The story of Rama, Laksmana, Ravana and Sinta is still very popular in Indonesia, in wayang kulit also in the dance of life persons at Prambanan. Above I put a picture from 1981 where our oldest son Floris in the garden of our house in Jakarta-Ciputat (at the IAIN premises) plays a Rama. His younger brother Stijn took the role of Laksmana and together they were fighting against Ravana who had taken away Sinta and killed Jatayu the great and wise bird.
Our boys were at that time resp. 4 and 7 years old and had visited the Ramayana plays in Yogyakarta once, but were very impressed about the story. In those years I read some of the Old Javanese epic stories like the Siwaratrikalpa. I discussed it with Hans Teeuw, later also about the Bhomantaka and the Kunjarakarna. I found the very long episodes about fighting here boring and very cruel. Ramayana is different. It is not so much about the gods, the divine figures. It is nearly a humanistic statement. Canto 12 (now it is called Sarga 12) is much debated because it was considered as 'erotic' even somewhat pornographic by earlier generations. Now I found it a wonderful description of the condition humaine, of the basic and universal human attraction between male and female, but also the usual play of being attracted and playing indifference. It has been written in a style where one recognizes the creed of Jan van Baal: we, humans, are not different in all these cultures, whether we call them primitive, classical, mediaeval or modern. Thank you, Willem van der Molen for the transcription, Stuart Robson for the translation and Yumi for sending it from Tokyo to Utrecht!