Depending on the methods of counting, as many as three hundred versions of the Indian Hindu epic poem, the Ramayana, are known to exist. The oldest version is generally recognized to be the Sanskrit version attributed to the sage Narada, the Mula Ramayana. Narada passed on the knowledge to Valmiki, who authored Valmiki Ramayana, the present oldest available version of Ramayana.
The Ramayana has spread to many Asian countries outside of India, including Burma, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam and China. The original Valmiki version has been adapted or translated into various regional languages, which have often been marked more or less by plot twists and thematic adaptations. Some of the important adaptations of the classic tale include the 12th-century Tamil language Ramavataram, 14th-century Telugu language Sri Ranganatha Ramayanam, the Khmer Reamker, the Old Javanese Kakawin Ramayana, and the Thai Ramakien, the Lao Phra Lak Phra Lam, and the Burmese Yama Zatdaw.
The manifestation of the core themes of the original Ramayana is far broader even than can be understood from a consideration of the different languages in which it appears, as its essence has been expressed in a diverse array of regional cultures and artistic mediums. For instance, the Ramayana has been expressed or interpreted in Lkhaon Khmer dance theatre, in the Mappila Songs of the Muslims of Kerala and Lakshadweep, in the Indian operatic tradition of Yakshagana, and in the epic paintings still extant on, for instance, the walls of Thailand's Wat Phra Kaew palace temple. In Indonesia, the tales of the Ramayana appear reflected in traditional dance performances such as Sendratari Ramayana and Kecak, masked danced drama, and Wayang shadow puppetry. Angkor Wat in Siem Reap also has mural scenes from the epic Battle of Lanka on one of its outer walls.
Below are a few of the most prominent Sanskrit versions of the Ramayana. Some primarily recount Valmiki's narrative, while others focus more on peripheral stories and/or philosophical expositions:
Some noteworthy examples of these additional renderings of the Ramayana tale include:
Giti-Ramayan or Durgabari-Ramayan in the 16th century written by Durgavara kayastha.
The following are among the versions of the Ramayana that have emerged outside India:
Contemporary prose versions of the epic Ramayana include Sri Ramayana Darshanam by Dr. K. V. Puttappa in Kannada and Ramayana Kalpavrikshamu by Viswanatha Satyanarayana in Telugu, both of which have been awarded the Jnanpith Award. A prose version called Geet Ramayan in Marathi by G.D. Madgulkar 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. In addition, Ramesh Menon wrote a single-volume edition of the Ramayana, which has received praise from scholars. A short version with a somewhat contemporary feel, influenced, according to the author, by contemporary representations of guerrilla warfare, appeared in Martin Buckley's Ramayana-based travelogue, An Indian Odyssey (Random House London, 2008). C Rajgopalachari, India's only Indian Governor General, also wrote a single volume Ramayana, published by Bhavans in 1957. From 1951 to 1975 a team of the University Grants Commission (India) supported researchers who worked on and published a critical edition at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (MSU) Oriental Institute. Based on this, in 1996 an abridged translation into English, was published by writer Arshia Sattar under the Penguin publishing house Valmiki Ramayana. In September 2006, the first issue of Ramayan 3392 A.D. was published by Virgin Comics, featuring the Ramayana as re-envisioned by author Deepak Chopra and filmmaker Shekhar Kapur.
Author Ashok Banker, authored an eight-volume imaginative retelling based on the Ramayana which found considerable success and was credited with ushering in a new wave of interest in the epic as well as other mythological retellings. Banker's version took considerable liberties with the original Sanskrit epic yet found critical acclaim. It is claimed to be the most popular retelling of the epic currently.
More recently, popular Indian lyricist, music director and singer, Ravindra Jain wrote the Hindi version of Ramayan named, Ravindra Ramayan (ISBN 978-9351862604) which was published after his death. RJ Group, which was formed by Ravindra Jain and his family, has uploaded all the kands (cantos) of Ravindra Ramayan on YouTube.
The latest in the retelling of the epic is from Ravi Venugopal, a US-based NRI narrating the story from the eyes of Rama. The first volume of the I, Rama trilogy is Age of Seers and is narrated by an age old Rama who introspects his life and the events happening with a pragmatic view. The book explores new perspectives of several characters and tries to give a scientific lift to the ancient epic.
The Ramayana has been adapted on screen as well, most notably as the television series Ramayan by producer Ramanand Sagar, which is based primarily on the Ramcharitmanas and Valmiki's Ramayana and, at the time, was the most popular series in Indian television history. In the late 1990s, Sanjay Khan made a series called Jai Hanuman, recounting tales from the life of Hanuman and related characters from the Ramayana.
A Japanese animated film called Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama was released in 1992. US animation artist Nina Paley retold the Ramayana from Sita's point of view (with a secondary story about Paley's own marriage) in the animated musical Sita Sings the Blues. An Indian animated film called Ramayana: The Epic was released in October 2010. The Stories Without Borders Production Company has a documentary in production about different versions of the Ramayana and a second India epic, the Mahabharata, across South and Southeast Asia that is slated to film begin filming in 2014. In 2015, star plus hosted Siya ke Ram, a retelling of Ramayana from Sita's POV.
Starting in 1978, and under the supervision of Baba Hari Dass, the Ramayana has been performed every year by Mount Madonna School in Watsonville, California. Currently, it is the largest yearly, Western version of the epic being performed. It takes the form of a colorful musical with custom costumes, sung and spoken dialog, jazz-rock orchestration and dance. This performance takes place in a large audience theater setting usually in June, in San Jose, CA. Baba Hari Dass has thought acting arts, costume-attire design, masks making, and choreography to bring alive characters of Sri Ram, Sita, Hanuman, Lakshmana, Shiva, Parvati, Vibhishan, Jatayu, Sugriva, Surpanakha, Ravana and his rakshasa court, Meghnaad, Kumbhakarna, and the army of monkeys and demons.
Late Tamil Actor R. S. Manohar played Ravana as the Antagonist in his Magnum Opus Lankeswaran, in which he projects the heroic and better side of Ravana. It was staged more than 1,800 times.
Artist Vikas Goel and writer Vijayendra Mohanty have created a ten-part comic series called Ravanayan that presents the story of Ramayana from Ravana's perspective.
Following the success of Ashok Banker's Ramayana Series retellings, a graphic novel adaptation was released in 2010.
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He had already completed his Jagamohan Ramayana in Oriya before coming Shri Chaitanya to Orissa . " He completed this epic at the age of thirty ( i . e . in AD 1503 )
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