Speciality of Ramayana

Of the two Itihasas, namely the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the former is special, said M.A. Venkatakrishnan, in a discourse. While the Mahabharata contains the Bhagavad Gita and the Vishnu Sahasranama, yet, the Gita and the Sahasranama are a small part of the Mahabharata. The latter is mostly about the fight between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. Of the more than one lakh verses, the Gita and the Vishnu Sahasranama take up only a few hundred verses. That is why Vyasa wrote a follow up, called Hari Vamsa, where he speaks about the greatness of Hari. Although the Mahabharata and Hari Vamsa are considered to be separate works, Hari Vamsa is actually like an addendum to the Mahabharata. In the case of the Ramayana, the entire work talks about Rama. It is called Adi kavya, for it was the earliest of all kavyas in Sanskrit. Dandin wrote the rules for writing kavyas. But it was the Ramayana which provided material for all those rules. So the work of how to write kavyas was based on the pattern provided by the Ramayana.

Before the Ramayana, we did have the Vedas, but the Samhita portion of the Vedas was entirely about how to perform yagas. The Upanishads were about Brahman. There was no story told. So, Valmiki’s Ramayana was a pioneering work. Valmiki saw a hunter kill a krauncha bird, and saw the distress of its pair. He cursed the hunter. But what was surprising was that the curse came out in a metre! This was not due to a conscious attempt by Valmiki. It just happened that way. His curse had come out as a verse, with four padas, with each pada having eight syllables. While the Vedas also have chandas, the difference is that they are Vaideeka chandas, and Valmiki’s is laukeeka chandas. Vedic chandas have tonal variations, which chandas in kavyas do not have.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 6:57:29 PM |

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