Folklore Book Abstracts »

Chapter 1

Ankush Purana – a critique with view of the folk element.

A narrative poetry, ‘Ankush Purana’ has been published for three times. Its composer is Laksha shivdas, who seems to have mention his name two times in the verse. Traditional Maharashtriyan women have accepted it as a folk – narrative and have also propogated it through the oral tradition. The verse presents the saga of Seeta’s renunciation by Ram, and her solitary confinement in woods. (for the second time!)

The storyline of the narrative is present here in detail, which as a summary goes as thus:

Wicked step – mother of Ram, Kaikayi asks seeta with a pseudo – curiosity, how did Ravava look like, Seeta just caricatures the thumb of the left foot of Ravana, saying that this was the only ‘him’ she saw. Kaikayi on her on completes the caricature all by hereself, adds a proportionately ‘low’ statured Ram near it (as if to show his inferiority). Then she, in the open courts complains to Ram about Seeta’s commitment  towards him. Ram, without any verification falls for it, and orders Lakshmana, to leave Seeta all on her own in the forests. Dr. Dhere points out the many opportunities this narrative presents to study the prevalent social life, from the folklore element. It also presents an opportunity to study the myths associated with Ram’s biography, with respect to the place, the period, and its relevant linkages. It also presents itself, says Dr. Dhere, as an important link in the mural-drawing tradition of Maharashtra.

He says, that the profound part in the verse is the one about Seeta caricaturing ‘only the thumb of left foot’.

He states, that in Seeta’s fidel mind, the sole thought must have been about a single vital-point which when attacked, will end the life of Ravana.

In various Indian, south Indian, Thai, and folk versions of Ramayana this concept of Ravan’s ‘life-point’ or ‘vital point’, which again is a typical concept in Indian folklore has recurred. The chapter presents an overview of all these mythical concepts from various sources. As per Valmiki Ramayana of course, this vital point was situated in Ravana’s heart. In this version, Ram is seen to have exploded this part of Ravana’s body with ‘Brahmastra’. This contention, that the ‘life point’ or ‘vital point’ of every body may lie within or outside each one’s body seems to be prevalent in all the folk – narratives, all through the world. Only if that point is destroyed, the existence of the said persona would end. Else, the individual is immortal.

With this explaination, Dr. Dhere points out ‘Bhavartha – Ramayana’ by Eknath, which although narrating a different story, mentions about Ravana himself indicating that his thumb of the left foot is his vital point, which Seeta hears. And that is the very reason she must have concentrated on this part during her confinement, thus appearing as a caricatured feature of Ravana in Ankushpurana, Dr. Dhere says. Bhavartha – Ramayana, being extremely popular in the Maharashtriyan households, this idea of ‘thumb of left foot’ got transferred, he says. At the end, Dr. Dhere opines that Ram is also equally responsible for this second mental torture of Seeta – as the Ravana. Why should a person (Ravana) after getting killed, re-appear in Ayodhya, throught this caricature? The narrow thinking of Ram has only given way to such a ‘reappearance’, states Dr. Dhere. He further states, Ram’s feeling the lord and master of one element (Seeta) and the feeling of being a tributary to another (Kaikeyi) will in evitably lead to conflicts and problems. Ram does not seem to have been ‘Co-existing together’ in a true sense with Seeta, Dr. Dhere observes. Instead, he himself seems to be the victim of this conflict. It is by any means, a disturbing scenario, he concludes.




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