Sita's Ramayana

Overview


The Ramayana is an epic poem by the Hindu sage Valmiki, written in ancient Sanskrit sometime after 300 BC. It is an allegorical story that contains important Hindu teachings, and it has had great influence on Indian life and culture over the centuries. Children are often encouraged to emulate the virtues of the two main characters — Rama and Sita. The Ramayana is frequently performed as theater or dance, and two Indian festivals — Dussehra and Divali — celebrate events in the ...
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Overview


The Ramayana is an epic poem by the Hindu sage Valmiki, written in ancient Sanskrit sometime after 300 BC. It is an allegorical story that contains important Hindu teachings, and it has had great influence on Indian life and culture over the centuries. Children are often encouraged to emulate the virtues of the two main characters — Rama and Sita. The Ramayana is frequently performed as theater or dance, and two Indian festivals — Dussehra and Divali — celebrate events in the story.

This version of The Ramayana is told from the perspective of Sita, the queen. After she, her husband Rama and his brother are exiled from their kingdom, Sita is captured by the proud and arrogant king Ravana and imprisoned in a garden across the ocean. Ravana never stops trying to convince Sita to be his wife, but she steadfastly refuses his advances. Eventually Rama comes to her rescue with the help of the monkey Hanuman and his army. But Rama feels he can’t trust Sita again. He forces Sita to undergo an ordeal by fire to prove herself to be true and pure. She is shocked and in grief and anger does so. She emerges unscathed and they return home to their kingdom as king and queen. However, suspicion haunts their relationship, and Sita once more finds herself in the forest, but this time she is pregnant. She has twins and continues to live in the forest with them.

The story is exciting and dramatic, with many turns of plot. Magic animals, snakes, divine gods, demons, sorcerers and a vast cast of characters all play a part in the fierce battles fought to win Sita back. And in the process the story explores ideas of right vs. wrong, compassion, loyalty, trust, honor and the terrible price of war.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

A 2012 USBBY Outstanding International Book

An ALA Notable Children's Book, 2012

A Texas Library Assocation 2012 Maverick Graphic Novel (Grades 9-12)

A South Asia Book Award 2012 Honor Book

"A must-purchase based on the strength of its dramatic story and arresting art, enhanced by superior design and high-quality production. Brilliant and fresh." — School Library Journal, starred review

"…gorgeous, vibrant illustrations…It is an accomplishment…" — Booklist, starred review

"A vibrantly illustrated graphic-novel retelling of an ancient Indian legend…A valuable piece of historical literature brought to the forefront for thoughtful new readers." — Kirkus

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
This graphic novel is a retelling of the complex classic Hindu legend of the Ramayana, as told by Sita the queen and "daughter of the earth." Arriving in the forest, Sita tells how she came to be there. Fourteen years before, she accompanied her husband Rama and his brother Lakshimana into exile. After a confrontation with Lakshimana Surpanaka, the princess of Lanka persuades her brother and uncle to kill the brothers and capture Sita. Sita refuses to marry Ravana of Lanka and is imprisoned. Hanuman the Monkey appears to tell her that Rama will come. Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in Lanka. After Rama has adventures with many characters, he finally arrives to battle for Sita. After terrible fighting, there are more adventures of gods and men. Sita finally decides to return to the abode of her mother, the Earth goddess. Melodramatic, intensely colored paintings that are strongly influenced by the Patua scrolls of Bengal, India, are sometimes on double-page spreads and, at other times, in separate pieces or fragments of scenes. The text is boxed and, when not appearing as captions, often superimposed on the illustrations. Beginning pages clarify relationships between the characters by showing them in family trees. The female point of view is distinctive, as discussed in the detailed notes. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up—The Ramayana is the story of the exiled prince Rama and his beautiful wife, Sita. When she is kidnapped by a love-struck demon king, her husband's efforts to rescue her result in a war that eventually involves not only demons and mortals, but also gods, monsters, and even animals. The story has been told and retold, performed and translated in every medium imaginable. Here, a Patua scroll painter has adapted it as a fast-paced, brilliantly bold graphic novel. All of the suspense, treachery, sorcery, and pathos of this epic is depicted in homemade natural dyes layered onto paper in energetic lines, rhythmic patterns, and fields of hot, bright colors. Taut but soulful narrative and dialogue help to tell the story, especially for readers unfamiliar with Hindu iconography. The layout merits particular mention: large panels on pages with abundant white space are interspersed with busier, more action-packed pages. Panels with diagonal edges indicate movement, while round dialogue bubbles and rectilinear swatches of narration are used as compositional elements, sometimes captioning a panel, sometimes stitching two panels together. But even if this book were not created in a little-known traditional medium, even if its story were not one of the most prominent epics in South Asian culture, even if the authors had not made the unusual choice of presenting the Ramayana from Sita's point of view—this book would be a must-purchase based on the strength of its dramatic story and arresting art, enhanced by superior design and high-quality production. Brilliant and fresh.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD
Kirkus Reviews

A vibrantly illustrated graphic-novel retelling of an ancient Indian legend.

Written in 300 B.C.E., the Ramayanais one of the great epics of India. In a world where demons and monkeys mingle freely with humans, Queen Sita has been living peacefully with her husband, King Rama, and his brother, Lakshmana. A treacherous demon tries to trick Rama, and an impulsive act of violence on Rama's part begins a years-long war that begets nothing but violence and heartbreak for the queen. Through her husband's impetuous deed, Sita becomes part of a vengeful plot and is abducted by a fierce, evil demon king. Rama wages a bloody war to win back his queen, though once rescued, Sita's tale really only just begins. It's not quite a traditional graphic novel: Chitrakar's art is in the style of Patuascrolls, a long Indian narrative form. In a stark departure from Western styles of illustration, the characters are each depicted in a similar way and can be difficult to tell apart at times. Also somewhat jarring is the type—a hard, modern-looking one that strangely alternates all caps and regular text—that seems anachronistic against the very traditional-looking backdrop. These idiosyncrasies aside however, Sita's tale is absolutely compelling and exciting.

A valuable piece of historical literature brought to the forefront for thoughtful new readers. (Graphic novel. 12 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9789380340036
  • Publisher: Tara Books,
  • Publication date: 3/28/2012
  • Pages: 152
  • Age range: 12 - 10 Years

Meet the Author


Samhita Arni has been interested in Hindu mythology since she was a child. She has written The Mahabaharata: A Child’s View, a version of another great Indian epic, which has been translated into seven languages and was named Book of the Month by the German Academy for Youth Literature and Media, and one of the Best Published Books of 2004 by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. It also won the Elsa Morante Literary Award (Department of Culture, Campania, Italy). Samhita has also written scripts for film and television and is currently working on a thriller based on The Ramayana. She lives in Bangalore, India.

Moyna Chitrakar is an artist and performer from the Patua scroll painting tradition. She is also the illustrator of the unique scroll book Tsunami, published by Tara Books.

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