Chasing an epic story

Everyone has read or heard of the epic Ramayana. However, not many have delved into the psychology guiding the various characters in the story. Aruna Vyas, author and Sanskrit scholar, took a peek behind the extraordinary lives of Gods Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, and other important characters in her recently published book

Published: 12th December 2013 08:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th December 2013 08:45 AM   |  A+A-

“Vizag holds very fond memories for me; way back in 1976 when I was married, my husband was posted here. It was the first place I lived in after our wedding. It is always memorable and pleasant to be in Vizag,” says Aruna Vyas, who was in the city to release her book. Aruna is the wife of former DIG KS Vyas, the IPS officer who was gunned down by Maoists in Hyderabad. Vyas was the mastermind behind anti-Naxal Greyhound force.

With a doctorate in Sanskrit, Aruna has authored five books so far, her sixth being Ramayana - a Timeless Odyssey in Psychology, which was released on December 8 at the Kalabharati Auditorium.

Behind the Curtains of the Epic

This book was actually her thesis, and her guru suggested that she change the title and publish it as a book. “This is not fiction, but it reads like a story which offers an insight into the important characters’ actions and personalities. I have concentrated on the psychological aspects of the moods and spur-of-the-moment reactions of the characters,” she says.

Aruna Vyas has not borrowed from Western schools of thought in psychology by Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung. “I wrote the thesis in English instead of Sanskrit, so that my findings and observations reach more people,” she explains. A lot of publishers rejected her book at first, saying that not many would want to read something like this. “However, I am thankful to the city Police Commissioner Shivadhar Reddy, for helping us get the book published though Vijay Nirman,” she says.

The Great Indian Hero

She could have chosen from a galaxy of topics, themes and mythology or philosophy.

But she picked Ramayana, the reasons for which are many. “Ramayana is universal; it is about a monogamous man who is the embodiment of righteousness. There is no one like Rama, and none like Sita,” she explains. Aruna Vyas was driven to pick up this epic as the subject of her thesis and also publish it as a book. “The world of literature is full of great epics, like Odyssey by Homer or Aeneid by Virgil. But I have never read anything as wholesome and complete as the Ramayana,” she explains.

To do research on a book is easy, but to dissect the characters that are as complex as they are diverse is no mean feat. Vyas studied numerous versions of the epic, in addition to psychology. She looked up lectures, books, articles, just about anything that opened up another door into the psyche of the epic, to do justice to her work.

Love for Sanskrit

“It is the mother of all languages,” she says simply. “After studying the language, grammar, nuances, phonetics, I was convinced that it is one of the greatest languages in the world’s history. Not to belittle Western aesthetics, but our own Indian scholars and commentaries on aesthetics are incomparable,” she says. Her love for the language of the motherland is obvious, and she takes a great amount of pride in the language that she has adopted.“I hold an MA in English, and I absolutely love literature. I have read and reread all the best works in English literature, from Shakespeare to Keats. I am also in awe of Valmiki and poet Kalidasa’s work. My fascination with literature transcends language,” she says.

The Writer’s Desk

Aruna Vyas has always been a writer at heart, and her work came into the limelight from 2003. “I have written six books, some of them translations in Telugu and collection of articles. I used to be a columnist for Andhra Jyoti, and also ran a column for their weekly publication, Navya,” she says. She likes to write about society, culture, religion and philosophy. But she feels that the society is changing too fast. And sometimes, things don’t look good. Her inspiration to write comes from this ever widening gap between generations, and the changing face of society. “Something needs to be done, and god willing, I will continue my quest through literature and my writings as long as I am able to,” she affirms.

For the Family

“After my husband’s death, I was offered a job at the Telugu University as an assistant lecturer. I must have hardly worked for a couple of months before quitting. My son would come home from school and be all alone at home. I could feel the pinch of loneliness he was going through, and decided that it was more important for me to be with him than work,” she remembers. Aruna Vyas hopes to pen more books, and is always looking to further her knowledge.

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