Influence of Ramayana in Burma

Discussion in 'Ramayana' started by garry420, Feb 7, 2016.

  1. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    When and how Ramayana came to take pride of place in Myanmar's heart is one of academic debate. But the oral tradition of the Rama story can be traced as far back as the reign of King Anawrahta(A. D.1044-77 ) the founder of the first Myanmar Empire. In later periods there are ample archaeological, historical and literary evidence to show that Ramayana entered into Myanmar culture at an early date. At old Bagan is a Vishnu Temple known as Nat Hlaung Kyaung which is adorned with some stone figures of Rama and Parasu Rama. The Rama story is depicted in the Jataka series of terra-cotta plaques on the panels of Petlcik Pagoda in Bagan.

    In a stone inscription in the Mon language, King Kyanzittha (A.D.1084-1113 ) of Bagan dynasty proclaimed that in his previous existence he was a close relative of Rama of Ayodhya. Rama has been continuously present in the cultures of the post-Bagan periods. In all media of visual arts and all forms of literary art, Ramayana was the favorite theme. Contacts with neighboring countries with Hindu cultural influence such as Laos, Thailand and Malaysia further contributed to the development of Ramayana as the popular theme in Myanmar performing arts.

    In 1971 the Dance and Drama Division of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, Ministry of Culture introduced a ballet type of Ramayana performance with brief narration between Acts, lasting less than three hours. It was a hit. The Myanmar Ramayana Ballet toured quite extensively both at home and abroad. Especially in Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and China it drew houseful crowds and it was acclaimed the best at Ramayana festivals.

    Ramayan in Myanmar does share some features with the Thai version due to the conquest, but there are important differences, notably the absence of a Buddhist tone to the epic in spite of the fact that most people in Myanmar are followers of Buddhism. Myanmar is geographically closer to India and shares an eastern border with northeast India. This region is home to several tribal groups with Ramayana traditions of their own that differ from classical northern and eastern Indian literature. The rugged terrain, however, was not conducive to extensive cultural contact between tribal groups and court centers in Myanmar. Instead, there are interesting similarities between the 17th century Myanmar Yama Watthu and 19th century Maha Yama with Malay tradition. There are many novels, short stories and songs with the trappings of Ramayana.

    The Ramayana occupies pride of place in Myanmar's heart

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