Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Ramayan Around The World – A Living Legend

vishwadharma@gmail.com,
Contents
Acknowledgement and References. 2
The Timeless Tale. 2
The Universal Relevance of Ramayan. 2
Ramayan Scriptures in South East Asian Languages. 4
Ramayana in the West 5
Ramayan in Islamic Countries. 7
Ramayan in Indonesia Islam is our Religion but Ramayan is our Culture. 7
Indonesia Ramayan Presented in Open Air Theatres. 9
Ramayan in Malaysia We Rule in the name of Ram’s Paduka. 9
Ramayan among the Muslims of Philippines. 10
Persian And Arabic Ramayan. 11
The Borderless Appeal of Ramayan. 12
Influence of Ramayan in Asian Countries. 15
Influence of Ramayan in Cambodia. 15
Influence of Ramayan in Thailand. 16
Ramayana the National Epic of Thailand. 18
Influence of Ramayan in Burma. 19
Influence of Ramayan in Laos, 20
Wayang Kulit or South East Asian Puppet Shows. 20
Ramayan in Vietnam, 21
Sino Ramayana. 22
Ramayan in Japan. 24
Award Winning Animated Ramayan. 25
Japanese Interest in Ramayan. 26
Ramayan in Mongolia, Tibet, Korea, Siberia, 27
Sri Lanka and Nepal 28
Ramayan in Bharat 28
Indian Contemporary versions. 28
Ramayana landmarks. 29
The Popularity of Ramayana. 29
Ram Nawami Celebrations of People of Indian Origin. 30
International Ramayana Conferences. 31
Epic Expressions. 31
Modern Ram Setus. 32
Annextures. 33
Appendix – 1 Important Ramayan Names Depending on Foreign Versions. 33
Appendix – 2 Lord Ram Did Exist 38
Appendix – 3 Why Lord Ram will not appear now.. 39
Appendix – 4 Diwali Festival Around the World. 40
Appendix – 5 Significance of Easter to Hindus. 51
Appendix – 6 Pre-Christian Origin of Christmas and Easter. 53
Appendix – 7 Anecdotes on Ramayan From Panchamritam.. 57


Acknowledgement and References
This article is based on numerous emails received, several articles posted on websites by many Rama Bhaktas and admirers of Lord Ram, information available in Britannica Encyclopedia, Microsoft Encarta and Wikipedia and on my personal experiences during my numerous travels in South East Asia. Article by Dr. S Krishnaswamy in the net was of immense us to compile this book. The tireless efforts of Shri Lallan Prasad Vyas in popularizing Ramayan around the world in 20th century cannot be under-estimated. I am thankful to him for the various anecdotes he has shared with me when I met him at shri Kishu Khemlani’s residence in Hong Kong. I am also thankful to Sri Mahadevan, Uttar Tamilnadu Prant Prachar Pramukh for some of the articles he has shared in the annexure.
Ravi Kumar (21 Dec 2007)


The Timeless Tale
So long as the sun and moon shine, the mountains and the rivers exist, the epic poem Ramayan (The Way of Ram) and the name of Lord Ram shall inspire the world.

The epic Ramayan originated in ancient India, where the great poet and sage Maharishi Valmiki wrote it in Tretayug. Epic poet Valmiki is called the Adhya Kavi or the first poet of mankind. Sage Valmiki himself was a witness to the events in Ramayan. He gave shelter to deserted Sita Devi and personally raised Lav and Kush the sons of Lord Ram and Sita Devi in his hermitage (Ashram). He taught the children the story of their father Ram. During the coming centuries, this epic has been re-written in several versions throughout the Asian continent and the Indian sub-continent.

The Universal Relevance of Ramayan
‘Ramanama is for the pure in heart and for those who want to attain purity and remain pure.’ – Mahatma Gandhi.

The number of literary works available to us in all languages from different societies is infinite. So, it looks almost impossible to choose a literary work that can be relevant to all people at all times. Valmiki’s Ramayan is one of the rare literary masterpieces that are eternally relevant and useful. The various types of situations depicted in Ramayana are very similar to those that commonly occur in our lives and hence relevant to all mankind. It describes the nine sentiments (rasas) as follows: Love between Sita and Rama; Valor in breaking the Shiva’s bow while putting the string; Pathos on Kakasura when he surrendered; Marvel in building the bridge for ocean; Humor when Shoorpanakha approached Rama; Terror and Disgust in the battlefield; Fury while slaying RavaNa; Peace in interaction with sages. It only shows its eternal relevance. It is our experience even in our times that Ramayana captured the attention of the people through TV serial, the modern communication media.

The epic Ramayan written in Bharat traveled to South East Asia more than one thousand years before. The Khmer of Cambodia had Reamker and the Thais of Thailand had the Ramakien. Indonesians, Malays, Vietnamese, Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Mongols, Siberians, Tibetans, Burmese, Sri Lankans, Nepalese, Pakistanis, the ancient Turks, Arabs and the Persians too had their own versions of Ramayan. The Ramayana story was recomposed as Yama Watthu in Myanmar.

The capital of early Thailand was called Ayutthaya, possibly named after Sri Ram’s capital of Ayodhya. Another ancient city in Thailand is Lavpuri named after Ram’s son Lav. The Royal king in Thailand is called ‘Bhumipal Athulyatej, Rama IX’. The country Laos is named after Ram’s son Lav. Burma is named after Lord Brahma and the old name for Vietnam is Champa. Singapore is called the lion city from its Sanskrit origin. The capital city of Brunei is Bandar Sri Bhagwan and that of Indonesia is Jaya Karta the city of Victory.
The Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya, was sacked and destroyed by invading armies from Myanmar in the 18th century, resulting in the loss of literary works. When a new capital was established at Bangkok shortly after, one of the first tasks of King Rama I, who took on the name of the hero of the epic, was to have the lost Ramakian composed again. A painted representation of the Ramakien is displayed at Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaew, and many of the statues there depict characters from it. Thai kick boxing which is based on the military skills of Vali and Sugreeva is now an event in International Olympics.
The story 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.
Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia are considered Theravada Buddhist societies. The Brahman mythology derived from Ramayan serve to provide their legends with a creation myth, as well as representations for the spirits that both help and hinder humans on their way to enlightenment, as well as a balance to the superstitions derived from Chinese animism.
The ministers in Malaysia take oath of office in the name of Lord Ram’s Paduka ‘Urusan Seri Paduka’ and the agong or royal president takes oath of office in the name of the dust of Ram’s Paduka ‘Urusan Seri Paduka Dhuli’. Even if a masjid has to be built in Malaysia, the government orders are issued in the name of ‘Urusan Seri Paduka’.
Despite Islam’s ban on theater and dance, the performing arts based on Ramayan and Mahabharat survived in Malaysia and Indonesia. In Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic nation, Ramayana and Mahabharata are compulsory subjects in most of the universities. Indonesians take pride in saying ‘Islam is our Religion but Ramayan is our Culture’.
This story consciously and unconsciously, through puppet shows, art, temples, stage shows, etc., continues to exert its influence in all these Asian societies. The role of Sri Hanuman is also beyond comparison in all these versions. All across India, temples dedicated to Sri Hanuman far out-number those of Rama or any other character. In Thailand, tattoos or images of Sri Hanuman worn on their bodies bestow strength, courage, endurance and protection against pain.
The Southeast Asian Games in 1997 used Sri Hanuman as its mascot. He is a popular figure or diety in all these countries. Hanuman or Hanumat or Aanjaneya or Anjata or Maruti is known by different names in these countries: Hanoman in Balinese, Anoman and Senggana in Javanese, Haliman in Karbi, Anjat or Anujit in Khmer, Hanmone(e), Hulahman, Hunahman, Huonahman, Huorahman in Lao, Haduman, Hanuman Kera Putih, Kera Kechil Imam Tergangga, Pahlawan Udara, Shah Numan in Malay, Laksamana (yes, and Laxman is known as Mangawarna) in Maranao, Hanumant in Sinhalese, Anuman in Tamil, Anchat or Wanon in Thai and Hanumandha or Hanumanta in Tibetan.
From 1967 to 1979 Cambodia was waging bitter guerrilla and civil wars. About 1.7 million Cambodians, or about 20 percent of the population, were worked, starved, or beaten to death under Pol Pot’s regime. Yet the Ramayan tradition managed to survive under the most terrible conditions in Cambodia, proof of its strong and lasting appeal.
Throughout the tumultuous centuries, and especially more in recent history when nations in the region struggled to become independent and modern entities, Ramayana has survived. It has withstood time and distance by adapting to religious change, political crises, social upheaval, and modernization. The eternal epic provides guidance for coping with change. For many Asian cultures, it has been more than just a story, and a very good one.
Ramayana and Mahabharata the two ancient Sanskrit epics of India exerted a profound impact upon the cultures of South East Asia and have played no small role in the Indianisation of the major portion of that region. Out of ASEAN TEN at least seven nations Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia have received the influence of Hindu culture since the early days of Indian contacts.

Ramayan Scriptures in South East Asian Languages
Many Asian cultures have adapted the Ramayana, resulting in other national epics. Kakawin Rāmâyaṇa 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.

Ramayana in the West
India was the mother of our race and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages. She was the mother of our philosophy, mother through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics, mother through Buddha of the ideals embodied in Christianity, mother through village communities of self-government and democracy. Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all.
Will Durant (American Historian 1885-1981)

Hinduism is fast influencing the modern western world in the form of yoga, Bhagwad Gita, vegetarianism, Ayurveda and Sanskrit. In the ancient past too Hinduism influenced pre Greek and pre Roman Etruscan civilization. Wall frescoes and terracotta portraits of 700 BC show scenes from Ramayana. Extensive practice of divination, concepts like God permeates entire universe, cremating the dead, medicine, mathematics, grammar and Aesop tales were due to Hindu influence. Later Etruscans passed on these values to Greek and Roman civilizations and it is no wonder that Greek and Roman languages and later many European languages like German, French, Scandinavian, Slavic languages have rich Sanskrit content.

Some make unnecessary comparisons between Greek epic Homer’s Iliad and Indian epic Valmiki Ramayan. The two were written in different times for different civilization s. Ramayan consists of seven books and 24,000 couplets or 48,000 lines and has been translated into many languages. The Iliad relates in 15,693 lines a momentous episode in the Trojan War. From an Indian perspective it is enough to say that while Sita Devi was abducted by Ravana, Homer’s Helen eloped with Trojan prince Paris, thus inviting the Trojan War and the destruction of Troy. While Ram allows the performance of the last rites of the deceased Ravana with full honors, Achilles ties Hector’s corpse by the heels to his chariot and drags it exultantly back to the Greek camp. He drags the body of Hector for twelve days before ending this indignity. Lord Ram returns the kingdom of Ravan back to his virtuous brother Vibhishana but the Greeks burn Troy to destruction.

The March of Rama, written in French and produced by Alexis Martin and Daniel Briere, is running to packed audiences in Montreal, Canada in April 2007.

The first ever Ram Navami celebration in the House of Commons (London, UK, a thing not possible in the Indian parliament), was attended by 240 guests. Shri. Tony McNulty (MP), the Minister of State, was the host. Smt. Anuja Prashar, Hindu Council UK Executive, welcomed the guests. The Rt. Hon. Hillary Benn (MP), Secretary of State for Culture, welcomed the opportunities for forging greater understanding between Hindu and British cultures. The audience, made up of several community leaders and a significant number of MPs such as Home office Minister Fiona Mactaggart, Adrien Bailey and lord Navneet Dholakia. Shri. Stephen Pound (MP), the Chair Person of Labour Friends of India at the Parliament, confirmed that Hinduism had a lot to teach to the world. He ended his speech by greeting everyone with a ‘Namaste’. Tony McNulty declared to the rapturous delight of all guests, that Ram Navami and Krishna Janmashtami would be celebrated every year at the British house of Parliament. From SANGH SANDESH (March-June 2005), Leicester, UK (English Bi Monthly published by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, UK).
‘Kaun Banega Ramayan Expert’ is the name given to a quiz competition for children of USA conducted during Shri Guruji Centenary year 2006 - 07 by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, America. 3,000 children participated. While preparing for the quiz, the children kept nagging their parents and grand parent for answers to Ramayana related questions and that brought generations closer, noted a report. KBRE was structured as follows: Online registration, A preliminary online quiz and In-person contest at Balagokulam centers. (Based on a write up in http://www.hssus.org/)
More than 16,000 people poured into De Anza College, Cupertino (“Silicon Valley” USA) to be part of an exciting day, to celebrate the Hindu way of life. Hindu Sangam, a one-day grand cultural program aimed at displaying the various Hindu intellectual, cultural and spiritual contributions made over thousands of years, was organized by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh with support from over 40 SF Bay Area organizations including Sunnyvale Hindu Temple as one of the Grand Sponsors. This event was organized on occasion of the first birth centenary of Shree Golwalkal Guruji. The day started with a yagna (offering and prayer) for world peace on the background of September 11. Attendees then participated in programs that took place on eight parallel tracks - Ayurvedic medicine, cultural program, Dharma Vedika (religious philosophy), exhibition, Hindu theme park, Samskritam, Yoga, and youth activities. This was followed by a grand Ramayana play enacted by over 300 children. Shri. Mohan Bhagawat, General Secretary of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the chief guest at Hindu Sangam, addressed the huge gathering and implored everyone to show unity in diversity. The day ended with Smt. Anuradha Paudwal entrancing the audience with her melodious music. Ms. Cindy Chavez, Vice-Mayor of San Jose inaugurated the Parallel Track Programs and said that she was honored to be present at such a grand cultural event. From http://www.rss.org/
Fortis Bank in Roermond, the Netherlands, honors RAAM currencies established by Maharishi Global Financing in The Netherlands, which has targeted its use in farmers cooperatives in South America and Africa for agricultural development. It is an initiative of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, also famous for creating Maharishi Open University. It is currently used side by side with local currency in around 100 shops in the Netherlands. It can be exchanged at a rate of 10 euros for 1 RAAM NL. 200 million euro (20 million Raam) of these notes have been printed. "There are now about 100,000 Raam notes in circulation" the Dutch central bank spokesman said.
The US Raam can be acquired at the rate of US$10 for 1 RAAM. RAAM, is an attempt to create a global currency to eliminate world poverty, describing itself as the "Global Development Currency of the Global Country of World Peace."

Ramayan in Islamic Countries
Ram’s life story is so interesting and inspiring that not only Hindus but also people belonging to other religions are influenced by it. It was rightly said by Brahma in the Valmiki Ramayana, ‘As long as the mountains and the rivers exist on earth, the story of Rama will also be preached in the world’.

