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Ayodhya to Ayutthaya: The Cultural Highway

The grand epic of India, the Ramayana, has significantly influenced not only Indian culture but also Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand. In Thailand, the Ramayana, known as Ramakien, remains vibrant through performing arts, literature, and paintings.

Reported By : Vijai Laxmi Edited By : Nitin Kumar
New Delhi
Updated on: July 10, 2024 18:51 IST
Ayodhya to Ayutthaya: The Cultural Highway
Image Source : INDIA TV Ayodhya to Ayutthaya: The Cultural Highway

Ancient states like Ayutthaya, Lawoe, Suvarnabhumi, and Sukhothai established cultural ties with the Khmer Empire, influenced by India's prosperous civilization. A 7th-century Sanskrit inscription from Cambodia indicates the spread of Hinduism through daily readings of the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Puranas. The Ramayana characters, Rama, Lakshmana, and Ravana, are mentioned in Thai historical texts, such as the Ongkan Chaeng Nam.

Ramakien: Thailand's national epic

Ramakien is Thailand's national epic, performed through the royal dance drama Khon. This form of entertainment has been a staple at royal ceremonies since the Ayutthaya Era. The version of Ramakien currently taught and performed in Thailand was compiled by King Rama I (1781–1809), who integrated the Ramayana into Siam's topography. Ayutthaya, a name derived from Rama's kingdom, Ayodhya, reflects this integration.

Evidence of sea links and historical depictions

There is ample evidence of ancient sea links between India and Thailand. Temples in northeast Thailand feature reliefs of Ramayana scenes. The city of Ayutthaya modelled after Ayodhya in India, showcases the region's cultural exchange.

Ramayana's influence in early Thai kingdoms

The Indic Ramayana influenced early Buddhist and Hindu communities in Thailand before the emergence of the Thai kingdoms. Temples like Prasat Phanom Rung and Prasat Phimai feature depictions of the Ramayana from the 11th and 12th centuries. In the Sukhothai kingdom, names of Ramayana heroes appear in inscriptions dating back to 1392.

Ayutthaya's historical and cultural significance

King Narayana of Ayutthaya established Lop Buri as a second capital, believing in its sacred power. Ayutthaya, known for its international market, traded with India, exchanging commodities like elephants and textiles.

Proposed Ramayana circuit

A proposed Ramayana circuit aims to extend cultural and tourism ties between Ayodhya, India, and Ayutthaya, Thailand. The circuit would include Ayodhya, Chitrakoota, and Rameshwaram in India, and Ayutthaya, Lopburi, and Bangkok in Thailand. The initiative would feature Ramayana-themed cruises, trains, buses, and flights, along with cultural programs and events.

Potential outcomes

The proposed circuit could yield mutual economic benefits from increased tourism, improve quality of life through job creation and cultural exchange, and preserve Ramayana culture. Twinning the cities of Ayodhya and Ayutthaya would enhance cultural connectivity, leveraging Ayutthaya's successful tourism model for India's benefit.

The deep connection between the Ramayana and the history of Thailand is evident from the 13th century onward. By extending the Ramayana circuit from India to Thailand, both countries can foster economic, cultural, and social benefits, while preserving a shared cultural heritage.


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