Dear  Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce that we have just deposited on the Oxford Research Archive our material relating to the development and spread of the Rāma narrative (pre-modern), so that it can be available for others to consult even in its present, unfinished state.  It can be accessed at (or you can find it via the Bodleian Libraries website, under ORA, by looking for its title).

Here is a description of it adapted from the abstract mounted on the website:

This material is part of our continuing attempt to survey presentations of the Rāma story as it has been developed from its origin in the so-called Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, through transformations in all genres, media, languages, religions and geographical areas, until roughly the end of the eighteenth century.  However, later material has also been used if it preserves motifs or records trends relevant to the earlier period, though not where it introduces new developments.  In order to explore the crucial role played by sculpture and paintings in the transmission and development of the narrative, we have placed visual material side-by-side with verbal (narratives presented in words, whether written or spoken).

The basis for the survey is: a Bibliographic Inventory providing references to everything of value consulted (and a list of our own publications); a detailed tabulation of the Narrative Elements employed and modified by successive tellers to build up the story; Background Notes and photographs; and unpublished Drafts surveying the material or arising  from it.  Guidance Notes give detailed instructions for use.

The material is a joint project: John has compiled the Bibliographies, composed the Draft on Development and many of the notes, and taken the photographs; Mary has identified and tabulated the Narrative Elements, and supplied some of the Drafts and other notes.

The material is far from complete, and we hope to be able to update it from time to time, and to produce further analyses and syntheses of the material.  From the nature of its wide scope, much of the compilation has had to be made from translations into the major European languages, or from summaries found in secondary literature, resulting in the omission of material inaccessible by these means;  regrettably, we also have no way of knowing whether the translation or summary used has been totally reliable.  Where possible, always check carefully before placing too much reliance on it.  We will warmly welcome any corrections or supplementary information from other scholars specialising in individual fields.  With all its deficiencies, we offer this inventory as a tool to facilitate further research, not as a substitute for such research, and we will be pleased to learn of any use to which our work is put.

Because of the nature of our own contacts this message is being sent primarily to other Indologists but, if any of you are aware of colleagues in other fields (for example Southeast Asian languages or visual culture) who might be interested, do please pass the information on to them – and similarly, if anyone has access to academic lists on which it could be posted, we would be grateful for its being sent to them.  We shall ourselves be sending it to the INDOLOGY and RISA lists.

With all good wishes

John and Mary

John Brockington
Emeritus Professor of Sanskrit, University of Edinburgh
Vice President, International Association of Sanskrit Studies

Mary Brockington
Research Fellow, International Association of Sanskrit Studies