Ramayan in Indonesia Islam is our Religion but Ramayan is our Culture
Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country. Hinduism existed here since first century and Hindu empires like Majapahid Samrajya Shailendra and Sri Vijaya Empires flourished here till 16th century.
In Indonesia, the Hindu Javanese Kakawin Ramayana in the Old Javanese or Kawi language from the 9th century CE closely follows the Valmiki narrative but in an abridged form, for it was based on a summary in a Manuel on Sanskrit grammar. The 9th century Prambanan temple complex in Central Java and 14th century Panataran Temple in East Java is rich with narrative bas-relief carvings of the epic. Javanese influence on the neighboring island of Bali began during the 11th century, and Kawi literature also became a part of Balinese tradition. With the coming of Islam to Java and the rise of sultanates on the island during the 16th century, the Javanese adapted the epic to the new religion. The 18th century sultanate of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat, more popularly known as Yogyakarta or Yogya, was named after the capital city of Rama, Ayudhay. Rama also became one of the ancestors in the royal genealogy, and new episodes were created and borrowed for the 19th century Serat Rama that is used in the leather puppet theatre up to the present. Java could not entirely abandon fifteen centuries of Hindu Buddhist tradition. The Balinese continued the practices with great exuberance that continues today.
In Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic nation, Ramayana and Mahabharata are compulsory subjects in most of the universities. In the Indonesian version of Mahabharata, Draupathi has only one husband.
Shri. Sudarshan, who is an Indonesian Muslim and director of the Art department, once explained: “Here in Indonesia, it is our custom to inscribe a verse of Mahabharat or Ramayana in the Javanese language on the tombstone when someone dies. Though we are Muslims, we deeply adore Ram and Krishna”. At the famous 10th Century Prambanan temple in central Java, dedicated to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the Ramayana is depicted in bas-relief in several parts. The sultan of Jogjakarta supports the daily performance of a leather puppet show of either Ramayana or Mahabharata in his Palace annexure. He also subsidizes the world’s only daily performance of a dance ballet based on Ramayana, performed with the Prambanan towers as its backdrop. The highlight of the extraordinary show is that all the two hundred artistes are Muslims. When the leading actors were asked how they perform Ramayana with such passionate involvement, the spontaneous reply was, “Islam is our religion. Ramayana is our culture.”
One of the most important landmarks of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, is a gigantic modern sculpture, an extraordinary work of art of Krishna and Arjuna in the chariot with their horses almost flying. Garuda is the national insignia of Indonesia. Their national air carrier is Garuda Airlines. Lord Ganesha appears on the Indonesian currency note. The Dutch ruled Indonesia for 150 years. In these long years they have noticed that in the Hindu island of Bali, there has not been a single incidence of stealing, quarrelling, or any form of violence, greed, lust, anger or any form of crime. This tradition continues to this day. If at all there are any persons in the jails of Bali, they must be foreign travelers they claim. This is the living Ram Rajya Gandhi ji and other freedom fighters dreamt for free Bharat.
The predominantly Hindu territory of Bali in Indonesia has a few thousand Hindu temples. Here one sees the strong influence of Ramayana in the sculptures and performing arts. We see two group dance performances of the Ramayana — one on a modern stage, and the other in a spiritually devout atmosphere of a temple, where some dancers are in a trance.

The Ramayana has long been rendered on the Denpasarnese stage through the Wayang Wong which is a classical dance drama enacting scenes from the Hindu epic in sequel performances that take place over a period of three or four days. A few years ago, a new dance interpretation of the Ramayana was introduced to the island by Kokar, the Conservatory of Instrumental Arts and Dance.
Accompanied by the Gamelan gong orchestra, The Ramayana Ballet is a unique mixture of traditional dance technique and modern motifs of slapstick comedy. The story opens in the forest of Dandaka where Rama, Laksmana and Sita have transformed their banishment into a peaceful life in the woods. Because of their ideal beauty, the royal brothers are usually danced by women: Rama wearing a golden crown and Laksmana a black h eaddress. Their manner is stately and heroic, the refined style of dance reserved solely for regal personages. In contrast to their noble bearing, the demon king called Rawana takes large and dynamic steps, a fiery mode of dance wh ich shows the grand arrogance of a tyrant. Frequently, it is the animals of the Ramayana Ballet who steal the show. In Denpasar theatre, animals have license to improvise fantastic dance styles of their own. One remembers the golden deer that gaily prances before Rama yet always manages to slip from his grasp, the brave Jatayu bird that vainly attempts to rescue Sita, and of course, the inevitable monkey business. On top of adaptations, there are additions; that is to say, characters not found in the original Ramayana in the form of comic characters, Pak Dogol and Wak Long. These two became Rama's trusted companions and assistants after the death of Ravana. Pak Dogol has an unusual figure and plays both heavenly and earthly roles.

Indonesia Ramayan Presented in Open Air Theatres
Travelers to Yogyakarta, Central Java, should not miss the Ramayana Grand Ballet Performance in a moonlit open-air theatre. The two-hour epic performance is presented at least three times a week in the peaceful evening atmosphere around the spectacular Prambanan Temple.
Prambanan temple is Indonesia's biggest and most beautiful Hindu temple situated some 17 kilometers east of Yogyakarta - about 20 minutes drive from the city. Its parapets are adorned with bas-reliefs depicting the famous Ramayana story. The performance in the open-air theatre certainly provides an unforgettable experience. The carefully lit temple provides a spectacular backdrop against which the drama unfolds, with a canopy of stars above. The Ramayana Ballet Performance involves hundreds of artists, dancers and musicians. They perform the famous classic story of Ramayana, accompanied by gamelan musical orchestra.
Rama lives in their midst with no questions being asked.

Ramayan in Malaysia We Rule in the name of Ram’s Paduka
"Hikayat Seri Rama" the oldest extant copy of Malay version of Ramayan is known as a gem of Malaysian art and culture. Described by English scholars as a Malay literary work of "a Hindu prose narration with a few Islamic adjustments here and there" ...at the onset, successive copies gradually omitted more and more "unislamic beginning" of the saga. Another aspect of "adjustment" applies to names. For example, Dewata Mulia Raya or Greatest Divinity in Hindu has been replaced with Allah Ta'ala, the heroine Sita Devi becomes Siti Dewi. Probably the adaptations make it more appealing to the locals. Children got simplified versions as school texts before and during early days of independence at a time when Malay books were scarce.
In Malaysia where Islamisation began earlier during the 13th century, the divine status of Rama was greatly reduced. He is more human, capable of committing errors and susceptible to his emotions, thus retaining and gaining acceptance among Malay Muslims by the 15th century. Through various indigents in Hikayat Seri Rama and Cherita Maharaja Wana that were written during the late 16th or early 17th century, all the main characters are closely related to each other, with Sita as the daughter of Ravana, and Hanuman being the son of Rama and Sita. The contest to win the hand of Sita involves numerous tests of the problem over the succession to the throne. It describes King Dasharatha as the great grand son of Adam, and Ravana becoming the emperor of four worlds by the blessings of Allah. Hikayat is studied today in Malaysia as a piece of literature.
From Pre-historic times of Sri Wijaya empire, through Chola-era in the 11th century cultural and trade relations down to James Brooke, the Banaras-born 19th century English adventurer who became the 'White Rajah' of Sarawak, India has never been far away from Malay popular consciousness. To this day, for Malaysia's princelings, yellow is the colour of royalty, a rajabhishek- style sprinkling of water marks every coronation.
The large number of new episodes, especially in the leather puppet theatre, shows how popular Ramayana remained in Malaysia due to centuries of Cambodian and Thai influences with which it shares many features. Tok Dalang the puppeteer always uses the same puppets. To be double sure there is no confusion, the main characters always have their "fixed colours": Rama is dark green, Sita is yellow, Laskhsmana is red, Hanuman is white and black for the evil Ravana.
In spite of these strong cultural links, Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise in Malaysia. It is a tragedy that in the name of Urusan Seri Paduka Baginda, the Malaysian authorities are breaking Hindu temples one after the other. It is a heartbreaking calamity that 2 million Tamil Hindus in Malaysia are a suppressed and oppressed community praying for the world conscience to wake up.

Ramayan among the Muslims of Philippines
Among one Islamic group on the southern island of Mindanao in predominantly Christian Philippines, Maharadia Lawana is unique. The Maranao people are seafarers with ethnic, cultural, and historical links to other maritime communities and sultanates in the area, so journeys by boat are common in life and literature. While some motifs may have come from Malay and Javanese traditions, the elements have evolved and changed so much between the mid-17th and early 19th centuries that the story can be considered as an independent tradition. These include ball-kicking games, rattan tightropes, and water buffalo and crocodile allies. "Rajah Mangandiri" is another oral tradition Ramayana of the Southern Philippines. Its dance drama was staged in New York in 2000.

Persian And Arabic Ramayan
Variations of Ramayan have also been found in the north, west and central parts of Asia. Between the 13th to 19th centuries, the Persian and Mogul sultanates adapted Hindu culture into Islaamic art and literature, resulting in such works as the 16th century Dastan-e-Ram O Sita and Razmnama from Persia (Iran), and 18th century Pothi Ramayan in Urdu, the language of Pakistan.

A unique illustrated Ramayan of Valmiki translated into Persian by Sumer Chand and illustrated during the reign of Farrukh Siyar in A.H.1128(1715-16A.D.) bears 258 miniatures throwing a flood of light on the art, architecture, costumes, ornaments of the period besides highlighting the composite culture of India in the late medieval period.

Ramayana’s theme is so beneficial for humanity that Akbar the Great ordered it to be translated into Persian along with other Sanskrit classics. Mullah Abdul Qadir Badayuni reluctantly translated it under royal pressure into Persian. Then some other prose writers and poets began to translate or compose it into Persian as it was the language of the elite and court during those days. Out of the so many Ramayanas in Persian, there are two important ones which remained neglected in spite of their admirable moral messages and excellent artistry. The first is the Ramayan-e-Masih, composed by Sheikh Sadullah Masih Panipati, the contemporary of Emperor Shahjahan and Jahangir. It was published in 1899 by Munshi Naval Kishor Press, Lucknow. The other is entitled Balmiki Ramayan, written by S. Mohar Singh who was employed in Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army. It was published in 1890 by Ganesh Prakash Press, Lahore.

Ramayan-e-Masih did not become popular as it was written during Jahangir’s reign when Muslim readers began to stop taking interest in Hindu scriptures. Masih became a target of hate of the fanatic Muslims for composing the Ramayana. He had to justify his stance in the beginning of his work. He spoke against the fanatics under the heading Dar Mazammat-e-Hussad (condemning the jealous). He stated that they had not taken into account the two naats in praise of the Prophet Mohammad written at the start of the epic, and Paighambarnama, his other epic poem relating the life and exploits of the Prophet.

Though story of Masih’s Ramayana is mainly based on the Valmiki Ramayana yet he does not mention the name of that holy bard even once. Perhaps he could not read Sanskrit and wrote his book after reading Badayuni’s version. He did not divide his Ramayana into cantos or kandas as Valmiki did but wrote it in Persian masnavi style, which resembles the heroic couplet of English. He gives separate headings to all events or episodes. His diction is purely Persian and he seldom uses Sanskrit words. He uses the word zahid for Rishi Valmiki when the latter appears in his Ramayana as the provider of shelter to the exiled Sita. He embellishes his verses with similes and metaphors taken from Islamic lore.

The main defect in his narration is the presence of anachronisms. He makes his characters do things which did not occur in the Ramayana. For example, when Sita is abducted by Ravana, Lakshmana searches for her everywhere. During that search he goes to a pond and asks the fish therein if they have swallowed her. They reply in one voice that they have not gulped her as they had done Yunas in the yore. When Ravana has Hanuman’s tail set on fire, Sita prays to the fire god (Agni Devta) to turn that fire into a rose garden as was done by God when Ibrahim Khalil Allah was thrown into flames. When Sita is highly dejected after hearing the false news of Rama’s death, Trijata consoles her by saying that none can kill Rama as he is as immortal as Issa (Christ). Kumbhkarna says to Ravana that he can easily demolish Sikander’s (Alexander’s) wall. When Sugreev is caught by Kumbhkarna, Angad goes to Hanuman and requests him to get their Rustam (Sugreev) freed from the clutches of the enemies.

Ram belonged to the Sun dynasty and Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, shah (king) of Iran (1941-1979), prided himself as Arya Mihir ‘Sun of the Aryans’. The shah saw himself as heir to the kings of ancient Iran, and in 1971 he held an extravagant celebration of 2,500 years of Persian monarchy. In 1976 he replaced the Islamic calendar with an “imperial” calendar”, which began with the foundation of the Persian Empire more than 25 centuries earlier. 2,500 years ago Persians practiced Mithraism which believed in sun worship. (Mithra in Sanskrit is one of the names of Sun God). Sun God worshipped by Hindus was worshipped by early Persians as Mitra Day on December 25th. The Egyptian pharos followed suit and worshipped their Sun God Amon on 25th December and the Romans following the Egyptians and Persians celebrated December 25th as Natal Solis Invicti or the festival of the invincible Sun God. The European Christians absorbed this festival and called it as the Christmas day.

A concise book containing stories based on sections from Ramayana was published in Arabic language in recent years. ... iran-daily.com/1384/2275/pdf/i12.pdf

The Borderless Appeal of Ramayan
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 by the Sanskrit name "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 a leading Malaysian 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.



Influence of Ramayan in Asian Countries
Ramayana came to Southeast Asia by means of Tamil Indian traders and scholars who traded with the Khmer kingdoms (such as Funan and Angkor) and with Indonesian Srivijaya empire, with whom the Indians shared close economic and cultural ties. This is one of the wonders of human history that syncretism has taken place without any violence, bloodshed, colonisation, slavery, child prostitution, anarchism, decimation, abduction of women, castrations, burning of libraries and towns, Jizia, crusades, jihads, inquisitions, ghettoisations, mass conversions, ostracizations, that the world has seen when the west invaded Americas, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and when the Arabs and Turks invaded Europe, Africa and Asia.
The Tamils went everywhere with the message of Ramayan, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (World is one Family) or as the Tamil sayings go ‘Yadum Ure, Yavarum Kelir’ (All belong to my village), ‘Yaam Petra Inbam Peruga Ivvaiyagam’ (Let the world enjoy the Bliss we have enjoyed) and ‘Inbame Suzhga Ellorum Vaazhga’ (Let everyone live happily). The destructive concept of ‘Get, Get and Forget’ was replaced by the Hindu concept of ‘Give, Give and Forgive’. The same faith was reposed by the English historian, Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889–1975) when he said,

“It is already becoming clearer that a chapter which has a western beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in the self-destruction of the human race... At this supremely dangerous moment in history the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian Way. Here we have the attitude and spirit that can make it possible for the human race to grow together in to a single family”.

Ramayan whether true or false still givesimmense hope to humanity’s future

Influence of Ramayan in Cambodia
If any country in historic times had matched India in its faith in Hinduism, it was perhaps Cambodia. In this war torn Buddhist monarchy, which has met many tragedies in recent times, you find that coronation is complete only with the handing over of ancient gold idols of Shiva and Vishnu by the rajaguru to the king. More than a hundred temples, mostly in a state of ruin, tell the story of the great empire of the Khmers, who worshipped Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and the Buddha. It is here in Cambodia that Suryavarman built his truly colossal temple dedicated to Vishnu — Angkor Wat, believed by million of visitors, to be most worthy of being included in the Seven Wonders of the world. Angkor Wat, the largest stone temple for any deity in the world, has a nearly 2.7 km circumambulatory passage with gigantic carvings devoted to the epic stories of the churning of the ocean, Ramayana, Mahabharata and so on.
Certain parts of southeast Asia, including the southern Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were dominated by the Hindu culture during the reigns of Sri Vijaya Empire, Sailendra, Majapahit, Khemer, Angkor, Sukothai and Champa Empires from the 1st to the 16th centuries. Some aspects of Hindu culture, for instance the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, have thrived in those regions to the present day.

Cambodians love for Ramayan, gave to mankind Angkor Wat, probably the world’s largest religious monument ever constructed. Built in the 12th century in Cambodia, it is a renowned Hindu temple complex famous for having the longest running bas-relief (sculpture in which the design projects slightly from a flat background, but without any part being totally detached from the background) in the world. Beautifully crafted, many of the carvings were once painted and gilded. They decorate the 2-m high, galleried walls having roofed walkways that run along the inside of the protective moat, just outside of the temple complex itself. The reliefs depict scenes from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the puranic lore of the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu, historical episodes in the life of King Suryavarman II, celestial nymphs known as apsarases, and scenes from the daily life of the Khmer people at the time the complex was built.

