The Ramayana is one of the essential Epics in Indian history. It talks about the story of Rama – the most perfect, flawless and ideal man on earth. The Epic discussions about Rama’s life, the difficulties he faced and the utopian society he created.
Did you know that this Epic is not only famous in India but is popular in many Asian countries in different and diverse variations? One such version is the Thai version of Ramayana which is popularly known as Ramakien. It is the National Epic of Thailand.
Ramakien means “Glory Of Rama”. It is said that the epic reached Southeast Asia via the Indian traders and scholars who traveled to the empires of Khmer, Java from India. The economic and social ties between the then Bharat and these Southeast empires led to these cultural similarities.
Despite all these similar points, there are many differences between the Indian version of Ramayana and Thailand’s Ramakien! Read out to know more!
The Character of Lord Hanuman
Hanuman is depicted as the Monkey God in both versions. In the Ramayana, he is described as a bachelor and is characterized by his virtuousness and moral perfection. He is seen as the close supporter of Ram but never draws attention to himself. He serves Ram faithfully throughout the epic but is not seen as the main hero of Ramayana.
On the other hand, in the Ramakien version, Hanuman is seen as one of the most important protagonists and is seen to have a more significant role than Ram. He is described as a charming macho who is capable of seducing and attracting women. He is the opposite of being a staunch Bhramachari.
He is seen to have relationships with many women, out which include Vibhishan’s daughter, Raavan’s daughter and his wife Mandodari as well!
Ramakien depicts Hanuman to be the bridge himself who helped the Vanara army cross from India to Lanka. The story describes how he expanded in size and transformed into a human bridge for the army and Ram to cross.
Also read: The Story of China’s Self Inflicted Disaster
The Character of Sita
Sita, in the Ramayana, is the adopted daughter of Janaka – King of Mithila. According to the Epic, Sita was an abandoned baby found in the field by Janak. Since she was partially in the mud, they had to plow her out of the mud. Thus, the name Sita.
She is also seen as the daughter of the earth. Sita is known for patience, honor and is the most idealistic woman. She is believed to be the reincarnation of Goddess Lakshmi.
Contrary to this version, Nang Sida, the wife of Phra Rama is known as the adopted daughter of Janak just like the original version. But in Ramakien, she is seen as the birth daughter of Thotsakan (Raavan). When Sida was born, Thotsakan’s astrologers predict that she will bring doomsday to Lanka.
Fearing that they might kill his daughter, he abandons her in the forest and since the adoption by Janaka, keeps a close watch on her. On knowing the fact that her beloved is sent to a 14-year banishment with her newlywed husband, Thotsakan kidnaps her and brings her to Lanka.
A parallel version of this story is that Thotsakan fell in love with Sida and kidnaps her. But he does not rape her as he knows that a forceful touch on this chaste woman will burn him alive.
Names of Other Characters
- Lakshman – Phra Lak – half-brother
- Bharat – Phra Prot – half-brother
- Shatrughan – Phra Satrut – half-brother
- Kaushalya – Nang Kaosuriya – Ram’s mother
- King Dhashrath – Thotsarot -Ram’s father
- Kaikeyi – Nang Kaiyakesi – Ram’s stepmother and Bharath’s mother
- Sumitra – Nang Sammuthevi – Ram’s stepmother and Lakshman and Shatrughan’s mother
- Kumbakarn – Kumphakan – Raavan’s brother
- Indrajith – Inthrachith -Raavan’s son
It is interesting to notice how the names are also very similar to each other. This proves the fact that the world is indeed small and all religions and cultures are in many ways interconnected to each other.
This is the great story of the Ideal Man Ram and Ideal Wife Sita – the 8th avatar of Vishnu and his consort.
Ramakien or Ramayana – the ideals remain the same!