Hinduism had been practiced in Bengal for a long time, and Buddhism and Jainism were also popular. Shashanka, a Shaivaite king, established Gaur, the first self-governing Hindu dynasty in Bengal, with Karnasubarna as its capital which is today's Murshidabad district. During the Sena dynasty's reign, the contemporary structure of Bengali Hindu society emerged. West Bengal has produced numerous eminent religious gurus, such as Sri Chaitanya, Sri Ramakrishna, Rammohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and Paramahansa Yogananda, who contributed to the abolishment of archaic practices such as sati, dowry, and caste-based marginalization or untouchability that had crept into Hindu society. Additionally, they also were influential figures who revived Hindu nationalism in Bengal. Today, the sacred texts of Hinduism have been circulated across the state with various portrayals and translations, one of them being the Ramayana.
Valmiki's Ramayana which is a Sanskrit epic follows the story of Rama or Ramchandra, the future King of Ayodhya. The epic is broken down into seven sections or episodes. The text begins with the first episode that recounts the birth of Rama and his early days. This is followed by the second episode that is centered around his life in Ayodhya up until his exile, which is then followed by the third episode that follows Rama, his brother Laksmana, and his wife, Sita, in the forest. It also tells the story of Sita’s kidnapping by Ravana, the king of Lanka; The fourth episode is largely centered around Rama's partnership with Sugriva, the king of the monkeys. The fifth episode specifies Rama's voyage to Lanka with his soldiers; and the sixth episode, explains Rama's war with Ravana, the triumph of Rama over Ravana, the rescue of Sita, and his glorious return to Ayodhya with his army after defeating Ravana, Rama's condemnation of Sita, the conception of their twins, Lava and Kusha, the reunion of Rama and Sita, and their deaths are all depicted in the seventh and final episode. The epic is written in anustapa meter and comprises 24,000 and 43,000 shlokas (verses).
The Ramayana has been translated into many Indian indigenous dialects. Tulsidas' Ramayana in Hindi, also identified as Tulsidas Ramayana or Ramcharitmanas, deserves special mention because it was widely recognized in north India. The first conversion into Bangla was Krittivas ojha's 14th-century translation, called the Krittivasi Ramayana. Adbhut Acharya (Nityananda) wrote the version called Adbhutacharya Ramayana in the 17th century. Despite its popularity in north Bengal, this version did not overshadow Krittivasi Ramayana. This was then followed by the translations by many other Bengali poets, such as Dvija Laksman, Kailas Basu, Bhabani Das, Kavichandra Chakravarty, Mahananda Chakravarty, Gangaram Datta, and Krsnadas. Ramananda Ghosh translated the Ramayana while claiming to be a Buddhist disciple. Jagatram Banerjee of Bankura and his son Ramprasad Banerjee wrote another Bangla Ramayana. The Bangla Ramayanas are much more than translations; they are original pieces in their own right. The Krittivasi Ramayana specifically stands out. Despite some deviations from the original text, it has had a lasting impact on Bengali Hindu society.
Q1. Is the Ramayana a true story?
The simple answer to this, is that the authenticity of the Ramayana is still a mystery. However, there have been many people coming forward to research the truth behind this sacred epic in recent times.
Q2. What script was the original Ramayana written in?
Devanagari script was used to write the Ramayana. However, it was originally passed down through generations by word of mouth, beginning with Guru Shishya Parampara.
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