Today Angkor is recognized as one of the world’s most valuable cultural sites and as a national symbol of Cambodia. In 1992 Angkor was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The site covers some 400 sq km (200 sq mi).


Influence of Ramayan in Thailand
Ramayana is immensely popular in Thailand. Huge statues of Sugriva and other characters from Ramayana decorate the courtyard of the Royal palace, surrounded by huge corridors depicting the whole story of Ramayana in large paintings from floor to ceiling. Ramayana sculptures adorn the walls and balustrades of several other Buddhist temples in Thailand. In the Thai version of Ramayana called Ramakian, rediscovered and re-composed by the Thai King, Rama I in the 18th Century, Hanuman is a powerful figure. There are also several areas where Hanuman is worshipped. There is a huge statue of Hanuman on a hillock facing a major Buddhist monastery.

Several kings of the royal family of Thailand (including the present king) adopted the name ‘Rama’, over the last three centuries. Before the capital was shifted to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand (then Siam) was called Ayuthya (Ayodhya) as a mark of respect to Rama.

Ramakien is Thailand's national epic. It is derived from the Hindu Indian Ramayana epic and from the Cambodian Ramayan in the 14th century when they invaded Khmers and defeated them. The Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya, named after Rama’s capital of Ayodhya, was itself sacked and destroyed by invading armies from Myanmar in 1767, resulting in the loss of a number of versions of the epic.

When the Thais established a new capital at Bangkok shortly after, one of the first tasks of King Rama I, who took on the name of the hero of the epic, was to have the lost Ramakian composed again. The episodes were rearranged, however, in a more linear time fashion. In addition, Tamil tradition probably played an important role in the royal literary effort, for the Thai epic has many features in common with southern Indian ideas, such as strong females (which also is an indigenous Thai trait), soul transfer, and characters magically transforming themselves into other beings. Many of the ogres have special powers or weapons, and they are defeated in unique ways with help from Vibhisana. The brothers of Rama and even his sons battle against the surviving ogres and destroy them, thus repeating several motifs and greatly increasing the length of the epic. While the main story is identical to that of the Indian Ramayan, 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.

Three versions currently exist, one of which was prepared in 1797 under the supervision of (and partly written by) King Rama I. His son, Rama II, rewrote some parts of his father's version for khon drama. The work has had an important influence on Thai literature, art and drama (both the khon and nang dramas being derived from it).

Ramayana give cultural identity to Thailand
Thailand is also called Siam, the country of Lord Vishnu. The Royal Kings are called Rama and their lineage is Chakri dynasty. The present king’s name is Bhumipal Atulyatej, Rama IX. He has been on throne for 60 years since 1946 and true to Rama’s spirit, Janani Janma Bhumishcha Swargadapi Gariyasi, (Mother and Motherland are greater than heaven), he has not left Thailand in these long sixty years and spends six months every years in rural Thailand in the service of the poor and needy from his royal income.
Theravada Buddhism is the prevailing religion in Thailand, with about 95 percent of the Thai majority being Theravada Buddhists. Many Buddhist ceremonies include elements of Hinduism. Thai language is predominantly influenced by Sanskrit and Thai alphabet is derived from the Indian Devanagari script.
The king is the head of state. Although he has very little direct power, he exercises considerable influence on political leaders and moral influence on society as a whole. In the last 70 years of democracy, Thailand has witnessed over 20 democratically elected governments and an equal number of military take-overs. Yet there has never been any bloodshed, thanks to Buddhism and Hinduism in practice there. Even when military tanks surround the parliament and struggle is going on there for the take over (many times shown live on TV) life goes on as usual on the busy streets of Bangkok just three kilometers away. The deposed Prime Minister is given a large sum and flown away to another country and is allowed to re-enter Thailand after six months. The king does not interfere in these changes of governments. He blesses who-so-ever comes to power.

In 1991 General Suchinda conducted a coup d’etat and ousted the elected government of Prime Minister Chatichai. Later the administration deteriorated and the students organized protest marches. General Chamlong Srimuang, a democratically elected Member of Parliament supported the students’ unrest. Unable to control the strife, Gen Suchinda ordered police firing in which many students died. The students went on hunger strike. His Majesty the King who was silent all these days said he was deeply distressed by the unprovoked police firing resulting in the death of the unarmed youth. On hearing his statement, an incredible episode took place to the full view of millions of TV viewers around the world. Both Gen. Suchinda and Gen. Chamlong went to the Royal Palace on their knees and submitted their resignations to the king who is also the constitutional head of the state. Gen. Suchinda has not returned to politics since then.
It may also be of interest for us to note that the king is well versed in four languages namely Thai, French, German and Sanskrit. His daughter Princess Mahachakri Sirindhorn is also an expert in Sanskrit and has composed poems in the Deva Bhasha (language of the Gods).
The Power of Lord Rama even in the present materialistic age is unimaginable.





Ramayana the National Epic of Thailand
In the late first millennium, Ramayan epic was adopted by the Thai people. The version recog nized today was compiled in the kingdom of Siam under the supervision of King Rama I (1736-1809), the founder of the Chakri dynasty, which still maintains the throne of Thailand. Between the years of 1797 and 1807, Rama I supervised the writing of the well-known edition and even wrote parts of it. It was also under the reign of Rama I that construction began on the Thai Grand Palace in Bangkok, which includes the grounds of the Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The walls of the Wat Phra Kaew are lavishly decorated with paintings representing stories from the Ramakien.
Rama II (1766-1824) further adapted his father's edition of the Ramakien for the khon drama, a form of theater performed by non-speaking Thai dancers with elaborate costumes and masks. Narrations from the Ramakien were read by a chorus to one side of the stage. This version differs slightly from the one compiled by Rama I, giving an expanded role to Hanuman, the god-king of the apes, and adding a happy ending.

Since its introduction to the Thai people, the Ramakien has become a firm component of the culture. Though many consider it only an adaptation of a strange work from an archaic system of beliefs, it is firmly embedded in the cultural history of the country and the people. The Ramakien of Rama I is considered one of the masterpieces of the Thai literature. It is still read, and is taught in the country's schools.

Influence of Ramayan in Burma
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

Influence of Ramayan in Laos,

The Laotian version of Ramayana, called “Palak Palang,” is the most favorite theme of the dancers of Laos. The National School for Music and Dance, in this communist country, teaches the Ramayana ballet in the Laotian style. Several Buddhist monasteries and stupas of Laos have sculptures depicting Ramayana in stone as well as in wood panels. There is a perceptible Hindu-Buddhist syncretism in that entire region. There are sculptures of Rama and Krishna and other avatars (incarnations) of Vishnu in the Shiva temple at Wat Phu Champasak in southern Laos, which has been declared a World Heritage Centre by UNESCO.

Interestingly enough, Lao narratives have much in common with Malay traditions in spite of their ethnic and linguistic differences and the geographic distance between them. Perhaps this may be due to the ancient Cambodian Hindu kingdoms that once encompassed these diverse areas. Subsequent Thai and Vietnamese attacks by land against the Khmer center led to the loss of traditions in the fertile plains, but not in the further reaches of the empire in the remote mountainous interior and distant coasts of the peninsula. The epic takes place mostly in Laos with boat journeys along the Mekong River, a reflection of the geography and isolation in this land-locked country. As in most Asian countries, the origins of local place names are based on events in the story. Rama is considered to be a previous incarnation of Buddha in Laos, just as he is in Cambodia and Thailand. Female characters are very strong and even become strong warriors in Guay Duorahbi that may date from the 15th or 16th century, which is reflected in the independent character of Lao women today. Pha Lak Pha Lam from the 19th century involves the abduction of two women by Ravana, which accounts for its considerable length. A unique addition is a magical flying and talking horse, a motif found in a more basic form in some Malay stories. Hanuman also is the son of Rama as in Malaysia. Dream sequences frequently appear in both Lao and Thai tradition.




Wayang Kulit or South East Asian Puppet Shows
The epic is so famous that some Chinese and Vietnamese opera troupes have adapted it into their repertoires by selecting Ramayana characters from the great number of traditional opera roles. In Myanmar, temple carvings, dances, marionettes, and elaborate appliqué hangings portray scenes from the story.

In wayang kulit, the puppeteer (dalang) manipulates leather figures so that their shadows dance across a white screen. Performances, which typically begin in the late evening and end at sunrise are built around Indian epics Ramayan and Mahabharat. Various types of puppets, court and popular dance dramas, and temple murals and carvings are common throughout Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is common to find Ramayana episodes depicted next to Buddhist image stories in temples, as at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok. Of all the performing arts, however, nothing else can match the complete spectacle of the Cambodian nang sbek thom and related Thai nang yai. To the accompaniment of gongs, drums, and wind instruments, dozens of large figures cut from leather are animated by many dancers in the front and back of a huge screen lit by fire (even by a large cremation pyre) or electric lights. This clearly shows the close connections between dance and puppetry, for silhouettes of the performers are visible throughout the performance. From the royal courts evolved lengthy dramas with elaborately dressed dancers wearing fantastic masks. Even village groups adapted the masked dance style.
Malay puppeteers perform old and new episodes from the epic with small leather figures that have only one moveable arm. Similar all night puppet plays with stylized figures that have two articulated arms take place in Java, in addition to dance dramas as refined courtly ceremony and popular operatic style. Ancient Javanese temple carvings visually narrate the story in long series of bas-reliefs. The Balinese paint and carve popular scenes and characters from Ramayana for their temples and houses, as well as restaurants and hotels. During religious ceremonies, the Balinese recite the story in poetry, or perform episodes in masked dance dramas and leather puppet plays with shadows cast by the flickering flame of an oil lamp. Mysterious illnesses can be cured by puppet performances in which ogres are destroyed, since the Balinese traditionally believe that evil spirits are responsible for health problem.
The Natya Shastra, written before the Christian era and attributed to a Hindu sage named Bharata Muni, is the world’s oldest, most complete manual for all aspects of performance. It details the requirements for theater architecture, costumes, actor training and performance, music, playwriting, and the emotional exchange that takes place between the audience and the actors. The book relates how the Hindu god Brahma created drama (natya) to entertain and to educate.


Ramayan in Vietnam,
Hindu Kingdom of Champa was a medieval state in what is now Vietnam. Temple inscriptions from Champa indicate that Ramayan epic already was known there by the 7th century CE. However, the tradition disappeared there and has only resurfaced recently.

The Chams, a seafaring people of Indonesian stock, occupied the central and southern coast of Vietnam from Neolithic times. In the 2nd century ad they adopted Indian culture and religion and established the kingdom of Champa. Over the next few hundred years, they repeatedly fought off Chinese attempts to subjugate them. From the 7th to the 9th century, their capital was at Indrapura (Tra Kieu), near Ðà Nang. Here we find Rama and Krishna in the temples that are predominantly dedicated to Shiva or Uma Maheswari. In response to pressure from the expanding Vietnamese in the north, it was moved south to Vijaya, near Qui Nhon, in the 11th century. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Champa fought a series of wars with the Khmers of Cambodia.








Sino Ramayana
"India was China's teacher in religion and imaginative literature, and the world's teacher in trignometry, quandratic equations, grammar, phonetics, Arabian Nights, animal fables, chess, as well as in philosophy, and that she inspired Boccaccio, Goethe, Herder, Schopenhauer, Emerson, and probably also old Aesop."
(source: The Wisdom of China and India - By Lin Yutang

In distant Xinjing in northwest China, the 9th century Khotanes Ramakatha has a Buddist orientation. This probably was due to influences from Dunhuang, an important central Asian Buddhist center during the 7th to 9th centuries. Dunhuang also had a later impact on the 13th century Tibetan Son-om Gar-a and 15th century Zhang-zhung-pa Chowanga-drak-pai-pal. Prof. Ji Xianlin, a Sanskrit scholar from Beijing, secretly transla­ted the epic Ramayan into Chinese in 1976. The students of Ji translated Mahabharat into a set of six volumes and 5,000 copies of the first edition have sold out in 2007 and second edition is in print. The 95 year old Ji is now in hospital near the university.

The 13th international Ramayan Conference was held in China in April 1996, under the auspices of Shenzhen University, in cooperation with the Vishwa Sahitya Sanskriti Sansthan. Scholars from 20 countries attended to continue the international propagation of the Ramayana's moral and artistic values.
The story of the monkey Sun Wu Kong an original Chinese legend that dates back to 600 AD, became in the 16th century Chinese classic Journey to the West, more popularly known as Monkey King, often is compared to Ramayana. Monkey King has been made into popular TV serial and also into one of the best cartoons. While motifs were undoubtedly borrowed from the epic Ramayan, the basic plot does not deal with love, separation, and reunion. There are basic parallels with a monk’s efforts to obtain sacred Buddhist scripture, assisted by a powerful monkey who helps in battles against demons.
Chinese have many things in common with Bharat (India). Chinese word for lion, shih, used long before the Chin dynasty, was derived from the Sanskrit word, simha. The Mahabharata refers to China several times, including a reference to presents brought by the Chinese at the Rajasuya Yajna of the Pandavas. Arthasastra and the Manusmriti also mention China.

China like India has a calendar of 60 years cycle, divided into 12 year elements, most probably taken from the Tamils. Chinese, like the Arabs, were captivated by Indian medical skills and drugs. Chinese medicine was influenced by Ayurveda and similarities include the extensive use of natural herbs and acupuncture. The custom of ancestor worship was an adoption of Indian practice. There is presence of Indian motifs in various Buddhist caves in China. An Indian sage Bodhi Dharma (470 – 543 CE) from Kanchipuram in South India reached China via the Himalayas and Tibet around 520 AD. He is credited to have taught them Chan or Zen Buddhism and 16 forms of Martial arts. The Shaolin temple and the Shaolin cave where he meditated is the centre of attraction for so many Hollywood stunt movies and attract more foreign visitors than any other city in China. Both Arnold Toynbee and Sir L. Wooley speak of a ready made culture coming to China. That was the Vedic culture of India. Jawaharlal Nehru in the Discovery of India has commented:

"Sanskrit scholarship must have been fairly widespread in China. It is interesting to find that some Chinese scholars tried to introduce Sanskrit phonetics into the Chinese language. A well-known example of this is that of the monk Shon Wen, who lived at the time of the Tang dynasty. He tried to develop an alphabetical system along these lines in Chinese."

Indian and China have a common boundary of 3,000 KMs and a common history of 5,000 years. Until recently India and China had coexisted peacefully for over these 5,000 years and 3,000 KMs. This is the magic of Vedic culture that China imbibed from Bharat.

Hu Shih (1891-1962), Chinese educator, scholar, philosopher and former Ambassador of China to USA from 1938 to 1942, said: ’India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border’.



