Jnanpith Award winner Prof Satya Vrat Shastri said it was fascinating to know how the story of Lord Ram flourished in the entire Southeast Asia.

It had undergone many transformation and it is fascinating how it has been absorbed into many elements of life, Prof. Shastri said.

It is for the first time such a complete appraisal of Ram’s story in the entire Southeast Asia is being done and is a project under Indian council for Cultural Relations, Prof. Shastri said.

If there is any story that could be claimed as their story in the entire Southeast Asia, starting from Myanmar to Indonesia, it is the Rama story and research has shown that it permeates the entire continent with lot of transformations, Prof. Shastri, winner of the 12th SIES Sri Chandrasekharedra Saraswati National Eminence Award, said at the function held on Friday.

“Rama-story of Southeast Asia is the latest project I am working on to study its various manifestations and dimensions in the countries like Myanmar, Laos, Thailand,Cambodia Malaysia and Indonesia,” the 79-year-old professor said.

The study will be done in literature, art and folklore, on the perceptions of Rama’s story in these countries and each category will be given a thorough treatment, Prof. Shastri said.

It is surprising to know various manifestations and dimensions of the Rama story and even the names differ describing the story of Rama, he said.

In Myanmar Rama story is called “Rama Thagyam” or “Rama Vathu”, in Thailand it is called “Ramakien”, in Laos “Phra Lak Phra Lam”, in Cambodia as “Ramaker”, Malaysia as “Hikayad Seriram” and in Indonesia as “Rama Kakavin” or “Rama Kavya”, he said.

Only in Indonesia the Rama story is not based on Valmiki Ramayana but on the Ravanavada Mahakavya or alternate Kavya called Bhattaka.

About Afghanistan and other neighbouring countries in West Asia, he said, “they have their own version of Rama but it was only in Southeast Asia, the Rama story flourished and has been absorbed into many elements of people’s lives.”

Asked about Mahabharata, he said, it is popular only in Indonesia.

Speaking about Sanskrit, the youngest receiver of Sahitya Academy award at the age of 38, said, “Sanskrit is not only Indian language but global. The significance of phonetics and richness of Sanskrit is understood universally and the origin of all languages in the world is from Sanskrit and their inter-linkages are also understood.”

Prof. Shastri, who is a visiting professor in many western and eastern countries, is also working on projects like Sanskrit Inscriptions of Thailand, Hindu Temples of Thailand, Kalidasa Studies, Critical Edition of Yogavasistha and Sanskritic Vocabulary of South East Asia.