The Epic Story Of Rama, Which Is Part Of The Indian Collective Consciousness, Has Been Retold In Many Regional Languages Pre Eminent Among The Many Vernacular Retellings Of The Ramayana Is The Twelfth Century Tamil Version By Kamban The Son Of A Temple Drummer, Kamban Is Reputed To Have Had An Impressive Mastery Of Tamil And Sanskrit Classics Fascinated By The Lore Of Ramayana, He Immersed Himself Totally In It Translated Into English By The Late PS Sundaram, This Edition Has Been Abridged And Edited By His Long Time Friend NS Jagannathan The Ramavataram or Kamba Ramayanam of Kamban is an epic of about 11,000 stanzas as opposed to Valmiki s 24000 couplets The Rama avataram or Rama kathai as it was originally called was accepted into the holy precincts in the presence of Vaishnava Acharya Nathamuni Kamba Ramayana is not a translation of the Sanskrit epic by Valmiki, but an original retelling of the story of the God Rama The poetic work is well known for its similes.In this edited edition, it was not easy for the translator late P.S Sundaram, his long time friend editor N.S Jagannathan, to pared down from the original six volumes to a single one P.S Sundaram, who took his Master s degree in English Language and Literature from Madras University 1930 and, later, from Oxford 1934 , had a long and distinguished career as a professor of English at Lahore, Cuttack, Bareilly and Jaipur. A retelling of the Ramayana story of Indian mythical culture Rama pursues his abducted wife to the Island of the great King of the demons, Ravana To be honest, I didn t think it differed much from the usually accepted telling of this tale, oh well, anyhow Translated by R.K Narayan, Kamban s Ra ma yana presents a captivating retelling of one of Southern Asia s most culturally prevalent stories through the lens of the Hindu Vaisnaviite tradition As a fundamental text in the religious traditions of South Asia, the Ra ma yana must taken as than a story of exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution It is important to understand that each character and action must be realized at a level deeper than face value or of simple cause and effect Whether it be social duty dharma , religious piety, or the ultimate cosmic destiny, each character symbolically embodies deeper ideals that accompanies their actions For instance, Rama acts according to his societal duty when he accepts his fourteen year exile in the jungle because he understands that this action is in accordance to dharma Although Rama s father presents him with an argument to embody the kingship, Rama responds with a teaching of a higher and just dharma that explains why he must adhere to his father s wife s demand This action can be extended to the concept of varnashrama dharma within Indian culture and the idea that everyone has a certain place or class within society and must act accordingly in order to fulfill their societal duty Bharatha exemplifies the ideal of religious piety by showing reverence to Rama and offering to return the throne to him once he returns This action, on the part of Bharatha, shows acknowledgement of Rama s superiority to himself in the area of kingship and rule Also, since Rama is an avatara of Visnu, in a way, this example shows his reverence to the power of the gods The idea of an all pervasive cosmic destiny arises through a goddess found meditating in a deep cavern by Hanuman and his search team Initially mistaken for Sita, this goddess had fallen from grace and had been condemned to live underground, in a perfect city devoid of any other inhabitants She explains that she had been condemned to meditate until that precise moment when she was found, a moment of cosmic destiny that illustrates the inter relatedness of all things The importance of Rama ridding the jungle of Ravana and all traces of rakshasas and adharma is also explained as cosmic destiny This action relates to Visnu s cosmic role as the preserver and upkeeper of dharma and all that is right Thus it can be seen that the characters of Kamban s Ra ma yana reflect an idealized image of society where central characters follow societal duty and practice religious piety, and these actions determine cosmic destiny Social duty, religious piety, and cosmic destiny are depicted very well through these characters Each character is than a personality, they are a symbol that represents a greater cosmic reality, or truth As metaphors, the characters accurately reflect an idealized image of society and the cosmos according to the Hindu Vaishnavite tradition Social duty, religious piety, and cosmic destiny are depicted very well through the charecters found in Kamban s Ra ma yana.
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- Kamba Ramayana
- P.S. Sundaram
- 19 March 2017 P.S. Sundaram