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20090915-930 The Ramayana, day 1 (Group 6)

Page history last edited by lauren Semsar 11 years, 10 months ago

Class Summary: 293


      On September 15, we discussed the adventures of Prince Rama. The Ramayana of Valmiki is the oldest literature version, a story known from Indian folk traditions and written around 550 BCE. The Rama story is the greatest story of Indian civilization. It's popularity remains undiminished to this day.

     There are many similarities between the Indian epic, The Ramayana, and the two Greek works, The Odyssey and Medea. The similarities are within the fact that these works are epics. An epic is a long narrative poem; The Ramayana is 24,000 lines. It has cultural and national significance. The importance of The Ramayana is almost indescribable. It's influence can even be compared to the Bible, mainly because of its moral guidance and religious impact. Epics contain similes, epithets, and repetition. These are quite prevalent in The Ramayana. For instance, one example of a simile is found on page 737 saying "with eyes like the petals of a lotus" and another on page 741 saying "it dazzled like a huge gem stone". Perhaps the most crucial aspect of an epic is that it is centered around the life of a hero.

     Rama displays a hero throughout the whole epic. He has the virtue as well as power and influence. Even when the throne is unjustly taken from him, he controls himself in an attempt to please and obey his parents. He actively tries to uphold dharma. Many passages contain Rama faithfully professing his allegiance to the truth in dharma. He notes that the haughty pursuit of wealth is not one of respect and honor. Rama's power and influence are undeniable. He is a god and royalty. There are not many icons of greater influence than religious centers and royals. He has respect from all his people. 




pg. 731

"The universe rests on truth: and I am devoted to truth . . . Abandon your resolve based on the principle of might, resort to dharma . . . Dharma, prosperity, and pleasure are the pursuit of mankind here . . .One should turn away from that action or mode of life which does not ensure the attainment of all the three goals of life, particularly of dharma; for hate springs from wealth and the pursuit of pleasure is not praiseworthy."

     -This passage centers around the theme of dharma. It also gives the audience a glimpse of Rama's persistance to uphold dharama by the word choice of "devoted". It also gives insight to what humans yearn for in life outside of truth- prosperity and pleasure. However, Rama insists that the latter two are not respected. Rama's intelligence in understanding the human desire is also very insightful.


pg. 732

"To a woman her husband is verily god himself."

     Like the other two works we read, women have very little power. As seen through the character of Sita, women cling to their husband as if there were no life outside of him. She insists on following him to the forest, which is not a desired location for anyone, particulary a woman. Not only does a woman have little influence, but her husband is seen as all-knowing and basically perfect.


pg. 735

"I cannot live having disregarded the command of my parents. Indeed, I wonder how one could adore the unmannifest god, if one were unwilling to obey the commands of his parents and his guru whom he can see here. No religious activity nor even moral excellence can equal service of one's parents in bestowing supreme felicity on one . . . Hence I shall do as commanded by my father; and this is the eternal dharma."

     Rama's great character is seen through this passage. Even though he is an independent adult, as a culture, the influence of parents were still highly regarded. Rama goes to the length of giving up the throne in an attempt to please his. He speaks as though it would be sacreligious to disobey them by saying he could not worship his god if he was disobedient to his parents. It is even the "eternal dharma".




Frame Story - edges of a story that is really the reason that the inner story pieces together.  A story within a story. Other examples besides The Ramayana being Withering Heights, Canterberry Tales, and even the Princess Bride.

Dharma - the underlying principle of social and moral cohesion. The goal of Ramayana is to teach this. The underlying principle of the follwoing:

Moksa - the liberation from reincarnation/rebirth.

Dharma - related to righteous and religious duties.

Artha - worldly wealth, prosperity and political power.

Kama - pursuit pleasure and love.







Comments (1)

Brian Croxall said

at 12:36 pm on Sep 19, 2009

Your notes for the first day of the Ramayana are a fine start to this assignment. In particular I was pleased at your definitions. You caught the most important words for the day, and even did a good job at distinguishing the two conceptions of dharma.

Your summary and passages, however, can be improved. For the summary it's worth bearing in mind that what you want to do is to include the main points of what we discuss in class (there are normally 2-3 per class). Once you've isolated these points, you should organize your summary by them. Rather than one big paragraph and rather than writing your notes based on the order in which we talk about things during the actual class period, use one paragraph per main point. You do a good job of providing a lot of the background material for the Ramayana, but this material isn't as important as, say, our discussion of what makes Rama a hero. You could spend more time on the latter and less on the former. Finally, please include the word count with every summary.

With your passages, you've done a good job in pulling out different types of things from the text (similes, dharma, Rama's character), but there are too many of them. You are limited to only three. Without exception we will read more than three passages during each day of class, but you need to pick the ones that appear to be the most related to main topics of the class. (Of course, one good strategy is to use the passages as a way to say more about things than you have space for in the summary. Or to bring out a whole other main point. Think about this approach as an option.) Along with there being too many passages, many of them lack explanation. You need to tell me why this passage matters. Think about this as exam prep...because it is.

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