The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling of the Great Indian Epic
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The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling of the Great Indian Epic

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  2,863 ratings  ·  175 reviews
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...more
Paperback, 890 pages
Published May 26th 2004 by North Point Press (first published 1870)
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The Iliad/The Odyssey by HomerThe Odyssey by HomerThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienBeowulf by UnknownThe Epic of Gilgamesh by Anonymous
World's Greatest Epics
16th out of 149 books — 51 voters
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Best Indian Books
274th out of 509 books — 1,472 voters

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I grew up in India, and learned the story told in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, India's great epics, literally back in first and second grade. The Ramayana, in particular, is the basis for Diwali, one of my favorite Hindu festivals.

I already have an excellent copy of the Mahabharata (although one that I'm sure is utterly out of print) but I never got a full length version of the entire Ramayana while we lived there. So I recently treated myself to one.

The one I selected and am reviewing here is...more
Some translations value accuracy and fidelity to the original text above all else. They work hard to preserve the meter and rhyme scheme (if any) and stay as close as possible to a word-for-word imitation, even if the result sounds a bit clumsy. I suspect that this book is not one of those translations. Buck is clearly a master storyteller in his own right, and his prose flows so well in English that it's hard to imagine he isn't taking some liberties. I would recommend this book to anyone who w...more
Sooraj Subramaniam
It is no doubt a human tale, but there is some sentiment it evokes that I cannot put into words. Some tug just behind the tear-producing glands ...

I found that this telling captured how I'd felt about the Ramayana, having grown up listening to all the stories as part of nightcaps or preludes to evening prayers, living both unashamedly indian and unconfusedly western lives. It was honest and plain, glorious and abundant, rich and telling, and yet so bizarrely mysterious.

I remember the first time...more
This is the only adaptation of the Ramayana I have read, and so I can't be sure how much of my poor rating is attributable to Buck's adaptation and how much is dissatisfaction with the epic itself. So, I will list the aspects I find lacking, and those better versed than I in the mythology can interpret accordingly.

Although there are a few memorable lines ("Raavana lay like a collection of wrongs") for the most part I find the language cloying, dumbed-down amateur poetry using hackneyed, not terr...more

بدأت العام الماضي بقراءة سفر ويل ديورانت الضخم (قصة الحضارة)، وهي تجربة مميزة ربما لا يمر بها أكثرنا إلا مع كتب قليلة جداً، وبما أن السلسلة موزعة على 47 جزءاً في طبعتها العربية، فلذا قراءتها مشروع ضخم، فالسلسلة عبارة عن 25 ألف صفحة مدججة بقرون من الحضارة الإنسانية، حينها تفتق ذهني عن فكرة جعلت المشروع أعقد مما هو، حيث قررت حينها دمج قراءات أخرى مع دوراته الحضارية لجعلها أكثر عمقاً، فعندما اقرأ عن الهند مثلاً، لا أكتفي بما كتبه ديورانت عنها، وإنما أضيف لقراءتي ما توافر لدي من كتب عن تا...more
Harish Kumar Sarma Challapalli
This is considered as one of the TRIO-Epics of Indian culture

The greatest book ever!! This indian historical epic is considered as a LEGEND in the punya bhoomi!! The book depits the life story of a greatest Prince Rama who is an embodiment of all good qualities a human can ever possess!! Sita, wife of Rama, is a perfect example of how a woman should be!

Each and every character in this book will teach us something and helps to live an untainted life!!

Personally, I feel i have no words to describ...more
M a y a
While R K Narayan's version was a good intro to the Ramayana, this version has much more of an epic feel. Though the 700 pages are dense, the prose was engrossing and enjoyable, and a great source for learning more about Hinduism.

The author obviously put a lot of passion and devotion into this work (as this story is regarded as scripture to Hindus), and it shows in his descriptions of everything from the forest where Rama and Sita were banished to the gory details of the battle scenes.

PTS Books Club
A brilliant translation of the timeless epic, the Ramayana pervades the country’s moral and cultural consciousness. In her magnificent translation Arshia Sattar has successfully bridged both time and space to make this monumental ancient classic accessible to the present-day reader.

