Throughout Indian History many authors and producers have written and produced their own versions of the tale and the writers and producers at doordarshan were doing the same by projecting their version of the story into the minds of millions of viewers every week. Never before had a show seen such a massive audience and the producers were transmitting their version of the show to mass audiences and were unconsciously making it a part of “National culture”
In critiquing the television production, one must call attention to the diverse history of the Ramayana in which it is said that it doesn’t belong to just one moment of history as its own history lies embedded in the many versions that were written over the long periods of time during its existence.
Each variation of the text or story shows the different social aspirations and ideological concerns of each group was noted and written down.
With the broadcasting of the show there is a possibility that the homogenization of the story could result in the loss of culture and other telling’s of the story, other versions of the Ramayana might be supressed or marginalised.
With Doordarshan broadcasting its version of the story on National Television it was simply showing one specific version of the epic, the one which it penned down to be broadcast to millions, by doing so Doordarshan decided what incidents to include and not include in the story and how to portray the characters or versions of events which happened over the course of the epic hence making its own unique version of the Ramayana different from others.
The different stories in the Ramayana are open to interpretation and people have to read in between the lines to find the hidden message behind the text as the Ramayana has several social messages hidden within the text over the years.
But the Ramayana doesn’t just provide answers, the text is open for debate and has caused various different interpretations of characters and events in the epic or there could be retellings or rewritings of the story to portray one social message over another or give one character more importance. So, this could be seen as the way South Asia wants to project its social ideas and ideals of the way of life. Since there are tens of millions of people living in South India there could be millions of different Ramayana out there and each one being unique.
Along with Valmiki’s Ramayana there are hundreds of telling’s of Rama out there in South Asia, India and beyond. In the essay Three Hundred Ramayana’s: Five examples and Three thoughts on translation A.K. Ramanujan looks on five different versions of the Ramayana- Valmiki’s Sanskrit poem, Kampan’s Iramavataram A Tamil literary account, Jain telling which provide a non-Hindu perspective on familiar events, A kannada folktale which that reflects thoughts on sexuality and child bearing and the Ramakien produced for a Thai audience rather than an Indian One.
Ramanujan Urges people to view the different Ramayana’s as rich sources of Indian culture and wherever Indian culture took root. He also went on to say Ramayana stories take shape in particular context, they may be influenced by individual beliefs or group beliefs or religious beliefs and significance.
The argument of there being three hundred Ramayana’s or three thousand or three million is strongly based on is massive geographical influence in India and South Asia and different parts of the world with different social groups and cultures penning down their version of the story over its 2000-year-old history.
The Different versions of the epic are open to interpretation but with so many versions in existence its very hard to definitely say which one is the original, rather each different version is unique and original to the social and cultural group it originated from.