ASIA 332: The Story of Rama in India
Ram-katha or the story of Rama is one of the most beloved and timeless of classical Hindu tales. The story concerns the god-king Lord Rama, and his epic struggle to recover his wife Sita from the clutches of the demon-king Ravana. However, one of the chief premises of this course is that there is no one authoritative version of the story, and no one standard interpretation of the story. We’ll use as our main text a modern abridgement of the classical Sanskrit Ramayana of Valmiki. But we’ll also engage with multiple tellings of the story from different time periods, and from different regions of India. We’ll watch several films based on the Ramayana, and clips from the popular Ramanand Sagar television series. We’ll consider how the story of the Ramayana is still lived today in a style of folk theater called Ramlila. Finally, we’ll wrap up by examining how rhetoric and symbols associated with Rama have been deployed in political contexts, sometimes with violent consequences. LA, BN.