Hinduism Rāmāyaṇa
by
Simon Brodbeck
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 January 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0045

Introduction

Rāmāyaṇa means “The Career of Rāma,” or perhaps “The Going [to the Forest] of Rāma.” The title can be applied to any number of artistic products that take Rāma as their subject, but this article concentrates primarily upon the oldest and most authoritative known version of the story of Rāma, the Sanskrit Rāmāyaṇa attributed to Vālmīki. This text, one of the most influential and consequential texts in human history, is often studied in tandem with the Mahābhārata as a Sanskrit “epic.” Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa comprises seven kāṇḍas (books) of varying lengths. After a brief preface, the first book (Bālakāṇḍa) narrates Prince Rāma of Ayodhyā’s birth and childhood, his adventures and education with Viśvāmitra, and his marriage to Sītā, daughter of King Janaka. In Book 2 (Ayodhyākāṇḍa), Rāma’s father, King Daśaratha, intends to install Rāma as his successor, but his junior wife, Kaikeyī, persuades him to install her son Bharata instead, and to exile Rāma for fourteen years. Bharata refuses to accept the kingship, but nonetheless Rāma—who is actually Lord Vishnu but starts out not knowing this—goes into exile with Sītā and his brother Lakṣmaṇa. In Book 3 (Araṇyakāṇḍa), Rāma occasions the enmity of Rāvaṇa, a powerful, ten-headed rākṣasa (demon) king, who abducts Sītā and takes her to Laṅkā. Book 4 (Kiṣkindhākāṇḍa) describes how Rāma wins an alliance with a community of monkeys who agree to help him find Sītā; in Book 5, (Sundarakāṇḍa), Hanumat (or Hanuman) finds Sītā on Laṅkā, where she is holding out against Rāvaṇa’s sexual advances. In Book 6 (Yuddhakāṇḍa), Rāma and the monkeys wage a successful military campaign against Rāvaṇa and his rākṣasa warriors. Rāma then rejects Sītā because, having lived in another man’s house, her virtue is in doubt, but she proves her innocence to him through an ordeal by fire. Brahmā tells Rāma he is actually Lord Vishnu, and Agni tells him to take Sītā back. His exile over, he returns to Ayodhyā and becomes a paradigmatically good king. Book 7 (Uttarakāṇḍa) begins with a long section in which Agastya tells Rāma details of the careers of Rāvaṇa and Hanumat. When the main narrative resumes, the citizens begin to gossip about Sītā’s purity, and so Rāma has her abandoned in the hinterland, where she gives birth to Rāma’s sons at Vālmīki’s āśrama. Vālmīki teaches them Rāma’s story, and they tell it to Rāma at Rāma’s horse sacrifice: this is the telling we have been hearing. Rāma now seeks to have Sītā publicly prove her innocence, but, reiterating her innocence, she calls upon the goddess Earth and descends into it. Rāma lives out his remaining days in misery, eventually returning to his heavenly abode via the waters of the River Sarayū.

General Overviews

These sources are good places for the researcher to begin, and some of them bear returning to again and again. Goldman and Goldman 2004 is a compact all-round introduction to the Rāmāyaṇa phenomenon in history. Hiltebeitel 2006 concentrates more specifically on Vālmīki’s text, as does Shulman 2001, focusing on the question of poetic effect. Thapar 1982 compares Vālmīki’s version with Buddhist and Jaina Rāmāyaṇas. Brockington 1998 is a standard source for both the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata and the most in-depth of the sources mentioned here. Sitaramaih 1972 is included as an example of a Hindu literalist approach.

  • Brockington, John L. The Sanskrit Epics. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1998.

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    A detailed handbook of the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata as Sanskrit texts and as objects of scholarship, with chapters also on the Harivaṃśa and on the texts’ influence and cultural significance. Approaches the texts from a decidedly text-historical perspective.

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    • Goldman, Robert P., and Sally J. Sutherland Goldman. “Rāmāyaṇa.” In The Hindu World. Edited by Sushil Mittal and Gene R. Thursby, 75–96. New York: Routledge, 2004.

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      A rounded overview by two of the Princeton translators. Tells the story in seven pages, then discusses “levels of significance” in the text (the aesthetic, the social, and the religious), before summarizing Rāma’s later treatment in literature and the wider arts and Vālmīki’s treatment within academia.

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      • Hiltebeitel, Alf. “Rāmāyaṇa.” In Encyclopedia of India. Vol. 3. Edited by Stanley Wolpert, 390–399. Farmington Hills, MI: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006.

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        Begins with a discussion of the text’s self-designations and of its first few chapters, and ends with a discussion of the Mahābhārata’s story of Rāma (the Rāmopākhyāna), arguing that the Mahābhārata predates Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa. The main body of the article is a detailed kāṇḍa-by-kāṇḍa synopsis of Vālmīki’s text.

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        • Shulman, David Dean. “Toward a Historical Poetics of the Sanskrit Epics.” In The Wisdom of Poets: Studies in Tamil, Telugu, and Sanskrit. By David Dean Shulman, 21–39. Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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          First published in International Folklore Review 8 (1991): 9–17. An insightful article discussing the Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaṇa as paradigms of two contrasting poetics: respectively, the poetics of dilemma and the poetics of perfection. Suggests that itihāsa is to be spoken, and kāvya sung. Good on the story of Vālmīki.

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          • Sitaramiah, Venkatasamiah. Valmiki Ramayana. Delhi, India: Sahitya Akademi, 1972.

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            Provides an overview of the text from a reverent and historically realist point of view. Contains little in the way of reference to the secondary literature. Includes chapters on Vālmīki’s poetry, on the main characters, and on “types of family life.”

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            • Thapar, Romila. “The Rāmāyaṇa: Theme and Variation.” In India: History and Thought: Essays in Honour of A. L. Basham. Edited by S. N. Mukherjee, 221–253. Calcutta, India: Subarnarekha, 1982.

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              Approaches the Rāmāyaṇa as “a charter of validation for the monarchical state” and discusses differing versions of the story in historical context in terms of their interventions and interpretations in this regard: the parallels to Rāmāyaṇa themes in the Jātaka texts, the Vālmīki version, and Vimalasūri’s Jaina Paümacariya.

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              Reference Works

              Included here are reference works dealing with different aspects of the text, though most of them cover other texts too. Hopkins 2007 is a summative survey of the background mythology of the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata, and Mani 1975 is a large one-volume encyclopedia of the dramatis personae of the Rāmāyaṇa, the Mahābhārata, and the Puranas. Oberlies 2003 is a systematic linguistic survey of the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. Two bibliographic surveys are included: Krishnamoorthy and Mukhopadhyaya 1991 concentrates on the Rāmāyaṇa, while Stietencron 1992 includes also the Mahābhārata and the Puranas, as well as summaries of each source mentioned.

              • Hopkins, E. Washburn. Epic Mythology. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 2007.

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                A manual of the divine and demonic beings mentioned in the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata, with a forty-two-page index. The term “epic” is defined so as to exclude large parts of both texts. Gives references to Krishnacharya’s (southern recension) text of the Rāmāyaṇa. First published in 1915 (Strassburg, Germany: Trübner).

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                • Krishnamoorthy, K., and Satkari Mukhopadhyaya, eds. A Critical Inventory of Rāmāyaṇa Studies in the World. Vol. 1, Indian Languages and English. Delhi, India: Sahitya Akademi, 1991.

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                  Compiled with the assistance of more than a dozen consultant editors located in many different countries. Contains details of more than 5,500 sources, covering Vālmīki’s and other Rāmāyaṇas, plus commentaries, translations, and critical studies. Each category is subdivided by language, and each subdivision ordered alphabetically. No index.

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                  • Mani, Vettam. Purāṇic Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Work with Special Reference to the Epic and Purāṇic Literature. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975.

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                    A useful reference work arranged in Roman alphabetical order. Most of the entries are by name of literary character; they briefly summarize the textual data, arranging them under episodic subheadings where appropriate. Occasional problems of judgment when deciding how many characters there are per name. First published in 1964 in Malayālam.

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                    • Oberlies, Thomas. A Grammar of Epic Sanskrit. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2003.

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                      A lingustic survey of the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata, charting the various ways in which their language deviates from Pāṇini’s canonical account of Sanskrit, with complete lists of exemplars tracked to the critical editions. Pitched at a high level, it will not avail those who wish to learn “epic Sanskrit” from scratch.

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                      • Stietencron, Heinrich von, ed. Epic and Purāṇic Bibliography (up to 1985), Annotated and with Indexes. 2 vols. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 1992.

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                        A magnificent resource, compiled by an international team under the auspices of the Tübingen Purāṇa Project (funded 1982–1987), listing and summarizing thousands of publications. The online version, launched in 2009, aims to bring this work up-to-date by allowing users to add new entries.

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                        Texts

                        The Rāmāyaṇa exists in several different recensions, of which the southern recension has been the most influential. Krishnacharya (Vālmīki 1982), Mudholkar (Vālmīki 2000), and Śrīkṛṣṇadāsa (Vālmīki 1935) are standard Sanskrit editions of southern recension texts. Bhatt and Shah 1958–1975 is the Baroda critical edition that collates the entire manuscript tradition, and Vyas 1992 is the reconstituted Rāmāyaṇa as extracted from that critical edition. Pollock 1984, Sutherland 1992, and van der Veer 1999 are discussions of the critical edition, Pollock 1984 and Sutherland 1992 from the perspective of its methodology, and van der Veer 1999 focusing on the project’s historical context. Brockington 2000 critiques the critical edition on the basis of close manuscript study.

                        • Bhatt, Govindlal H. and Umakant P. Shah, eds. The Vālmīki-Rāmāyaṇa Critically Edited for the First Time. 7 vols. Baroda, India: Oriental Institute, 1958–1975.

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                          Compendium of the entire Rāmāyaṇa manuscript tradition, with passages found in all manuscripts presented as a reconstituted text, and other passages presented as footnotes or appendices. Indispensable for the study of the early Rāmāyaṇa and for the study of its later textual history. Includes introductions on procedure and method.

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                          • Brockington, John. “Manuscript Studies.” In Epic Threads: John Brockington on the Sanskrit Epics. Edited by Greg Bailey and Mary Brockington, 195–217. Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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                            Two closely related articles, “Textual Studies in Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa” (1986) and “The Text of the Rāmāyaṇa” (1991), presenting and discussing the results of independent study of specific manuscripts (first in South India, then in the North). Proposes particular interrelations between subrecensions and points out weaknesses in the critical editors’ method.

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                            • Pollock, Sheldon I. “The Rāmāyaṇa Text and the Critical Edition.” In The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India. Vol. 1, Bālakāṇḍa. Translated by Robert P. Goldman, 82–93. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984.

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                              A clear and concise discussion of the problems involved in the critical reconstitution of the Rāmāyaṇa. Argues that there was no written archetype from which all manuscripts descended but that the critical editors were correct overall to privilege the southern recension in cases of recensional discrepancy.

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                              • Sutherland, Sally J. M. “The Text Which Is No Text: Critical Edition as Text.” In Translation East and West: A Cross-Cultural Approach. Edited by Cornelia N. Moore and Lucy Lower, 82–92. Honolulu: East-West Center, University of Hawaii, 1992.

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                                Concise overview of the critical edition project. Discusses the “Western” origins of the text-critical method; the views of some of the critical editors on the Rāmāyaṇa’s early history; and some places “where the editors . . . have reconstructed a story that is nowhere found in the form adopted” (pp. 86–87).

