ancient India, the Ramayana has had a profound impact on art and culture in the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia with the lone exception of Vietnam. The story ushered in the tradition of the next thousand years of massive-scale works in the rich diction of regal courts and Hindu temples. It has also inspired much secondary literature in various languages, notably Kambaramayanam by Tamil poet Kambar of the 12th century, Telugu language Molla Ramayanam by poet Molla and Ranganatha Ramayanam by poet Gona Budda Reddy, 14th century Kannada poet Narahari's Torave Ramayana and 15th century Bengali poet Krittibas Ojha's Krittivasi Ramayan, as well as the 16th century Awadhi version, Ramacharitamanas, written by Tulsidas.

Ramayanic scenes have also been depicted through terracottas, stone sculptures, bronzes and paintings.[62] These include the stone panel at Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh depicting Bharata's meeting with Rama at Chitrakuta (3rd century CE).[62]

The Ramayana became popular in Southeast Asia during 8th century and was represented in literature, temple architecture, dance and theatre. Today, dramatic enactments of the story of the Ramayana, known as Ramlila, take place all across India and in many places across the globe within the Indian diaspora.

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Hanuman discovers Sita in her captivity in Lanka, as depicted in Balinese kecak dance.

In Indonesia, especially Java and Bali, Ramayana has become a popular source of artistic expression for dance drama and shadow puppet performance in the region. Sendratari Ramayana is Javanese traditional ballet of wayang orang genre, routinely performed in Prambanan Trimurti temple and in cultural center of Yogyakarta.[63] Balinese dance drama of Ramayana is also performed routinely in Balinese Hindu temples, especially in temples such as Ubud and Uluwatu, where scenes from Ramayana is integrap part of kecak dance performance. Javanese Wayang (Wayang Kulit of purwa and Wayang Wong) also draws its episodes from Ramayana or Mahabharata.

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The painting by the Indonesian (Balinese) artist, Ida Bagus Made Togog depicts the episode from the Ramayana about the Monkey Kings of Sugriva and Vali; The Killing of Vali. Rama depicted as a crowned figure with a bow and arrow.

Ramayana has also been depicted in many paintings, notably by the Indonesian (Balinese) artists such as I Gusti Dohkar (before 1938), I Dewa Poetoe Soegih, I Dewa Gedé Raka Poedja, Ida Bagus Made Togog before 1948 period. Their paintings is currently in the National Museum of World Cultures collections of Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherland. Also Malaysian artist Syed Thajudeen in 1972. The painting is currently in the permanent collection of the Malaysian National Visual Arts Gallery.

Religious significance

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Deities Sita (right), Rama (center), Lakshmana (left) and Hanuman (below, seated) at Bhaktivedanta Manor, Watford, England

Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, is one of the most popular deities worshipped in the Hindu religion. Each year, many devout pilgrims trace their journey through India and Nepal, halting at each of the holy sites along the way. The poem is not seen as just a literary monument, but serves as an integral part of Hinduism and is held in such reverence that the mere reading or hearing of it or certain passages of it, is believed by Hindus to free them from sin and bless the reader or listener.

According to Hindu tradition, Rama is an incarnation (Avatar) of god Vishnu. The main purpose of this incarnation is to demonstrate the righteous path (dharma) for all living creatures on earth.

In popular culture

Multiple modern, English-language adaptations of the epic exist, namely Rama Chandra Series by Amish Tripathi, Ramayana Series by Ashok Banker and a mythopoetic novel, Asura: Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan. Another Indian author, Devdutt Pattanaik, has published three different retellings and commentaries of Ramayana titled Sita, The Book Of Ram and Hanuman's Ramayan. A number of plays, movies and television serials have also been produced based upon the Ramayana.[64]

Stage

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Hanoman At Kecak Fire Dance, Bali 2018

One of the best known Ramayana plays is Gopal Sharman's The Ramayana, a contemporary interpretation in English, of the great epic based on the Valmiki Ramayana. The play has had more than 3000 plus performances all over the world, mostly as a one-woman performance by actress Jalabala Vaidya, wife of the playwright Gopal Sharman. The Ramayana has been performed on Broadway, London's West End, United Nations Headquarters, the Smithsonian Institution among other international venue and in more than 35 cities and towns in India.

Starting in 1978 and under the supervision of Baba Hari Dass, Ramayana has been performed every year by Mount Madonna School in Watsonville, California.[citation needed] Currently,[when?] it is the largest yearly, Western version of the epic being performed.[citation needed] It takes the form of a colorful musical with custom costumes, sung and spoken dialog, jazz-rock orchestration and dance. This performance takes place in a large audience theater setting usually in June, in San Jose, CA. Dass has taught acting arts, costume-attire design, mask making and choreography to bring alive characters of Rama, Sita, Hanuman, Lakshmana, Shiva, Parvati, Vibhishan, Jatayu, Sugriva, Surpanakha, Ravana and his rakshasa court, Meghnadha, Kumbhakarna and the army of monkeys and demons.[citation needed]

In the Philippines, a jazz ballet production was produced in the 1970's entitled "Rama at Sita" (Rama and Sita).

The production was a result of a collaboration of four National Artists, Bienvenido Lumbera’s libretto (National Artist for Literature), production design by Salvador Bernal (National Artist for Stage Design), music by Ryan Cayabyab (National Artist for Music) and choreography by Alice Reyes (National Artist for Dance).[65]

Plays

• Kanchana Sita, Saketham and Lankalakshmi – award-winning trilogy by Malayalam playwright C. N. Sreekantan Nair
• Lankeswaran – a play by the award-winning Tamil cinema actor R. S. Manohar
• Kecak - a Balinese traditional folk dance which plays and tells the story of Ramayana

Exhibitions

• Gallery Nucleus:Ramayana Exhibition -Part of the art of the book Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel.
• The Rama epic: Hero. Heroine, Ally, Foe by The Asian Art Museum.

Books

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La bufanda roja by Fitra Ismu Kusumo, a promoter of Indonesian art and culture in Mexico

• Ramayana by C. Rajagopalachari
• The Ramayana by R. K. Narayan
• The Song of Rama by Vanamali
• Ramayana by William Buck and S Triest
• Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel
• Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana By Devdutt Pattanaik
• Hanuman's Ramayan By Devdutt Pattanaik
• Rama Chandra Series by Amish Tripathi, a fictional retelling of the Ramayana. It has 3 books till now — Ram: Scion of Ikshvaku, Sita: Warrior of Mithila, and Raavan: Enemy of Aryavarta.
• Asura, Tale of the Vanquished by Anand Neelakantan, a novel.
• The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

Movies

• Lanka Dahan (1917)
• Ramayana (1942)
• Ram Rajya (1943)
• Rambaan (1948)
• Ramayan (1954)
• Sampoorna Ramayanam (1958)
• Sampoorna Ramayana (1961)
• Lava Kusha (1963)
• Sampoorna Ramayanamu (1971)
• Sita Kalyanam (1976)
• Kanchana Sita (1977)
• Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama (1992)
• Ramayanam (1996)
• Lav Kush (1997)
• Opera Jawa (2008)
• Sita Sings the Blues (2008)
• Ramayana: The Epic (2010)
• Lava Kusa: The Warrior Twins (2010)
• Ramayana: The Epic (2010)
• Sri Rama Rajyam (2011)
• Yak: The Giant King (2012)
• Adipurush (2022), upcoming film

TV series

• Ramayan – originally broadcast on Doordarshan, produced by Ramanand Sagar in 1987
• Luv Kush – originally broadcast on Doordarshan, produced by Ramanand Sagar in 1988
• Jai Hanuman – originally broadcast on Doordarshan, produced and directed by Sanjay Khan
• Ramayan (2002) – originally broadcast on Zee TV, produced by B.R. Chopra
• Ramayan (2008) – originally broadcast on Imagine TV, produced by Sagar Enterprise
• Ramayan (2012) – a remake of the 1987 series and aired on Zee TV
• Antariksh (2004) – a sci-fi version of Ramayan. Originally broadcast on Star Plus
• Raavan – series on life of Ravana based on Ramayana. Originally broadcast on Zee TV
• Sankatmochan Mahabali Hanuman – 2015 series based on the life of Hanuman presently broadcasting on Sony TV
• Siya Ke Ram – a series on Star Plus, originally broadcast from 16 November 2015 to 4 November 2016
• Rama Siya Ke Luv Kush – 2019 series based on Uttar Ramayan, showing the life of children of Rama Sita, Kush and Luv broadcasting on Colors TV

References

1. "Ramayana". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
2. "Ramayana | Meaning of Ramayana by Lexico". Lexico Dictionaries | English. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
3. The Rámáyan of Válmíki.
4. "Ramayana | Summary, Characters, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 18 February 2020.
5. "Valmiki Ramayana". valmikiramayan.net. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
6. Goldman 1984, p. 20–22.
7. Pattanaik, Devdutt (8 August 2020). "Was Ram born in Ayodhya". mumbaimirror.
8. J. L. Brockington (1998). The Sanskrit Epics. BRILL. pp. 379–. ISBN 90-04-10260-4.
9. Mukherjee, P. (1981). The History of Medieval Vaishnavism in Orissa. Asian Educational Services. p. 74. ISBN 9788120602298. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
10. Living Thoughts of the Ramayana. Jaico Publishing House. 2002. ISBN 9788179920022. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
11. Krishnamoorthy, K.; Mukhopadhyay, S.; Sahitya Akademi (1991). A Critical Inventory of Rāmāyaṇa Studies in the World: Foreign languages. Sahitya Akademi in collaboration with Union Academique Internationale, Bruxelles. ISBN 9788172015077. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
12. Bulcke, C.; Prasāda, D. (2010). Rāmakathā and Other Essays. Vani Prakashan. p. 116. ISBN 9789350001073. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
13. Monier Monier Williams, राम, Sanskrit English Dictionary with Etymology
14. Monier Monier Williams, रात्रि, Sanskrit English Dictionary with Etymology
15. Monier Monier Williams, अयन, Sanskrit English Dictionary with Etymology
16. Debroy, Bibek (25 October 2017). The Valmiki Ramayana Volume 1. Penguin Random House India. p. xiv. ISBN 9789387326262 – via Google Books.
17. Arshia Sattar (2016), Why the Uttara Kanda changes the way the Ramayana should be read, Scroll.in
18. Buck, William (19 May 1981). Ramayana. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520227033. Retrieved 19 May2020 – via Google Books.
19. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4:1:1; trans. Swami Prabhavananda, commentary by Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri), online at https://ocoy.org/dharma-for-christians/ ... avalkya-1/
20. Ajay K. Rao, Re-figuring the Ramayana as Theology: A History of Reception in Premodern India (London: Routledge, 2014), 2. ISBN 9781134077359; and Robert P. Goldman, The Ramayana Of Valmiki, Vol. 1: Balakanda, An Epic Of Ancient India (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2007), 14-18. ISBN 9788120831629
21. Mukherjee Pandey, Jhimli (18 December 2015). "6th-century Ramayana found in Kolkata, stuns scholars". timesofindia.indiatimes.com. TNN. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
22. Gita Jnana Brahmacharini Sharanya Chaitanya (1 July 2018). "Rama Brings Ahalya Back to Her Living Form". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
23. "Subahu - Asura Slain by Rama". Indian Mythology. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
24. Encyclopedia for Epics of Ancient India Quote: VISWASRAVAS. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] Son of Prajapati Pulastya, or, according to a statement of the Mahabharata, a reproduction of half Pulastya himself. By a Brahmani wife, daughter of the sage Bharadwaja, named Idavida or Ilavida, he had a son, Kuvera, the god of wealth.
25. The Mahabharata 3.259.1-12; translated by J. A. B. van Buitenen, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1975, pp. 728-9.
26. CANTO LXVII.: THE BREAKING OF THE BOW. sacredtexts.com. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
27. Rajarajan, R.K.K. (2001) Sītāpaharaṇam: Changing thematic Idioms in Sanskrit and Tamil. In Dirk W. Lonne ed. Tofha-e-Dil: Festschrift Helmut Nespital, Reinbeck, 2 vols., pp. 783-97. ISBN 3-88587-033-9. https://www.academia.edu/2514821/S%C4%A ... _and_Tamil
28. Rajarajan, R.K.K. (2014) Reflections on "Rāma-Setu" in South Asian Tradition. The Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society, Vol. 105.3: 1–14, ISSN 0047-8555. https://www.academia.edu/8779702/Reflec ... _Tradition
29. https://valmikiramayan.net/utf8/yuddha/ ... _frame.htm
30. Jones, Constance; Ryan, James D. (1 January 2006). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9780816075645.
31. P, Jhimli Mukherjee; Dec 18, ey / TNN / Updated. "6th-century Ramayana found in Kolkata, stuns scholars | Kolkata News - Times of India". The Times of India.
32. "6th century Ramayana manuscript Found in Kolkata | Stuns Scholars".
33. Sattar, Arshia. "Why the Uttara Kanda changes the way the Ramayana should be read". Scroll.in.
34. Dakshinamurthy, A (July 2015). "Akananuru: Neytal – Poem 70". Akananuru. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
35. Hart, George L; Heifetz, Hank (1999). The four hundred songs of war and wisdom : an anthology of poems from classical Tamil : the Puṟanāṉūṟu. Columbia University Press.
36. Kalakam, Turaicămip Pillai, ed. (1950). Purananuru. Madras.
37. Dikshitar, V R Ramachandra (1939). The Silappadikaram. Madras, British India: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
38. Pandian, Pichai Pillai (1931). Cattanar's Manimekalai. Madras: Saiva Siddhanta Works. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
39. Aiyangar, Rao Bahadur Krishnaswami (1927). Manimekhalai In Its Historical Setting. London: Luzac & Co. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
40. Shattan, Merchant-Prince (1989). Daniélou, Alain (ed.). Manimekhalai: The Dancer With the Magic Bowl. New York: New Directions.
41. Hooper, John Stirling Morley (1929). Hymns of the Alvars. Calcutta: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 30 July2019.
42. Jain, Jagdishchandra (1979). "Some Old Tales and Episodes in the Vasudevahiṇḍi" (PDF). Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. 60 (1/4): 167–173. ISSN 0378-1143. JSTOR 41692302.
43. Ramanujan, A.K (2004). The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan (PDF) (4. impr. ed.). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. p. 145.
44. "Ramayana Kakawin Vol. 1". archive.org.
45. "The Kakawin Ramayana -- an old Javanese rendering of the …". http://www.nas.gov.sg. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
46. Bhalla, Prem P. (22 August 2017). ABC of Hinduism. Educreation Publishing. p. 277.
47. Coedès, George (1968). Walter F. Vella (ed.). The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. trans.Susan Brown Cowing. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-0368-1.
48. Ardianty, Dini (8 June 2015). "Perbedaan Ramayana - Mahabarata dalam Kesusastraan Jawa Kuna dan India" (in Indonesian).
49. "Prambanan - Taman Wisata Candi". borobudurpark.com. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
50. Indonesia, Perpustakaan Nasional Republik Indonesia / National Library of. "Panataran Temple (East Java) - Temples of Indonesia". candi.pnri.go.id. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
51. Joefe B. Santarita (2013), Revisiting Swarnabhumi/dvipa: Indian Influences in Ancient Southeast Asia
52. Planet, Lonely. "Bali Kecak Dance, Fire Dance and Sanghyang Dance Evening Tour in Indonesia". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
53. "THE KEEPERS: CNN Introduces Guardians of Indonesia's Rich Cultural Traditions". http://www.indonesia.travel. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
54. Fang, Liaw Yock (2013). A History of Classical Malay Literature. Yayasan Pustaka Obor Indonesia. p. 142. ISBN 9789794618103.
55. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 1898. pp. 107–.
56. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 1898. pp. 143–.
57. Guillermo, Artemio R. (16 December 2011). Historical Dictionary of the Philippines. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810875111.
58. Francisco, Juan R. "Maharadia Lawana" (PDF).
59. FRANCISCO, JUAN R. (1989). "The Indigenization of the Rama Story in the Philippines". Philippine Studies. 37(1): 101–111. JSTOR 42633135.
60. "Ramayana Translation Project turns its last page, after four decades of research | Berkeley News". news.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
61. "UC Berkeley researchers complete decades-long translation project | The Daily Californian". dailycal.org. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
62. B. B. Lal (2008). Rāma, His Historicity, Mandir, and Setu: Evidence of Literature, Archaeology, and Other Sciences. Aryan Books. ISBN 978-81-7305-345-0.
63. Donald Frazier (11 February 2016). "On Java, a Creative Explosion in an Ancient City". The New York Times.
64. Mankekar, Purnima (1999). Screening Culture, Viewing Politics: An Ethnography of Television, Womanhood, and Nation in Postcolonial India. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-2390-7.
65. Philippines, Cultural Center of the. "BALLET PHILIPPINES' RAMA, HARI | Cultural Center of the Philippines". BALLET PHILIPPINES' RAMA, HARI. Retrieved 19 May 2020.

Sources

• Arya, Ravi Prakash (ed.).Ramayana of Valmiki: Sanskrit Text and English Translation. (English translation according to M. N. Dutt, introduction by Dr. Ramashraya Sharma, 4-volume set) Parimal Publications: Delhi, 1998, ISBN 81-7110-156-9
• Bhattacharji, Sukumari (1998). Legends of Devi. Orient Blackswan. p. 111. ISBN 978-81-250-1438-6.
• Brockington, John (2003). "The Sanskrit Epics". In Flood, Gavin (ed.). Blackwell companion to Hinduism. Blackwell Publishing. pp. 116–128. ISBN 0-631-21535-2.
• Buck, William; van Nooten, B. A. (2000). Ramayana. University of California Press. p. 432. ISBN 978-0-520-22703-3.
• Dutt, Romesh C. (2004). Ramayana. Kessinger Publishing. p. 208. ISBN 978-1-4191-4387-8.
• Dutt, Romesh Chunder (2002). The Ramayana and Mahabharata condensed into English verse. Courier Dover Publications. p. 352. ISBN 978-0-486-42506-1.
• Fallon, Oliver (2009). Bhatti's Poem: The Death of Rávana (Bhaṭṭikāvya). New York: New York University Press, Clay Sanskrit Library. ISBN 978-0-8147-2778-2.
• Goldman, Robert P (1984). The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India. Princeton University Press. ISBN 81-208-3162--4.
• Keshavadas, Sadguru Sant (1988). Ramayana at a Glance. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 211. ISBN 978-81-208-0545-3.
• Goldman, Robert P. (1990). The Ramayana of Valmiki: An Epic of Ancient India: Balakanda. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-01485-2.
• Goldman, Robert P. (1994). The Ramayana of Valmiki: An Epic of Ancient India: Kiskindhakanda. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-06661-5.
• Goldman, Robert P. (1996). The Ramayana of Valmiki: Sundarakanda. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-06662-2.
• B. B. Lal (2008). Rāma, His Historicity, Mandir, and Setu: Evidence of Literature, Archaeology, and Other Sciences. Aryan Books. ISBN 978-81-7305-345-0.
• Mahulikar, Dr. Gauri. Effect Of Ramayana On Various Cultures And Civilisations, Ramayan Institute
• Rabb, Kate Milner, National Epics, 1896 – see eText in Project Gutenberg
• Murthy, S. S. N. (November 2003). "A note on the Ramayana" (PDF). Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies. New Delhi. 10(6): 1–18. ISSN 1084-7561. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 August 2012.
• Prabhavananda, Swami (1979). The Spiritual Heritage of India. Vedanta Press. p. 374. ISBN 978-0-87481-035-6. (see also Wikipedia article on book)
• Raghunathan, N. (transl.), Srimad Valmiki Ramayanam, Vighneswara Publishing House, Madras (1981)
• Rohman, Todd (2009). "The Classical Period". In Watling, Gabrielle; Quay, Sara (eds.). Cultural History of Reading: World literature. Greenwood. ISBN 978-0-313-33744-4.
• Sattar, Arshia (transl.) (1996). The Rāmāyaṇa by Vālmīki. Viking. p. 696. ISBN 978-0-14-029866-6.
• Sachithanantham, Singaravelu (2004). The Ramayana Tradition in Southeast Asia. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press. ISBN 9789831002346.
• Sundararajan, K.R. (1989). "The Ideal of Perfect Life : The Ramayana". In Krishna Sivaraman; Bithika Mukerji (eds.). Hindu spirituality: Vedas through Vedanta. The Crossroad Publishing Co. pp. 106–126. ISBN 978-0-8245-0755-8.
• A different Song – Article from "The Hindu" 12 August 2005 – "The Hindu : Entertainment Thiruvananthapuram / Music : A different song". Hinduonnet.com. 12 August 2005. Archived from the original on 27 October 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
• Valmiki's Ramayana illustrated with Indian miniatures from the 16th to the 19th century, 2012, Editions Diane de Selliers, ISBN 9782903656768

Further reading

Sanskrit text


• Electronic version of the Sanskrit text, input by Muneo Tokunaga
• Sanskrit text on GRETIL

Translations

• Valmiki Ramayana verse translation by Desiraju Hanumanta Rao, K. M. K. Murthy et al.
• [1] translation of valmiki ramayana including Uttara Khanda
• Valmiki Ramayana translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith (1870–1874) (Project Gutenberg)
• Prose translation of the complete Ramayana by M. N. Dutt (1891–1894): Balakandam, Ayodhya kandam, Aranya kandam, Kishkindha kandam, Sundara Kandam, Yuddha Kandam, Uttara Kandam
• Jain Ramayana of Hemchandra English translation; seventh book of the Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Caritra; 1931
• Summary of The Ramayana Summary of Maurice Winternitz, A History of Indian Literature, trans. by S. Ketkar.
• The Ramayana condensed into English verse by R. C. Dutt (1899) at archive.org
• Rāma the Steadfast: an early form of the Rāmāyaṇa translated by J. L. Brockington and Mary Brockington. Penguin, 2006. ISBN 0-14-044744-X.

Secondary sources

• Jain, Meenakshi. (2013). Rama and Ayodhya. Aryan Books International, 2013.

External links

• Ramayana at the Encyclopædia Britannica|
• Ramayana at Project Gutenberg
The Ramayana of Valmiki English translation by Hari Prasad Shastri, 1952 (revised edition with interwoven glossary)
• A condensed verse translation by Romesh Chunder Dutt sponsored by the Liberty Fund
• The Ramayana as a Monomyth from UC Berkeley (archived)
• Collection: Art of the Ramayana from the University of Michigan Museum of Art
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Part 1 of 2

Mahabharata
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/17/21

Image
Mahabharata
महाभारतम्
Mahabharata
Manuscript illustration of the Battle of Kurukshetra
Information
Religion: Hinduism
Author: Vyasa
Language: Sanskrit
Verses: 200,000

The Mahābhārata (US: /məhɑːˈbɑːrətə/,[1] UK: /ˌmɑːhəˈbɑːrətə/;[2] Sanskrit: महाभारतम्, Mahābhāratam, pronounced [mɐɦaːˈbʱaːrɐtɐm]) is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Rāmāyaṇa.[3] It narrates the struggle between two groups of cousins in the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pāṇḍava princes and their successors.

The Kurukshetra War, also called the Mahabharata War, is a war described in the Indian epic poem Mahābhārata. The conflict arose from a dynastic succession struggle between two groups of cousins, the Kauravas and Pandavas, for the throne of Hastinapura. It involved several ancient kingdoms participating as allies of the rival groups.

The historicity of the war remains subject to scholarly discussions. It is possible that the Battle of the Ten Kings, mentioned in the Rigveda, may have "formed the 'nucleus' of the story" of the Kurukshetra war, though it was greatly expanded and modified in the Mahabharata's account, making the Mahabharata's version of very dubious historicity. Attempts have been made to assign a historical date to the Kurukshetra War. Scholarly research suggests ca. 1000 BCE, while popular tradition holds that the war marks the transition to Kali Yuga and thus dates it to 3102 BCE.

The location of the battle is described as having occurred in Kurukshetra in North India. Despite only spanning eighteen days, the war narrative forms more than a quarter of the book, suggesting its relative importance within the entire epic, which spans decades of the warring families. The narrative describes individual battles and deaths of various heroes of both sides, military formations, war diplomacy, meetings and discussions among the characters, and the weapons used. The chapters (parvas) dealing with the war are considered amongst the oldest in the entire Mahābhārata.

-- Kurukshetra War, by Wikipedia


It also contains philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or puruṣārtha (12.161). Among the principal works and stories in the Mahābhārata are the Bhagavad Gita, the story of Damayanti, the story of Savitri and Satyavan, the story of Kacha and Devyani, the story of Ṛṣyasringa and an abbreviated version of the Rāmāyaṇa, often considered as works in their own right.

