A Timeless Tale
Ramayana, the ancient Indian tale of devotion, separation, and reunion, is a story almost as old as civilization itself. It is an expression of the eternal battle between good and evil, ranging from short stories to lengthy epics. Combining elements of religion, romance, myth, magic, action, adventure, fantasy, and a fascination cast of characters including gods, goddesses, semi-divine humans, amazing monkeys, and powerful ogres, the story of Rama’s love for Sita and her abduction by Ravana, king of the ores, has withstood the rest of time and nationality.
For over two thousand years, the story has captured the imagination of peoples from India to Iran, Tibet to Thailand, Cambodia to China, Japan to Java, Malaysia to Myanmar, and Sri Lanka to Siberia.
In journeys beyond the geography of its setting and origin, it was even adapted by other religions in the process, local cultures have transformed Ramayana – more than any other 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.
India beyond borders As evidence of the extent that the epic traveled – along inland trade routes – variations of the story are found in areas towards 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. During the 19th century, Ramavatara Charita was written in Kashmir, another predominantly Muslim area. The story, however, was not Islamised in any of these narratives. In distant Xinjing in northwest China, the 9th century Khotances 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.
(source: A Timeless Tale – By Garrett Kam – azibaza.com).