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Heidi Pauwels Leads Ramayana Reading Group

August 24, 2023

During Spring Quarter 2023 Prof. Heidi Pauwels organized an informal reading group of the famous Classical Hindi version of the story of the Rāmāyana by the 16th-17th century poet Tulsīdās, sometimes referred to as the Bible of North Indian Hinduism. This was occasioned by the new publication of a reading guide featuring selections from the text (by Rupert Snell and Neha Tiwari), and the upcoming exhibition that features folios of a famous illustrated manuscript from the Ramnagar (opposite Benares) royal library.

Students enjoyed reading the texts with sneak peaks of the images courtesy American Institute of Indian Studies. Highlight of the class was learning to chant verses in the musical style common in Benares (where Tulsīdās lived part of his life) during a visit from Prof. Philip Lutgendorf (retired from University of Iowa), who has written extensively about the “Life of the Text”.  Professor Lutgendorf also shared insights from his recent translation of the whole work for the Murty Classical Library of India Series.