[Arshia Sattar (born 1960), an Indian translator, facilitator, author, and director, obtained her PhD in South Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in 1990.She has also worked with documen...more
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...more
Federico Trejos
A transcendental epic tragedy of Divine sorts. A story with as much beauty and poetry as philosophy and truths.each character and situation reflects different things in both the spiritual realm as in our human condition. Decisions, consequences, tragedy, nobility of spirit, height of thought, duty and unflinching righteousness. It is as well a "fantastic" story, with things that can happen only in spiritual manifestations of the spiritual realm, such as flying giant monkeys which think and talk,...more
This is a beautiful story. I read a simplified English translation with students in a Socratic Seminar, but the points made and the overall message warrant a quick nod of the head. It’s interesting to study a different culture’s ethical foundation. This tradition is vastly different from the Western tradition. Duty trumps individual desire time and again. The role of women is different. The role of gods, and their mischief and fighting is different. And all these topics are quite thought provoki...more
There are a few reasons I am giving this text just two stars. First and foremost among these reasons is for the quality and style of the translation. It is hard for me to believe that a translator could take the liberties that this one has with such an ancient and sacred text, and yet here we are. The translator made the decision to remove tens, if not a hundred or more cantos from this version of the Ramayana, for various reasons, including a personal feeling that certain content was not approp...more
Keith Willcock
May 06, 2012 Keith Willcock rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes fun
Anyone who wants to know how the gods and goddesses really live should read this. It's a rollicking tale of romance and intrigue that even after 2000 years of telling seems fresh and current. It's sheer humanity defrocks religious dogma that often seems oppressive, overbearing, and out of touch with the real world of human desires and emotions.

A good time is had by all including the bad guys and girls who, having been resoundingly defeated, just seem happy to have resolved some of their karma as...more
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...more
Ramesh Menon has tried to write this interpretation of the Indian epic “Ramayana” in a style that is readable by a large section of the society. This is one of the few easy to read and comprehensive books that I could find when I wanted to read about the story of Ramanayana in English. The other alternative was C Rajagopalachari’s Ramayana and I will have to go through that as well before I can say which is better. For a casual reader however, who is looking to read the story, and but not necess...more
Ayman Zaaqoq
"ملحمة من الهند" .. وكفى. لايحتاج المرء الى توصية أو تزكية ليقرأ ملحمة أسطورية وُلِدتْ من رحم حضارة بهذه العظمة.
هي ليست مجرد ملحمة للبطولة و الحب والتضحية، وانما هي – بالاضافة الى ذلك – مجموعة من الدروس في فن الحكم تُظهر ان النزاهة والاستقامة والصدق ليسوا ضد نجاح الحاكم، بل هم على العكس، ضمانة لنجاحه و ازدهار عصره وحب رعيته.
والملحمة هي النسخة الهندية من "الإلياذة و الأوديسه". وهي خليط بين الأدب الشعبي الملحمي و التعاليم و العقائد الهندوسية.
ومما زاد استمتاعي بالقراءة – بالاضافة الى الصور العامرة...more
Sep 14, 2007 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: searchers for truth, lovers of mythology and legend
William Buck has distilled the beautiful essence of the Ramayana, one of India's greatest epics, into a single, compelling volume. This is the story of Prince Rama's dedication to dharma —the responsibilities that fall to him as a result of his status as human and prince— in the face of incredible misfortune. It is also the story of what people are willing to do for those they love (witness Rama's war against the demons of Lanka to recuperate his wife Sita) and the tragic twists that can undermi...more
The Ramayana is a confusing book for those unfamiliar with the religious mythology involved (like the greek pantheon, it is extensive and convoluted), but William Buck, in choosing to drastically alter the form of the text and turn it into a novel makes it accessible to the casual reader. This is most certainly not anywhere near to a literal translation, but it is certainly the most accessible and readable. It is, essentially, the movie of the book.
Clayton Brannon
This is not an easy read! It requires the looking up of a lot of new words and understanding their meanings. The book has a great glossary and is very helpful in understanding the many new words you must learn to enjoy this book. I gave it five stars because it truly is an epic of unparalleled excellence. I think it far exceeds anything in Western literature.
This translation is slightly more poetic than the previous one I read, which gives it more of the quality it needs. It is still prose, however, so not very poetic. (Also, the cover is more beautiful - and yes, sometimes I can't help judging...) I love both of them, really. You just can't get enough of the Ramayana.
I really enjoyed the Ramayana, but I can't decide whether I liked it more than the Mahabharata. I did get my extra credit from it, though, so that's something.
Okay...I only read the second book for my class on epic, but I am counting it! However, our lecture gave the overview, and I can't wait to read the entire thing!
Pratiwi Pratiwi
Mysogyny. That was my first impression of this story. Maybe this is how society is constructed at that age. I don't know why Rama is described like perfect protagonist. He married Sita because of a contest that ended up in arranged marriage. At the end of the story, he didn't believe Sita's purity (or virginity?) that makes her burn herself to proof it. Why did he try to safe her then? Op nope, hanuman did it. Meanwhile, I am still thinking about what bad things Ravana has been done to Sita. He...more
Apr 03, 2008 Kevin marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Made it about 1/3 through. Back in '98, we didn't have the "internet" and I couldn't go to wikipedia to find out exactly WTF was going on.
As close to the real thing as you can get, without reading it in Sanskrit yourself. Some good stuff...
this is the best translated version out there!
Jun 05, 2014 Helmut is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Eines ist schon direkt zu Beginn etwas gewöhnungsbedürftig - da wird die Geschichte von Rama erstmal von Narada in knappster Form an Valmiki vorerzählt, dann stellt sich Valmiki das ganze nochmal in noch gröberer Form bildlich vor, und dann erst erfolgt die Erzählung en detail. Insgesamt muss man sich mit einem Überfluss an Wortreichtum gewöhnen - das gesamte zweite Buch beispielsweise ist für mich kaum lesbar, da es nur aus wenig Handlung, die durch Klagereden von allen möglichen Personen aufge...more
May 29, 2011 Susan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who love to read about legends or myths
I read the shortened version in Lit class (really only 23 pages from the Mythology textbook), but I immediately took an interest to this story. I find it very interesting and, believe it or not, I think I would have really liked the full version. Some parts did feel too random, but that was simply because I did not read the full version. I thought this was an interesting and thoughtful read. (As always, strange gods and attacking monkeys interest me.) The only thing that ruined this story that I...more
Undertook as part of an effort to read the Norwegian Book Clubs' 100 Best Books of All Time and no regrets. The Ramayana offers many rewards: exoticism, spectacle, insight into concepts such as dharma, displays of virtue, and a wonderful epic story. Moreover, as chapter one reveals:

