Santosh N. Desai (essay date 1969)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Desai, Santosh N. “Ramayana— An Instrument of Historical Contact and Cultural Transmission between India and Asia.” Journal of Asian Studies 30, no. 1 (November 1970): 5-20.

[In the following essay, Desai surveys a number of versions of the Ramayana in order to trace the spread and transmission of the tale between India and Asia.]

This paper examines the role of the Hindu epic Rāmāyana in the historical and cultural contact between Asia and Hindu India. In the process of this analysis, an attempt will be made to determine and evaluate the nature of the Hindu culture diffused in Asia through Rāma story.


(The entire section is 10281 words.)

S. Sahai (essay date 1972)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Sahai, S. “Sources of the Lao Ramayana Tradition.” Indian Horizons 21, nos. 2-3 (April-July 1972): 70-81.

[In the following essay, Sahai compares Southeast Asian versions of the Ramayana with Valmiki's Indian text.]

Constant and continuous cultural contacts from the first centuries of the Christian era created favourable circumstances in South East Asia for understanding and appreciation of Indian ideas and values as expressed through the classical works of literature. In literary works like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the people of South East Asia found indeed some fine human values similar to those which they cherished...

(The entire section is 5016 words.)

K. M. Kannampilly (essay date 1976)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Kannampilly, K. M. “Ramayana in South East Asian Life.” Indian Horizons 25, nos. 3-4 (1976): 5-8.

[In the following essay, Kannampilly discusses the widespread influence of the Ramayana in South East Asia.]

For over 14 centuries now, the Ramayana has continued to be a living force among the people of South East Asia, influencing their hearts and thoughts, inspiring their artistic creations and forming the mainspring of their cultural life. To them the hero and heroine of the Ramayana have always been models of chivalry, nobility and faithfulness, characters of great spiritual beauty.

The story of the Prince of...

(The entire section is 1575 words.)

R. Raphael (essay date 1979)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Raphael, R. “Heroic Sublimity in Valmiki's Ramayana.” Indian Horizons 28, no. 3 (1979): 16-34.

[In the following essay. Raphael argues that the Valmiki Ramayana is a sublime and heroic poem.]

I have always been fascinated by the majestic grandeur of Vālmīki's Rāmāyana, for the Rāmāyana, besides being a splendid poem on a heroic theme, is also one of the most important sources of our living cultural tradition, a mirror of the highest ideals of the Hindu view of life and civilization. It gives a vividly realistic picture of the social, economic, religious and political aspirations and achievements of our ancestors, says Dr....

(The entire section is 8738 words.)

A. K. Ramanujan (essay date 1987)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Ramanujan, A. K. “Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation.” In Many Rāmāyanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia, edited by Paula Richman, pp. 22-49. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

[In the following essay, originally presented at a conference in 1987, Ramanujan compares several versions or “tellings” of the Ramayana.]

How many Rāmāyanas? Three hundred? Three thousand? At the end of some Rāmāyanas, a question is sometimes asked: How many Rāmāyanas have there been? And there are stories that answer the question. Here is one....

(The entire section is 12132 words.)

Frank E. Reynolds (essay date 1988)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Reynolds, Frank E. “Rāmāyana, Rāma Jātaka, and Ramakien: A Comparative Study of Hindu and Buddhist Traditions.” In Many Rāmāyanas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia, edited by Paula Richman, pp. 50-93. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.

[In the following essay, Reynolds describes several Buddhist versions of the Ramayana.]

In the history and literature of religions few stories have been told as many different times in as many different ways as the story of Rāma. For at least two thousand years—and probably longer—various versions of the story have been told in India and Sri Lanka; for...

(The entire section is 7121 words.)

Gregory D. Alles (essay date 1994)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Alles, Gregory D. “Poetic Works and Their Worlds.” In The Iliad, The Rāmāyana, and the Work of Religion: Failed Persuasion and Religious Mystification, pp. 49-75. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994.

[In the following essay, Alles compares the social and mythological contexts of the Ramayana and The Iliad, arguing that both poems reflect the problem social communities face when persuasion breaks down.]


The Iliad and the Rāmāyana rehearse what happens when persuasion fails. Achilles takes to his hut, and the order of society is not fully restored until the Olympians intervene....

(The entire section is 16155 words.)

Linda Hess (essay date 1999)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Hess, Linda. “Rejecting Sita: Indian Responses to the Ideal Man's Cruel Treatment of His Ideal Wife.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 67, no. 1 (March 1999): 1-32.

[In the following entry, Hess discusses the sexual politics of male domination and female subjugation as expressed in the Ramayana, exploring responses to those doctrines.]

This article could also be called “The Mysteries of Normative Texts.” Who decides what's normative? Who decide who's normal? Who benefits and who suffers from declarations of normality? In the inevitable flow of time and change, how do people manage both to cling to norms and to alter them?


(The entire section is 14539 words.)

Charles B. Dodson (essay date 2000)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Dodson, Charles B. “Using Homer to Teach The Ramayana.” Teaching English in the Two Year College 28, no. 1 (September 2000): 68-73.

[In the following essay, Dodson explores similarities and differences between the Ramayana and the Iliad and Odyssey.]

Using more familiar works as benchmarks can effectively expand students' understanding and enjoyment of unfamiliar nonwestern literary works. For example, by the time I get to Valmiki's Indian epic, the Ramayana, in a sophomore world literature survey, the class has already read, among other things, a large chunk of the Iliad and all of the Odyssey. I can then...

(The entire section is 2809 words.)

Velcheru Narayana Rao (essay date 2001)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Rao, Velcheru Narayana. “The Politics of Telugu Ramayanas: Colonialism, Print Culture, and Literary Movements.” In Questioning Ramayanas: A South Asian Tradition, edited by Paula Richman, pp. 159-85. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

[In the following essay, Rao reviews a variety of political and ideological criticism, rewritings and readings of the Ramayana.]

When the play Śambuka Vadha (Shambuka Murdered) was published in 1920, it caused a considerable stir.1 The play is based on a story from the Ramayana but was presented in a manner that repelled its readers, who had been used to reading...

(The entire section is 11198 words.)