24 Feb 2018 - 07:00 to 09:30
Hyderabad , Telangana
Along with history and monuments, Charminar houses a variety of
24 Feb 2018 - 17:30 to 19:30
Vijayawada , Andhra Pradesh
Vijayawada is known for the softest idlis and crispy dosas but
25 Feb 2018 - 08:00 to 10:00
Fort Kochi , Kerala
The first European township in India was built as a fort city by


In conversation with Prof. Vijaya Ramaswamy on Kamba-ramayaṇam

Paste Url
Kanad Sinha in conversation with Prof. Vijaya Ramaswamy

Kanad Sinha: As we are talking about the Rāmakathā tradition, how do you perceive the Rāmakathā tradition in particular? For example, do you think that the Rāmakathā tradition is centred on one ur-text, the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, or do you think that it is an open tradition formed by several independent versions of the Rāmakathā, each of which is equally valid on its own right?

Vijaya Ramaswamy: Yes, I do believe in many, many Rāmāyaṇas or, more importantly, many Rāmakathā traditions. Not only it is more important, but it is the way it existed. Because, the ‘ur tradition’ is in Sanskrit, and people in Uttarakhand, people in Madurai, would not have read the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa. So, I believe that there was a spontaneous evolution of Rāmakathā, and that’s why you find such marvellous variations in the story. There is the Jaina version, there are many other versions, essentially because of the fact that there was some kind of a core text or ‘ur-text’ and there was a known bare outline of the story, but every region produced its own Rāmakathā and that I think is the reality rather than one text from which everything else branches out. So, what needs to be celebrated is many Rāmakathās.

K.S: Right. So, when we speak of these regional Rāmakathās, how are they located within the tradition in general – the regional Rāmakathās in general, and Kampan’s Irāmāvatāram in particular? Because, as I was saying, Kampan’s is probably the oldest of all the regional language Rāmakathās. So, should it be considered a Tamil rendering of Vālmīki’s text or an independent text deriving materials from Vālmīki as well as the South Indian folk traditions and the tradition of Śrīvaiṣṇava bhakti which was already there? Can it be considered an iconic, indexical or symbolic translation as A.K.Ramanujan has indicated? Or, how do we locate the regional Rāmakathās in general, and Irāmāvatāram in particular, within the broad spectrum of the Rāmakathā tradition?

V.R: Kampan was actually in the court of the Colas. The twelfth-thirteenth centuries are of course the period when Kampan flourished. And, he wrote many things. Kamba-rāmāyaṇam is best remembered because it was within the religious tradition. But, one must remember that Kampan was very much into folk and community traditions. So, Kampan wrote many texts. He also wrote 70 verses in praise of the plough, which is called Er Ezhupathu. Along with these texts, I think that we have to situate Kampan’s Rāmāyaṇa. So, it is not just something drawing upon the ur-tradition or he was translating it. It is part of his own worldview, the imagination which coloured his existence which has a local, very rich texture. So, I think that it is very important to locate Kampan within this tradition rather than any tradition that developed within Northern India. I do not know about Bengal. Kṛttibāsa and other traditions may have connected with that. It is up to scholars of that region (to decide). But, I do necessarily believe that each region has produced its own Rāmāyaṇa, which has a common core, but the variations are so rich, so many, that one should go and look at the regional traditions as independent entities rather than fragments of the ‘ur’.

Now, your question as to whether it is iconic (or indexical or symbolic), you see, the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam formed a part of a classical Tamil tradition. So, when people from the north, perhaps, or scholars – foreign scholars – were looking for regional versions of the Rāmāyaṇa, they picked on Kampan’s text rather than the others. But, you must know that there are so many folk variations of the Rāmāyaṇa in Tamil Nadu, just as there are so many folk variations of the Mahābhārata, the most famous being Villiputhurār’s Villi Bhāratam. Similarly, Villiputhurār wrote widely on Nala-Damayantī, on Rāmāyaṇa, and that was really folk in the true sense, because it is part of a performance tradition: the Tamil jātrā tradition. And, if you ask the people, those are the versions they would be more familiar with. Kamba-rāmāyaṇam was too clichéd, too chaste, for many of the local people to understand or for the common people to understand. So, to that extent, I will not say that it is iconic. I will say that it is perhaps what in a way is the most representative of the Tamil version of the Rāmāyaṇa, but certainly not the only one.

