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RLG205H5 Chapter Notes -Vessantara Jataka, Ravana, Mahabharata

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Ajay Rao

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Sept 28th
Key Points in Laurie Patton Lecture
-ever expanding database of over ninety interviews with women Sanskritists (both older and younger
-moving beyond the official narratives and showing the ways in which Sanskrit was experienced and
learned personally by women of different generations
-in certain places, if the trend continues, Sanskrit will soon become entirely the prerogative of women
-ironic and progressive uses of Sanskrit by women
-what was her thesis statement?
olanguage has to be in interaction
owomen are revitalizing Sanskrit – using it in new ways
The Ramayana Story
-renunciation (giving up) and kingship
-very sensitive poet
-sees hunter killing birds – feels tremendous pity
-curses the hunter – first verse
-has 3 wives and no sons – performs a sacrifice
-miraculous – he has 3 sons – re-incarnations of Vishnu
-his wife is evil so he exiles Rama to the forest – he doesn’t question and leaves (for 14 years)
orenunciation – giving up the throne
-Sita goes with him
Ravana: the abduction of Sita
-ravana is granted a boon – he is protected (granted after 10k years of worship)
-he is King of the demons
-Ravana’s sister is in love with Rama – doesn’t care about Sita
-Lakshman (Ram’s brother) cuts off her nose
-Ravana sends his brother in disguise as a deer – Ram goes about trying to capture that deer
odeer has special powers – yells out in Ram’s voice “help me”
oLakshman says it has to be a trick – she accuses him of always liking her – he runs off and
she gets captured by Ravan
- she drops her jewellery on the way so that she can be found - Hanuman
Date of the Ramayana
-theory one: Late Vedic (750-500 BCE)
ono description of Buddhism
owhat’s not in the text…
-theory two: post Mauryan (after 300 BCE)
owhat is in the text
othe image of the divine King – Ramayana is about the King (reincarnation of Vishnu) but
there were no Kings in 750-500 BCE
ohas to exist in the world for the world of literature to describe it
-so which theory is more convincing?
Rama as a Renouncer
-most striking aspect of the narrative is not martial valor but Rama’s refusal to claim the throne
oto honour his father’s vow
othey live like renouncers in the forest
-central moment of the epic, the reason for his enormous esteem
-contrast with heroes of Mahabharta
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