Sankaradeva's Uttarakanda Ramayana

Krishna as Rama

Sankaradeva and Madhavadeva made no distinction between Krishna and Rama:

Srinathe Janakinathe abhedah paramatmani

The Rendering of the Rāmāyana

Sankaradeva rendered the Uttara Kānda of the Vālmiki Rāmāyana into Assamese in order to supplement the Rāmāyana of Mādhava Kandali, his predecessor, who was the first to translate the Sanskrit Rāmāyana into a regional language (MIA) of India. As Kandali’s Rāmāyana lacked the Uttara and Ādi Kāndas of the epic, Sankaradeva and Madhavadeva respectively took to render these Kāndas and completed the version of Kandali.

The Story behind the Rendering

In a biography of Sankaradeva, Katha Guru Carit, it is mentioned that a well-known poet, Ananta Kandali, wanted to re-write Madhava Kandali's Ramayana because he was upset to see that the heavenly qualities of Sri Rama had not surfaced in his Ramayana. Ananta Kandali wrote in the Ayodhya Kanda of his Ramayana:

Madhava Kandali biracila ramayana
taka suni amar akula kare mana !
Ramar samanya santa katha yatha rata
bhajaniya guna yata nabhai ta bekata
eteke yatana karo bhakatika pade
nubuliba ninda save suna saban-dhave
sakshat parama Brahma janiba Sri Ram

In Katha Guru Carit, there exists a story where it is stated that that Madhava Kandali appeared in the dream of Sankaradeva and prayed to Him to save his Ramayana from the clutches of Ananta Kandali. Sankaradeva who had deep admiration for Madhava Kandali's work took steps to save his Ramayana. He requested his disciple Madhavadeva to write the missing Adi Kanda and he himself wrote the Uttara Kanda which was also missing from the original manuscript. Sankaradeva tried his best to retain the grandeur of Madhava Kandali's language. Sankaradeva and Madhavadeva have also inserted moral and religious precepts and admonitions throughout the entire work of Madhava Kandali.

Sankaradeva himself calls his work Uttara-kāndara-Kathā-Sāra (the essence of the Final Book of the Rāmāyana). It is an abridged version of the original with an insertion of devotional fervour at the end of each section.

Though based on Vālmiki's original, Sankaradeva makes some alterations in the story-line and his personal innovations result in an approach that is unusual in Rāmāyana literature. The character of Sita, in Sankaradeva's rendering, “has much more to say.”

“What is exceptional here is Sita's reaction. Sankaradeva's great sympathy for Sita's plight leads him to portray her not as a passive victim as in Valmiki, but a person of “flesh and blood”, justifiably enraged at the way she has been treated...The point Sankaradeva is trying to make is one of compassion-compassion for Rama's dilemma, but much more for Sita's sufferings. Sankaradeva's sympathies are with her.”

The Saint's Last Work

Rama Vijaya (The Victory of Rama) was the last composition of Sankaradeva, written and staged by him in 1568, the year of his Departure.