Imagine a figure revered across millions of people for over the unknown number of generations. Imagine an ideal personality which Kings wanted to model themselves on. Imagine a story central to the cultures transcending boundaries of today’s India. Imagine an ideal person whose life story gives framework for ethical behaviour to even illiterate masses. Imagine a hero which children can be asked to follow. Yes, we are talking about Lord Rama and Ramayan.
Rama as an Ideal King
In many South-East Asian Buddhist countries like Thailand, Cambodia etc Lord Rama is held as the ideal King. Even kings in these countries have used the name Rama and symbolisms in the ceremonies to show the resemblance to Ayodhya. Names of ancient cities like Ayutthaya (Ayodhya in the local language), Bali etc were indeed based on the life story of Rama. In Thailand, though the King was Buddhist, he established his royal credentials by identifying himself with the virtuous king Lord Rama.
As per the Korean folklore, Queen Suriratna (Heo Hwang-ok) was a princess in ancient Ayodhya who travelled to Korea 2,000 years ago (48 AD) and married a king of the Kim community. It is believed by the Kim people of Korea that a princess of Ayodhya had gone to South Korea who got married to a King Kim Suro. According to some Korean historians, there are more than six million present-day Koreans, of which the majority are from Gimhae Kim clan with surnames Heo and 이 (Lee/Yi) that trace their lineage to the legendary queen. In November 2018, The First Lady of South Korea, Kim Jung-sook visited the Ayodhya. Every year people come to Ayodhya to pay tribute to the princess at her motherland and visit the memorial to their royal ancestor on the west bank of Saryu river in the Ayodhya.
Versions of Ramayana
Across Sout-East Asia wherever you go, Lord Rama is revered as a hero. Ramayana is grounded throughout the region as a model of ethical behaviour, devotion to duty, respect for parents, gurus etc. Most of the countries have their own versions of Ramayana, a story that is embedded in their daily lives and culture. It is unofficially the national epic of many countries. Even in Islamic states like Indonesia, “Rama Kakavin” or “Rama Kavya” is known to many. Here is the list of various versions of Ramayana across the world, particularly South and South-East Asia.
|Country||Ramayana is known as|
|Yunnan (China)||Langka Sip Hor|
|Japan||Ramaenna or Ramaensho|
|Indonesia||Ramakavaca, Kakawin Ramayana, Yogesvara Ramayana, Ramayana Swarnadwipa|
|Laos||Phra Lak Phra Lam, Gvay Dvorahbi|
|Malaysia||Hikayat Seri Rama, Hikayat Maharaja Wana|
|Myanmar (Burma)||Yama Zatdaw (Yamayana)|
|Philippines||Maharadia Lawana, Darangen (Moro)|
|Nepal||Siddhi Ramayan, Bhanubhaktako Ramayan|
|Iran (Persia)||Dastan-e-Ram O Sita|
Thus, Lord Rama is revered across more than a billion of humanity acting as a bonding force even in modern times. Although the Ramayana says Lord Rama crossed the sea to go to Lanka, the life story and the ideals have appeal as an ethical compass for humanity across the ocean. It shows deep civilizational and historical relations between India and other countries. The decision of Ayodhya case is not just about a temple but about an ideal across shared culture.
With the verdict has cleared the way for Ram temple at the birthplace, Ayodhya may become a world’s prominent tourist centre in the years to come. In fact, Ayodhya has already started its developmental journey which you can read in our article How PM Modi & CM Yogi are Scripting a Glorious Chapter of Ayodhya.