Ramayan in Japan
The most popular award winning animated cartoon on Ramayan was made by Japanese producer and director Yugo Sako. Many Japanese are now reading Ramayan.
Japan has stories that are closer in plot to the epic Ramayan itself although the battles are greatly reduced in number or even eliminated in some cases. These shortened summaries from the 3rd century CE of Ramayana are known as Jataka tales, stories of the former lives of Buddha that usually are embedded in such religious texts as Six Parimitra Sutra. Abridged Japanese variations were written during the 10th century as Sambo Ekotoba and 12th century as Hobutsushu (Jewel Collection). Bugaku and Gagaku are two dance styles (8 to 12 century AD) based on Indian classical dances used for displaying Japanese Ramayan.
A scholar Bharadwaj from Kanchipuram reached Japan in 736 AD. He enriched Japan by bringing Sanskrit, Dharma, Philosophy and Bharatiya dance into their culture. He gave the Devanagari script to Japanese language and installed Hindu idols in the temples. Images of Ganesha and Vishnu have been found throughout Japan. Some Hindu gods have been incorporated into the Buddhist pantheon. For example, Indra, the god of thunder and also the king of gods, is popular in Japan as Taishaku (literally the great King Sakra); Ganesha is worshipped as Sho-ten or Shoden (holy god) in many Buddhist temples and is believed to confer happiness upon his devotees. A sea-serpent worshipped by sailors is called Ryujin, a Chinese equivalent of the Indian naga. Bishamon is a Japanese equivalent of the Indian Vaisravana (Kubera), the god of wealth.

Even Shinto adopted Indian gods, despite its desperate efforts after the Meiji Revolution to disengage itself from Buddhism. The Indian sea god Varuna, is worshipped in Tokyo as Sui-ten (water-god); the Indian goddess of learning, Saraswati, has become Benten (literally, goddess of speech) with many shrines dedicated to her along sea coasts and beside lakes and ponds. Shiva is well known to the Japanese as Daikoku (literally, god of darkness), which is a Chinese and Japanese equivalent of the Indian Mahakala, another name of Shiva. Daikoku is a popular god in Japan. The divine architect mentioned in the Rig Veda, Vishvakarma, who designed and constructed the world, was regarded in ancient Japan as the god of carpenters, Bishukatsuma. The Indian Yama, the god of death, is the most dreaded god of Japan, under the name of Emma-o, the king of hell.

The Indian form of myth of the Churning of the Milky Ocean reached Japan. In a Japanese illustration of it the mountain rests on a tortoise, and the supreme god sits on the summit grasping in one of his hands a water vase. The Japanese Shinto myth of creation, as related in the Ko-ji-ki and Nihon-gi, is likewise a churning myth. Twin deities, Izanagi, the god, and Izanami, the goddess, stand on "the floating bridge of heaven" and thrust into the ocean beneath the "Jewel Spear of Heaven". With this pestle they churn the primeval waters until they curdle and form land."
(source: Myths of Pre-Columbian America - By Donald A. Mackenzie ASIN 185958490X p.190-191).
In Japan, India is addressed as Tenziku which means Heaven.



Award Winning Animated Ramayan
The most popular award winning animated cartoon on Ramayan was made by Japanese producer and director Yugo Sako. Sako's movie, "Prince of Light: The Legend of Ramayana," had already received acclaim abroad as "The Warrior Prince." Moviegoers saw the action-packed, award-winning film in multiplexes across America.
Yugo Sako first visited India in 1985 to film a documentary, "The Ramayan Relics," about an archeological excavation near Ayodhya. He was smitten by the story of Prince Ram's triumph over the forces of darkness, and as his research into the epic deepened, he realized it was much more than just a myth: It encompassed a whole philosophy of living and had historical underpinnings. He read Valmiki's Ramayana in Japanese and went on to study ten different versions, all in Japanese. Although he was a documentary filmmaker, he felt only an animated format could capture the true magic and power of Ramayana. He says, "Because Ram is God, I felt it was best to depict him in animation, rather than by an actor."
Meeting with academics, archaeologists and historians, Sako painstakingly researched the story of Ram, and spent months checking out costumes and architectural details. As a foreigner, he wanted to be extra vigilant in staying true to the epic. All the futuristic gizmos, flying vehicles, and even weapons of mass destruction depicted in the film are mentioned in the Ramayana. Sako collaborated with Ram Mohan, an eminent animator in India, to design the key art. In 1990, he started work in Japan on the principal animation, using over 450 artists.
When Sako first proposed this film, the Indian government had been reluctant to hand over an Indian epic to a foreigner. Now, he's won over the skeptics with his integrity and devotion to details. He knows Valmiki's Ramayana backwards and forwards. Sako finds humanity in his characters. Although Sako is not a Hindu, he is attracted to many of Hinduism's beliefs. “In my mind I feel I am Hindu."
Next on the agenda for Sako is the story of Lord Krishna, the Celestial Cowherd.



Japanese Interest in Ramayan
Japanese women on epic quest SMITA DESHMUKH
TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2003 01:17:18 AM ]
Raghukul reet sada chalee aayee, Praan jaye par vachan na jaye.
The students listen patiently, as the teacher discusses the finer points of the Ramayana. But this is no ordinary class. The students are Japanese women, a small community in Mumbai, trying to understand Indian culture.
The group belongs to the five-year-old Bombay Club and consists of around 40 Japanese women eager to learn more about the country of their temporary residence. And guiding them in their quest, the Ramayana, is scholar Shakun Narain.
The group has just completed reading Valmiki Ramayana, and shows great interest in the epic. "There are so many gods, I want to know more about them," says Mari Nakamura, who's been in Mumbai for five years. "Is Ram real? Did he actually live?" questions Atsuo Suzuki, a new entrant to the group. "Why didn't Laxman's wife join him in vanvas?" asks Asaka Hiroe.
The group, which meets once a month, has made steady progress - making regular notes on "tough" words like bhakti and karma. Mariko Izaki is the team leader-cum-translator between the women and Narain.
Though Buddhist, knowledge of the Ramayana is a gateway to the women understanding India. "The book is the soul of India!" declares Atsuo Shiga. The inspiration has led them to several books on gods and goddesses, understanding their roles in Indian mythology. "Japanese society is not religion-conscious, while Indians hold firm to theirs," says Kiyomi Kato. Bonding firmly with the group, Narain is busy helping the women to understand the symbolisms in the epic. "Their dedication is amazing," she says.
With ambitious plans to translate the epic in Japanese, the women are also taking lessons in learning more about the saree. This Saturday, students of the Japanese school will enact Panchatantra, a book which was also translated by the group. As the class concludes, the women are reminded about the triumph of good over evil. "Happy Diwali! Time to celebrate the victory of Ram in Mumbai!"


Ramayan in Mongolia, Tibet, Korea, Siberia,
Mongolia also has its own tale in the 19th century Bolor Toli as part of religious literature. Ramayan discourses were given in Mangolia by Tibetian Lamas. Jeevak is the father of Ram and Laxman. Garud and not Jatayu fights Ravan. Ram is identified as Buddha in the end.
Bharat and Tibet are linked closely by Ramayan. Many versions of Ramayan reached Tibet through Jataka tales since 3rd century. In 1182 to 1251 Sa-shya-Pandit wrote 457 subhshitas called “Subhashit Ratna Nidhi” in Tibetian language. Some of the subhashitas are based on Ramayan katha.
While nothing has been found for Korea so far, this does not mean that the tradition does not exist, only that research needs to be done. Considering the historical, cultural, and religious ties with its neighbors, it would be very unusual if Korea did not have some form of the epic. Koreans pride that an Indian princess from Ayodhya was married to a Korean prince. Every country around Korea has some variation of the story, including Siberia since the 18th century.
Sri Lanka and Nepal
Janakiharan was written in Sri Lanka in the 7th century. According to Dr. M.D. Raghavan, Ethnologist Emeritus of the National Museum of Ceylon and eminent scholar, “Ceylon is full of reminiscences with unmistakable link scenes and stories with Ravana and his days such as Ravan Ella cave, Ravana’s waterfall etc…”

Two versions of Ramayana are present in Nepal. One is written by Mahakabhi Siddhidas Mahaju in Nepal Bhasa. The other one is written by Aadikavi Bhanubhakta Acharya. The Nepal Bhasa version by Siddhidas Mahaju marks a great point in the renaissance of Nepal Bhasa whereas the one of Bhanubhakta Acharya is the first epic of Nepali. The Nepali authors composed Sundarananda Ramayana and Adarsha Raghava in the 19th century.

Ramayan in Bharat
In India too many adaptation of Ramayan are seen in different languages and during different times and situations. Apart from Valmiki Ramayan at least four more Ramayanas were written in Sanskrit. In the 12th century, Bhusundi Ramayana, Adbhuta Ramayana and Adhyatma Ramayana were written. The followers of Jainism adapted the epic in the form of Paumachariyan in the 3rd or 4th century in Prakrit In the 15th century, came the Ram Charitra Manas written by Tulsidas in Awadhi, a dialect of Hindi. In the 17thg century, came the Ananda Ramayana and Rama Balalika in Gujarati. Different versions were written in Assamese (Katha Ramayana), Bengali (Krittivas Ramayan) and Oriya (Jagamohan Ramayana). In Punjabi came Ramavatar, and Ramabalalila was written in Gujarati.

The South Indian languages were not left behind. The Tamil version written in the 12th century was known as Kamban Iramavataram, Malayalam version was titled Ramacharitam, Rangganatha Ramayanam was the Teluga version, and Torave Ramyana was written in Kannada.

Indian Muslims also contributed. In the 19th century Ramavatara Charita was written in Kashmir predominantly a Muslim area. Kerala Muslims have Mappila Ramayana. Being of Muslim origin, the hero of this story is a sultan.


Indian Contemporary versions
Contemporary versions of the Ramayana include Sri Ramayana Darshanam by Dr. K. V. Puttappa (Kuvempu) in Kannada and Ramayana Kalpavrikshamu by Viswanatha Satyanarayana in Telugu, both of which have been awarded the Jnanpith Award. A popular version called Geet Ramayan (Geet = song) in Marathi by G.D. (Gajanan Digambar) Madgulkar (also known as Ga Di Madgulkar or GaDiMA) was rendered in Music by Sudhir Phadke and is considered to be a masterpiece of Marathi literature. The popular Indian author R. K. Narayan wrote a shortened prose interpretation of the epic, and another modern Indian author, Ashok Banker, has so far written a series of six English language novels based on the Ramayana. In September 2006, the first issue of Ramayan 3392 A.D. was published by Virgin Comics, featuring the Ramayana as reinvisioned by author Deepak Chopra and filmmaker Shekhar Kapur.

The Ramayana has been adapted on screen as well, in a television series from the 1980s of the same name by producer Ramanand Sagar, which was based primarily on Ramcharitmanas and Valmiki Ramayana. It created unprecedented records. The message of RAMAYAN cut across all the barriers of caste, creed, language and political boundaries. A media documentation of that is found in the website of the Sagars. A sample taken from there: “After watching a scene in which Lakshman becomes unconscious on being hit by Indrajit’s Naga Pasha, a wealthy businessman in Madras fell seriously ill and went into coma at the shock of seeing Lakshman wounded. The credibility and source of the sequence created a great furore. But the Ramanand Sagar team stood their ground. When they received a request from the businessman’s doctor to help them revive the old man, the Sagar unit worked round the clock and prepared a special clipping which they air-dashed to Madras. Only after the man saw Lakshman reviving back to life in the new clipping – also based on authentic research – did he recover back to normal life from his coma”. (From http://www.sagartv.org/)
A Japanese animated film called Rama - The Prince of Light was also released in the early 1990s. Disney is also in talks to make an animated version of Ramayana for 2012.

Ramayana landmarks
Hindus believe that Rama actually existed, and there are several holy sites in India that point to the reality of Rama's existence, including his birth place, his palace, and the route of his journey to Sri Lanka. Amongst the ruins of the Vijayanagara empire near Hampi, is a cave known as Sugriva's Cave. The cave is marked by coloured markings. The place holds its similarity to the descriptions of 'kishkinda' in Sundarakanda. Rama is said to have met Hanuman here. The place is also home to the famous Hazara Rama temple (Temple of a thousand Ramas).
Shri. K.S. Sudarshan, Sarsanghchalak of RSS, in his Vijayadashami speech at Nagpur on October 20, 2007 narrated: ‘one should take a lesson from the discoveries of Dr. Ramavatar Sharma, who spent 24 years of his life in personally visiting 214 places where Ram had stayed during the 14 years he spent in forests, as also 23 places where Ram had accompanied Sage Vishwamitra upto Janakpur. He has photographed all those temples, lakes, rivers, ghats, huts etc. where Shri Rama treaded. Ramavatar has also prepared a map of them all. The great effort put in by Dr. Ramavatar is a slap on the face of all those who are denying the very existence of Shri Ram’.


The Popularity of Ramayana
Although basically a secular work, the Ramayana incorporates much of the sacred Vedic material. Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman are widely revered as ideal embodiments of princely heroism, wifely and brotherly devotion, and loyal service, respectively. Reciting the Ramayana is considered a religious act, and scenes from the epic are dramatized throughout India and Southeast Asia. Known widely through translations and critical revisions (the best-known version being that of the 16th-century Hindu poet Tulsidas), the Ramayana exerted enormous influence on later Indian literature.
The characters and incidents in Ramayana provide the ideals and wisdom of common life, and help to bind the people of India, regardless of caste and language. No wonder, two of India's greatest festive events - Dusshera and Diwali are directly motivated by the Ramayana. The first commemorates the siege of Lanka and Rama's victory over Ravana; the second, the festival of lights, celebrates Rama and Sita's homecoming to their kingdom in Ayodhya. When two Indians meet they greet each other saying ‘Ram Ram’. Ram is a common name found in each and every state of India. Thus we have famous men like Ram Krishna Paramahamsa, Swami Ram Tirth, Asharam Bapu in the Spiritual field, Chief Ministers MG Ramachandran and NT Rama Rao, Yogacharya Ramdev Baba, National poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Shri Ram Sharma founder of Gayatri Parivar, Vaidya Shri Ram Sharma President Central Council for Indian Medicines, Ram Prasad Bismil the freedom fighter famous during the Kakori Kand, Archery expert Limba Ram, Cricket captain GS.Ramchand, music director C.Ramachandra and News paper baron Ramnath Goenka, to name only a few from different fields and geographical locations of Bharat. Gandhi ji’s last words were ‘Hey Ram’. When a person leaves this world friends and family members chant ‘Ram Naam Satya Hai’.
Jam Nagar was air-raided by Pakistan in 1965. Since then Akhand Ram Dhun has is going on non stop for the past 42 years at the Ram Temple near Ranmal Talav.
Asifa, a post-graduate in Urdu, living in the Jama Masjid area of Delhi, does the role of Sita in the massive Ramlila celebrations at the Red Fort during the October Dussera festival in the national capital. This has been going on for the past eight years. Asifa takes no remuneration for this. “It is because I look upon Sita as the ideal of Bharatiya womanhood”, she explains. Likewise, Maqbool, an advocate of Bulandshahar, puts aside his black gown and gets down into Ramlila preparations a month ahead. His favourite role is that of Lakshman. Neither Maqbool nor Asifa is a stage artiste. Maqbool says Dussera (Vijayadasami) is not the festival of any one religion. (Source: PATHIK SANDESH (November 2002), Hindi Monthly from Jullandhar)
Ramayan is the soul of India.

Ram Nawami Celebrations of People of Indian Origin
During the colonial rule, Britishers took thousands of Hindus mostly from Bihar, UP and Tamil Nadu to distant countries like Fiji, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Burma, Mauritius, South Africa, Trinidad, Guyana, Jamaica etc. Some of them were sold to Dutch colonists for a pittance as cheap laborers to work in Surinam and Indonesia. They were ill-treated, poorly fed and clothed and punished in every possible manner by their masters while they sweat and bled for them. These countries have become rich thanks to the labor and sufferings of these Indians. The Christian missionaries tried all tricks to convert them. In spite of all these hardships and treacheries bulk of them has remained as Hindus thanks to Tulsi Ramayan and Thevarams of Tamil Nayanmar saints. Ramayan Mandalis and Ramayan Sabhas have protected Hindus around the world.

