The Borderless Appeal of Ramayan

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

  1. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    This eternal battle between good and evil, the story of Ramayana has withstood the test of time and nationality. For over thousands of years, this story has captured the imagination of peoples from India to Iran, Tibet to Thailand, Cambodia to China, Japan to Java, Malaysia to Myanmar, Sri Lanka to Siberia, and to the pictorial island of Bali in Indonesia. Local cultures in all these lands have transformed Ramayana, more than any story in the world, into a rich source of inspiration for the arts in a great variety of literary traditions, narrative expressions, artistic manifestations and performance styles.

    Mahathir Mohammed, who ruled Malaysia as Prime Minister for twenty two years had some Indianness in him. The name Mahathir stands for 'Maha Dheer', which is the Sanskrit word for the most gallant. In Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country, all the ministers including Prime Minister take oath in the name of the 'Sri Paduka', the Sanskrit version for the footwear of Rama. Remember that Bharata ruled Ayodhya for 14 years worshipping the Rama Paduka during the Lord's 'vanvas'.

    The President of Malaysia (who is elected from among the nine sultans) takes oath of office and secrecy in the name of 'Seri Paduka Dhuli', which means the dust of Rama's Paduka. This is because Paduka Dhuli is considered holier than Paduka itself in the Indian tradition.

    In Malay, the word Bhasha stands for language, yet another link to Sanskrit. The husband is addressed as Swami, a teacher as Guru, a senior teacher as Maha Guru, a student as Siswa and a senior student as Maha Siswa. Modern buildings are named in Sanskrit – Chaya Surya, Wisma Putra and Wisma Duta to name only a few.

    The president of the republic is addressed as Raja Parameswara, the Royal Queen is addressed as Raja Parameswari and the second son of the sultan is addressed with reverence as Laxmana. Most of the royal customs are also based on practices found in Sanskrit literature.

    The Royal prince must take a bath called "Ganga Snan" before his Sunnat or before ascending the Royal Throne. The Royal throne itself in Bahasa Malaya is called "Simhasana". Most royal and wedding ceremonies are accompanied with feasts taken on banana leaves. Yellow rice is sprinkled on brides or bride grooms or prince as a mark of blessings. Once Dr Mahathir Mohammed remarked that if anyone watches his wedding video, he might mistake it for a Hindu marriage.

    The wives of Malaysian leaders have formed the organization 'Vanitha Pushpavalli' for their social activities. Most Malay government officers wear black caps (as part of their uniform) similar to those worn by the Maharashtrians. Sarong (similar to South Indian Dhoti) and Kurta is still the official dress of Malay ministers in all important ceremonies. Kite flying, gilli danda and playing with dice are some of the traditional games of Malays. "Wayang Kulit" or shadow puppet shows still popular in the eastern state of Kelantan is based on Ramayana and Mahabharata characters.

    Malaysia is not the only Muslim country which rejoices in its Sanskrit, Ramayan and Indian ancestry. Brunei and Indonesia have also borrowed most words from Sanskrit. The capital of Brunei is “Bandar Sri Bhagwan” (Port of the Lord) while Singapore is derived from the Sanskrit word “Simha” meaning a lion. Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia is pronounced in the local language as “Jaya Karta”, the city of victory. Other prominent cities are Prambanan (Park of Brahama), Yogya Karta, Madura, Sumatra, Bali and Surabaya. There is no need to specify that the island Bali is named after the character in Ramayana.

    Mr Gus Dur Abdul Rehman Wahid, the former President of Indonesia, who was requested to attend the consecration of an ancient mosque in Surabaya City in the island of Java asked the organizers to arrange for a Hindu pundit from India to perform the Vigneswara Pooja before the Quran could be recited by the Islamic priest. A Hindu Tantrik priest was flown in from Kerala exclusively for the purpose and Mr Wahid sat through the ceremony.

    Sukarno, the late Indonesian president, was named after Karna, the legendary hero of Mahabharata. Sukarno's father used to read Koran on Fridays and Ramayana and Mahabharat on other 6 days. Karna was his favourite character in Mahabharat. He wanted his son to be as brave and philanthropic as Karna. He also wanted his son to be on the right side of Dharma and Righteousness which made him name his son as “SuKarno” meaning a good Karna.

    The name of his daughter, “Sukarnoputri Meghawati” is yet another indication of the influence of Sanskrit in Indonesia. Meghawati is the Sanaskrit word for "full of clouds". Sukarnoputri is yet another Sanskrit word meaning Sukarno's daughter. The name of the present President of Indonesia is another proof of the country's link with Sanskrit and Indian heritage. The name Susilo Yudhoyono speaks lot about the individual's personality. We in India may hold our breath when we are told that one of the prominent politicians in Indonesia is named Karthikeya Mohammed.

    Late Swami Ranganathanandaji, in his book "Eternal Values For a Changing Society", has mentioned about a discussion he had with Sukarno during his visit to Indonesia in 1964. "Though the President agreed to meet me for just 20 minutes, our discussion went on for more than an hour. Sukarno told me that every night he reads at least two pages from the collected volumes of Swami Vivekananda before going to bed,"

    In the nineties most Asian countries went through a severe financial crisis. Indonesia was the most affected country. World experts gave many suggestions to arrest the downward slump of Indonesian rupiah with respect to US dollar. Finally Indonesian government printed new 20,000 Rupiah notes with the picture of Lord Ganesha (Indian God for removing obstacles) and it was observed that the depression had ceased.

    When the TV serial Ramayan was telecast in Bharat (India) in the eighties, it had magical effects on the Muslims of Pakistan, Bangladesh and even on the fighting terrorists of Kashmir. Family members in these regions were seen glued to the television sets. Mothers would educate their children moral and family values based on Ramayan. In spite of bitter fighting, Kashmir witnessed an undeclared cease-fire for the time interval when Ramayan was telecast.

    Ramayan has no parallel in the world of literature.

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