 K.S: Okay. So, in that way, some people argue that the Rāmakathā is primarily a North Indian tradition. At least, it emerged in North India. Whereas, some other people argue that it’s a pan-Indian tradition. So, how to look at that? And, also, when Paula Richman edited that book called Many Rāmāyaṇas, she argued that though all the Rāmakathās are equally valid on their own right, there are some versions which are authoritative. And she named four of them: Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Tulsīdās’s Rāmcaritmānas, Kampan’s Kamba-rāmāyaṇam and Ramanand Sagar’s teleserial. And, about Kampan’s Rāmāyaṇa, what she argues is that it almost has the status (in South India) which Tulsīdās’s text has in North India. Because, many of the later Rāmakathās including the Kannada, the Malayalam, even the Thai and the Malaysian versions seem to have been inspired much more by Kampan than by Vālmīki or Tulsīdās. So, do you agree with this standpoint?

V.R: Well, with due reverence to Paula Richman, I do not quite agree that you can privilege four texts, especially Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan where people fight scientific wars with weapons that emit electrical flames and, you know, it is supposed to be a nuclear warfare. Now, I do not quite agree nor I would say that you can privilege essentially any particular text. It is true that Sanskrit is an old language. So, the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, by virtue of its antiquity perhaps, is privileged. Hindi is the most important language of the Gangetic belt, what they call the ‘cow belt’, although ‘Hindi’ as a language and Tulsīdās’s Rāmāyaṇa is only a sixteenth century tradition, not before that. Before that, what you have is ‘Hindawi.’ And you have various other versions of the Rāmāyaṇa floating around in the same region. But, the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam is a twelfth century tradition.  It is true that the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam was the point from which many of the other Rāmāyaṇas take off, essentially because of the notion of what is called the ‘Greater India.’ You have the Pallava expansion in the South and in Southeast Asia. You have the Cola connections with Sri Lanka and the Southeast Asia. And, Sri Lanka, as you know, is very closely connected with the Rāmāyaṇa. Not only Sri Lanka, but also – very interestingly – the entire area which became the Vijayanagara Empire, is very, very closely connected with the entire Rāmāyaṇa. So, it is not just a North Indian tradition. It very much belongs to the south, because the region of Kiṣkindhā is supposed to have been located in the Karnataka region and Hanumān is the most important deity there. And the mountains that are there are supposed to be the Kiṣkindhā mountains in Vijayanagara. So, the entire popular base of the Vijayanagara Empire takes off from the Rāmāyaṇa legends.

And, you already made this point that the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam could have inspired and probably did inspire the South (Indian) and Southeast Asian versions – the Thai version, the Indonesian version, the Malaysian version, the Sri Lankan version – essentially because of the political and maritime connections that the Pallavas and the Colas had. So, as trade spread, culture spread, and culture is also inclusive of religious traditions, mythological traditions.

K.S: Yes. So, as you said, Kampan composed his text probably in the twelfth century. So, by that time, South India is a major centre of bhakti. Already the Nayanārs and Ālvārs are there. Śrīvaiṣṇava bhakti is there. And bhakti is probably a major component of Kampan’s Rāmāyaṇa also. So, how did the influence of bhakti determine the nature of Kampan’s telling? For example, of course Kampan sanitized many parts of Vālmīki’s telling. For example, Rāvaṇa does not physically touch Sītā when he abducts Sītā, but he abducts her with the earth of the area she was standing on. And Rāma extends not only friendship but also fraternity to the Niṣāda Guha, the Vānara Sugrīva and the Rākṣasa Vibhīṣaṇa. He says, “We were four brothers to begin with. Now we are seven brothers.” So, Rāma is a much more compassionate character than he was in the Sanskritic tradition. Similarly, in the Śūrpanakhā episode, Rāma is ignorant of the mutilation of Śūrpanakhā till it happened, and then he scolds Lakṣmaṇa for the act. So, does Kampan actually portray Rāma in more favourable lights because of the bhakti connections? And, if that is so, strangle enough, he also shows Rāvaṇa and Kumbhakarṇa in more positive lights than in the Sanskritic tradition. Why is it so?   

