Remembering Sage Valmiki by celebrating his (not-exactly-known) birthday with mass participation and government sponsorship and also discourses by seasoned professionals enchanting large audiences comprising children, women, and senior citizens getting transformed by the narratives over centuries, stretching to our times is ample testimony to the undying impression that the land’s epic Ramayana generates in people across major sections of the society. The other epic, Mahabharata authored by Sage Vyasa of less vintage than Valmiki’s monumental poetic work in Sanskrit, is in august company of the third literary spiritual text, Vedas, accepted by the scholarly fraternity as a work by unknown authors. Although, all the aforementioned gems, Vedas, Ramayana and Mahabharata were originally in Sanskrit, thanks to the efforts of later litterateurs, translating them into various languages, including Kannada, successive generations have continued to read, recite, view televised serials based on the epics with undiminished joy and also devout feelings.
Given the style of presenting the innumerable episodes and characters, featuring divinity as mortals in the two epics, one is obliged to sidestep the debates in various circles on the question of whether the narratives are in the nature of mythology rather than history and focus on the likeness of events of the epics with real-life scenes even to this day.
In the context of the now-on-now-off interfaith confrontation over the matter of reviving the land’s space in Ayodhya as a place of worship for devotees of either of the two faiths, it prompts one to sit up and ponder over the matter in a broader perspective to when told that in Indonesia, the country with the largest followers of one of the two faiths, the bride at weddings is perceived as Sita, consort of Sri Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana. Further, educated Indonesians aver that their religion is Islam but their culture is Ramayana, a case for all-pervading culture overriding the narrow avenues of the religion. As for Mahabharata, the episodes in the narrative continue to be cited by common people, particularly India’s rustics, in daily life even to this day.
While many self-rated rationalists indulge in discounting references in the epics to various scientific and technological advances, such as aviation and weaponry, noted Kannada author of highly rated literary works, Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa, has opined that the sequences and the characters that appear in the epics still hold relevance in the present day society. The remark facilitates study of the epics with a wider perspective.
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