POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Oct 17, 2011 AT 23:29 IST ,  Edited At: Oct 17, 2011 23:29 IST

Delhi University history department is once again abuzz with controversy surrounding the dropping of the classic Ramanujan essay on the Ramayana. As Nandini Thilak reports in today's Indian Express:

Delhi University professors, especially “non-Hindus”, may not be capable of explaining the context of A K Ramanujan’s essay on different tellings of the epic Ramayana to their students, one of the experts deputed by the university to assess the text had argued, in a report submitted to the Delhi University Academic Council, before it voted to drop the essay from the BA (Honours) syllabus last week.

The expert was the only one in the four-member committee to have favoured the removal of the text. The other three argued that it should continue in the syllabus of the course ‘Culture in India: A Historical Perspective’ for BA (Honours) students.

A few days back, Manan Ahmed wrote on his excellent Chapati Mystery blog:

Ramanujan’s essay is, in my view, one of the best pieces of scholarship the discipline of South Asian Studies has produced – theoretically rich, innovative and amazingly perceptive about the lived ways in which texts continue to exist – the importance of reading, of listening. It ought to be, if it already isn’t, required reading for anyone working on epic or performative texts in any historical or geographical period.

So, when I hear that the Delhi University has removed the essay from History syllabi, I feel the urge to grab my print copy, a chair, walk to the busiest intersection on campus, stand on the chair and start reading out loud his essay. Every word. Make them listen. They will be transformed. [Read on at Chapati Mystery]

Full texts are available here:

From 2008 archives:

Also read on the current DU decision:

POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Oct 17, 2011 AT 23:29 IST ,  Edited At: Oct 17, 2011 23:29 IST
Follow us on Twitter for all updates, like us on Facebook for important and fun stuff

Post a Comment
Share your thoughts
You are not logged in, please log in or register
Must See
Daily Mail
Nov 27, 2011
09:26 AM

correction: read *furthest backwards....

The Irreverent Indian
Online, India
Nov 27, 2011
09:24 AM

Sometimes, it is difficult to figure who will take India further backwards - the right-wing goons, indecisive centrists or the left-wing idiots. 

The Irreverent Indian
Online, India
Nov 04, 2011
04:50 PM

One key point is that the original Buddhist Ramayana that Ramanujam gloats
about (part of Dasharatha Jataka) is just about two pages long. You can write the
whole thing on two sides of an A-4 paper. Forget the fact that the Buddhist
Ramayana holds Rama in high esteem as a dharmic ruler.
How can this four page Ramayana be compared to the Valmiki’s magnum opus which is
25000+ verses long. With strict adherence to the lyrical ‘Anushtup’ sanskrit
metre, there is no way a literary comparion can be made with any of the 300
Ramayanas with Valmiki. Most of the 300 are hearsay oral narratives and some like the Santhal version were falsified by Ramanujam in the essay and proved factually incorrect.
The only ones which come close are the other epical Ramayanas by Kamban and
Tulsi, which have come much much later and clearly indicate their indebtness to
Valmiki. The ploy of the ‘eminents’ have been clearly exposed, there is a clear sinster reductionist design of playing down the indic classics.
In the same vein why don't the 'eminents' protest about inclusion of
viewing 'Qayamat se Qayamath Tak' and 'Ek Du Je Ke Liye' in Shakesphere studies
as they are just alternate versions of 'Romeo and Juliet'. Shakesphere is not the
only authentic guy you know.

Bangalore, India
Nov 02, 2011
10:52 AM


Found the source of Mairavana and gang :)

"Mairavana charitram" was a kavya written in 16th century by a Telugu poet KAchana (elsewhere it was given as MAdayya)

This telugu kavya is so sweet, with no unnecessary verbiage - very clear and lucid. If you already know Telugu, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. It was one of the famous stories among the AP folklore, per my father. And it is not an invention by Chandamama, as some of the "scholars" may jeer

Chennai, India
Oct 29, 2011
04:14 PM

In the UK, one learns about the history of the UK. In the US, one learns about the history of the US. I think that it is the moral responsibility of the Indian government to ensure that everyone that passes through the Indian education system learns about the history and culture of India irrespective of whether that history is mythological or factual, but simply because that history is an integral part of our past, current and integral part of our culture...our culture irrespective of religion...the culture of India. Please don't get me wrong: learning about foreign cultures and history is important and critical, and should be done too, but what about our culture? And in India, how can one not learn about the Ramayana? Funny.

