About the Book
The Ramayana, from the time immomorial has dominated the Indian religious scene. Right from the age of the sage Valmiki, the poineer in Sanskrit poetry, the theme of Ramayana had such a mass appeal that during the times subsequent to those of Valmiki a number of works on the theme, appeared in the entire length and breadth of the country not only in Sanskrit but also in the regional languages. The work of the Ramayana of Krttivasa happens to be one of them. In the eastern region of the country, Madhava Kandali composed his Ramayana in Assamese language in the fourteenth century A.D.· who more or less followed Valmiki in the narration of events and other details. But Krttivasa, the sacred son of the soil, who composed his work in Bengali, a century later, deviated from the traditional text of the sage valmiki to a considerable extent, making it immensely interesting and appealing in more than one way. This has been fully brought out by Krttivasa at various stages in his work. Interestingly he, at several places has also high-lighted different points of view relating to one and the event, available in different texts, which makes it a unique composition. The present work is the English translation of the Krttivasa Ramayana, originally composed in Bengali language and would be of considerable interest and appeal to the readers.
About the Author
Is a graduate of the Punjab University; served in the curatorial capacity in the Central Asian Antiquities Museum, New Delhi, the Archaeological Museum, Nalanda, and Archaeological Section of the Indian Museum Calcutta for a number of year. He has to his credit the scientific documentation of over fifty thousand antiquities, in these museums, representing the rich cultural heritage of the country and comprising of sculptures, bronzes, terracottas, beads seals and sealing, ancient Indian numismatics, wood work, miniatures and paintings, textiles and Pearce collection of gems, ranging from the earliest time to the late medieval period. He was awarded, in 1987 a Fellowship, for his monograph on the Temples of Himachal Pradesh, by the Indian Council of Historical Rearch, New Delhi. The glimpses of the author’s works are provided here under:
(1) The Universal Mother (2) Temples of Himachal Pradesh (3) The Indian Monolithis (4) Protection, Conservation and Preservation of Indian Monuments (5) Working Manual and Field Works Code, 3 Volumes, of the Archaeological Survey of India (6) Mahisasura-mardini in Indian Art (7) Composite Deities in Indian Art and Literature (8) Garuda, the Celestial Bird (9) The Cult of Vinayaka (10) Jatakas in Indian Art (11) Image of Brahma in India and Abroad (12) Siva in Indian Art, Literature and Thought (13) Varah a in Indian Art, Culture and Literature (14) Surya and Sun-Cult in Indian Art, Thought, Literature and Culture, (15) Maruti-Hanuman (16) Mahiravanacarita in Indian Paintings. In Progress (17) Botany and Medicinal Plants in Indian Art, Literature and Culture (18) Sri Krsnacaritam (19) Sri Ramacaritam (20) Mahisasuramardint (Hindi).
The story of Rama has been dominating the Indian religious scene from the time immemorial. During the early stage it was evidently current in the memory of the people in fragments. Possibly this was the reason for Narada’s providing a brief to the sage Valmiki at the initial stage, which indeed was developed by the sage in his celebrated work entitled Ramayana, incorporating many beliefs in vogue about the story of Rama, during those times, making it the poineer work of excellence. Nilakantha, a writer of the 14th century in his Mantra Ramayana has tried to trace bits of the Ramayana story in the Vedic Literature. Indeed the prominent characters of the Ramayana are found present in the Vedic and post- Vedic literature, though their performance is in no way connected with the main story of Ramayana : As for example :-
(i) Kaikeya, ‘king of Kekayas’ stands for Asvapati (SB. 126.96.36.199; Cbandogya Upenisad:- 5 .11.4)
(ii) Janaka-He is the king of Vide ha and plays considerable part in the Satapatha Brahmana (9.3.l.2; 188.8.131.52) and the Brhadaranyaka Upenised (3.1.4; 4.1.1 and 4.2.1), Jaimniya Brahmana (1.19.2) and the Kausitaki Upanisad (4.1). He was contemporary of Yajnavalkya, and Vajasneya (Satapatha Brahmana 184.108.40.206) of Svetaketu, Arunya and of other sages. He had been famous for his generosity and his interest in the discussion on the nature of Brahman as ultimate basis of reality in the life-time of the Ajatasatru of Kasi is quite well known. (Kausitaki Upanised and Brhadaravyaka Upanisad-2.1.1). It is significant that he maintained a close intercourse with Brahmanas of the Kurupancala, such as Yajnavalkya and Svetaketu. This indicates that the cradle land of the philosophy of the Upanisads was in the Kurupancala country, rather than in the east. According to the Satapatha Brahmana (220.127.116.11) he became a Brahmana. This does not, however, mean the change of the caste but merely that in knowledge he could be equated with any Brahmana of the contemporary society. Some scholars have tried to place the date of Janaka in the 6th century B.C. on the basis of his association with Ajatasatru, so frequently mentioned in some Pali texts. But this view has been contested by others, because Ajatasatru of the Pali texts was the king of Magadha and not of Kasi.
