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Picture of 'Shodasi : Secrets of The Ramaya' provided by Saatyaki S/o Seshendra Sharma

Shodasi
Astounding scholarship of Sanskrit classics
A product of deep research, intense intellectual labour
And amazing scholarship
The book under review which is an English translation by Dr. Gurajada Suryanarayana Murthy of the original Telugu Text represents a scholarly attempt by the erudite author to justify and prove the validity of certain radical propositions which he makes about the world – renowned Kavya – Valmiki Ramayana. The propositions that he makes are – 1. Sundara Kanda is an allegory of Kundalini Yoga 2. Sita is Kundalini Shakti 3. Hanuman’s search – mission of Sita symbolises Tantric Exercise of identifying the Kundalini Shakti and raising it from the Moola Dhara Chakra (denoted by Lanka) to Sahasrara Chakra 4. The descriptive terms employed about Sita hint at Sita being essentially a Kundalini Shakti 5. Trijata’s dream is nothing but Gayathri Mantra 6. Valmiki’s language has pronounced Vedic flavour 7. The phraseology employed by Valmiki corresponds largely to the terms employed in Lalitha Sahasra Nama , Durga Saptasati , Devi Bhagawatam etc.. 8. The aptness of the name Sundara Kanda is provable on Strong Grounds 9. Ramayana is anterior to Bharatha on various grounds such as the Vedic language employed in the former the reference of Valmiki and Ramayana in Mahabharata and absence of reference to Vyasa and Mahabharata episodes in Ramayana , Mention of Rama in Mahabharata and Rama’s greater antiquity than Pandavas and a host of other plausible evidences 10. Indra , the chief Vedic god more prominently featured and praised in Ramayana than Vishnu of the Puranic origin. 11. Megha Sandesham of Kalidasa originated out of the seed of Valmiki Ramayana and 12. The benedictory verse of Sakuntalam is eulogy of Devi.
The brain – tickling propositions are not just of the cuff remarks made without basis but credible theories buttressed with profuse quotations of relevant Sanskrit Texts , wide and deep study of the relevant treatises unassailable arguments based on internal and external evidences and astounding scholarship of Sanskrit classics.
On the flip side, there are a few errors in the transliteration of the Sanskrit texts. Had the Sanskrit passages from the treatises been provided in Devanagari Script also in addition to transliterated form in Roman Script value and appeal of this essentially Sanskrit oriented book would be much higher to the large and growing Sanskrit readership. The book is doubtless, a product of deep research, Intense intellectual labour and amazing scholarship.
The Vedanta kesari : August 2016
The Lion of Vedanta
A Cultural and Spirtual Monthly of the of the Ramakrishna Order since 1944



Ramayan Through Kundalini Yoga
Shodasi is an ideal read for Sanskrit-literate readers
who are open to eclectic yogarthas and connotative meanings
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So you thought Vyasa was before Valmiki, Mahabharat was before Ramayan, Rama a Vishnu avatar, and tantrism distinct from vedism? Think again. In Shodasi: Secrets of the Ramayana, Telugu poet Seshendra Sharma re-reads the Ramayan to come up with a number of new conclusions.
Much of the book sets out to prove that Ramayan was written before the Mahabharat. Sharma discusses how Indra is cited more often than Vishnu, thus placing the context of the Ramayan closer to Vedic than Puranic thought. He quotes from the Mahabharat to show how it follows descriptions of hills, rivers from the Ramayan. The Mahabharat has some prose, and therefore, it must have been composed after Ramayan, which is entirely in poetry. These are only some of the numerous reasons that Sharma offers to suggest a new sequence of our itihasas.
Sharma’s book is also an experimental reading of the Ramayan through the interpretive lens of what he calls Kundalini yoga. Hanuman’s flight to Sri Lanka gets a new interpretation. “Charana Charite Pathi” is interpreted as the path of Kundalini, and the first verse of the Sundara Kanda “Tatho Ravana Nithayah” is interpreted by Sharma to refer to Hanuman traversing the sushumna nadi of the Kundalini.
Trijata’s dream becomes the Gayatri mantra through an imaginative recasting of words as numbers. Gaja (elephant) means eight, danta (teeth) means thirty-two, and maha-gaja-chaturdantam somehow also adds up to 32 syllables, which is the number of syllables in the Gayatri mantra. That Trijata’s dream is halfway through the Ramayan also becomes significant for Sharma, he calls it the ‘central bead’ in the Ramayan garland of 24,000 beads. Identifying 32-syllables as the Gayatri follows a convention, for mantras are referenced by the number of syllables; however, it is the “secret” yogartha—or mystical, anagogical translations—derived by Sharma that becomes problematic, unless he is considered an authority in his own right.
conclude that the name Sundarakand is unrelated to any descriptions of beauty of any of the main characters in the Ramayan. However, Soundarya and Tripura-Sundari are well-known conventions in the tantric tradition and hence, Sharma concludes that Sundarakand derives its name from Shakti’s beauty, and “Sundara-Hanuman” means “Hanuman who is a devotee of Devi” (117).
A coda in this book is about the benedictory verse in Kalidasa’s Sakuntalam which has traditionally been understood to refer to Ishwara. Sharma re-interprets this verse highlighting the “eight forms” of the last line as the eight forms of Devi that please Ishwara.
This book is suitable for a reader who is Sanskrit-literate and open to eclectic yogarthas and connotative meanings. Sharma cites substantially from the Ramayan in roman but without diacritics, this is difficult to follow; and he does not always include translation. Sharma often cites commentators without citing names and sources. It is not clear why the book is called Shodasi—readers may note, this book is not about the Srividya tradition. Even if the reader is unconvinced by Sharma’s reasoning or methodology, the free flow of references may prove absorbing for a reader interested in the subject.
This could also be an eclectic reference for a scholar researching tantric elements in the Ramayan.
- Mani Rao

The Sunday Standard Magazine
The New Indian Express
29th November 2015

Added on: 9th September 2021

 

 

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