Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Mar. 16: A. K. Ramanujan, Indian poet and scholar


A. K. Ramanujan (1929-1993) was an Indian poet, scholar, professor, philologist, folklorist, translator, and playwright. Though he wrote widely and across many genres, he is best remembered for his poetry. However, one of his academic essays stirred interest--and controversy. "Three Hundred Ramayanas" demonstrates the spread of one of India's two greatest epics and its cultural impact beyond India itself, having been adapted to various languages, societies, religions, and periods. Hardline Hindu groups believe Ramanujan's work offends Hindu beliefs, and its inclusion in curricula has been the subject of protest actions--pro and con--in India's universities. Despite the title, Ramanujan's essay actually focuses on five "tellings" (by Valmiki, Kamban, the Jains, the Thais, and South Indian folk tellings); the figure of 300 is suggested by the work of another scholar.


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