Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President after inaugurating Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendras Dance Drama SHRIRAM, in New Delhi on September 29, 2019.

New Delhi | September 29, 2019

“मुझे बड़ी प्रसन्नता है कि आज भगवान श्रीराम के जीवन चरित्र का उत्सव मनाने के लिए एकत्र प्रबुद्व और प्रतिष्ठित अतिथिगण के बीच आने का अवसर मिला है। आपके आमंत्रण के लिए आप सभी का आभारी हूं।

श्रीराम भारतीय कला केन्द्र द्वारा आयोजित नृत्य नाटिका “श्रीराम” का लोकार्पण करते हुए स्वयं को धन्य हुआ अनुभव कर रहा हूं। मुझे ज्ञात हुआ है कि नृत्य नाटिका की इस वार्षिक परंपरा का प्रारंभ 1957 में हुआ था। विगत 62 वर्षों से प्रति वर्ष इस कला को नये प्रयोगों से निरंत समृद्व किया गया है। इस उपलब्धि के लिए मैं आयोजकों और इस संस्थान की निदेशक श्रीमती शोभा दीपक सिंह जी का अभिनंदन करता हूं।

विगत 62 वर्षों में आपने रामकथा को हमारी धरोहर के रुप में संजोया है, उसको कला रुप में समृद्व किया है-उसका देश-विदेश में प्रसार-प्रचार किया है। आपके प्रयास अभिनंदनीय हैं।

The Ramleela of India is a folk tradition, which has been recognized by the UNESCO as world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. In fact, many countries in Asia have their own rich traditions of Ramayana performances. Since ancient times, Lord Rama’s glorious tales have spread through the South East and Far East and became an integral part of the culture of countries of this region such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Vietnam and even Japan and China. For some of these countries, the Ramayana is the national epic, while Thailand’s ancient capital was named after Ayodhya itself.  Closer home, the Ramayana tradition is shared with Srilanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The pervasive influence and presence of the Ramayana in the life and cultural traditions of East Asia since ancient times must be cherished and respected by all Indians.

The story of Lord Rama travelled with Indian Diaspora and became a part of the culture of countries like Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad and all such places. Rama has always been a part of local folklore in every part of India. Now, I am told that there is a group in Russia performing the epic in the Russian language regularly for many years, while research is going on to find lord Rama’s footprints in the Middle East too.

Undoubtedly, Ramayana is a heritage of the entire mankind .We must make the best efforts to preserve, propagate and deepen our understanding of this immortal epic.

The sublimity and creativity of a culture is reflected in its art forms, its literature, its music, folklores and crafts. Often these art forms, folklore and music develop around a central character which carries all that is deemed as virtuous in a tradition. In India, Maryada Purushottam Shri Ram and Yogeshwer Krishna are the two such characters, who for  ages have guided us to  a life of valor, virtues and spirituality.

Rama was a prince of Ayodhya, but his exile took him to the remotest parts of the subcontinental geography. His exile gave him the opportunity to travel widely across the length and breadthof the country. Even today, every region, every community,  claims to have some bit of Rama. They own Rama, they closely associate and identify with Ram katha as their own. And the tradition is still alive and continuing. There is an emerging trend in recent Indian writings to re-interpret Ramayana, relocate its ethics in modern context and re-discover its historicity.        

Within India Lord Rama’s epic story has been written, recited and enacted since the time of the Puranas in almost all the major languages – from Sanskrit to Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati, Marathi, Oriya, Bengali, Assamese, Kashmiri, Punjabi and Urdu, besides the languages and dialects of Hindi region. There are more than 40 adaptations of Ramayana in the Telugu language itself.

Similarly, in the performing arts while the Ramleela tradition is popular in the theatre form of the north, the episodes from the epic have been enacted in major theatre forms of the different parts of the country such as Kathakali of Kerala, Therukoothu of Tamil Nadu, KuchipudiYakshaganam of Andhra, Yakshagana of Karnataka, Ankia Bhaona of Assam, amongst others.

There are more than 300 versions of Ramayana in Indian literary tradition and a larger number in our performing art traditions – in songs, ballads, dance and theatre forms of all the regions.

I am very glad to know that the Shriram Bharatiya Kaka Kendra has consciously sourced, collated and synthesized elements from many of these traditions of the country in creating its Ramleela.

I appreciate the efforts of the Kendra in conceptualizing and creating a vibrant collage of Ramleela in dance drama forms based on India’s varied traditions of classical and folk dances, classical and regional music, martial and acrobatic arts, masks and make-up styles and many other stage techniques and devices. I understand, that constant and continuous effort is being made and new experiments are being done to bring in new elements, technology and energy every year for keeping its Ramayana tradition alive and inspiring to the audience. As we know, tradition is best preserved through constant re-creation.

It is appropriate that the Government of Uttar Pradesh through its Ayodhya Shodh Sansthan honoured this Kendra as one of the five international organisations for their unparalleled contribution in the field of Ramleela.

Today, as we assemble here to enjoy a beautiful performance, let us pause and think what are the core values of the Ramayana, what is its essence. The Ramleela performance is not meant only to recall and recreate the episodes in Lord Rama’s life and enjoy the taste of different Rasas that the performance would give us. As we relate to the scenes on the stage and go through various emotions of joy, affection, love, sorrow, fear etc. we actually realize the message that the life story of Rama and Sita has for all humanity.

The epic of Ramayana reminds us of our duty towards the world, society and family. Ramayana defines the relationship of human beings with each other, and with mother earth, nature, birds and animals. Through his ‘Leelas’ Maryada Purushottam Rama exemplifies the best of virtues in these relationships and sets the highest of ideals for man to follow. In all the stages and roles of his life on the earth, his thoughts and actions seek to establish the path of righteousness by carrying out the duties and setting standards of conduct.

In our current times, this message gains new relevance and importance. The inexorable march of technology has brought the mankind together. As global citizens in a global village now we have distinct duties and responsibilities towards each other, towards nature and environment, towards all the beings and elements that make this world. We have to perfect the art of living together. This is the true spirit of our ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. This is the ideal of caring and sharing that is at the core of our philosophy. We have a duty to perform in the larger interest of the society and the country.  Be it for controlling pollution, saving water or preserving the environment or any other similar issues of common good, each one has to take a small step on daily and regular basis. We have a sustainable, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world beckoning us.  We have huge challenges but there are countless opportunities.  The Ram Rajya is waiting to be realized. Our smallest contribution will help in realizing the ideal Ram Rajya – a truly enlightened ethical democratic society.

आज जब पहली नवरात्रि के शुभ अवसर पर रामलीला के वार्षिक आयोजन का शुभारंभ कर रहे हैं, मैं आपसे आग्रह करूंगा कि हमारे आदर्श पुरुष मर्यादा पुरुषोत्तम श्री राम द्वारा दिखाये गये नैतिकता के मार्ग का सत्यनिष्ठा से अनुसरण करें। आइये हम सभी इस विलक्षण कृति को प्रस्तुत करने वाले कलाकारों, डिजाइनरों, स्टेज का निर्माण करने वाले शिल्पकारों, तकनीकी सहायकों और निर्देशक का अभिनंदन करें कि रामायण के संदेश के माध्यम से हमें हमारे धर्मपरायण कर्तव्यों का स्मरण कराया।

जय हिन्द।"