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Ramcharitmanas Included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Regional Register: Its significance

India’s rich literary tradition has always been a cornerstone of its cultural identity. Recently, three Indian literary masterpieces—Ramcharitmanas, Panchatantra, and Sahṛdayaloka-Locana—were honored by being added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Asia-Pacific Regional Register.

 

This blog explores the significance of these works, the Memory of the World (MOW) program, and other notable inclusions from this year’s register.

Ramcharitmanas

Ramcharitmanas, composed by Goswami Tulsidas in the 16th century, is an epic retelling of the Ramayana in Awadhi dialect. It holds a special place in the hearts of millions in India and Southeast Asia, including countries like Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia.

 

The inclusion of Ramcharitmanas in the register underscores its wide-ranging influence and enduring appeal.

Highlights:

  • Two manuscripts were nominated: one by Tulsidas and an 18th-century Arabic version.
  • The work’s narratives have transcended geographical boundaries, impacting cultures far beyond India.

 

Panchatantra

Panchatantra, a collection of ancient Indian fables attributed to Vishnu Sharma, imparts universal moral values through its engaging animal stories.

 

Written around the 3rd century BCE, its tales have been translated into numerous languages, influencing literature globally.

Highlights:

  • Known for its timeless wisdom and moral lessons.
  • Adapted and retold across various cultures and languages.

 

Sahṛdayaloka-Locana

Sahṛdayaloka-Locana, authored by Kashmiri scholars Acharya Anandvardhan and Abhinavagupta in the 15th century, is a significant work in Indian aesthetics. It provides insights into the principles of rasa (emotional aesthetics) and the critical appreciation of art and literature.

Highlights:

  • Esteemed for its contribution to Indian aesthetic theory.
  • Reflects the intellectual and cultural richness of Kashmir.

 

What is the MOW Register?

UNESCO’s MOW program, initiated in 1992, aims to safeguard and promote documentary heritage that is rare and endangered. The program recognizes works of international, regional, and national significance, ensuring their preservation and accessibility.

 

Key Objectives:

  • Protecting invaluable archive holdings and library collections.
  • Raising awareness and facilitating research, education, and preservation.
  • Promoting global cultural heritage and preventing collective amnesia.

 

How the Register Works

The MOW Register operates at international and regional levels. The Asia-Pacific Regional Register (MOWCAP) celebrates the documentary heritage of the region, with recent inscriptions showcasing significant achievements in genealogy, literature, and science.

 

During the tenth General Meeting of MOWCAP in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 20 new items were added to the register. Some notable entries include:

  • China: Documents on tea-drinking business entrepreneurship.
  • Indonesia: Research on sugar and regional cement production.
  • Philippines: Indigenous Hinilawod chants.
  • Bangladesh: Sci-fi feminist work “Sultana’s Dream” by Rokeya S Hossain.
  • Australia and Tuvalu: Documentation on coral reef formation research.

 

  • Ramcharitmanas: Epic work by Tulsidas, widely read across South and Southeast Asia.
  • Panchatantra: Ancient Indian fables imparting moral values, influential globally.
  • Sahṛdayaloka-Locana: Kashmiri work on aesthetics by Acharya Anandvardhan and Abhinavagupta.
  • MOW Program: UNESCO initiative to safeguard rare and endangered documentary heritage.
  • 2024 MOWCAP Inclusions: 20 new items, celebrating achievements in literature, science, and cultural practices.

 

01.What is the significance of Ramcharitmanas being included in the MOW register?

The inclusion of Ramcharitmanas highlights its cultural and historical importance, recognizing its wide influence across various countries and its enduring literary appeal.

02.How does the Panchatantra contribute to global literature?

Panchatantra’s fables have been translated into numerous languages, imparting moral values and wisdom, influencing children’s literature worldwide.

3. What makes Sahṛdayaloka-Locana unique?

Sahṛdayaloka-Locana is renowned for its detailed exploration of rasa theory and aesthetic principles, offering deep insights into the critical appreciation of art and literature in Indian tradition.

4. What are the goals of UNESCO’s Memory of the World program?

The MOW program aims to preserve and promote documentary heritage, ensuring its protection, accessibility, and awareness, thus preventing the loss of valuable cultural and historical records.

5. How often are new items added to the MOW Register?

New items are added to the MOW Register periodically, with regional committees like MOWCAP meeting to review and inscribe significant documentary heritage from their respective areas.

The inclusion of Ramcharitmanas, Panchatantra, and Sahṛdayaloka-Locana in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register is a proud moment for India, reflecting the timeless value and global influence of its literary heritage. This recognition not only celebrates these works but also underscores the importance of preserving and promoting cultural and documentary heritage worldwide.


June 2024
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