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                                • Vālmīki. Śrīmadvālmīkirāmāyaṇa. Edited by Gaṅgāviṣṇu Śrīkṛṣṇadāsa. 3 vols. Bombay, India: Lakṣmīveṅkaṭeśvara Mudraṇālaya, 1935.

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                                  The Veṅkateśvara Steam Press edition. Includes the commentaries of Govindarāja, Rāmānuja, and Maheśvaratīrtha, as well as the commentary known as Taniślokī.

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                                  • Vālmīki. The Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa according to the Southern Recension. Edited by T. R. Krishnacharya. 2 vols. Delhi, India: Sri Satguru, 1982.

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                                    The Kumbhakonam edition, first published in 1905 (Kumbhakonam, India). Popular pre-critical-edition version of Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa. More or less follows the tradition of the commentator Govindarāja. Krishnacharya’s two-volume edition includes some variant readings, and brief interpretive notes in Sanskrit.

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                                    • Vālmīki. Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki with the Commentaries Tilaka of Rāma, Rāmāyaṇaśiromaṇi of Śivasahāya, and Bhūṣaṇa of Govindarāja. Edited by Shastri Shrinivas Katti Mudholkar. Delhi, India: Parimal, 2000.

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                                      The Gujarati Printing Press edition, also known as the “Vulgate.” First published in 1914–1920 (Bombay: Gujarati Printing Press). Includes three influential medieval Rāmāyaṇa commentaries.

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                                      • van der Veer, Peter. “Monumental Texts: The Critical Edition of India’s National Heritage.” In Invoking the Past: The Uses of History in South Asia. Edited by Daud Ali, 134–155. Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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                                        Situates the production of the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata critical editions historically, discussing their significance in the context of Hindu nationalism. Succeeds in showing that the project was context-dependent, but has less to say about the results.

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                                        • Vyas, R. T., ed. Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa: Text as Constituted in Its Critical Edition. Baroda, India: Oriental Institute, 1992.

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                                          The critically reconstituted text, extracted from Bhatt and Shah 1958–1975 and reprinted here in one volume, without footnotes or appendices. The online version features an adjacent Roman transliteration.

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                                          Translations

                                          Shastri (Vālmīki 1962–1970), Vālmīki 1969 (the Gita Press edition), and Raghunathan (Vālmīki 1981) are popular English translations of southern recension texts. Roussel (Vālmīki 1903), and Biardeau and Porcher (Vālmīki 1999) are French translations. Goldman, et al. 1984– is the ongoing Princeton edition containing the critically reconstituted Rāmāyaṇa in English translation; and Goldman, et al. 2005–2008 is the Clay Sanskrit Library edition of (most of) the same, with parallel Sanskrit text but no notes.

                                          • Goldman, Robert P., trans. The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984– .

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                                            Translation of the critically reconstituted text, by Goldman (Bālakāṇḍa, 1984); Sheldon Pollock (Ayodhyākāṇḍa, 1986, and Araṇyakāṇḍa, 1991); Rosalind Lefeber (Kiṣkindhākāṇḍa, 1994); Goldman and Sally J. Sutherland Goldman (Sundarakāṇḍa, 1996); and Barend van Nooten, Goldman, and Goldman (Yuddhakāṇḍa, 2009). Uttarakāṇḍa is pending. Apparatus is excellent; each volume has extensive annotations and an introduction to the kāṇḍa in question, and the first volume begins with a wide-ranging introduction to the whole.

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                                            • Goldman, Robert P., trans. Rāmāyaṇa. Clay Sanskrit Library. New York: New York University Press, 2005–2008.

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                                              Reproduces the Princeton translation. Introductions are shortened and notes omitted, but the Sanskrit has been added, as have proper paragraph breaks in the translation (the Princeton edition has each verse as a separate paragraph). Five volumes only, Bālakāṇḍa to Sundarakāṇḍa.

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                                              • Vālmīki. Le Rāmāyana de Vālmīki. Translated by Alfred Roussel. Paris: Librairie des Cinq Parties du Monde, 1903.

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                                                French translation, published in the Bibliothèque Orientale series. Based on a southern recension text, and influenced by the Tilaka commentary of Rāmavarman, as well as by Gorresio’s earlier Italian translation. Leaves many terms untranslated.

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                                                • Vālmīki. The Ramayana of Valmiki. 2d ed. Translated by Hari Prasad Shastri. 3 vols. London: Shanti Sadan, 1962–1970.

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                                                  Widely available edition translating a text of the southern recension into slightly archaic English (including thee’s and thou’s). Each chapter is helpfully given a topically indicative title, both in the text and on the contents page. First edition 1953–1959. Sometimes follows Roussel (Vālmīki 1903).

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                                                  • Vālmīki. Śrīmad Vālmīki-Rāmāyaṇa. 3 vols. Gorakhpur, India: Gita Press, 1969.

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                                                    The Gita Press edition, anonymously edited and translated. A popular edition and translation, particularly among Indian scholars and students. Follows the Vulgate text for the most part. The translation is fairly accurate, though informed on occasion by commentatorial glosses; and it does not shy away from problematic verses.

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                                                    • Vālmīki. Srimad Valmiki Ramayana: With Notes. Translated by N. Raghunathan. 3 vols. Madras, India: Vighneswara, 1981.

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                                                      A good translation. Follows the text associated with Govindarāja (as represented by, for example, the Kumbhakonam edition and the Veṅkateśvara Steam Press edition). The third volume includes an essay on the Bālakāṇḍa and the Uttarakāṇḍa.

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                                                      • Vālmīki. Le Rāmāyaṇa de Vālmīki. Edited by Madeleine Biardeau and Marie-Claude Porcher. Translated by Philippe Benoît, Brigitte Pagani, Bernard Parlier, Jean-Michel Peterfalvi, Marie-Claude Porcher, and Alain Rebière. Paris: Gallimard, 1999.

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                                                        Recent French translation, in one massive volume. Generally follows the Gujarati Printing Press edition.

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                                                        Textual History

                                                        Scholars, especially European ones, have been very interested in the origin and growth of the Rāmāyaṇa. Bulcke 1955 and van Daalen 2004 discuss implications of the discrepancies between recensions: Bulcke 1955 lists the discrepancies and sketches a stemma codicum, and van Daalen 2004 proposes that the northern recension is more authentic than the southern. Jacobi 1960 is a seminal monograph proposing that the Bālakāṇḍa and Uttarakāṇḍa were later additions—a theory still accepted by many, even though the critically reconstituted version includes both of these kāṇḍas. Alles 1989 discusses the dating of the “central, unified narrative” (by which is meant kāṇḍas two to six). Bulcke 1953 agrees that the Bālakāṇḍa is late and discusses its origin and growth. Brockington 1984 presents one detailed scheme of the text’s growth through the centuries and Yardi 1994 another. Brockington and Brockington 2006 is a translation of a reconstructed ancient “stage one” text, and Brockington 2000 is an important selection of essays bearing upon his historical project.

                                                        • Alles, Gregory D. “Reflections on Dating ‘Vālmīki.’” Journal of the Oriental Institute, Baroda 38.3–4 (1989): 217–244.

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                                                          Methodologically astute discussion of how to date Rāmāyaṇa, Books 2 to 6 (“Vālmīki” here refers to that hypothetical text’s author, not to the character Vālmīki within Books 1 and 7). Critical of oral-formulaic theory. Discusses geographical considerations also and settles on a date in the Śuṅga period (2nd–1st centuries BCE).

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                                                          • Brockington, John L. Righteous Rāma: The Evolution of an Epic. Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 1984.

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                                                            Separates the text into five chronological stages of growth on the basis of “relatively objective evidence”—that is, linguistic and stylistic features—and discusses what the text can then reveal about different periods of Indian social and cultural history. Includes chapters on adaptations of the Rāmāyaṇa in Sanskrit and other languages.

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                                                            • Brockington, John. Epic Threads: John Brockington on the Sanskrit Epics. Edited by Greg Bailey and Mary Brockington. Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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                                                              Fifteen essays drawn from thirty years of research, in four sections: “Stages of Composition: Linguistic Evidence,” “Manuscript Studies,” “Stages of Composition: Implications,” and “The Relationship between the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata.” Includes a penetrating introduction by Bailey, a list of pre-2000 publications, and a chronological table of stages of composition.

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                                                              • Brockington, John L., and Mary Brockington, trans. Rāma the Steadfast: An Early Form of the Rāmāyaṇa. London: Penguin, 2006.

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                                                                Translates “the earliest text yet recoverable” of the Rāmāyaṇa. Justification for the choice of translated material is provided in Brockington 1984 and Brockington 2000. Admirable, especially when read aloud. Very different from the critically reconstructed version or any other standard version.

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                                                                • Bulcke, Camille. “The Genesis of the Bālakāṇḍa.” Journal of the Oriental Institute, Baroda 2.4 (1953): 327–331.

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                                                                  Summarizes arguments that allegedly “conclusively prove that the Bālakāṇḍa is of later origin than books II–VI which constitute a real Rāmāyaṇa” then suggests that the Bālakāṇḍa developed gradually, born as prefatory apparatus assisting working Rāmāyaṇa performances, before accumulating interpolations—“Pauranic stories” and Rāma’s identity with Vishnu.

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                                                                  • Bulcke, Camille. “The Genesis of the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa Recensions.” Journal of the Oriental Institute, Baroda 5.1 (1955): 66–94.

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                                                                    This paper lists, kāṇḍa by kāṇḍa, the differences between the Rāmāyaṇa’s several recensions, using the southern recension as a baseline. It then uses these data to propose a picture of recensional development (similar to that found in the introduction to the first volume of the critical edition), discussing each recension separately.

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                                                                    • Jacobi, Hermann. The Rāmāyaṇa: Das Rāmāyaṇa of Hermann Jacobi. Translated by S. N. Ghosal. Baroda, India: Oriental Institute, 1960.

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                                                                      Translated, somewhat imperfectly, from the German edition Das Râmâyaṇa: Geschichte und Inhalt nebst Concordanz der gedruckten Recensionen (Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1976; first published Bonn, Germany: Friedrich Cohen, 1893). Includes a canonical statement of the view that the first and last kāṇḍas are later additions. Understands Rāma’s battle with Rāvaṇa as a representation of Indra’s battle with Vṛtra.

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                                                                      • van Daalen, Leendert A. Vālmīki’s Sanskrit. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 2004.

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                                                                        Intriguing, widely abominated monograph that claims, against the grain of traditional text-critical scholarship (according to which the lectio difficilior is assumed to be the authentic reading), that the Rāmāyaṇa’s northern recension, which is far more grammatically regular than the southern, contains the more authentic version. First published Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1980.

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                                                                        • Yardi, M. R. The Rāmāyaṇa, Its Origin and Growth: A Statistical Study. Poona, India: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1994.

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                                                                          Criticizes Brockington’s subjective method and subjects the critically reconstituted Rāmāyaṇa to crude statistical analysis. Identifies six distinct compositional styles, which are taken to indicate different redactional stages and discusses various topics in light of this. Includes data-heavy appendices and papers reprinted from the Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.

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                                                                          Oral Prehistory

                                                                          It has often been suggested that in its earliest versions the Rāmāyaṇa was an oral text, not a written one. Hopkins 1926 discusses passages in which the precise wording seems to be subsidiary to the general sense. Sen 1966 collects and discusses formulae from some Bālakāṇḍa passages as evidence of oral composition. Antoine 1975 sketches an account of the Rāmāyaṇa’s oral origins, and Hara 1972, surveying bardic performances within the narrative, proposes that Vālmīki was a bard. Brockington and Schreiner 1999 is an edited volume containing some papers on the theme of orality, including one focusing on “the shift from oral to written transmission.”

