Translating Ramayana

Plurilingual to pluricultural




pluralism, retelling, translation, bhasha, Ramayana


Embedded contexts and improvisations in bhasha Ramayanas with its nuances of plurality attribute to its influences of respective linguistic and culture  of multinational and multicultural countries: Ram-story of Ramayana, considered primarily a work of smriti , has travelled a long journey in the land of multilingual and heterogeneous cultural spheres. Indian bhashas – Assamese, Thamizh, Malayalam, Oriya, Bengali, and so on – have rendered Rama-katha within the very Indian society under different paradigms which have overshadowed the original,  i.e. Valmiki’s Ramayana in Sanskrit. In lieu of assimilation of original text in another language that relevant  translation promotes, bhasha Ramayanas presents different renderings or retellings , instead of variants or versions of Valmiki, colored with heterogeneous cultural ethos. Discussing three bhasha Ramayana(s) – 12th century Kampar’s Ramavataram in Thamizh , 15th century Krttivasi Ramayana or Sriram Pacali in Bengali, and 16th century Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas in Awadhi – this essay explores social and literary function of translation strategies in its poly-lingual and multinational world. Questioning the idea of original and relevant Ramayana, it also reflects on how bhasha Ramayanas co-exist in multilingual and multicultural society with its distinguished autonomy and differences. The tripartite comparative project of this article critically investigates their structures, sequential arrangements, bhasha cultural color, and story overlaps. It also calls attention to coalescence of Rama-story through plurilingual renderings with respect to its pluricultural valences in South Asia. Focusing on the polyvalences, it also argues that such retellings problematize the relevance of a genuine translation by questioning translational canonical principles for bhasha texts.


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A temple complex photographed during the golden hour of sunset.






Featured Theme: The Effect of Plurality in Translation