When I studied history as an undergraduate in Delhi University in the mids, A. The essay is a marvellous account of the hundreds of ways in which the Ramayana has been told, complete with examples of this narrative diversity. They did this by trashing the department of history and physically assaulting the head of the department. This happened during the tenure of the previous vice-chancellor, but no holder of this office could possibly wish to further the work of thugs who seek to violently limit the intellectual freedom of a university.

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If this is the case, then Hindu fundamentalist groups like the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad ABVP should have been rabble-rousing against these centuries-old texts instead of an academic essay that simply and accurately describes them. His words provide a clue as to what the issue is really about. No apex Ramayan So Ramanujan in his essay was suggesting that there was no apex Ramayan that can be held sacrosanct. But what concerns Mukherjee more is not so much the shenanigans of the Hindutva brigade as the manner in which Delhi University DU capitulated in the face of those shenanigans.

Institutions that are supposed to stand up for freedom of expression and freedom of reading are kowtowing to fundamentalists. In a stunning but not unprecedented capitulation, OUP India complied. They wrote back an abject letter in which they actually thanked them!

We also wish to inform you that neither are we selling the book nor are there plans to re-issue it. Subsequently, books containing the essay disappeared from all major bookstores. This led to a backlash from academics and students. OUP does not apologise and never has apologised for publishing the essay. Interestingly, when DNA tried to purchase the book from the OUP website, it was unable to do so despite several attempts. Giving in to fascism This apparent case of throwing the author under the bus is not a new practice for OUP India, according to literary critic Nilanjana S Roy.

OUP India has clearly not done this. There is a larger trend of appeasement from institutions that are supposed to protect the freedom of expression and that is because they are listening to an argument that is predicated on violence. Administrators try to please political parties because they are scared of reprisals. The rule of law, and court decisions seem to have no value. It is a truism that freedom of expression is a basic requirement for any democracy.

If our educational and publishing institutions do not stand up to groups beholden to extremist ideologies, then their only contribution — apart from those made to their own bottom line — will be to an erosion of democratic values and consequent impoverishment of public discourse and culture.

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Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation

Delhi University is home to a literary battle that has turned political. Ramanujan's essay Ramayanas from the Delhi University B. The Council, which deals primarily with administrative affairs, saw fit to intervene in this case and dismiss the essay, despite recommendation to the contrary by the expert committee. The essay has been the subject of controversy since , when these groups first objected to some of the findings presented by Ramanujan. On Monday, 24 October, hundreds of professors and students across DU marched in solidarity, protesting against the removal of this essay from the syllabus. Slogans like "Historical inquiry pe attack nahi sahenge " rent the air, while various placards called for people to resist the saffronisation of higher education and to oppose the policing of academia. Those against the essay are bothered by the examples cited from other Ramayanas.


Who’s afraid of 300 Ramayanas?

The essay was a required reading on Delhi University 's syllabus for history undergraduates from —7 onward. On October 9, , the Academic Council of the University decided to remove the essay from the BA curriculum for its next academic cycle. This action of the Academic Council attracted a lot of attention and several people viewed this as an act of unwarranted censorship. It seeks to demonstrate factually how the story of Rama has undergone numerous variations while being transmitted across different languages, societies, geographical regions, religions, and historical periods. The count of Ramayanas in the title of the essay is based on a work of Camille Bulcke [1] and it has been pointed out that it is an underestimate of the actual count. However, Ramanujan considers only five tellings of Ramayana, namely, the tellings by Valmiki , Kamban , the Jain telling, the Thai Ramakien and the South Indian folk tellings. Ramanujan specifically prefers the term "tellings" to the usual terms "versions" and "variants" because the latter terms can and do imply the existence of an invariant original text.


Ramayana: An 'epic' controversy


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