                                                                          • Antoine, Robert. Rāma and the Bards: Epic Memory in the Ramayana. Calcutta, India: Writers Workshop, 1975.

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                                                                            This short monograph takes a stand against textual criticism and expands a romantic, transcendentalist view of oral “community memory” into a subjective sketch of what the Rāmāyaṇa might once have been. Includes interesting discussions of Bālakāṇḍa and Uttarakāṇḍa passages. Views Rāma as divine and thus beyond human good and evil.

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                                                                            • Brockington, Mary, and Peter Schreiner, eds. Composing a Tradition: Concepts, Techniques, and Relationships. Papers delivered at the First Dubrovnik International Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Purāṇas, August 1997. Zagreb: Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 1999.

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                                                                              Contains two papers by John Brockington: “Formulae in the Rāmāyaṇa—An Index of Orality?” (pp. 121–130), and “Issues Involved in the Shift from Oral to Written Transmission of the Epics: A Workshop Report” (pp. 131–138).

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                                                                              • Hara, Minoru. “Vālmīki, the Singer of Tales.” In S. K. De Memorial Volume. Edited by R. C. Hazra and S. C. Banerji, 117–128. Calcutta, India: Firma K.L. Mukhopadhyay, 1972.

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                                                                                Influenced by theories of oral epic tradition developed by Milman Parry (after study of Yugloslavian performers) and applied by Albert Lord to Homeric and other European texts. Paints Vālmīki as “the Indian Homer,” master of bardic arts. Highlights performances to Śatrughna and Rāma in the Uttarakāṇḍa, and accompaniment by stringed instrument.

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                                                                                • Hopkins, E. Washburn. “The Original Rāmāyaṇa.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 46 (1926): 202–219.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/593806Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Compares some passages in three different recensions—Bombay, Bengal, and northwestern—and argues that no “ādi-Rāmāyaṇa” can be imagined, because “the general content is identical; the manner of expressing that content is quite different” (p. 206). Deduces bardic freedom of expression: “What was original was the sense, not the precise words” (p. 209).

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                                                                                  • Sen, Nabaneeta. “Comparative Studies in Oral Epic Poetry and the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa: A Report on the Bālakāṇḍa.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 86.4 (1966): 397–410.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/596496Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Investigates five short passages in the Bālakāṇḍa for evidence of oral composition. Phrases deemed to be formulaic are isolated and quantified; and there is discussion of how these formulae relate to the śloka’s four-pāda structure. The article concludes that these passages “show evidence of oral technique.”

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                                                                                    Geography

                                                                                    The Rāmāyaṇa has the appearance of being set in real places in the subcontinent, and many scholars have explored the details given in the text to try to identify the places it mentions, especially Laṅkā. Pargiter 1894 follows Rāma on his travels, step by step; equating Laṅkā with Sri Lanka (Ceylon, in his day), he hypothesizes a dual reference for the term “Vindhya.” Kibe 1936, Iyer 1940, and Shah 1975 in different ways contest the equation of Laṅkā with Sri Lanka, proposing that Laṅkā is not so far south. Chatterjee 1980–1982 has ethnological concerns and criticizes those who would locate Laṅkā in central India. Sankalia 1982 brings archaeological data to the issue and treads a middle ground between the two basic hypotheses, arguing that different Rāmāyaṇa authors imagined Laṅkā’s location differently.

                                                                                    • Chatterjee, Asim Kumar. “Geography of the Rāmāyaṇa (Critical Edition).” Journal of Ancient Indian History 13.1–2 (1980–1982): 228–242.

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                                                                                      Takes the Rāmāyaṇa as a good description of pre-Buddhist India, and discusses its geography in terms of ancient communities and the interactions between āryas and anāryas. Mentions the arguments against the identification of Laṅkā as present-day Sri Lanka but rebuts them in spirited fashion.

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                                                                                      • Iyer, T. Paramasiva. Rāmāyaṇa and Laṅkā, parts I & II. Bangalore, India: Bangalore, 1940.

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                                                                                        This beautiful book includes a forty-one-page summative preface, fourteen chapters on various aspects of Rāmāyaṇa geography, six further chapters on miscellaneous Rāmāyaṇa topics (including “Vālmīki and Women”), and a fold-out map. Locates Laṅkā on Trikūṭa (Indrāṇā) Hill, north of Jabalpur, and Kiṣkindhā less than twenty miles northwest of Laṅkā.

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                                                                                        • Kibe, M. V. “Further Light on Rāvaṇa’s Laṅkā Located in Central India from Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa.” Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 17.4 (1936): 371–384.

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                                                                                          Terse consolidation of an earlier note (in Indian Historical Quarterly 4 [1928]: 694–702) arguing that Rāvaṇa’s Laṅkā is located in the Vindhyas in Madhya Pradesh. Suggests that Vālmīki’s geographical details and distances are precise, and highlights the descriptions of Rāvaṇa’s journey. Quotes Sanskrit in Devanāgarī script, without translation.

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                                                                                          • Pargiter, F. E. “The Geography of Rāma’s Exile.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1894): 231–264.

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                                                                                            Introduces North India as per the Rāmāyaṇa, then, on the basis of textual indications, maps Rāma’s travels step by step in terms of real places (sometimes mentioning prehistoric remains). Treats some mountain names (Vindhya, Mahendra) as having several different referents. Discusses the terms of distance yojana, krośa, and daṇḍa.

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                                                                                            • Sankalia, Hasmukh Dhirajlal. The Ramayana in Historical Perspective. Delhi, India: Macmillan, 1982.

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                                                                                              The main body of this book goes through the Rāmāyaṇa, one chapter per kāṇḍa, discussing various issues arising, in archaeological perspective. Also contains a chapter titled “Location of Lanka” (pp. 141–164), suggesting that the text’s early authors envisaged Laṅkā in Madhya Pradesh, the later authors in the far south.

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                                                                                              • Shah, Umakant Premanand. “The Problem of Laṅkā.” In The Uttarakāṇḍa, the Seventh Book of the Vālmīki-Rāmāyaṇa, the National Epic of India. Edited by U. P. Shah, 31–50. Baroda, India: Oriental Institute, 1975.

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                                                                                                Final section of the introduction to the final volume of the Rāmāyaṇa critical edition. Argues, against Pargiter’s “two Vindhyas” theory, that Laṅkā is in western India. Discusses various localities and the literature in detail. Partly overlapping with “Sālakaṭakaṭas and Laṅkā,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 96.1 (1976): 109–113.

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                                                                                                Sanskrit Commentators

                                                                                                Many medieval pundits wrote Sanskrit commentaries on the Rāmāyaṇa, although none of them are yet translated into English. Bhatt 1965 lists the known commentaries, and Sastri 1942 gives brief details of some of them. Goldman, et al. 1984 details the various commentators’ interpretive positions. Goldman 2006 discusses the commentators’ generally literal-historical approach to the story. Mudholkar (Valmiki 2000) contains the Sanskrit Rāmāyaṇa together with three of the most important commentaries (those of Rāmavarman, Śivasahāya, and Govindarāja), and Shastri, et al. 1916–1926 presents the commentary of Tryambaka. Pollock 1983–1984 discusses Tryambaka’s commentary with regard to the crucial question of Rāma’s divinity. Mumme 1991 is a discussion of Rāmāyaṇa exegesis in South Indian Vaiṣṇavism.

                                                                                                • Bhatt, G. H. “Rāmāyaṇa Commentaries.” Journal of the Oriental Institute, Baroda 14.3–4 (1965): 350–361.

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                                                                                                  First lists brief details of forty-five commentaries on the Rāmāyaṇa, most of them from South India, then collects the quotations from the lost commentary of Sarvajña Nārāyaṇa that are presented within the commentary of Lokanātha Cakravarti. Redone in Bhatt and Shah 1958–1975 (cited under Texts), Vol. 7, pp. 655–664.

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                                                                                                  • Goldman, Robert P. “How Fast Do Monkeys Fly? How Long Do Demons Sleep? Reading Commentaries on Sanskrit Epic Poetry as Windows to the Knowledge Systems of Pre-modern India.” Rivista di Studi Sudasiatici 1 (2006): 185–207.

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                                                                                                    Discusses some important aspects of the typical commentatorial approaches. Explores the general tendency to regard the Rāmāyaṇa text as a literal representation of things that really happened in the historic past, and the associated tendency to clarify details of chronology within the tale.

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                                                                                                    • Goldman, Robert P., et al., trans. The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984–.

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                                                                                                      The extensive annotations and introductions of this multivolume translation give a running commentatorial digest, discussing the various interpretive positions surviving in the Sanskrit record. Notes by Goldman, Sally J. Sutherland Goldman, Sheldon Pollock, Rosalind Lefeber, and Barend van Nooten. With bibliographies of commentary editions.

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                                                                                                      • Mumme, Patricia Y. “Rāmāyaṇa Exegesis in Teṉkalai Śrīvaiṣṇavism.” In Many Rāmāyaṇas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia. Edited by Paula Richman, 202–216. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

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                                                                                                        Introduces the South Indian Śrīvaiṣṇava tradition and its subschools then focuses on the Rāmāyaṇa interpretations of the Teṉkalai theologians of Srirangam, for whom the relationship between Rāma and Sītā represents the relationship between God and the individual soul.

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                                                                                                        • Pollock, Sheldon. “Ātmānaṃ mānuṣaṃ manye: Dharmākūtam on the Divinity of Rāma.” Journal of the Oriental Institute, Baroda 33.3–4 (1983–1984): 231–243.

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                                                                                                          Complements Pollock 1984 (cited under Rāma’s Divinity). Discusses traditional Indian interpretations of the revelation, to Rāma, of his divinity at the end of the Yuddhakāṇḍa, and of his ignorance of it theretofore (“I consider myself human”). Refers to Tryambaka’s Dharmākūtam, suggesting that Rāma’s ignorance is a necessary aspect of his cosmic mission.

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                                                                                                          • Sastri, P. P. S. “Commentators of the Rāmāyaṇa in the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries.” Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 23 (1942): 413–414.

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                                                                                                            A very short paper giving brief details of ten Rāmāyaṇa commentators from the period mentioned in the title. Mentions who quoted whom and thus builds up a comparative chronology.

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                                                                                                            • Shastri, K. S. P. V. Subrahmanya Varadaraja Sharma, and K. Vasudeva Shastri, eds. Dharmākūtam, by Tryambakarāyamakhī. Shrirangam, India: Shri Vani Vilas Press, 1916–1926.

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                                                                                                              An 18th-century commentary on the Rāmāyaṇa’s first six kāṇḍas, written in Tanjore, Tamil Nadu. Takes seriously the claim, in the Rāmāyaṇa’s first chapter, that Rāma was the fully virtuous man, and interprets the text from that perspective, as a manual of practical ethics. Refers to a variety of Sanskrit Dharmaśāstras. Araṇyakāṇḍa to Yuddhakāṇḍa published 1951–1964 (Shrirangam, India: Saraswathi Mahal Library).

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                                                                                                              • Vālmīki. Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki with the Commentaries Tilaka of Rāma, Rāmāyaṇaśiromaṇi of Śivasahāya, and Bhūṣaṇa of Govindarāja. Edited by Shastri Shrinivas Katti Mudholkar. Delhi, India: Parimal, 2000.