International Ramayana Conferences
Every year scholars from different countries get together for the International Ramayana Conference (IRC). The conference includes presentations on various themes and workshops based on Ramayana. The IRC was held in India three times, two times in Thailand and one time each in Canada, Nepal, Mauritius, Surinam, Belgium, Indonesia, the Netherlands, China, Trinidad & Tobago and the US. The year 2000 meeting discussed, among other things, the supremacy of the Ramayana philosophy and its significance to the whole humankind in the 21st century. The tireless efforts of Shri Lallan Prasad Vyas in popularizing Ramayan around the world in 20th century cannot be under-estimated.

Epic Expressions
Language, culture, custom, history, and religion have shaped Ramayana throughout Asia, but the basic story can still be recognized in its many different manifestations, ancient and modern. Similarly Ramayan too has influenced their culture, art, folk-arts, music, poetry, painting, sculpture, language and value systems.
Oral and literary versions of the epic have inspired the visual and performing arts everywhere, proof that it remains a living tradition. In India, these include ancient temple carvings in stone and wood, classical and folk paintings, dances, and ceremonial dramas, all sorts of puppets, and toys. Bengali singers travel room village to village, unrolling painted scrolls of episodes from the story to the accompaniment of narrative songs. Every year for at least ten days, Hindus across many parts of India celebrate the Deshara festival. During this time episodes from Ramayana are performed, culminating in the death of Ravana and the burring of huge ogre effigies to symbolist the victory of good over evil.
This Ramayan story consciously and unconsciously, through puppet shows, art, temples, stage shows, etc., continues to exert its influence in all these Asian societies.

The role of Sri Hanuman is also beyond comparison in all these versions. All across India, temples dedicated to Sri Hanuman far out-number those of Rama or any other character. In Thailand, tattoos or images of Sri Hanuman worn on their bodies bestow strength, courage, endurance and protection against pain. The Southeast Asian Games in 1997 used Sri Hanuman as its mascot. Our Baba is a popular figure or diety in all these countries. Hanuman or Hanumat or Aanjaneya or Anjata or Maruti is known by different names in these countries:

Hanoman in Balinese, Anoman and Senggana in Javanese, Haliman in Karbi, Anjat or Anujit in Khmer, Hanmone(e), Hulahman, Hunahman, Huonahman, Huorahman in Lao, Haduman, Hanuman Kera Putih, Kera Kechil Imam Tergangga, Pahlawan Udara, Shah Numan in Malay, Laksamana (yes, and Laxman is known as Mangawarna) in Maranao, Hanumant in Sinhalese, Anuman in Tamil, Anchat or Wanon in Thai and Hanumandha or Hanumanta in Tibetan.
Long ago the Ramayana became popular in Southeast Asia and manifested itself in text, temple architecture and performance, particularly in Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia. Today, it belongs to the whole humanity because it is capable of serving as a code of ethics for all human beings, irrespective of caste, creed, color and religion.

Modern Ram Setus
Chinese emperor built the Great Wall of China to prevent the Mongols from inert-acting with Chinese. Ram built Ramar Palam or the Ram Setu Bridge enabling Sri Lankans to mingle with Indians. These days there are war-fares, strifes, violent conflicts and bitter rivalries across nations because we have too many walls a few bridges. The need today for a peaceful living is to have more Ram Setus.

Ramayan has brought remarkable syncretism, bridging philosophies, religious practices and cultural habits, between Buddhism and Hinduism and between Islam and Hinduism in South East Asia, a phenomenon unheard of in the rest of the world. Muslims in Indonesia take pride in saying ‘Islam is our religion, Ramayana our culture’.

The call for a common currency for South East Asian nations by former Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee may seem strange for the average Indian. But there are demands from countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand for the construction of Trans-Asian highway and railway which in the long run would culminate in the formation of a community of Indian Ocean nations in the lines of European Union.

It is the similarity in the cultural traditions which has inculcated a sense of oneness among the intellectuals in these countries. All these countries lie along the rim of the Indian Ocean. They do have a lot of things in common though national boundaries and international lines of control separate them. But the economic potential of the community of Indian Ocean nations which is the modern Ram Setu is capable to send jitters down the spines of both the USA and the European Union and may inspire Tamilnadu Chief minister K.Karunanidhi and union central minister T.R.Balu plan to break the new Ram Setus.

So, the key message is that this ancient epic from India, through its continuous recitation in all these lands, in multiple languages, in its various versions, has through these centuries become mantra, with all its positive vibrations. Ramayan lets people grasp the difference between right and wrong, and understand the duties of an ideal ruler, mother, father, son etc. from the characters of Ramayana. As we have seen, national boundaries or language barriers or differences in names do not limit the power of the eternal message of this epic.
Universally regarded as one of the world's most important literary works, Ramayana has had a profound impact on the art, culture, family relations, gender, politics, nationalism and chivalry in Asian countries. The everlasting value of this epic tale has been extolled through the centuries, and it has helped in molding the Asian character largely. It would therefore be wrong to say that Ramayana belongs only to the Hindus.
Ram, Ramayan and Valmiki belong to
entire human race and to eternity.
It is India beyond borders.









Annextures
Appendix – 1 Important Ramayan Names Depending on Foreign Versions
In the text Sanskrit names are used, followed in parentheses by the name in the language of the episode when it appears for the first time although shortened forms are used throughout the text, complete names are given below. Only names that are different from Sanskrit are listed, but that proceeded by an asterisk are not found in the Valmiki Ramayana.
While spellings vary considerably, attempts have been mad to include the most common forms. Letters or parts of words in parentheses are optional. In Thai and Lao, the pronunciation usually is shown rather than the actual spelling. Vowel signs and diacritical marks are not shown. However, “c” has been spelt as “ch”, and “s” with any diacritical mark as “sh”, and “n” with a dot above it as “ng” (except in the case of Sri Lanka, pronounced Shri Langka, and Begal, pronounced Benggal). In Myanmar “th” is pronounced as in “thing”, “gy” as “j”, and “ky” as “ch”.

Ayodhya: capital city of Dasharatha’s kingdom
Chinese: Yem-bu-dai, Yen-fu-tiJavanese: Ayudya, Ngayodhya, MandrapuraKhmer: AiyudhyaLao: Meuang Chandahpuli Si Sattahnahgan, Meuang Chandahpuli Si Sattahnak, Kung Si Ahyutdiya Mahanahgan, Kung Si Ahyutdiya Mahahnak, Kung Si Ayuddiya Mahanahgan, Kung Si Ayuddiya Mahahnak (kingdom of Rama’s sons)
Malay: Andyapuri Negara, Ayodyapuri Negara, Ispahaboga, Mandarapura Negara, Sertapura, Siusia Mendarpapura, Tiutia MendarapuraMaranao: Pula Agama Niog, Tanjong BungaMyanmar: YodayaTamil: Ayotti
Thai: Ayudhya, Ayutthaya, LuangTibetan: DzambuVietnamese: Ho Tom Tinh
Brahma: god of creation
Chinese: Fantian-wangJapanese: (Dai) bon-tenJavanese: BramaKhmer: Preah Brahm, Preah Taprohm
Lao: Ph(r) a Bohm, Ph(r) a BommahMongolian: Esrua, Esrun TengriMalay: AdamThai: Phra BromTibetan: Tshangs-pa dKar-po
Garuda: sun bird; king of the birds; vehicle of Vishnu
Chinese: jinchi niaoHindi: garudJapanese: karuraJavanese: garudha
Khmer: khrutLao: kut, khutMyanmar: galonThai: krutTibetan: gNam-mKha’-IDing
Hanuman, Hanumat, Anjaneya, Anjata, Maruti: sof of Anjana and Vayu; monkey leader
Balinese: HanomanJavanese: Anoman, SengganaKarbi: HalimanKhmer: Anjat, Anujit
Lao: Hanumon(e), Hulahman, Hunahman, Huonahman, HuorahmanMalay: haduman, Hanuman Kera Putih, Kera Kechil Iman Tergangga, Phalawan Udara, ShahNumanMaranao: Laksamana (Mangawarna is the name of Lakshmana)Singhalese: Hanumant
Tamil: AnumanThai: Anchar, WanonTibetan: Hanumandha, Hanumanta
Naga: underworld water serpent
Chinese: long, lungJapanese: ryuKhmer: neak
Lao: nakMongol: lusThai: nakTibetan: klu
Rama, Ram, Bhargava: incarnation of Vishnu; oldest son of Dasharatha and Kausalya; husband of Sita; fater of Kusha and Lava
Asamiya: VasumatiBalinese: RamadewaChinese: Lo-moJavanese: Ragawa, Ramachandra, Sri Rama(wijaya)
Khamti: Chao LamanKhmer: Preah Ram, Preah ReamLao: Ph(r)a Lahmahrat, Ph(r)a LammaMalay: Agung Gempita, Seri Rama
Maranao: Radia MangandiriPali: RamapanditaPrakrit: PaumaTamil: Iraman
Thai: Daranoi, Phram, Phara RamTibetan: RamanaVietnamese: Chung Du
Ravana, Dashagriva, Dashakantha, Dashamukha, Asura Vana: ogre king of Langka; husband of mandodari; faterh of Indrajit
Balinese: RawanaHindi: RavanJavanese: Rahwana, DasamukaKannada: Ravula
Karbi: RabanKawi: Rawana, DasamukhaKhmer: Rab(n), Rabana, Krong ReapLao: Bommahchak, Dotsakhan, Haphanasun, Rabbahnasun
Malay: Dauwichit, Gambar mahasakti, maharaja Duwana, maharaja Wana, Rahana, Raja Di Rimba, RawanaMaranao: Maharadia Lawana, Maharadia DuwanMongolian: Mangus, Tesegiriy, TisegiriMyanmar: Datthagiri
Sundanese: RawanaTamil: IravananThai: ThotsakanTibetan: Ashapa, mDa’shagribaVietnamese: Trang Minh
Shiva, Ishvara, Mahadeva: god of destruction and reincarnation
Balinese: Bhatara Guru, Iswara, Mahadewa, SiwaHindi: Ishvar, mahadev, ShivJapanese: Daijizai-ten, Jizai-tenJavanese: Bhathara Guru, Manikmaya, Siwa
Khmer: Preah Eyso, Preah IsurLao: AiyahsunMalay: Bentara Guru, Dewata Mulya Raya, Gangga SaktiPunjabi: Mahadeo
Sundanese: Isora, Mahadewa, SiwaThai: Phra IsuanTibetan: Mahadeba
Sita, Janaki, Maithili: incarnation of Lakshmi; wife of Rama; mother of Kusha and Lava
Balinese: Dewi SitaJavanese: Dewi SintaKannada: SittamaKarbi: Ita KunriKhmer: Neang Seda, Neang Seta, Neang Sita
Lao: Nang SitaMalay: Puteri bungsu Hanyut, Chahaya Keinderaan, Sakutum Bunga Satangkai, Sita Dewi, Siti DewiMaranao: Tuwan Potre malaila Ganding, Tuwan Potre Malono TihaiaMyanmar: ThidaSinghalese: Sitapati
Tamil: ShitaiThai: Nang Piphat That Loi, Nang SidaTibetan: Rol-rNyed-ma, ZitaVietnamese: Bach Tinh
Tara : queen of Kihkindha; wife of Sugriva; mother of Anggada fathered by Vali
Balinese: Dewi TaraJavanese: Dewi TaraKannada: StuareKhmer: Neang Debi TaraLao: nang Kottahrat
Malay: dewi Bermakomala, Tuan Puteri KachaSundanese: Puah NilasitaTamil: TaraiThai: Nang Kaew Dara
Vishnu, Narayana: god of life and preservation; consort of Lakshmi; incarnates as Rama
Balinese: WisnuChinese: No-lo-yenHindi: NarayanJapanese: Bichu-ten
Javanese: WisnuKhmer: Preah Bisnu, Preah Naray(n), Preah NearayLao: Ph(r) a NalaiMalay: Bisnu, Dewa Berembun
Sundanese: WisnuThai: Phra NaraiTibetan; Byisnu


Appendix – 2 Lord Ram Did Exist Pushkar Bhatnagar, 344/1 Lado Sarai, New Delhi 110030 has researched on the actual dates for various events that took place in the lifetime of Lord Ram. This work has been completed by me by using a powerful planetarium software.Those who want to know more about this work may please write to http://us.f537.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=Pushkarbhatnagar@hotmail.com&YY=58861&order=down&sort=date&pos=1&view=a&head=b, Maharishi Valmiki, who wrote Ramayana, was contemporary of Lord Ram and in his book Ramayan, Valmiki has mentioned the position of planets in the sky at different points of time. For instance, the position of all the planets has been mentioned for the day when Lord Ram was born. Moving forward, he mentions that when Lord Ram turned 25 he was supposed to get the kingship of Ayodhya but was eventually exiled for 14 years. He mentions the position of planets again for the day he left for forests. Later on, Valmiki mentions during the last quarter of the 13th year of his exile he fought a battle with Khar and Dushan and on that day a solar eclipse was seen. In addition to the eclipse, the author also describes the position of planets in the sky on that day. Further ahead, six months later, another solar eclipse has been mentioned to mark the death of Bali at the hands of Lord Ram. Again, after about another six months when hanuman went to meet Sita at Lanka, a lunar eclipse has been described to have occurred. Besides these, several other planetary positions have also been mentioned spanning over these 39 years (25 years age + 14 years of exile). With the help of the planetarium software, which generates the sky view on the desk top for any given period of time it has been found that the planetary positions mentioned for the date of birth of Lord Ram had occurred in the sky at around 12.30 p.m. of 10th January 5114 BC. Not only this, the position of planets after the 25 years of the birth of Ram tallies exactly with their description in Ramayana. The software shows that the solar eclipse had indeed occurred during the last quarter of the 13th year of exile and even the position of the planets were also the same as described. Not only this, even the subsequent two eclipses had actually occurred at the specified dates. In this manner the entire sequence of the planetary positions gets verified and all the dates can be precisely determined. The entire dating has been conducted objectively because the software does not permit any manipulation and the verses of Ramayana are also free of any doubts. I have substantiated the findings with the help of archaeological evidences also which clearly show that Lord Ram had walked on earth about 7118 years ago from today.


Appendix – 3 Why Lord Ram will not appear now
The Lord surveyed the Ram Setu and said "Hanuman, how diligently and strenuously you and your vanara sena had built this bridge several centuries back. It is remarkable that it has withstood the ravages of the climatic and geographical changes over centuries. It is indeed an amazing feat especially considering the fact that a bridge at Hyderabad built by Gammon using latest technology collapsed the other day even before they could stick the posters on its pillars."
Hanuman with all humility spoke "Jai Sri Ram, it is all because of your grace. We just scribbled your name on the bricks and threw them in the sea and they held. No steel from TISCO or cement from Ambuja or ACC was ever used. But Lord, why rake up the old issue now."
Ram spoke "Well, Hanuman some people down there want to demolish the bridge and construct a canal. The contract involves lot of money and lot of money will be made. They will make money on demolition and make more money on construction. "
Hanuman humbly bowed down and said "Why not we go down and present our case"
Ram said "Times have changed since we were down there. They will ask us to submit age proof and we don't have either a birth certificate or school leaving certificate. We traveled mainly on foot and some times in bullock carts and so we don't have a drivinglicense either. As far as the address proof is concerned the fact that I was born at Ayodhya is itself under litigation for over half a century, If I go in a traditional attire with bow and arrow, the ordinary folks may recognize me but Arjun Singh may take me to be some tribal and, at the most, offer a seat at IIT under the reserved category. Also, a God cannot walk in dressed in a three-piece suit and announce his arrival. It would make even the devotees suspicious. So it is dilemma so to say."
"I can vouch for you by saying that I personally built the bridge."
"My dear, Anjani putra, it will not work. They will ask you to produce the lay-out plan, the project details, including financial outlay and how the project cost was met and the completion certificate.

