Jaipur Literature Festival: How much do you know about Ramayana’s indelible mark on Indonesia?

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On the fourth day of the Jaipur Literature Festival, three historians – William Dalrymple, Malini Saran and Vinod C Khanna – came together to discuss Indonesia’s rich Ramayana traditions. The discussion was based on Saran and Khanna’s book The Ramayana in Indonesia. The authors called it perhaps the most important and influential foreign account of the story of Rama.

Dalrymple said, "This is a remarkable thing and most Indians are unaware of it. Some of the most magnificent, sophisticated and large monuments of Hinduism and Buddhism are located far away from India in Indonesia and Cambodia.”

Khanna said, “Kakavin Ramayana (Kakavin refers to poetry written in the Kawi language of ancient Java and Bali)  is not just an imitation of Bhattikavya, it is the most influential work of transcription.”

His co-writer Saran highlighted the importance of Ramayana in the arts of Java and Bali. He explained that in temples, royal courts and village courtyards "The inherent qualities of the Ramayana, entertainment, instruction and editing, promote their special status."

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