Image
Krishna and Arjuna at Kurukshetra, 18th–19th-century painting

Traditionally, the authorship of the Mahābhārata is attributed to Vyāsa. There have been many attempts to unravel its historical growth and compositional layers. The bulk of the Mahābhārata was probably compiled between the 3rd century BCE and the 3rd century CE, with the oldest preserved parts not much older than around 400 BCE.[4][5] The original events related by the epic probably fall between the 9th and 8th centuries BCE.[5] The text probably reached its final form by the early Gupta period (c. 4th century CE).[6][7]

The Mahābhārata is the longest epic poem known and has been described as "the longest poem ever written".[8][9] Its longest version consists of over 100,000 śloka or over 200,000 individual verse lines (each shloka is a couplet), and long prose passages. At about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahābhārata is roughly ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined, or about four times the length of the Rāmāyaṇa.[10][11] W. J. Johnson has compared the importance of the Mahābhārata in the context of world civilization to that of the Bible, the Quran, the works of Homer, Greek drama, or the works of William Shakespeare.[12] Within the Indian tradition it is sometimes called the fifth Veda.[13]

Textual history and structure

Image
Modern depiction of Vyasa narrating the Mahābhārata to Ganesha at the Murudeshwara temple, Karnataka.

The epic is traditionally ascribed to the sage Vyāsa, who is also a major character in the epic. Vyāsa described it as being itihāsa (Sanskrit: इतिहास, meaning "history"). He also describes the Guru-shishya parampara, which traces all great teachers and their students of the Vedic times.

Vyasa is considered one of the seven Chiranjivis (long-lived, or immortals), who are still in existence according to Hindu tradition.

Vyasa is believed to be an expansion of the God Vishnu, who came in Dvapara Yuga to make all the Vedic knowledge from oral tradition available in written form...

The Vishnu Purana (Book 3, Ch 3) says:

In every third world age (Dvapara), Vishnu, in the person of Vyasa, in order to promote the good of mankind, divides the Veda, which is properly but one, into many portions. Observing the limited perseverance, energy and application of mortals, he makes the Veda fourfold, to adapt it to their capacities; and the bodily form which he assumes, in order to effect that classification, is known by the name of Veda-Vyasa. Of the different Vyasas in the present Manvantara and the branches which they have taught, you shall have an account. Twenty-eight times have the Vedas been arranged by the great Rishis in the Vaivasvata Manvantara... and consequently, eight and twenty Vyasa's have passed away; by whom, in the respective periods, the Veda has been divided into four. The first... distribution was made by Svayambhu (Brahma) himself; in the second, the arranger of the Veda (Vyasa) was Prajapati... (and so on up to twenty-eight)...


Vyasa is traditionally known as the chronicler of this epic and also features as an important character in Mahābhārata, Vyasa asks Ganesha to assist him in writing the text. Ganesha imposes a precondition that he would do so only if Vyasa would narrate the story without a pause. Vyasa set a counter-condition that Ganesha understands the verses first before transcribing them. Thus Vyasa narrated the entire Mahābhārata and all the Upanishads and the 18 Puranas, while Lord Ganesha wrote...

Vyasa is also credited with the writing of the eighteen major Purāṇas, which are works of Indian literature that cover an encyclopedic range of topics covering various scriptures. His son Shuka narrates the Bhagavata Purana to Arjuna's grandson Parikshit...

There may have been more than one Vyasa, or the name Vyasa may have been used at times to give credibility to a number of ancient texts.

-- Vyasa, by Wikipedia


The first section of the Mahābhārata states that it was Ganesha who wrote down the text to Vyasa's dictation. Though this is regarded as an interpolation to the epic by the scholars. The "Critical Edition" doesn't include Ganesha at all.[14]

The epic employs the story within a story structure, otherwise known as frametales, popular in many Indian religious and non-religious works. It is first recited at Takshashila by the sage Vaiśampāyana,[15][16] a disciple of Vyāsa, to the King Janamejaya who was the great-grandson of the Pāṇḍava prince Arjuna. The story is then recited again by a professional storyteller named Ugraśrava Sauti, many years later, to an assemblage of sages performing the 12-year sacrifice for the king Saunaka Kulapati in the Naimiśa Forest.

Image
Sauti recites the slokas of the Mahabharata.

The text was described by some early 20th-century Indologists as unstructured and chaotic. Hermann Oldenberg supposed that the original poem must once have carried an immense "tragic force" but dismissed the full text as a "horrible chaos."[17] Moritz Winternitz (Geschichte der indischen Literatur 1909) considered that "only unpoetical theologists and clumsy scribes" could have lumped the parts of disparate origin into an unordered whole.[18]

Accretion and redaction

Research on the Mahābhārata has put an enormous effort into recognizing and dating layers within the text. Some elements of the present Mahābhārata can be traced back to Vedic times.[19] The background to the Mahābhārata suggests the origin of the epic occurs "after the very early Vedic period" and before "the first Indian 'empire' was to rise in the third century B.C." That this is "a date not too far removed from the 8th or 9th century B.C."[5][20] is likely. Mahābhārata started as an orally-transmitted tale of the charioteer bards.[21] It is generally agreed that "Unlike the Vedas, which have to be preserved letter-perfect, the epic was a popular work whose reciters would inevitably conform to changes in language and style,"[20] so the earliest 'surviving' components of this dynamic text are believed to be no older than the earliest 'external' references we have to the epic, which may include an allusion in Panini's 4th century BCE grammar Aṣṭādhyāyī 4:2:56.[5][20] It is estimated that the Sanskrit text probably reached something of a "final form" by the early Gupta period (about the 4th century CE).[20] Vishnu Sukthankar, editor of the first great critical edition of the Mahābhārata, commented: "It is useless to think of reconstructing a fluid text in an original shape, based on an archetype and a stemma codicum. What then is possible? Our objective can only be to reconstruct the oldest form of the text which it is possible to reach based on the manuscript material available."[22] That manuscript evidence is somewhat late, given its material composition and the climate of India, but it is very extensive.

I have a larger vision or fantasy of original Indian Buddhism as an ocean with many icebergs, each representing the local textual traditions...of the different parts of the Indian world. Those icebergs are mostly gone...We have the Pali canon...the partial Sanskrit canon...They had a common core but they had many different texts in and around that basic commonality... and... there's no hope of finding them mainly for a simple physical reason, the climate of...India proper is such that organic materials...never last for more than a few hundred years. There are really no really old manuscripts in India proper. You only get the ancient manuscripts from the borderlands of India, in this case Gandhara which has a more moderate climate.

-- One Buddha, 15 Buddhas, 1,000 Buddhas, by Richard Salomon


The Mahābhārata itself (1.1.61) distinguishes a core portion of 24,000 verses: the Bhārata proper, as opposed to additional secondary material, while the Aśvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra (3.4.4) makes a similar distinction. At least three redactions of the text are commonly recognized: Jaya (Victory) with 8,800 verses attributed to Vyāsa, Bhārata with 24,000 verses as recited by Vaiśampāyana, and finally the Mahābhārata as recited by Ugraśrava Sauti with over 100,000 verses.[23][24] However, some scholars, such as John Brockington, argue that Jaya and Bharata refer to the same text, and ascribe the theory of Jaya with 8,800 verses to a misreading of a verse in Ādiparvan (1.1.81).[25] The redaction of this large body of text was carried out after formal principles, emphasizing the numbers 18[26] and 12. The addition of the latest parts may be dated by the absence of the Anuśāsana-Parva and the Virāta Parva from the "Spitzer manuscript".[27] The oldest surviving Sanskrit text dates to the Kushan Period (200 CE).[28]



re·dac·tion: the process of editing text for publication.
"what was left after the redaction would be virtually useless"
the censoring or obscuring of part of a text for legal or security purposes.
a version of a text, such as a new edition or an abridged version.
"the author himself never chose to establish a definitive redaction"


According to what one character says at Mbh. 1.1.50, there were three versions of the epic, beginning with Manu (1.1.27), Astika (1.3, sub-Parva 5), or Vasu (1.57), respectively. These versions would correspond to the addition of one and then another 'frame' settings of dialogues. The Vasu version would omit the frame settings and begin with the account of the birth of Vyasa. The astika version would add the sarpasattra and aśvamedha material from Brahmanical literature, introduce the name Mahābhārata, and identify Vyāsa as the work's author. The redactors of these additions were probably Pāñcarātrin scholars who according to Oberlies (1998) likely retained control over the text until its final redaction. Mention of the Huna in the Bhīṣma-Parva however appears to imply that this Parva may have been edited around the 4th century.[29]

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The snake sacrifice of Janamejaya

The Ādi-Parva includes the snake sacrifice (sarpasattra) of Janamejaya, explaining its motivation, detailing why all snakes in existence were intended to be destroyed, and why despite this, there are still snakes in existence. This sarpasattra material was often considered an independent tale added to a version of the Mahābhārata by "thematic attraction" (Minkowski 1991), and considered to have a particularly close connection to Vedic (Brahmana) literature. The Pañcavimśa Brahmana (at 25.15.3) enumerates the officiant priests of a sarpasattra among whom the names Dhṛtarāṣtra and Janamejaya, two main characters of the Mahābhārata's sarpasattra, as well as Takṣaka, the name of a snake in the Mahābhārata, occur.[30]

The Suparṇākhyāna, a late Vedic period poem considered to be among the "earliest traces of epic poetry in India," is an older, shorter precursor to the expanded legend of Garuda that is included in the Āstīka Parva, within the Ādi Parva of the Mahābhārata.[31][32]

The Adi Parva or The Book of the Beginning is the first of eighteen books of the Mahabharata. "Adi" (आदि, Ādi) is a Sanskrit word that means "first".

Adi Parva traditionally has 19 sub-books and 236 adhyayas (chapters). The critical edition of Adi Parva has 19 sub-books and 225 chapters.

Adi Parva describes how the epic came to be recited by Ugrasrava Sauti to the assembled rishis at the Naimisha Forest after first having been narrated at the sarpasatra of Janamejaya by Vaishampayana at Taxila. It includes an outline of contents from the eighteen books, along with the book's significance. The history of the Bhāratas and the Bhrigus are described. The main part of the work covers the birth and early life of the princes of the Kuru Kingdom and the persecution of the Pandavas by Dhritarashtra.

Structure & Chapters

The Adi Parva consists of 19 upa-parvas or sub-books (also referred to as little books). Each sub-book is also called a parva and is further subdivided into chapters, for a total of 236 chapters in Adi Parva. The following are the sub-parvas:[5]

1. Anukramanika Parva (Chapter: 1) Sauti meets the Rishis led by Shaunaka in Naimisha Forest. They express a desire to hear Mahabharata. He explains the stories of creation to them. He narrates the story of how the Mahabharata was written. This parva describes the significance of Mahabharata, claims comprehensive synthesis of all human knowledge, and why it must be studied.
2. Sangraha Parva (Chapter: 2) Story of Samantha Panchaka. Definition of Akshauhini in an army. Outline of contents of 18 books of Mahabharata.
3. Paushya Parva (Chapter: 3) Story of Sarama's curse on Janamejaya, of Aruni, Upamanyu and Veda (The disciples of Sage Dhaumya) and of Uttanka, Paushya and sage Veda.
4. Pauloma Parva (Chapters: 4–12) History of the Bhargava race of men. Story of Chyavana's birth.
5. Astika Parva (Chapters: 13–58) Story of the Churning of the Ocean. Theories on dharma, worldly bondage and release. Story of the Sarpa Satra including Janamejaya's vow to kill all snakes, step to annihilate them with a sacrificial fire, decision to apply Ahimsa (non-violence) to snakes and all life forms. Story of birth of Astika. Story of how Vaishampayana came to narrate the Mahabharata to Janamejaya.
6. Adivansavatarana Parva a.k.a. Anshavatarana Parva (Chapters: 59–64) History of Pandava and Kuru princes. Stories of Shantanu, Bhishma and Satyavati. Stories of Karna's birth, Lord Krishna's birth and of and Animandavya. Appeal to Brahma that the gods should reincarnate to save the chaos that earth has become.
7. Sambhava Parva (Chapters: 65–142) Theory of life on earth and of gods. Story of Dronacharya, Kripacharya and other sages. Story of Dushyanta and Shakuntala. Story of Bharata's birth. Sakuntala goes to Dushyanta with the boy. He first refuses to remember her and their marriage but later apologizes and accepts. Bharata becomes prince. Stories of Yayati, Devayani and Sharmishtha. Stories of Yadu, Puru and the Paurava race of men. The Pandava brothers retreat into the forest, chased by Dhritarashtra. The stories the Swayamvara of Kunti, marriage of Madri and marriage of Vidura. Attempts to reconcile the conflict between Kauravas and Pandavas.
8. Jatugriha Parva a.k.a. Jatugriha-daha Parva (Chapters: 143–153) Kanika counsels Dhritarashtra on how to rule a kingdom and on how deception is an effective tool for governance and war, against enemies and potential competition. Kanika narrates his symbolic tale about jackal, tiger, mouse, mongoose and deer and he advises that a weak ruler should ignore his own weaknesses and focus on other people's weakness and pretend to be friends while being cruel and destructive to others, particularly when the competition is good and stronger. Dhritarashtra schemes to build a home for Pandavas in the forest, from lacquer and other inflammable materials as a friendly gesture, but with plans to burn them alive on the darkest night. Kanika's theory is called wicked and evil by Vidura, a sage of true knowledge and the good, who is also the advisor and friend to Pandavas. Vidura and Pandavas plan escape by building a tunnel inside the inflammable house. The fire is lit and the Pandavas escape. Dhritarashtra falsely believes Pandavas are dead. Duryodhana is pleased and sets on ruling the kingdom.
9. Hidimva-vadha Parva (Chapters: 154–158) The story of the wanderings of Pandava brothers after the escape from the fire. Story of Bhima and the Rakshashi Hidimba. She falls in love with Bhima and refuses to help her brother. The story of the battle between Bhima and Hidimba's demon brother, Hidimbasur, showing the enormous strength of the giant brother Bhima. Bhima and Hidimba have a son named Ghatotkacha.
10. Vaka-vadha Parva a.k.a. Baka-vadha Parva (Chapters: 159–166) The life of Pandavas brothers in Ekachakra. Story about Bhima slaying another demon Bakasura, who has been terrorizing people of Ekachakra. Heroine of Mahabharata, Draupadi, is born in holy fire. Word spreads that the Pandavas may be alive.
11. Chaitraratha Parva (Chapters: 167–185) Pandavas set out for Panchala. Arjuna fights with a Gandharva. Stories of Tapati and the conflict between Vashistha and Vishwamitra. Stories of Kalmashapada, Parashara and Aurva. Dehumanization and persecution of Bhargava race of men.
12. Swayamvara Parva (Chapters: 186–194) The Pandavas arrive in Panchala. Draupadi's swayamvara. The Pandavas arrive at the swayamvara in disguise of Brahmanas. Arjuna excels in the swayamvara and wins Draupadi's heart and hand. Krishna recognizes the individuals in disguise as the Pandava brothers. The suitors object the marriage of Draupadi and Arjuna, a fight ensues. Bhima and Arjuna defeat all the suitors and then takes Draupadi to their cottage. Kunti thinking Draupadi as alms commands her to be shared by the five brothers. Dhrishtadyumna gets to know the true identity of Pandavas.
13. Vaivahika Parva (Chapters: 195–201) Drupada is delighted at discovering that the Pandavas are alive. The Pandavas come to Drupada's palace. The story of Draupadi's previous lives and Indra punished by Shiva. The marriage of Draupadi with the Pandavas.
14. Viduragamana Parva (Chapters: 202–209) Vidura's attempt to reconcile the evil Kaurava brothers and the good Pandava brothers. Various speeches by Karna, Bhishma, Drona and Vidura. Pandavas return to Hastinapur with the blessings of Krishna. The construction of the city Indraprastha.
15. Rajya-labha Parva (Chapters: 210–214) Story of Sunda and Upasunda and of Narada.
16. Arjuna-vanavasa Parva (Chapters: 215–220) Arjuna violates dharma. He accepts voluntary exile. Arjuna marries Ulupi and Chitrangada, and rescues Apsaras. Story highlights his special powers and competence. Arjuna and Krishna become close friends. Arjuna goes to Dwarka, lives with Krishna.
17. Subhadra-harana Parva (Chapters: 221–222) Arjuna falls in love with and takes away Subhadra, Krishna's sister. The upset Vrishnis prepare war with Arjuna, but finally desist.
18. Harana-harana Parva a.k.a. Harana-harika Parva (Chapter: 223) Arjuna returns from exile, with Subhadra. They marry. Their son Abhimanyu is born. Story of the Upapandavas, the five sons of Draupadi.
19. Khandava-Daha Parva (Chapters: 224–236) The reign of Yudhishthira. Krishna and Arjuna go to the banks of Yamuna, where they meet Agni, disguised as a Brahmin, who demands to consume the Khandava forest, to cure his digestive ailment. Stories of Swetaki, and Agni. Agni gives Arjuna the Gandiva bow and the ape-bannered chariot, while Krishna receives the discus. Agni starts consuming the forest when Indra and other deities obstruct. The fight of Krishna and Arjuna with celestials, their combined abilities, and their victory. Story of Aswasena (Son of Takshaka), Mandapala and the his four bird sons. Maya rescued by Arjuna.[6]

English Translations

Adi Parva and other books of Mahabharata are written in Sanskrit. Several translations of the Adi Parva are available in English....

The translations are not consistent in parts and vary with each translator's interpretations...

The total number of original verses depend on which Sanskrit source is used, and these do not equal the total number of translated verses in each chapter, in both Ganguli and Dutt translations. Mahabharata, like many ancient Sanskrit texts, was transmitted across generations verbally, a practice that was a source of corruption of its text, deletion of verses as well as the addition of extraneous verses over time. Some of these suspect verses have been identified by change in style and integrity of meter in the verses. The structure, prose, meter and style of translations vary within chapters between the translating authors.

Debroy, in his 2011 overview of Mahabharata, notes that updated critical edition of Adi Parva, with spurious and corrupted text removed, has 19 sub-books, 225 adhyayas (chapters) and 7,205 shlokas (verses).


Controversies

Adi Parva, and Mahabharata in general, has been studied for evidence of caste-based social stratification in ancient India, as well as evidence for a host of theories about Vedic times in India. Such studies have become controversial.

First, the date and authenticity of the verses in Adi Parva, as well as the entire Mahabharata, has been questioned. Klaus Klostermaier, in his review of scholarly studies of Mahabharata, notes the widely held view that original Mahabharata was different from currently circulating versions. For centuries, the Mahabharata's 1, 00, 000 verses—four times the entire Bible and nine times the Iliad and the Odyssey combined—were transmitted verbally across generations, without being written down. This memorization and verbal method of transfer is believed to be a source of text corruption, addition and deletion of verses. Klostermaier notes that the original version of Mahabharata was called Jaya and had about 7000 shlokas or about 7% of current length. Adi Parva, and rest of Mahabharata, underwent at least two major changes - the first change tripled the size of Jaya epic and renamed it as Bharata, while the second change quadrupled the already expanded version. Significant changes to older editions have been traced to the first millennium CE. There are significant differences in Sanskrit manuscripts of the Mahabharata found in different parts of India and manuscripts of the Mahabharata found in other Indian languages such as Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and others. Numerous spurious additions, interpolations and conflicting verses have been identified, many relating to history and social structure. Thus, it is unclear if the history or social structure of Vedic period or ancient India can be reliably traced from Adi Parva or Mahabharata.

Second, Adi Parva is part of an Epic fiction.
Writers, including those such as Shakespeare or Homer, take liberty in developing their characters and plots, they typically represent extremes and they do not truthfully record extant history. [b]Adi Parva has verses with a story of a river fish swallowing a man's semen and giving birth to a human baby after 9 months and many other myths and fictional tales. Adi Parva, like the works of Homer and Shakespeare, is not a record of history.


Third, Adi Parva and other parvas of Mahabharata have been argued, suggests Klaus Klostermaier, as a treatise of symbolism, where each chapter has three different layers of meaning in its verses. The reader is painted a series of pictures through words, presented opposing views to various socio-ethical and moral questions, then left to interpret it on astikadi, manvadi and auparicara levels; in other words, as mundane interesting fiction, or as ethical treatise, or thirdly as transcendental work that draws out the war between the higher and the lower self within each reader. To deduce history of ancient India is one of many discursive choices for the interpreter.

-- Adi Parva, by Wikipedia


The Suparṇākhyāna, also known as the Suparṇādhyāya (meaning "Chapter of the Bird"), is a short epic poem or cycle of ballads in Sanskrit about the divine bird Garuda, believed to date from the late Vedic period. Considered to be among the "earliest traces of epic poetry in India," the text only survives "in very bad condition," and remains "little studied."

The subject of the poem is "the legend of Kadrū, the snake-mother, and Vinatā, the bird-mother, and enmity between Garuda and the snakes." It relates the birth of Garuda and his elder brother Aruṇa; Kadru and Vinata's wager about the color of the tail of the divine white horse Uchchaihshravas; Garuda's efforts to obtain freedom for himself and his mother; and his theft of the divine soma from Indra, whose thunderbolt is unable to stop Garuda, but merely causes him to drop a feather. It was the basis for the later, expanded version of the story, which appears in the Āstīka Parva, within the Ādi Parva of the Mahābhārata.

The Suparṇākhyāna's date of composition is uncertain; its unnamed author attempted to imitate the style of the Rigveda, but scholars agree that it is a significantly later composition, possibly from the time of the early Upanishads. On metrical grounds, it has been placed closest to the Katha Upanishad. A date of c. 500 BCE has been proposed, but is unproven, and is not agreed upon by all scholars.


-- Suparṇākhyāna, by Wikipedia


Historical references

See also: Bhagavad Gita § Date and text

The earliest known references to the Mahābhārata and its core Bhārata date to the Aṣṭādhyāyī (sutra 6.2.38) of Pāṇini (fl. 4th century BCE) and in the Aśvalāyana Gṛhyasūtra (3.4.4). This may mean the core 24,000 verses, known as the Bhārata, as well as an early version of the extended Mahābhārata, were composed by the 4th century BCE. A report by the Greek writer Dio Chrysostom (c. 40 – c. 120 CE) about Homer's poetry being sung even in India[33] seems to imply that the Iliad had been translated into Sanskrit. However, Indian scholars have, in general, take this as evidence for the existence of a Mahābhārata at this date, whose episodes Dio or his sources identify with the story of the Iliad.[34]

Several stories within the Mahābhārata took on separate identities of their own in Classical Sanskrit literature. For instance, Abhijñānaśākuntala by the renowned Sanskrit poet Kālidāsa (c. 400 CE), believed to have lived in the era of the Gupta dynasty, is based on a story that is the precursor to the Mahābhārata. Urubhaṅga, a Sanskrit play written by Bhāsa who is believed to have lived before Kālidāsa, is based on the slaying of Duryodhana by the splitting of his thighs by Bhīma.[35]

The copper-plate inscription of the Maharaja Sharvanatha (533–534 CE) from Khoh (Satna District, Madhya Pradesh) describes the Mahābhārata as a "collection of 100,000 verses" (śata-sahasri saṃhitā).[35]

The 18 parvas or books

The division into 18 parvas is as follows:

Parva / Title / Sub-parvas / Contents

1 / Adi Parva (The Book of the Beginning) / 1–19 / How the Mahābhārata came to be narrated by Sauti to the assembled rishis at Naimisharanya, after having been recited at the sarpasattra of Janamejaya by Vaisampayana at Takṣaśilā. The history and genealogy of the Bharata and Bhrigu races are recalled, as is the birth and early life of the Kuru princes (adi means first).

2 / Sabha Parva (The Book of the Assembly Hall) / 20–28 / Maya Danava erects the palace and court (sabha), at Indraprastha. Life at the court, Yudhishthira's Rajasuya Yajna, the game of dice, the disrobing of Pandava wife Draupadi and eventual exile of the Pandavas.

3 / Vana Parva also Aranyaka-Parva, Aranya-Parva (The Book of the Forest) / 29–44 / The twelve years of exile in the forest (aranya).

4 / Virata Parva (The Book of Virata) / 45–48 / The year spent incognito at the court of Virata.

5 / Udyoga Parva (The Book of the Effort) / 49–59 / Preparations for war and efforts to bring about peace between the Kaurava and the Pandava sides which eventually fail (udyoga means effort or work).

6 / Bhishma Parva (The Book of Bhishma) / 60–64 / The first part of the great battle, with Bhishma as commander for the Kaurava and his fall on the bed of arrows. (Includes the Bhagavad Gita in chapters 25–42.)[36][37]

7 / Drona Parva (The Book of Drona) / 65–72 / The battle continues, with Drona as commander. This is the major book of the war. Most of the great warriors on both sides are dead by the end of this book.

8 / Karna Parva (The Book of Karna) / 73 / The continuation of the battle with Karna as commander of the Kaurava forces.

9 / Shalya Parva (The Book of Shalya) / 74–77 / The last day of the battle, with Shalya as commander. Also told in detail, is the pilgrimage of Balarama to the fords of the river Saraswati and the mace fight between Bhima and Duryodhana which ends the war, since Bhima kills Duryodhana by smashing him on the thighs with a mace.

10 / Sauptika Parva (The Book of the Sleeping Warriors) / 78–80 /Ashvattama, Kripa and Kritavarma kill the remaining Pandava army in their sleep. Only 7 warriors remain on the Pandava side and 3 on the Kaurava side.

11 / Stri Parva (The Book of the Women) / 81–85 /Gandhari and the women (stri) of the Kauravas and Pandavas lament the dead and Gandhari cursing Krishna for the massive destruction and the extermination of the Kaurava.

