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January 2011
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March 2011

Ramayana related ...

Before we move on to Caesar,  a few items related to the Ramayana:

Becoming a contemporary sensation: Sita Sings the Blues 

Many of the references I made to Alan Watts' comments on Hinduism are from this set of transcribed lectures, now out of print, but may be available used: Philosophies of Asia (P) (Alan Watts Love of Wisdom)

Also, consider Huston Smith's classic study of comparative religion: The World's Religions (Plus)

Epic beginnings

This week and next we begin by reading the epic Ramayana. When reading an epic, remember to keep in mind that it’s about more than art and entertainment.

In terms of form, an epic is usually a long narrative poem, which recounts the extraordinary deeds of an extraordinary individual, done on behalf of a community. This character is the hero, and is often semi-divine. Almost invariably, gods and other supernatural beings participate in the action, hurting or helping the hero. The language is heightened through the use of poetic devices to make the story more vivid and memorable. Even in a prose translation, the imagery should appeal to the reader’s sensory imagination.

Overall, it’s important to consider that the purpose of an epic is to preserve and transmit the vision of a culture. This vision includes the nature of the world, the place of humanity, and the causes of suffering and joy. Inevitably, the epic will crystallize this vision in the context of conflict and resolution, using the power of language and imagination.

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Epic Beginnings