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                                                                                                                Contains, in Sanskrit, three of the most influential Rāmāyaṇa commentaries written in the late medieval period. These commentators understand the text in contrasting ways, Govindarāja from a devout Śrīvaiṣṇava perspective. Rāma (varman), author of the Tilaka, is a pseudonym of Nāgeśa (Nāgoji) Bhaṭṭa. First published 1914–1920 (Bombay: Gujarati Printing Press).

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                                                                                                                Intertextuality

                                                                                                                Included here are two sources discussing the relationship between the Rāmāyaṇa and other Indian texts. Feller 2004 focuses on those Rāmāyaṇa episodes that are prefigured within Vedic literature, and Gombrich 1985 analyzes the points of contact between the Rāmāyaṇa and several Buddhist Jātaka stories. The old text with which the Rāmāyaṇa has the most in common is undoubtedly the Sanskrit Mahābhārata: the relationship between these two texts is treated under The Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata.

                                                                                                                • Feller, Danielle. The Sanskrit Epics’ Representation of Vedic Myths. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 2004.

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                                                                                                                  A useful monograph with a good descriptive title. The Rāmāyaṇa narrative is streamlined and contains relatively few “Vedic myths,” but nonetheless this book’s introduction and conclusion are relevant, as are the chapters on Indra and Ahalyā (Rāmāyaṇa 1.47–48 and 7.30) and on the theft of the soma (Rāmāyaṇa 3.33).

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                                                                                                                  • Gombrich, Richard. “The Vessantara Jātaka, the Rāmāyaṇa and the Dasaratha Jātaka.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 105.3 (1985): 427–437.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/601519Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    With particular focus on the Rāmāyaṇa’s Ayodhyākāṇḍa. Discusses similarities with the Vessantara Jātaka, particularly in the structure of the journeys depicted, but does not propose direct borrowing. Argues that the Dasaratha Jātaka, in which Rāma and Sītā are brother and sister, is a later, satirical piece.

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                                                                                                                    The Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata

                                                                                                                    These two texts are often grouped together under the genre term “epic,” although in indigenous genre terms the Rāmāyaṇa is usually considered a kāvya and the Mahābhārata an itihāsa. Hiltebeitel 2005 studies the two texts’ terms of self-description and the ways in which the texts incorporate subsidiary stories. Hopkins 1993 lists the Sanskrit phrases that the two texts have in common. Kane 1966 is an overview of the relationship between the two texts, and of the scholarly issues they raise, both separately and together. Biardeau 1997 discusses the two texts in terms of their common ideology of bhakti and proposes that their plotlines run in parallel. Sukthankar 1944 and Jhala 1968 are concerned with verbal similarities between two specific passages, one in the Rāmāyaṇa and one in the Mahābhārata; Sukthankar 1944 sets out the problem of influence, and Jhala 1968 revisits it in light of additional data. Goldman 1976 takes the notion of “Bhṛguisation” from Mahābhārata studies and applies it to the Rāmāyaṇa.

                                                                                                                    • Biardeau, Madeleine. “The Two Sanskrit Epics Reconsidered.” In Studies in Hinduism: Vedism and Hinduism. Edited by Gerhard Oberhammer, 73–119. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1997.

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                                                                                                                      Sketches a general “epic ideology,” promoting the universal religious possibility of bhakti to the supreme Vishnu, and the proper interrelationship between Brahmins and kṣatriyas. The paper goes on to approach the Rāmayaṇa and the Mahābhārata as twin unit texts, discussing various parallels between their respective Books 1 and 2.

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                                                                                                                      • Goldman, Robert P. “Vālmīki and the Bhṛgu Connection.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 96.1 (1976): 97–101.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/599892Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        Applies the notion of “Bhṛguisation” to the Rāmāyaṇa. “Bhṛguisation” was mentioned within Mahābhārata studies to explain a hypothesized developmental stage in the text’s formation, during which Bhṛgu or Bhārgava Brahmins allegedly added to it. The paper discusses Vālmīki’s ancestry in light of his identification, in the Uttarakāṇḍa, as a Bhārgava.

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                                                                                                                        • Hiltebeitel, Alf. “Not without Subtales: Telling Laws and Truths in the Sanskrit Epics.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 33.4 (2005): 455–511.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/s10781-005-7050-9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Addresses the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata. In terms of the Rāmāyaṇa (which Hiltebeitel sees as the later of the two), the paper discusses the text’s terminology of self-description—particularly in its first few chapters—and the way in which substories are integrated into the narrative.

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                                                                                                                          • Hopkins, E. Washburn. “Parallel Phrases in the Two Epics.” In The Great Epic of India: Character and Origin of the Mahābhārata. By E. Washburn Hopkins, 403–445. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1993.

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                                                                                                                            Lists 337 cases of precise verbal similarity, in Sanskrit alphabetical order, in order “to show the general base of epic phraseology.” References are to editions predating the critical editions (as detailed on p. xv). First published in 1901 (New York: Scribner).

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                                                                                                                            • Jhala, G. C. “‘The Nala Episode and the Rāmāyaṇa’: A Footnote.” Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 48–49 (1968): 295–298.

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                                                                                                                              Briefly revisits the results of Sukthankar 1944 in light of the critical editions of the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. Shows that Mahābhārata 3.65 has many verbatim agreements with northeastern Rāmāyaṇa manuscripts but that it also has some significant verbatim agreements with verses that are found only in other recensions.

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                                                                                                                              • Kane, P. V. “The Two Epics.” Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 47 (1966): 11–58.

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                                                                                                                                Briefly discusses many important issues. Considers the relations between the Rāmāyaṇa, the Mahābhārata, and various other texts. Critical of Hopkins. Suggests that “there was a Bhārata epic long before there was a Rāma epic.” Discusses Rāmāyaṇa recensions, editions, and commentaries and compares Rāmāyaṇa 2.94 with Mahābhārata 2.5 in some detail.

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                                                                                                                                • Sukthankar, Vishnu Sitaram. “The Nala Episode and the Rāmāyaṇa.” In V. S. Sukthankar Memorial Edition. Vol. 1, Critical Studies in the Mahābhārata. Edited by P. K. Gode, 406–415. Bombay, India: Karnatak, 1944.

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                                                                                                                                  First published in 1939. Proposes, on the basis of parallel analysis and various subtle indications, that the speech of Sudeva (now at Mahābhārata crit. ed. 3.65) is borrowed from Hanumat’s speeches in the Rāmāyaṇa’s Sundarakāṇḍa. Argues that overall the relationship between the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata is complex.

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                                                                                                                                  The Rāmāyaṇa and the Rāmopākhyāna

                                                                                                                                  This subsection stands as a case study of the scholarly investigation of interaction and influence between the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata. It concerns the relationship between the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata’s Rāmopākhyāna (that is, Mahābhārata 3.258–275), which tells much of the same story but in concise fashion. Sukthankar 1941 proposes that the Rāmopākhyāna is an abridgement of the Rāmāyaṇa; Buitenen 1975 proposes that the Rāmopākhyāna is an abridgement of an early verison of the Rāmāyaṇa; and Brockington 1978 proposes that the Rāmopākhyāna is an abridgement of an early version of the northern recension of the Rāmāyaṇa. Vaidya 1971, on the other hand, argues that the Rāmopākhyāna is older than the Rāmāyaṇa. Goldman 1984 is a rebuttal of Vaidya’s arguments, but Hiltebeitel 2009, approaching the matter from a different angle, supports Vaidya’s conclusions.

                                                                                                                                  • Brockington, John. “Sanskrit Epic Tradition I: Epic and Epitome (Rāmāyaṇa and Rāmopākhyāna).” Indologica Taurinensia 6 (1978): 79–111.

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                                                                                                                                    Exhaustively tabulates verbal agreements between the Rāmāyaṇa and the Rāmopākhyāna. Refines Sukthankar’s conclusions (Sukthankar 1941), suggesting that the Rāmopākhyāna abridges an old Rāmāyaṇa of the northern recension. Reprinted in Brockington 2000 (cited under Textual History), pp. 288–325; see also “The Interrelationship of the Two Epics” in Brockington 1998 (cited under General Overviews), pp. 473–484.

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                                                                                                                                    • Buitenen, J. A. B. van. “Rāma.” In The Mahābhārata, Vol. 2: 2. The Book of the Assembly Hall; 3. The Book of the Forest. Translated by J. A. B. van Buitenen, 207–214. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975.

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                                                                                                                                      In this extract from his introduction to his translation of the Rāmopākhyāna, van Buitenen reviews the history of scholarship on the topic of the relation between the Rāmāyaṇa and the Rāmopākhyāna, tracks the narrative divergences between the texts, and concludes that the Rāmopākhyāna abridges an earlier version of the Rāmāyaṇa.

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                                                                                                                                      • Goldman, Robert P. “Vālmīki and His Sources: The Origins of the Rāma Story.” In The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki, an Epic of Ancient India. Vol. 1, Bālakāṇḍa. Translated by Robert P. Goldman, 29–39. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                        Attempts to “put to rest” the issue of the relative chronology of the Rāmāyaṇa and the Rāmopākhyāna by critiquing the arguments of Vaidya 1971 and Buitenen 1975. Little is offered, however, in support of the opposing view; rather, the effect is to underline the plasticity of the evidence.

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                                                                                                                                        • Hiltebeitel, Alf. “Authorial Paths through the Two Sanskrit Epics, via the Rāmopākhyāna.” In Epic Undertakings. Edited by Robert P. Goldman and Muneo Tokunaga, 169–214. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                          This paper plots the Rāmāyaṇa episodes involving the great ṛṣis as markers on the path Rāma travels; it then focuses on the Rāmopākhyāna, notes that such a path is not evident there, and uses this (and the Rāmāyaṇa’s self-designation as kāvya) as evidence that the Rāmāyaṇa is the later text.

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                                                                                                                                          • Sukthankar, V. S. “The Rāma Episode (Rāmopākhyāna) and the Rāmāyaṇa.” In A Volume of Studies in Indology, Presented to Prof. P. V. Kane on His 61st Birthday. Edited by S. M. Katre and P. K. Gode, 472–487. Poona, India: Oriental Book Agency, 1941.

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                                                                                                                                            Sukthankar argues—as Jacobi did before him (Jacobi 1960, cited under Textual History), but on different grounds—that the Rāmopākhyāna is an abridgement of Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa. Writing before the production of the Rāmāyaṇa critical edition, Sukthankar provides a list of eighty-six verbal agreements between the two texts.

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                                                                                                                                            • Vaidya, P. L. “The Rāmopākhyāna and the Rāmāyaṇa.” In The Vālmīki-Rāmāyaṇa Critically Edited for the First Time: The Yuddhakāṇḍa. Edited by P. L. Vaidya, xxxi–xxxvi. Baroda, India: Oriental Institute, 1971.

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                                                                                                                                              In this extract from his introduction to the critical edition of the Yuddhakāṇḍa, Vaidya enumerates salient differences between Vyāsa’s text and Vālmīki’s (paying particular attention to Sītā’s ordeal by fire, which is not present in Vyāsa’s version), and argues that “the Rāmopākhyāna is centuries older than the Rāmāyaṇa.”

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                                                                                                                                              Poetry and Style

                                                                                                                                              Included here are various sources discussing aspects of the Rāmāyaṇa’s literary presentation. Pathak 1968 focuses on the text’s register of similes, Söhnen 1979 upon structural aspects of its dialogues, and Goldman 2003 upon aspects of its symbolism. Brockington 1999 explores the possible genesis of its plot, and Babineau 1986 discusses the ways in which it treats the theme of suffering.