12 / Shanti Parva (The Book of Peace) / 86–88 / The crowning of Yudhishthira as king of Hastinapura, and instructions from Bhishma for the newly anointed king on society, economics, and politics. This is the longest book of the Mahabharata. Kisari Mohan Ganguli considers this Parva as a later interpolation.'

13 / Anushasana Parva (The Book of the Instructions) / 89–90 / The final instructions (anushasana) from Bhishma.

14 / Ashvamedhika Parva (The Book of the Horse Sacrifice)[38] / 91–92 / The royal ceremony of the Ashvamedha (Horse sacrifice) conducted by Yudhishthira. The world conquest by Arjuna. Anita is told by Krishna to Arjuna.

15 / Ashramavasika Parva (The Book of the Hermitage) / 93–95 / The eventual deaths of Dhritarashtra, Gandhari, and Kunti in a forest fire when they are living in a hermitage in the Himalayas. Vidura predeceases them and Sanjaya on Dhritarashtra's bidding goes to live in the higher Himalayas.

16 / Mausala Parva (The Book of the Clubs) / 96 / The materialization of Gandhari's curse, i.e., the infighting between the Yadavas with maces (mausala) and the eventual destruction of the Yadavas.

17 / Mahaprasthanika Parva (The Book of the Great Journey) / 97 / The great journey of Yudhishthira, his brothers, and his wife Draupadi across the whole country and finally their ascent of the great Himalayas where each Pandava falls except for Yudhishthira.

18 / Svargarohana Parva (The Book of the Ascent to Heaven) / 98 / Yudhishthira's final test and the return of the Pandavas to the spiritual world (svarga).

khila / Harivamsa Parva (The Book of the Genealogy of Hari) / 99–100 / This is an addendum to the 18 books, and covers those parts of the life of Krishna which is not covered in the 18 parvas of the Mahabharata.


Historical context

The historicity of the Kurukshetra War is unclear. Many historians estimate the date of the Kurukshetra war to Iron Age India of the 10th century BCE.[39] The setting of the epic has a historical precedent in Iron Age (Vedic) India, where the Kuru kingdom was the center of political power during roughly 1200 to 800 BCE.[40] A dynastic conflict of the period could have been the inspiration for the Jaya, the foundation on which the Mahābhārata corpus was built, with a climactic battle, eventually coming to be viewed as an epochal event.

Puranic literature presents genealogical lists associated with the Mahābhārata narrative. The evidence of the Puranas is of two kinds. Of the first kind, there is the direct statement that there were 1015 (or 1050) years between the birth of Parikshit (Arjuna's grandson) and the accession of Mahapadma Nanda (400-329 BCE), which would yield an estimate of about 1400 BCE for the Bharata battle.[41] However, this would imply improbably long reigns on average for the kings listed in the genealogies.[42] Of the second kind is analyses of parallel genealogies in the Puranas between the times of Adhisimakrishna (Parikshit's great-grandson) and Mahapadma Nanda. Pargiter accordingly estimated 26 generations by averaging 10 different dynastic lists and, assuming 18 years for the average duration of a reign, arrived at an estimate of 850 BCE for Adhisimakrishna, and thus approximately 950 BCE for the Bharata battle.[43]

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Map of some Painted Grey Ware (PGW) sites.

B. B. Lal used the same approach with a more conservative assumption of the average reign to estimate a date of 836 BCE, and correlated this with archaeological evidence from Painted Grey Ware (PGW) sites, the association being strong between PGW artifacts and places mentioned in the epic.[44] John Keay confirms this and also gives 950 BCE for the Bharata battle.[45]

Attempts to date the events using methods of archaeoastronomy have produced, depending on which passages are chosen and how they are interpreted, estimates ranging from the late 4th to the mid-2nd millennium BCE.[46] The late 4th-millennium date has a precedent in the calculation of the Kali Yuga epoch, based on planetary conjunctions, by Aryabhata (6th century). Aryabhata's date of 18 February 3102 BCE for Mahābhārata war has become widespread in Indian tradition. Some sources mark this as the disappearance of Krishna from the earth.[47] The Aihole inscription of Pulikeshi II, dated to Saka 556 = 634 CE, claims that 3735 years have elapsed since the Bharata battle, putting the date of Mahābhārata war at 3137 BCE.[48][49] Another traditional school of astronomers and historians, represented by Vriddha-Garga, Varahamihira (author of the Brhatsamhita) and Kalhana (author of the Rajatarangini), place the Bharata war 653 years after the Kali Yuga epoch, corresponding to 2449 BCE.[50]

Characters

Main article: List of characters in Mahabharata

Synopsis

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Ganesha writes the Mahabharata upon Vyasa's dictation.

The core story of the work is that of a dynastic struggle for the throne of Hastinapura, the kingdom ruled by the Kuru clan. The two collateral branches of the family that participate in the struggle are the Kaurava and the Pandava. Although the Kaurava is the senior branch of the family, Duryodhana, the eldest Kaurava, is younger than Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava. Both Duryodhana and Yudhishthira claim to be first in line to inherit the throne.

The struggle culminates in the great battle of Kurukshetra, in which the Pandavas are ultimately victorious. The battle produces complex conflicts of kinship and friendship, instances of family loyalty and duty taking precedence over what is right, as well as the converse.

The Mahābhārata itself ends with the death of Krishna, and the subsequent end of his dynasty and ascent of the Pandava brothers to heaven. It also marks the beginning of the Hindu age of Kali Yuga, the fourth and final age of humankind, in which great values and noble ideas have crumbled, and people are heading towards the complete dissolution of right action, morality, and virtue.

The older generations

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Shantanu woos Satyavati, the fisherwoman. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma.

King Janamejaya's ancestor Shantanu, the king of Hastinapura, has a short-lived marriage with the goddess Ganga and has a son, Devavrata (later to be called Bhishma, a great warrior), who becomes the heir apparent. Many years later, when King Shantanu goes hunting, he sees Satyavati, the daughter of the chief of fisherman, and asks her father for her hand. Her father refuses to consent to the marriage unless Shantanu promises to make any future son of Satyavati the king upon his death. To resolve his father's dilemma, Devavrata agrees to relinquish his right to the throne. As the fisherman is not sure about the prince's children honoring the promise, Devavrata also takes a vow of lifelong celibacy to guarantee his father's promise.

Shantanu has two sons by Satyavati, Chitrāngada and Vichitravirya. Upon Shantanu's death, Chitrangada becomes king. He lives a very short uneventful life and dies. Vichitravirya, the younger son, rules Hastinapura. Meanwhile, the King of Kāśī arranges a swayamvara for his three daughters, neglecting to invite the royal family of Hastinapur. To arrange the marriage of young Vichitravirya, Bhishma attends the swayamvara of the three princesses Amba, Ambika, and Ambalika, uninvited, and proceeds to abduct them. Ambika and Ambalika consent to be married to Vichitravirya.

The oldest princess Amba, however, informs Bhishma that she wishes to marry the king of Shalva whom Bhishma defeated at their swayamvara. Bhishma lets her leave to marry the king of Shalva, but Shalva refuses to marry her, still smarting at his humiliation at the hands of Bhishma. Amba then returns to marry Bhishma but he refuses due to his vow of celibacy. Amba becomes enraged and becomes Bhishma's bitter enemy, holding him responsible for her plight. Later she is reborn to King Drupada as Shikhandi (or Shikhandini) and causes Bhishma's fall, with the help of Arjuna, in the battle of Kurukshetra.

The Pandava and Kaurava princes

Image
Draupadi with her five husbands – the Pandavas. The central figure is Yudhishthira; the two on the bottom are Bhima and Arjuna. Nakula and Sahadeva, the twins, are standing. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma, c. 1900.

When Vichitravirya dies young without any heirs, Satyavati asks her first son Vyasa to father children with the widows. The eldest, Ambika, shuts her eyes when she sees him, and so her son Dhritarashtra is born blind. Ambalika turns pale and bloodless upon seeing him, and thus her son Pandu is born pale and unhealthy (the term Pandu may also mean 'jaundiced'[51]). Due to the physical challenges of the first two children, Satyavati asks Vyasa to try once again. However, Ambika and Ambalika send their maid instead, to Vyasa's room. Vyasa fathers a third son, Vidura, by the maid. He is born healthy and grows up to be one of the wisest characters in the Mahabharata. He serves as Prime Minister (Mahamantri or Mahatma) to King Pandu and King Dhritarashtra.

When the princes grow up, Dhritarashtra is about to be crowned king by Bhishma when Vidura intervenes and uses his knowledge of politics to assert that a blind person cannot be king. This is because a blind man cannot control and protect his subjects. The throne is then given to Pandu because of Dhritarashtra's blindness. Pandu marries twice, to Kunti and Madri. Dhritarashtra marries Gandhari, a princess from Gandhara, who blindfolds herself for the rest of her life so that she may feel the pain that her husband feels. Her brother Shakuni is enraged by this and vows to take revenge on the Kuru family. One day, when Pandu is relaxing in the forest, he hears the sound of a wild animal. He shoots an arrow in the direction of the sound. However, the arrow hits the sage Kindama, who was engaged in a sexual act in the guise of a deer. He curses Pandu that if he engages in a sexual act, he will die. Pandu then retires to the forest along with his two wives, and his brother Dhritarashtra rules thereafter, despite his blindness.

Pandu's older queen Kunti, however, had been given a boon by Sage Durvasa that she could invoke any god using a special mantra. Kunti uses this boon to ask Dharma the god of justice, Vayu the god of the wind, and Indra the lord of the heavens for sons. She gives birth to three sons, Yudhishthira, Bhima, and Arjuna, through these gods. Kunti shares her mantra with the younger queen Madri, who bears the twins Nakula and Sahadeva through the Ashwini twins. However, Pandu and Madri indulge in lovemaking, and Pandu dies. Madri commits suicide out of remorse. Kunti raises the five brothers, who are from then on usually referred to as the Pandava brothers.

Dhritarashtra has a hundred sons through Gandhari, all born after the birth of Yudhishthira. These are the Kaurava brothers, the eldest being Duryodhana, and the second Dushasana. Other Kaurava brothers were Vikarna and Sukarna. The rivalry and enmity between them and the Pandava brothers, from their youth and into manhood, leads to the Kurukshetra war.

Lakshagraha (the house of lac)

After the deaths of their mother (Madri) and father (Pandu), the Pandavas and their mother Kunti return to the palace of Hastinapur. Yudhishthira is made Crown Prince by Dhritarashtra, under considerable pressure from his courtiers. Dhritarashtra wanted his son Duryodhana to become king and lets his ambition get in the way of preserving justice.

Shakuni, Duryodhana, and Dushasana plot to get rid of the Pandavas. Shakuni calls the architect Purochana to build a palace out of flammable materials like lac and ghee. He then arranges for the Pandavas and the Queen Mother Kunti to stay there, intending to set it alight. However, the Pandavas are warned by their wise uncle, Vidura, who sends them a miner to dig a tunnel. They can escape to safety and go into hiding. During this time Bhima marries a demoness Hidimbi and has a son Ghatotkacha. Back in Hastinapur, the Pandavas and Kunti are presumed dead.[52]

Marriage to Draupadi

Image
Arjuna piercing the eye of the fish as depicted in Chennakesava Temple built by Hoysala Empire

Whilst they were in hiding the Pandavas learn of a swayamvara which is taking place for the hand of the Pāñcāla princess Draupadī. The Pandavas disguised as Brahmins come to witness the event. Meanwhile, Krishna who has already befriended Draupadi, tells her to look out for Arjuna (though now believed to be dead). The task was to string a mighty steel bow and shoot a target on the ceiling, which was the eye of a moving artificial fish while looking at its reflection in oil below. In popular versions, after all the princes fail, many being unable to lift the bow, Karna proceeds to the attempt but is interrupted by Draupadi who refuses to marry a suta (this has been excised from the Critical Edition of Mahabharata[53][54] as later interpolation[55]). After this the swayamvara is opened to the Brahmins leading Arjuna to win the contest and marry Draupadi. The Pandavas return home and inform their meditating mother that Arjuna has won a competition and to look at what they have brought back. Without looking, Kunti asks them to share whatever Arjuna has won amongst themselves, thinking it to be alms. Thus, Draupadi ends up being the wife of all five brothers.

Indraprastha

After the wedding, the Pandava brothers are invited back to Hastinapura. The Kuru family elders and relatives negotiate and broker a split of the kingdom, with the Pandavas obtaining and demanding only a wild forest inhabited by Takshaka, the king of snakes, and his family. Through hard work, the Pandavas can build a new glorious capital for the territory at Indraprastha.

Shortly after this, Arjuna elopes with and then marries Krishna's sister, Subhadra. Yudhishthira wishes to establish his position as king; he seeks Krishna's advice. Krishna advises him, and after due preparation and the elimination of some opposition, Yudhishthira carries out the rājasūya yagna ceremony; he is thus recognized as pre-eminent among kings.

The Pandavas have a new palace built for them, by Maya the Danava.[56] They invite their Kaurava cousins to Indraprastha. Duryodhana walks round the palace, and mistakes a glossy floor for water, and will not step in. After being told of his error, he then sees a pond and assumes it is not water and falls in. Bhima, Arjun, the twins and the servants laugh at him.[57] In popular adaptations, this insult is wrongly attributed to Draupadi, even though in the Sanskrit epic, it was the Pandavas (except Yudhishthira) who had insulted Duryodhana. Enraged by the insult, and jealous at seeing the wealth of the Pandavas, Duryodhana decides to host a dice-game at Shakuni's suggestion.

The dice game

Image
Draupadi humiliated

Shakuni, Duryodhana's uncle, now arranges a dice game, playing against Yudhishthira with loaded dice. In the dice game, Yudhishthira loses all his wealth, then his kingdom. Yudhishthira then gambles his brothers, himself, and finally his wife into servitude. The jubilant Kauravas insult the Pandavas in their helpless state and even try to disrobe Draupadi in front of the entire court, but Draupadi's disrobe is prevented by Krishna, who miraculously make her dress endless, therefore it couldn't be removed.

Dhritarashtra, Bhishma, and the other elders are aghast at the situation, but Duryodhana is adamant that there is no place for two crown princes in Hastinapura. Against his wishes Dhritarashtra orders for another dice game. The Pandavas are required to go into exile for 12 years, and in the 13th year, they must remain hidden. If they are discovered by the Kauravas in the 13th year of their exile, then they will be forced into exile for another 12 years.

Exile and return

The Pandavas spend thirteen years in exile; many adventures occur during this time. The Pandavas acquire many divine weapons, given by gods, during this period. They also prepare alliances for a possible future conflict. They spend their final year in disguise in the court of the king Virata, and they are discovered just after the end of the year.

At the end of their exile, they try to negotiate a return to Indraprastha with Krishna as their emissary. However, this negotiation fails, because Duryodhana objected that they were discovered in the 13th year of their exile and the return of their kingdom was not agreed upon. Then the Pandavas fought the Kauravas, claiming their rights over Indraprastha.

The battle at Kurukshetra

Main article: Kurukshetra War

Image
A scene from the Mahābhārata war, Angkor Wat: A black stone relief depicting several men wearing a crown and a dhoti, fighting with spears, swords, and bows. A chariot with half the horse out of the frame is seen in the middle.

The two sides summon vast armies to their help and line up at Kurukshetra for a war. The kingdoms of Panchala, Dwaraka, Kasi, Kekaya, Magadha, Matsya, Chedi, Pandyas, Telinga, and the Yadus of Mathura and some other clans like the Parama Kambojas were allied with the Pandavas. The allies of the Kauravas included the kings of Pragjyotisha, Anga, Kekaya, Sindhudesa (including Sindhus, Sauviras and Sivis), Mahishmati, Avanti in Madhyadesa, Madra, Gandhara, Bahlika people, Kambojas and many others. Before war being declared, Balarama had expressed his unhappiness at the developing conflict and leaves to go on pilgrimage; thus he does not take part in the battle itself. Krishna takes part in a non-combatant role, as charioteer for Arjuna.

Before the battle, Arjuna, noticing that the opposing army includes his cousins and relatives, including his grandfather Bhishma and his teacher Drona, has grave doubts about the fight. He falls into despair and refuses to fight. At this time, Krishna reminds him of his duty as a Kshatriya to fight for a righteous cause in the famous Bhagavad Gita section of the epic.

Though initially sticking to chivalrous notions of warfare, both sides soon adopt dishonorable tactics. At the end of the 18-day battle, only the Pandavas, Satyaki, Kripa, Ashwatthama, Kritavarma, Yuyutsu and Krishna survive. Yudhisthir becomes King of Hastinapur and Gandhari curses Krishna that the downfall of his clan is imminent.

The end of the Pandavas

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Gandhari, blindfolded, supporting Dhrtarashtra and following Kunti when Dhritarashtra became old and infirm and retired to the forest. A miniature painting from a 16th-century manuscript of part of the Razmnama, a Persian translation of the Mahabharata

After "seeing" the carnage, Gandhari, who had lost all her sons, curses Krishna to be a witness to a similar annihilation of his family, for though divine and capable of stopping the war, he had not done so. Krishna accepts the curse, which bears fruit 36 years later.

The Pandavas, who had ruled their kingdom meanwhile, decide to renounce everything. Clad in skins and rags they retire to the Himalaya and climb towards heaven in their bodily form. A stray dog travels with them. One by one the brothers and Draupadi fall on their way. As each one stumbles, Yudhishthira gives the rest the reason for their fall (Draupadi was partial to Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva were vain and proud of their looks, and Bhima and Arjuna were proud of their strength and archery skills, respectively). Only the virtuous Yudhishthira, who had tried everything to prevent the carnage, and the dog remain. The dog reveals himself to be the god Yama (also known as Yama Dharmaraja) and then takes him to the underworld where he sees his siblings and wife. After explaining the nature of the test, Yama takes Yudhishthira back to heaven and explains that it was necessary to expose him to the underworld because (Rajyante narakam dhruvam) any ruler has to visit the underworld at least once. Yama then assures him that his siblings and wife would join him in heaven after they had been exposed to the underworld for measures of time according to their vices.

Arjuna's grandson Parikshit rules after them and dies bitten by a snake. His furious son, Janamejaya, decides to perform a snake sacrifice (sarpasattra) to destroy the snakes. It is at this sacrifice that the tale of his ancestors is narrated to him.
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The reunion

The Mahābhārata mentions that Karna, the Pandavas, Draupadi and Dhritarashtra's sons eventually ascended to svarga and "attained the state of the gods", and banded together – "serene and free from anger".[58]

Themes

Just war


The Mahābhārata offers one of the first instances of theorizing about dharmayuddha, "just war", illustrating many of the standards that would be debated later across the world. In the story, one of five brothers asks if the suffering caused by war can ever be justified. A long discussion ensues between the siblings, establishing criteria like proportionality (chariots cannot attack cavalry, only other chariots; no attacking people in distress), just means (no poisoned or barbed arrows), just cause (no attacking out of rage), and fair treatment of captives and the wounded.[59]

Translations, versions and derivative works

Translations


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Bhishma on his death-bed of arrows with the Pandavas and Krishna. Folio from the Razmnama (1761–1763), Persian translation of the Mahabharata, commissioned by Mughal emperor Akbar. The Pandavas are dressed in Persian armour and robes.[60]

A Persian translation of Mahabharata, titled Razmnameh, was produced at Akbar's orders, by Faizi and ʽAbd al-Qadir Badayuni in the 18th century.[61]

The first complete English translation was the Victorian prose version by Kisari Mohan Ganguli,[62] published between 1883 and 1896 (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers) and by M. N. Dutt (Motilal Banarsidass Publishers). Most critics consider the translation by Ganguli to be faithful to the original text. The complete text of Ganguli's translation is in the public domain and is available online.[63][64]

An early poetry translation by Romesh Chunder Dutt and published in 1898 condenses the main themes of the Mahābhārata into English verse.[65] A later poetic "transcreation" (author's description) of the full epic into English, done by the poet P. Lal, is complete, and in 2005 began being published by Writers Workshop, Calcutta. The P. Lal translation is a non-rhyming verse-by-verse rendering, and I the only edition in any language to include all slokas in all recensions of the work (not just those in the Critical Edition). The completion of the publishing project is scheduled for 2010.[needs update] Sixteen of the eighteen volumes are now available.

A project to translate the full epic into English prose, translated by various hands, began to appear in 2005 from the Clay Sanskrit Library, published by New York University Press. The translation is based not on the Critical Edition but on the version known to the commentator Nīlakaṇṭha. Currently available are 15 volumes of the projected 32-volume edition.

Indian economist Bibek Debroy has also begun an unabridged English translation in ten volumes. Volume 1: Adi Parva was published in March 2010.

Another English prose translation of the full epic, based on the Critical Edition, is in progress, published by University of Chicago Press. It was initiated by Indologist J. A. B. van Buitenen (books 1–5) and, following a 20-year hiatus caused by the death of van Buitenen is being continued by several scholars. James L. Fitzgerald translated book 11 and the first half of book 12. David Gitomer is translating book 6, Gary Tubb is translating book 7, Christopher Minkowski is translating book 8, Alf Hiltebeitel is translating books 9 and 10, Fitzgerald is translating the second half of book 12, Patrick Olivelle is translating book 13, Fred Smith is translating book 14, and Wendy Doniger is translating books 15-18.[66]

Many condensed versions, abridgments and novelistic prose retellings of the complete epic have been published in English, including works by Ramesh Menon, William Buck, R. K. Narayan, C. Rajagopalachari, K. M. Munshi, Krishna Dharma, Romesh C. Dutt, Bharadvaja Sarma, John D. Smith and Sharon Maas.

Critical Edition

Between 1919 and 1966, scholars at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Pune, compared the various manuscripts of the epic from India and abroad and produced the Critical Edition of the Mahabharata, on 13,000 pages in 19 volumes, followed by the Harivamsha in another two volumes and six index volumes. This is the text that is usually used in current Mahābhārata studies for reference.[67] This work is sometimes called the "Pune" or "Poona" edition of the Mahabharata.

Regional versions

Many regional versions of the work developed over time, mostly differing only in minor details, or with verses or subsidiary stories being added. These include the Tamil street theatre, terukkuttu and kattaikkuttu, the plays of which use themes from the Tamil language versions of Mahabharata, focusing on Draupadi.[68]

Image
The Pandavas and Krishna in an act of the Javanese wayang wong performance

Outside the Indian subcontinent, in Indonesia, a version was developed in ancient Java as Kakawin Bhāratayuddha in the 11th century under the patronage of King Dharmawangsa (990–1016)[69] and later it spread to the neighboring island of Bali, which remains a Hindu majority island today. It has become the fertile source for Javanese literature, dance drama (wayang wong), and wayang shadow puppet performances. This Javanese version of the Mahābhārata differs slightly from the original Indian version. For example, Draupadi is only wed to Yudhishthira, not to all the Pandava brothers; this might demonstrate ancient Javanese opposition to polyandry.[citation needed] The author later added some female characters to be wed to the Pandavas, for example, Arjuna is described as having many wives and consorts next to Subhadra. Another difference is that Shikhandini does not change her sex and remains a woman, to be wed to Arjuna, and takes the role of a warrior princess during the war.[citation needed] Another twist is that Gandhari is described as an antagonistic character who hates the Pandavas: her hate is out of jealousy because, during Gandhari's swayamvara, she was in love with Pandu but was later wed to his blind elder brother instead, whom she did not love, so she blindfolded herself as a protest.[citation needed] Another notable difference is the inclusion of the Punakawans, the clown servants of the main characters in the storyline. These characters include Semar, Petruk, Gareng, and Bagong, who are much-loved by Indonesian audiences.[citation needed] There are also some spin-off episodes developed in ancient Java, such as Arjunawiwaha composed in the 11th century.

A Kawi version of the Mahabharata, of which eight of the eighteen parvas survive, is found on the Indonesian island of Bali. It has been translated into English by Dr. I. Gusti Putu Phalgunadi.[70]

Derivative literature

Bhasa, the 2nd- or 3rd-century CE Sanskrit playwright, wrote two plays on episodes in the Marabharata, Urubhanga (Broken Thigh), about the fight between Duryodhana and Bhima, while Madhyamavyayoga (The Middle One) set around Bhima and his son, Ghatotkacha. The first important play of 20th century was Andha Yug (The Blind Epoch), by Dharamvir Bharati, which came in 1955, found in Mahabharat, both an ideal source and expression of modern predicaments and discontent. Starting with Ebrahim Alkazi, it was staged by numerous directors. V. S. Khandekar's Marathi novel, Yayati (1960), and Girish Karnad's debut play Yayati (1961) are based on the story of King Yayati found in the Mahabharat.[71] Bengali writer and playwright, Buddhadeva Bose wrote three plays set in Mahabharat, Anamni Angana, Pratham Partha and Kalsandhya.[72] Pratibha Ray wrote an award winning novel entitled Yajnaseni from Draupadi's perspective in 1984. Later, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni wrote a similar novel entitled The Palace of Illusions: A Novel in 2008. Gujarati poet Chinu Modi has written long narrative poetry Bahuk based on character Bahuka.[73] Krishna Udayasankar, a Singapore-based Indian author, has written several novels which are modern-day retellings of the epic, most notably the Aryavarta Chronicles Series. Suman Pokhrel wrote a solo play based on Ray's novel by personalizing and taking Draupadi alone in the scene.

