Sharad Ritu – Autumn, Issue No. 93 (Sep-Oct 2020)

FEATURE – Urdu Ramayan

Ramayan is an epic tale, told and retold, in many languages; what is it in the story of Ramayan that it merits nearly a hundred different translations in Urdu? This Feature edited by Sukrita Paul Kumar presents insightful essays on the subject by Syed M. Shahed. The impassioned researcher demolishes the myth that affiliates Urdu language with religion and emphasizes on its cultural syncretism. That Ramayan was translated into Urdu even before Qu’raan will surprise many a reader. The Urdu Ramayan upholds an eclectic cultural tradition that solicits celebration.

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Many Urdu Ramayan(s) starting with a hamd seamlessly move on to a traditional ode/ vandana to Ganesh. Ascribing divinity to Ram using Islamic vocabulary such as calling him ‘Shah-e zuljalaal – glorious lord’ creates a fascinating juxtaposition between the two cultures. The symbolism of personifying Ram as ‘Noor-e haq – the light of truth’ and Ravan as ‘zulmat – darkness/ evil’ by poets of all religious persuasion cannot be missed. (Feature)

The Urdu Ramayan has over three hundred years of history.  It is possible to consider that Farsi Ramayan also belongs to the same tradition even though Farsi is a very different language.  If we do so, then this genre of Ramayan translations has 500 years of history, about the same as Tulsidas’ Ramcharitmanas.  For over five centuries we see beautiful and consistent examples of how poets treat “the pen” and verse as mythical and miraculous personifications of beauty, power.... Syed M Shahed’s essays are a validation of the magnificence of the great epic, Ramayan. (Feature)

Dr. Sharada Allamneni comments, “Individuals are exhorted to reinvent themselves to fit into the new normal, of a society dominated by market economics. As the solid structures of tradition begin to dissolve, society becomes free floating. Social bonds, community networks, and the solidarities of mutual care and protection are done away with, to be replaced with a regime of self-interest and self-care.” (Literary section)

Reading the poems of Subash Mukhopadhyay, Aritra Basu states, “Subhash Mukhopadhyay, the highly political and politicised Bengali poet of the twentieth century, and his poems, put forward a world view where the dominated can overthrow the dominator, by realising the fact what Shelley briskly put as, ‘Ye are many, they are few’. Mukhopadhyay talks of revolution, and he tries to instigate the sleeping lion in the Bengali youth, by exposing the ideas that False consciousness puts forward for the dominated class and its occupants. (Literary section)

Adarsh B. Pradeep’s The Bonafide Child is about relationships that need not be defined by societal norms.  A relationship between nature and man has been beautifully explored in this story and the sensitivity as well as the insensitivity that one is surrounded with has been dealt with in a very interesting manner in this story. (Fiction)

Subhashri C V’s The games children play is a moving take on childhood and the unending attempts by the elders of the family to help the children gain knowledge through games of the past. A clash between modern sensibilities and the age old practices when it comes down to a child’s play has been explored in this story really well. (Fiction)

Among the 6 books covered, The Call of the Citadel – First Chapter in the History of Indian Subcontinent (Vikram Singh Deol & Parneet Jaggi), reviewed by Jernail S Anand, is a semi-historical fiction stressing military prowess as a prerequisite to a peaceful civilization; and Interviews with My “Dream Guests” (Dr VR Mohan), a curious book of dreamy biographical interviews, reviewed by Atreya Sarma U. (Book Reviews)

A book on Dalit art/culture The Museum of Broken Tea Cups – Postcards from India’s Margins (Gunjan Veda) reviewed by Purabi Bhattacharya; and a historical fiction Mandu – The Romance of Roopmati and Baz Bahadur (Malathi Ramachandran) reviewed by Sukanya Saha… are among the 6 books covered including 2 collections of poetry.(Book Reviews)


This Issue of Muse India is sponsored by Ambika Ananth.

Past Issues

Issue:92:Tradition and Modernity in Odia Literature


Issue:90:Flux and Fusions in English Studies

Issue:89:Children’s Literature

Issue:88:Maithili Literature Tomorrow

Issue:87:Writing on Art

Issue:86:Contemporary Assamese Literature

Issue:85:The Madness of the Word