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The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling of the Great Indian Epic

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Overview

The great Indian epic rendered in modern prose

India's most beloved and enduring legend, the Ramayana is widely acknowledged to be one of the world's great literary masterpieces. Still an integral part of India's cultural and religious expression, the Ramayana was originally composed by the Sanskrit poet Valmiki around 300 b.c. The epic of Prince Rama's betrayal, exile, and struggle to rescue his faithful wife, Sita, from the clutches of a demon and to reclaim his throne has ...

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The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling of the Great Indian Epic

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Overview

The great Indian epic rendered in modern prose

India's most beloved and enduring legend, the Ramayana is widely acknowledged to be one of the world's great literary masterpieces. Still an integral part of India's cultural and religious expression, the Ramayana was originally composed by the Sanskrit poet Valmiki around 300 b.c. The epic of Prince Rama's betrayal, exile, and struggle to rescue his faithful wife, Sita, from the clutches of a demon and to reclaim his throne has profoundly affected the literature, art, and culture of South and Southeast Asia-an influence most likely unparalleled in the history of world literature, except, possibly, for the Bible. Throughout the centuries, countless versions of the epic have been produced in numerous formats and languages. But previous English versions have been either too short to capture the magnitude of the original; too secular in presenting what is, in effect, scripture; or dry, line-by-line translations. Now novelist Ramesh Menon has rendered the tale in lyrical prose that conveys all the beauty and excitement of the original, while making this spiritual and literary classic accessible to a new generation of readers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A beautiful new rendering of an inexhaustible theme." --Peter Brook, Film and Theatre Director

"Reverent, lyrical, and engaging, Menon's retelling is an impressive addition to the voluminous lore--oral, written, and performed-that collectively comprises the Rama story tradition of India and Southeast Asia. Combining the basic narrative of the ancient Sanskrit epic of Valmiki with strands from medieval devotional versions and hints of Western epic, folktale, and scripture, it brings this great story to life once more for an English-language audience." --Philip Lutgendorf, Associate Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies, University of Iowa

"This is a beautifully re-told Ramayana. Menon finds the perfect balance of detail and narrative excitement. It's the best single-volume version of the Ramayana." --Ariel Glucklich, Associate Professor of Hinduism, Georgetown University, author of Sacred Pain and Climbing Chamundi Hill (forthcoming).

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865476950
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 5/19/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 720
  • Sales rank: 221,112
  • Product dimensions: 5.53 (w) x 8.16 (h) x 1.24 (d)

Meet the Author

Ramesh Menon is the author of Blue God: A Life of Krishna and The Hunt for K, a national bestseller in India. A former journalist, he lives in Kodaikanal, India.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix
A Note on Hindu Time xv
The Demon's Boons xvii
Prologue xix
Book 11
Book 261
Book 3149
Book 4227
Book 5285
Book 6351
Book 7517
Appendix 665
Ravana's Daughter: A Southern Tale 665
The Story of Viswamitra 668
Glossary 687
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Wow

    Ok the makers of the Percy Jackson movies has to do this book next seriously it has to be from this book fully read not like mr shamalayan who tried to do the avatar air bender without watching the whole series this deserves recognition this story book has it all

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  • Posted September 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    An essential

    This is a book I think should be in every library. It's a well-written and accessible retelling of one of the foundations of Hindu literature. The story is of course classic, and it's essential to anyone who wants to understand the art, culture, and values of Hinduism.

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  • Posted December 16, 2011

    Like the Lord of the Rings with sex

    Things happen. Fantastic things happen. Fantastic things happen to people and gods and monsters. Oceans part, skies part, mountains are ripped from their roots and carried by monkeys. Good is seldom all good. Bad is seldom all bad. Duty and loyalty and family and chastity all get examined (gender scholars must have a field day with this tale!). This is, simply, a marvelous book. It was given to me by my daughter, a South Asian studies graduate student. with the note that it had been well-received by scholars. I have never read any other version but I was completed absorbed in this one. I subsequently read his Mahabharata. But that's another story.

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  • Posted December 29, 2009

    Wonderfully written

    While searching for an introduction to the Ramayana, I came across this version and decided to give it a read. I am so glad that I did. A well written tale that was so easily followed and was difficult to put down. In time I will read other versions, but this will be what I judge the rest by.

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  • Posted February 19, 2009

    The Ramayana will change you!

    When prince Ram, his brother Laksmana, and his wife Sita are exiled into the Dandaka forest to live as ascetics for fourteen years, the evil raksasa king, Ravana, kidnapped Sita because of his lust. Rama, who is the best among all men, dived into an ocean of grief and anger. He and Laksmana go to the great monkeys for refuge. Millions of monkeys come to the monkey for their king¿s and Rama¿s sake. They search the entire world for Sita and when they find the magnificent city of Lanka a grand war begins between the monkeys and the raksasas; Rama and Ravana for Sita¿s sake. <BR/> Simile- ¿My heart must be hard indeed, that it does not shatter into a thousand pieces, like a mountain struck by a thunderbolt.¿ <BR/>Personification- ¿In the olden days, when mountains flew, there was a long war.¿ <BR/>Metaphor- Displaying his might and blazing with his own splendor, the monkey leapt to the top of the sacred hall that was as tall as Mount Meru and crushed it. <BR/> The best part of the book would have to be the way people treat each other, the world, and how they are described. In The Ramayana, everyone has respect for everyone, even their enemies. Honor for their family, especially their parents, is an everyday act. There are no limits on what anyone or anything can do. Everything that exists is alive. Oceans can take human form, mountains can fly, and even time itself can visit them. Mortals and immortals are as strong as lions; as big as mountains. Some monkeys can jump nine hundred miles in one leap. All husbands and wives are faithful and everyone follows dharma. Everyone worships and praises the gods and in return the gods give them any gift. Nothing is impossible, just like in a dream. Mortals can live thousands of years and then go to heaven. When anyone is described they are described with words that can make anyone cry, for they are spoken as if said by an amazing writer. People are famous for their valor and splendor, rather than how handsome they are; although if they were handsome some gods would even be envious. Everyone helped those they loved, even if it put them in an incurable situation. <BR/> The worst part of the book is when Rama is exiled into the Dandaka forest. When King Dasaratha, Rama¿s father, makes Rama his inheritor everyone in the world is filled with joy. Rama, shining with his splendor, would be the greatest king of the three worlds. Everyone¿s fear and anxiety flew out of their hearts the second Rama became the heir apparent. Even his brothers, which in most cases in stories the brothers become angry because they were not chosen, couldn¿t have been happier. The mothers of the un-chosen sons jumped with glee. When Manthara, Kaikeyi¿s servant (Kaikeyi is one of many Dasaratha¿s wives) saw the streets, houses, and the palace decorated she grew with anger. She went immediately to Kaikeyi¿s apartments and began to lecture her for her ignorance. When she told Kaikeyi of the news of Rama¿s coronation she, like everyone else, was suddenly full of excitement. Manthara became agitated and tried to convince Kaikeyi that it was the worst possible event in the three worlds, but Kaikeyi didn¿t seem to understand how Manthara could be upset. Manthara said how Dasaratha was an unrighteous man who lied about loving Kaikeyi. Manthara tried to make it seem that Kaikeyi¿s son Bharta and her family would become a disgrace. It was not until Manthara said; ¿I have no doubt that once Rama is firmly established on the throne he wi

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