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Indian history, many authors and performers have produced, and many patrons have supported, diverse tellings of the story of the exiled prince Rama, who rescues his abducted wife by battling the demon king who has imprisoned her. The contributors to this volume focus on these "many" Ramayanas.
While most scholars continue to rely on Valmiki's Sanskrit Ramayana as the authoritative version of the tale, the contributors to this volume do not. Their essays demonstrate the multivocal nature of the Ramayana by highlighting its variations according to historical period, political context, regional literary tradition, religious affiliation, intended audience, and genre. Socially marginal groups in
Indian society—Telugu women, for example, or Untouchables from Madhya Pradesh—have recast the Rama story to reflect their own views of the world, while in other hands the epic has become the basis for teachings about spiritual liberation or the demand for political separatism. Historians of religion, scholars of South Asia, folklorists, cultural anthropologists—all will find here refreshing perspectives on this tale.
Posted December 14, 1999
I strongly recommend this excellent collection of essays to any reader who wishes to get a sense of the diversity of Ramayana traditions out there. It truly shows how the Ramayana is more than a single story. The epic is a living body of ideas and pieces which can be put together in lots of ways to illuminate life in many contexts. This book is best for those who already have a lot of familiarity with the basic story and have read at least one version in depth. Otherwise, it will be hard for you to appreciate this book.
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