Nothing is accepted without documentary evidence in India. You may cough but unless a doctor certifies it, you have no cough. A pensioner may present himself personally but the authorities do not take it as proof. He has to produce a life-certificate to provethat he is alive. It is that complicated. "
"Lord can't understand these historians. Over the years you have given darshan once every hundred years to saints like Surdas, Tulsidas, Saint Thyagaraja, Jayadeva, Bhadrachala Ramdas and even Sant Tukaram and still they disbelieve your existence and say Ramayana is a myth. The only option, I see, is to re-enact Ramayana on earth and set the government records straight once for all."
Lord smiled "It isn't that easy today. Ravan is apprehensive that he may look like a saint in front of Karunanidhi. I also spoke to his mama Mareecha, who appeared as a golden deer to tempt Sita maiyya when I was in the forest and he said that he won't take a chance of stepping on earth as long as Salman Khan is around."










Appendix – 4 Diwali Festival Around the World



Thoughts on Diwali Day

Contents
1. Deepavali Observations Held In White House
2. CANDIAN PM LIGHTS DIWALI LAMP IN PARLIAMENT
3. In UK Prince Charles and PM commend Hindu Community on Diwali
4. Australia, NZ light up for Diwali 2004
5. In Singapore,
6. Efforts by Overseas Hindus to popularise Diwali
7. Diwali as a National Holiday in many countries
8. Legends connected with Diwali Celebrations
9. The day after Diwali Day is Amavasya
10. The third day, i.e., the first day of Kaartik, is Balipratipada
11. Govardhana Pooja and Anna Koota
12. The fourth and final day is Bahu beej.
13. The Massacre of 800 Melkotte Hindus on Diwali Day
14. Pope John Paul II Curses Hindus on Diwali day
15. Jagad Guru Shankaracharya Arrested on the eve of Diwali Day
16. Nirvaana of Mahaveera
17. Aapko is Diwali aur Naye Saal mein ...
18. Diwali Greetings




Deepavali, the festival of Lights, falls in October or November every year.

Here are a few highlights of Diwali celebrations.

1. Deepavali Observations Held In White House

http://news.newkerala.com/india-news/action=fullnews&id=42250

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 11, 2004: US President George W Bush has sent his greetings to the Indian community on the occasion of Deepavali, the festival of lights, the first celebration to be held in the White House after his re-election. "I send greetings to all those celebrating Deepavali, the Festival of Light. Observed by millions round the world, Deepavali is a time for the Hindus to give thanks for their knowledge, happiness and other blessings received," Bush said in his message. "Laura joins me in sending our best wishes. May the coming year be filled with goodwill and prosperity," he said.

Several Indian community leaders attended the White House festivities yesterday, during which former US Ambassador to India and a senior official in the National Security Council Robert Blackwill assured the community that President Bush plans to visit India next year. During the invocation, Deepavali blessings were bestowed upon President Bush, his family, and the people of the USA and the prayer was offered for the world peace and the prosperity of the mankind. Praising the Indian American community, he said Indians must now move beyond writing the checks to the politicians and start asking for return on their investment and begin to participate in the political process more than what was being done currently. The traditional lamp was lit in the presence of about 150 invited guests by Ambassador Blackwill, and the Community leaders.

US house of representatives passes resolution honouring Diwali on 29 October 2007

The US House of Representatives has for the first time passed a resolution recognising the "religious and historical significance" of Diwali. The House Resolution 747, passed by an overwhelming vote of 358 to 0 (with 66 members abstaining), "is the first time the US Congress has ever passed a resolution in honour of Diwali", said Joe Wilson, the co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans. "Celebrated by the people of India, the Indian Diaspora and the nearly two million Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains in the US, Diwali is a five-day festival held in the fall that celebrates the values of kinship, knowledge, and goodness," Wilson said. Lastly, it recognises the importance of Indian Americans -- a strong and vibrant immigrant community, he added.

http://www.indiaenews.com/america/20071108/79577.htmDiwali attracts attention of businesses in Texas
Nov 2007
Many mainstream businesses in Houston, Texas are catching on to Diwali -- the popular Hindu festival of lights -- and marketing to the area's growing Indian population. Companies are busy building rapport with the many Indian American clients and employees, just as they have for Christmas. The Houston area is home to about 100,000 people of Indian descent.
For the first time, Houston-based Reliant Energy and Hilton Corp's Hampton Inn plan to send Diwali cards and sweets to more than a thousand small-business owners of Indian descent and to Indian-American franchisees. Hewlett-Packard, Reliant Energy and Anderson Cancer Centre will hold annual Diwali celebrations at their local offices, which will include traditional Indian snacks and sweets like samosas and ladoos. Greeting card maker Hallmark has launched special Diwali cards; porcelain figurine maker Lladro has launched a line of Hindu deities. Wells Fargo and Citibank are running special promotions. This year, both are sponsoring local Diwali celebrations, placing special ads in local South Asian newspapers and pushing their remittance services. More than two million people celebrate Diwali in the US.


2. CANDIAN PM LIGHTS DIWALI LAMP IN PARLIAMENT
Diwali marked yet another milestone for Indians when the Prime Minister joined the celebrations for the first time in Parliament ON November 12th, 2004.

This year, Diwali was a full-fledged celebration in Parliament - a sort of mini-mela. Prime Minister Paul Martin walked in to join his ministerial colleagues, Opposition leader Stephen Harper, and MPs in wishing the Indo-Canadians a happy Diwali. The celebrations began with Martin and Harper lighting the lamps with candle amid applause. People watched the ceremony on TV across the country. In his brief speech, the Prime Minister paid tributes to the burgeoning Indian community for their contribution to the multicultural mosaic of Canada. It says a lot about today's Canada that “twenty years ago, we would not have been celebrating Diwali on Parliament Hill (building),” Martin said. Conservative Party MP Deepak Obhrai, who is the brain behind the Diwali celebrations in Parliament, dwelt on the importance of the festival and thanked the distinguished gathering.


3. In UK Prince Charles and PM commend Hindu Community on Diwali
British parliament is lit on the occasion of Deepawali for the past few years. In Nov 2007, Prime Minister Gordon Brown described Diwali as "a wonderful inclusive festival, which reaches beyond your communities to people of many backgrounds all over the world. The symbolic lighting of lamps, representing life, hope and new beginnings sends a powerful message of unity and peace to us all".
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited the B APS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London, on the afternoon of November 9, 2007, to participate in the celebrations of Diwali. The Royal couple proceeded to the sanctum sanctorum where they offered flower petals at the central shrine and later also performed abhishek of the metallic murti of Shri Nilkanth Varni (Bhagwan Swaminarayan). Upon entering the assembly hall, the Prince and the Duchess each lighted an oil lamp to commemorate their presence on this auspicious day, and then participated in a symbolic Lakshmi Puja while BAPS children chanted Vedic prayers.
" Throughout his address, The Prince repeatedly commended the "peace-loving and values-based Hindu community" in the UK, adding: "It is a remarkable and precious fact that Hinduism as a faith still touches upon every aspect of day-to-day lives - professions, culture and, most crucially, value systems.... All I can say is long may it last in this era of frenetic change and short-term thinking.
"This quiet and industrious approach to life is reflected in your remarkable achievements in education, in business, the professions, and so many other fields. Some of you may feel that your huge contribution to the fabric of Bri tain is not fully recognised, but it is my belief that today, more than ever, your community is one of the most positive forces which helps to bind the country together, and I can only thank you most sincerely for this. It really is a remarkable contribution."
His Royal Highness ended by wishing everyone a "Shubh Deepawali... and every possible success" in the year to come.






4. Australia, NZ light up for Diwali 2004

IANS[ SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2004 09:11:18 PM ]
SYDNEY: The governments of Australia and New Zealand joined the resident Indian community in celebrating Diwali by illuminating their parliament houses in a rare gesture.
In Australia, the northern façade of the gigantic parliament building at Canberra was illuminated at an impressive function Saturday. The Australian Parliament House would be illuminated for three nights.

In Wellington, capital of New Zealand, it was Prime Minister Helen Clark who lit the traditional lamp to inaugurate the first ever Diwali function to be celebrated in parliament house. Clark had visited India only last month.

At the Canberra illumination, around 1,000 people attended the event which was inaugurated by Senator Gary Humphries by lighting a traditional lamp. The Liberal senator was representing the Australian Prime Minister John Howard who is on an overseas trip. Senator Joe Ludwig represented the opposition leader Mark Latham.

"The illumination of the Federal Parliament to celebrate Diwali represents acceptance of Hinduism as a major religious denomination in Australia," A Bala Subramanium, head of the Hindu Council of Australia, said on Sunday. The Hindu Council has organised the illumination.

A number of other parliament buildings have also been illuminated for the first time to celebrate the Festival of Lights.

The exterior of the oldest parliament building in the region, New South Wales (NSW) Parliament House, has also been lit for Diwali. This is the first time the NSW Parliament House has been illuminated for any occasion.

The legislative house building of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has joined the growing list of parliament and legislative assembly buildings to be illuminated for the purpose.

Across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, the historic Town Hall in Auckland and the Parliament House in Wellington have also organised events to mark Diwali.

A number of cultural events marked the occasion. While Sydney's well-known Indian classical dance artiste Raghvan Nair gave a presentation of his "Ram-Lila", a troupe of Bhangra folk dancers, aptly named "Rangla Punjab" impressed the audience with their scintillating oeuvre.

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Clark said: "The Indian community is of long standing in New Zealand and it is wonderful to see the celebration of Diwali becoming a significant event in New Zealand's cultural calendar."

"I have just returned from a very exciting visit to India - the first New Zealand prime minister to go there in almost 20 years," she said.

"New Zealand and India have traditionally had a close relationship, and I want to see these ties grow even stronger. I acknowledge the efforts and dedication of Indians to making a new life and contributing to New Zealand society," Clark was quoted as saying. In May 2007 Prime Minister Helen Clark inaugurated the Hindu Conference in Auckland.


5. In Singapore,
Deepawali is celebrated as one of the Public holiday in Singapore. Several streets including Serangoon Street is lit up by the government and has a festive outlook and shops declare Diwali mega sales.




6. Efforts by Overseas Hindus to popularise Diwali

Over 15,000 Hindus gather at the Sydney Diwali celebrations organised by Hindu Council of Australia. Many Federal and NSW ministers, Indian High Commissioner and many VIPs attend this colourful function. Impressed by this, the Australian Government has agreed to illuminate the Parliaments in Federal Capital, Canberra and NSW state capital Sydney. Efforts of Hindus and Hindu organisations in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Trinidad are responsible for Diwali being celebrated there as an official festival.

Hindus have been celebrating Diwali in more than 50 countries where they live in fairly large numbers. The latest to join this group are the Hindus of China – Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Yi Wu to mention only a few.

Hindus in other countries should unite and make this happen in their countries.



7. Diwali as a National Holiday in many countries

Diwali is celebrated as a National Holiday in the Republic of Singapore, Malaysia, Fiji, Trinidad and Mauritius. (Will some one check if Diwali is a holiday in other countries especially Sri Lanka, Guyana, Surinam, Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma, South Africa etc). In Kenya where over 60,000 Hindus reside, Deepavali is an optional holiday for the Hindu community.

In Malaysia, apart from being a national holiday, people of various ethnicities visit the home of their Hindu friends. They call this practice 'Open House' and state/national level open houses are also held whereby the state or federal govts hold Deepavali open houses for the masses. The homes of the Indian leaders are also thrown open to a throng of people who represent the diverse ethnic make-up which is what Malaysia is all about.
”Last Friday the entire advertising dept of the org I work in dressed in Indian clothes regardless of what their ethnicity was." quotes one of the Malaysian Hindus.

In Singapore, the entire Serangoon street is lit up by the government.

8. Legends connected with Diwali Celebrations

In northern parts of Bharat, Deepaavali is associated with the return of Sri Rama to Ayodhya after vanquishing Raavana. The people of Ayodhya, overwhelmed with joy, welcomed Rama through jubilation and illumination of the entire capital. Well has it been said that while Sri Rama unified the north and south of our country, Sri Krishna unified the west and the east. Sri Rama and Sri Krishna together therefore symbolize the grand unity of our motherland.


9. The day after Diwali Day is Amavasya

Diwali is followed by Amaavaasya, the new moon day, auspicious for offering prayers and gratitude to the bygone ancestors of the family and invoking their memories and blessings for treading the path of right conduct. This is also the sacred occasion for the worship of Mahaa Lakshmi, the goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. The business community open their New Year's account with Her worship. This reminds us of the famous saying of the sage Vyaasa, 'dharmaadarthashcha kaamashcha...' - it is through right conduct that wealth and fulfilment of desires also accrue.


10. The third day, i.e., the first day of Kaartik, is Balipratipada

The third day, i.e., the first day of Kaartik, is named Balipratipada, after the demon king Bali, the ruler of Paataala (the netherworld), who had extended his kingdom over the earth also. On the day, Sri Vishnnu, taking the form of a dwarfish Brahmin by name Vaamana, approached Bali, for a boon of space equal to his three steps. Bali, known for his charity, gladly granted the boon. Vaamana now grew into a gigantic form; with one step he covered the entire earth, with the second he covered the outer sky, and asked Bali where he should keep his third step.

Bali, left with no other choice, showed his own head. Sri Vishnu placed his foot on Bali's head and pushed him down to the netherworld, the rightful territory of Bali's reign. However, Bali prayed to the Lord that he might be permitted to visit the earth once a year. Now it was the turn of Vishnu to grant the boon. And the people too offer their and respect to him on this day.

The annual visit of Bali is celebrated in Kerala as Onam. It is the most popular festival for Kerala where every Hindu home receives him with floral decorations and lights and festoons adorn all public places. Onam, however, falls on the 16th day of Aavani (Sowramaana) in september.


11. Govardhana Pooja and Anna Koota

The pratipada is also the day for Govardhana Pooja and Anna Koota (heap of grains), the former signifying the Govardhana episode in Sri Krishna's life and the latter conveying affluence and prosperity.


12. The fourth and final day is Bahu beej.

The fourth and final day is Yama Dwiteeya, also called Bahu beej. It is a most touching moment for the family members when even distant brothers reach their sisters to strengthen that holy tie. The sister applies tilak and waves aarati to her brother, and the brother offers loving presents to the sister.

Some of you might argue that the origins of these festivals are deep rooted in our mythology. But a myth, it may be noted, is no yarn. It was Ruskin who described the myth as a story with a meaning attached to it other than what is apparent, and a characteristic feature of it, he went to add, is something extraordinary about its circumstances.



13. The Massacre of 800 Melkotte Hindus on Diwali Day

In nearer history, Melkote had been ruled by a dynasty founded by Yaduraya. His clan had built several water retaining structures --kalyanis-- of great effectiveness and beauty. A small scholarly community had thriven there. In early 19th century, Tipu Sultan's army descended on a Deepavali day and massacred 800 citizens, mostly of a sect known as Mandyam Iyengars. Sanskrit scholarship had been their forte. [To this day Melkote does not celebrate Deepavali]. That slaughter rendered Melkote a near ghost town. Its environmentally connected life was broken, kalyanis went to ruin, water shortage became endemic, the hills went brown. Sanskrit lost a home.


