The Ramayana, an ancient epic based in thousands of years of tradition, still captivates our popular imagination. In India, court judgments refer to the Ramayana, while advertisements frequently depict the ten-headed villain of this epic, Ravana. The main hero and heroine of the epic, Ram and Sita, are still spoken of as ideals and role models, used to prescribe the way men and women should live and relate to each other. This epic tradition has constructed and mediated relationships between god and man, man and woman, ruler and subject, poet and patron.
The Ramayana has been retold countless times over millennia – in art, performance, and in words – with each storyteller inscribing their own life experience onto the epic and reinterpreting its legacy for subsequent generations. In this course, we will examine how this epic tradition and its complex legacy influence ideas of life, leadership, power, and romantic relationships in India and beyond. The epic tradition still influences the culture, lifestyles, and beliefs of the Hindu diaspora, from the US to Guyana.
This course is designed to accommodate all levels of understanding, including curious non-Hindus who seek to understand the impact that this story has had on Hindu perspectives, history, and culture and enable them to perceive the continuing legacy of this epic today.
When she was eight, Samhita Arni started writing and illustrating her first book. The Mahabharata – A Child's View went on to be published in seven language editions and sell 50,000 copies. Samhita's second book, Sita's Ramayana, a graphic novel developed in collaboration with Patua artist Moyna Chitrakar, was on the New York Times Bestseller list for Graphic Novels. She is also the author of the speculative-fiction mythological thriller, The Missing Queen.
The Prince, her fourth novel, recently won the 2019 Neev Book Award.
Samhita lives in Bangalore with two cats and teaches creative writing at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology.