Thursday, 7 July 2011

Lord Shiva's narration of the Ramayana

It is known and universally accepted that Ramayana was written by Valmiki originally. That is the reason why we have titled this blog ‘Valmiki Ramayana’. But we have sourced material for these episodes from other sources as well, like, orations, translations, opinions, critics, legends, interpretations as well as books like Punit Ramayana, Bichitra Ramayana, Tulsidas’s Ramcharit Manasa etc. etc. Words of mouth play a big part in such epics. You go to any town or village, more often than not, you will find some sight connected with this epic and a new story to go with it. It is said that even the great Hanuman wrote a few incidents of Ramayana with his nails on large stones. The stories are endless.

One such legend goes like this: call it opinion, call it legend, call it belief or call it interpretation, whatever, but it is the opinion of some students of Ramayana that the original (Adi kavi) creator or narrator of this great epic is God Shiva himself. Lord Shiva created and narrated Ramayana, but did not write it. Once Lord Shiva and Ma Parvati were seated on mount Kailash. The Lord, as was his wont, was in deep meditation. Parvati was bored. Nothing interesting was happening on earth (prithvilok) and in heaven (swarglok) to warrant her attention. So when the Lord opened his eyes, Parvati requested him to tell her one story to kill time. After some initial hesitation, Shiva agreed. Parvati requested that the story should be long. Shiva put one condition that Sati (Parvati) could not sleep till the end of the story. Sati, in turn, put her own condition that the story should be interesting enough for her to keep awake for long hours.

So, Shiva started to create and narrate the story of Rama and Sita. The characters and incidents were entirely created by Shiva from his imagination. The story lasted for days on end and it was so interesting that Parvati never blinked. Parvati was so impressed by this mammoth tale that later she insisted that she wanted to see the story enacted live and for the Lord to create real characters on Prithvilok so that they can see them perform from their abode on mount Kailash. And so it was. Lord Shiva himself was so obsessed with his own story that he transferred the same in the mind of Muni Yagnavalkya and often listened to the same story from the Muni. The orator became the listener of his own epic. Yagnavalkya Muni repeated the story to worthy people down the line. Finally, Valmiki wrote the epic, titled it Ramayana, adding and omitting a few incidents here and there. Still later of course many people wrote Ramayana according to their own interpretations to suit the time they were written in.

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