"The story of Rama is edifying and bestows merit. Anyone who reads it is freed of all sins. The man who reads the Ramayana will be honoured along with his sons, grandsons and companions when he dis and goes to heaven...more
Ah, an excellent take on a classic story. I'm afraid I must demand that anyone reading this book have at least some cursory knowledge of The Ramayana first, both the basic plot and also its existence as scripture, because this is a retelling and not a direct translation. However, Menon does an excellent job of capturing the story, both as narrative and as spiritual instruction.

While the essential plot is more or less ancient, sexist, and generally uninteresting, Menon does well to include many o...more
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Valmiki is celebrated as the poet harbinger in Sanskrit literature. He is the author of the epic Ramayana, based on the attribution in the text of the epic itself.He is revered as the Adi Kavi, which means First Poet, for he discovered the first śloka i.e. first verse, which set the base and defined the form to Sanskrit poetry. The Yoga Vasistha is attributed to him. A religious movement called Va...more
More about Vālmīki...
Ramáyana II: Ayodhya (Clay Sanskrit Library) El Ramayana: Tomo Uno y Dos The Ramayan Of Valmiki - Volume III Śrīmad Vālmīki Rāmāyana: With Sanskrit Text And English Translation Part I Ramayana

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“You cannot count on the physical proximity of someone you love, all the time. A seed that sprouts at the foot of its parent tree remains stunted until it is transplanted. Rama will be in my care, and he will be quite well. But ultimately, he will leave me too. Every human being, when the time comes, has to depart to seek his fulfillment in his own way.” 12 likes
“He lit the night he brought with the fire that puts out the planets when time ends.” 7 likes
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