Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sketches from Kashmiri Ramayan in Persian Script, 1940s

Guest post by Man Mohan Munshi Ji. Notice the headgear of Ravan (Is that Ravan?). With a note at the end from me about various versions of Kashmiri Ramayan.
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Sketches drawn by R.C.Wantoo a forgotten Kashmiri Pandit artist for a Kashmiri Ramayan in Persian script published in early 1940s by Ali Mohmad Tajar Kutab (Bookseller), Habba Kadal, Srinagar. Unfortunately the front page of the said Ramayan is missing and as such I cannot give the name of its author.


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Note on Kashmiri Ramayan.


Persian was the official language of Kashmir right from 1372 to 1889.


Yet the fact remains that during the Mugal period, the Persian Ramayana came to Kashmir also. Of these Mulla Masithi’s masterpiece written during the time of Jahangir appears to have been widely read, as is borne out not only by the extensive dispersal of the manuscripts of the work in Kashmir, but also by the parallels and affinities found in the Masthi Ramayana and the Kashmiri Ramayana, particularly the Prakas-Ramayana .The Persian Ramayana, however, is not the main source of the Kashmiri Ramayana written in the forties of the ninteenth century and after, the latest one written as late as 1940 AD 
[...]
The first kashmiri Ramayana entitled Shankara Ramayana was transcribed from Sharada into Devanagari in 1843 AD by Shankar Kanth (Nath) in the reign of Maharaja Ranbir Singh.Prakash Ramayan by Prakash Ram Kurygami came in 1846 A.D was most widely copied out and is the only Kashmiri Ramayana that has been printed in all the three scripts, Roman, Devnagri and Persian.The third Kashmiri Ramayana, the Visnu Pratapa Ramayana, was finished by Vishu Kaul in 1913. This was followed by the Sarma Ramayana by Nilakantha Sharma (1919-1926 A.D.) modeled on Tulsidasa’s masterpiece.The fifth was written by Tarachand in 1927 AD and the sixth by Amar Nath in 1940 AD.[ Seventh one was by Anand Ram. And the one used by George A. Grierson was Sriramuvataracarit by Divakar Prakasha Bhatta]
- The Ramayana tradition in Asia: papers presented at the International Seminar on the Ramayana Tradition in Asia, New Delhi, December 1975, Venkatarama Raghavan.


There as many as six versions of the Ramayana available in Kashmiri, but only one version has been published so far. The published version is Ramavatarcharit (1910) by Prakash Ram. […] Other versions of Ramayana are by Shankar Nath, Anand Ram, Visnu Koul, Amar Nath and Nilakanth Sharma. With Nilakanth Sharma, the tradition of epics based on Indian or national themes came to an end.
- The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature (Volume Two) (Devraj To Jyoti), Volume 2 by Amaresh Datta


One of the interesting things about Kashmiri Ramayan is that like the Jain and some other tellings, say the Thai version, Sita is presented as the daughter of Ravan's wife Mandodari who after the birth of her daughter gives her up to the sea.

14 comments:

  1. I try. Thanks for appreciating the effort.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is great.A simple yet powerful reminder of our rich Indo-Persian heritage, something Hindutva-wallahs do not countenance nowadays.
    I finished reading 'Indar Sabha' a couple of days ago. You might be familiar with the work. It was the first play to have been written entirely in Urdu. Composed by Agha Hasan Amanat Lakhnavi in the early 1850s, the play combines Persian and Hindu mythological elements. The characters Shahzada Gulfaam and Sabz Pari owe their fame to this piece of Urdu opera. It is said that Wajid Ali Shah, the Nawab of Awadh, loved playing the role of Indra in Indar Sabha.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I came across name 'Indar Sabha' was reading about history of Indian Cinema (you might have noticed my interest in that on my other blog). Haven't read it.

    On culture, it must be remembered here that the interest in 'Hindu' past of Kashmir that lead to some hectic printing and preserving and translation work of old Sanskrit manuscripts was in major part a result of Dogra rulers obvious interest in it and had support of the royal printing press. The specimen we see here is interesting because it was the place where it was printing and not just the language it was printed in. Also Prem Nath Bazaz in his book 'The history of struggle for freedom in Kashmir: cultural and political, from the earliest times to the present day' (1976) lists R.C.Wantoo among artists like Dina Nath Wali, Triloke Koul, Ghulam Rasul Santosh, SN Butt, PN Kachru, Sat Lal Kharoo, Shiv Ji Raina, Maheshwar Nath Koul and Mohan Lal Raina who represented new thought in Kashmir.

    Work of artists is a good way looking for signs of creative cultural assimilation that is always an ongoing process and not just a pit-stop or even a milestone.

    I read, Sahab Kaul (1629) wrote a Kashmiri book titled Kalpa Vraksh tht in words of Prof. T.N. Raina was "an exaple of unusual literary craftsmanship, with words of many laguages - Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Punabi and Ladakhi - mixed in text." The book was heavily guarded by his descendants at Kharayaar, not allowed to be seen by anyone. Hence is now probably lost.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No not lost, we have scanned copy of kalpa vriksha in Sharda and some exist in europe also

      Delete
    2. I have seen you uploaded some works of Sahab Kaul...can't see Kalpa Vriksha listed.

      Delete
  4. appreciated....carry on the good work.
    i belong to the prakash ram ji's family of KURIGAM,A SMALL VILLAGE IN QAZIGUND.
    HE WAS A SAINT AND GREAT POET.


    Once Prakash Ram as usual was praying and was singled in divine meditation. All of sudden Goddess Bhagvati got appeared ahead of him. Prakash Ram was stunned to see Goddess Bhagvati footing in front of him. Goddess Bhagvati said, “I love you for being so simple and isolated from this world in the contemplation of God and you should meet me tomorrow at Naag” (a famous spring of the village where Goddess Bhagvati used to dwell). Prakash Ram was joyous and could explain this felicity and anxiously waiting for the day. Next day Prakash Ram arrived at Naag to meet Goddess Bhagvati. Goddess Bhagvati again got visible before him with a bowl of honey in her hand. She offered the honey to Prakash Ram to eat it. Prakash Ram received willingly and ate the honey.
    After the meeting with Goddess, Prakash Ram commenced his daily conducts as usual but an emergent transformation was sensed by him. Till the meeting he was a good poet but after Prakash Ram was incredible, he started to write down poems with great profundity, meaning and rhythm. Goddess Bhagvati bestowed him enormous power of thinking and writing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. CAN U LET ME KNOW FROM WHERE I WILL GET COPY OF PRAKASH RAMAYAN BY PRAKASH RAM JI OF KURIGAM..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The version published by George Abraham Grierson in 1930 is available here at my blog. Check.

      A hindi version published in 1973 by Shiban Krishna Raina is available at the JNU library.

      Delete
  6. The sketches by R C Wantoo were in the temple of Fateh Kadal Srinagar. Traced his legacy presently at Bangalore after migration.

    ReplyDelete

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