V.R: You see, the bhakti tradition is a very longe dure movement. It begins somewhere around the sixth/seventh century with the Nayanars and the Alvars and goes on till the seventeenth-eighteenth centuries, and it meanders its way through Vīraśaivism in Karnataka, the Warkari Movement in Maharashtra, the Caitanya movement in Bengal, the Kabīr-Nānak-Mīrā movement in the Gangetic belt, and so on. In a sense, bhakti has been part of a religiousity, let’s say has been a part of the tana bana, the very fabric of the Indian communities. So, in that way, there was nothing new in the Kamba-rāmāyaṇa coming in the twelfth century. Yes, definitely it was a twelfth century text. It was not a cerebral text in that sense, because Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa is sometimes seen as something where it has not tried to divinize Rāma. But, Kampan’s Kamba-rāmāyaṇa definitely falls within a genre of pure devotion, compassion, love. So, that difference is there. But if you ask me, I think that the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam is extolled for another reason. It is its literary excellence. It is very much located within a genre of classical literary text. So, it’s not just a devotional text. People refer to the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam for its grammar, its syntax, the way it uses words. The way you refer to the Tolkāppiyam, you refer to the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam. Thirdly, it’s different from the devotional texts in a sense that you sing the hymns of Aṇḍāl who is an Ālvār, you can sing the hymns of Karāikkal Āmmayār or Mānikkavacagar who are Nayanārs, these are parts of the popular singing devotional traditions. Kamba-rāmāyaṇam was never that. Because, as I said, it is classical, it is literary, although it is – in the same time – devotional. So, that difference I would like to point out. Apart from that, the fact that the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam is definitely a more compassionate text on the whole, it humanizes, there is no black and white images in the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam, is for two reasons.

Now, you made a point that the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam is sanitizing the situations in the Rāmāyaṇa because it says that Rāvaṇa never touched Sītā. But don’t you find the same thing in the Adhyātma Rāmāyaṇa. Exactly the same tradition: that it was ‘Māyā Sītā’ that he touched. So, this is not something peculiar to the Kamba-rāmāyaṇa. And also remember that Rāvaṇa suffered from a curse, the curse being that if he touched a woman against her willing directly, he would be burnt. This was a curse that he carried and was very conscious of, which is why even in the Aśokavana he did not try to touch Sītā. So, may be the earth would prevent him from a direct touch. So, there are number of interpretations. You can play on that.

The other point you made that he not only humanizes Rāma – apart from being a compassionate figure he is someone who tells Rāvaṇa that you are tired today, come back tomorrow. That’s a very famous line in Tamil: “intropoi naleva.” I’ve got a film in fact, which is a 1940s film. It is an old film called the Sampoorna Ramayana where Rāma sees that Rāvaṇa is tiring, he says that, “Let’s stop the war at this point. You may see me tomorrow, the next day.” So, that’s something very interesting about the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam. Apart from that, you must realize that we are talking about Dravidian literature. It is the ‘Dravida Nadu.’ So it also shared a lot of features, aspects – cultural and otherwise – in common with Sri Lanka which was Rāvaṇa’s land. So, they don’t really see Rāvaṇa as the ‘other.’ The kind of juxtaposition you find in the North was probably not that true in the South. In fact, if you see this film, it shows Rāvaṇa’s śivabhakti, it shows that he was a great vaiṇika. You know, my mother used to play the vīṇā. So, in many traditional South Indian homes, the vīṇā is an instrument that you will find around the place. My mother used to play it. Rāvaṇa was supposed to be an excellent vaiṇika. Our past President Abdul Kalam was an excellent vaiṇika. So, this side of Rāvaṇa that he was musical and he ran one of the finest administrations in Sri Lanka – in fact, Hanumān says at one point that “I have not seen a better administered land” – his positive qualities, are also brought out all the time. That could be basically because Kampan is perhaps a more humane (poet) and someone who relates to grassroots, someone who is not writing for the elites, someone who is also writing for the common people, despite the fact that he has a very strong literary style. And I am saying this again and again because of the other texts he wrote, which related to communities who are weavers, who are farmers. Er Ezhupathu refers to the farming community. And, may be, even the language he uses there is different. So the fact that he came from that environment, related to the people, would also have made a difference. So, it’s multifaceted. You have to look at it from so many angles. It doesn’t go one way or the other. In fact, I remember a professor of Philosophy, who had shown me a grass we called dhruva grass. You do not know which way it will move. The shoots come out in so many directions. So, in fact, historical logic must need to go in several directions. Otherwise, like Paula Richman, who is a fantastic scholar, you will end up trying to prioritize or privilege certain texts vis-à-vis the other texts.


