Sri Ramayana Darshanam

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Sri Ramayana Darshanam is not just another version of Valmiki’s story. Kuvempu’s work amounts to an interpretative re-creation of the incidents, the characters and the philosophical, moral and spiritual ideas enshrined in Valmiki. Keeping in view the symbolic nature of his poem, the intent and import of his ‘vision’, and the zeitgeist, Kuvempu has made quite a number of modifications in the characters, major as well as minor. What is more he has invented a good many episodes and introduced some new characters in harmony with his conception of the significance of the epic.

The ‘Agni-pravesha’ (The fire-ordeal) episode illustrates the above statement. At Sita’s command, Lakshmana makes a pyre for her and Sita mounts it. It is at this point that Kuvempu makes a startling deviation from Valmiki. The moment Sita has offered herself as supreme oblation to Agni, Rama too rushes after her, and enters the blazing flames, much to the shock of all earthly spectators. In a moment, however, Rama comes out of the fire holding Sita’s palm in his right hand, and the spectators get a glimpse of their divinity. By this sensational innovation Kuvempu has proclaimed the great principle of the supremacy of the law, and the equality of all before the law, not excepting the law-giver himself. What is more, if this ‘Agni-pravesha’ is intended to reveal to all the world the truth of Sita’s chastity, it is also intended to reveal Rama’s fidelity and love for Sita.

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