The World Ramayana Conference organised in Jabalpur from January 26 to 29, 2020 propounds the significance of Indian culture and heritage as a soft power
Prashant Bajpai, From Jabalpur
The world has come to the point of no return. Now, it is bound to enter the realm of sages of Bharat. The Yoga, the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are being more and more relevant day-by-day. Some cracks have been made in the shell of ignorance and narrow mindedness because of an explosion of knowledge caused by modern technologies and discoveries. One century ago the message of Hindu Darshan had reached to the farther lands with Swami Vivekananda. Now it has taken the form of a huge flood. Our ancestors, who sailed and took the message of Ramayana and Yoga to South-East Asia are calling. This all could be realised at the World Ramayana Conference held in Jabalpur from January 26 to 29, 2020, the biggest Ramayana Conference to date. It elicited the interest of scholars, academicians, artists and other interested persons who devote their nights and days to disseminating their studied perception on this epic to the world. About 250 representatives from 92 nations and 40 faculties participated in the mega event.
Mesmerising singing performance of Usman Mir and creatively choreographed performance of ‘Holi Khelen Raghubeera’ provided glimpses of spiritual tradition in the field of art of our nation. Anhad or Anhat Naada (sound) is called the unstuck sound, the sound of cosmos, Omkara. When Usman Mir sang ‘Anhad Naad Bajaavo’, a deep silence reverberated in the audience. A poetry session ‘Kavi kobid kah sake kahaan te’ based on Ramayana was conducted. A magnificent Ramayana Exhibition was also a key feature.
Union Minister of Culture Shri Prafulla Patel and others releasing a publication
Shri Micheal Sternfeld from the US speaking at the Conference
Shabad Keertan during the conference
Shri Micheal Sternfeld, a producer, and director from the USA, an independent scholar and a devoted follower of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi put the significance of Ramayana this way. “When the journey of Ram has completed its full course and all the trials and tribulations have been endured and the great victory won, what is the ultimate experience that we as readers and listeners left with? The Ramayana as a part of Sanskrit literature has been ascribed specific qualities welling up from the field of pure knowledge that is “Blossoming of Totality.” When does Totality begin to blossom what are the reverberations of the Ramayana that become stabilised in our awareness? The Ramayana is ‘Brahma on stage’. Ramayana is a direct and palpable blueprint for growth to higher states of consciousness.”
The balance of opposites is the key feature of Hindu Darshan. It has been depicted as Ardha Nareeshwar, Shiva-Shakti or the dance of Maha Rasa in Shrimad Bhagwat. From India, this knowledge went to China and Chinese sages described it as Yin-Yang. The whole traditional Chinese martial art is based on this balance of Yin-Yang. Shri Micheal Sternfeld also touched this realm. He said, “All the characters in the Ramayana and all the elements of the story along with their nuances of transformation are impulses of our own being that amalgamate to form pathways of growth and transformation. These pathways are the play of opposites. In the process, we create an increasingly resilient and ever-expanding container of consciousness that takes us to the threshold of the wholeness of life, embodied in Ram.”
Manyam Kuppuswami from Andhra presented ‘Glimpses of Ramayana near Bhadrachalam.
Southeast Asia has a very strong bond with India that is Hindu culture and Ramayana. Ramayana is called Ramakian there. Over the centuries Ramayana travelled to South Asian countries including Thailand, where different versions of Ramayana emerged with variations, innovations, and additions. Dr. Nareerat Phinitthanasarn from Thammasat, the University of Thailand said, “Khon is the identity of Thai performance reflecting many artistic aspects. It was registered as the intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO in 2018. Khom has been mainly performed Ramkian derived by Indian Ramayana. The Ramayan is standing as a magnificent illustration in a number of paintings along the corridors of our Buddha Temples. We all accept and admire that Ramayana has inspired and influenced the people of South Asia to a large extent and more importantly, it is providing common understandings about our shared values and culture. “
Dr. Sombat Mangmeesukhsiri emphasised the influence of the Ramayana on the folk tales of North-Eastern Thailand. “Hinduism has an immense impact all over the country. Ramayana can be traced in some inscriptions of the Sukhothai Kingdom around 800 years ago. The influence of the great epic had pervaded all over the mainland of Southeast Asia, including the North-Eastern region of Thailand in the oral tradition. The story of the Ramayana in Thailand varied in many folk tales but the most popular and prevalent in the North-Eastern Thai dialect or Laos language as ‘Phra Lak Phra Ram’ or ‘Prince Lakshman and Prince Ram’” she said. “The Buddhist version of Ramayana is known as “Dasharath Jataka”. Rama is called Ramapandit and Lakshman is named as Prince Lakhana.” She told.