Amar Chitra Katha published a 1,260-page comic book version of the Mahabharata.[74]

In film and television

Image
Krishna as portrayed in Yakshagana from Karnataka which is based largely on stories of Mahabharata

In Indian cinema, several film versions of the epic have been made, dating back to 1920. The Mahābhārata was also reinterpreted by Shyam Benegal in Kalyug.[75] Prakash Jha directed 2010 film Raajneeti was partially inspired by the Mahabharata.[76] A 2013 animated adaptation holds the record for India's most expensive animated film.[77]

In 1988, B. R. Chopra created a television series named Mahabharat. It was directed by Ravi Chopra,[78] and was televised on India's national television (Doordarshan). The same year as Mahabharat was being shown on Doordarshan, that same company's other television show, Bharat Ek Khoj, also directed by Shyam Benegal, showed a 2-episode abbreviation of the Mahabharata, drawing from various interpretations of the work, be they sung, danced, or staged. In the Western world, a well-known presentation of the epic is Peter Brook's nine-hour play, which premiered in Avignon in 1985, and its five-hour movie version The Mahābhārata (1989).[79] In the late 2013 Mahabharat was televised on STAR Plus. It was produced by Swastik Productions Pvt.

Uncompleted projects on the Mahābhārata include one by Rajkumar Santoshi,[80] and a theatrical adaptation planned by Satyajit Ray.[81]

In folk culture

Every year in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, villagers perform the Pandav Lila, a ritual re-enactment of episodes from the Mahabharata through dancing, singing, and recitation. The lila is a cultural highlight of the year and is usually performed between November and February. Folk instruments of the region, dhol, damau and two long trumpets bhankore, accompany the action. The actors, who are amateurs not pr, professionals, often break into a spontaneous dance when they are "possessed" by the spirits of their characters.[82]

Jain version

Further information: Salakapurusa

Image
Depiction of wedding procession of Lord Neminatha. The enclosure shows the animals that are to be slaughtered for food for weddings. Overcome with Compassion for animals, Neminatha refused to marry and renounced his kingdom to become a Shramana

Jain versions of Mahābhārata can be found in the various Jain texts like Harivamsapurana (the story of Harivamsa) Trisastisalakapurusa Caritra (Hagiography of 63 Illustrious persons), Pandavacharitra (lives of Pandavas) and Pandavapurana (stories of Pandavas).[83] From the earlier canonical literature, Antakrddaaśāh (8th cannon) and Vrisnidasa (upangagama or secondary canon) contain the stories of Neminatha (22nd Tirthankara), Krishna and Balarama.[84] Prof. Padmanabh Jaini notes that, unlike in the Hindu Puranas, the names Baladeva and Vasudeva are not restricted to Balarama and Krishna in Jain Puranas. Instead, they serve as names of two distinct classes of mighty brothers, who appear nine times in each half of time cycles of the Jain cosmology and rule half the earth as half-chakravartins. Jaini traces the origin of this list of brothers to the Jinacharitra by Bhadrabahu swami (4th–3rd century BCE).[85] According to Jain cosmology Balarama, Krishna and Jarasandha are the ninth and the last set of Baladeva, Vasudeva, and Prativasudeva.[86] The main battle is not the Mahabharata, but the fight between Krishna and Jarasandha (who is killed by Krishna as Prativasudevas are killed by Vasudevas). Ultimately, the Pandavas and Balarama take renunciation as Jain monks and are reborn in heavens, while on the other hand Krishna and Jarasandha are reborn in hell.[87] In keeping with the law of karma, Krishna is reborn in hell for his exploits (sexual and violent) while Jarasandha for his evil ways. Prof. Jaini admits a possibility that perhaps because of his popularity, the Jain authors were keen to rehabilitate Krishna. The Jain texts predict that after his karmic term in the hell is over sometime during the next half time-cycle, Krishna will be reborn as a Jain Tirthankara and attain liberation.[86] Krishna and Balrama are shown as contemporaries and cousins of 22nd Tirthankara, Neminatha.[88] According to this story, Krishna arranged young Neminath's marriage with Rajemati, the daughter of Ugrasena, but Neminatha, empathizing with the animals which were to be slaughtered for the marriage feast, left the procession suddenly and renounced the world.[89][90]

Kuru family tree

This shows the line of royal and family succession, not necessarily the parentage. See the notes below for detail.

Image

Kurua
Anasawana
Parikshit(1)a
Janamejaya(1)a
Bheemasena(1)a
Pratisravasa
Pratipaa
Gangā Shāntanua Satyavati Pārāshara
Bhishma Chitrāngada Ambikā Vichitravirya Ambālikā Vyāsa
Dhritarāshtrab Gāndhāri Shakuni Surya Devaa Kunti Pāndub Mādri
Karnac Yudhishthirad Bhimad Arjunad Subhadrā Nakulad Sahadevad
Duryodhanae Dussalā Dushāsana (97 sons)
Abhimanyuf Uttarā
Parikshit Madravti
Janamejaya

Key to Symbols

• Male: blue border
• Female: red border
• Pandavas: green box
• Kauravas: yellow box

Notes

• a: Shantanu was a king of the Kuru dynasty or kingdom, and was some generations removed from any ancestor called Kuru. His marriage to Ganga preceded his marriage to Satyavati.
• b: Pandu and Dhritarashtra were fathered by Vyasa in the niyoga tradition after Vichitravirya's death. Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura were the sons of Vyasa with Ambika, Ambalika and a maid servant respectively.
• c: Karna was born to Kunti through her invocation of Surya, before her marriage to Pandu.
• d: Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva were acknowledged sons of Pandu but were begotten by the invocation by Kunti and Madri of various deities. They all married Draupadi (not shown in tree).
• e: Duryodhana and his siblings were born at the same time, and they were of the same generation as their Pandava cousins.
• f : Although the succession after the Pandavas was through the descendants of Arjuna and Subhadra, it was Yudhishthira and Draupadi who occupied the throne of Hastinapura after the great battle.


The birth order of siblings is correctly shown in the family tree (from left to right), except for Vyasa and Bhishma whose birth order is not described, and Vichitravirya and Chitrangada who were born after them. The fact that Ambika and Ambalika are sisters is not shown in the family tree. The birth of Duryodhana took place after the birth of Karna, Yudhishthira and Bhima, but before the birth of the remaining Pandava brothers.

Some siblings of the characters shown here have been left out for clarity; these include Chitrāngada, the eldest brother of Vichitravirya. Vidura, half-brother to Dhritarashtra and Pandu.

Cultural influence

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and prince and elaborates on different Yogic[91] and Vedantic philosophies, with examples and analogies. This has led to the Gita often being described as a concise guide to Hindu philosophy and a practical, self-contained guide to life.[92] In more modern times, Swami Vivekananda, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi and many others used the text to help inspire the Indian independence movement.[93][94]

It has also inspired several modern Hindi literature like Ramdhari Singh Dinkar's Rashmirathi which is a rendition of Mahabharata centered around Karna and his conflicts. It was written in 1952, and won the prestigious Jnanpith award in 1972.

See also

• Ramayana
• Hindu texts
• Kali Yuga
• Characters in the Mahabharata

References

1. "Mahabharata". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary,
2. "Mahabharata". Oxford Dictionaries Online.
3. Datta, Amaresh (1 January 2006). The Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature (Volume Two) (Devraj to Jyoti). ISBN 978-81-260-1194-0.
4. Austin, Christopher R. (2019). Pradyumna: Lover, Magician, and Son of the Avatara. Oxford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-19-005411-3.
5. Brockington (1998, p. 26)
6. Pattanaik, Devdutt. "How did the 'Ramayana' and 'Mahabharata' come to be (and what has 'dharma' got to do with it)?". Scroll.in.
7. Van Buitenen; The Mahabharata – 1; The Book of the Beginning. Introduction (Authorship and Date)
8. James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 399. ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8.
9. T. R. S. Sharma; June Gaur; Sahitya Akademi (New Delhi, Inde). (2000). Ancient Indian Literature: An Anthology. Sahitya Akademi. p. 137. ISBN 978-81-260-0794-3.
10. Spodek, Howard. Richard Mason. The World's History. Pearson Education: 2006, New Jersey. 224, 0-13-177318-6
11. Amartya Sen, The Argumentative Indian. Writings on Indian Culture, History and Identity, London: Penguin Books, 2005.
12. W. J. Johnson (1998). The Sauptikaparvan of the Mahabharata: The Massacre at Night. Oxford University Press. p. ix. ISBN 978-0-19-282361-8.
13. Fitzgerald, James (1985). "India's Fifth Veda: The Mahabharata's Presentation of Itself". Journal of South Asian Literature. 20 (1): 125–140.
14. Mahābhārata, Vol. 1, Part 2. Critical edition, p. 884.
15. Davis, Richard H. (2014). The "Bhagavad Gita": A Biography. Princeton University Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-4008-5197-3.
16. Krishnan, Bal (1978). Kurukshetra: Political and Cultural History. B.R. Publishing Corporation. p. 50. ISBN 9788170180333.
17. Hermann Oldenberg, Das Mahabharata: seine Entstehung, sein Inhalt, seine Form, Göttingen, 1922,[page needed]
18. "The Mahabharata" at The Sampradaya Sun
19. A History of Indian Literature, Volume 1 by Maurice Winternitz
20. Buitenen (1973) pp. xxiv–xxv
21. Sharma, Ruchika. "The Mahabharata: How an oral narrative of the bards became a text of the Brahmins". Scroll.in.
22. Sukthankar (1933) "Prolegomena" p. lxxxvi. Emphasis is original.
23. Gupta & Ramachandran (1976), citing Mahabharata, Critical Edition, I, 56, 33
24. SP Gupta and KS Ramachandran (1976), p.3-4, citing Vaidya (1967), p.11
25. Brockington, J. L. (1998). The Sanskrit epics, Part 2. Volume 12. BRILL. p. 21. ISBN 978-90-04-10260-6.
26. 18 books, 18 chapters of the Bhagavadgita and the Narayaniya each, corresponding to the 18 days of the battle and the 18 armies (Mbh. 5.152.23)
27. The Spitzer Manuscript (Beitrage zur Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens), Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2004. It is one of the oldest Sanskrit manuscripts found on the Silk Road and part of the estate of Dr. Moritz Spitzer.
28. Schlingloff, Dieter (1969). "The Oldest Extant Parvan-List of the Mahābhārata". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 89 (2): 334–338. doi:10.2307/596517. JSTOR 596517.
29. "Vyasa, can you hear us now?". The Indian Express. 21 November 2015. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
30. J.A.B. van Buitenen, Mahābhārata, Volume 1, p.445, citing W. Caland, The Pañcaviṃśa Brāhmaṇa, p.640-2
31. Moriz Winternitz (1996). A History of Indian Literature, Volume 1. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 291–292. ISBN 978-81-208-0264-3.
32. Jean Philippe Vogel (1995). Indian Serpent-lore: Or, The Nāgas in Hindu Legend and Art. Asian Educational Services. pp. 53–54. ISBN 978-81-206-1071-2.
33. Dio Chrysostom, 53.6-7, trans. H. Lamar Crosby, Loeb Classical Library, 1946, vol. 4, p. 363.
34. Christian Lassen, in his Indische Alterthumskunde, supposed that the reference is ultimate to Dhritarashtra's sorrows, the laments of Gandhari and Draupadi, and the valor of Arjuna and Suyodhana or Karna (cited approvingly in Max Duncker, The History of Antiquity (trans. Evelyn Abbott, London 1880), vol. 4, p. 81). This interpretation is endorsed in such standard references as Albrecht Weber's History of Indian Literature but has sometimes been repeated as fact instead of as interpretation.
35. Ghadyalpatil, Abhiram (10 October 2016). "Maharashtra builds up a case for providing quotas to Marathas". Livemint. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
36. "The Mahabharata, Book 6: Bhishma Parva: Bhagavat-Gita Parva: Section XXV (Bhagavad Gita Chapter I)". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
37. "The Mahabharata, Book 6: Bhishma Parva: Bhagavat-Gita Parva: Section XLII (Bhagavad Gita, Chapter XVIII)". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
38. The Ashvamedhika-parva is also preserved in a separate version, the Jaimini-Bharata (Jaiminiya-Ashvamedha) where the frame dialogue is replaced, the narration being attributed to Jaimini, another disciple of Vyasa. This version contains far more devotional material (related to Krishna) than the standard epic and probably dates to the 12th century. It has some regional versions, the most popular being the Kannada one by Devapurada Annama Lakshmisha (16th century).The Mahabharata[citation needed]
39. In discussing the dating question, historian A. L. Basham says: "According to the most popular later tradition the Mahabharata War took place in 3102 BCE, which in the light of all evidence, is quite impossible. More reasonable is another tradition, placing it in the 15th century BCE, but this is also several centuries too early in the light of our archaeological knowledge. Probably the war took place around the beginning of the 9th century BCE; such a date seems to fit well with the scanty archaeological remains of the period, and there is some evidence in the Brahmana literature itself to show that it cannot have been much earlier." Basham, p. 40, citing HC Raychaudhuri, Political History of Ancient India, pp.27ff.
40. M Witzel, Early Sanskritization: Origin and Development of the Kuru state, EJVS vol.1 no.4 (1995); also in B. Kölver (ed.), Recht, Staat und Verwaltung im klassischen Indien. The state, the Law, and Administration in Classical India, München, R. Oldenbourg, 1997, p.27-52
41. A.D. Pusalker, History and Culture of the Indian People, Vol I, Chapter XIV, p.273
42. FE Pargiter, Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, p.180. He shows estimates of the average as 47, 50, 31, and 35 for various versions of the lists.
43. Pargiter, op.cit. p.180-182
44. B. B. Lal, Mahabharata and Archaeology in Gupta and Ramachandran (1976), p.57-58
45. Keay, John (2000). India: A History. New York City: Grove Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-8021-3797-5.
46. Gupta and Ramachandran (1976), p.246, who summarize as follows: "Astronomical calculations favor 15th century BCE as the date of the war while the Puranic data place it in the 10th/9th century BCE. Archaeological evidence points towards the latter." (p.254)
47. "Lord Krishna lived for 125 years | India News - Times of India". The Times of India.
48. "5151 years of Gita". 19 January 2014.
49. Gupta and Ramachandran (1976), p.55; AD Pusalker, HCIP, Vol I, p.272
50. AD Pusalker, op.cit. p.272
51. "Sanskrit, Tamil and Pahlavi Dictionaries" (in German). Webapps.uni-koeln.de. 11 February 2003.
52. "Book 1: Adi Parva: Jatugriha Parva". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
53. VISHNU S. SUKTHANKAR (11 March 2018). "THE MAHABHARATHA". BHANDARKAR ORIENTAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE, POONA – via Internet Archive.
54. "The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute : Mahabharata Project". bori.ac.in.
55. M. A. Mehendale (1 January 2001). "Interpolations in the Mahabharata" – via Internet Archive.
56. "Book 2: Sabha Parva: Sabhakriya Parva". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
57. "Sabha parva". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
58. Rajagopalachari, Chakravarti (2005). "Yudhishthira's final trial". Mahabharata (45th ed.). Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. ISBN 978-81-7276-368-8.
59. Robinson, P.F. (2003). Just War in Comparative Perspective. Ashgate. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-7546-3587-1. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
60. "picture details". Plant Cultures. Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
61. Gaṅgā Rām, Garg (1992). Encyclopaedia of the Hindu world, Volume 1. p. 129. ISBN 978-81-7022-376-4.
62. Several editions of the Kisari Mohan Ganguli translation of the Mahabharata incorrectly cite the publisher, Pratap Chandra Roy, as the translator and this error has been propagated into secondary citations. See the publisher's preface to the current Munshiram Manoharlal edition for an explanation.
63. The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli at the Internet Sacred Text Archive
64. P. Lal. "Kisari Mohan Ganguli and Pratap Chandra Roy". An Annotated Mahabharata Bibliography. Calcutta.
65. The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa translated by Romesh Chunder Dutt at the Online Library of Liberty.
66. Fitzgerald, James (2009). "Reading Suggestions for Getting Started". Brown.
67. Bhandarkar Institute, Pune Archived 19 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine—Virtual Pune
68. Srinivas, Smriti (2004) [2001]. Landscapes of Urban Memory. Orient Longman. p. 23. ISBN 978-81-250-2254-1. OCLC 46353272.
69. "The Javanization of the Mahābhārata, Chapter 15. Indic Transformation: The Sanskritization of Jawa and the Javanization of the Bharata".
70. "Indonesian Ramayana: The Uttarakanda by Dr. I Gusti Putu Phalgunadi: Sundeep Prakashan, New Delhi 9788175740532 Hardcover, First edition". abebooks.com. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
71. Don Rubin (1998). The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre: Asia. Taylor & Francis. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-415-05933-6.
72. The Mahabharata as Theatre Archived 14 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine by Pradip Bhattacharya, 13 June 2004.
73. Topiwala, Chandrakant (1990). "Bahuk". Gujarati Sahityakosh (Encyclopedia of Gujarati Literature) (in Gujarati). 2. Ahmedabad: Gujarati Sahitya Parishad. p. 394.
74. Pai, Anant (1998). Pai, Anant (ed.). Amar Chitra Katha Mahabharata. Kadam, Dilip (illus.). Mumbai: Amar Chitra Katha. p. 1200. ISBN 978-81-905990-4-7.
75. "What makes Shyam special". Hinduonnet.com. 17 January 2003. Archived from the original on 12 January 2011.
76. Kumar, Anuj (27 May 2010). "Fact of the matter". The Hindu.
77. "Mahabharat: Theatrical Trailer (Animated Film)". 19 November 2013.
78. Mahabharat at IMDb (1988–1990 TV series)
79. The Mahabharata at IMDb (1989 mini-series).
80. "In brief: Mahabharat will be most expensive Indian movie ever". 24 February 2003 – via http://www.theguardian.com.
81. C. J. Wallia (1996). "IndiaStar book review: Satyajit Ray by Surabhi Banerjee". Archived from the original on 14 May 2008. Retrieved 31 May 2009.
82. Sax, William Sturman (2002). Dancing the Self: Personhood and Performance in the Pāṇḍava Līlā of Garhwal. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195139150.
83. Jaini, Padmanabh (2000). Collected Papers on Jaina Studies. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 978-81-208-1691-6. p. 351-52
84. Shah, Natubhai (1998). Jainism: The World of Conquerors. Volume I and II. Sussex: Sussex Academy Press. ISBN 978-1-898723-30-1. vol 1 pp. 14–15
85. Jaini, Padmanabh (2000). Collected Papers on Jaina Studies. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 978-81-208-1691-6. p. 377
86. Jaini, Padmanabh (1998). The Jaina Path of Purification. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-1578-0. p.305
87. Jaini, Padmanabh (2000). Collected Papers on Jaina Studies. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 978-81-208-1691-6. p. 351
88. Roy, Ashim Kumar (1984). A history of the Jainas. New Delhi: Gitanjali Pub. House. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-8364-1136-2. OCLC 11604851.
89. Helen, Johnson (2009) [1931]. Muni Samvegayashvijay Maharaj (ed.). Trisastiśalākāpurusacaritra of Hemacandra: The Jain Saga. Part II. Baroda: Oriental Institute. ISBN 978-81-908157-0-3. refer story of Neminatha
90. Devdutt Pattanaik (2 March 2017). "How different are the Jain Ramayana and Jain Mahabharata from Hindu narrations?". Devdutt. Retrieved 22 March 2017.
91. "Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita". Yoga.about.com. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
92. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; On The Bhagavad Gita; A New Translation and Commentary With Sanskrit Text Chapters 1 to 6, Preface p.9
93. Stevenson, Robert W., "Tilak and the Bhagavadgita's Doctrine of Karmayoga", in Minor, p. 44.
94. Jordens, J. T. F., "Gandhi and the Bhagavadgita", in Minor, p. 88.

Sources

• Badrinath, Chaturvedi. The Mahābhārata: An Inquiry in the Human Condition, New Delhi, Orient Longman (2006)
• Bandyopadhyaya, Jayantanuja (2008). Class and Religion in Ancient India. Anthem Press.
• Basham, A. L. (1954). The Wonder That Was India: A Survey of the Culture of the Indian Sub-Continent Before The Coming of the Muslims. New York: Grove Press.
• Bhasin, R.V. "Mahabharata" published by National Publications, India, 2007.
• J. Brockington. The Sanskrit Epics, Leiden (1998).
• Buitenen, Johannes Adrianus Bernardus (1978). The Mahābhārata. 3 volumes (translation / publication incomplete due to his death). University of Chicago Press.
• Chaitanya, Krishna (K.K. Nair). The Mahabharata, A Literary Study, Clarion Books, New Delhi 1985.
• Gupta, S.P. and Ramachandran, K.S. (ed.). Mahabharata: myth and reality. Agam Prakashan, New Delhi 1976.
• Hiltebeitel, Alf. The Ritual of Battle, Krishna in the Mahabharata, SUNY Press, New York 1990.
• Hopkins, E. W. The Great Epic of India, New York (1901).
• Jyotirmayananda, Swami. Mysticism of the Mahabharata, Yoga Research Foundation, Miami 1993.
• Katz, Ruth Cecily Arjuna in the Mahabharata, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia 1989.
• Keay, John (2000). India: A History. Grove Press. ISBN 978-0-8021-3797-5.
• Majumdar, R. C. (general editor) (1951). The History and Culture of the Indian People: (Volume 1) The Vedic Age. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.
• Lerner, Paule. Astrological Key in Mahabharata, David White (trans.) Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi 1988.
• Mallory, J. P (2005). In Search of the Indo-Europeans. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27616-1
• Mehta, M. The problem of the double introduction to the Mahabharata, JAOS 93 (1973), 547–550.
• Minkowski, C.Z. Janamehayas Sattra and Ritual Structure, JAOS 109 (1989), 410–420.
• Minkowski, C.Z. 'Snakes, Sattras and the Mahabharata', in: Essays on the Mahabharata, ed. A. Sharma, Leiden (1991), 384–400.
• Oldenberg, Hermann. Zur Geschichte der Altindischen Prosa, Berlin (1917)
• Oberlies, Th. 'The Counsels of the Seer Narada: Ritual on and under the surface of the Mahabharata', in: New methods in the research of epic (ed. H. L. C. Tristram), Freiburg (1998).
• Oldenberg, H. Das Mahabharata, Göttingen (1922).
• Pāṇini. Ashtādhyāyī. Book 4. Translated by Chandra Vasu. Benares, 1896. (in Sanskrit and English)
• Pargiter, F.E. Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, London 1922. Repr. Motilal Banarsidass 1997.
• Sattar, Arshia (transl.) (1996). The Rāmāyaṇa by Vālmīki. Viking. p. 696. ISBN 978-0-14-029866-6.
• Sukthankar, Vishnu S. and Shrimant Balasaheb Pant Pratinidhi (1933). The Mahabharata: for the first time critically edited. Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.
• Sullivan, Bruce M. Seer of the Fifth Veda, Krsna Dvaipayana Vyasa in the Mahabharata, Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi 1999.
• Sutton, Nicholas. Religious Doctrines in the Mahabharata, Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi 2000.
• Utgikar, N. B. The mention of the Mahābhārata in the Ashvalayana Grhya Sutra, Proceedings and Transactions of the All-India Oriental Conference, Poona (1919), vol. 2, Poona (1922), 46–61.
• Vaidya, R.V. A Study of Mahabharat; A Research, Poona, A.V.G. Prakashan, 1967
• Witzel, Michael, Epics, Khilas and Puranas: Continuities and Ruptures, Proceedings of the Third Dubrovnik International Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Puranas, ed. P. Koskiallio, Zagreb (2005), 21–80.

External links

• Sacred-Texts: Hinduism – English translation of 18 parvas of Mahabharata
• harivamsham - mahaabhaarat khila parva – English translation of harivamsa Parva of Mahabharata
• Sanskrit etext of the Mahābhārata online (licensed and approved by BORI)
• All volumes in 12 PDF-files (Holybooks.com, 181 MB in total)
• Reading Suggestions, J. L. Fitzgerald, Das Professor of Sanskrit, Department of Classics, Brown University
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Ikshvaku
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/20/21

Image
Ikshvaku
Chanting Brahmins and King Ikshvaku proceed to heaven
Dynasty Ikshvaku
Father Vaivaswata Manu
Mother Shraddha
Religion Hinduism

In ancient India, Ikshvaku (Sanskrit; ikṣvāku,); one of the ten sons of Shraddhadeva Manu, was the first king of the Ikshvaku dynasty, known as the "Suryavansha", and the kingdom of Kosala in ancient India.[1] According to the Vishnu Purana, he had a hundred sons,[2] among whom the eldest was Vikukshi. Another son of Ikshvaku's, named Nimi, founded the Kingdom of the Videhas.[3] Lord Rama and the sage Buddha belonged to the Suryavansha or Ikshvaku dynasty.[4]

Origin

From Kashyapa, through Aditi, Vivaswan was generated, and from Vivaswan came Shraddhadeva Manu, who was born from the womb of Sanjna. Shraddhadev's wife, Shraddha, gave birth to 10 sons, such as Ikshvaku and Nriga. According to the Vedas, Ikshvaku was the protector of the five territories of Panchajanah who were non-sacrificing pre-Aryan and non-Aryan people. The Atharvaveda and Brahmanas associate the Ikshvakus with the non-Aryan people, that is they are different from the Vedic Aryans who composed hymns of the four Vedas.[5][6] F. E. Pargiter has equated the Ikshvakus with the Dravidian peoples.[7]

See also

• Suryavansha
• Kshatriya
• Saket

References

Citations


1. Thapar 2013, p. 308-309.
2. John Garrett (1975). A Classical Dictionary of India. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distri. p. 259. GGKEY:YTLNG1DG7JN. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
3. Subodh Kapoor (2004). A Dictionary of Hinduism: Including Its Mythology, Religion, History, Literature, and Pantheon. New Delhi: Cosmo Publications. p. 171. ISBN 978-81-7755-874-6. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
4. Peter Scharf. Ramopakhyana - The Story of Rama in the Mahabharata: A Sanskrit Independent-Study Reader. Routledge, 2014. p. 559.
5. Indian History Congress. Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, Parts 1-2. pp. 32–33.
6. Ram Chandra Jain. Ethnology of Ancient Bhārata. Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 1970. p. 18.
7. Ram Chandra Jain. Ethnology of Ancient Bhārata. Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, 1970. p. 21.

