The decision by the Academic Council of Delhi University to drop A.K. Ramanujan's essay on the Ramayana from its history syllabus is undoubtedly political. In multiple versions of an epic, there are bound to be variations. They reflect the fanciful imagination of the writers. The forces that are assuming virtual custodianship of epics like the Ramayana or the Ram Mandir hardly follow the values and virtues of Rama.
The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two great epics that speak of our age-old culture. Their story value is minimal but the human values they espouse in chapter after chapter show how great our society and people were in the times they represented. True, there are many versions of the Ramayana, 300 and more. Many of them have their origin outside India. Even within India, there are differences in versions. It is only proper to restore Ramanujan's essay so that students can come to their own conclusions on the epic.
S. Chidambaresa Iyer,
Let there be a hundred versions. It is Valmiki Ramayana that is immortal. The purpose of those who wrote the epic in their own languages was to narrate Valmiki's version to the common man. Thunjath Ezhuthachan's Ramayana in Malayalam was one such attempt. The various versions of the epic are a glowing tribute to Valmiki's original text.
No one in his right mind can question the scholarly credentials of Ramanujan. His essay Three Hundred Ramayanas looks at the different ways in which the great epic has been retold in various contexts. The different versions do not, in any way, diminish the importance of the epic. On the contrary, they enrich it.
Let all intellectuals supporting Ramanujan's essay first understand the purpose of history. Students study history so that they can learn what happened in the past, great deeds of some — which people can emulate — and the mistakes committed by some others which they should not repeat. The essence of the Ramayana, in any version, is the victory of good over evil and the righteous life led by Rama. Let Delhi University make its students learn a lesson or two from Rama's righteous life, instead of teaching them essays which hurt the religious feelings of some sections.
By the way, Ravana is not depicted as a demon in Valmiki Ramayana. He is the son of Pulasthya, who is a Brahmin.
B. Dinesh Kumar,