K.S: When we speak about this compassion in Kampan or a more humane treatment in Kampan, there is one very striking exception to that in the text, which David Shulman wrote about, that is the agniparīkṣā sequence where Rāma’s behaviour is much more brutal than in any other Rāmāyaṇa. He abuses Sītā about her birth and about her consumption of meat and alcohol in Rāvaṇa’s place. And he accuses, “Why didn’t you die, after being abducted, in shame?” So, these elements are there. And, also, the rebuttal is equally brutal, because the fire itself gets scorched by Sītā’s fiery chastity and then Rāma is accused of committing adharma by the divinities. So, why is emotion so heightened in this particular episode? One reason for that can be because it is the backdrop when Rāma’s divinity will be openly declared when the fire god will come up and everything, or the other reason is that since it is a scene of separation, looking back at the Sangam tradition, it is the pālāi tinnāi which is associated most with separation and pālāi is the most arid of all the tinnāis. So, is that element of Sangam poetry coming into Kampan while he is composing this particular episode?

V.R: Actually looking for any Sangam parallel should be neytāl, rather than pālāi, which is the coastal (zone). Basically, these people were sea-faring. Look at Śilappadikāram. It’s about sea-faring communities. And Śilappadikāram draws a lot from the neytāl tradition where the husband goes away to the sea and the wife stays. But, it is sorrowful, it is languorous, it is full of passion and sorrow. There is no anger in the neytāl tradition.

K.S: Ya, that’s why I spoke of pālāi.

V.R: But pālāi doesn’t have the tradition. Pālāi has a militant tradition. Koṭravāi is a militant goddess. So the only parallel, if you are looking for a parallel, is neytāl. But there is no anger in it. There is separation, there is passion, there is love, there is sorrow, dejection. Now, one doesn’t know, a writer has what is called a ‘writer’s liberty.’ He can be contradictory. He can be compassionate at one point. He can be doing something else. We cannot really enter into the skin of Kampan, especially when he lived so many, many, many years ago. Even (about) recent writers, we cannot really know why Krishna Sobti or Bhisham Sahni says one thing at one point and another thing at another point. Because, I am also intrigued with these people, you know. So, it’s very difficult. And to say about someone like Kampan, you do not know why. You offered me one (interpretation) that the divinization of Rāma – that was the logical end. I could tell you that probably. I can tell you that probably (because) a part of this – the agniparīkṣā – is one of the most popular (episodes) in performance tradition. Just as, from the Mahābhārata, it is draupadī vastraharaṇa that is highlighted. Everybody has highlighted that incident. So, it could be that it is dramatisation, it is a part of a writer’s art. You need not attribute any greater (meaning) to it.

But Kampan, let me tell you, can also be brutal in other ways. It is a very patriarchal text. Although it is true that Sītā talks back, whether her talking back has been given a place that a feminist would give is different. Now, I am just saying it, it is in aside, but I would like you to consider that even the soft and soapy Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan, when it comes to Sītā towards the end, the blazing anger that is shown comes as a tremendous surprise. Another reason why you cannot draw comparison with early Sangam literature is because agniparīkṣā is not a part anywhere of early Sangam literature.

Now, I did make the point that Kampan’s is after all a patriarchal text. I am saying this because sati is there in a very big way in the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam, while, again, sati is not a part of South Indian tradition, too. Sati is a latecomer in Southern India. In Northern India, it’s much earlier. It is the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam which brings in sati in such a big way. So, perhaps it is a Brahmanical Sanskritization influence. Perhaps. I am not saying yes or no. I am not such a great scholar that I can ascertain one way or the other. But, I think that it is interesting why female chastity became celebrated in such a big way in the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam. As to that, I have many, many questions. I don’t have answers.