Sources

• Thapar, Romila (2013), The Past Before Us, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0-674-72651-2

External links

• Vishnu Purana Book 4 ch. 1 and 2, P-348 to 377
• THE VALMIKI RAMAYANA - IIT Madras
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Sat May 22, 2021 11:38 pm

CHAP. XX. Of what concerns Women. Excerpt from A Code of Gentoo Laws, Or, Ordinations of the Pundits
From a Persian Translation, Made From the Original, Written in the Shanscrit Language
by Nathaniel Brassey Halhed
1776

CHAP. XX. Of what concerns Women.

A Man, both Day and Night, must keep his Wife so much in Subjection, that she by no Means be Mistress of her own Actions: If the Wife have her own Free-Will, notwithstanding she be sprung from a superior Cast, she will yet behave amiss.

So long as a Woman remains unmarried, her Father shall take care of her; and so long as a Wife remains young, her Husband shall take care of her; and in her old Age, her Son shall take care of her; and if, before a Woman's Marriage, her Father should die, the Brother, or Brother's Son, or such other near Relations of the Father shall take care of her; if, after Marriage, her Husband should die, and the Wife has not brought forth a Son, the Brothers, and Brothers Sons, and such other near Relations of her Husband shall take care of her: If there are no Brothers, Brothers Sons, or such other near Relations of her Husband, the Brothers, or Sons of the Brothers of her Father shall take care of her: If there are none of those, the Magistrate shall take care of her; and in every Stage of Life, if the Persons who have been allotted to take care of a Woman do not take care of her, each in his respective Stage accordingly, the Magistrate shall fine them.

If a Husband be abject: and weak, he shall nevertheless endeavour to guard his Wife with Caution, that she may not be unchaste, and learn bad Habits.

If a Man, by Confinement and Threats, cannot guard his Wife, he shall give her a large Sum of Money, and make her Mistress of her Income and Expences, and appoint her to dress Victuals for the Dewtah (i. e.) the Deity.

A Woman is never satisfied with the Copulation of Man, no more than Fire is satisfied with burning Fuel, or the main Ocean with receiving the Rivers, or the Empire of Death with the dying of Men and Animals; in this Case therefore, a Woman is not to be relied on.

Women have Six Qualities; the First, an inordinate Desire for Jewels and fine Furniture, handsome Cloaths, and nice Victuals; the Second, immoderate Lust; the Third, violent Anger; the Fourth, deep Resentment (i. e.) no Person knows the Sentiments concealed in their Heart; the Fifth, another Person's Good appears Evil in their Eyes; the Sixth, they commit bad Actions.

If a Woman is pregnant, they must give her the Sadheh (the Sadheh is, to give a pregnant Woman, in the Ninth Month, Rice, Milk, and Sweetmeats, and other Eatables of the same Kind for her to eat, and to dress her in handsome Cloaths.

If a Husband is going a Journey, he must give his Wife enough to furnish her with Victuals and Cloaths, until the promised Period of his Return; if he goes without leaving such Provision, and his Wife is reduced to great Necessity for want of Victuals and Cloaths, then, if the Wife be naturally well principled, she yet becomes unchaste, for want of Victuals and Cloaths.

In every Family where there is a good Understanding between the Husband and Wife, and where the Wife is not unchaste, and the Husband also commits no bad Practices, it is an excellent Example.

The Creator formed Woman for this Purpose, viz. That Man might copulate with her, and that Children might be born from thence.

A Woman, who always acts according to her Husband's Pleasure, and speaks no ill of any Person, and who can herself do all such Things as are proper for a Woman, and who is of good Principles, and who produces a Son, and who rises from Sleep before her Husband, such a Woman is found only by much and many religious Works, and by a peculiarly happy Destiny, such a Woman, if any Man forsakes of his own accord, the Magistrate shall inflict upon that Man the Punishment of a Thief.

A Woman, who always abuses her Husband, shall be treated with good Advice, for the Space of One Year; if she does not amend with One Year's Advice, and does not leave off abusing her Husband, he shall no longer hold any Communication with her, nor keep her any longer near him, but shall provide her with Food and Cloaths.

A Woman, who dissipates or spoils her own Property, or who procures Abortion, or who has an Intention to murder her Husband, and is always quarrelling with every Body, and who eats before her Husband eats, such Woman shall be turned out of the House.

A Husband, at his own Pleasure, shall cease to copulate with his Wife who is barren, or who always brings forth Daughters.

If a Woman, after her monthly Courses, while her Husband continues in the House, conceiving her Husband to be a weak, low, and contemptible Object, goes no more to him, the Husband, informing People of this, shall turn her out of his House.

If a Woman, following her own Inclination, goes whithersoever she chooses, and does not regard the Words of her Master, such a Woman also shall be turned away.

A Woman, who is of a good Disposition, and who puts on her Jewels and Cloaths with Decorum, and is of good Principles, whenever the Husband is cheerful, the Wife also is cheerful, and if the Husband is sorrowful, the Wife also is sorrowful, and whenever the Husband undertakes a Journey, the Wife puts on a careless Dress, and lays aside her Jewels and other Ornaments, and abuses no Person, and will not expend a single Dam without her Husband's Consent, and has a Son, and takes proper Care of the Household Goods, and, at the Times of Worship, performs her Worship to the Deity in a proper Manner, and goes not out of the House, and is not unchaste, and makes no Quarrels or Disturbances, and has no greedy Passions, and is always employed in some good Work, and pays a proper Respect to all Persons, such is a good Woman.

A Woman shall never go out of the House without the Consent of her Husband, and shall always have some Cloaths upon her Bosom, and at Festival Times shall put on her choicest Dress and her Jewels, and shall never hold Discourse with a strange Man; but may converse with a Sinassee, a Hermit, or an old Man; and shall always dress in Cloaths that reach from below the Leg to above the Navel; and shall not suffer her Breasts to appear out of her Cloaths; and shall not laugh, without drawing her Veil before her Face; and shall act according to the Orders of her Husband; and shall pay a proper Respect to the Deity, her Husband's Father, the Spiritual Guide, and the Guests; and shall not eat until she has served them with Victuals (if it is Physick, she may take it before they eat) a Woman also shall never go to a Stranger's House, and shall not stand at the Door, and must never look out of a window.

Six Things are disgraceful to a Woman: 1st. To drink Wine and eat Conserves, or any such inebriating Things. 2d. To keep company with a Man of bad Principles. 3d. To remain separate from her Husband. 4th. To go to a Stranger's House without good Cause. 5th. To sleep in the Day- Time. 6th. To remain in a Stranger's House.

When a Woman, whose Husband is Absent on a Journey, has expended all the Money that he gave her, to support her in Victuals and Cloaths during his Absence, or if her Husband went on a Journey without leaving any Thing with her to support her Expences, she shall support herself by Painting, by Spinning, or some other such Employment.

If a Man goes on a Journey, his Wife shall not divert herself by Play, nor shall see any publick Show, nor shall laugh, nor shall dress herself in Jewels and fine Cloaths, nor shall see Dancing, nor hear Musick, nor shall sit in the Window, nor shall ride out, nor shall behold any Thing choice and rare; but shall fasten well the House-Door, and remain private; and shall not eat any dainty Victuals, and shall not blacken her Eyes with Eye-Powder, and shall not view her Face in a Mirror; she shall never exercise herself in any such agreeable Employment, during the Absence of her Husband.

It is proper for a Woman, after her Husband's Death, to burn herself in the Fire with his Corpse; every Woman, who thus burns herself, shall remain in Paradise with her Husband Three Crore and Fifty Lacks of Years, by Destiny; if she cannot burn, she must, in that Case, preserve an inviolable Chastity; if she remains always chaste, she goes to Paradise; and if she does not preserve her Chastity, she goes to Hell.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Ramchandra Pant Amatya
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/24/21

Image
Ramchandra Pant Amatya Bavdekar
Ramchandra Pant Amatya Painting made from earlier statue. Artist Swapnil Patil.
Flag of the Maratha Empire.svgAmatya of the Maratha Empire
In office: 1674–1689
Monarch Chhatrapati Shivaji I; Sambhaji
Preceded by: position established
Succeeded by: Bahiroji Pingale
Regent of the Maratha Empire
In office: 1689–1708
Monarch: Sambhaji; Rajaram; Shivaji II; Sambhaji II
Preceded by: Moreshvar Pingale
Succeeded by: Bahiroji Pingale
Personal details
Born: 1650, Kolwan (Pune District, Maharashtra)
Died: 1716, Panhala (Kolhapur District, Maharashtra)
Spouse(s): Janakibai

Ramchandra Neelkanth Bawadekar (1650–1716), also known as Ramchandra Pant Amatya, served on the Council of 8 (Ashta Pradhan) as the Finance Minister (Amatya) to Emperor (Chhatrapati) Shivaji dating from 1674 to 1680.[1] He then served as the Imperial Regent to four later emperors, namely Sambhaji, Rajaram, Shivaji II and Sambhaji II. He authored the Adnyapatra, a famous code of civil and military administration, and is renowned as one of the greatest civil administrators, diplomats and military strategists of the Maratha Empire.

Early life

Ramchandra Pant was born in a Deshastha Brahmin family in approximately 1650. He was the youngest son of Neelkanth Sondeo Bahutkar (more popularly known as Nilo Sondeo), who had risen from a local revenue collection post (Kulkarni) to the post of Minister in the court of Shivaji.

His family came from the village of Kolwan; near Kalyan Bhiwandi. Ramchandra Pant's grandfather Sonopant and uncle Abaji Sondeo were in the close circle of Shivaji. The Bahutkar family was closely associated with Samarth Ramdas, the spiritual guru of Shivaji. Samarth Ramdas is believed to be the one who named the newly born child as Ramchandra.

Early career

Before 1672, Ramchandra Pant was engaged in various clerical jobs in Shivaji's administration. In 1672, he and his elder brother Narayan were both promoted to the post of Revenue Minister (Mujumdar) by Shivaji. In 1674, at the coronation ceremony, the post of Mujumdar was renamed as Amatya and the title was solely bestowed upon Ramchandra Pant. He worked in this capacity until 1678. On his death bed, Shivaji named him as one among six pillars of the Maratha Empire that would save the kingdom in difficult times.

After Shivaji's death in 1680, Sambhaji became ruler of the Maratha Empire, and Ramchandra Pant continued with his administration in various posts. Among other duties, Ramchandra Pant was sent to Prince Akbar, Aurangzeb's rebel son, for negotiations and, in 1685, Sambhaji also deployed him as an envoy to Vijapur for certain sensitive talks.

Amatya of 5 Chhatrapaties

Ramchandra Pant Amatya was the only person (Amatya) who dedicatedly served The Maratha Swarajya under 5 Chhatrapati's in a row. When the Marathi empire was in trouble he used his wisdom, dedication to the throne and even force as needed to keep the empire and its Swarajya safe.

During the coronation of Shivaji, Ramchandra Pant Amatya was the youngest Pradhan of all the Asthapradhan's existing at that time. Thereafter, during the reign of Sambhaji, Rajaram, Maharani Tarabai and (Kolhapur's first ruler) Sambhaji Raje, Pant Amatya always held a prominent positions. As Riyasatkar(s) rightly said that ‘ever since the time of Shivaji Maharaj, Ramchandra Pant Amatya was the only person in the history of the Marathas who seems to have dedicatedly served the throne.’ Ramchandra Pant Amatya has laid down all the experiences encountered by him, while serving the throne in his book Rajniti (Adnyapatra). The said book is a testament to his dedication and service to the throne of Chatrapati's and Hindavi Swarajya.

The forefathers of Ramchandra Pant Amatya had close relations with the Bhosle Gharana even before the establishment of Swarajya. Before the coronation of Shivaji, Ramchandra Pant Amatya's father used to participate in various initiatives undertaken by Shivaji. Ramchandra Pant Amatya subsequently carried forward this (his father's) tradition with even more impact. Ramchandra Pant Amatya took the lead when it came to the protection of the Swarajya. Being impressed by his efforts, Shivaji included Ramchandra Pant as Amatya in his First Ashta Pradhan mandal i.e. Council of Ministers. This, in itself portrays the qualities that Ramchandra Pant Amatya possessed. During the coronation ceremony of Shivaji, Pant was included as Amatya. He must’ve been 22–23 years old then. Before the coronation, a Pradhan Mandal was appointed by Maharaj in the year 1662 which included Ramchandra Pant's father Neelkanth Sondev as Maharaj's Amatya. This legacy was carried forward, as after the death of Neelkanth Sondev his son Ramchandra Pant was appointed as Maharaj's Amatya.

According to the information provided by the Bakharkar(s), Ramchandra Pant Amatya was one of the very few people present when Shivaji was on his death bed at Raigad. Shivaji had named a few people who had the ability protect the Swarajya after his demise. Ramchandra Pant Amatya was one of them. During the Reign of Sambhaji, Ramchandra Pant Amatya was given an important position. (Period of 1680 to 1685)

Fight for Freedom

After the unfortunate demise of Sambhaji, the Maratha Empire was in great trouble. Aurangzeb had taken a vow to defeat the Maratha empire at any cost, and with that motive, he attacked many forts of the Marathas with a huge army. Sadness prevailed all over the Maratha Empire. In this situation, Ramchandra Pant Amatya stood up and acted with a lot of patience. This was the era of the freedom struggle of the Maratha empire. Ramchandra Pant Amatya did every thing he could to keep the royal family and the Maratha empire safe and endure the struggle of the troubled times. Ramchandra Pant Amatya, Santaji Ghorpade, Dhanaji Jadhav, Parshurampant Pant-Pratinidhi were the major contributors to the struggle for freedom.[citation needed]

Rajaram Maharaj's stay in Gingi ended in 1697. He returned to Maharashtra. However, Rajaram Maharaj died in 1700 when he was at Fort Sinhagad. The Maratha empire was in trouble again. Ramchandra Pant Amatya did everything he could to save the Maratha Empire from the trouble and he succeeded. This was no mean achievement. Ramchandra Pant had paid a visit to Rajaram Maharaj when he was on his death bed at Sinhagad fort. Pant had sensed the inevitable. He wrote letters to many Sardars and informed them of the dire situation and brought to their notice, the need to protect the Empire.

After the death of Rajaram Maharaj, Aurangzeb started attacking with even more force. He thought that now, he could easily defeat the Maratha empire as there was no King. He planned to take over the entire empire. But he was wrong. Ramchandra Pant, Dhanaji Jadhav, Parshuram Pant Pratinidhi along with thousands of soldiers loyal and dedicated to the throne resolved to defend their Empire. They fought with Aurangzeb for seven years continuously, that is from 1700 to 1707. Eventually, Aurangzeb admitted defeat and subsequently died in Ahmednagar. This struggle for 7 continuous years was a period with innumerable difficulties and troubles for the Marathas. The leadership of Maharani Tarabai and the wisdom of Ramchandra Pant had played a vital role in the protection of the Swarajya in these 7 years. Tarabai wanted her son Shivaji II on the Maratha throne but Ramchandra Pant wanted to wait for Prince Shahu to return. But he did not pursue it beyond a point. He decided to be loyal to the Kolhapur throne. Tararani knew about Ramchandra Pant's capabilities and qualities. In every time of peril, he stood behind the Maratha throne like a mountain. Tarabai has in a letter to his son Bhagwantrao acknowledged his greatness. She says, "Ramchandra Pant served the Maratha kingdom with great loyalty. He restored an almost finished Swarajya and made a great name for himself ".[citation needed]

It is said that Ramchandra Pant Amatya was behind the bloodless coup that led to Rajasbai's son Sambhaji being crowned as The Chatrapati in 1713-1714. He felt it necessary as the Kolhapur Kingdom was heading towards a different path. There seems to be no ulterior motive behind this coup. He crowned Sambhaji as the Chatrapati and soon went in the background. As Sambhaji was only 16–17 years old he would naturally look up to Ramchandra Pant Amatya for guidance. Shortly after Ramchandra Pant Amatya died. There is some confusion about the date of his death but most historians assume it to be somewhere in February 1716.[citation needed]

A Warrior and A Statesman

Ramchandra Pant Amatya was also a warrior as he was a statesman. He is known to lead many wars. Moghul historians mention that when Aurangzeb's grandson had invaded Panhala in 1693 Ramchandra Pant along with Pratinidhi launched a heavy attack on the Mughal forces. A Farsi historian notes that Ramchandra Pant was the head of Konkan army in 1699 and attacked them with all his might. His guns were blazing with all their might and a mighty war ensued.[citation needed]

A Portuguese Killedar has mentioned that on 22 February 1701 Ramchandra Pant along with 20,000 Maratha's attacked Dandya's Siddi Yakubkhan.

Adnyapatra

Image
Coat of Arms of Pant Amatya Gaganbavada

Ramchandra Pant Amatya is the writer of the First book on Politics in Maratha history "AdnyaPatra". This main topics refer to

1. The King and his duties ways of governance,
2. How revenue is important for the State
3. Importance of the Army and Importance of scholars and experts in all fields
4. Education of the Princes.
5. Importance of a Pradhan i.e. Prime Minister and his duties
6. Policies regarding foreigners i.e. British, French etc.
7. Policy regarding your judicatories
8. Importance of forts.
9. he who has the Navy rules the seas,
10. Policy regarding natural resources etc.

It is said that it outlines the theories and way of ruling of Shivaji. The book is said to be of such high stature that it can be compared to Kautilya's Arthashastra.

It is said that the book still holds relevance in today's time and can be a guide for a person in the administration of a state, such is the richness of his thoughts more than 300 years back.

Contribution to Maratha War of Independence

In 1689, at the time of Sambhaji's assassination by Aurangzeb, Ramchandra Pant was deployed at Fort Vishalgad. In consultation with Sambhaji's queen, Yesubai, who was located at Fort Raigad along with Rajaram and her son Shahu, he decided to send Rajaram to Fort Gingee (in current-day Tamil Nadu) to divide the battlefield. Subsequently, Rajaram was brought to Panhala fort and was secretly sent to Gingee. Before leaving for Gingee, Rajaram conferred on Ramchandra Pant the title of Imperial Regent (Hukumat Panah).

Thereafter, with the aid of generals Santaji Ghorpade, Dhanaji Jadhav, Parshuram Pant Pratinidhi, and Shankaraji Narayan Gandekar, Ramchandra Pant launched a great retaliatory war against the Mughal Empire.

Wartime strategies

• To encourage the local Maratha warriors to fight independently against the Mughals, Ramchandra Pant adopted a new policy to officially reward pieces of land (Vatans) in exchange for military service. Turn out the Mughals and own the land was the pronouncement. This mercenary policy went against Shivaji's will, but Ramchandra Pant saw no alternative given the changed circumstances.
• Independent Maratha warlords were encouraged to cross the Maharashtra border and to invade Mughal areas in response to Mughal invasion. Nemaji Shinde and Chimnaji Damodar were the first warlords to successfully respond to this strategy.
• Appealing to Mughal greed, Maratha forts were traded to the Mughals for large sums. Once the forts were well equipped by the Mughals, the forts were re-captured by Maratha forces.

These strategies proved to be extremely effective against the Mughal Empire.

Later career

In 1698, after Rajaram's return from Gingee, Ramchandra Pant voluntarily stepped down from the post of Imperial Regent.

In 1700, after Rajaram's death, Queen Tarabai once again delegated enormous wartime powers to Ramchandra Pant. Both of them continued to fight against the Mughal power in India. At the time of Aurangzeb's death in 1707, the Marathas had become extremely powerful and the Mughal Empire was on the verge of total devastation.

After Shahu's release from the Mughal camp, most of the Maratha generals defected from Tarabai and joined him. As a result, Tarabai was forced to leave the capital at Satara, fleeing to Panhala fort. Ramchandra Pant, however, strongly supported Tarabai at the time and worked as the Senior Minister for her son Shivaji II.

In 1714, Rajasbai instigated a coup against Tarabai and her son Shivaji II and installed her own son Sambhaji II on the Kolhapur throne. Modern-day scholars generally conclude that Ramchandra Pant was behind this conspiracy as he was appointed by Sambhaji II to the Imperial Regency immediately thereafter. It is speculated that Ramchandra Pant and his supporters were not satisfied with Tarabai's treatment of her peerage.

Later life

On the request of Sambhaji II, Ramchandra Pant wrote the Adnyapatra (also spelled Ajnapatra), a standard code of civil and military administration for the Maratha Empire. It can be compared to Kautilya's Arthashastra.

In 1716, Ramchandra Pant died at the age of 66. A monument dedicated to his life and valiant effort in fighting against the Mughal invaders is located at Panhala fort. His heirs still live near Fort Gaganbawada to this day — a gift to Ramchandra Pant for his great contribution to Maratha power.

Founder of Gaganbavada Jahagir

Image
Pant Amatya Wada at Gaganbavada

The descendants of Ramchandra Pant Amatya were awarded the Jahagir of Gagan Bavda, the hilly region on the hilltops of the Konkan and the Konkan area. This was the largest Jahagir in Kolhapur state with an area of 243 square miles. The Jahagir extended from Mutukeshwar near Kolhapur almost touching the Mumbai Goa highway of today. The area in Konkan was managed from here. More than a mere Jahagir, it was a Feudatory kingdom with its own revenue Department, Police Force, Judicial and Criminal Courts etc.

The Main Jahagir Offices were situated in Gagan Bavda where the police force, Revenue departments and Courts were situated in the Rajwada area.

The Jahagirdars of Bavda were given the title of Raja by Shahu along with 3 other Jaghirdars of Kolhapur namely Kagal (Ghatges), Vishalgad (Pratinidhis) and Kapashi (Ghorpades). The Bavda Jahagir though the biggest in area, was not the one with highest income due to people living in hilly area and scattered population. The Jahagirdar's of Bavda in spite of natural odds undertook many welfare schemes for the subjects in their area.

The Jahagir was abolished after independence and a privy purse was given to the Jahagirdar's until 1975.

The present descendants live in Tararbai Park, area of Kolhapur in Maharashtra state.

Geography of Bavda Jahagir (Sanstha Bavda):

Boundaries on the east, North and south of Bavda is the Kolhapur state. On the west, the Jahagir had a border with Ratnagiri district. Some of the towns in the Jahagir were also located outside the boundaries. The east west length is approx 40 miles and width approx 25 miles. The total area being 243 square miles. It was divided between Konkan Area and area on top of the Sahyadri Ghats. Most of the area is dense forests. The height of the konkan area from the sea level is 450 feet and the upper area height from the sea level is 200 feet. The Sahyadri mountain ranges reach up to a height of 3400 feet.

The forts of Gagangad and Shivgad were situated in Gagan Bavda Jahagir. In 1846, the old buildings on the Gagangad fort were demolished after which there was no habitation on the forts, until the time Gagangiri Maharaj built an Ashram on Gagangad fort.

The crops mainly cultivated are Sugarcane, rice, sunflower Maize etc. The fruits which are natural to the region are Jackfruit, Jambhul, karvanda etc.

Gaganbavada Fort

Gaganbavda fort was built by Raja Bhoj from around 1178 to 1209 A.D. The height of the fort from sea level is 2244 feet on The western Sahyadri Mountain ranges. The fort had buildings earlier which have demolished.

Gagan Bavda fort came into the Maratha's control in the year 1660. It was given to Ramchandra Pant Amatya's father Nilo Sondev. For some time, it was captured by the Adilshahi forces but came back into the Maratha's fold in 1689. After the Maghals held Sambhaji, it went in to their hands. Ramchandra Pant Amatya captured it and brought it under Swaraj in 1700 and which remained in The Bavda Jahagir till independence.

At the time Bavda Jahagir extended up to Malvan and Vijaydurg and had a cavalry of 25000.

References

1. Shivaji, the great Maratha, Volume 2, H. S. Sardesai, Genesis Publishing Pvt Ltd, 2002, ISBN 81-7755-286-4, ISBN 978-81-7755-286-7

Bibliography

• Dahiya, Poonam Dalal (2017). ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL INDIA. McGraw-Hill Education. ISBN 9789352606733.