Nikhiel J Silva
Bombay, India
Order by
Oct 18, 2011
11:16 AM


You need not even acknowledge the existence of Dwaraka. Please go through the initial 5 mins of this video to know what was our Indian subcontinent was like 11,000 to 5000 years ago. Unfortunately all our epics/puranas are covered in thick fog myths that extricating real historical information has become so difficult. That does not mean that they were written by some ignorant passer-by. The only way to solve teh riddles of our ancient civilization are the texts and archaelogy (underwater version would yield even unknown results). We still are not aware of anything we can say with confidence that so and so theory is correct. How the humans have started migrating out of East Africa and how the peopling of the world had happened was excellently scientifically said/theorized(I stress this word) by Stephen Oppenheimer using genetical analysis and corroborated by various ancient myths

Chennai, India
Oct 18, 2011
12:10 PM

Archeogenetics is the way to go for experimental evidence gives a better picture than history for history is always written by the victorious and the loosers have very little say in history . aracheogentics is growing field. It has made history look very cooked up stories.

Just see Journey of mankind in this wiki . Very informative.

Very interesting researcher Stephen O.

Oppenheimer, a leading advocate of this scenario, summarizes it in these words:

“For me and for Toomas Kivisild, South Asia is logically the ultimate origin of M17 and his ancestors; and sure enough we find the highest rates and greatest diversity of the M17 line in Pakistan, India, and eastern Iran, and low rates in the Caucasus. M17 is not only more diverse in South Asia than in Central Asia, but diversity characterizes its presence in isolated tribal groups in the south, thus undermining any theory of M17 as a marker of a ‘male Aryan invasion’ of India. One average estimate for the origin of this line in India is as much as 51,000 years. All this suggests that M17 could have found his way initially from India or Pakistan, through Kashmir, then via Central Asia and Russia, before finally coming into Europe.”

Reference : Stephen Oppenheimer, The Real Eve, op. cit., p. 152.

Sydney, Australia
Oct 19, 2011
06:31 AM

The video clip on pre-Harappan ancient city of Dwarka and the sceintific theory of human migration from East Africa by Openheimer notwithstanding, the well researched and accepted fact is that an immense body of pan-Indian worship revolved around the triad of Shiva and Shakti (both native tribal god/goddess) and later Vishnu (invented cunningly by Brahmins to rope in the followers of Mahavira, Buddha etc, as reincarnation of Vishnu) in their various forms whether as Rama as the saviour of Aryans, Krishna advocating for Aryan supremacy in Bhagavad Gita , Sri Venkateshwara, Sri Dakshinamurti, Jagdamba, Durga Mata or Kali etc. to destroy the evil Asuras i.e. native Dravidians. These common stories were told and retold without the mandate of any central authority and seeped through the pores of the land of Bharata, forging/forcing a shared bond with the ultimate aim of reaping benefits in cash or kind by the priestly Brahmin class, who had distorted the original vedas by incorporating the Varnashram based casteist society of Manusamhita, which had barred the natives of this country from any social rights.

Well, myths and mythologies apart, India was a "Naga Bhumi" and Dravidian culture the main Culture. Tribal God Shiva is called Kala - the eternal time, and Kali, his consort, also means "the Time" or "Death" (originated from Bodhisatta Shiva & Tara Devi- Avalokiteswara in Mahayana Tibet) were worshiped in various names and forms all over Asia, and even parts of Europe (Greek Islands), and were not Aryan gods/godesses, but were inducted much later by the Brahmins withulterior motive.
From Vivekananda to Arabinda had squarely and unequivocally attributed corrupt Brahmins and their cohorts, the ruling class beneficiaies to the destruction, degradation and sufferings of the natives for thousands of years quite unparalled in the historyof mankind...for all those murders, rapes, infanticides, widow burning, temple/vihara destruction, looting etc. are the gift of the "great" brahmins, all in the name of false Gods and deceitful religion.

Any theory to the contrary is welcome for a healthy debate.

Shyamal Barua
Kolkata, India
Oct 19, 2011
07:26 AM

Post 14,

This is RED Shxt...

