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ENG150Y1 - The Ramayana - Lecture Notes.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
William Robins

ENG150Y1 – LECTURE NOTES th October 10 2012 RAMAYANA – LECTURE 1  Has cultural and religious significance; requires new form of understanding  Story acted out in the holiday of Diwali  One of the best known stories in the world  Consider this early version of the story as an epic narrative of anquitity  All versions seems to derive from valmiki’s telling  Written From 200 – 400 BCE (valmiki’s books 2-6) and (1-7) from 200 – 0 BCE  Retold over the centuries  Adapts to past and its renewal  Smooth retelling unlike EOG which has choppy translation  Pg 4 -5 o Valmiki asks narvyana if there is a perfect human and N says that one has just been born and his name his Rama o Verses come out of sorrow o Discovered the poetic meter o He sings the song of rama and two of his disciples writes and memorizes it o Interesting way of framing the story of rama o Shows that written and oral telling of stories works in a parallel fashion  Was written on palm leaves, a method used in ancient india  The truth of the story is not just from the written text, but the re-enactment and retelling of the story is where the truth comes from  Dhrama is the center of the book; an epic revelation; crucial ideas of what one’s duty is  Banishment most significant because it question’s everyone’s duty  Dhrama – recognition of a divine principle of order which is different for people  People in the book respond to it differently; sita goes with her husband into exile and rama’s mother stays behind because they each know their role in society  Pg 82 o In falls upon rama to keep his father’s promise o Dhrama is shown here as not just individuality o Is willing to do anything for his father to keep his dhrama o Has the detachment to understand cosmic order  Focuses on dhrama and what one oughts to do  Pg 86 o People are learning dhrama through rama  Sita disobeys rama inorder to keep her dhrama which she has been discerned and taught o Pg 89 o Convinces rama to allow her to come with him in exile through their love and devotion  Banishment means no one will have joy in rama  Similiarities with other readings: o Victory over monstrous creature  Demons in the forest are not entirely evil  Represent nature and culture  Realm for human conquest  Represents the other face of the divine: unknown, fear, devotion  Journey  We’re not sure if theses similaritites are due to independent expression of cultures without direct contact oof other cultures or due to cultural exchange  Rama string’s shiva’s bow (pg 41) o How rama meets his wife o Pg 48 – description of sita and who she will marry o String bow to probe who is the authentic husband o This is similar in odyssey with odysseus o Difference: O uses bow to kill suitors as opposed to rama who’s bow breaks when thunder strikes once it has be used o Stringing bow to determine husband might derive from mythology and common linguistics  Possible similar motifs in the indo-european languages  Early expansion of indo-european languages  Similar phrasing and structure between R and O  Another similarity – horse and chariot o Military importance in cultures o Important for providing imagery of rama leaving and going into exile o Horses play an important part in cultures o Horse sacrifice is what starts the Ramayana; establishes kingship, Rama’s father sacrifices a white horse and then story takes place in a council of gods just like in the O’s council of gods o Story begins with baroness of heirs and opposing rivana o Own actions have recuperation, becomes ethical concern o Rivana disturbs dhrama  Vishnu reincarninated into human unlike Athena who meddles in human’s lives October 15 2012  Rama’s journey extends beyond geographical containment  Rishis know who rama is more than he does; he yet doesn’t realize that he is the avatara of Vishnu  Rishis live until they see rama and then die  Very different from ayodhya  The forest is a spiritual battle ground as the rishis try to pray to spread holiness beyond them into the forest to battle rashakas  Book 3 is very symmetrical o In chikrakurta o Asrama – atri and anasuya o Encounter – viradha o Asrama – sharabhanga (indra; vow to defeat rakshasas) o Asrama – sutheekshna o In the heart of the forest for 10 years o Asrama – sutheekshna o Asrma – agastaya (weapons; vow to deat rakshasas) o Encounter with jakatu o Lakshmana builds their asrama o In pancahavti  Pg 161-164 o For rama, the forest is the temptation of each of the rishis o Sita asks rama: how can you have dhrama if you are violent o Rama says that his dhrama is not the same as the rishis; is dhrama and violence is legitimized by protecting the rishis o Says world needs to be balance and sustained and rishis are needed to avoid anarchy o 10 years in forest is a spirtitual training in no becoming a rishis but a warrior  Dharma o Ultimate reality manifests itself as a natural order of harmony, justice and truth that suffuses the world o This true order of things, as well as the behaviours and attitudes that maintain it (duty, vocation, religious observances) are known as dhrama o One’s dhrama vari
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