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About the Wiki

This wiki is devoted to a broad discussion of A.K. Ramanujan’s essay, "Three Hundred Rāmāyaṇas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation," and its multiple contexts. The wiki begins with an account of the author and his various writings, and then proceeds with an analysis of the essay itself, the current events surrounding its publication, and the impact it has had on the world almost two decades after its first apperance in print.

The wiki itself is intuitive to use. On the left, you will see the navigation section that lists the main sections and subsections. Each is a link, so clicking on any item will bring you to the designated area of the site. Oftentimes, one page will have a link embedded within the text to another area of the site, so utilizing the navigation section will not be required at all times. For instance, you will find a Quick Links table on the Home page. Everything is divided and sequenced in a logical manner, so venture forth and explore what's inside.

About the Essay

A. K. Ramanujan's "Three Hundred Rāmāyaṇas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation" is a scholarly essay that summarizes the actual history of the Rāmāyaṇa and its spread across India and Asia over a period of 2,500 years or more. It seeks to demonstrate factually how the Story of Rama (Ramakatha) has undergone numerous variations while being transmitted across different languages, societies, geographical regions, religions, and historical periods. The essay celebrates the extraordinary spread of the Story of Rama, and it was never intended as an iconoclastic exercise. More importantly, it does not seek to document allthe recorded tellings and re-tellings of the Rāmāyaṇa, since that would be impossible. Instead, it focuses on only five specific tellings of the Rāmāyaṇa from different languages, regions, cultures, and periods, which serve purely as indicators of a much larger range of actual variations. The subtitle of the essay points to this feature when it tells us that the analysis will focus on "Five Examples."

The standard, authorized text of the essay is available in print in Vinay Dharwadker, general editor, The Collected Essays of A. K. Ramanujan (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999, 2004).

About the Controversy

This public controversy over the essay, which has been widely covered in India's local and national media as well as in international media during 2011, spans several years. It has become more complex with the passage of time, because the issues have spread across several academic disciplines and many areas of public concern, and have involved an increasing number of actors. Since the scale of the public controversy as a whole is very large, this wiki focuses mainly on the controversy surrounding Delhi University. Prof. Ramanujan's ­"Three Hundred Rāmāyaṇas" was a required reading on the University's syllabus for history undergraduates from 2006-07 onwards. On October 9th, 2011, the Academic Council of Delhi University decided to remove the essay from the B.A. curriculum for its next academic cycle. As explained below, many people around the world viewed this as an act of unwarranted censorship.

About Censorship

Issues of censorship stretch from the recent United States SOPA bill, which grants corporations and government alike the power to block any website, to analogous cases of literary and academic cencorship in India and abroad, and to the censorship of video games and movies. This wiki explores many different issues and examples under the wide umbrella of copyright, intellectual property, and censorship. We will discuss, in some detail, several cases that seem akin to the one surrounding Prof. Ramanujan's essay. But we will also briefly mention other instances, to reveal the core of each issue and provide links for further study.

About Us

This wiki is crafted by a diverse group of students, who come from different backgrounds and cultures, belong to different religions, and hold different world-views. As part of our shared academic training, we have studied Indian languages, religions, and cultural history, as well as Indian and South Asian literatures and literary works of different regions and historical periods. We humbly welcome you to this site and the information contained in it, and hope that we are able to educate to you on an essay that was originally written to explore, analyze, and celebrate the Rāmāyaṇa in all of its forms. For scholarly inquiries and intellectually stimulating discussion, you may reach us via the following email300ramayanas (at) gmail (dot) com

"So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it."
~ Jiddu Krishnamurti