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Ramayana more relevant than ever before, say scholars

Eminent scholars from different countries took part in Ramayana Conference in Illinois, reports Lalit K Jha.

india Updated: Jun 15, 2005 15:34 IST
Lalit K Jha (HindustanTimes.com)
Lalit K Jha (HindustanTimes.com)
PTI
Hindustantimes
         

Teaching of Ramayana, the epic, which has been revered by millions of Hindus for ages, and the socio-political messages incorporated in it are more relevant than ever, said eminent scholars from different countries who participated in the second International Ramayana Conference that concluded at DeKalb in Illinois over the weekend.

Holding brain storming sessions over various aspects of the theme "Ramayana in Global Context", the two-day international conference concluded with the call that the teachings imbibed in epic were more relevant in this age of globalization, breaking family system and diminishing human values.

Organized by the International Ramayana Institute of North America in association with the Northern Illinois University, as many as 31 eminent scholars from Canada, the Czech Republic, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Trinidad, and the U.S. spoke on seven sub-themes including gender and political aspects of Ramayana; education and learning related to the epic, Ramayana's influence in various cultures and civilizations; Ramayana and interpersonal relationships and its influence on public governance.

"This was an outstanding academic conference emphasizing the profound contributions of Ramayana on culture, art and society and more specifically in promoting the good human values," Subhash Pandey, president of the International Ramayana Institute told The HindustanTimes.com.

In his keynote address, Sally Goldman, from the University of California at Berkeley spoke on Valmiki's construction of gender, particularly the role of a wife.

Eminent speaker Kathy Foley from the University of California at Santa Clara spoke on "Permutations of the Ramayana in Southeast Asia and the Indian Repercussions" with demonstrations on the use of masks during Ramayana performances.

Pandey said scholars after scholars in their presentations dwelt in detail how Ramayana helps in the development of a good human being, brings in cultural values. The speech of Rama after he returned from 14 years of exile and accepted the throne oh Ayodhya is still relevant today. "This would help in bringing peace and prosperity in world over," said the world famous Ramayana scholar Satya Vrat Shastri, who was specially sent by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

In his presentation David Kersnar of the Looking glass Theater Company of Chicago spoke on the development of Sita Ram, an opera based on Ramayana.

Parallel to the conference the organizers also held a teachers' Workshop "Ramayana: A Gateway to the Cultures of Asia." This featured presentations to teachers on the story of Ramayana and its ramifications for teaching in the classroom.

Founded in the year 2000 with the objective of promoting Ramayana in North America, the Institute held its first conference in 2001.Scholars from various American universities and countries like India, Indonesia, Thailand, France, Belgium and Myanmar participated in this conference.

A scientist by profession, Pandey said: "There is no other mythic tale that can boast of such widespread circulation and which has had such a stimulating impact on diverse countries' artistic and ethical traditions. In each country it spread, Ramayana inspired poets, writers, teachers, sculptors, painters, musicians, dancers, puppeteers, and singers."

Stating that through the various historical periods, the epic has remained popular and people have found guidance from it, he argued the epic puts forward the ideals of human behavior in every walk of life.

First Published: Jun 14, 2005 18:02 IST

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