K.S: Even more interestingly, Kampan, even though he is composing in the twelfth century, by the time the ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ is very well established, finishes with the union of Rāma and Sītā. So, is it an indication of an awareness about the fact that the ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ might be a later interpolation or does not fit in well with the Rāmakathā tradition properly? Because, there were many other texts also, which would leave out the ‘Uttarakāṇḍa.’ Bhavabhūti would compose the Mahāvīracarita up to the ‘Yuddhakāṇḍa’ and he would compose the ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ as a completely separate text; or, Bhāsa composed the Pratimānāṭakam which also ends with the crowning of Rāma. So, is there an awareness that the ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’ is not exactly fitting into the structure of the Rāmāyaṇa?

V.R: Sure. But, why the ‘Uttarakāṇḍa’? Not only because it is a late interpolation and also because the Rāmāyaṇa is an auspicious text, unlike the Mahābhārata. The Rāmāyaṇa is read in every home. Especially the ‘Sundarakāṇḍa’ is read in every home when people want to fulfil a particular vow. And, then, definitely is the ‘rāmapaṭṭābhiṣeka’. So, rāmapaṭṭābhiṣka, the return to Ayodhyā, is actually the end of the Rāmāyaṇa so far all descriptions are concerned. Subsequently, you can keep on building the story that Lava-Kuśa had children and this was what happened, like the Mahābhārata goes on and on and on and doesn’t stop at any point. It doesn’t stop with Yudhiṣṭhira becoming the king. So, the Rāmāyaṇa text stops at that because this is a very auspicious end to the text and the Rāmāyaṇa is read in so many homes. It is the way that I would look at it. Also, in a way, the uttara-rāmāyaṇa is such a late tradition, it may not have really percolated down to the various regions. So, even the awareness of the uttara-rāmāyaṇam may not have been there to that extent. So, that is the thing I am saying: the core remains intact. And the core is what they are following. And the uttara-rāmacaritam is certainly not a part of the core.

K.S: Now, if we shift our attention from Kampan to the Tamil Śrīvaiṣṇava tradition in general, there are many other interpretations, like Pillāi Lokācārya considers the Rāmāyaṇa primarily as a text demonstrating the greatness of Sītā, rather than the greatness of Rāma. Because, being the goddess Śrī, Sītā is actually instrumental in devotional theology as the mediator between the devotee and deity. And, more importantly, Sītā exemplifies the quality of surrender, which is called prapatti in this kind of bhakti, as the best means of liberation. That’s why they say that despite possessing the power to burn down Rāvaṇa into ashes, Sītā suffers and waits for Rāma to come and liberate her. And the importance of surrender is emphasised on in the selective interpretations of many other episodes as well. For instance, Manavalammār notes that Rāma let the war-weary Rāvaṇa withdraw, as you were saying that when Rāvaṇa was tired he let him withdraw from the battlefield, only when he let go of his bow. Therefore, the individual efforts aided by instruments like scriptures or rituals actually hinder salvation, whereas surrender is the right way. Or, it is said that Daśaratha lost Rāma by clinging to his virtue of truthfulness. If he let go his virtue of truthfulness, then Rāma would remain with Daśaratha. Similarly, Bharata failed to bring Rāma back, as he approached the Lord by his own volition, rather than being called by Rāma, while Hanumān and Guha – they found Rāma, because Rāma actually came to them at the right time. So, how is this understanding of the Rāmāyaṇa related to the textual universe of Kampan?

V.R: That is a very interesting question. See, I would say that prapatti definitely is a very important aspect of the Rāmakathā in the southern tradition. But, it is not just the Ālvārs. You know, Vibhīṣaṇa’s śaraṇāgati (surrender) is a very celebrated event in the Tamil versions of the Rāmāyaṇa. You’ll find that ‘Vibhīṣaṇa’s śaraṇāgati’ is performed, is celebrated, because ultimately he has the courage to opt in favour of the truth.

