You are on page 1of 1

Textual history and structure[edit

Scene Ramayana, Gupta art, National Museum, New Delhi.Traditionally, the Ramayan
a is attributed to Valmiki.[6] The Hindu tradition is unanimous in its agreement
that the poem is the work of a single poet; the sage Valmiki,also known as dash
u ratnakar a contemporary of Rama and a peripheral actor in the drama.[7] The st
ory's original version in Sanskrit is known as Valmiki Ramayana, dating to appro
ximately the 5th to 4th century BCE.[8] While it is often viewed as a primarily
devotional text, the Vaishnava elements appear to be later accretions, possibly
dating to the 2nd century BCE or later. The main body of the narrative lacks sta
tements of Rama's divinity, and identifications of Rama with Vishnu are rare and
subdued even in the later parts of the text.[9]
According to Hindu traditionand according to the Ramayana itselfthe Ramayana belon
gs to the genre of itihaasa, like the Mahabharata. The definition of itihaasa ha
s varied over time, with one definition being that itihasa is a narrative of pas
t events (purav?tta) which includes teachings on the goals of human life.[2] Acc
ording to Hindu tradition, the Ramayana takes place during a period of time know
n as Treta Yuga.[10]
In its extant form, Valmiki's Ramayana is an epic poem of some 50,000 lines. The
text survives in several thousand partial and complete manuscripts, the oldest
of which is a palm-leaf manuscript found in Nepal and dated to the 11th century
CE.[11] The text has several regional renderings,[12] recensions, and subrecensi
ons. Textual scholar Robert P. Goldman differentiates two major regional recensi
ons: the northern (n) and the southern (s).[13] Scholar Romesh Chunder Dutt writ
es that "the Ramayana, like the Mahabharata, is a growth of centuries, but the m
ain story is more distinctly the creation of one mind."[14]
There has been discussion as to whether the first and the last chapters of Valmi
ki's Ramayana were composed by the original author. Most Hindus still believe th
ey are integral parts of the book, in spite of some style differences and narrat
ive contradictions between these two chapters and the rest of the book.[15][16]
Famous retellings include Gona Budda Reddy's Ramayanam in Telugu, Kamban's Ramav
ataram in Tamil (c. 11th12th century), Madhava Kandali's Saptakanda Ramayana in A
ssamese (c. 14th century), Krittibas Ojha's Krittivasi Ramayan (also known as Sh
ri Rama panchali) in Bengali (c. 15th century), sant Eknath's Bhavarth Ramayan (
c. 16th century) in Marathi (which is spoken in Maharashtra), Balaram Das' Dandi
Ramayana (also known as the Jagamohan Ramayana) (c. 16th century) in Oriya, Tul
sidas' Ramcharitamanas (c. 16th century) in Awadhi (which is an eastern form of
Hindi),[12] and Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan's Adhyathmaramayanam in Malayalam.