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Did Ramanujan's Essay 300 Ramayanas Really Hurt the Sentiments of Hindus?

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Poet, folklorist, essayist, and translator, A K Ramanujan, died 13 July, twenty four years ago. A multilingual writer, Ramanujan worked tirelessly in translation after translation to draw our attention to folktales, oral stories, and literatures from classical Tamil, a language that is older than Sanskrit. In 2008, the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), took offence to his essay “Three Hundred Ramayanas” , and demanded that it be excluded from the then undergraduate syllabus of Delhi University. They claimed that the play was “offensive to the beliefs of millions of Hindus”. Was it really so? In the story below, we revisit Delhi University, the essay, and the man who was at the centre of the storm, A K Ramanujan.

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