The Ramayana

India's Epic Love Story

By Valmiki 
Indian (and many other versions), 11th Century  
Epic Poetry, Foundational Myth

Main Attractions

1. Epic love story, with Hanuman! 
2. Mythical Ethics
3. Perpetuates culture
4. 1000s of years of adaptations
5. Oldest surviving epic
6. 2nd Longest epic in the world
7.  Every human emotion expressed
8. Battles and adventures
9. Numerous versions of  the ending
10. Has a National Holiday: Diwali 

Cuisine & Delicacies

Ranked as: Han Jeong Shik
The sheer diversity of everything that be included in a book is sure to exist in this one. It reveals culture, characters, events, and magic that only Gods can provide.  

The cultural offshoots from this book are also vast.  It resulted in many different schools of thought.  The more I learned about it from secondary sources, the more I grew to understand it’s diverse impact.  It’s one of the rare books that’s lived more than it’s read.

It’s a book that’s lived, breathed and re-told everyday, all over the world.

Destination Summary

The plot is very simple, prince Rama and princess Sita fall in love and live in exile with Lakshmana.  Sita is kidnapped by the evil King Ravenna.  Sita is abused by his consorts, they are jealous of her.  A lot happens during her confinement, except that! It’s widely agreed that, 'that' never happened.  Each retelling changes the crucial treatment of Sita.   Hanuman and the rest is up to you to discover.  Here's a great summary.

Off the Beaten Path

Here’s a video of Robert P. Goldman’s life’s work translation.  It’s the only complete English translation that exists today.  
Here’s a link directly to the publisher for more information.  (I’m not an affiliate) 

Travel Advisory

It’s very long! So very long!  The British Museum says it has 24,000 verses in 7 Cantos.  The recently translated copy looks like the Encyclopaedia Brittanica if it had only 7 books.  The Iliad and Odyssey combined are much shorter than The Ramayana.  There is a much longer epic poem that is a companion to this one, The Mahabharata; India’s Epic battle.  It’s a masterpiece of World Literature. 

There are some very graphic scenes that are well, epic in scope.  But, at it’s heart, it’s the pinnacle of a love story.  Not just the love story of infinite Gods in human bodies, but also the love story of friendship and devotion.

The evil character can more than rival the original Faust in his quest for eternal knowledge and bookish smarts.  Ravenna is the evil King who has 10,000 heads to represent how he uses his knowledge for evil.  Maybe he actively studies so he can become more evil?  Is he on the dark path of pure devotion to evil excellence?  

Packing List

✓ Sense of adventure
✓ Eagerness for a multifaceted love story
✓ Google for images of exquisite artist’s interpretations
✓ Bollywood music, some celebrations can be involved!
✓ Indian Food or your favourite restaurant

Recommended Resources:
✓ Has background information and character bios 
1992 Anime, Cartoon

✓ Ramayana: Legend of Prince Rama (1992). Directed by Ram Mohan & Yugo Sako - it’s modern classic.


Recommended Translations:
✓ The Ramayana of Valmiki: An Epic of Ancient India By Robert P. Goldman (Started 1985, Completed 2009), Princeton University Press

✓ The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling of the Great Indian Epic (2004) By Ramesh Menon - Widely available, trade paperback 

✓ Sita’s Ramayana (2011 Graphic Novel) By Samhita Arni,  Illustrated By Moyna Chitrakar - It’s from Sita’s Point of View!

Alternate Books:
 Indian Philosophy - Great in-depth introduction and includes passages from this epic
✓ Either a dictionary of Indian Gods or a knowledgeable friend with a passion to share this story.
✓ Tale of Genji - Japanese Epic, and the world’s 1st novel

Part of the Ancient Global Epic Reading Challenge.