One of the greatest Sanskrit epic poems ever written is Ramayana, which is thought to have originated in northern India during the tenth to twelfth centuries B.C.E.
Indian poet Valmiki is generally credited as the author of the oldest written version of Ramayana, which consist of 24,000 verses divided into 500 songs.
Ramayana tells the story of the noble prince Rama, who steadfastly adheres to his morals even when facing dire consequences. The story of Ramayana has been a powerful theme in Indian arts, literature and religion since its inception. It also spread throughout much of Southeast Asia in the first millennium A.D. In each country in South and Southeast Asia that underwent Ramayana influence, local artist blended and reinterpreted segments of the epic in ways that fit with indigenous cultural, ethical and artistic understanding. In this way, one finds indigenous expressions in the Ramayana temple arts of Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, and other country.
Ramayana has proven to be a successful model that unites communities of different languages, cultures and religions. This model has the potential to bring about unity and harmony among different communities worldwide.
Ramayana promotes good human values, has acceptability and a proven track record among Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Muslims, who have accepted its message voluntarily. Ramayana, originally an Indian scripture, has fascinated and inspired poets, writers, sculptors, painters, musicians, dancers, puppeteers and singers in several countries worldwide. Ramayana applies its moral and ethical values to everyday life.
Ramayana is part of the educational curriculum in schools and universities in Western and other countries worldwide. Several high schools' English literature courses also feature Ramayana. Universities and other institutions have held Ramayana-related literary conferences as well.
Some Ramayana countries are Bhutan, Cambodia, Fiji, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Surinam, Thailand, Trinidad Tobago and Vietnam.
International Ramayana Institute of North America (A not-for-profit organization registered in Illinois)
International Ramayana Institute of North America (registered as a not for profit organization in the state of Illinois) was founded in the year 1998 with the main objective to facilitate and promote exchange of literary, artistic, cultural, and scientific aspect of Ramayana among different countries worldwide.
The Ramayana Institute has provided a common platform for the interaction and understanding of cultural values of Asian countries including India, Indonesia, Thailand, and others.
Ramayana Institute is the result of visionary thinking by one of the very dedicated community members Mr. Newal K. Agnihotri, who has worked hard to bring together community members from India, Indonesia and Thailand. Several other dedicated members of Indian, Indonesia and Thai communities have been involved in promoting the institute's objective since its inception.
Ramayana Institute has presented several Ramayana dance dramas in which performers from each participating country gave outstanding performances with great success. Ramayana Institute, in collaboration with Center for Southeast Asian Studies of Northern Illinois University at Dekalb, IL, has organized three International Ramayana Conferences: one in 2001, second in 2005, and third in 2010. Ramayana Institute also celebrated Asian Pacific Heritage Month in May 2006. Each year one community, India, Indonesia and Thailand takes the lead and elects the Institute president.Objective: To facilitate and promote the exchange of literary, artistic and cultural aspects of Ramayana among different countries of the world. Registration: The organization is registered in the State of Illinois under its Not-for-Profit Corporation Act, and is tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The current address of the organization is EQES, Inc., 3051 Oak Grove Road, Suite 107 Downers Grove, IL 60515; fax number: 630 852-8787.