The identification of Janaka of Videha with the father of Sita is quite possible, though it cannot be well established as the basis of the Vedic texts. In the Sutras Janaka appears as an ancient king. However the main character of Janaka of the Epics is available in the Vedic literature.
(iii) Rama is the name of a man in Rgveda (x.93.14)
(iv) Laksmana:- denotes the mark made on cattle by branding to distinguish ownership. (Gobila Grya Sutra 6.5). In the later texts, the name stood for a forest plant.
(iv) Sita stands for furrow in the Rgveda (4.57.6) and even in later Vedic literature (AthrvaveJa-9.3.12; Taittiriya Samhita-18.104.22.168 and Kathaka SaIilhita-20.3 )
(vi) Vasistha is the name of one of the most prominent priestly figure of Vedic tradition. The seventh Mandala of Rgvede is ascribed to him. This ascription is borne out by’ the fact that Vasisthas (7.7.7; 7.12.3) and Vasistha (Rgveda 7.9.0 ctc.) are frequently mentioned. The most important, feature of Vasistha’s life, was his hostility to Visvamitra. The latter was certainly the Puroliitn (family priest of Sudas.) but he seems to have been deposed from that post. As a result, he seems to have joined Sudas’s enemies, and also to have taken part in the onslaught of the Kings against him, for the hymns of Sudas’s triumph has clear references to the ruin, Visvamitra brought on his allies. A rivalry between Jamadagni and Visvamitra is reported in tile Teittiriya Samhita (22.214.171.124). Parasara and Satyaketu are projected as the associates of Vasistha in the Rgveda (7.1X.21). Rgveda (7.33.11) contains a clear reference to Vasistha, being the son of Varuna and nymph Urvasri In the Epic, Vasistha had been enjoying a very important position as a family priest by Raghu’s dynasty.
(v) Visvamitra is tsi of the Rgverda to whom the third Mandals is dedicated. In one hymn, which appears to be his own creation (3.3.122) he praises the river Vipasa (Beas) and Sutadri (Sutlej). There he calls himself as Kausika and seems unquestionably to be the helper of Bharatas, whom he mentions. In the Rgveda various episodes are attributed to him but in the Epic. Visvamitra is represented as a king who becomes a Brahmana. There is no trace of his kingship in the Rgveda, but the Nirukta calls his father Kausika, a king. He is mentioned in the later texts as a king as well as an ascetic.
Krttivasa Ojha, the great and divine son of Bengal composed the first and the most popular story of Rama, which was entitled by him as "Ramapancali” in the fifteenth century A.D. The subject matter of the same is quite uncertain, because there had been a large number of interpolations. Besides the subsequent writers have considerably altered not only the sequence of events, but also the details of episodes. So numerous are the interpolations that it would be quite difficult to point them out, particularly in view of the fact that no manuscript of Krttivasa Ramayana, older than the eighteenth century could be found. The most conspicious of the interpolations could be those episodes in which the devotion of the demons towards Rama has been projected. These portions were possibly added by a poet named Candra in the eighteenth century A.D. The first edition of the Krttivasa Ramayana was published in A.D. 1803 by Srirampur Mission Press in which many portions of Adbhutacarya were added. Subsequently, the Bangtya Sahitya Parisad edited the Ayodhya Kanda in A.D. 1900 and Uttarakanda in A.D. 1903. Thereafter N.K. Bhattasali edited the Adikanda in A.D. 1935. It has however, not been possible to refer to the original text of the Krttivasa Ramayana, though the same with interpolations has been printed in complete form and is currently available.
Indeed the Ramayana of Krttivasa, is basically founded on the Gaudiya recension of the Valmiki Ramayana. Some of the events contained in the Krttivisa Ramayana, are absent in the Valmiki text of southern recension, while some of them are available in the Gaudiya recension as well as in the Krttivasa text, some of which are detailed hereunder:
(i) Mention about Santa, the daughter of Dasaratha
(ii) Mention of an Apsara in the birth of sita
(iii) Pronouncing of the curse by Tara on Rama
(iv) Kaikeyi was disgraced because of an earlier curse from a Brahmana
(v) Sampati’s calling for his son Suparsva, who offers Angada to carry him to Lanka.
(vi) Kicking of Vibhtsana by Ravana.
(vii) The episode of Kalanemi
(viii) Vibhrsans’s visit to Kailasa to meet his brother Kubera.
(ix) Conversation between Bharata and Hanuman.
(x) Talk between Nikasa and Vibhisana
Krttivasa besides other episodes has also inculcated a great sense of devotion in his work, which becomes too apparent in the following episodes, though for doing so, the poet had to deviate from the popular theme:
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