Ramayan Scriptures in South East Asian Languages

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

  1. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    Many Asian cultures have adapted the Ramayana, resulting in other national epics. Kakawin Rāmâya a is an old Javanese rendering of the Sanskrit Ramayana from ninth century Indonesia. It is a faithful rendering of the Hindu epic with very little variation. Serat Rama is another Indonesian version.

    The Khmer (Cambodian) Reamker is quite distinct from the Old Javanese Hindu literary tradition. The Khmer probably received the epic through southern Indian sources, for it also differs from northern narratives. In Indian mythology, Vishnu incarnates as Rama (7th avatar) and later as Buddha (9th avatar), thus enabling the previously Hindu Khmers to continue accepting the epic and spreading it wherever their vast empire reached. Numerous bas-reliefs of the epic at the 10th century Banteasy Srei temple and 12th century Angkor Wat temple are proof of this Hindu-Buddhist syncretism. With the Thai destruction of Angkor during the 14th century, what the Khmers lost the Thais continued as Ramakian. The Khmer version was recomposed in two parts during the 16th or 17th century and 18th or 19th century, probably based on indigenous folk narratives along with Thai traditions.

    Thailand's popular national epic is Ramakien derived from the Hindu epic. In Ramakien, Sita is the daughter of Ravana and Mandodari (T'os'akanth (=Dasakanth) and Mont'o). Vibhisana (P'ip'ek), the astrologer brother of Ravana, predicts calamity from the horoscope of Sita. So Ravana has her thrown into the waters, who, later, is picked by Janaka (Janok). While the main story is identical to that of the Ramayana, many other aspects were transposed into a Thai context, such as the clothes, weapons, topography, and elements of nature, which are described as being Thai in style. It has an expanded role for Hanuman. Ramakien can be seen in an elaborate illustration at the Wat Phra Kaew temple in Bangkok, a must see for any foreign visitor.

    Phra Lak Phra Lam is a Lao language version, whose title comes from Lakshmana and Rama. The story of Lakshmana and Rama is told as the previous life of the Buddha. In Hikayat Seri Rama of Malaysia, Dasharatha is the great-grandson of the Prophet Adam. Ravana receives boons from Allah instead of Brahma.

    Other Southeast Asian adaptations include Ramakavaca of Bali (Indonesia), Maradia Lawana and Darangen of the Philippines, and the Reamker of Cambodia. Aspects of the Chinese epic Journey to the West were also inspired by the Ramayana, particularly the character Sun Wukong, who is believed to have been based on Hanuman.

    According to the late U Thein Han a noted authority on Myanmar culture and literature, there are nine literary pieces found in the line of development in Myanmar versions of the Rama story, three in prose are (i) Rama Watthu (17th century), (ii) Maha Rama (late 18th or early 19th century) and (iii) Rama Thonmyo (1904); three in verse namely (i) Rama Thagyin (1775) (ii) Rama Yagan (1784) and (iii) Alaung Rama Thagyin (1905); three in drama such as (i) Thiri Rama (late 18th or early 19th century), (ii) Pontaw Rama, Pt.I (1880) and (iii) Pontaw Rama and Lakkhhana, Pt.I ( 1910 ).

    It is impossible to keep count of Ramakathas.

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