This was recd. as comments from M K Subramanian for Ramayana as novel. As it is of high value I am putting it as seperate posting with due credit to M K Subramanian
Submitted on 2011/05/15 at 12:20 pm
Ramayana is an epic. In theater parlance, there is the Play, the Drama and finally the Epic.
In a play the plot is unfolded dialectically on the stage. (Of course, they are readable but joy is in visualizing the scenes!). There is thesis (the message the author wants to convey.), Antithesis (the conflict of situation, characters and events provoking the validity of ‘thesis’) and finally the Synthesis (A conclusion drawn from the sequence of events, that would ultimately communicate to the audience the message of the play.). A play normally engages the audience on local and timely themes, either to amuse or reform the practices of society. A play has less ‘shelf-life’ in term of relevance.
A Drama is a play the predominantly dwells on the emotional aspects more than situations and events. Hence it has more universal acceptance of themes and messages. Thus it has longer ‘Shelf-life’. So we says Shavian plays but Shakespeare’s dramas!
An Epic also is a narrative ‘play’. It has a universal audience for all times. Events and Emotions are combined effectively to communicate the central message. (For more on the subject please refer to Art of Dramatic Writing by Egri).
Mahabharata and Ramayana are both epics!
Mahabharata conveys the Dharma (Codes of conduct) in a class society with multi-dimensions of races and internal strife. The role of ruling class and their obligations to govern effectively is emphasised.
In Ramayana, the purpose is to define the concept of ‘Maryada Purushottam’ (An ideal MAN). The story is set in Thretha Yuga. Until then the Lord had no occasion to depict, in His incarnations, the correct interpretations of the scriptural dictum ‘Dharmam Chara’, Satyam Vada”, Achaarya Devo Bhavo’ etc. Ramayana and charect Sri Rama enable defining these concepts by living life as ordained in the scriptures!
Contributed by M K Subramanian