But, also remember that the Rāmāyaṇa is an extremely complex text, because all the time it is confronting you with choices. So (speaking of) this choice, if you look at what we call paṭṭimaṇḍalam, in Tamil we have this tradition where you have vāda-vivāda – it’s a very old tradition going back to the period of Kampan, one of the favourite topics is why did Rāma kill Vālin, hidden behind a tree? Why didn’t he come in front of him and fight like a true soldier? Why did Rāma make Sītā go through the agniparīkṣā twice, when he knew her to be virtuous? Why does Rāma listen to the careless words of a washer man? And, as you rightly said, why does he abandon royal duty in favour of filial duty? So, that is a kind of abandoning, because that is what Lakṣmaṇa says, “You are a king. Your first duty is to the people, just not your father.” So, it’s a matter of choices. The Rāmāyaṇa is an extremely interesting text because it’s always posing the hero Rāma in the state of dilemma: this or that? This road to take or that road to take? Which is why he is really human. If you are a god, then all your decisions are already taken, like Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa in the Mahābhārata is clearly a divine figure. He is doing all wrong things and getting away with it. “Adharme sthitvā dharmaṃ pradarśayāmi”: I go in the path of unrighteousness to show the path of righteousness. That is the path of Kṛṣṇa. Well, with Rāma, it is never that. It is always his making of hard decisions like killing human beings. And those are the focal points in the discussions which come out in the Tamil tradition of debating. I hope I answered your question.

K.S: Finally, any discussion on the Rāmakathā in Tamil Nadu is incomplete without at least referring to E.V. Ramasami’s reading of the Rāmāyaṇa, and he critiqued the Rāmāyaṇa, as I was saying, as a North Indian tradition, primarily reflecting the North Indian conquest of South India, which is Brahmanical cultural hegemony. And he also tried to show the Rāmāyaṇa protagonists as flawed characters. However, in the process, he takes not only every literal detail of the Rāmāyaṇa as a historical occurrence, in critiquing them, but also uses highly conservative Brahmanical yardsticks to find out the flaws in the major characters. So, he criticises Sītā for talking back to her husband. He criticises Daśaratha for being given to sexual passion. Bharata, Lakṣmaṇa and Śatrughna are criticised for not being adequately respectful to their parents. Kauśalyā and Sumitrā are criticised for desiring the throne for Rāma, Hanumān for using obscene language in Sītā’s presence, and Aṅgada for not loving his uncle Sugrīva who killed his father! So, as his thoughts are of immense political significance in the history of contemporary Tamil Nadu, still how do we locate him, and the clear self-contradiction which is there in Periyar, within the Rāmakathā tradition?

V.R: I think, it is very important to be able to present the ‘other’ side. So, in a sense, Periyar’s contribution is of great significance because of the text he wrote. I read all the back issues of the Courier issue, and he was serializing his views on what he called ‘rāvaṇāyaṇa’, the story of Rāvaṇa: that it (Rāvaṇa’s Laṅkā) was an excellently administered state, all the positive things (about Rāvaṇa). It brought out that it (the Rāmāyaṇa) is not (about) evil versus good, it never was evil versus good. There was logic on both sides, there was fatality on both sides.

K.S: Even in Vālmīki, it is not clearly evil versus good.

VR: Ya, so it is later. In fact, this entire tradition of Rāvaṇa-burning and all is a very incorrect tradition, because it tends to see things in black and white, while it is always the shades of grey which have to be recognised. So, in a sense, I think that E.V. Ramasami Naikkar’s text or Periyar’s text. His interpretation of Rāvaṇa’s role, his perception of the role, is important.

But having said that, you are very correct that he is again locating it within patriarchy. He is not really moving away from the same ground. May be he is arguing differently, but using the same premises. And if you draw upon Periyar’s own life, in fact he was a patriarch at home and his wife was a deeply religious person. She believed in the Rāmakathā in the true sense. She was a fervent temple-goer. And when she died, Periyar said that, “I have never been fair to Nagammai the way I should have been. I never treated her fairly.” So, this is what you call, the ‘catch 22’ situation for many of these people, because they emerge out of the situation into which they were bred. He was bred into a patriarchal situation. He was not born out of that. But the very fact that he was trying to question it is interesting. But, he himself acknowledges this at many points, particularly in the case of his wife, that he wishes that he could have treated her differently. So, if he is angry with Sītā for talking back to Rāma, it is in line with his own domestic situation.

Periyar has to be admired for having brought Rāvaṇa to the limelight. But, the weaknesses are what you would find if you look at the feminist fighters of that period. They were talking about feminism. But, you will find that they did not give up their homes. They were grappling with negotiating husband, children, home, and were talking about women’s liberation outside. So, Periyar’s dilemma is something similar and natural.

K.S: Thank you, ma’am, for the interview. It has really been very enlightening.

VR: Thank you. I enjoyed doing it, for this was an opportunity to talk about the Kamba-rāmāyaṇam.