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Ramayan, an ancient Sanskrit text, though true or not forms an integral part of numerous cultures not only in India but in several Asian countries. But across cultures and this text is not consistent and there are around hundreds of versions to it. According to the Wikipedia article Versions of Ramayana, there are around 300 versions.

Did some research and tried to find out which is the earliest known text of Ramayan. Found out in this Wikipedia link Ramayana that the earliest surviving piece of text is a palm-leaf manuscript dating back to the 11th century. This contains the text from Valmiki's Ramayan which is also considered to be the oldest version known. Also, the same link says that references to Ramayan's story are found in few Tamil works of literature dating back 300 BC.

A few days back while reading White as Milk and Rice: Stories of India's Isolated Tribes written by the author Nidhi Dugar Kundalia, got to know about Seethekami a version of Ramayan which is totally different from the original (or mainstream) version where Ram was the husband of Sita, whereas, in Seethekami, the Lakshman was the husband of Sita. The text of the book says

The Janapads also had their own version of the epics: Mahabharat was known as Pandavakami and the Ramayan, they called Seethekami According to the songs tat Sukri sings, it was not Ram but Lakshman who won Seetha. Lakshman did not break any magical bow to win Seetha; he killed crow that interrupted her father Kind Janak's meditation

I want to know how and when this version of Ramayan got into society, was it slow evolution because the tribes passed on the knowledge of Seethekami by singing and teaching songs to younger generation, so was it like that story evolved into something generation after generation or it was one of the hundreds of the translations of Valmiki Ramayan where interpretation came out totally different in this part of India or a third and very unlikely scenario that Seethekami's history dates back to being older than the Valmiki's version?

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  • Do you have a background source on the Haalaki tribes? I couldn't find a mention of them with an easy WP search. Did Kundalia's book place them to Karnataka? – gktscrk Jun 4 '20 at 17:01
  • I also wonder if you're asking for a textual criticism of the Seethekami? – Mark C. Wallace Jun 4 '20 at 17:02
  • @gktscrk No couldn't find much about Haalaaki tribes, doing a simple google search reveals some news articles which rarely quote some official source. I could get gather much of the information from the book I mentioned which also highlights the current lifestyle of the Haalaaki and not much about their history – Anshul Sahni Jun 4 '20 at 17:10
  • @MarkC.Wallace no, not seeking any textual criticism, but trying to understand how the Haalaaki's stories about the same character from mythology got deviated from stories which are widely accepted – Anshul Sahni Jun 4 '20 at 17:56
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    I thought that was the definition of textual criticism? No matter - it was just a question to try to clarify. I'm intrigued by the question - thank you for asking. – Mark C. Wallace Jun 4 '20 at 17:57

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