Retellings of Ramayana

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Discipline CoreSUS1EN2694

Semester and Year Offered: Semester V, Monsoon Semester/ Yet to be offered

Course Coordinator: Dr. Bhoomika Meiling

Email of course coordinator: bhoomika[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Description:

This course takes into cognizance the multiplicity of ways of retelling of Ramayana across cultures which believe in its narrative invincibility. The reach of the epic is extremely valuable. But more remarkable are the number of perspectives it lends itself to. While some retellings take place from the perspective of Sita or Ravana, some others demystify Rama and portray him as a normal human being. Some focus on the abduction of Sita while some others find only the war scenes interesting. The field of meanings that these retellings create is complex as well as fascinating. While retaining a basic thematic unity, all the retellings begin, develop and culminate in their own unique ways. This course seeks to introduce the students to the heterogeneity of the field of retellings of Ramayana and to apprise them of the different cultural perspectives which exist regarding this sacred text often taken to be monolithic and uni-dimensional.The objective of the courses is to introduce the students to the idea of ‘many Ramayanas.’ Instead of looking at adaptations or reworkings, this course promotes a re-analysis of the epic not just as a text but as a multifarious and heterogeneous narrative culture. Through an assortment of folk, popular, literary, performative and cinematic texts, the course expects to develop in the students a critical perspective on the texts and the epic itself. True to this objective, the reading list includes diverse retellings of Ramayana from different temporal and spatial settings.

Course Outcomes: On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of the story of Ramayana in a cultural relativist manner.
  2. Identify retellings of the epic from different regions of South Asia and in different forms.
  3. Substantiate an understanding of the diversity and plurality of the epic tradition of Ramayana.
  4. Evolve a critical and reflective thinking through the available scholarship on the retellings of the epic.
  5.  Apply research skills to source materials for class presentations and assessment.


Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module 1: Understanding the story of Ram, told from various perspectives:

Reading versions of the Ramayan by R.K Narayan and Aubrey Menen.

Module 2: Ramayan in the popular sphere: Analysing selections from the works of Ramanand Sagar, Anant Pai, Shamik Dasgupta and Abhishek Shukla.

Module 3: Ravan’s Story: Reading Ravanayan and Asura, Tale of the Vanquished: The story of Ravan and his People.

Module 4: Sita’s Story: Analyzing Sita Sings the Bluesand selections fromA Woman’s Rāmāyaṇa: Candrāvatī’s Bengali Epic.

Module 5: Ramayan beyond India: AnalysingOpera Jawa.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Class Presentation (40%),
  • Mid-Term Examination (20%),
  • Class Tests (20%) and
  • End-Term Examination (20%).

Class assignments and presentations will be spread across the course.

Reading List:

Primary Texts:

  • Narayan, R.K. Ramayan. Delhi: Vision Books, 2014.
  • Sagar, Ramanand. dir. Ramayan. Subhash Sagar. 1987. (Selections)
  • Pai, Anant. Ed. Valmiki’s Ramayana. New Delhi: Amar Chitra Katha, 2012.
  • Menen, Aubrey. Ramayana as told by Aubrey Menen. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1972.
  • Dasgupta, Shamik and Abhishek Shukla. Ramayan 3392 A.D. New York, Bangalore:Virgin Comics, 2008.
  • Mohanty, Vijayendra and Vikas Goel. Ravanayan. Navi Mumbai: Holy Cow Entertainment, 2011.
  • Anand. Asura, Tale of the Vanquished: The story of Ravan and his People. Mumbai: Leadstart Publishing, 2012.
  • Paley, Nina. dir. Sita Sings the Blues. Nina Paley. 2008.
  • Nugroho, Garin. dir. Opera Jawa. Trigon Films. 2006.
  • . A Woman’s Rāmāyaṇa: Candrāvatī’s Bengali Epic. Trans. Mandakranta Bose. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Secondary Readings:

  • Bose, Mandakranta. The Ramayana Culture: Text, Performance and Iconography. New Delhi: D.K. Printworld, 2003.
  • Ramanujan, A. K. ‘Three Hundren Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translations’. The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan. Ed. Vinay Dharwadker. New Delhi: OUP, 1999.
  • Paula. Many Ramayanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.
  • Richman, Paula. Ed. Modern Ramayana Stories in South India. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008.