Explaining ‘Adwaita in Ramayana’ Acharya Krishnkant Chaturvedi said: “The Brahma is truth, the Brahma is Advaita.” Rameshwar Bapu Hariyani from Gujarat talked on Ram in eyes of Gandhi. “Every Mahatma has a Ram, Mahatma Gandhi has a Ram as well. But Gandhi’s Ram is a bit different. Firstly, his Ram came to his tongue. He used to say ‘Divine is truth’ but in his final years he started to say ‘Truth is divine’. Truth was Ram to Gandhi. Gandhi’s Ram accepts everyone. Gandhi’s Ram is very patient and wise. Gandhi’s Ram is selfless. A peasant had said to Sardar Patel that one obsessed with ‘I’ cannot be a follower of Gandhi. Gandhi’s Ram does sewa. Gandhi’s Ram is a devotee. Devotion was a keynote in Gandhi’s life. Gandhi’s Ram is compassionate. Compassion is a gift. A boon.” Narendra Kaushik quoted Mahatma Gandhi as “Tulsidas’s Ramacharita Manas is a notable book as it is informed with the spirit of purity & piety.” Dr. Akhilesh Gumashta, a senior orthopaedic surgeon and secretary of the organising committee conference, presented his paper on ‘Lowering of Wellness Threshold through Ramayana derived ‘Neo-tools of Human Happiness index’. He stated, “Unlike existing markers inability of the apparent happiness markers, the Ramayana derived markers of realistic happiness shall pay rich dividends equally for all including politicians, policy drafters, program implementers and the general population.” Professor Shri Pankaj Gaur, retired district Judge, threw light on the legal perspective of 14 years exile of Shri Ram. He said, “It is the policy of Limitation Act—‘One who sleeps over his right loses it.’ Even Manthara was aware of this. She says to Kaikeyi ‘Ram having been sent to forest for fourteen years, your son will stand firmly, having laid his roots and will stay in power for the remaining period.’ The judicial system during the period of Shri Ram was well developed and based on rule of law as is present now in India. In Shri Sarangdev Peria Matam vs Ramaswamy AIR 1966 SC 1603 the Supreme Court held that the person holding possession adversely as against the true owner can perfect his title to search property is 12 years. If within 12 years from commencement of such dispossession the true owner does not institute his suit for recovery of possession, the title of the real owner will be extinguished and the party in wrongful possession will acquire title to the property.
It seems the number of years in Treta Yuga was 14, 13 years in Dwapara Yuga (12 years exile and 1 year of secret exile for Pandavas after they lose in the game of dice). Bharat was aware of the law. Having full respect and title for Shri Ram he never acceded to the throne of Ayodhya maintaining the right of Shri Ram.”
WRC has been marked by some proposals that have been made like Ramayana Research Centre in Jabalpur, the continuation of the conference every third year, Indo Thai Ramayana Forum activities, Greater Ramayana Circuit, and common tourist visa (Ramayana visa) for countries like India, Shri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, Bali, etc. Central Government, state government and local administration contributed in organising the conference. Prime Minister Modi said in his greeting message, “Ramayana is an integral part of our culture. It instils a sense of duty and ideal governance. The victory of truth is the message of Ramayana. The victory of Ram inspires us because Shri Ram had organised those who hadn’t had any resources. The message of Ram is sewa.” Union Minister of Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel attended the conference. Ministers from state government were also present. The Chief Minister of MP also sent his good wishes. Sadhvi Gyaneshawri Didi and the president of organising committee Ajay Vishnoi played an important part.
Pujya Morari Bapu concluded the WRC. He said “Ramayana has described ‘Artha’ in a broad sense. Ramayana based economy and policies will bring happiness and prosperity.” WRC charged the atmosphere of the city. The youth took part as volunteers. It has been proven an amalgamation of beauty, knowledge, aspirations and inspiration.
WRC reminds us that the speciality of our classical arts and Sanskrit literature is, it has been meant to express Balance and Totality of the Cosmos. That is why ‘Dharma’ has been discussed widely. In fact, ‘Dharma’ is the most discussed word in the Smriti’s, which expresses balance and harmony as well. This sense prevails in our daily life. An ordinary villager, a common man knowingly or unknowingly lives and follow these great traditions. Ramayana is one of them.