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Rāmalīlā/Ramaleela (रामलीला) —

Name of a dramatic performance or play, on the story of Rāma & Sītā based on the Rāmāyaṇas; (Literally - ‘Rāma's līlā or divine play/pasttime ’) is any dramatic folk re-enactment of the life of Rāma according to the ancient Hindu epic Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa or secondary literature based on it such as the Ramcharitmanas, etc..

Excerpt taken from the Wikipedia

This enactment in a dramatic form is an annual ritual, at least in the North-Indian belts.



Question: Do we have any scriptural references for “Ramaleela” being enacted in the previous Yugas?

Or any major character in the scriptures (Purāṇas or Mahābhārata, etc) watching the Rāmalīlā’s enactment?

Or more broadly, which scriptures explicitly mention / prescribe enacting the Rāmalīlā plays in the public? Does this practise find any canonical support?

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The enactment of the Srimad Ramayana in public has been mentioned in the Harivamsa (Mahabharata) where the yadavas dramatise the Leela in the city of Vajranabha asura.

रामायणं महाकाव्यमुद्देश्यं नटकीकृतम्।जन्मविष्णोरमेयस्य राक्षसेन्द्रवधेप्सया॥ 2-93-6
They presented the great poem rAmAyanaM as a play featuring the birth of viShNu of immeasurable splendor for slaying the indra of rAkShasa-s (rAvaNa).

रामलक्ष्मणशत्रुघ्ना भरतश्चैव भारत। ऋष्यशृङ्गश्च शान्ता च तथा रूपैर्नटैः कृतः॥ 2-93-8
O the one of bharata race! (janamejaya! vaishampAyana continued) The actors became rAma, lakShmaNa, shatrughna and bharata, RishyashR^iNga as also shAntA.
-Harivamsa, Vishnu Parva, Chapter 93.

So to answer the question, yes Srimad Ramayana has been enacted in public in the Dvapara Yuga as mentioned in the Harivamsa. Rather than watching, the main characters, the Yadavas were in fact themselves enacting the play.

However, can’t comment on it being a regular practice, but if one reads the chapter, there is an enactment of various puranic lores like the descent of Ganga. This probably shows the primary subject of ancient drama at least in festivals was puranic lore.

Wikipedia credits Tulasidasji with starting Rama Leela as it is experienced now.

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    Although this part remains a question mark... Or more broadly, which scriptures explicitly mention / prescribe enacting the Rāmalīlā plays in the public? Does this practice find any canonical support? But, in any case ,the major question has been answered!
    – Vivikta
    Mar 16, 2022 at 9:28
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    Such notes are very important
    – Adiyarkku
    Mar 16, 2022 at 10:08

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