                                                                                                                                              • Babineau, Edmour. “Suffering in the Rāmāyaṇa.” In Suffering: Indian Perspectives. Edited by Kapil N. Tiwari, 108–125. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                Introduces suffering as the text’s central theme, before illustrating this by focusing on Daśaratha and Rāma. Explains suffering as dependent on previous deeds (even those done unwittingly) but as also having a cosmic dimension. Also, explores how suffering may be overcome through virtue and through self-surrender.

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                                                                                                                                                • Brockington, Mary. “The Art of Backwards Composition: Some Narrative Techniques in Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa.” Paper delivered at the First Dubrovnik International Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Purāṇas, August 1997. In Composing a Tradition: Concepts, Techniques, and Relationships. Edited by Mary Brockington and Peter Schreiner, 99–110. Zagreb: Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                  By “Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa” here is meant the hypothetical text later translated as Rāma the Steadfast (Brockington and Brockington 2006, cited under Textual History). The paper views that text as a work of its author’s imagination and discusses its author’s methods and choices. Relevant also for those interested in Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa as ordinarily conceived.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Goldman, Sally J. Sutherland. “Anklets Away: The Symbolism of Jewellery and Ornamentation in Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa.” Paper delivered at the Culture: Text, Performance, Iconography and Gender Conference held in Vancouver, BC, 19–20 February 1999. In The Rāmāyaṇa Culture: Text, Performance and Iconography. Edited by Mandakranta Bose, 139–174. Delhi, India: D.K. Printworld, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                    Argues, on the basis of close textual study and with many examples (drawn particularly from descriptions of Sītā), that in the Rāmāyaṇa the wearing of jewelry is linked with a character’s being sexually active and that its absence is linked with a character’s being sexually abstinent.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Pathak, Madhusudan Madhavlal. Similes in the Rāmāyaṇa. Baroda, India: Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, 1968.

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                                                                                                                                                      Pivots around chapter 3, whose four parts focus on comparisons with the moon, the sun, clouds, and other objects. Other chapters explore how Rāmāyaṇa similes reflect historical sociocultural conditions, how they compare with Mahābhārata similes, how they influenced later Sanskrit authors, and what they tell us about Vālmīki.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Söhnen, Renate. Untersuchungen zur Komposition von Reden und Gesprächen im Rāmāyaṇa. 2 vols. Reinbek, Germany: Dr Inge Wezler Verlag für orientalistische Fachpublikationen, 1979.

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                                                                                                                                                        Analyzes Rāmāyaṇa dialogues in structural terms, focusing on ring-structures. Studies four dialogues in detail: those at 2.10–14 (Daśaratha and Kaikeyī), 2.26–30 (Rāma and Sītā), 2.99–112 (Bharata and Rāma), and 3.46–56 (Rāvaṇa and Sītā). Volume 1 is the monograph; Volume 2 translates the dialogues into German.

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                                                                                                                                                        Society, Religion, and Politics

                                                                                                                                                        The Rāmāyaṇa has been explored in terms of society, religion, and/or politics both in regard to its formative context and in regard to the effects the story has had in subsequent centuries. Meyer 2005 and Chakravarti 2005 focus on gender aspects of the Rāmāyaṇa story, with particular emphasis on the female gender: Meyer 2005 is a survey of womanhood in the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata, and Chakravarti 2005 discusses the text’s female characters and the ideologies of some of the later retellings. Guruge 1991 is an overview of the society depicted by Vālmīki’s text. Wagle 1974 and Brockington 1995 focus on the sociocultural classifications within the text, Wagle 1974 in terms of the text’s kinship terminology, and Brockington 1995 in terms of its differentiation of ethnic groups. The remaining sources listed here discuss aspects of the text’s effects in later Indian history: Whaling 1980 charts “the rise of the religious significance of Rāma,” Menon and Schokker 1992 traces the development of understandings of Rāma as the ideal ruler, and Pollock 1993 shows how, when, and why the text was used to support the demonization of outsider communities.

                                                                                                                                                        • Brockington, John. “Concepts of Race in the Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa.” In The Concept of Race in South Asia. Edited by Peter Robb, 97–108. Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                          Introduces the topic via racial thinking in earlier Sanskrit sources. Plain, brief, data-heavy discussion, focusing in particular on the various armies of foreigners and others created by Vasiṣṭha’s cow at Rāmāyaṇa 1.53–54. Good on terms (for example, mleccha, niṣāda, kirāta) and enriched with complementary data from the Mahābhārata.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Chakravarti, Uma. “The Making and Unmaking of ‘Tradition’: The Ramayana Narrative in Two Moments.” In Traditions in Motion: Religion and Society in History. Edited by Satish Saberwal and Supriya Varma, 72–101. Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                            Discusses Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa narrative in relation to its main female characters and then reflects upon them by considering some “alternative, humbler traditions,” the Sītāyaṇas. Ends with a critique of Ramanand Sagar’s 1987 television version, which “reconstitutes patriarchy, re-legitimates political power in the hands of the ruling élite, and reconsolidates hegemonic ideologies” (p. 99).

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                                                                                                                                                            • Guruge, Ananda W. P. The Society of the Rāmāyaṇa. 2d ed. Delhi, India: Abhinav, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                              Collects data on Indian society presented by the Rāmāyaṇa and arranges them under useful chapter headings. Views the text as a straightforward reflector of the circumstances at the time of its composition. Includes a nineteen-page preface to the second edition, summarizing Rāmāyaṇa studies since the 1950s. First edition published in 1953.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Menon, A. G., and G. H. Schokker. “The Conception of Rāma-rājya in South and North Indian Literature.” In Ritual, State and History in South Asia: Essays in Honour of J. C. Heestermann. Edited by A. W. van den Hoek, D. H. A. Kolff, and M. S. Oort, 610–636. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                This paper focuses on three particular passages mentioning Rāma’s rulership, comparing quoted verses from Vālmīki’s version and from Tulasīdāsa’s and Kampaṉ’s to show how the notion of Rāma as ideal king underwent bhakti elaboration. Concludes with brief consideration of Gandhi’s understanding, and data in appendices.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Meyer, Johann Jakob. Sexual Life in Ancient India: A Study in the Comparative History of Indian Culture. London: Taylor and Francis, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Translates a reworked version of Das Weib im altindischen Epos (Leipzig, Germany: Wilhelm Heims, 1915; translation first published London: Routledge, 1930). The German title is the more accurate version: Meyer comprehensively surveys the depiction of women in the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. Dated, but a significant landmark. References are to the Rāmāyaṇa’s Bombay edition.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Pollock, Sheldon. “Rāmāyaṇa and Political Imagination in India.” Journal of Asian Studies 52.2 (1993): 261–297.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/2059648Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    After riots following the Ayodhyā mosque incident in 1992, this paper historically surveys Rāma in temples, inscriptions, and historiography, with discussion. Argues that “the Rāmāyaṇa has served for 1,000 years as a code in which protocommunalist relations could be activated and theocratic legitimation could be rendered” (p. 288).

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Wagle, N. K. “A Study of Kinship Groups in the Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki.” In The Family in India: A Regional View. Edited by George Kurian, 17–42. The Hague: Mouton, 1974.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Outlines the family/household group as presented in Rāmāyaṇa, Books 2 to 6, and presents a survey of some important kinship terms, including kula, bandhu, bāndhava (speculatively defined as “cognate”), and jñāti. Discusses also the prestige relations between different family groups.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Whaling, Frank. The Rise of the Religious Significance of Rāma. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Surveys the portrayals of Rāma in Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa, the medieval Adhyātma Rāmāyaṇa, and Tulasīdāsa’s Rāmacaritamānas, with attention to theological aspects. Extrapolates a development scheme in North India, from Rāma the human hero to Rāma the venerated highest god. Overdependent on the hypothetical lateness of Vālmīki’s first and last kāṇḍas.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Characters

                                                                                                                                                                        The Rāmāyaṇa’s characters are richly drawn, and some of them are among the most popular personages in Indian culture. The subsequent subsections collect various studies of individual characters; included here under the general heading “characters” are some sources discussing the text’s characters as a whole, or salient subsets of them. Wurm 1976 surveys the Rāmāyaṇa and presents character studies of each of its main characters. Goldman, et al. 1984 does the same, kāṇḍa by kāṇḍa. Pollock 1985–1986 focuses on the rākṣasa (monster) characters as a whole, and argues that they are a carefully constructed category of “others.”

                                                                                                                                                                        • Goldman, Robert P., et al., trans. The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: An Epic of Ancient India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984–.

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                                                                                                                                                                          The introductions of this multivolume translation contain subsections discussing the main characters of each kāṇḍa: Introductions by Goldman, Sheldon Pollock, Rosalind Lefeber, and Sally J. Sutherland Goldman.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Pollock, Sheldon. “Rākṣasas and Others.” Indologica Taurinensia 13 (1985–1986): 263–281.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Dismisses attempts to identify the Rāmāyaṇa’s rākṣasas as historical peoples and then discusses several specific rākṣasas and the general type. Rākṣasas are anthropophagous, protean, violent (especially to Brahmins), and sexually aggressive. Sees the rākṣasas as an archetypal “other,” a feared and desired antithesis beyond the strictures of Brahmanical dharma.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Wurm, Alois. Character Portrayals in the Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki: A Systematic Representation. Delhi, India: Ajanta, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Separated into five sections, on the “vanavāsī characters” (that is, forest dwellers), the vānaras, the rākṣasas, the “courtly characters,” and “the heroic four” (Bharata, Lakṣmaṇa, Sītā, and Rāma). Proceeds by alternating quotations (and/or synopses) with analyses. The “systematic” in the title presumably indicates Wurm’s ignoring of the first and last kāṇḍas.

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                                                                                                                                                                              Vālmīki (and the Cranes)

                                                                                                                                                                              Vālmīki is the alleged author of the Rāmāyaṇa, who also features as a character within its first and last kāṇḍas. Bulcke 1958–1959 and Leslie 2003 are studies of Vālmīki and some of the specific issues arising from his textual representation; Bulcke 1958–1959 is brief, Leslie 2003 more in-depth (and with an eye toward his community of devotees). The remainding papers mentioned under this subheading are concerned in one way or another with the scene at Rāmāyaṇa 1.2 in which Vālmīki witnesses a hunter killing the male of a pair of cranes. Leslie 1998 identifies these birds as sarus cranes on the basis of textual indications, and Hammer 2009 explores how and why the sorrow of the surviving bird can stand as a governing emotional emblem for the text as a whole. Masson 1969 discusses the reasons why the later literary critic Abhinavagupta altered the gender of the slain bird, and Roney 1983 argues that the crane scene showcases a structure of union and separation that recurs repeatedly across the text that follows.

