The scholarly essay by Ramanujan would not have died as those other stories of the legendary epical character named Ram have survived till date but not as popular as Tulasidas’s Ramcahritmanas, which incorporated popular imagery of his time and provided an impeccable defence of Brahmanical system, under threat due to emerging various monist and heteronomous movements from within and without. It based itself and improvised upon Valmiki’s Ramayan owing to its being written in common peoples language rebelling against the Sanskritic-elitist tradition, it surpassed Valmiki’s and other Ram Kathas, lost in oblivion and revived the legend. Tulasidas’s Ram departs from Valmiki’s super hero and becomes God-reincarnation as in Kampan’s Ramayan preceding Ramcharitmanas by around 5 centuries. The essay would have been read by few students who would opt for this optional interdisciplinary course had it not been opposed by the self-styled champions of Indian culture of their kind of lumpenism, most probably without reading, as is the glorious traditions of RSS outfits. I was aware of this essay but had not read it before the unnecessary controversy created by Hindutva zealots. Some RSS 'scholars' claim that “India does not have history of banning the books”, are you aware of ban on Salman Rushdi’s Satanic Verses and Taslima Nasareen’s works by Government of India. The entire materialist philosophical literature of Lokayat tradition was destroyed by upholders of Brahmanic spiritual tradition that has been reconstructed through pejorative references to them in Brahmanical texts. The Budhist texts were destroyed first by Shankaracharya and his followers and then by Lodis who destroyed the rich Nalanda library in the pattern of Hitler and Mussolini few centuries later. Many sections of Tulsi’s great epic are already taught in schools and colleges. Instead of calling this essay dishonest and justifying the hooliganism of ABVP lumpens you should have discussed the merits and demerits of the essay.
I grew up reciting Ramcharitmanas with my grandfather, a devout Brahman.
Who is Ram? Is he a historical character? There are references of Visvamitra and Vashishtha in Rigveda but no reference of any character with this name. Dibodas was son of a Rigvedic chief Sudas and Vishvamitra was hs chief priest. Dibodas found Vashishtha to be more knowledgeable and appointed him as chief priest in place of Vishvamitra who got so annoyed that went to mobilise 10 other chiefs to attack Dibodas. This is mentioned in Vedas as Dasragyayudhah (war of 10 kings). Dibodas emerged victorious in the war and Vashishtha and Vishvamitra reached on a compromise and both were accommodated as priests by Dibodas. Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh didn’t exist as deities till then hence no question of their re-incarnations. In Kautilya’s Arthshastra there is no mention of these deities, he talks about Vedic gods – Arun, Varun, Indra and Agni and local deities. When he advises the Vijigishu (the Conquerer king) to worship Vedic Gods for blessings and demons for avoiding calamities he brackets Kansa and Krishna together as demons. Megasthenese mentions Krishna as a legendary hero of Surasen (Mathura) region. I mean to say that while fictionalising a legendary character the writer places him in his own historical context that explains changing nature of such characters – Valmiki’s super hero thus becomes God-reincarnate in Kampan and Tulsi’s stories. Ram of Balmiki as well as of Tulsi, though, differing in nature to a large extent, is upholder of Varnashram-patriarchal values who kicks out Sita in pregnant state, despite her passing the Agni-Pareeksha and his world gets shaken by the news of a shudra, sambuk doing meditation and instead of sending laxman/Hanuman et al to kill him goes himself to murder him.
This mythical character belongs to a tradition where women are won in competitions of muscle power like other goods and disfigures a woman of another tradition in which women also propose men, instead of telling her to get away, as he was not interested. Her brother another mythical character, who has been pictured as great intellectual by Valmiki and Tulsi, and an able ruler as he rules over SONE KI LANKA, a prosperous kingdom with hail and happy subjects, kidnaps his wife with his mythical knowledge of Maya and flies her away and keeps her in a 5-star guest house with all the honor and facilities only persuades her and never insults or uses force. Ram, in order to mobilise the Vanar tribe kills Bali cowardly hiding behind a tree and kills Ravan with the help of a traitor, Vibhishan. How such an immoral and unethical character can be the symbol of goodness? This has been done by ideological practices blunting any critical analysis.