Ramayanaby Published 12 Sep 2019
The Ramayana is, quite simply, the greatest of Indian epics - and one of the world's supreme masterpieces of storytelling 'Almost every individual living in India,' writes R. K. Narayan in the Introduction to this new interpretation, 'is aware of the story of The Ramayana. Everyone of whatever age, outlook, education or station in life knows the essential part of the epic and adores the main figures in it - Rama and Sita. Every child is told the story at bedtime . . . The Ramayana pervades our cultural life.' Although the Sanskrit original was composed by Valmiki, probably around the fourth century BC, poets have produced countless variant versions in different languages. Here, drawing his inspiration from the work of an eleventh-century Tamil poet called Kamban, Narayan has used the talents of a master novelist to recreate the excitement and joy he has found in the original. It can be enjoyed and appreciated, he suggests, for its psychological insight, its spiritual depth and its practical wisdom - or just as a thrilling tale of abduction, battle and courtship played out in a universe thronged with heroes, deities and demons.
I love readings Epics and old, old mythologies and really making the connections between them all over the world. Icarus burning his wings in Greek mythology to Sampati, the vulture, who burned his wings on account of protecting his brother when they both flew too close to the sun in Ramayana. There are some obvious parallels like this one, or another one between Hindu religion and the Abrahamic faiths that I discovered when talking to a friend. Krishna is carried across a river in a basket when a king starts killing male babies because he hears of a prophecy that one of them will rise to kill him which is so similar to the story of Moses I've heard. The Hindu Gods also resemble the Greek Gods; Indra - Zeus, Vayu - Eurus. But what I really love about Epics is that you can sort of trace back all fantasy fiction to it. You can also see the trend of black and white truths and, of course, the rampant sexism. The part that's always bothered me the most. This one goes on to feminizing the land and calling the King the husband of the land and with his death comes the widowhood of the land.
- All the old myths and epics I've read always describe the Men as beautiful, having slender faces and almond-shaped eyes and smooth complexion. All attributes that are now seen as feminine.
- Ew at the concept of a woman existing to serve her husband. and the idea of a man having several wives and consorts.
- Also had the plotline of a man going near insane with grief on losing his lover.
- I haven't read book 7 of this Epic. I read it in my Norton Anthology of world literature so parts of the previous books + book 7 are missing.
This classic translation of the Ramayana is a complete and unabridged verse by verse translation of the great epic poem. This is not the Ramayana in the story format but the translation of the verses in the poetic form. The author reproduces the spirit of the ancient hymns with great flair. The lavishly added notes to the verses and appendix at the end of the book adds to the reference value of the title.
This is the second Epic story from Ancient India -- The Mahabharata being the first. William Buck's condensed versions are delightful. The Ramayana is about Rama (an incarnation of Vishnu). The story is famous not only in India but also SE Asia -- even to China. Reading this book would be part of classic education in India but of course not part of Western. Western education gives books that just keep reinforcing each other. That is why everything seems like "common sense" to those who have not wandered out of their culture of birth.
Take a chance -- look at a different world.
Thanks to Lada who give me the courage to read this monument, this masterpiece.
Oh ya.. I had written a nice long review and then I clicked somewhere on my screen and the entire review disintegrated before my very eyes. I meant to get back to it so let's see here..
First off, the translation I was using omitted several passages due to "containing sentiments not popular or proper in our society", I think he means some people had sex, or maybe they worked on sunday or ate bread that was leavened, who knows! obviously something seemed to offend this particular translators ideas of propriety. At other times he simply omitted entire chapters because "they were boring and repetitive", I'm not sure whether he deserves praise for hijacking this decision from me, but in any case considering I have no ability to omit reading even the most boring chapters or books I will just move along.
This tale starts out very nice, but there were many things I really found distasteful, which I find in so much of hindu writing, maybe it's my own particular societal prejudices coming out, ironically though I profess to be a hindu of sorts I still find myself cringing at some of the ideas which hindus hold in highest esteem. This is probably going to contain all sorts of spoilers, fortunately if you have decided to read this behemoth of a story you probably have already read the summary, so choose as you like, to continue reading or not. This is what I don't like - Rama, who for no other reason than being "Rama" is treated like a God, funny considering he is considered an incarnation of God, nevertheless he never really does anything particularly special, yet everyone around him, his brothers, women, foreign kings etc, all dote upon him and his constantly butthurt feelings. The book constantly tells me that he is noble, honourable, brave, etc etc, but these traits are never shown in action, in fact much like Achilles he seems like more of a sulky little baby through much of the book. What really cemented my dislike for Rama was in the final pages. Now, some quick background here: Rama married Sita, Sita was kidnapped by Ravana and taken to his island refuge. Rama spends the book fighting demons and trying to win her back. Sweet romantic Arthurian type stuff here, right? Wrong. While a captive with Ravana, Ravana constantly tries to trick Sita into marrying him, telling her Rama is dead, offering her jewels, etc. Sita forebears every inducement and stays true to Rama, even at the risk of her own safety and comfort. Noble lady, Rama is a lucky guy, right? Again, wrong. Rama eventually vanquishes Ravana, or really, mostly it is through the efforts of his family and friends that he overcomes, through their deaths and sacrifices, they who will do everything blindly for Rama, simply because "Rama is Rama". So he gets Sita back. She comes up to him, ready to throw herself in his arms. We, the western readers are here expecting a happy reunion, the fruition of all the books struggles. But this is India, or specifically Hinduism, with it's sometimes warped sense of human relations. Rama scorns Sita, he basically spits in her face and laughs at her in disgust, he tells her that he didn't fight Ravana for HER (how presumptuous of the silly girl to think so!), he fought Ravana for his HONOUR (here the reader is supposed to glow with moral triumph - if said reader happens to have a warped sense of human relations). He rejects her and moves along, leaving a crushed Sita, wallowing in pain for Rama, who let's not forget she loves devotedly simply because he is Rama. He does this because he considers Sita "spoiled" for having been in the possession of another man (demon) and to associate with her would be a stain upon him. Sita decides well if I can't have my Rama I might as well self-immolate myself. This she does, "as any good Hindu wife should". Everyone gathers around to show Rama what happened and Sita is reborn and they live happily ever after with Sita fully acknowledging what an insignificant human she is and what a great and glorious man (God) Rama is - it's every Hindu man's greatest story to share with their wives and daughters, training generations of women into blind submission to their men. Vomit on this.. I'm not a rabid feminist but I have a good eye for propaganda designed to oppress. Next week we can read the Bhagavad Gita, in which Rama, now in the form of Krishna, counsels Arjuna to dispell his indecision about whether or not he should take part in a war against his cousins to slaughter them, Krishna counsels that rather he should blindly perform the slaughter of his cousins and do it in "God's name" as a "tool of God" and have his conscience clean.