14. Pope John Paul II Curses Hindus on Diwali day

In Ecclesia on Asia released in Delhi on the eve of Diwali, in November 1999, Pope John Paul declared:

“Just as in the first millennium, the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the third Christian millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent. He fervently endorsed the call of his Bishops, the heart of the Church in Asia will be restless until the whole of Asia finds its rest in the peace of Christ, the Risen Lord.”

Many Hindu organsiation resented this message as they thought this as an attempt by the Vatican to uproot Hinduism; a well founded fear. Pope wants to deliver the Hindu community from the darkness of Hindu false Gods or Devils to the bright light of the only True Christian God. This is his Diwali message.



15. Jagad Guru Shankaracharya Arrested on the eve of Diwali Day

The arrest of HH Jagad Guru Shankaracharya of Kanchi Mutt, at the dead of the night, that too on the eve of the Diwali festival, when he was engaged in a special pooja, and then forcing him to travel overnight hundreds of miles (from Mehboob nagar in AP to Chennai), placing him in a lock up as if he is an ordinary culprit, ruling out a request made on his behalf to place him in house arrest – all this makes one to smell a well organized plot. It is really painful that the administration did not feel like showing the ordinary curtsy to such an elderly, revered head of an important religious institution, when he was being taken into custody.

Never in the history of India has an institution of high reverence been so recklessly and disrespectfully dealt with. Compare this with what happened when the Islamic institution of Deoband at Nadwa revered by millions of Muslims was raided, by the Central and state police, in the 1990s for harbouring ISI agents, an act endangering national security.
The raid was called off midway, yes midway, and Narasmha Rao, the then Prime Minister, had to send two of his senior ministers, one a Hindu and another a Muslim, to apologise to Ali Mian, the head of the Nadwa institution. So the law takes `its course' at Kanchi and `another course' at Nadwa.


16. Nirvaana of Mahaveera

To the Jains, Deepaavali has an added significance to the great event of Mahaaveera attaining the Eternal Bliss of Nirvaana. The passing into Eternity on the same Amaavaasya of Swami Dayananda Saraswati, that leonine sanyasin who was one of the first to light the torch of Hindu Renaissance during the last century, and of Swami Ramatirtha who carried the fragrance of the spiritual message of Hindu Dharma to the western world, have brought the national-cum-spiritual tradition of Deepaavali right up to modern times.


17. Aapko is Diwali aur Naye Saal mein ...

Chanakya Ki Buddhi
Bharat Ratna Ki Siddhi

Vajpayee Ki Maryada
Kuber Ki Sampada

Laxmi Mittal Ki Salary
Abdul Kalam Ki Vocabulary

Bhagat Singh Ka Deshprem
Sweetheart Ka Amarprem

Microsoft Ke Share
Rupiyo Ke Dher

Tata Ke Senses
Ambani Ke Licenses

Birla Ka Bangla
Daler Ka Bhangra

Amitabh Ki Style
Madhuri Ki Smile

Bhagwan Ram Ki Personality
Ramdev Maharaj Ki Popularity
World tour Ka Ticket
Tendulkar Ka Wicket
Mercedez Ki Car
Diamond Ka Haar
Aur Logon Ka Dher Saraa Pyar Prapt Ho...
Wish you all Happy Diwali & a Prosperous New year
From Ketan Devani
18. Diwali Greetings
Dear Sir or Madam:
Subject:Diwali Greetings

One more year has passed and if we look back the entire year has been full of sad events like natural calamities, accidents, violence etc. Not only that on each and every front whether it is political, economical, business, finance, social, religion, society, things have deteriorated and in certain spheres the developments have been very shocking, disturbing, upsetting, disappointing, disgusting, depressing and frustrating. I am sure all of us would acknowledge this and hence the need of the day is to exchange and share our views, ideas, share affection, convey best wishes, pray and contribute constructively for the coming year.
If a free society cannot help the many, who are poor,
it cannot save the few who are rich.
Democracy demands discipline, tolerance and mutual regard.
The trouble with future is that it usually arrives before we are ready for it.
You can’t change people. But you can channel them your way.
Never find your delight in another’s misfortune.
Home is not where you live but where they understand you.
When all else is lost, the future still remains.
There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.
An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
Evil is not in the atom, it is in the person.
The tragedy of human history is decreasing happiness
in the midst of increasing comforts.
Every noble activity makes room for itself.
Health is not valued till sickness comes.
A man without patience is a lamp without oil.
PEACE AND JOY.





Appendix – 5 Significance of Easter to Hindus
Ravi Kumar
vishwadharma@gmail.com,
Contents
1. Mother Goddess Eostre. 51
2. The Date of Easter Festival 52
3. What is Easter Egg and Easter Bunny?. 52
4. Spring Festival Celebrations Around the World. 52

Easter Friday this year falls on 5th April 2007. It is one of the few festivals celebrated round the globe as a holiday. Easter is one of the most ancient festivals of the world and has been celebrated in Europe by the pagans for more than 2500 years. Later Christians in order to get popular acceptance in Europe adopted this Pagan festival around 10th century. Easter is closely associated with the Hindu New Year festival known as Varsha Pratipada which heralds the coming of Vasant Ritu or spring season.


1. Mother Goddess Eostre
Eostre is the spring goddess of ancient Anglo-Saxon people. She is the goddess of fertility and ensures progeny and continuity of the race. This is similar to the Indian spring festival Varsha Pratipada also known in different parts of India as Gudi Padwa, Cheti Chand, Yugadi or the Hindu New Year. It falls in March / April every year and proclaims the coming of spring season after the cold winter months. The planet which was covered by snow and appeared brown now becomes green with many plants sprouting all over. It falls around spring equinox.

2. The Date of Easter Festival
Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs upon or next after the vernal equinox (taken as March 21). Easter therefore can fall between March 22 and April 25. Easter following the phases of the moon is not a new phenomenon to Indians. Most Indian festivals also follow the course of the moon. Varsha Pratipada falls on the first day after Amavasya in the month of Chaitra. We also have festivals like Akshaya Tritiya, Ganesh Chaturthi, Naag Panchami or Rang Panchami, Skanda Sashti, Ratha Saptami, Gokul Ashtami, Ram Nawami, Vijaya Dashami, Vijaya Ekadashi, Vinayak Chaturdashi and Guru Purnima falling on different phases of the moon.

3. What is Easter Egg and Easter Bunny?
Millions of eggs and egg-shaped replicas are bought, decorated, given as gifts and happily eaten every Easter by millions of people all over the world.

Why the egg? To understand the egg’s prominent place in Easter celebrations we need to go far back in history to the origins of the festival. The name Easter is derived from Eostre, the ancient Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility whose rebirth after the dark northern winter was heralded by feasting, bon-fires and various rituals involving the egg. The Anglo-Saxons believed Eostre was reincarnated in the form of a hare, since it was widely believed that when hunted, the mother hare would sacrifice itself so that its offspring could escape. The cute little Easter bunny that today pops up on greetings cards or in chocolate shops is a survivor of those beliefs. The ancients saw life and continuity of offspring in the eggs and hence it finds a place in this festival. In the Indian epic Mahabharat, to the question by yaksha as to what has life but does not move Yudhishtra answers as “Egg”. Hindus use paddy and cereals as a sign of life and continuity in their New Year rituals.

In former Yugoslavia, children still design nests for hares in their gardens and next morning find brightly painted eggs deposited there. In Germany and Hungary children carry baskets decorated with painted hares, in which they collect chocolate eggs and other small gifts on Easter Sundays.

While the Anglo-Saxons were wrong in assuming hares hatched from eggs, they were right in associating eggs with Spring renewal.

4. Spring Festival Celebrations Around the World
The rebirth of a spring deity has been celebrated through rituals and feasting not only by Anglo-Saxons but by other cultures all around the world.

Hindus have been celebrating this festival as Chaitra Varsha Pratipada or Yugadi or Cheti Chand or Gudipadwa since times immemorial. This is followed by eight days of fasting for Goddess Parvati. This is followed by feasting for Rama Nawami, the birth of Lord Ram of Ayodhya.

The ancient Egyptians marked the rebirth of the God Osiris with eight days of celebrations.

It is from these celebrations that we get the eight days of Easter, known as Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday and finishes on Easter Sunday.

In ancient Rome, an annual festival was held for the rebirth of the God Attis, whose return was celebrated with banqueting, processions and sporting events. This festival was held just after the spring equinox, and it is from here that we derive the date of Easter, which always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. This means Easter can fall any time between March 21 and April 25;

In China people were offering each other painted red eggs during the Ching Ming (Pure Brightness) festival as far back as 3,000 years ago.

Central to all ancient spring festivals are huge feasts celebrating the fact that the spring was return to abundance after long, lean winters without fresh food.

(This article is based on details available in Encyclopedia Britannica and Microsoft Encarta)




Appendix – 6 Pre-Christian Origin of Christmas and Easter
Ravi Kumar
vishwadharma@gmail.com,
Contents
1. Connections Between Pre-Christian Pagans and Hindus. 54
2. Christmas is Mid-winter Festival of the Pagan Europeans. 54
3. Easter another Pagan Festival 55
4. Spring Festival Celebrations Around the World. 56
5. Venerable Mother Mary. 56

Christmas, considered to be the birthday of Christ, is perhaps the most widely known festival in the world. But not many know that it is pre-Christian in its origin. One may wonder how the birth and the death of Christ can be of pre-Christian origin!! In fact the birth of Christ is shrouded in one more mystery.
· Jesus of Nazereth was born four to eight years before he was 'born.' (His birth was in the reign of Herod, who died in 4 B.C., four years 'before Christ.') In 534 A.D., the first man who calculated the year of Jesus' birth made a mistake-and we've been stuck with it ever since. [Source: Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts] Rob from Kearns, Utah (31 March 1999)

1. Connections Between Pre-Christian Pagans and Hindus

Pre-Christian Pagans in Europe had many things in common with ancient Hindus in India – 7 days in a week, worship of Sun-God, Spring Festival, reincarnation, cremating the dead and immortality of the soul. The heroes who died in the Trojan war were cremated in a manner similar to those in India. Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagorus in 500 BC studied in Takshashila University in North India and learnt Mathematics (famous Pythogorus Theorem is from Bodhayana Sutra of the Vedic Period), Medicine and Transmigration of the soul. This is called the Pythogorean School of Thought.


2. Christmas is Mid-winter Festival of the Pagan Europeans
Now the Roman records do not throw any light on the life of Jesus Christ and the mystery starts from whether Jesus was a historical figure. But the world celebrates December 25th as Jesus Christ’s birthday. Santa Claus comes on a sledge driven by a reindeer and distributes sweets and plays with children throwing snow on them. Jesus was born at Bethlehem and lived in Palestine all through as recorded in the Bible. But snow games, sledge and reindeer are unheard of things in Palestine. Obviously Santa Claus and December 25th celebrations have their origin in Pre-Christian Europe and not in Arabia or Israel or Palestine.

According to Britanica Encyclopaedia, “the reason why Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25 remains uncertain, but most probably the reason is that early Christians wished the date to coincide with the pagan Roman festival marking the “birthday of the unconquered sun” (natalis solis invicti); this festival celebrated the winter solstice, when the days again begin to lengthen and the sun begins to climb higher in the sky.

“The traditional customs connected with Christmas have accordingly developed from several sources as a result of the coincidence of the celebration of the birth of Christ with the pagan agricultural and solar observances at midwinter. In the Roman world the Saturnalia (December 17) was a time of merrymaking and exchange of gifts.

“December 25 was also regarded as the birth date of the Iranian mystery god Mithra, the Sun of Righteousness.

“On the Roman New Year (January 1), houses were decorated with greenery and lights, and gifts were given to children and the poor. To these observances were added the German and Celtic Yule rites when the Teutonic tribes penetrated into Gaul, Britain, and central Europe. Food and good fellowship, the Yule log and Yule cakes, greenery and fir trees, and gifts and greetings all commemorated different aspects of this festive season.

Fires and lights, symbols of warmth and lasting life, have always been associated with the winter festival of the pagans.”

In other words Christmas is the Pagan Mid-winter festival which in India is called the Makara Sankranti which also falls during this time. It may also be noted that Hindu Makara Sankranti used to fall on 1st Januaray before Pope Gregory XIII introduced the present Gregorian calendar in 1584 by skipping 11 days and later in a day each was eliminated in 1700, 1800 and 1900. This resulted in Makara Sankranti falling on 1st January every year to be shifted to 14th January as is seen today. Similarly the Hindu Solar New Year which used to fall on 1st April before 1584 got shifted to 14th April as is seen today. Thus the Hindu Makara Sankranti and Hindu Solar New Year Days were also festival days in Europe till recently.

3. Easter another Pagan Festival

Easter is the principal festival of the Christian church year, celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his Crucifixion.

Britanicca Encyclopaedia 2002 Deluxe Edition says, “The English name Easter is of uncertain origin; the Anglo-Saxon priest Venerable Bede in the 8th century derived it from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre.” But many practices associated with Easter festival go to prove more connections with Pagan beliefs.

Millions of eggs and egg-shaped replicas are being bought, decorated, given as gifts and happily eaten every Easter.

Why the egg? To understand the egg’s prominent place in Easter celebrations we need to go far back in history to the origins of the festival. The name Easter is derived from Eostre, the ancient Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility whose rebirth after the dark northern winter was heralded by feasting, bon-fires and various rituals involving the egg. The Anglo-Saxons believed Eostre was reincarnated in the form of a hare, since it was widely believed that when hunted, the hare would sacrifice itself so its offspring could escape. The cute little Easter bunny that today pops up on greetings cards or in chocolate shops is a survivor of those beliefs.

In former Yugoslavia, children still design nests for hares in their gardens and next morning find brightly painted eggs deposited there. In Germany and Hungary children carry baskets decorated with painted hares, in which they collect chocolate eggs and other small gifts on Easter Sundays.

While the Anglo-Saxons were wrong in assuming hares hatched from eggs, they were right in associating eggs with Spring renewal.

4. Spring Festival Celebrations Around the World

The rebirth of a spring deity has been celebrated through rituals and feasting not only by Anglo-Saxons but by other cultures all around the world.

Hindus have been celebrating this festival as Chaitra Varsha Pratipada or Yugadi or Cheti Chand or Gudipadwa since times immemorial. This is followed by eight days of fasting for Goddess Parvati. This is followed by feasting for Rama Nawami, the birth of Lord Ram of Ayodhya.

The ancient Egyptians marked the rebirth of the God Osiris with eight days of celebrations.

It is from these celebrations that we get the eight days of Easter, known as Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday and finishes on Easter Sunday.

In ancient Rome, an annual festival was held for the rebirth of the God Attis, whose return was celebrated with banqueting, processions and sporting events. This festival was held just after the spring equinox, and its from here that we derive the date of Easter, which always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. This means Easter can fall any time between March 21 and April 25;

In China people were offering each other painted red eggs during the Ching Ming (Pure Brightness) festival as far back as 3,000 years ago.

Central to all ancient spring festivals are huge feasts celebrating the fact that the spring was return to abundance after long, lean winters without fresh food.


5. Venerable Mother Mary
The concept of Mother Mary has also been taken from another source.

Around 11th and 12th century AD many nomadic tribes from Rajasthan and Sind in north India were tortured and harassed by the invading Muslims from Arabia and they migrated to Europe by land route. In Europe they are called GYPSIES. They were worshippers of Mother Parvati (a female deity still popular among Hindus in India). When they were travelling through coastal France, the local inhabitants sought their help in overcoming the loss of lives and property due to continuous flooding. The Gypsies kept their deity Mother Parvati in the local church and offered prayers. To the great surprise of all the sea waters receded giving much relief to the local people. They then requested the Gypsies to leave their female deity so that the sea may not disturb them again.