Aryans are Native of India FULL STOP. They never came from outside. The Aryan Invasion Theory is long discarded except for RED professors

pankaj hedaoo
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Oct 19, 2011
08:25 AM

Post 14 , See the Journey of mankind in Stephen Oppeinheimers wiki. It explains everything. The para extracted from his book clearly states that M17 mitochondrial DNA went from the subcontinent upwards. Do not rely on history professors and historians as it is written by the victorious and not the loosers. The more the results are coming out of archeogenetics ( heaps and heaps are there) , there is more evidence that AIT is totally a one sided historical imposition.

There is nothing objetionable in the Ramayana of Ramanujan. It can be discussed and critically analysed in Indian Universities.  Teach and critically analyse all written texts of all classics and let the critical mind decide who is the best and who is gassing with historys influence and who is going   to the  core of right philosophies of the classics.  

Another woeful aspect is that India does not have a robust archeological study like Egyptology , which is very active thanks to Dr Zahi Hawass ( who has recently quit). One hopes that the hard work of Dr Hawass and his team  is not put to waste by the recent happenings in Egypt  

India has some study , but for the massive monuments and heritage , it is piecemeal archeology. Combining archeology with carbon dating and genetics would be better approach rather than just quoting interpretations of history and mythology. Scientific approach with rigorous experimental evidence  is the best way for deducing the origins of ancients in India. Well, if science throws out imposed history ( like AIT) one has to accept this. If science confirms history one has to accept this also. A strong  scientific confirmatory test is required for history and this is not happening in India.


Sydney, Australia
Oct 19, 2011
10:51 AM

1) I gave the link only to show that there was a natural passage between SL and India thousands of years back which was submerged owing to the rise in sea levels and this is just only to say that there is more to it than what meets the eye of the current historians

2) Secondly, I dont understand this nativity of dravidians. According to the scientific archeogenetic theory (as quoted by Gajanan) or linguistic theory, people had been migratory in habit and had been doing so till agrarian and other tehcnological advancements have come to fore, making them to lead settled lives

RavanaBrahma was a Brahmin, son of Vaishrava and was a great patron of Vedic sacrifices and himself a vedic scholar according to Ramayana. He ousted his brother Kuvera and coronated himself to be the king of Lanka. Now Ramayana is about teh clash between Vedia and non-vedic would not be quite convincing. No??  :)

This is why teh commie historians are hated

3) I cannot comment on Vishnu worship as authorities like Vivekananda have already spoken about them. But I'd like to bring in certain facts that Rigveda mentions Vishnu(as a friend of Indra) and Trivikrama (later Vaman avatar). But unless we know the exact detailing of those characters somewhere else (SatapathaBrahamana???), which we donot find in RigVeda, people will not be convinced reg the cult of Vishnu. Satapatha certainly dates back, accroding to scholars, to before Buddhism/Jainism

4) Pancha Dravida as mentioned by the sanskrit scriptures were just places which roughly comprise modern day Gujarat, Maharashtra, AP, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and nothing else

5) coming to Asuras, it'd be very intriguing and immensely interesting to know that Vaidiks used to offer prayers to Asuras (Mitra-Varuna?) and Devas in RigVeda and the primary god Persians was Ahura Mazda (Asura). For some reason, Indian peninsula's asuras started degenerating into becoming demons where as the Persian daevas met the same fate there. Theres definitely a riddle here which needs addressing

6) Mahayana Buddhism, as noted by scholars, is just an offshoot of Hinayana, whose philosophical theory could not appeal to the masses - who were looking for a more personal god. Thats when the Buddha avatars etc have emerged it appears.

7) Dravidian culture - Take the "native" tribals, the intertribal relations, their beliefs - they had everything from polygamy to incest to human/infant(male child in particular) sacrifice to everything that you consider repulsive and repugnant now. As we are made to believe, nothing was milk and honey with these "natives". Just look at the history of Kamarupa present just beside Bengal, the Kamakhya worship. Point is, this mentality is/was not uncommon among any of those ancient tribes and civilizations. While categorizing the different types of vivahas - there was a mention of the following - Vaidik, Deva, Rakshas, Gandharva, Asura and one more which I frogot. Of these the Rakshas and Asura were the tribal ones. Just find out the more about those two marriages. So, should we sneer at that culture now ?!? You tell me.