                                                                                                                                                                              • Bulcke, Camille. “About Vālmīki.” Journal of the Oriental Institute, Baroda 8.2 (1958–1959): 121–131.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Collects references to Vālmīki, proposing that there were several people of that name. Discusses the location of Vālmīki’s āśrama, the relationship between Vālmīki and Cyavana Bhārgava (in connection with termite mounds), and the story of Vālmīki as a robber. The postscript later in the volume (“More about Vālmīki,” Journal of the Oriental Institute, Baroda 8.4 [1958–1959]: 346–348) completes and corrects the paper.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Hammer, Niels. “Why Sārus Cranes Epitomize karuṇarasa in the Rāmāyaṇa.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 3d ser. 19.2 (2009): 187–211.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1017/S1356186308009334Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  A detailed and sometimes technical exploration of the implications, in the case of the female crane and Vālmīki, of the audial transference of emotion between species. Explains why the sarus crane was an appropriate choice in this regard, and discusses later Sanskrit literary theory with supporting evidence from neurophysiology.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Leslie, Julia. “A Bird Bereaved: The Identity and Significance of Vālmīki’s krauñca.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 26.5 (1998): 455–487.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1023/A:1004335910775Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    After appropriate ornithological discussion, Leslie identifies the krauñca birds portrayed in Rāmāyaṇa 1.2 as sarus cranes. A niṣāda hunter kills the male of a mating pair, and the female’s grief inspires the witnessing Vālmīki to curse the niṣāda and inadvertently invent the śloka meter in which the Rāmāyaṇa is composed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Leslie, Julia. Authority and Meaning in Indian Religions: Hinduism and the Case of Vālmīki. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Monograph sparked by a dispute over a local UK radio station’s portrayal of Vālmīki as a former robber. Discusses the Valmikis, a formerly abused community that worships Vālmīki and trace kinship through him. Tracks Vālmīki’s textual appearances, explaining the robber story as a late (and well-meaning) Purāṇic innovation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Masson, J. “Who Killed Cock Krauñca? Abhinavagupta’s Reflections on the Origin of Aesthetic Experience.” Journal of the Oriental Institute, Baroda 18.3 (1969): 207–224.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        In Abhinavagupta’s version of the story of Vālmīki and the cranes, the male crane mourns the female crane’s death. Masson explains this reversal by exploring Rāmāyaṇa commentaries: the scene is taken to foreshadow the main story, which highlights Rāma’s response to Sītā’s absence, and/or his killing of (male) Rāvaṇa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Roney, Steven. “Vālmīki’s Bird Story: The Art behind the Epic.” Journal of the Oriental Institute, Baroda 32.3–4 (1983): 216–229.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Ambitiously interprets many Rāmāyaṇa events in a structuralist vein, as representations or inversions of the dynamic set up in the crane scene. The theme is that of the union and/or separation of complementarily paired persons or entities. Mediation is represented by the monkeys, and the audience plays Vālmīki’s role.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Rāma

                                                                                                                                                                                          The eponymous Rāma is the Rāmāyaṇa’s defining character, but although he is introduced as the most perfect human being ever, the sources mentioned here show that his portrayal is far from two-dimensional. Goldman 1980, by focusing on specific scenes, shows that Rāma’s character is carefully dovetailed with that of his brother Lakṣmaṇa. Goldman 2004 discusses Rāma’s introduction, in the Bālakāṇḍa, to the world of being a gendered adult. The three remaining sources deal in various ways with the question of Rāma’s behavioral propriety. Matilal 1980–1981 discusses Rāma’s rather extreme sense of morality, and Goldman 2004 analyzes the attempts of various characters to find fault with his decisions. Both of these sources include discussion of the episode wherein Rāma shoots Vālin from a concealed position; Bhargava 1991–1992 collects textual clues and argues that the text originally had Rāma kill Vālin in face-to-face combat.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • Bhargava, P. L. “The Episode of Bālin in the Rāmāyaṇa.” Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 72–73 (1991–1992): 497–499.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            A brief note on the episode wherein Rāma kills Vālin (Rāmāyaṇa 4.12–25). Marshals evidence elsewhere to suggest that Rāma killed Vālin in battle and argues that the version of 4.17–18, in which Rāma attacks Vālin from a concealed position, is a later interpolation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Goldman, Robert P. “Rāmaḥ sahalakṣmaṇaḥ: Psychological and Literary Aspects of the Composite Hero of Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 8 (1980): 149–189.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              A vital long article with endnotes and no subheadings. Explores the complementarity involved in the set of four fraternal Dāśaratha heroes, with particular attention to Oedipal themes and the Rāma-Lakṣmaṇa pair (Lakṣmaṇa “serves as a general psychological foil to his heroic brother”). Suggests a general theory including the Mahābhārata and Harivaṃśa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Goldman, Robert P. “Resisting Rāma: Dharmic Debates on Gender and Hierarchy and the Work of the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa.” In The Rāmāyaṇa Revisited. Edited by Mandakranta Bose, 19–46. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Undertakes a subaltern reading of the Rāmāyaṇa, focusing on expressions of opposition to Rāma’s decisions and to the elitist and sexist ideology that they represent. Incidents discussed include Rāma’s decision to go into exile, his decision to leave Sītā behind, his killing of Vālin, and his repudiation of the rescued Sītā.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Goldman, Sally J. Sutherland. “Gendered Narratives: Gender, Space, and Narrative Structures in Vālmīki’s Bālakāṇḍa.” In The Rāmāyaṇa Revisited. Edited by Mandakranta Bose, 47–85. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pays gendered attention to the often neglected Bālakāṇḍa and to parts of the Uttarakāṇḍa. Discusses the frame stories—the cranes scene, and the recitation at Rāma’s aśvamedha—and then, in more depth, Rāma’s education (particularly his sexual education) in the Bālakāṇḍa. Draws on a number of narrative and feminist theoretical constructs.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Matilal, Bimal Krishna. “Rāma’s Moral Decisions.” Adyar Library Bulletin 44–45 (1980–1981): 344–351.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    A short article mentioning many instances in which Rāma’s conduct might, from some points of view, seem hasty, extreme, or even ludicrous, but is correct according to a formalistic sense of virtue. Concludes by discussing the killing of Vālin in these terms as a foreconditioned necessity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rāma’s Divinity

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Rāmāyaṇa presents Rāma as an avātara of Vishnu, embodied for the purpose of killing Rāvaṇa. But Euro-American scholarship on the whole has tended to feel that Rāma was originally just a man, his divinity being a result of later interpolation and textual embellishment. Brockington 1977 represents this view. In contrast, Hopkins 1931 sets out a general theory of divine kingship in ancient India, and Pollock 1985 argues that Rāma’s furious response to Sītā’s abduction is consonant with this theme. Pollock 1984 is in the same vein in part but also mounts an important argument to show that Rāma’s avātara status is integrated throughout the text as we have it. González-Reimann 2006 responds to Pollock, arguing for the traditional scholarly view that Rāma’s divinity is nonoriginal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Brockington, John. “Rāmo dharmabhṛtāṃ varaḥ.” Indologica Taurinensia 5 (1977): 55–68.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      Takes a specific scheme of staged textual expansion for granted a priori, and then follows the character of Rāma through the process as he moves smoothly from human hero to avatāra of Vishnu, via comparisons with Indra. Reprinted in Brockington 2000 (cited under Textual History), pp. 250–264.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • González-Reimann, Luis. “The Divinity of Rāma in the Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 34.3 (2006): 203–220.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1007/s10781-005-5018-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        A critique of Pollock’s views on the integrity of Rāma’s divinity. Assesses three different arguments presented by Pollock, only one of which is considered sound. Mounts its own argument to the effect that Rāma’s identity with Vishnu is interpolated.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hopkins, E. Washburn. “The Divinity of Kings.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 51.4 (1931): 309–316.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/593685Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Brief discussion of the general identification, in ancient Indian political theory, of kings as divine; kings are identified with various divinities, depending on the aspect being stressed. Rāma is discussed here by Hopkins only in passing, but nonetheless the topic of the paper is vital to the understanding of his character.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Pollock, Sheldon. “The Divine King in the Indian Epic.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 104.3 (1984): 505–528.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/601658Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Responds to generations of speculations on the lateness of the idea that Rāma was a divine avatāra. Approaches the Rāmāyaṇa as a unit, showing how Rāma’s liminal god-man status is integrated throughout the text, and fits with Rāvaṇa’s boon of near-total invulnerability, and with Rāma’s being an Indian king.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Pollock, Sheldon. “Rāma’s Madness.” Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens 29 (1985): 43–56.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Focuses on Rāma’s furious response to the disappearance of Sītā in the Araṇyakāṇḍa. Discusses the drama of madness in relation to Indian poetics, the interpretations of Rāmāyaṇa commentators, and Shakespearean tragedy, then interprets Rāma’s madness “as the manifestation of the transcendent cosmic violence of the earthly king” (p. 56). Complements Pollock 1984.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sītā

