Sheni Ramayana, as the title itself suggests is a book containing the Ramayana version as created by the great ‘arthadhari’ Sri Gopalakrishan Bhat, in his exposition of roles in Yakshagana performances of Ramayana stories. It is a unique book, an oral epic planned and edited by Dr G L Hegde, a Professor at Baliga College, Kumta, Uttara Kannada. Dr Hegde is himself an artist.

The spoken word of Yakshagana is extempore and improvised. The prasanga verses give only the outline and story line, rather as hints than as detailed script. The actor improvises and creates the spoken text. So it is ‘new’ everyday yet it is based on the prasanga text. So what the yakshagana actor creates is a new text, a new version of episode, of the classic story. And Sheni is a maestro of the artha – giving new dimensions, new creative interpretations and new dramatisations – all comparable to the best of creative mind in any field.

Dr Hegde book is an attempt to record the ‘Ramayana’ as created by Sheni in Twenty two performances covering the whole Ramayana story, from the Valmiki episode to the ‘great farewell of Rama. Prof Hegde calls it ‘PRASANGA DARSHANA : SHENI RAMAYANA – the vision of prasanga as Sheni’s Ramayana – a very meaningful name indeed. It is a novel and bold attempt to textualise the epic performance by a great artist. Running into about 275 pages of spoken type text, the book opens a new chapter in Kannada literature, a new possiblity.

Dr Gopalakrishna Hegde, Kumta – 1993, Rs.150/-)

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