RAMAYANA and Richard Wagner by Dilip Roy

Rama accompanies me, I was reading the farewell, his final departure from the city of Ayodhya. Rama with Sita and Lakshmana marching into the forest – who would not like to be Rama, Sita or Lakshmana…writes Dilip Roy

Like most intellectuals of !9th century Germany, who were influenced and inspired by India’s ancient VEDIC philosophy and epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana among them was composer Richard Wagner the Doyen of German opera and the greatest icon of 19th century Europe was deeply inspired by India’s classical literature and Ramayana was one of them.

Following are the extracts from his diary published in 1865 called the BROWN BOOK: Wagner is constantly reading the Indian epic Ramayana.

Oh, how grand the Rama poem becomes, and ever finer! – Really, merely to secure for oneself the right mood for such a thing must be too able to withdraw from all the vulgarity of the present. That costs total effort, and at the beginning one thinks it won’t work at all: the incomprehensible excesses of the introduction, for example, one feels like yawning and jeering at. But just go on: at last, it dawns on you! What sort of world that is, and how it is built up and executed! ” A work of art to marvel at – against which a modern novel seems like a newspaper article.” I am into the second volume. It is alive, sounding and moving around me. Oh, Rama is divine! How grand, how vast everything becomes for me at having to deal with such people! ” A glorious drama stands there before me, different from all others.”

Rama accompanies me, I was reading the farewell, his final departure from the city of Ayodhya. Rama with Sita and Lakshmana marching into the forest – who would not like to be Rama, Sita or Lakshmana. ” It is almost the finest thing I know Divine land of the Ganges.” At this point everyone gives way to tears, sighs, sobs, weeping howling and wailing – it beats one how the houses stay standing – and I sought the authoress of this misery wondering how she begins to endure such success for her not ardently malicious but merely ambitious undertaking. Then I saw hunch-backed Manthara who had given the counsel, and imagined her gazing down on all the monstrous misery and saying to it will herself coldly: ” Well, it will all pass, and soon at that, then it will be as if it never was, and we shall be the Lords.”                      

(Translated from the original German) The concept of Ramayana has been used by Wagner in his grand opera The Ring Cycle.

PS: This article is my homage to the upcoming Ram Temple in Ayodhya and to the Indian PM Narendra MODI who made it all happen.  Jai Hind ((Dilip Roy is a Fellow of Royal Asiatic Society UK and one of the greatest admirer of Richard Wagner )

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