The KLF Bhava Samvad hosted a session on the book In the footsteps of Rama – Travels with Ramayana (HarperCollins) recently. Authors of the book Vikrant Pande and Neelesh Kulkarni participated in the talk which was moderated by economist and author Sanjeev Sanyal.
The book is a tale of authors’ quest to find out the trail of Lord Rama’s travel during his years in exile, from Ayodhya to the Dandakaranya forest and Panchavati (near Nashik) and on to Kishkindhya (close to Hampi), Rameshwaram and finally Sri Lanka. And en route they realise that the narrative of the Ramayana is closely linked to local folklore at each place, and also that the stories of the Ramayana and the moral framework that binds them together still speaks to the people who live in the land across.
“There are a lot of myths that we discovered as we went researching, like we couldn’t find Tamasa river. We wanted to find the exact spot from where Lord Ram, Sita and Laxman along with Sumant moved out of Ayodhya. As we started moving towards Allahabad, we located a small stream which we believe was originally the Tamasa river,” said Pande. “Ramayana talks about a ghat at Tamasa where Lord Rama had camped. This we did find, though Tamasa River is just a narrow stream today,” added Kulkarni.
The research, the authors said, was not done at one stretch but in bits and pieces. “We began in September 2019 and ended in March 2020. Through this period, we visited different locations, collected stories and facts, and cross-checked those before indexing and writing them down. Then we moved to the next location,” said Pande.
“And all through the trip, we realised the locations described in both Valmiki and Tulsi Ramayana were very clear,” said Kulkarni. “Both Valmiki and Tulsi Ramayana state that Ram-Sita-Laxman spent most of their time in Chitrakoot – 11 years, 11 months, 11 days. But in our book we have treated Ramayana more in stories than in time. There were many things happening on the way as well, like the ‘Surpanakha’ event happened in Nasik,” he added.