8) Regarding teh skirmishes between various cults/sects in the subcontinent, I've commented elsewhere. But just to recollect, ViraShaiva cult gained momentum with the advent of islamic incursions to which support has poured from everywalk of life. Temple bulding activity reached it pinnacle proportions with this inthe medieval period. The jains/buddhists were as much oppressors as some of the  hindu cults - vira shaiva. Sita RamGoel quotes from the "Epigraphia Carnatica" on the iconoclasm of the Jains over the Buddhists when the latter were vanquished in arguments. The Kalabhra rulers have oppressed the hindu sects during the "dark age" in Southeren states (though it was the most literary period). This was avenged and retaliated when the pallavas and cholas were reinstated aftter the "dark age". There were scholarly debates prior to any such exhinitions of fits of rage and "fanaticism" - and the non-hindu sects were drunk with the royal power and patronage the evidence of which can be found in some bhakti/sangam literature

Tribal God Shiva is called Kala - the eternal time, and Kali

I dont know about this,but some arguments put forth by dravidian-harappan link have proposed Skanda worship to be older. MotherGoddess worship (Kali or whoever), was the major one among many tribals. Shiva is argued to be a later form of Rudra mentioned in the Rigveda, which are now being correlated with the person-in-yogic-posture on the harappan seal. Since the debate is not concluded, I cannot say it oneway or the other. It was also not uncommon that many tribal gods, instead of being "asur"ised/demonised, have found a way into the vedic literature - the best examples are which are Narasimha and Ayyappan. Some contest that there could be ancient heros who might have later turned into gods worthy of worship - which is not uncommon for the Indian psyche. In this view, I just want to say this - You might all have known about Sir Arthur Cotton, who did an immense favour to the districts of Godavari in AP by building an anicut over it which provided the irrigation facilities of otherwise wasted water to vast tracts of lands. Guess, how the people of Godavari looks at him ? Hes demigod to them to whose statue those innocent people do a abhishekam everyear

It'd nto be surprising if he'd be considered a God by the later generations !!! :)
Similar story can be said of Jim Corbett, when he rid the villagers of Rudraprayag of a deadly cunning maneater (Read - Maneater of Rudraprayag). Corbett recounts in his book how the simple, innocent villagers have offered flowers at his feet with such care that the account brings tears to your eyes.

Chennai, India
Oct 19, 2011
12:35 PM

@Sangeetha - Thanks for such an erudite comment.

Bangalore, India
Oct 19, 2011
03:05 PM

A fatherless young boy from a poor Brahman family in Kerala called Shankara who mastered the four Vedas at the age of 8 and took Sannyasa, was hidered by an untouchable with 4 dogs during his travels in N India on his way to the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi. When asked to move aside, the untouchable replied “Do you wish that I move my ever lasting Atman ("the Self"), or this body made of flesh” The legend has it that it was Lord Shiva himself who appeared with 4 Vedas as his dogs.

This changed Shankara’s life and from there on he went on travelling thru out the rest of the country debating and discoursing with the leading scholars of his time which included followers of atheist philosophies of “Mimamsa” and “Sankhya” and those who rejected Vedas like Charavak. Thus, contemporary Hinduism was divided into innumerable sects each quarrelling with each other. Shankara united the two seemingly disparate philosophical doctrines, Atman and Brahman and brought out consolidation of Shaivites and Vaishnavites as well as Mahayan Buddhism on to one common cultural platform inspired by the Advaita (non-dualism) Vedanta in conjunction with the Dvaita (dualism) of his ancillaries Madhva and Rananuja. He set up 4 pithas in all corners of the sub-continent which united India culturally as well as established her political boundaries.

Shankara has been credited with St. Thomas Aquinas of Catholic church as the most brilliant personality of Indian thought and cultural consolidation. Same as Shankara, Aquina’s influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy is conceived as a reaction against, or as an agreement with his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory.

Lets not do away with all the good work that has been to unite India fighting like head-less chickens over Aryans vs. Dravids, worship of Shiva vs.Vishnu, Brahman vs. Dalit, Sanskrit-Hindi vs.Tamil-Bangla etc. etc.

The Contrarian
London, United Kingdom
Oct 19, 2011
03:09 PM

correction: Let's not do away with all the good work that has been DONE to unite India fighting like head-less chickens over Aryans vs. Dravids, worship of Shiva vs.Vishnu, Brahman vs. Dalit, Sanskrit-Hindi vs.Tamil-Bangla etc. etc.

