The Ramayana’s Different Versions

- April 23, 2020

Did you know there are over 300 versions of the epic story of Prince Ram? Sage Valmiki wrote the definitive version of the Ramayana we all know and love, but as many as three hundred different versions of the epic are known to exist. In fact, the mammoth text even has versions that originated outside India. These versions can be found in China, Japan, Iran, Indonesia, and Cambodia, among others. Here are some of the examples of these, both within India and from abroad: The great Tamil poet Kambar. Image: Wikimedia Commons The Ramavataram: Written by the legendary Tamil poet Kambar under the patronage of the Pannai kula chieftain Thiruvennal Nallur Sadayappa Vallal, the epic work is based on Valmiki’s work, but differs in specific incidents in the storyline and spiritual aspects. This is mainly because when in Valmiki’s version, Rama is a mortal prince whereas, by the time Kambar writes his version, Rama has already been deified as an incarnation of Vishnu himself. So when Rama kills Vaali from his hiding spot, he doesn’t feel the need to explain himself, as he fulfilled his kshatriya duty. However, when the same incident is retold by Kambar, Rama explains his actions many times over in the form of song. Even little things like the manner in which Ravana abducts Sita is shown differently. In Valmiki’s version, Ravana grabs Sita by her hair and hoists her over his shoulders. However, in Kambar’s version, Ravana lifts her off the ground with the piece of the earth she is standing on, with not even a fingernail touching her. ...

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Prahlad drove his monstrous father to a murderous rage. He insisted on praising Lord Vishnu who was considered a sworn enemy by his father Hiranyakashipu. When he tried to punish his disobedient son, Hiranyakashipu's potent poisons turned to nectar while his lethal weapons fell harmlessly away. In this tale of bloodthirsty revenge, Prahlad's only defence is his devotion which dramatically puts an end to all evil.

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