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Most of the sources mentioned here focus upon a particular stage in Sītā’s career. Bulcke 1952–1954 is concerned with the various accounts of her birth. Hiltebeitel 1980–1981 discusses her apparel, particularly as worn during the forest exile and shed as a marker of her abduction. Goldman 2001 focuses upon her actions and reflections as a captive of Rāvaṇa in the Sundarakāṇḍa. Goldman 2009 discusses her surprisingly important role during the course of the war. Sen 1952 and Hess 1999 discuss her ordeal by fire, Sen 1952 in terms of interpolation theory, and Hess 1999 as presented in Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa and in several later retellings. Misra 1979 focuses on Sītā’s abandonment by Rāma in the Uttarakāṇḍa. Sutherland 1989 is an overview of Sītā’s character as compared with that of her Mahābhārata counterpart Draupadī, and Dimmitt 1982 considers Sītā’s divine aspects as a “mother goddess” and as Rāma’s śakti.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Bulcke, Camille. “La naissance de Sītā.” Bulletin de l’École Française d’Extrême-Orient 46 (1952–1954): 107–117.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.3406/befeo.1952.5159Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Discusses various accounts, in Vālmīki’s text and elsewhere, of Sītā’s origin, each reckoned later than the last: Sītā daughter of Janaka, Sītā from the earth, Sītā daughter of Rāvaṇa, Sītā from a lotus, Sītā from the blood of the ṛṣis, Sītā from the fire, and Sītā daughter of Daśaratha.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Dimmitt, Cornelia. “Sītā: Mother Goddess and śakti.” In The Divine Consort: Rādhā and the Goddesses of India. Edited by John Stratton Hawley and Donna Marie Wulff, 210–223. Boston: Beacon, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Begins from the standard view of Sītā as a pativratā wife, before discussing her in two divine modes: as fertility goddess, mistress of plants and animals (this aspect of her character is traced back to the Rig Veda); and as śakti, the motive energy upon which Rāma is dependent for his actions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Goldman, Sally J. Sutherland. “The Voice of Sītā in Vālmīki’s Sundarakāṇḍa.” In Questioning Rāmāyaṇas: A South Asian Tradition. Edited by Paula Richman, 223–238. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In the light of ancient Indian attitudes toward women, this paper discusses Sītā’s primary role in the Sundarakāṇḍa and her articulation of the feelings and choices that her situation prompts. Focuses first upon her rejection of Rāvaṇa’s advances, and then upon her soliloquy following his departure.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Goldman, Sally J. Sutherland. “Sītā’s War: Gender and Narrative in the Yuddhakāṇḍa.” In Epic Undertakings. Edited by Robert P. Goldman and Muneo Tokunaga, 139–168. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Tracks Sītā’s role in the Yuddhakāṇḍa and explores how episodes involving her “rupture the main narrative of the Yuddhakāṇḍa marking crucial transitions and provide a feminine frame within which the masculine functions” (p. 140). Abounds in subtle insights into the kāṇḍa’s narrative structure and symbolic logic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Hess, Linda. “Rejecting Sītā: Indian Responses to the Ideal Man’s Cruel Treatment of His Ideal Wife.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 67.1 (1999): 1–32.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Discusses the Rāmāyaṇa scene in which the rejected Sītā undergoes an ordeal by fire in order to prove her sexual innocence. Plots the course of this scene’s interpretation from Vālmīki’s version through several other retellings of the story, discussing the overtones of widow burning and bride burning that are sometimes involved.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hiltebeitel, Alf. “Sītā vibhūṣitā: The Jewels for Her Journey.” Indologica Taurinensia 8–9 (1980–1981): 193–200.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Focuses on what Sītā wears: posh clothes and jewels, even in the forest, until she sheds them after being abducted, thus ensuring her own rescue by her husband. Discusses Sītā as an emblem of auspiciousness in connection with goddesses of India and of the ancient Near and Middle East.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Misra, S. N. “The Desertion of Sītā in the Rāmāyaṇa and Uttararāmacarita: A Socio-Political Analysis.” Journal of Ancient Indian History 11 (1979): 39–48.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Focuses on Rāma’s abandonment of Sītā (at Rāmāyaṇa 7.42–47), understanding it in terms of the necessity for the king to keep his subjects happy. Compares and contrasts Bhavabhūti’s medieval drama, the Uttararāmacarita, which highlights Sītā’s abandonment and eventually, after divine intervention, depicts it as being reversed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Sen, Nilmadhav. “The Fire-Ordeal of Sītā: A Later Interpolation in the Rāmāyaṇa?” Journal of the Oriental Institute, Baroda 1.3 (1952): 201–206.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Summarizes Rāma and Sītā’s Yuddhakāṇḍa reunion/rejection scene and then argues that it is “a much later interpolation, later indeed than even some portions of the Uttara Kāṇḍa,” adducing its inconsistency with, for example, Rāma’s erstwhile yearnings for Sītā, the summaries of contents given elsewhere, and the silence of the Uttarakāṇḍa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Sutherland, Sally. “Sītā and Draupadī: Aggressive Behavior and Female Role-Models in the Sanskrit Epics.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 109.1 (1989): 63–79.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Begins from a survey in which North Indian respondents overwhelmingly selected Sītā over Draupadī as an ideal female role model, and attempts to understand why by studying both characters within their respective texts. Draupadī responds to ill-treatment by expressing her anger; Sītā (pp. 73–78) responds by internalizing hers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hanumat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hanumat (or Hanuman), the monkey who in the Rāmāyaṇa locates Sītā in Laṅkā and fights heroically in the battle to rescue her, is, presumably partly as a consequence, one of the most widely venerated deities in South Asia. Ježić 2005 and Feller 2009 address Hanumat’s role and deeds in the Rāmāyaṇa in the context of the mythology existing at and before the time of the text’s composition; Ježić 2005 views it predominantly in terms of Vedic mythology, and Feller 2009 also considers mythology in the Mahābhārata and elsewhere in the Rāmāyaṇa. Bulcke 1959 and Brockington 2009 are short studies setting out broadly similar views of Hanumat’s presence in the text according to hypothetical compositional chronology. Goldman 1999 discusses the accounts of Hanumat’s childhood, criticizing Bulcke 1959, and Goldman and Goldman 1994 focuses on Hanumat’s presence in the Sundarakāṇḍa. Ludvik 1994 is a comparative study of Hanumat in the Rāmāyaṇa and in the Rāmacaritamānasa of Tulasīdāsa, and Lutgendorf 2007 is a much broader study of Hanumat as a significant personage both inside and outside texts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Brockington, John. “Vālmīki’s Portrayal of Hanumān.” In Epic Undertakings. Edited by Robert P. Goldman and Muneo Tokunaga, 13–22. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Discusses the portrayal of Hanumat in terms of the scheme of textual development that Brockington has detailed elsewhere (see Textual History), and argues that Hanumat’s importance within the text grew as time went on. Includes discussion of the distribution of Hanumat’s various names and epithets.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Bulcke, Camille. “The Characterization of Hanumān: A Bird’s-Eye View of Its Evolution.” Journal of the Oriental Institute, Baroda 9.4 (1959): 393–402.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Proposes that the character of Hanumat was not part of the original Rāmāyaṇa and was introduced at a subsequent date, first as son of Vāyu, and later as son of Añjanā. Hypothesizes four developmental stages of Hanumat’s character, his identity as the ideal Rāma-bhakta coming last of all.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Feller, Danielle. “Hanumān’s Jumps and Their Mythical Models.” Paper delivered at the Fourth Dubrovnik International Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Purāṇas, September 2005. In Parallels and Comparisons. Edited by Petteri Koskikallio, 193–219. Zagreb: Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Compares Hanumat’s extraordinary leaps (to try to catch the sun, to cross the ocean, and, twice, to fetch Himalayan herbs), comparing them also with Garuḍa’s theft of the soma (Mahābhārata 1.14–30) and the story of the flying mountains (Rāmāyaṇa 5.1:108–112). Interpretation in terms of the relationship between Indra and Vishnu.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Goldman, Robert P., and Sally J. Sutherland Goldman. “Vālmīki’s Hanumān: Characterization and Occluded Divinity in the Rāmāyaṇa.” Journal of Vaishnava Studies 2.4 (1994): 31–54.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A highlight of a journal special issue focusing on Rāma traditions. Discusses Hanumat’s role and deeds, particularly in the Sundarakāṇḍa. Explores his poetic, mythical, and martial associations, his supernatural abilities, his subtle characterization, and the relationship between Hanumat in Vālmīki’s text and in wider Hindu culture.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Goldman, Sally J. Sutherland. “A Tale of Two Tales: The Episode of Hanumān’s Childhood in the Critical Edition.” Purāṇa 41.2 (1999): 132–153.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Discusses and compares the two accounts of Hanumat’s childhood (Rāmāyaṇa 4.65 and, in more detail, 7.35–36) and makes conclusions about the Rāmāyaṇa’s textual history and the role of the Uttarakāṇḍa. With close reference to the critical edition, the paper revisits and corrects several of the conclusions in Bulcke 1959.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Ježić, Mislav. “Can a Monkey Play a Bitch? Hanumant and Saramā.” Paper delivered at the Third Dubrovnik International Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Purāṇas, September 2002. In Epics, Khilas, and Purāṇas: Continuities and Ruptures. Edited by Petteri Koskikallio, 255–293. Zagreb: Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Taking its lead from remarks made by Jacobi, this paper explores parallels between Hanumat’s discovery of Sītā, the myth of Saramā and the paṇis at Rig Veda 10.108, and the Vedic myth of Vala in general. Applies Propp’s theories of the morphology of the folktale to explain the developmental sequence.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Ludvik, Catherine. Hanumān in the Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki and the Rāmacaritamānasa of Tulasī Dāsa. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Comparative study of Hanumat’s portrayal in the two texts of the title. Proceeds by focusing one by one upon the main events involving Hanumat, comparing the two texts in each case. Mentions the Adhyātma Rāmāyaṇa as an interim stage located chronologically between the other two texts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Lutgendorf, Philip. Hanumān’s Tale: The Messages of a Divine Monkey. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Splendid semiotic study of Hanumat as a long-lived Hindu monkey deity, in which context his connection with Rāma is only part of the story. Traces Hanumat’s career in scholarship, literature, ongoing narratives (including many little known stories), and sacred sites. Discusses Rig Veda 10.86 with regard to Hanumat and the goddess.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Others