The Contrarian
London, United Kingdom
Oct 19, 2011
04:33 PM


your link is absolutely wonderful and amazing to know that it is produced by scholars at a British University - the country whose colonialists convoluted the AIT from the ruins of Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Shame to JNU historians.

The Contrarian
London, United Kingdom
Oct 19, 2011
08:26 PM

 atheist philosophies of “Mimamsa” and “Sankhya” and those who rejected Vedas like Charavak (post no 20)

In Indian Philosophy, athiestic philosophies are those that reject the Vedas, like, for example, the Buddhist and Charvaka philosophies. The six darshanas of Hindu Philosophy are Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Poorva Mimamsa and Uttara Meemamsa. They are all theistic philosophies.

Adi Sankara preached Advaita, which is also known as Uttara Meemamsa. The Poorva Meemamsa laid emphasis on liturgy (karma) whereas the Uttara Meemamsa insisted on knowledge (gyana) as the only way to Moksha (liberation).

Shankara united the two seemingly disparate philosophical doctrines, Atman and Brahman and brought out consolidation of Shaivites and Vaishnavites as well as Mahayan Buddhism on to one common cultural platform inspired by the Advaita (non-dualism) Vedanta in conjunction with the Dvaita (dualism) of his ancillaries Madhva and Rananuja (Post 20)

The Atman and the Brahman are not philosophical doctrines at all, they are sanskrit for the Individual Soul and the Universal Soul. Sankara proved that the Atman and the Brahman are one and the same. Using grammar and logic, he reinterpreted the scriptures to purge out various corruptions that had crept in over the centuries  (through his commentaries on the Brahma Sutra, Bhagavad Geeta and some of the Upanishads). He participated and won debates with Poorva Meemamsakas like Mandana Misra and with Buddhists and adherents of other schools of thought but he was not able to unite them onto a common platform. Sankara was responsible for the resurgence of Hinduism and the weakening of Buddhism in India of the 8th Century AD.

Ramanuja, the proponent of Visishtadvaita (Qualified Monism)  and Madhva, the founder of the Dwaita (Dualism) school were not Sankara's contemporaries or his ancillaries. Modern Saivites are followers of Sankara and Vaishnavites are followers of Ramanuja. Siva and Vishnu are facets of the same Brahman, which is the only reality as far as Hinduism is concerned.

Visakhapatnam, India
Oct 19, 2011
08:58 PM

 @ Ms. Sangeetha, Chennai

Thank you, ma'am for your erudite postings. Hinduism seeks a synthesis of divergent streams of thought since it recognises that truth is multi-faceted and no single version of it is the only version. Hindus are willing to learn from others and integrate what they find appealing into their own.

Thanks for the demolition of the Aryan Invasion Theory. When the British ruled India, they were unable to digest the fact that Indian were the inheritors to a much more ancient and glorious civilisation than their own. They latched on to the Aryan Invasion Theory and generations of Indians have been brainwashed in believing it.

About your comment on vivahas, there are eight types and not six, as per Manu Smriti. Rakshasa and Asura vivahas do not refer to tribal marriage rites. Rakshasa vivaha is said to take place when the couple elope to marry due to opposition from the bride's family. Asura wedding takes place when a less accomplished groom marries a more accomplished bride. The girl is forced to marry on account of the gifts in cash and kind given to the brides family. I guess such marriages are not uncommon even in our times.

Visakhapatnam, India
Oct 19, 2011
09:13 PM

D L Narayan, Visakhapatnam

Sir, Thx for correcting my mistakes or omissions. Plse stay on this thread and I will come back to you. Kind Rgds. 

The Contrarian
London, United Kingdom
Order by
Short Takes
click for more
recent tags
Aamir Khan
Rahul Gandhi
A. Sanzgiri
Boria Majumdar
Dr Mohammad Taqi
Freya Dasgupta
G. Rajaraman
K.V. Bapa Rao
Landing Lights
Maheshwer Peri
Namrata Joshi
Omar Ali
Our Readers Write Back
Outlook Web Desk
Outlook Web Desk
Prarthna Gahilote
Shefalee Vasudev
Srishti Gupta
Sundeep Dougal
Sunil Menon
recent comments
The Paris Climate Change Conference is all set to begin...
Poll Started on: Nov 28, 2015
Belgium may be famous for its chocolate, beer and for...
Srishti Gupta


OUTLOOK TOPICS:    a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   
Or just type in a few initial letters of a topic: