The values enshrined in the Ramayana are much relevant in today’s context and will continue to be so, said noted scholar AA Manavalan, winner of the 2011 Saraswati Samman award given annually by the KK Birla Foundation.
“Intolerance, disregard for others, usurping others’ property — these are happening all around us, yet we don’t learn from what the epics try to teach,” said Manavalan.
“There are lessons we have to learn and inculcate what to do what not to do. Not only for today, but for eternity,” he added.
The award was for Manavalan’s magnum opus ‘Irama Kanthaiyum Iramayakalyum’, which is a comparative study of 48 Ramayanas from Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, Tibetan, Tamil, Old Javanese, Telugu, Assamese, Malayalam, Bengali, Kannada, Marathi, Hindi, Odishi, Persian, Malay, Burmese Maranao, Thai, Laotian and Kashmiri.
Union minister for corporate affairs and power M Veerappa Moily handed the noted scholar the prestigious award-- a plaque along with a cheque for Rs. 7.5 lakh — in a ceremony here on Wednesday.
Moily’s academic inclinations were on display when he eruditely held forth an exposition of the epics and their universality.
This study being geographical, linguistic and cultural in approach, it brings out the Ramakatha’s influence over the South-East Asian cultural splendour during the last two millennia and more.
“This recognition will continue to help me in my works. After my second volume on the Ramayana, I now plan to work on the Mahabharata,” said Manavalan.
In 2002 itself, the KK Birla Foundation had selected Manavalan as the scholar for comparative Indian literature.
The KK Birla Foundation was set up in 1991 to engage and promote charitable and welfare activities in the fields of education, higher learning, culture, art and music, scientific research etc.