External links

• ‘Marathi Riyasat’ (Marathi) by Govind Sakharam Sardesai
• 'The New History of Marathas' by Govind Sakharam Sardesai
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Tue May 25, 2021 6:54 am

Part 1 of 2

Chapter Six: The Nation and Its Women: The Paradox of the Women's Question, Excerpt From The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories
by Partha Chatterjee
© 1993 by Princeton University Press

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Highlights:

I described earlier the way nationalism separated the domain of culture into two spheres—-the material and the spiritual. The claims of Western civilization were the most powerful in the material sphere. Science, technology, rational forms of economic organization, modern methods of statecraft—these had given the European countries the strength to subjugate the non-European people and to impose their dominance over the whole world. To overcome this domination, the colonized people had to learn those superior techniques of organizing material life and incorporate them within their own cultures. This was one aspect of the nationalist project of rationalizing and reforming the traditional culture of their people. But this could not mean the imitation of the West in every aspect of life, for then the very distinction between the West and the East would vanish—the self-identity of national culture would itself be threatened. In fact, as Indian nationalists in the late nineteenth century argued, not only was it undesirable to imitate the West in anything, other than the material aspects of life, it was even unnecessary to do so, because in the spiritual domain, the East was superior to the West. What was necessary was to cultivate the material techniques of modern Western civilization while retaining and strengthening the distinctive spiritual essence of the national culture. This completed the formulation of the nationalist project, and as an ideological justification for the selective appropriation of Western modernity, it continues to hold sway to this day.


The discourse of nationalism shows that the material/spiritual distinction was condensed into an analogous, but ideologically far more powerful, dichotomy: that between the outer and the inner. The material domain, argued nationalist writers, lies outside us—a mere external that influences us, conditions us, and forces us to adjust to it. Ultimately, it is unimportant. The spiritual, which lies within, is our true self; it is that which is genuinely essential. It followed that as long as India took care to retain the spiritual distinctiveness of its culture, it could make all the compromises and adjustments necessary to adapt itself to the requirements of a modern material world without losing its true identity. This was the key that nationalism supplied for resolving the ticklish problems posed by issues of social reform in the nineteenth century.

Applying the inner/outer distinction to the matter of concrete day-to-day living separates the social space into ghar and bahir, the home and the world. The world is the external, the domain of the material; the home represents one's inner spiritual self, one's true identity. The world is a treacherous terrain of the pursuit of material interests, where practical considerations reign supreme. It is also typically the domain of the male. The home in its essence must remain unaffected by the profane activities of the material world—and woman is its representation. And so one gets an identification of social roles by gender to correspond with the separation of the social space into ghar and bahir….

The world was where the European power had challenged the non-European peoples and, by virtue of its superior material culture, had subjugated them. But, the nationalists asserted, it had failed to colonize the inner, essential, identity of the East, which lay in its distinctive, and superior, spiritual culture. Here the East was undominated, sovereign, master of its own fate. For a colonized people, the world was a distressing constraint, forced upon it by the fact of its material weakness. It was a place of oppression and daily humiliation, a place where the norms of the colonizer had perforce to be accepted. It was also the place, as nationalists were soon to argue, where the battle would be waged for national independence. The subjugated must learn the modern sciences and arts of the material world from the West in order to match their strengths and ultimately overthrow the colonizer. But in the entire phase of the national struggle, the crucial need was to protect, preserve, and strengthen the inner core of the national culture, its spiritual essence. No encroachments by the colonizer must be allowed in that inner sanctum. In the world, imitation of and adaptation to Western norms was a necessity; at home, they were tantamount to annihilation of one's very identity…

It is striking how much of the literature on women in the nineteenth century concerns the threatened Westernization of Bengali women. This theme was taken up in virtually every form of written, oral, and visual communication—from the ponderous essays of nineteenth-century moralists, to novels, farces, skits and jingles, to the paintings of the patua (scroll painters)…. To ridicule the idea of a Bengali woman trying to imitate the ways of a memsaheb (and it was very much an idea, for it is hard to find historical evidence that even in the most Westernized families of Calcutta in the mid-nineteenth century there were actually any women who even remotely resembled these gross caricatures) was a sure recipe calculated to evoke raucous laughter and moral condemnation in both male and female audiences. It was, of course, a criticism of manners, of new items of clothing such as the blouse, the petticoat, and shoes (all, curiously, considered vulgar, although they clothed the body far better than the single length of sari that was customary for Bengali women, irrespective of wealth and social status, until the middle of the nineteenth century), of the use of Western cosmetics and jewelry, of the reading of novels, of needlework (considered a useless and expensive pastime), of riding in open carriages. What made the ridicule stronger was the constant suggestion that the Westernized woman was fond of useless luxury and cared little for the well-being of the home….

Yet it was clear that a mere restatement of the old norms of family life would not suffice; they were breaking down because of the inexorable force of circumstance. New norms were needed, which would be more appropriate to the external conditions of the modern world and yet not a mere imitation of the West.

What were the principles by which these new norms could be constructed?

Bhudeb supplies the characteristic nationalist answer.
In an essay entitled "Modesty," he talks of the natural and social principles that provide the basis for the feminine virtues. Modesty, or decorum in manner and conduct, he says, is a specifically human trait; it does not exist in animal nature. It is human aversion to the purely animal traits that gives rise to virtues such as modesty. In this aspect, human beings seek to cultivate in themselves, and in their civilization, spiritual or godlike qualities wholly opposed to the forms of behavior which prevail in animal nature. Further, within the human species, women cultivate and cherish these godlike qualities far more than men. Protected to a certain extent from the purely material pursuits of securing a livelihood in the external world, women express in their appearance and behavior the spiritual qualities that are characteristic of civilized and refined human society…

The point is then hammered home:


Those who laid down our religious codes discovered the inner spiritual quality which resides within even the most animal pursuits which humans must perform, and thus removed the animal qualities from those actions. This has not happened in Europe. Religion there is completely divorced from [material] life. Europeans do not feel inclined to regulate all aspects of their life by the norms of religion; they condemn it as clericalism.'... In the Arya system there is a preponderance of spiritualism, in the European system a preponderance of material pleasure. In the Arya system, the wife is a goddess. In the European system, she is a partner and companion….


The new woman defined in this way was subjected to a new patriarchy. In fact, the social order connecting the home and the world in which nationalists placed the new woman was contrasted not only with that of modern Western society; it was explicitly distinguished from the patriarchy of indigenous tradition, the same tradition that had been put on the dock by colonial interrogators. Sure enough, nationalism adopted several elements from tradition as marks of its native cultural identity, but this was now a "classicized" tradition—reformed, reconstructed, fortified against charges of barbarism and irrationality.

The new patriarchy was also sharply distinguished from the immediate social and cultural condition in which the majority of the people lived, for the "new" woman was quite the reverse of the "common" woman, who was coarse, vulgar, loud, quarrelsome, devoid of superior moral sense, sexually promiscuous, subjected to brutal physical oppression by males. Alongside the parody of the Westernized woman, this other construct is repeatedly emphasized in the literature of the nineteenth century through a host of lower-class female characters who make their appearance in the social milieu of the new middle class—maidservants, washer women, barbers, peddlers, procuresses, prostitutes. It was precisely this degenerate condition of women that nationalism claimed it would reform, and it was through these contrasts that the new woman of nationalist ideology was accorded a status of cultural superiority to the Westernized women of the wealthy parvenu families spawned by the colonial connection as well as to common women of the lower classes. Attainment by her own efforts of a superior national culture was the mark of woman's newly acquired freedom. This was the central ideological strength of the nationalist resolution of the women's question….

Formal education became not only acceptable but, in fact, a requirement for the new bhadramahila (respectable woman) when it was demonstrated that it was possible for a woman to acquire the cultural refinements afforded by modern education without jeopardizing her place at home, that is, without becoming a memsaheb… Indeed, the achievement was marked by claims of cultural superiority in several different aspects: superiority over the Western woman for whom, it was believed, education meant only the acquisition of material skills to compete with men in the outside world and hence a loss of feminine (spiritual) virtues; superiority over the preceding generation of women in their own homes who had been denied the opportunity of freedom by an oppressive and degenerate social tradition; and superiority over women of the lower classes who were culturally incapable of appreciating the virtues of freedom….

Recent historians of a liberal persuasion have often been somewhat embarrassed by the profuse evidence of women writers of the nineteenth century, including those at the forefront of the reform movements in middle-class homes, justifying the importance of the so-called feminine virtues. Radharani Lahiri, for instance, wrote in 1875: "Of all the subjects that women might learn, housework is the most important. . .. Whatever knowledge she may acquire, she cannot claim any reputation unless she is proficient in housework." Others spoke of the need for an educated woman to develop such womanly virtues as chastity, self-sacrifice, submission, devotion, kindness, patience, and the labors of love. The ideological point of view from which such protestations of "femininity" (and hence the acceptance of a new patriarchal order) were made inevitable was given precisely by the nationalist resolution of the problem…

Education then was meant to inculcate in women the virtues—the typically bourgeois virtues characteristic of the new social forms of "disciplining"—of orderliness, thrift, cleanliness, and a personal sense of responsibility, the practical skills of literacy, accounting, hygiene, and the ability to run the household according to the new physical and economic conditions set by the outside world. For this, she would also need to have some idea of the world outside the home, into which she could even venture as long as it did not threaten her femininity. It is this latter criterion, now invested with a characteristically nationalist content, that made possible the displacement of the boundaries of the home from the physical confines earlier defined by the rules of purdah to a more flexible, but nonetheless culturally determinate, domain set by the differences between socially approved male and female conduct. Once the essential femininity of women was fixed in terms of certain culturally visible spiritual qualities, they could go to schools, travel in public conveyances, watch public entertainment programs, and in time even take up employment outside the home. But the "spiritual" signs of her femininity were now clearly marked—in her dress, her eating habits, her social demeanor, her religiosity….

in this as in other aspects of her life, the spirituality of her character had also to be stressed in contrast with the innumerable ways men had to surrender to the pressures of the material world. The need to adjust to the new conditions outside the home had forced upon men a whole series of changes in their dress, food habits, religious observances, and social relations. Each of these capitulations now had to be compensated for by an assertion of spiritual purity on the part of women. They must not eat, drink, or smoke in the same way as men; they must continue the observance of religious rituals that men were finding difficult to carry out; they must maintain the cohesiveness of family life and solidarity with the kin to which men could not now devote much attention. The new patriarchy advocated by nationalism conferred upon women the honor of a new social responsibility, and by associating the task of female emancipation with the historical goal of sovereign nationhood, bound them to a new, and yet entirely legitimate, subordination.

As with all hegemonic forms of exercising dominance, this patriarchy combined coercive authority with the subtle force of persuasion. This was expressed most generally in the inverted ideological form of the relation of power between the sexes: the adulation of woman as goddess or as mother. Whatever its sources in the classical religions of India or in medieval religious practices, the specific ideological form in which we know the "Indian woman" construct in the modern literature and arts of India today is wholly and undeniably a product of the development of a dominant middle-class culture coeval with the era of nationalism. It served to emphasize with all the force of mythological inspiration what had in any case become a dominant characteristic of femininity in the new construct of "woman" standing as a sign for "nation," namely, the spiritual qualities of self-sacrifice, benevolence, devotion, religiosity, and so on. This spirituality did not, as we have seen, impede the chances of the woman moving out of the physical confines of the home; on the contrary, it facilitated it, making it possible for her to go into the world under conditions that would not threaten her femininity. In fact, the image of woman as goddess or mother served to erase her sexuality in the world outside the home.


-- The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories, by Partha Chatterjee


CHAPTER SIX: The Nation and Its Women

THE PARADOX OF THE WOMEN'S QUESTION


The "women's question" was a central issue in the most controversial debates over social reform in early and mid-nineteenth-century Bengal— the period of its so-called renaissance. Rammohan Roy's historical fame is largely built around his campaign against the practice of the immolation of widows, Vidyasagar's around his efforts to legalize widow remarriage and abolish Kulin polygamy; the Brahmo Samaj was split twice in the 1870s over questions of marriage laws and the "age of consent." What has perplexed historians is the rather sudden disappearance of such issues from the agenda of public debate toward the close of the century. From then onward, questions regarding the position of women in society do not arouse the same degree of public passion and acrimony as they did only a few decades before. The overwhelming issues now are directly political ones—concerning the politics of nationalism.

How are we to interpret this change? Ghulam Murshid states the problem in its most obvious, straightforward form.1 If one takes seriously, that is to say, in their liberal, rationalist and egalitarian content, the mid-nineteenth-century attempts in Bengal to "modernize" the condition of women, then what follows in the period of nationalism must be regarded as a clear retrogression. Modernization began in the first half of the nineteenth century because of the penetration of Western ideas. After some limited success, there was a perceptible decline in the reform movements as popular attitudes toward them hardened. The new politics of nationalism "glorified India's past and tended to defend everything traditional"; all attempts to change customs and life-styles began to be seen as the aping of Western manners and were thereby regarded with suspicion. Consequently, nationalism fostered a distinctly conservative attitude toward social beliefs and practices. The movement toward modernization was stalled by nationalist politics.

This critique of the social implications of nationalism follows from rather simple and linear historicist assumptions. Murshid not only accepts that the early attempts at social reform were impelled by the new nationalist and progressive ideas imported from Europe, he also presumes that the necessary historical culmination of such reforms in India ought to have been, as in the West, the full articulation of liberal values in social institutions and practices. From these assumptions, a critique of nationalist ideology and practices is inevitable, the same sort of critique as that of the colonialist historians who argue that Indian nationalism was nothing but a scramble for sharing political power with the colonial rulers; its mass following only the successful activization of traditional patron-client relationships; its internal debates the squabbles of parochial factions; and its ideology a garb for xenophobia and racial exclusiveness.

Clearly, the problem of the diminished importance of the women's question in the period of nationalism deserves a different answer from the one given by Murshid. Sumit Sarkar has argued that the limitations of nationalist ideology in pushing forward a campaign for liberal and egalitarian social change cannot be seen as a retrogression from an earlier radical reformist phase.2 Those limitations were in fact present in the earlier phase as well. The renaissance reformers, he shows, were highly selective in their acceptance of liberal ideas from Europe. Fundamental elements of social conservatism such as the maintenance of caste distinctions and patriarchal forms of authority in the family, acceptance of the sanctity of the šástra (scriptures), preference for symbolic rather than substantive changes in social practices—all these were conspicuous in the reform movements of the early and mid-nineteenth century.

Following from this, we could ask: How did the reformers select what they wanted? What, in other words, was the ideological sieve through which they put the newly imported ideas from Europe? If we can reconstruct this framework of the nationalist ideology, we will be in a far better position to locate where exactly the women's question fitted in with the claims of nationalism. We will find, if I may anticipate my argument in this chapter, that nationalism did in fact provide an answer to the new social and cultural problems concerning the position of women in "modern" society, and that this answer was posited not on an identity but on a difference with the perceived forms of cultural modernity in the West. I will argue, therefore, that the relative unimportance of the women's question in the last decades of the nineteenth century is to be explained not by the fact that it had been censored out of the reform agenda or overtaken by the more pressing and emotive issues of political struggle. The reason lies in nationalism's success in situating the "women's question" in an inner domain of sovereignty, far removed from the arena of political contest with the colonial state. This inner domain of national culture was constituted in the light of the discovery of "tradition."

THE WOMEN'S QUESTION IN "TRADITION"

Apart from the characterization of the political condition of India preceding the British conquest as a state of anarchy, lawlessness, and arbitrary despotism, a central element in the ideological justification of British colonial rule was the criticism of the "degenerate and barbaric" social customs of the Indian people, sanctioned, or so it was believed, by the religious tradition. Alongside the project of instituting orderly, lawful, and rational procedures of governance, therefore, colonialism also saw itself as performing a "civilizing mission." In identifying this tradition as "degenerate and barbaric," colonialist critics invariably repeated a long list of atrocities perpetrated on Indian women, not so much by men or certain classes of men, but by an entire body of scriptural canons and ritual practices that, they said, by rationalizing such atrocities within a complete framework of religious doctrine, made them appear to perpetrators and sufferers alike as the necessary marks of right conduct. By assuming a position of sympathy with the unfree and oppressed womanhood of India, the colonial mind was able to transform this figure of the Indian woman into a sign of the inherently oppressive and unfree nature of the entire cultural tradition of a country.

Take, for example, the following account by an early nineteenth-century British traveler in India:

at no period of life, in no condition of society, should a woman do any thing at her mere pleasure. Their fathers, their husbands, their sons, are verily called her protectors; but it is such protection! Day and night must women be held by their protectors in a state of absolute dependence. A woman, it is affirmed, is never fit for independence, or to be trusted with liberty . . . their deity has allotted to women a love of their bed, of their seat, and of ornaments, impure appetites, wrath, flexibility, desire of mischief and bad conduct. Though her husband be devoid of all good qualities, yet, such is the estimate they form of her moral discrimination and sensibilities, that they bind the wife to revere him as a god, and to submit to his corporeal chastisements, whenever he chooses to inflict them, by a cane or a rope, on the back parts. ... A state of dependence more strict, contemptuous, and humiliating, than that which is ordained for the weaker sex among the Hindoos, cannot easily be conceived; and to consummate the stigma, to fill up the cup of bitter waters assigned to woman, as if she deserved to be excluded from immortality as well as from justice, from hope as well as from enjoyment, it is ruled that a female has no business with the texts of the Veda—that having no knowledge of expiatory texts, and no evidence of law, sinful woman must be foul as falsehood itself, and incompetent to bear witness. To them the fountain of wisdom is sealed, the streams of knowledge are dried up; the springs of individual consolation, as promised in their religion, are guarded and barred against women in their hour of desolate sorrow and parching anguish; and cast out, as she is, upon the wilderness of bereavement and affliction, with her impoverished resources, her water may well be spent in the bottle; and, left as she is, will it be a matter of wonder that, in the moment of despair, she will embrace the burning pile and its scorching flames, instead of lengthening solitude and degradation, of dark and humiliating suffering and sorrow?3


An effervescent sympathy for the oppressed is combined in this breathless prose with a total moral condemnation of a tradition that was seen to produce and sanctify these barbarous customs. And of course it was suttee that came to provide the most clinching example in this rhetoric of condemnation—"the first and most criminal of their customs," as William Bentinck, the governor-general who legislated its abolition, described it. Indeed, the practical implication of the criticism of Indian tradition was necessarily a project of "civilizing" the Indian people: the entire edifice of colonialist discourse was fundamentally constituted around this project.

CHAP. XX. Of what concerns Women.

A Man, both Day and Night, must keep his Wife so much in Subjection, that she by no Means be Mistress of her own Actions: If the Wife have her own Free-Will, notwithstanding she be sprung from a superior Cast, she will yet behave amiss.

So long as a Woman remains unmarried, her Father shall take care of her; and so long as a Wife remains young, her Husband shall take care of her; and in her old Age, her Son shall take care of her; and if, before a Woman's Marriage, her Father should die, the Brother, or Brother's Son, or such other near Relations of the Father shall take care of her; if, after Marriage, her Husband should die, and the Wife has not brought forth a Son, the Brothers, and Brothers Sons, and such other near Relations of her Husband shall take care of her: If there are no Brothers, Brothers Sons, or such other near Relations of her Husband, the Brothers, or Sons of the Brothers of her Father shall take care of her: If there are none of those, the Magistrate shall take care of her; and in every Stage of Life, if the Persons who have been allotted to take care of a Woman do not take care of her, each in his respective Stage accordingly, the Magistrate shall fine them.

If a Husband be abject: and weak, he shall nevertheless endeavour to guard his Wife with Caution, that she may not be unchaste, and learn bad Habits.

If a Man, by Confinement and Threats, cannot guard his Wife, he shall give her a large Sum of Money, and make her Mistress of her Income and Expences, and appoint her to dress Victuals for the Dewtah (i. e.) the Deity.

A Woman is never satisfied with the Copulation of Man, no more than Fire is satisfied with burning Fuel, or the main Ocean with receiving the Rivers, or the Empire of Death with the dying of Men and Animals; in this Case therefore, a Woman is not to be relied on.

Women have Six Qualities; the First, an inordinate Desire for Jewels and fine Furniture, handsome Cloaths, and nice Victuals; the Second, immoderate Lust; the Third, violent Anger; the Fourth, deep Resentment (i. e.) no Person knows the Sentiments concealed in their Heart; the Fifth, another Person's Good appears Evil in their Eyes; the Sixth, they commit bad Actions.

If a Woman is pregnant, they must give her the Sadheh (the Sadheh is, to give a pregnant Woman, in the Ninth Month, Rice, Milk, and Sweetmeats, and other Eatables of the same Kind for her to eat, and to dress her in handsome Cloaths.

If a Husband is going a Journey, he must give his Wife enough to furnish her with Victuals and Cloaths, until the promised Period of his Return; if he goes without leaving such Provision, and his Wife is reduced to great Necessity for want of Victuals and Cloaths, then, if the Wife be naturally well principled, she yet becomes unchaste, for want of Victuals and Cloaths.

In every Family where there is a good Understanding between the Husband and Wife, and where the Wife is not unchaste, and the Husband also commits no bad Practices, it is an excellent Example.

The Creator formed Woman for this Purpose, viz. That Man might copulate with her, and that Children might be born from thence.

A Woman, who always acts according to her Husband's Pleasure, and speaks no ill of any Person, and who can herself do all such Things as are proper for a Woman, and who is of good Principles, and who produces a Son, and who rises from Sleep before her Husband, such a Woman is found only by much and many religious Works, and by a peculiarly happy Destiny, such a Woman, if any Man forsakes of his own accord, the Magistrate shall inflict upon that Man the Punishment of a Thief.

A Woman, who always abuses her Husband, shall be treated with good Advice, for the Space of One Year; if she does not amend with One Year's Advice, and does not leave off abusing her Husband, he shall no longer hold any Communication with her, nor keep her any longer near him, but shall provide her with Food and Cloaths.

A Woman, who dissipates or spoils her own Property, or who procures Abortion, or who has an Intention to murder her Husband, and is always quarrelling with every Body, and who eats before her Husband eats, such Woman shall be turned out of the House.

A Husband, at his own Pleasure, shall cease to copulate with his Wife who is barren, or who always brings forth Daughters.

If a Woman, after her monthly Courses, while her Husband continues in the House, conceiving her Husband to be a weak, low, and contemptible Object, goes no more to him, the Husband, informing People of this, shall turn her out of his House.

If a Woman, following her own Inclination, goes whithersoever she chooses, and does not regard the Words of her Master, such a Woman also shall be turned away.

A Woman, who is of a good Disposition, and who puts on her Jewels and Cloaths with Decorum, and is of good Principles, whenever the Husband is cheerful, the Wife also is cheerful, and if the Husband is sorrowful, the Wife also is sorrowful, and whenever the Husband undertakes a Journey, the Wife puts on a careless Dress, and lays aside her Jewels and other Ornaments, and abuses no Person, and will not expend a single Dam without her Husband's Consent, and has a Son, and takes proper Care of the Household Goods, and, at the Times of Worship, performs her Worship to the Deity in a proper Manner, and goes not out of the House, and is not unchaste, and makes no Quarrels or Disturbances, and has no greedy Passions, and is always employed in some good Work, and pays a proper Respect to all Persons, such is a good Woman.

A Woman shall never go out of the House without the Consent of her Husband, and shall always have some Cloaths upon her Bosom, and at Festival Times shall put on her choicest Dress and her Jewels, and shall never hold Discourse with a strange Man; but may converse with a Sinassee, a Hermit, or an old Man; and shall always dress in Cloaths that reach from below the Leg to above the Navel; and shall not suffer her Breasts to appear out of her Cloaths; and shall not laugh, without drawing her Veil before her Face; and shall act according to the Orders of her Husband; and shall pay a proper Respect to the Deity, her Husband's Father, the Spiritual Guide, and the Guests; and shall not eat until she has served them with Victuals (if it is Physick, she may take it before they eat) a Woman also shall never go to a Stranger's House, and shall not stand at the Door, and must never look out of a window.

Six Things are disgraceful to a Woman: 1st. To drink Wine and eat Conserves, or any such inebriating Things. 2d. To keep company with a Man of bad Principles. 3d. To remain separate from her Husband. 4th. To go to a Stranger's House without good Cause. 5th. To sleep in the Day- Time. 6th. To remain in a Stranger's House.

When a Woman, whose Husband is Absent on a Journey, has expended all the Money that he gave her, to support her in Victuals and Cloaths during his Absence, or if her Husband went on a Journey without leaving any Thing with her to support her Expences, she shall support herself by Painting, by Spinning, or some other such Employment.

If a Man goes on a Journey, his Wife shall not divert herself by Play, nor shall see any publick Show, nor shall laugh, nor shall dress herself in Jewels and fine Cloaths, nor shall see Dancing, nor hear Musick, nor shall sit in the Window, nor shall ride out, nor shall behold any Thing choice and rare; but shall fasten well the House-Door, and remain private; and shall not eat any dainty Victuals, and shall not blacken her Eyes with Eye-Powder, and shall not view her Face in a Mirror; she shall never exercise herself in any such agreeable Employment, during the Absence of her Husband.

