The atmosphere was reverential of AK Ramanujan and subtly anti-Delhi University administration at the first AK Ramanujan Lecture delivered by noted playwright Girish Karnad on Wednesday.
The lecture, organised in view of the removal of Ramanujan's essay — 300 Ramayanas — from undergraduate students' syllabus last year, was delivered before a packed hall at Ramjas College.Karnad chose to stay clear of discussing about the essay for most part, talking instead about Ramanujan as a poet, a translator and a folklorist. "Ramanujan was much more than just the author of 300 Ramayanas. He was an analytical thinker who collected folklore and used the stories thus collected in many of his works. The essay uses the stories that he collected which is the retelling of the Ramayana in various traditions," Karnad said.
Another highlight of the event was the 'dastaangoi' session by Mahmood Farooqi and Danish Hussain called Dastaan Jai Ram Ji Ki. Dastaangoi is the art of storytelling.
Teachers and students from various colleges of the university as well as some from other universities were present for the lecture. The lecture was followed by a seminar conducted by Kumkum Roy, who teaches at the Centre for Historical Studies, JNU, and Udaya Kumar, professor, Department of English, DU.
Talking about the removal of the essay and the reaction that followed, Kumar said," It is a great victory for us, turning a moment of disgrace into a celebration." He said, "Ramanujan uses the concepts of re telling a tale rather than versions that claim to be originals."
The attitude of the university was also criticised at the event. "We seem to be moving into a space where the spirit of the university may be found not in what it endorses but what it forbids," Kumar said.