The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)

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9780140187007: The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)

"The Ramayana" is, quite simply, the greatest of Indian epics - and one of the world's supreme masterpieces of storytelling. 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.

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About the Author:

R. K. Narayan (1906–2001), born and educated in India, was the author of fourteen novels, numerous short stories and essays, a memoir, and three retold myths. His work, championed by Graham Greene, who became a close friend, was often compared to that of Dickens, Chekhov, Faulkner, and Flannery O'Connor, among others. October 10, 2006, is the centennial of Narayan's birth.

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Table of Contents

 

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Introduction

Dedication

 

Chapter 1 - RAMA’S INITIATION

Chapter 2 - THE WEDDING

Chapter 3 - TWO PROMISES REVIVED

Chapter 4 - ENCOUNTERS IN EXILE

Chapter 5 - THE GRAND TORMENTOR

Chapter 6 - VALI

Chapter 7 - WHEN THE RAINS CEASE

Chapter 8 - MEMENTO FROM RAMA

Chapter 9 - RAVANA IN COUNCIL

Chapter 10 - ACROSS THE OCEAN

Chapter 11 - THE SIEGE OF LANKA

Chapter 12 - RAMA AND RAVANA IN BATTLE

Chapter 13 - INTERLUDE

Chapter 14 - THE CORONATION

 

Epilogue

Glossary

THE RAMAYANA

R. K. NARAYAN was born on October 10, 1906, in Madras, South India, and educated there and at Maharaja’s College in Mysore. His first novel, Swami and Friends (1935), and its successor, The Bachelor of Arts (1937), are both set in the fictional territory of Malgudi, of which John Updike wrote, “Few writers since Dickens can match the effect of colorful teeming that Narayan’s fictional city of Malgudi conveys; its population is as sharply chiseled as a temple frieze, and as endless, with always, one feels, more characters round the corner.” Narayan wrote many more novels set in Malgudi, including The English Teacher (1945), The Financial Expert (1952), and The Guide (1958), which won him the Sahitya Akademi (India’s National Academy of Letters) Award, his country’s highest honor. His collections of short fiction include A Horse and Two Goats, Malgudi Days, and Under the Banyan Tree. Graham Greene, Narayan’s friend and literary champion, said, “He has offered me a second home. Without him I could never have known what it is like to be Indian.” Narayan’s fiction earned him comparisons to the work of writers including Anton Chekhov, William Faulkner, O. Henry, and Flannery O’Connor.

Narayan also published travel books, volumes of essays, the memoir My Days, and the retold legends Gods, Demons, and Others, The Ramayana, and The Mahabharata. In 1980 he was awarded the A. C. Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature, and in 1981 he was made an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1989 he was made a member of the Rajya Sabha, the nonelective House of Parliament in India.

R. K. Narayan died in Madras on May 13, 2001.

 
PANKAJ MISHRA is the author of The Romantics, winner of the Los Angeles Times’s Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World, and Tempations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond . He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, the New York Review of Books, and the Guardian.

PENGUIN BOOKS
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:
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First published in the United States of America by The Viking Press 1972
First published in Great Britain by Chatto & Windus 1973
Published in Penguin Books (U.S.A.) 1977
Published in Penguin Books (U.K) 1977
This edition with an introduction by Pankaj Mishra published in Penguin Books (U.S.A.) 2006

 

 
Copyright © R. K. Narayan, 1972

Introduction copyright © Pankaj Mishra, 2006
All rights reserved

 
The decorations, drawn from Indian temple sculptures, are by R. K. Laxman.

 
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA
Narayan, R. K., 1906-2001.
The Ramayana : a shortened modern prose version of the Indian epic (suggested by the Tamil version of
Kamban) / R.K. Narayan ; introduction by Pankaj Mishra.
p. cm.—(Penguin classics)

eISBN : 978-0-143-03967-9

1. Rama (Hindu deity)—Fiction. 2. Epic literature, Tamil—Adaptations. I. Kampar, 9th cent.
Ramayanam. II. Title. III. Series.
PR9499.3.N3R36 2006
297.5’922—dc22 2006045201

 

 
The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means
without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase
only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic
piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Introduction

In the summer of 1988 sanitation workers across North India went on strike. Their demand was simple: they wanted the federal government to sponsor more episodes of a television serial based on the Indian epic Ramayana (Romance of Rama). The serial, which had been running on India’s state-owned television channel for more than a year, had proved to be an extraordinarly popular phenomenon, with more than eighty million Indians tuning in to every weekly episode. Streets in all towns and cities emptied on Sunday mornings as the serial went on the air. In villages with no electricity people usually gathered around a rented television set powered by a car battery. Many bathed ritually and garlanded their television sets before settling down to watch Rama, the embodiment of righteousness, triumph over adversity.

When the government, faced with rising garbage mounds and a growing risk of epidemics, finally relented and commissioned more episodes of The Ramayana, not just the sanitation workers but millions of Indians celebrated. More than a decade and many reruns later, the serial continues to inspire reverence among Indians everywhere, and remains for many the primary mode of experiencing India’s most popular epic.

The reasons for this may not be immediately clear to an uninitiated outsider: the serial, cheaply made by a Bollywood filmmaker, abounds in ham acting and tinselly sets, and the long, white beards of its many wise, elderly men look perilously close to dropping off.

But it wasn’t so much its kitschy, Bollywood aspect that endeared the serialization to Indians as its invoking of what is easily the most influential narrative tradition in human history: the story of Rama, the unjustly exiled prince. It may be impossible to prove R. K. Narayan’s claim that every Indian “is aware of the story of The Ramayana in some measure or other.” But it will sound true to most Indians. Indeed, the popular appeal of the story of Rama among ordinary people distinguishes it from much of Indian literary tradition, which, supervised by upper-caste Hindus, has been forbiddingly elitist.

There is really no Western counterpart in either the Hellenic or Hebraic tradition to the influence that this originally secular story, transmitted orally through many centuries, has exerted over millions of people. The Iliad and The Odyssey are, primarily, literary texts, but not even Aesop’s fables or the often intensely moral Greek myths shape the daily lives of present-day inhabitants of Greece. In contrast, The Ramayana continues to have a profound emotional and psychological resonance for Indians.

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Book Description Penguin Books India, 2000. Softcover. Book Condition: New. A shortened modern prose version of the Indian epic. 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 4th 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. Printed Pages: 176. Bookseller Inventory # 22226

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