It is proper for a Woman, after her Husband's Death, to burn herself in the Fire with his Corpse; every Woman, who thus burns herself, shall remain in Paradise with her Husband Three Crore and Fifty Lacks of Years, by Destiny; if she cannot burn, she must, in that Case, preserve an inviolable Chastity; if she remains always chaste, she goes to Paradise; and if she does not preserve her Chastity, she goes to Hell.


-- CHAP. XX. Of what concerns Women. Excerpt from A Code of Gentoo Laws, Or, Ordinations of the Pundits, From a Persian Translation, Made From the Original, Written in the Shanscrit Language, by Nathaniel Brassey Halhed, 1776


Of course, within the discourse thus constituted, there was much debate and controversy about the specific ways in which to carry out this project. The options ranged from proselytization by Christian missionaries to legislative and administrative action by the colonial state to a gradual spread of enlightened Western knowledge. Underlying each option was the liberal colonial idea that in the end, Indians themselves must come to believe in the unworthiness of their traditional customs and embrace the new forms of civilized and rational social order.

I spoke, in chapter 2, of some of the political strategies of this civilizing mission. What must be noted here is that the so-called women's question in the agenda of Indian social reform in the early nineteenth century was not so much about the specific condition of women within a specific set of social relations as it was about the political encounter between a colonial state and the supposed "tradition" of a conquered people—a tradition that, as Lata Mani has shown in her study of the abolition of satidaha (immolation of widows),4 was itself produced by colonialist discourse. It was colonialist discourse that, by assuming the hegemony of Brahmanical religious texts and the complete submission of all Hindus to the dictates of those texts, defined the tradition that was to be criticized and reformed. Indian nationalism, in demarcating a political position opposed to colonial rule, took up the women's question as a problem already constituted for it: namely, as a problem of Indian tradition.

THE WOMEN'S QUESTION IN NATIONALISM

I described earlier the way nationalism separated the domain of culture into two spheres—-the material and the spiritual. The claims of Western civilization were the most powerful in the material sphere. Science, technology, rational forms of economic organization, modern methods of statecraft—these had given the European countries the strength to subjugate the non-European people and to impose their dominance over the whole world. To overcome this domination, the colonized people had to learn those superior techniques of organizing material life and incorporate them within their own cultures. This was one aspect of the nationalist project of rationalizing and reforming the traditional culture of their people. But this could not mean the imitation of the West in every aspect of life, for then the very distinction between the West and the East would vanish—the self-identity of national culture would itself be threatened. In fact, as Indian nationalists in the late nineteenth century argued, not only was it undesirable to imitate the West in anything, other than the material aspects of life, it was even unnecessary to do so, because in the spiritual domain, the East was superior to the West. What was necessary was to cultivate the material techniques of modern Western civilization while retaining and strengthening the distinctive spiritual essence of the national culture. This completed the formulation of the nationalist project, and as an ideological justification for the selective appropriation of Western modernity, it continues to hold sway to this day.

The discourse of nationalism shows that the material/spiritual distinction was condensed into an analogous, but ideologically far more powerful, dichotomy: that between the outer and the inner. The material domain, argued nationalist writers, lies outside us—a mere external that influences us, conditions us, and forces us to adjust to it. Ultimately, it is unimportant. The spiritual, which lies within, is our true self; it is that which is genuinely essential. It followed that as long as India took care to retain the spiritual distinctiveness of its culture, it could make all the compromises and adjustments necessary to adapt itself to the requirements of a modern material world without losing its true identity. This was the key that nationalism supplied for resolving the ticklish problems posed by issues of social reform in the nineteenth century.

[b][size=110]Applying the inner/outer distinction to the matter of concrete day-to-day living separates the social space into ghar and bahir, the home and the world. The world is the external, the domain of the material; the home represents one's inner spiritual self, one's true identity. The world is a treacherous terrain of the pursuit of material interests, where practical considerations reign supreme. It is also typically the domain of the male. The home in its essence must remain unaffected by the profane activities of the material world—and woman is its representation. And so one gets an identification of social roles by gender to correspond with the separation of the social space into ghar and bahir.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Part 2 of 2

Thus far we have not obtained anything that is different from the typical conception of gender roles in traditional patriarchy. If we now find continuities in these social attitudes in the phase of social reform in the nineteenth century, we are tempted to label this, as indeed the liberal historiography of India has done, as "conservatism," a mere defense of traditional norms. But this would be a mistake. The colonial situation, and the ideological response of nationalism to the critique of Indian tradition, introduced an entirely new substance to these terms and effected their transformation. The material/spiritual dichotomy, to which the terms world and home corresponded, had acquired, as noted before, a very special significance in the nationalist mind. The world was where the European power had challenged the non-European peoples and, by virtue of its superior material culture, had subjugated them. But, the nationalists asserted, it had failed to colonize the inner, essential, identity of the East, which lay in its distinctive, and superior, spiritual culture. Here the East was undominated, sovereign, master of its own fate. For a colonized people, the world was a distressing constraint, forced upon it by the fact of its material weakness. It was a place of oppression and daily humiliation, a place where the norms of the colonizer had perforce to be accepted. It was also the place, as nationalists were soon to argue, where the battle would be waged for national independence. The subjugated must learn the modern sciences and arts of the material world from the West in order to match their strengths and ultimately overthrow the colonizer. But in the entire phase of the national struggle, the crucial need was to protect, pre-serve, and strengthen the inner core of the national culture, its spiritual essence. No encroachments by the colonizer must be allowed in that inner sanctum. In the world, imitation of and adaptation to Western norms was a necessity; at home, they were tantamount to annihilation of one's very identity.[/b][/size]



Once we match this new meaning of the home/world dichotomy with the identification of social roles by gender, we get the ideological framework within which nationalism answered the women's question. It would be a grave error to see in this, as liberals are apt to in their despair at the many marks of social conservatism in nationalist practice, a total rejection of the West. Quite the contrary: the nationalist paradigm in fact supplied an ideological principle of selection. It was not a dismissal of modernity but an attempt to make modernity consistent with the nationalist project.

DIFFERENCE AS A PRINCIPLE OF SELECTION

It is striking how much of the literature on women in the nineteenth century concerns the threatened Westernization of Bengali women. This theme was taken up in virtually every form of written, oral, and visual communication—from the ponderous essays of nineteenth-century moralists, to novels, farces, skits and jingles, to the paintings of the patua (scroll painters). Social parody was the most popular and effective medium of this ideological propagation. From Iswarchandra Gupta (1812-59) and the kabiyal (songsters) of the early nineteenth century to the celebrated pioneers of modern Bengali theater—Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-73), Dinabandhu Mitra, Jyotirindranath Tagore (1849-1925)7 Upendranath Das (1848-95), Amritalal Bose (1853-1929)—everyone picked up the theme. To ridicule the idea of a Bengali woman trying to imitate the ways of a memsaheb (and it was very much an idea, for it is hard to find historical evidence that even in the most Westernized families of Calcutta in the mid-nineteenth century there were actually any women who even remotely resembled these gross caricatures) was a sure recipe calculated to evoke raucous laughter and moral condemnation in both male and female audiences. It was, of course, a criticism of manners, of new items of clothing such as the blouse, the petticoat, and shoes (all, curiously, considered vulgar, although they clothed the body far better than the single length of sari that was customary for Bengali women, irrespective of wealth and social status, until the middle of the nineteenth century), of the use of Western cosmetics and jewelry, of the reading of novels, of needlework (considered a useless and expensive pastime), of riding in open carriages. What made the ridicule stronger was the constant suggestion that the Westernized woman was fond of useless luxury and cared little for the well-being of the home. One can hardly miss in all this a criticism—reproach mixed with envy—of the wealth and luxury of the new social elite emerging around the institutions of colonial administration and trade.

Take, for example, a character called "Mister Dhurandhar Pakrashi," whose educated wife constantly calls him a "fool" and a "rascal" (in English) and wants to become a "lady novelist" like Mary Correlli. This is how their daughter, Phulkumari, makes her entrance:

Phulkumari; Papa! Papa! I want to go to the races, please take me with you.

Dhurandhar: Finished with your tennis?

Phulkumari: Yes, now I want to go to the races. And you have to get me a new bicycle. 1 won't ride the one you got me last year. And my football is torn: you have to get me another one. And Papa, please buy me a self-driving car. And also a nice pony. And please fix an electric lamp in my drawing-room; I can't see very well in the gaslight.

Dhurandhar: Nothing else? How about asking the Banerjee Company to rebuild this house upside down, ceiling at the bottom and floor on top?

Phulkamari: How can that be, Papa? You can't give me an education and then expect me to have low tastes?5


Or take the following scene, which combines a parody of the pretensions to Westernized manners of the reformists with a comment on their utter impotence against the violence and contempt of the British. A group of enlightened men, accompanied by their educated wives, are meeting to discuss plans for "female emancipation" when they are interrupted by three English soldiers called—yes!—James, Frederick, and Peter. (Most of the scene is in English in the original.)

James: What is the matter? my dear—something cheering seems to take place here?

Unnata Babu: Cheering indeed, as ninety against twenty—a meeting for the Hindu female liberty.

James: A meeting for the Hindu female liberty? A nice thing indeed amidst poverty.

Frederick: Who sit there, both males and females together?

Peter: These seem to be the Hindu Heroes, met to unveil their wives' veiled nose.

Frederick: Nose alone won't do—if eyes and head be set to full liberty, Hindu ladies are sure to be the objects of curiosity.

Peter: Curiosity, nicety, and charity too.

Unnata Babu: This is offensive—this is offensive.

James: Nothing offensive—nothing offensive.

Unnata Babu: Go hence, ye foreigners. Why come Mere, ye vain intruders?

James: To dance, to sing and to feast—With our rising cousins of the East.


He takes Unnata Babu's wife by her hand, sings and dances with her, and then kisses her.

Unnata Babu [Catches James by the hand]: Leave her, leave her. She is my wife, my married wife.

James [Throws Unnata to the ground]:
O! thou nigger of butter and wax made,
Dared come, my hand to shake!
If Jupiter himself with his thunder-bolt in hand,
Comes to fight us, we will here him withstand.
[Takes out his sword]
Look, look, here is my sword.
Come, please, stain it with your blood.
[Frederick and Peter also take out their swords]
Strike him, strike the devil right and left,
We both better strike the rest.


The English soldiers make their exit with the following words to Unnata's wife:

James: . . . O! pretty poor lady! We good-bye,
Pray you—go, go forward—
Wait upon, and guard your husband,
A treacherous, bloody coward.6


The literature of parody and satire in the first half of the nineteenth century clearly contained much that was prompted by a straightforward defense of existing practices and outright rejection of the new. The nationalist paradigm had still not emerged in clear outline. In hindsight, this period—from Rammohan to Vidyasagar—appears, as one of great social turmoil and ideological confusion among the literati. And then a new discourse, drawing from various sources, began to form in the second half of the century—the discourse of nationalism.



In 1851, for instance, a prize essay on "Hindu female education" marshalled evidence that women's education was encouraged in ancient India and that it was not only not harmful but positively beneficial for women to be educated.7 It went into numerous practical considerations on how women from respectable families could learn to read and write without any harm to their caste or their honor. In 1870, however, a tract on the duties of wives was declaring that the old prejudices about women's education had virtually disappeared. "Now the times are such that most people believe that ... by educating women the condition of the country will improve and that there will be happiness, welfare and civilized manners in social life."8

The point of the new discussions was to define the social and moral principles for locating the position of women in the "modern" world of the nation. Take, for example one of the most clearly formulated tracts on the subject: Bhudeb Mukhopadhyay's Paribarik prabandba (Essays on the family), published in 1882. Bhudeb states the problem in his characteristic matter-of-fact style:

Because of the hankering for the external glitter and ostentation of the English way of life ... an upheaval is under way within our homes. The men learn English and become sahibs. The women do not learn English but nevertheless try to become bibis. In households which manage an income of a hundred rupees, the women no longer cook, sweep or make the bed . . . everything is done by servants and maids; [the women] only read books, sew carpets and play cards. What is the result? The house and furniture get untidy, the meals poor, the health of every member of the family is ruined; children are born weak and rickety, constantly plagued by illness—they die early.

Many reform movements are being conducted today; the education of women, in particular, is constantly talked about. But we rarely hear of those great arts in which women were once trained—a training which if it had still been in vogue would have enabled us to tide over this crisis caused by injudicious imitation. I suppose we will never hear of this training again.


The ganika and sometimes the rupajiva too, received free training in the various arts and

those who teach prostitutes, female slaves and actresses arts such as singing, playing on musical instruments, reading, dancing, acting, writing, painting, playing on instruments such as vina (lyre), pipe and drum, reading the thoughts of others, manufacture of scents and garlands, shampooing and the art of attracting and captivating the mind of others shall be endowed with maintenance from the state. They, the teachers shall train the sons of prostitutes to be chief actors (rangopajivan) on the stage. The wives of actors and others of similar profession who have been taught various languages and the use of signals (samjna) shall, along with their relatives be made use of in detecting the wicked and murdering and deluding foreign spies.34


In a sixth century Jain work we have an exhaustive list of the prostitute's attainments -- writing, arithmetic, the arts, singing, playing on musical instruments, drums, chess, dice, eightboard chess, instant verse-making, Prakrite and Apabhramsa poetry, proficiency in the science of perfume making, jewellery, dressing up, knowledge of the signs of good or bad men and women, horses, elephants, cooks, rams, umbrellas, rods, swords, jewels, gems which antidote poison, architecture, camps and canopies, phalanx arrangement, fighting, fencing, shooting arrows, ability to interpret omens, etc. Altogether seventy-two arts and sciences were to be mastered by her.35

It is clear that the prostitute especially the ganika, the most accomplished among them, offered men something which by the early centuries A.D. had become absolutely rare among the women of the gentry, viz, accomplishment. We read in the Manusamhita: "The sacrament of marriage is to a female what initiation with the sacred thread is to a male. Serving the husband is for the wife what residence in the preceptor's house is to the man and household duty is to the woman, what offering sacrifices is to the man."36 This series of neat equations deprive the woman of education, dooming her to household chores only, especially service of her husband and in-laws, but also thereby indirectly doom her to the loss of her husband's attention. With an unaccomplished wife at home, the man who cared for cultured female company went to the brothel for it. Manu belongs to the early centuries A.D.;37 a steady deterioration in the status of the woman and the Sudra followed his codification of the social norm and the brothel flourished because it catered to the cultured man-about-the-town's (nagaraka) tastes in women.

The ganika because of her youth, beauty, training and accomplishment belonged to a superior social status. With an extensive, elaborate, and apparently expensive education she could frequently name her price, which, as Buddhist texts testify was often prohibitive. She was patronized by the king who visited her sometimes, as also by wealthy merchants. Because of her high fees none but the most wealthy could approach her. She alone enjoyed a position where as long as her youth and beauty lasted she could not be exploited.

-- Prostitution in Ancient India, by Sukumari Bhattacharji


The problem is put here in the empirical terms of a positive sociology, a genre much favored by serious Bengali writers of Bhudeb's time. But the sense of crisis he expresses was very much a reality. Bhudeb is voicing the feelings of large sections of the newly emergent middle class of Bengal when he says that the very institutions of home and family were threatened under the peculiar conditions of colonial rule. A quite unprecedented external condition had been thrust upon us; we were forced to adjust to those conditions, for which a certain degree of imitation of alien ways was unavoidable. But could this wave of imitation be allowed to enter our homes? Would that not destroy our inner identity? Yet it was clear that a mere restatement of the old norms of family life would not suffice; they were breaking down because of the inexorable force of circumstance. New norms were needed, which would be more appropriate to the external conditions of the modern world and yet not a mere imitation of the West. What were the principles by which these new norms could be constructed?

Bhudeb supplies the characteristic nationalist answer. In an essay entitled "Modesty," he talks of the natural and social principles that provide the basis for the feminine virtues.10 Modesty, or decorum in manner and conduct, he says, is a specifically human trait; it does not exist in animal nature. It is human aversion to the purely animal traits that gives rise to virtues such as modesty. In this aspect, human beings seek to cultivate in themselves, and in their civilization, spiritual or godlike qualities wholly opposed to the forms of behavior which prevail in animal nature. Further, within the human species, women cultivate and cherish these godlike qualities far more than men. Protected to a certain extent from the purely material pursuits of securing a livelihood in the external world, women express in their appearance and behavior the spiritual qualities that are characteristic of civilized and refined human society.


The relevant dichotomies and analogies are all here. The material/spiritual dichotomy corresponds to animal/godlike qualities, which in turn corresponds to masculine/feminine virtues. Bhudeb then invests this ideological form with its specifically nationalist content:

In a society where men and women meet together, converse together at all times, eat and drink together, travel together, the manners of women are likely to be somewhat coarse, devoid of spiritual qualities and relatively prominent in animal traits. For this reason, I do not think the customs of such a society are free from all defect. Some argue that because of such close association with women, the characters of men acquire certain tender and spiritual qualities. Let me concede the point. But can the loss caused by coarseness and degeneration in the female character be compensated by the acquisition of a certain degree of tenderness in the male?


The point is then hammered home:

Those who laid down our religious codes discovered the inner spiritual quality which resides within even the most animal pursuits which humans must perform, and thus removed the animal qualities from those actions. This has not happened in Europe. Religion there is completely divorced from [material] life. Europeans do not feel inclined to regulate all aspects of their life by the norms of religion; they condemn it as clericalism.'. .. In the Arya system there is a preponderance of spiritualism, in the European system a preponderance of material pleasure. In the Arya system, the wife is a goddess. In the European system, she is a partner and companion.11


The new norm for organizing family life and determining the right conduct for women in the conditions of the modern world could now be deduced with ease. Adjustments would have to be made in the external world of material activity, and men would bear the brunt of this task. To the extent that the family was itself entangled in wider social relations, it too could not be insulated from the influence of changes in the outside world. Consequently, the organization and ways of life at home would also have to be changed. But the crucial requirement was to retain the inner spirituality of indigenous social life. The home was the principal site for expressing the spiritual quality of the national culture, and women must take the main responsibility for protecting and nurturing this quality. No matter what the changes in the external conditions of life for women, they must not lose their essentially spiritual (that is, feminine) virtues; they must not, in other words, become essentially Westernized. It followed, as a simple criterion for judging the desirability of reform, that the essential distinction between the social roles of men and women in terms of material and spiritual virtues must at all times be maintained. There would have to be a marked difference in the degree and manner of Westernization of women, as distinct from men, in the modern world of the nation.

A GENEALOGY OF THE RESOLUTION

This was the central principle by which nationalism resolved the women's question in terms of its own historical project. The details were not, of course, worked out immediately. In fact, from the middle of the nineteenth century right up to the present day, there have been many controversies about the precise application of the home/world, spiritual/material, feminine/masculine dichotomies in various matters concerning the everyday life of the "modern" woman—her dress, food, manners, education, her role in organizing life at home, her role outside the home. The concrete problems arose out of the rapidly changing situation, both external and internal, in which the new middle-class family found itself; the specific solutions were drawn from a variety of sources—a reconstructed "classical" tradition, modernized folk forms, the utilitarian logic of bureaucratic and industrial practices, the legal idea of equality in a liberal democratic state. The content of the resolution was neither predetermined nor unchanging, but its form had to be consistent with the system of dichotomies that shaped and contained the nationalist project.

The new woman defined in this way was subjected to a new patriarchy. In fact, the social order connecting the home and the world in which nationalists placed the new woman was contrasted not only with that of modern Western society; it was explicitly distinguished from the patriarchy of indigenous tradition, the same tradition that had been put on the dock by colonial interrogators. Sure enough, nationalism adopted several elements from tradition as marks of its native cultural identity, but this was now a "classicized" tradition—reformed, reconstructed, fortified against charges of barbarism and irrationality.

The new patriarchy was also sharply distinguished from the immediate social and cultural condition in which the majority of the people lived, for the "new" woman was quite the reverse of the "common" woman, who was coarse, vulgar, loud, quarrelsome, devoid of superior moral sense, sexually promiscuous, subjected to brutal physical oppression by males. Alongside the parody of the Westernized woman, this other construct is repeatedly emphasized in the literature of the nineteenth century through a host of lower-class female characters who make their appearance in the social milieu of the new middle class—maidservants, washer women, barbers, peddlers, procuresses, prostitutes. It was precisely this degenerate condition of women that nationalism claimed it would reform, and it was through these contrasts that the new woman of nationalist ideology was accorded a status of cultural superiority to the Westernized women of the wealthy parvenu families spawned by the colonial connection as well as to common women of the lower classes. Attainment by her own efforts of a superior national culture was the mark of woman's newly acquired freedom. This was the central ideological strength of the nationalist resolution of the women's question.

We can follow the form of this resolution in several specific aspects in which the life and condition of middle-class women have changed over the last one hundred years or so. Take the case of female education, that contentious subject that engaged so much of the attention of social reformers in the nineteenth century.12 Some of the early opposition to the opening of schools for women was backed by an appeal to tradition, which supposedly prohibited women from being introduced to bookish learning, but this argument hardly gained much support. The real threat was seen to lie in the fact that the early schools, and arrangements for teaching women at home, were organized by Christian missionaries; there was thus the fear of both proselytization and the exposure of women to harmful Western influences.13 The threat was removed when in the 1850s Indians themselves began to open schools for girls. The spread of formal education among middle-class women in Bengal in the second half of the nineteenth century was remarkable. From 95 girls' schools with a total attendance of 2,500 in 1863, the figures went up to 2,238 schools in 1890 with a total of more than 80,000 students.14 In the area of higher education, Chandramukhi Bose (1860-1944) and Kadambini Ganguli (1861-1923) were celebrated as examples of what Bengali women could achieve in formal learning: they took their bachelor of arts degrees from the University of Calcutta in 1883, before most British universities agreed to accept women on their examination rolls. Kadambini then went on to medical college and became the first professionally schooled woman doctor.

The development of an educative literature and teaching materials in the Bengali language undoubtedly made possible the quite general acceptance of formal education among middle-class women. The long debates of the nineteenth century on a proper "feminine curriculum" now seem to us somewhat quaint, but it is not difficult to identify the real point of concern. Much of the content of the modern school education was seen as important for the "new" woman, but to administer it in the English language was difficult in practical terms, irrelevant because the central place of the educated woman was still at home, and threatening because it might devalue and displace that central site where the social position of women was located. The problem was resolved through the efforts of the intelligentsia, which made it a fundamental task of the national project to create a modern language and literature suitable for a widening readership that would include newly educated women. Through textbooks, periodicals, and creative works, an important force that shaped the new literature of Bengal was the urge to make it accessible to women who could read only one language—their mother tongue.

Formal education became not only acceptable but, in fact, a requirement for the new bhadramahila (respectable woman) when it was demonstrated that it was possible for a woman to acquire the cultural refinements afforded by modern education without jeopardizing her place at home, that is, without becoming a memsaheb. Indeed, the nationalist construct of the new woman derived its ideological strength from making the goal of cultural refinement through education a personal challenge for every woman, thus opening up a domain where woman was an autonomous subject. This explains to a large extent the remarkable degree of enthusiasm among middle-class women themselves to acquire and use for themselves the benefits of formal learning. They set this goal for themselves in their personal lives and as the objects of their will: to achieve it was to achieve freedom.15 Indeed, the achievement was marked by claims of cultural superiority in several different aspects: superiority over the Western woman for whom, it was believed, education meant only the acquisition of material skills to compete with men in the outside world and hence a loss of feminine (spiritual) virtues; superiority over the preceding generation of women in their own homes who had been denied the opportunity of freedom by an oppressive and degenerate social tradition; and superiority over women of the lower classes who were culturally incapable of appreciating the virtues of freedom.

It is this particular nationalist construction of reform as a project of both emancipation and self-emancipation of women (and hence a project in which both men and women had to participate) that also explains why the early generation of educated women themselves so keenly propagated the nationalist idea of the "new woman." Recent historians of a liberal persuasion have often been somewhat embarrassed by the profuse evidence of women writers of the nineteenth century, including those at the forefront of the reform movements in middle-class homes, justifying the importance of the so-called feminine virtues. Radharani Lahiri, for instance, wrote in 1875: "Of all the subjects that women might learn, housework is the most important. . .. Whatever knowledge she may acquire, she cannot claim any reputation unless she is proficient in housework."16 Others spoke of the need for an educated woman to develop such womanly virtues as chastity, self-sacrifice, submission, devotion, kindness, patience, and the labors of love. The ideological point of view from which such protestations of "femininity" (and hence the acceptance of a new patriarchal order) were made inevitable was given precisely by the nationalist resolution of the problem, and Kundamala Debi, writing in 1870, expressed this well when she advised other women

If you have acquired real knowledge, then give no place in your heart to memsaheh-like behavior. That is not becoming in a Bengali housewife. See how an educated woman can do housework thoughtfully and systematically in a way unknown to an ignorant, uneducated woman. And see how if God had not appointed us to this place in the home, how unhappy a place the world would be.17


Education then was meant to inculcate in women the virtues—the typically bourgeois virtues characteristic of the new social forms of "disciplining"—of orderliness, thrift, cleanliness, and a personal sense of responsibility, the practical skills of literacy, accounting, hygiene, and the ability to run the household according to the new physical and economic conditions set by the outside world. For this, she would also need to have some idea of the world outside the home, into which she could even venture as long as it did not threaten her femininity. It is this latter criterion, now invested with a characteristically nationalist content, that made possible the displacement of the boundaries of the home from the physical confines earlier defined by the rules of purdah to a more flexible, but nonetheless culturally determinate, domain set by the differences between socially approved male and female conduct. Once the essential femininity of women was fixed in terms of certain culturally visible spiritual qualities, they could go to schools, travel in public conveyances, watch public entertainment programs, and in time even take up employment outside the home. But the "spiritual" signs of her femininity were now clearly marked—in her dress, her eating habits, her social demeanor, her religiosity.