Thus Mother Parvati, the virgin mother of Lord Ganesh, venerated by the Gypsies or Hindus came to be worshipped in the churches of Europe in the name of Mother Mary.



Appendix – 7 Anecdotes on Ramayan From Panchamritam
(thanks to Sri Mahadevan, Uttar Tamilnadu Prant Prachar Pramukh)
1
It is well known that, even as the freedom struggle raged, Mahatma Gandhi dreamt of a Ram Rajya for Hindusthan. In the free Bharat, Ayodhya movement is thick in the air during the recent decades. It presents Shri Ram as a national hero imbued with noble qualities. The movement is seen as heralding a resurgence of cultural nationalism. What is not so well known is the view of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in this aspect. He wrote in his foreword to a book, Valmiki Ramayana, by Shri. N. Chandrasekara Iyer, a former Judge of the Supreme Court: “Among our great festivals which spread joy and comradeship amongst all our people, there is none which is so popular, more especially in Northern India, as the celebration of the story of Rama and Sita. Valmiki wrote his immortal epic, and in later days, Tulsidas writing in homely language, made this story a part of the texture of the lives of our people. A story and a book which has had this powerful influence on millions of people during some millennia of our changing history, must have a peculiar virtue in it”.
Based on the ‘This Day that Age’ column of THE HINDU ( July 15, 2004).

2
HANUMAN, the 90-minute animation film made at a cost of Rs. 2.5 crore, has been declared a hit by the trade. This film on the Hindu deity and key character of the epic Ramayana, grossed record earnings of Rs. 7 crore from all over Bharat. The box office collections are bigger and better than most other star cast films released last month “This film has appealed to all age groups”, says Shri. Sandeep Bhargava, of Sahara One Motion Pictures that made the film. HANUMAN has been officially recorded as India’s first indigenous animation film in the LIMCA BOOK OF RECORDS 2004 edition.
Based on a report by Shama Bhagat in DECCAN CHRONICLE, November 16, 2005

3
The first ever Ram Navami celebration in the House of Commons (London. UK) was attended by 240 guests. Shri. Tony McNulty (MP), the Minister of State, was the host. Smt. Anuja Prashar, Hindu Council UK Executive, welcomed the guests. Shri. Bankim Gossaiji from Mahalakshmi Mandir, Lewisham, enthralled the room with a recital of the Ramayana. The Rt. Hon. Hillary Benn(MP), Secretary of State for Culture, welcomed the opportunities for forging greater understanding between Hindu and British cultures. Students of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan gave a dance performance in classical Kathak and Bharata Natyam styles with an introduction by Dr. Shastri. The audience, made up of several community leaders and a significant number of Mpssuch as Home office Minister Fiona Mactaggart, Adrien Bailey and lord Navneet Dholakia. Smt. Jayalakshmi, Hindu Council UK Executive, congratulated the British government for its foresight by inviting Hindus to celebrate Ram Navami at the Houses of Parliament (a thing not possible in the Indian parliament). Shri. Stephen Pound (MP), the Chair of Labour Friends of India at the Parliament, confirmed that Hinduism had a lot to teach to the world. He ended his speech by greeting everyone with a ‘Namaste’. Tony McNulty declared to the rapturous delight of all guests, that Ram Navami and Krishna Janmashtami would be celebrated every year at the British house of Parliament. Shri. Rajinder Chopra of Finchley Hindu Society, extended a vote of thanks.
From SANGH SANDESH (March-June 2005), Leicester, UK (English Bi Monthly published by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, UK).

4
‘Kaun Banega Ramayan Expert’ is the name given to a quiz competition for children of USA conducted during Shri Guruji Centenary year 2006 07 by Swayamsevaks living in America. 3,000 children participated. While preparing for the quiz, the children kept nagging their parents and grand parent for answers to Ramayana related questions and that brought generations closer, noted a report. KBRE was structured as follows: Online registration, A preliminary online quiz and In-person contest at Balagokulam centers. Based on a write up in http://www.hssus.org/

5
Those who question the historicity of Shri Ram, should take a lesson from the discoveries of Dr. Ramavatar Sharma, who spent 24 years of his life in personally visiting 214 places where Ram had stayed during the 14 years he spent in forests, as also 23 places where Ram had accompanied Sage Vishwamitra upto Janakpur. He has photographed all those temples, lakes, rivers, ghats, huts etc. where Shri Rama treaded. Ramavatar has also prepared a map of them all. The great effort put in by Dr. Ramavatar is a slap on the face of all those who are denying the very existence of Shri Ram.
Shri. K.S. Sudarshan, Sarsanghchalak of RSS, in his Vijayadashami speech
at Nagpur on October 20, 2007.

6
Eminent Samskrit-Hindi literary person and journalist, Dr. Vidya Niwas Mishra (1926-2005) was on a tour of Indonesia, a county with Muslim majority. He set out to see a few ancient monuments in that country. He was accompanied by one Shri. Sudarshan, director of the Art department of that country. Sudarshan was a Muslim. On their way to Borobudur, the two saw a few persons etching some letters on marble slabs. Mishra wanted to what it was. Sudarshan explained: “Here it is our custom to inscribe a verse of Mahabharat or Ramayana in the Javanese language on the tombstone when someone dies. Though we ae Muslims, we deeply adore Ram and Krishna”. Finding that Mishra was struck with wonder on hearing this, Sudarshan added: “We may have taken to Islam 700 years back. But that does not mean that we should forget our forefathers altogether. Ramayana and Mahabharata are sources of inspiration for us even today”. Mishraji fell silent looking at the face of that Indonesian Muslim scholar..
Based on a report in WEEKLY KESHAV SAMVAD, August 7, 2007.


7
Ramanand Sagar’s mega epic TV serial RAMAYAN, when first telecast in 1987 created unprecedented records. The message of RAMAYAN cut across all the barriers of caste, creed, language and political boundaries. A media documentation of that is found in the website of the Sagars. A sample taken from there: “After watching a scene in which Lakshman becomes unconscious on being hit by Indrajit’s Naga Pasha, a wealthy businessman in Madras fell seriously ill and went into coma at the shock of seeing Lakshman wounded. The credibility and source of the sequence created a great furore. But the Ramanand Sagar team stood their ground. When they received a request from the businessman’s doctor to help them revive the old man, the Sagar unit worked round the clock and prepared a special clipping which they air-dashed to Madras. Only after the man saw Lakshman reviving back to life in the new clipping – also based on authentic research – did he recover back to normal life from his coma”.
From http://www.sagartv.org/


8
Shri Ram, accompanied by Lakshman and Sita, approached the Chitrakoot hills, trudging through a path strewn with thorns. A thorn hurt Shri Ram’s foot. At once Shri Ram started beseeching Mother Earth with folded hands, “Mother, I pray to you to become soft when my brother Bharat comes this way looking for me. For the time being, hide these thorns and stones in your anchal. They have hurt my foot. Alright. But let them not hurt my Bharat”. Mother Earth was astonished. She asked Shri Ram, “Lord, is Bharat so weak that he cannot bear the pain caused by a thorn, while you could bear the pain? I hear that Bharat is a saintly person. Can he not look upon pain and pleasure with equanimity?” Shri Ram replied, “Mother, the thorn will hurt, not his foot, but his heart.” “Why so?” the Mother queried. Shri Ram explained: “The hurt will not bother him. Rather, he would be worried, thinking, ‘my elder brother would have traveled this way. His feet would have been hurt by these thorns and stones’. That very thought would give him intense misery. Therefore, Mother, become soft as lotus petal, whenever Bharat walks this way”.
An anecdote contributed by Shri Ranjit Rawat in PATHIK SANDESH,
Hindi monthly, (Jullundhar – 144 001)
9
Asifa, a post-graduate in Urdu, living in the Jama Masjid area of Delhi, does the role of Sita in the massive Ramlila celebrations at the Red Fort during the October Dussera festival in the national capital. This has been going on for the past eight years. Asifa takes no remuneration for this. “It is because I look upon Sita as the ideal of Bharatiya womanhood”, she explains. Likewise, Maqbool, an advocate of Bulandshahar, puts aside his black gown and gets down into Ramlila preparations a month ahead. His favourite role is that of Lakshman. Neither Maqbool nor Asifa is a stage artiste. Maqbool says Dussera (Vijayadasami) is not the festival of any one religion.
Source: PATHIK SANDESH (November 2002), Hindi Monthly from Jullandhar


10
More than 16,000 people poured into De Anza College, Cupertino (“Silicon Valley” USA) to be part of an exciting day, to celebrate the Hindu way of life. Hindu Sangam, a one-day grand cultural program aimed at displaying the various Hindu intellectual, cultural and spiritual contributions made over thousands of years, was organized by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh with support from over 40 SF Bay Area organizations including Sunnyvale Hindu Temple as one of the Grand Sponsors. This event was organized on occasion of the first birth centenary of Shree Golwalkal Guruji. The day started with a yagna (offering and prayer) for world peace on the background of September 11. Attendees then participated in programs that took place on eight parallel tracks . Ayurvedic medicine, cultural program, Dharma Vedika (religious philosophy), exhibition, Hindu theme park, Samskritam, Yoga, and youth activities. This was followed by a grand Ramayana play enacted by over 300 children. Shri. Mohan Bhagawat, General Secretary of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the chief guest at Hindu Sangam, addressed the huge gathering and implored everyone to show unity in diversity. The day ended with Smt. Anuradha Paudwal entrancing the audience with her melodious music. Ms. Cindy Chavez, Vice-Mayor of San Jose inaugurated the Parallel Track Programs and said that she was honored to be present at such a grand cultural event.
From http://www.rss.org/



Appendix – 8 Ramayan in Computer Language
I found this email in my mail box. It may be of interest to computer wizards.

LAN, LAN ago, in the SYSTEM of I/O-dhya, there ruled a PROCESSOR named DOS-rat. Once he EXECUTED a great sacrifice PROGRAM after which his queens gave an OUTPUT of four SUNs-- RAM, LSIman, BUG-rat and SED-rughana. RAM the eldest was a MICROCHIP with excellent MEMORY . His brothers,however, were only PERIPHERAL ICs.Once when RAM was only 16MB, he married princess 'C'ta. 12 years passed and DOS-rat decided to INSTAL RAM as his successor. However, Queen CIE/CAE (Kayegayee), who was once offered a boon by DOS-rat for a life saving HELP COMMAND ,took this opportunity at the instigation of her BIOSed maid (a real plotter), and insisted that her son Bug-rat be INSTALLED and that RAM be BOOTED to the forest for 14 years. At this cruel and unexpected demand, a SURGE passed thru DOS-rat and he collapsed, power-less. RAM agreed to LOG INTO forest and 'C'ta insisted to LOGIN with him. LSI-man was also resolved on LOGGING IN with his brother. The forest was the dwelling of SPARC-nakha, the TRANSISTOR of RAW-van, PROCESSOR of LAN-ka.

Attracted by RAM's stature, she proposed that he marry her. RAM politely declined. Perceiving 'C'ta to be the SOURCE CODE of her distress, she hastened to kill her. Weeping, SPARC-nakha fled to LAN-ka, where RAW-van, moved by TRANSISTOR's plight, approached his uncle MAR icha. MAR-icha REPROGRAMED himself into the form of a golden stag and drew RAM deep into the forest. Finally, tired of chase, RAM shot the deer, who,with his last breath,cried out desperately for LSI-man in RAM's voice. Fooled by this VIRTUAL RAM SOUND,'C'ta urged LSI-man to his brother's aid. Catching the opportunity,RAW-van DELINKED 'C'ta from her LIBRARY and changed her ROOT DIRECTORY to LAN-ka.
----------------------------------------------------
INTERVAL-----------------------------------------------------RAM and LSI-man started SEARCHING for the missing 'C'ta all over he forest. They made friendship with the forest SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR SU-greev and his powerful co-processor Ha-NEUMAN. SU-greev agreed to help RAM. SU-greev ordered his PROGRAMMERS to use powerful 'SEARCH' techniques to FIND the missing 'C'ta. His PROGRAMMERS SEARCHED allaround the INTER-NETworked forests.

Many tried to 'EXCITE' the birds and animals not to forget the WEB CRAWLERS'( Insects) and tried to 'INFO SEEK' something about 'C'ta. Some of them even shouted 'YAA-HOO' but they all ended up with 'NOT FOUND' MESSAGES. Several other SEARCH techniques proved useless.Ha-NEUMAN devised a RISKy TECHNOLOGY and used it to cross the seas at an astonishing CLOCK SPEED.

Soon Ha-NEUMAN DOWNLOADED himself into LAN-ka. After doing some local SEARCH, Ha NEUMAN found 'C'ta weeping under a TREE STRUCTURE. Ha-NEUMAN used a LOGINID (ring) to identify himself to 'C'ta. After DECRYPTING THE KEY, 'C'ta believed in him and asked him to send a STATUS_OK MESSAGE to RAM. Meanwhile all the raakshasa BUGS around 'C'ta captured Ha-NEUMAN and tried to DELETE him using pyro-techniques. But Ha-NEUMAN managed to spread chaos by spreading the VIRUS 'Fire'. Ha-NEUMAN happily pressed ESCAPE from LAN-ka and conveyed all the STATUS MESSAGES to RAM and SU-greev. RAW-wan decided to take the all powerful RAM head-on and prepared for the battle. One of the RAW-wan's SUN (son) almost DELETED RAM & LSI-man with a powerful brahma-astra. But Ha-NEUMAN resorted to some ACTIVE-X gradients and REBOOTED RAM and LSI-man. RAM used the SOURCE CODE secrets of RAW-wan and once for all wiped out RAW-wan's presense on earth.
After the battle, RAM got INSTALLED in I/O-dhya and spreaded his MICRO SOFT WORKS and other USER FRIENDLY PROGRAMS to all USERS and every one lived happily ever after. Senkottai Sriram, (Issue Editor, Manjari Tamil Digest Monthly Magazine)


Appendix – 9 Ramayan in Sri Lanka
Readers’ Forum (Organiser weekly, 7-10-2007);
On the basis of a little study made, I find that even in the Sangam period, before Christ, in Cirupanarrupadai it is mentioned that a king called Nalliyakadam was one of several kings who ruled over Lanka (Ceylon) with his residence at Amur. Lanka was very much eulogized (Cirupanarrupadai 11:161.221), which was quoted on p. 13 by Rasanayagam Mudaliar in Ancient Jaffna (1926, reprint by A.E.S. Delhi).
Dr. M.D. Raghavan, Ethnologist Emeritus of the National Museum of Ceylon and eminent scholar, writes about Lanka of the Ramayana in India in Ceylonese history and culture, 1969 ICCR Delhi: “Ceylon is full of reminiscences with unmistakable link scenes and stories with Ravana and his days such as Ravan Ella cave, Ravana’s waterfall etc…” In Grihasamhita of Varahmihira both names Lanka and Simhala occur as kingdoms to the south of India. According to him, it appears that the original island of Lanka submerged during the Sangam period when Simhala became popular. Simhaladwipa seems to have been the remnant of Lanka in the ages that followed the submergence; what were left were the more extensive dominions of Ravana’a Lanka (p.7). This shows the name Lanka was pre-Maurya and that the Ramayana was older than Buddhism.

10 comments:

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