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Included here are studies of characters other than Vālmīki, Rāma, Sītā, and Hanumat; but the subtitle also functions in a second sense, since most of these other characters are also “others” insofar as they are rākṣasas, outsiders, or perverts of one kind or another. Sutherland 1992 is a short but vital discussion of Kaikeyī and her hunchbacked maidservant Mantharā, who between them hatch the plan to have Rāma exiled (Rāmāyaṇa 2.7–9). Ruben 1965 analyzes the minor character of Jābāli, who advances an interesting (but unsuccessful) argument for why Rāma should ignore his father’s decree (Rāmāyaṇa 2.100). Erndl 1991 focuses on Rāvaṇa’s sister Śūrpaṇakhā, who is gratuitously mutilated by Lakṣmaṇa at Rāma’s behest (Rāmāyaṇa 3.16–17), thus causing Sītā’s abduction and, eventually, the downfall of Ayodhyā. Brockington 2002 is a historical approach to the character of Mārīca, who assists Rāvaṇa by transforming himself into the golden deer and luring first Rāma and then Lakṣmaṇa away from Sītā, leaving her vulnerable to Rāvaṇa’s attack (Rāmāyaṇa 3.40–43). Goldman and Masson 1969 raises interesting questions about Rāvaṇa himself; Goldman 2009 focuses on Rāvaṇa’s giant brother Kumbhakarṇa. Aklujkar 2000 concerns the character of Anasūyā, who is not an “other” in the second sense mentioned above; she befriends Sītā and is, like her, a model of devoted wifehood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Aklujkar, Vidyut. “Anasūyā: A pativratā with Panache.” In Faces of the Feminine in Ancient, Medieval, and Modern India. Edited by Mandakranta Bose, 56–68. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Focuses on Atri’s wife Anusūyā, who meets and talks with Sītā at 2.109–111. Highlights various features of this episode in Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa, particularly the presentation of Anasūyā as a powerful and self-reliant devoted wife and enriches the discussion with reference to Anasūyā in several Puranas.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Brockington, Mary. “The Rise and Fall of Mārīca: Stages and Transitions in the Portrayal of the Rāmāyaṇa’s Golden Deer.” Paper delivered at the Second Dubrovnik International Conference on the Sanskrit Epics and Purāṇas, August 1999. In Stages and Transitions: Temporal and Historical Frameworks in Epic and Purāṇic Literature. Edited by Mary Brockington, 177–192. Zagreb: Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Taking as its starting point John Brockington’s hypothetical scheme of the Rāmāyaṇa’s gradual expansion (see Brockington 1984, cited under Textual History), and thus critically dependent on that scheme’s validity, this paper focuses primarily on 3.30–42 but also discusses rationales for the development of Mārīca’s character elsewhere in the text.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Erndl, Kathleen M. “The Mutilation of Śūrpaṇakhā.” In Many Rāmāyaṇas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia. Edited by Paula Richman, 67–88. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Focuses on the scene at 3.16–18 where Śūrpaṇakhā approaches Rāma, is wounded, and leaves, later to provoke serious revenge. Compares different versions of the scene: Vālmīki’s, and four others in various languages. Discusses the gendering of Śūrpaṇakhā’s treatment, and contrasts her with Sītā, “the chaste good woman.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Goldman, Robert P. “To Wake a Sleeping Giant: Vālmīki’s Account(s) of the Life and Death of Kumbhakarṇa.” In Epic Undertakings. Edited by Robert P. Goldman and Muneo Tokunaga, 119–137. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kumbhakarṇa is Rāvaṇa’s giant brother, who spends most of his life asleep but is awoken to fight against Rāma (and die). This paper discusses the varying textual accounts of why Kumbhakarṇa sleeps so much and exactly for how long; it also discusses the immoderate responses of Sanskrit commentators and recent scholars.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Goldman, Robert P., and J. Masson. “Who Knows Rāvaṇa? A Narrative Difficulty in the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa.” Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute 50 (1969): 95–100.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Begins with the assumption that the Uttarakāṇḍa is a later addition to the Rāmāyaṇa and suggests that it mythologizes Rāvaṇa beyond his station, since in the Araṇyakāṇḍa and the Kiṣkindhākāṇḍa he seems to be practically unknown: only vultures have heard of him.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Ruben, Walter. “The Minister Jābāli in Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa: The Portrait of One of the Indian Materialists.” Translated by Paresh Chandra Majumdar. Indian Studies Past and Present 6.4 (1965): 443–466.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Focuses on Jābāli’s speech at Rāmāyaṇa 2.100, after Bharata has unsuccessfully begged Rāma to abort his exile, return home, and rule. Jābāli provides philosophical arguments to supplement Bharata’s. The paper discusses Jābāli’s non-idealist position and Rāma’s adamant reply. Critiques Jacobi’s interpolation theory.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Sutherland, Sally J. M. “Seduction, Counter Seduction, and Sexual Role Models: Bedroom Politics and the Indian Epics.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 20.2 (1992): 343–351.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Focuses on the palace intrigue of the Ayodhyākāṇḍa, the characters of Kaikeyī and Mantharā, and issues of sex and power. Discusses Rāma’s comments at Rāmāyaṇa 2.99:3–6, which mention a prenuptial condition, before Daśaratha’s marriage to Kaikeyī, that Kaikeyī’s son (Bharata) would be Daśaratha’s heir.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Other Rāmāyaṇas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Included here are Rāma stories other than (and later than) Vālmīki’s, and studies of such Rāma stories. Kulkarni 1990 discusses Jaina Rāmāyaṇas, Thampi 1996 compares and contrasts two medieval South Indian Rāmāyaṇas, and Smith 1988 focuses on several East Indian Rāmāyaṇas. Devadhar (Kālidāsa 2005) is an edition and translation of Kālidāsa’s Raghuvaṃśa, much of which is based on Vālmīki’s tale. Prasad (Tulasīdāsa 1990) is a compact triple-language edition of Tulasīdāsa’s Rāmacāritamānasa, which is probably the best-known version of the Rāma story, and Lutgendorf 1994 is a study of the performative Rāmacāritamānasa tradition in present-day Varanasi. Blackburn 1996 also focuses on performance, this time a South Indian tradition using shadow puppets. Finally, Lutgendorf 1990 discusses the Rāmāyaṇa television broadcast on Doordarshan in 1987–1988.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Blackburn, Stuart. Inside the Drama House: Rāma Stories and Shadow Puppets in South India. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Elegant study of the Keralan shadow puppet Rāmāyaṇa, performed by a small family troupe all night, every night for several weeks. The audience, if it exists, is imperceptible to the performers; the scripts are based on Kampaṉ’s Tamil Rāmāyaṇa but include extensive commentarial discussions by the puppeteers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Kālidāsa. Raghuvaṃśa of Kālidāsa: Edited with Critical Introduction, English Translation, and Notes. Edited and translated by C. R. Devadhar. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Kālidāsa’s celebrated and beautiful mahākāvya based on the Rāmāyaṇa story. Tells the legends of the whole solar dynasty, including Rāma’s predecessors and successors; the story of Rāma constitutes only sargas 10–15 of the Raghuvaṃśa’s 19. Translation is old-fashioned (with thee’s and thou’s) but clear, with extensive notes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Kulkarni, V. M. The Story of Rāma in Jain Literature. Ahmedabad, India: Saraswati Pustak Bhandar, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Methodical study of the Jaina Rāmāyaṇas, beginning with the earliest, Vimalasūri’s Paümacariya, which complains about a certain Rāmāyaṇa and undertakes to tell the true version. After eleven chapters, each on a different Jaina Rāmāyaṇa, the last two chapters present an overview of the origin and development of the Jaina Rāmāyaṇas.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Lutgendorf, Philip. “Ramayan: The Video.” Drama Review 34.2 (1990): 127–176.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Discusses many aspects of Ramanand Sagar’s television serial of the Rāma story, with particular focus on the new interpretations that it showcases. Argues, against the opinions of some commentators, that this version will not stifle further interpretation by becoming the definitive version.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Lutgendorf, Philip. The Life of a Text: Performing the Rāmcaritmānas of Tulsidas. Delhi, India: Oxford University Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Analyzes the performance tradition of the Rāmcaritmānas in present-day Varanasi in all its aspects. Includes an excellent discussion of the frame structure of the Rāmcaritmānas, which features four nested conversations: Tulasīdāsa’s with his audience, Yājñavalkya’s with Bharadvāja, Kāka Bhuśuṇḍī’s with Garuḍa, and Shiva’s with Pārvatī.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Smith, William L. Rāmāyaṇa Traditions in Eastern India: Assam, Bengal, Orissa. Stockholm, Sweden: Department of Indology, University of Stockholm, 1988.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Studies three regional Rāmāyaṇa literatures dating from approximately 1400 to 1800. Focuses predominantly on Mādhava Kandalī’s Assamese version, Kṛttibāsa Ojhā’s Bengali version, and Baḷarāmadāsa’s Oriya version. Discusses them in comparison with each other and with Vālmīki’s Sanskrit version, with particular attention to ways in which they differ from the latter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Thampi, P. Padmanabhan. Ramayanas of Kampan and Eḻuttacchan. Thuckalay, India: O. Padmakumari, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Comparative survey of the two South Indian Rāmāyaṇas of the title (written in Tamil and Malayālam respectively), Vālmīki’s version, and the medieval Sanskrit Adhyātma Rāmāyaṇa upon which Eḻuttacchan’s text is based. Discusses the overlaps and the features and passages peculiar to specific texts. Contains chapters on religious elements and characterization.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Tulasīdāsa. Tulasidasa’s Shriramacharitamanasa (The Holy Lake of the Acts of Rama). Translated by C. R. Prasad. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1990.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The best-known and best-loved version of the Rāma story. Written in the Avadhi language in the late 16th century, it is highly devotional and ends happily, omitting much of the Uttarakāṇḍa drama. The Sītā whom Rāvaṇa abducts is not the real Sītā. This edition includes translation into Hindi and English.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Beyond India

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Included here are two seminal studies of non-Indian Rāmāyaṇa traditions. Sweeney 1972 is a study of the Malay Rāmāyaṇa puppet play, and Sahai 1976 is a study of an important Laotian Rāmāyaṇa text. For further studies of Rāmāyaṇas from beyond India, see Edited Volumes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Sahai, Sachchidanand. The Rāmāyaṇa in Laos: A Study of the Gvāy Dvóṟaḥbī. Delhi, India: B.R. Publishing, 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Illustrated study of a Laotian Rāmāyaṇa known from a palm-leaf manuscript in the royal palace of Luang Prabang. In this version, Sītā is the daughter of Rāvaṇa, abandoned on account of a prophecy that she will cause his death, and adopted by a sage.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Sweeney, P. L. Amin. The Rāmāyaṇa and the Malay Shadow-Play. Kuala Lumpur: National University of Malaysia Press, 1972.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Large and compendious; discusses both the form and the content of the shadow play Rāmāyaṇa. Centers on versions of the story as narrated to the researcher by a variety of performers, and compares these with each other and with the written text, Ḥikāyat Serī Rāma.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Edited Volumes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The variety and range of different versions of the Rāma story are perhaps best illustrated in an edited volume, as this allows works by scholars expert on one or more particular traditions to be creatively juxtaposed, resulting in a volume that is much more than the sum of its parts. The volumes mentioned under this subheading include some of the best writings on Rāmāyaṇa traditions in recent decades and place them in contexts far more conducive than, for example, a journal with a much broader remit. Raghavan 1980 and Iyengar 1983, the first twice the size of the second, derive from successive conferences in Delhi and focus on Rāmāyaṇa traditions across the continent of Asia. Flueckiger and Sears 1991 discusses Rāmāyaṇa performance traditions in South and Southeast Asia. Thiel-Horstmann 1991 is concerned only with South Asia but includes studies of textual, performative, and visual Rāma traditions. Richman 1991 and Richman 2001 are companion volumes with matching designs, both concentrating on South Asian Rāmāyaṇa traditions, and both highlighting the subversive or oppositional nature of many Rāmāyaṇas. The essays in Bose 2003 and Bose 2004 extend beyond South Asia to include also Southeast Asia, and beyond text to include Rāmāyaṇas of all genres. Pollet 1995 is diverse indeed, including essays on the scholarly reception to the Rāmāyaṇa in different European countries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Bose, Mandakranta, ed. The Rāmāyaṇa Culture: Text, Performance, and Iconography. Papers presented at International Conference on Rāmāyaṇa Culture, Vancouver, BC, 19–20 February 1999. Delhi, India: D.K. Printworld, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    First published as A Varied Optic: Contemporary Studies in the Rāmāyaṇa (Vancouver: Institute of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia, 2000). Introduction and five essays on aspects of several different Rāmāyaṇas, including focuses on relief sculpture and on modern electronic media.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Bose, Mandakranta, ed. The Rāmāyaṇa Revisited. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Fourteen essays, only the first few of which focus on aspects of Vālmīki’s Sanskrit text. Contains several essays on the Rāmāyaṇa in Southeast Asia. Includes a summative introduction by the editor, and an appendix with a chronological chart of different versions of the Rāma tale.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Flueckiger, Joyce Burkhalter, and Laurie J. Sears, eds. Boundaries of the Text: Epic Performances in South and Southeast Asia. Ann Arbor: Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A nice compact volume—eight essays plus a summative introduction—including essays on a variety of Rāmāyaṇa performance traditions, as well as some good theoretical papers on orality and literacy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Iyengar, K. R. Srinivasa, ed. Asian Variations in Ramayana. Papers presented at Conference on Variations in Ramayana in Asia: Their Cultural, Social, and Anthropological Significance, New Delhi, January 1981. Delhi, India: Sahitya Akademi, 1983.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Twenty-one essays concentrating on Rāmāyaṇas other than Vālmīki’s, such as Akbar’s Persian Rāmāyaṇa, the Khmer Rāmāyaṇa, and various folk versions. Includes transcripts of formal speeches given at the conference, and an editorial introduction explaining how this volume complements and extends the previous one (Raghavan 1980).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Pollet, G. Indian Epic Values: Rāmāyaṇa and Its Impact. Proceedings of Eighth International Rāmāyaṇa Conference, Louvain, Belgium, 6–8 July 1991. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thirty diverse papers on the Rāmāyaṇa, divided into three sections: Sanskrit literature (including Koenraad Elst’s important “The Ayodhya Debate”), international impact, and “universal human values.” The second includes papers on scholarly explorations of the Rāmāyaṇa, arranged country by country.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Raghavan, V., ed. The Ramayana Tradition in Asia. Papers presented at the International Seminar on the Ramayana Tradition in Asia, New Delhi, December 1975. Delhi, India: Sahitya Akademi, 1980.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Forty-four papers on aspects of many different Rāmāyaṇas. Includes D.C. Sircar’s “Rāmāyaṇā in Inscriptions” and V. M. Kulkarni’s paper on Jain Rāmāyaṇas. A vastly influential book; the other entries under this subheading are variations on the same theme.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Richman, Paula, ed. Many Rāmāyanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The concern of this volume is to explore the variety within the Rāmāyaṇa tradition and the ways in which various retellings have played political and/or oppositional roles. Includes A. K. Ramanujan’s inspiring essay “Three Hundred Rāmāyaṇas,” plus ten other essays and a summative introduction.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Richman, Paula, ed. Questioning Ramayanas: A South Asian Tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A rich volume in the same vein as the earlier Many Ramayanas, but postdating the Babri Masjid affair. Sixteen essays on different aspects of the Rāmāyaṇa tradition, preceded by the editor’s summative introduction and a preface by Romila Thapar. First published in 2000 (New York: Oxford University Press).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Thiel-Horstmann, Monika, ed. Rāmāyaṇa and Rāmāyaṇas. Papers presented at Conference on Contemporary Rāmāyaṇa Traditions, Sankt Augustin, Germany, September 1987. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thirteen essays and a summative introduction, discussing a wide variety of Rāmāyaṇas in different genres, from all over India and from different periods, with a recurring focus on ethical conflicts within the story.

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