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various versions of the Ramayana

From: Mohan Sagar (msagar_at_worldnet.att.net)
Date: Thu Jan 30 1997 - 18:33:08 PST

Smt. Krishnamachari writes:

>1. I have been told that there are some differences in the description of the
>instances between the the major Ramayanas - the ones by Sri Valmiki, Sri Tulsi
>Das, and Sri Kambar (may be there are others of which I am not aware of).
>One example of this is the time that Sita Devi first looked at Sri Rama.  
>In Valmiki's Ramayana, she sees Rama only during the bow incidence, and in
>Kamba Ramayana (Annalum nokkinan, Avalum nokinnal) it happened prior to the 
>breaking of the bow itself (is that true?).  
>
>Given that Sri Valmiki, Sri Tulsi Das, and Sri Kambar were all sincere
>devotees of the Lord, and were representing the events of Ramayana, how do we
>account for the differences?

>Is it possible that there are different versions of Ramayana because of the
>different kalpas during which slightly different incidents took place?

There are a number of different interpretations of Adi Kavi Valmiki's
rendering of Our Lord's Avathara that can be found throughout India and the
rest of Asia.  While much of the differences among them can be attributed to
the fact that they were written in different kalpas, it should also be noted
that each rendering is intended to reflect or invoke different moods, in
accordance with the moods of the particular author.  

For example, references to Sri Rama being an avathara of the Lord are
mentioned only in a few verses of the famous original rendering. This is,
perhaps, an indication of Sri Valmiki's intent to emphasize the deeply human
qualities of the Lord and His Consort, in an effort to provide an example of
the ideals of Dharma and the qualities of those that adhere to it.

But, in the mystical vision of both Sri Kambar and Sri Tulasidas, Sri Rama
and Sita Piratti are revealed in their full splendour as Perumal and Thayar.
Consequently, their renderings are filled with heartfelt devotional
outpourings, and also include popular stories and legends local to their
respective parts of India.  The romantic incident of Sri Sita and Rama
exchanging glances before the Svayamvara is one such local legend that was
known to both these sages.

It is interesting to note that both Sri Kambar and Sri Tulasidas' renderings
seem to draw heavily from another Sanskrit version of the Ramayana known as
Sri Adhyatma Ramayana.  This devotional work of the 14th century is
attributed to Sri Ramananda of Benares, whose teachings directly reflect the
philosophies of Sri Pillai Lokacharya and Sri Periavaccan Pillai. 

I can only speculate about the questions relating to Sri Anjaneya, so I will
leave these to others in the group.

Daasanu Daasan,

Mohan