The specific markers were obtained from diverse sources, and in terms of their origins, each had its specific history. The dress of the bhadramahila, for instance, went through a whole phase of experimentation before what was known as the brahmika sari (a form of wearing the sari in combination with blouse, petticoat, and shoes made fashionable in Brahmo households) became accepted as standard for middle-class women.18

Indian tastes in clothing underwent a massive change with the arrival of an alien people — the British — in the eighteenth century, marking the entry of cultural values and fashions of Victorian England. It is in the colonial period that the sari got fused with European articles like the blouse and the petticoat — now naturalised in Indian vocabulary to the extent that they barely sound foreign. The cut of the modern blouse bore a strong resemblance to the torso of the gown and the petticoats gave the sari a graceful fall and a formal appearance.

Saris in colonial-era Bengal used to be made of a single cloth of fine, semi-transparent muslin that was draped around the body with no garments underneath — an outfit well-suited to Bengal’s hot climate. While leaving the house, the women would ordinarily drape a shawl, which was sufficient in Bengal’s then relatively gender-segregated society. From the perspective of the colonisers, who saw ‘exposure’ or physicality as a marker of savagery — the sari worn like that by Bengali women, left them “practically unclad”. There are stories of Indian women not being permitted entry in clubs frequented by the British on account of their ‘indecent’ clothing.,,

Prior to the societal reforms in Bengal, where a serious need was felt for recasting women’s living conditions, Bengali women of the middle and upper classes were generally confined to the private sphere and did not appear in public. Then emerged the distinct Bhadramahila, or middle-class gentlewoman, who was to gain an education and even participate in the public sphere. Until this point, explains sociologist Vinay Bahl, only the prostitutes and women of labouring class were seen in public, and the Bhadramahila had to be physically distinguished from these. Her attire — her sari — also had to be ”civilised’ and made ‘suitable’ for coming in contact with unfamiliar men...

The urban wearing style is a post-1870s phenomenon, said to be popularised by Gyananda Nandini Debi, the wife of Satyendranath Tagore — brother of Rabindranath Tagore — who introduced with it the use of Victorian-style blouses, jackets, chemises and petticoats among circles of middle-class Bengali women. She is said to have arrived from Bombay “dressed in a civil and elegant attire” in imitation of Parsi women which was hailed as an “integral combination of indigenousness, decorum and modesty”. Her style was quickly adopted by the Brahmo Samaj women — which came to be known as Brahmika sari — and also gradually gained acceptance among Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh Brahmos as well as non-Brahmos.


-- Why the story of the sari is as complex as its pleats: A glance into the sari’s uneven origins, colonial-era influences and confluent meanings encourages wearers to go beyond its broadstroke projection as a ‘timeless’ marker of pan-Indian-womanhood., by Nandini Rathi


Here too the necessary differences were signified in terms of national identity, social emancipation, and cultural refinement—differences, that is to say, with the memsaheb, with women of earlier generations, and with women of the lower classes. Further, in this as in other aspects of her life, the spirituality of her character had also to be stressed in contrast with the innumerable ways men had to surrender to the pressures of the material world. The need to adjust to the new conditions outside the home had forced upon men a whole series of changes in their dress, food habits, religious observances, and social relations. Each of these capitulations now had to be compensated for by an assertion of spiritual purity on the part of women. They must not eat, drink, or smoke in the same way as men; they must continue the observance of religious rituals that men were finding difficult to carry out; they must maintain the cohesiveness of family life and solidarity with the kin to which men could not now devote much attention. The new patriarchy advocated by nationalism conferred upon women the honor of a new social responsibility, and by associating the task of female emancipation with the historical goal of sovereign nationhood, bound them to a new, and yet entirely legitimate, subordination.

As with all hegemonic forms of exercising dominance, this patriarchy combined coercive authority with the subtle force of persuasion. This was expressed most generally in the inverted ideological form of the relation of power between the sexes: the adulation of woman as goddess or as mother. Whatever its sources in the classical religions of India or in medieval religious practices, the specific ideological form in which we know the "Indian woman" construct in the modern literature and arts of India today is wholly and undeniably a product of the development of a dominant middle-class culture coeval with the era of nationalism. It served to emphasize with all the force of mythological inspiration what had in any case become a dominant characteristic of femininity in the new construct of "woman" standing as a sign for "nation," namely, the spiritual qualities of self-sacrifice, benevolence, devotion, religiosity, and so on. This spirituality did not, as we have seen, impede the chances of the woman moving out of the physical confines of the home; on the contrary, it facilitated it, making it possible for her to go into the world under conditions that would not threaten her femininity. In fact, the image of woman as goddess or mother served to erase her sexuality in the world outside the home.


There are many important implications of this construct. To take one example, consider an observation often made: the relative absence of gender discrimination in middle-class occupations in India, an area that has been at the center of demands for women's right's in the capitalist West. Without denying the possibility that there are many complexities that lie behind this rather superficial observation, it is certainly paradoxical that, whereas middle-class employment has been an area of bitter competition between cultural groups distinguished by caste, religion, language, and so on, in the entire period of nationalist and postcolonial politics in India, gender has never been an issue of public contention. Similarly, the new constitution of independent India gave women the vote without any major debate on the question and without there ever having been a movement for women's suffrage at any period of nationalist politics in India. The fact that everyone assumed that women would naturally have the vote indicates a complete transposition of the terms in which the old patriarchy of tradition was constituted. The fixing by nationalist ideology of masculine/feminine qualities in terms of the material/spiritual dichotomy does not make women who have entered professional occupations competitors to male job seekers, because in this construct there are no specific cultural signs that distinguish women from men in the material world.

In fact, the distinctions that often become significant are those that operate between women in the world outside the home. They can mark out women by their dress, eating habits (drinking/smoking), adherence to religious marks of feminine status, behavior toward men, and so on, and classify them as Westernized, traditional, low-class (or subtler variations on those distinctions)—all signifying a deviation from the acceptable norm. A woman identified as Westernized, for instance, would invite the ascription of all that the "normal" woman (mother/sister/wife/daughter) is not—brazen, avaricious, irreligious, sexually promiscuous—and this not only from males but also from women who see themselves as conforming to the legitimate norm, which is precisely an indicator of the hegemonic status of the ideological construct. An analogous set of distinctions would mark out the low-class or common woman from the normal. (Perhaps the most extreme object of contempt for the nationalist is the stereotype of the Anglo-Indian tnyas—Westernized and common at the same time.) Not surprisingly, deviation from the norm also carries with it the possibility of a variety of ambiguous meanings—signs of illegitimacy become the sanction for behavior not permitted for those who are "normal"—and these are the sorts of meaning exploited to the full by, for instance, the commercial media of film, advertising, and fashion. Here is one more instance of the displacement in nationalist ideology of the construct of woman as a sex object in Western patriarchy: the nationalist male thinks of his own wife/sister/daughter as "normal" precisely because she is not a "sex object," while those who could be "sex objects" are not "normal."

ELEMENTS OF A CRITIQUE OF THE RESOLUTION

1 end this chapter by pointing out another significant feature of the way in which nationalism sought to resolve the women's question in accordance with its historical project. This has to do with the one aspect of the question that was directly political, concerning relations with the state. Nationalism, as we have noticed before, located its own subjectivity in the spiritual domain of culture, where it considered itself superior to the West and hence undominated and sovereign. It could not permit an encroachment by the colonial power in that domain. This determined the characteristically nationalist response to proposals for effecting social reform through the legislative enactments of the colonial state. Unlike the early reformers from Rammohan to Vidyasagar, nationalists of the late nineteenth century were in general opposed to such proposals, for such a method of reform seemed to deny the ability of the nation to act for itself even in a domain where it was sovereign. In the specific case of reforming the lives of women, consequently, the nationalist position was firmly based on the premise that this was an area where the nation was acting on its own, outside the purview of the guidance and intervention of the colonial state.

We now get the full answer to the historical problem I raised at the beginning of this chapter. The reason why the issue of "female emancipation" seems to disappear from the public agenda of nationalist agitation in the late nineteenth century is not because it was overtaken by the more emotive issues concerning political power. Rather, the reason lies in the refusal of nationalism to make the women's question an issue of political negotiation with the colonial state. The simple historical fact is that the lives of middle-class women, coming from that demographic section that effectively constituted the "nation" in late colonial India, changed most rapidly precisely during the period of the nationalist movement—indeed, so rapidly that women from each generation in the last hundred years could say quite truthfully that their lives were strikingly different from those led by the preceding generation. These changes took place in the colonial period mostly outside the arena of political agitation, in a domain where the nation thought of itself as already free. It was after independence, when the nation had acquired political sovereignty, that it became legitimate to embody the idea of reform in legislative enactments about marriage rules, property rights, suffrage, equal pay, equality of opportunity, and so on. Now, of course, the women's question has once again become a political issue in the life of the nation-state.

Another problem on which we can now obtain a clearer perspective is that of the seeming absence of any autonomous struggle by women themselves for equality and freedom. We would be mistaken to look for evidence of such struggle in the public archives of political affairs, for unlike the women's movement in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe or America, the battle for the new idea of womanhood in the era of nationalism was waged in the home. We know from the evidence left behind in autobiographies, family histories, religious tracts, literature, theater, songs, paintings, and such other cultural artifacts, that it was the home that became the principal site of the struggle through which the hegemonic construct of the new nationalist patriarchy had to be normalized. This is the real history of the women's question whose terrain our genealogical investigation into the nationalist idea of "woman" has identified. The nationalist discourse we have heard so far is a discourse about women; women do not speak here. In the next chapter, we will explore the problem of enabling women in recent Indian history to speak for themselves.

The location of the state in the nationalist resolution of the women's question in the colonial period has yet another implication. For sections of the middle class that felt themselves culturally excluded from the formation of the nation and that then organized themselves as politically distinct groups, their relative exclusion from the new nation-state would act as a further means of displacement of the legitimate agency of reform. In the case of Muslims in Bengal, for instance, the formation of a new middle class was delayed, for reasons we need not go into here. Exactly the same sorts of ideological concerns typical of a nationalist response to issues of social reform in a colonial situation can be seen to operate among Muslims as well, with a difference in chronological time.19 Nationalist reforms do not, however, reach political fruition in the case of the Muslims in independent India, because to the extent that the dominant cultural formation among them considers the community excluded from the state, a new colonial relation is brought into being. The system of dichotomies of inner/outer, home/world, feminine/masculine are once again activated. Reforms that touch upon what is considered the inner essence of the identity of the community can be legitimately carried out only by the community itself, not by the state. It is instructive to note how little institutional change has been allowed in the civil life of Indian Muslims since independence and to compare the degree of change with that in Muslim countries where nationalist cultural reform was a part of the successful formation of an independent nation-state. The contrast is striking if one compares the position of middle-class Muslim women in West Bengal today with that of neighboring Bangladesh.

The continuance of a distinct cultural "problem" of the minorities is an index of the failure of the Indian nation to effectively include within its body the whole of the demographic mass that it claims to represent. The failure becomes evident when we note that the formation of a hegemonic "national culture" was necessarily built upon the privileging of an "essential tradition," which in turn was defined by a system of exclusions. Ideals of freedom, equality, and cultural refinement went hand in hand with a set of dichotomies that systematically excluded from the new life of the nation the vast masses of people whom the dominant elite would represent and lead, but who could never be culturally integrated with their leaders. Both colonial rulers and their nationalist opponents conspired to displace in the colonial world the original structure of meanings associated with Western liberal notions of right, freedom, equality, and so on. The inauguration of the national state in India could not mean a universalization of the bourgeois notion of "man."

Indeed, in setting up its new patriarchy as a hegemonic construct, nationalist discourse not only demarcated its cultural essence as distinct from that of the West but also from that of the mass of the people. It has generalized itself among the new middle class, admittedly a widening class and large enough in absolute numbers to be self-reproducing, but is situated at a great distance from the large mass of subordinate classes. My analysis of the nationalist construction of woman once again shows how, in the confrontation between colonialist and nationalist discourses, the dichotomies of spiritual/material, home/world, feminine/masculine, while enabling the production of a nationalist discourse which is different from that of colonialism, nonetheless remains trapped within its framework of false essentialisms.  
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Tue May 25, 2021 8:02 am

Why the story of the sari is as complex as its pleats: A glance into the sari’s uneven origins, colonial-era influences and confluent meanings encourages wearers to go beyond its broadstroke projection as a ‘timeless’ marker of pan-Indian-womanhood.
by Nandini Rathi
New Delhi
Updated: February 19, 2018 12:46:06 pm

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Image
It is in the colonial period that the sari got fused with European articles like the blouse and the petticoat — now naturalised in Indian vocabulary to the extent that they barely sound foreign. Image courtesy Ayush Kejriwal/Instagram @designerayushkejriwal. Published with permission.

What women wear can be and has been the subject of intense debate and discussion in the world. Designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee might have now apologised for his remark invoking shame on the women who cannot tie a sari, but that was not before he tied himself up in a knot with his off-the-cuff comment.

But there are as many nuances to this conversation as there are pleats in a sari, because describing something “authentically” Indian — be it food, custom, lifestyle or attire — is a sure fire way of sidelining at least some regions, social classes or ethnicities. Sari — a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth — has been draped in hundreds of styles over hundreds of years in the parts of Indian subcontinent, differently by different communities and social echelons, due to its immense adaptiveness and suitability to the land’s climate and aesthetics. A glance into the sari’s uneven origins, colonial-era influences and confluent meanings encourages wearers to go beyond its broadstroke projection as a ‘timeless’ marker of pan-Indian-womanhood and identify the historical forces that shaped the meanings associated with sari as we know it.

Ancestors of the single-piece drape

Both the dhoti and the sari owe their existence to common ancestors. “For a long time, the ancient Indian men and women just wore the antariya (lower garment) and uttariya (upper garment) — both rectangular pieces of cloth which were draped in various styles,” says fashion historian Toolika Gupta, adding, “So some parts in the country just kept that but as early as in the BCs while others — those which came in frequent contact with foreigners — started changing”.

An oft noted mention of sari comes from a sixteenth century Portuguese traveler to India. “The women wear white garments of very thin cotton or silk bright color, five yards long, one part of which is girt round their below and the other part on their shoulder across their breasts in such a way that one arm and shoulder remains uncovered,” the traveler noted.

Historically, the Indian subcontinent was never a wholesome whole, but a multitude of kingdoms and cultures with dressing customs that bore only loose correlations to one another. “There are parts of the country where people were not largely wearing the sari, for example in Rajasthan where there was the lehenga, choli and odhani — not the sari. Sari was largely worn in Bengal and all over south. But even here, in many cases, the upper part and the lower part are different,” explains Gupta. This is true of Kerala’s Mundu Veshti and Assam’s Mekhela chador, for instance.


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The lehenga, lehnga or langa (also known as a ghagra or gagra, chaniya, pavadai, or lacha) is a form of ankle-length skirt from the Indian subcontinent. Different patterns and styles of traditional embroidery are used to decorate the lehenga. Gota patti embroidery is often used for festivals and weddings. The lehenga is sometimes worn as the lower portion of a gagra choli or langa voni.

-- Lehenga, by Wikipedia


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A choli is a blouse or a bodice-like upper garment that is commonly cut short leaving the midriff bare, it is worn along with a sari in the Indian subcontinent. The choli is also part of the ghagra choli costume in the Indian subcontinent.

-- Choli, by Wikipedia


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A type of small sari worn over other clothing.

-- Odhani, by Wiktionary


“It’s difficult to ascertain historically the sari’s evolution as a single-piece drape, though in many parts of India (Kerala, 6 northeast states, Rajasthan and Gujarat) its possible preceding versions of two or three piece drapes continue to be worn,” writes Rta Kapur Chishti, author, “Saris – Tradition & Beyond”.

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Different documented draping styles in the Malabar region (modern day Kerala) up to the early decades of twentieth century. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Even the morality associated with sari-blouse is a relatively modern idea, with no fixed association established during ancient and medieval India. For instance, the rules of wearing a breast cloth in Kerala, until the 19th century, were considered a mark of respect to the upper caste. A Sanskrit manual, titled ‘The Guide to Religious Status and Duties of Women,’ written in present-day Kerala between 400 BC and 600 BC directs married women of a high social status to wear a bodice, women from the middle strata to not wear a bodice, but cover their breasts with the loose end of their sari, and women of lower status to leave their breasts uncovered. The practice was, in fact, being observed and enforced in Travancore until the arrival of the Christian missionaries in the 19th century, who brought with them what could be a combination of the concept of shame and the freedom to cover for all.

Sari in the colonial era

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The similarities between English and Indian clothing at one point: A Parsee Ladies’ stall at a bazaar held at Bombay, from The Graphic, 1889. Source: Columbia.edu

Indian tastes in clothing underwent a massive change with the arrival of an alien people — the British — in the eighteenth century, marking the entry of cultural values and fashions of Victorian England. It is in the colonial period that the sari got fused with European articles like the blouse and the petticoat — now naturalised in Indian vocabulary to the extent that they barely sound foreign. The cut of the modern blouse bore a strong resemblance to the torso of the gown and the petticoats gave the sari a graceful fall and a formal appearance.

Saris in colonial-era Bengal used to be made of a single cloth of fine, semi-transparent muslin that was draped around the body with no garments underneath — an outfit well-suited to Bengal’s hot climate. While leaving the house, the women would ordinarily drape a shawl, which was sufficient in Bengal’s then relatively gender-segregated society. From the perspective of the colonisers, who saw ‘exposure’ or physicality as a marker of savagery — the sari worn like that by Bengali women, left them “practically unclad”. There are stories of Indian women not being permitted entry in clubs frequented by the British on account of their ‘indecent’ clothing.
“For the British, Bengal was ‘all of India’ because that is where they came from,” Gupta explains.

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Portrait of three women, probably a mother and her two daughters in Eastern Bengal in the 1860s. Source: Wikimedia Commons. From the perspective of the colonisers, who saw ‘exposure’ or physicality as a marker of savagery — the sari worn like that by Bengali women, left them “practically unclad”.

Prior to the societal reforms in Bengal, where a serious need was felt for recasting women’s living conditions, Bengali women of the middle and upper classes were generally confined to the private sphere and did not appear in public. Then emerged the distinct Bhadramahila, or middle-class gentlewoman, who was to gain an education and even participate in the public sphere. Until this point, explains sociologist Vinay Bahl, only the prostitutes and women of labouring class were seen in public, and the Bhadramahila had to be physically distinguished from these. Her attire — her sari — also had to be ”civilised’ and made ‘suitable’ for coming in contact with unfamiliar men.

Sari and the nation: A pre-eminent hallmark of Indian women

“The problem of what to wear in 19th century [India] can best be defined as the problem of how much foreignness to allow into one’s clothes,” writes cultural anthropologist Emma Tarlo, author, ‘Clothing Matters: Dress and Identity in India’. Dressing the Indian woman appropriately became a colonial and a nationalist project in this period. Sociologist Himani Bannerji points out that while a minuscule among the upper classes started wearing gowns and saris were experimented with — saris won in the end. The ideal Indian woman absorbed the Western (Victorian) morality, without embracing Western fashion.

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A Parsee Girls School, Bombay (c. 1880s). Source: Columbia.edu

The urban wearing style is a post-1870s phenomenon, said to be popularised by Gyananda Nandini Debi, the wife of Satyendranath Tagore — brother of Rabindranath Tagore — who introduced with it the use of Victorian-style blouses, jackets, chemises and petticoats among circles of middle-class Bengali women. She is said to have arrived from Bombay “dressed in a civil and elegant attire” in imitation of Parsi women which was hailed as an “integral combination of indigenousness, decorum and modesty”. Her style was quickly adopted by the Brahmo Samaj women — which came to be known as Brahmika sari — and also gradually gained acceptance among Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh Brahmos as well as non-Brahmos.

“A basic theory in fashion is that if you have more money, you can experiment more with clothing. Then there are the “wannabes” — who desire to be like the elite but don’t have all the experimental fun,” says Gupta, adding that whether the Tagores of Bengal or the Parsis of Bombay, these were wealthy, elite classes who frequently interacted with the British. From them, the trend of wearing a particular kind of sari — with blouse and petticoat — spread downward.

The symbol of sari became further charged around 1905 under the ideological stipulations of the Swadeshi movement, which spurned European cloth and the imitation of their fashion. In this period, it got elevated from the diffuseness and regional variety of its historical origins to a distinct and precise sartorial national emblem. The identity of the Bhadramahila [Clothing of the Gentlewoman] began to get equated with the perception of ‘Indian woman,’ laced with the sanskriti-sabhyata flavours — the ‘moral force’ deemed missing in the West — which continued into the post-colonial era.

Making meaning with the sari

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Like all forms of dress, Sari and the way it is worn has been replete with different meanings through the course of history. In swathes of the newly independent nation, women wore Indian saris but with ‘foreign’ blouses and petticoats. In this line of thought, the dress was projected as the bulwark of ‘tradition’ and ‘Indianness’ against the corrupting, alien and Western influences. In the last three decades, it gradually got redubbed as ‘conservative’ vis-a-vis the ‘progressiveness’ and ‘modernity’ associated with donning the salwar-kameez and denim jeans.

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Shalwar kameez is a traditional combination dress worn by women, and in some regions by men, in South Asia, and Central Asia.

Shalwars are trousers which are atypically wide at the waist but which narrow to a cuffed bottom. They are held up by a drawstring or elastic belt, which causes them to become pleated around the waist. The trousers can be wide and baggy, or they can be cut quite narrow, on the bias. Shalwars have been traditionally worn in a wide region which includes Eastern Europe, West Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia. The kameez is a long shirt or tunic. The side seams are left open below the waist-line (the opening known as the chaak), which gives the wearer greater freedom of movement. The kameez is usually cut straight and flat; older kameez use traditional cuts; modern kameez are more likely to have European-inspired set-in sleeves. The kameez may have a European-style collar, a Mandarin collar, or it may be collarless; in the latter case, its design as a women's garment is similar to a kurta. The combination garment is sometimes called salwar kurta, salwar suit, or Punjabi suit.

The shalwar and kameez originated in South Asia after the arrival of Muslims in the north in the 13th century: at first worn by Muslim women, their use gradually spread, making them a regional style, especially in the historical Punjab region. The shalwar-kameez is a widely-worn, and national dress, of Pakistan. It is also widely worn by men in Afghanistan, and by women and some men in the Punjab region of India, from which it has been adopted by women throughout India, and more generally in South Asia.

When women wear the shalwar-kameez in some regions, they usually wear a long scarf or shawl called a dupatta around the head or neck. In South Asia, the dupatta is also employed as a form of modesty—although it is made of delicate material, it obscures the upper body's contours by passing over the shoulders. For Muslim women, the dupatta is a less stringent alternative to the chador or burqa (see hijab and purdah); for Sikh and Hindu women, the dupatta is useful when the head must be covered, as in a temple or the presence of elders. Everywhere in South Asia, modern versions of the attire have evolved; the shalwars are worn lower down on the waist, the kameez have shorter length, with higher splits, lower necklines and backlines, and with cropped sleeves or without sleeves.

-- Shalwar kameez, by Wikipedia


Newer still, is the way it has been revived and redefined by modern designers as a garment that is ‘cultured’ yet ‘highly fashionable,’ ‘chic,’ ‘sensual,’ ‘gone global’ and, hence, in sync with modern aspirations.

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Shohreh Aghdashloo [Avasarala: A diva, a queen, a legend -- The Expanse]
@SAghdashloo·
May 17, 2020
This exclusive photo is one of my favorites. It has never been published before. I hope you like it.
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#ScreamingFirehawks #TheExpanse


The storied journey of the sari is a long and continuous one and few experts doubt that it’s here to stay. “The sari is so deep rooted in our culture that it can never become obsolete but I think with changing times it is also changing,” says designer Masaba Gupta, adding that, “We’re going through an interesting phase in terms of fashion where tradition is getting contemporised, for example, saris can be worn with pants and different types of blouses such as a corset blouse. The beauty of this phase is that the sari is becoming more accessible to the younger generation”.

Changes in clothing throughout history have always been an adaptation to new styles. Instead of simply discarding earlier styles under new circumstances, people try to make sense of their new social, cultural and economic needs and then adapt to those needs as and when they find it necessary or useful to their daily existence. This is apparent even as one looks at the way urban, middle-class Indian women’s dressing preferences have evolved away from sari-only to include a number of other Indian and Western outfits in the last few decades. Simultaneously, the meanings of sari have also expanded to allow women to rationalise the competing spheres of tradition and modernity at once.
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