Rama and Sita in the forest, 1780

Ramayana – ideas of self and society

Our immersion in the Ramayana will consist of a close reading of the text and interactive discussion sessions that will examine ideas of self and society, truth and justice, love and loss. We will meet for 12 hours over 3 days. Participants will be required to read a prescribed English translation of the Sanskrit text and to bring their thoughts and concerns to the discussions.

Registration: Please register here. For any questions contact Ariane; +41 79 317 11 11.

Location: SPARK, Schreberweg 8, 8044 Zurich.

Time: Fri 1 Jun 19h-21h, Sat 2 Jun and Sun 3 Jun: 13h30-18h30

Language: English

* Prerequisites: To prepare for the immersion you need to read the following translation in English from Sanskrit of *Ramayana by Arshia Sattar.

Price: CHF 210,- (tea breaks included)

Meals (optional): breakfast CHF 10.-; lunch CHF 20.-; dinner CHF 20.- or CHF 30.- with wine/beer

Accommodation (optional): single: CHF 70.- pp. / double: CHF 50.- pp / dormitory: CHF 20.- pp. (For the dormitory, bring your own sleeping bag). All rooms share bathrooms.

Description: Rama, beloved prince of Ayodhya, is exiled into the forest on the eve of his coronation by his stepmother. He enters the forest with his brother Lakshmana and his wife Sita. Their idyllic time there is shattered when Sita is kidnapped by the demon king, Ravana, and spirited away to his island fortress. Rama is distraught and makes an alliance with the mighty monkeys of Kishkindha to find his wife. Led by Hanuman, the greatest of all the monkeys, Rama and his allies fight a terrible battle to win Sita back. Ravana is killed and Rama and Sita are together again. But their trials are not over as the citizens of Ayodhya doubt Sita’s chastity. The Ramayana has a stunning and unforgettable conclusion, one that makes readers around the world think about love, doubt, obligation, duty and responsibility.

The story of Rama was first composed in Sanskrit about 2500 years ago but continues to be told an retold in all Indian languages — by women and men of all castes and creeds and by indigenous peoples. It provides the inspiration for artistic expression in music, dance and painting. It has become the vehicle for god to live on earth among men and has been used as a political tool to incite violence against minorities. It raise basic human questions about fathers and sons, brothers and brothers, husbands and wives. But most importantly, it forces us to consider ideas of right and wrong, how and why we do what we do and how we deal with the consequences of our actions. Rooted in the foundational ideas of karma (action) and dharma (duty), the Ramayana remains a story that is always relevant, constantly challenging and deeply moving.

Arshia Sattar received a PhD from the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago where she worked closely with Wendy Doniger. She has also been a Fulbright Scholar in Residence and a Fellow at the Rockefeller Centre in Bellagio. Arshia has worked with the Sanskrit Ramayana for over 30 years. Her translation of the Valmiki Ramayana is published as a Penguin Classic and has remained in print continuously since 1997. “Lost Loves: Exploring Rama’s Anguish” (2011) is a collection of essays that read the Ramayana as a tragic love story. “Uttara: The Book of Answers (2016) is a commentary on the politics and theology of the last book of Valmiki’s text. She has also written books for children, namely, “Kishkindha Tails,” “Pampa Sutra,” “Adventures with Hanuman” and most recently,

“The Ramayana for Children.” Apart from myth and epic she also works with the larger story traditions of the sub-continent and writes and teaches about South Asian Literature in India and abroad.