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Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God: Retracing the Ramayana Through India
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Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God: Retracing the Ramayana Through India

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  235 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The three-thousand-year-old epic Ramayana chronicles Lord Rama's physical voyage from one end of the Indian subcontinent to the other and his spiritual voyage from Man to God. In Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God, anthropologist and journalist Jonah Blank gives a new perspective to this Hindu classic -- retelling the ancient tale while following the course of Rama's journey th ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 26th 2000 by Grove Press (first published 1992)
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(showing 1-30 of 571)
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Michael Austin
If Jonah Blank had come to me ten years ago and asked me if he should try to write a travel narrative through modern India using the 2500 year-old epic, THE RAMAYANA, as a point of departure for analyzing the landscape and the culture, I would have said, "don't be stupid--that's a lousy idea." The book is superb, so it is a good thing he didn't ask me first.
Dayanand Prabhu
The book provides a social commentary of India relating it to India's most loved story, The Ramayana. Jonah Blank highlights Spirituality, Romance, Adventure, Cynicism, Hope and much more. Each of it of the right quantity, not too much nor too little. A brilliant read indeed.
Rita
1990
Excellent very personal travelogue reporting many extensive conversations with Indians of all castes he encountered in his travels tracing the Ramayana.
Very young when he wrote this, about 25, and occasionally he expresses highly idealistic views one expects at that age. Yet seems very learned about history of India, diversity of religion, castes [well explained, I never knew the ins and outs].
Does his best to explain Hinduism to us, its relation to Buddhism [being a sort of offshoot], and t
...more
Anjali
Full disclosure: Jonah is my professor this semester for a class on South Asia Relations. I bought the book because it's on his syllabus, but he requested we try to find the cheapest version available because he didn't want us to spend money....and I found an autographed copy for $0.99. Best money I've spent in a long time. He's disarming, self-deprecating, and approachable. That aside, the man knows the entire region, India especially, better than most Indians I know, relatives included. Jonah ...more
Ammie
I'm always skeptical when I read books about India, because I feel like there's so much that can be said about the country, the history, and the future and I don't know anywhere near enough about it to sort out useful information from total crap. This book acknowledged all of that, and in the end I felt like I had gained (at the very least) a much more varied set of ideas about the country. Told through the framework of the Ramayana, an ancient epic about the trials and tribulations of royal cou ...more
Bryanne Salazar
Aug 17, 2014 Bryanne Salazar is currently reading it
I'm so thoroughly entranced by this book. It reads like a travel narrative, but weaves in historical and theological information seamlessly, giving the reader a chance to both see and understand the (then) present day conflicts happening between Muslims and Hindus in India (at least in the first chapter, where I am now). The Ramayana is the canvas of this tale, and the journey of Jonah Blank is the paint. I'm so happy I found this book and decided to open it.
Martha
Tmi! I don't
Mind hearing the story of Rama broken up by modern India, so I don't fall asleep and learn the importance of the story to folk of today, but then add Sri Lankan wars and politics on top of it? Inhadbto skip and just focus on Rama for about half the book.
Vaishali
Mr. Blank was a fellow Cantabridgian, and his insights on India hold as true today as they did when this book was written. On point and lucid.
Rush2ady
This is one of my favorite books on my bookshelf. It's charming, informative, humorous, and at times deeply touching. Having married an Indian, and lived in India for a time myself, I find it remarkable that an outsider can capture the vastness of India in a book. As skilled as Jonah Blank is with a pen, he is more brilliant in his grasp of the Indian psyche. A must read!
Mark
I think if you only read one book on India this might be the one. Jonah follows the story and path of the Ramayana epic throughout India and in the process touches on complex areas such as aceticism, Hinduism, reincarnation, race, caste, Bollywood and what modernity means in India today. His subject matter is scholoarly, but his writing is easy to understand.
John
I had begun the book expecting a travel narrative, which it isn't. Differences among the geographical areas of South Asia do come into play, but with the focus how modern Indian society got where it is now. At first, using a Ramayana episode to introduce each section seemed "gimmicky"; however, that approach soon made great sense.
Lynn Buschhoff
The background information in this book was excellent, but because it is 20 years old, it is a little misleading for someone who is visiting India now. It introduced a lot of the themes of the Ramayana and how they reflect the Indian character: it would be great if the author wrote another, more recnt take on India.
Mark
Nov 10, 2008 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mark by: Alex
Like many good books, this one took me a while to get into. The story-line of the Ramayana runs alongside the author's narration of his travels through India, and although what it most interesting is this thought-journey of the narrator, it's the Ramayana that's compelling. As a whole, it's an interesting and worthwhile read.
The Tick
This was a really ambitious book--part literary criticism, part history, part travel memoir--and the author did a really good job of making sure that all three components were well-represented. It's a little out of date now, but still very much worth a read.
Uma
I discovered this wasn't a book I could race through. A delightful birthday gift that you need to stop and reflect on. Got me thinking and learning about my own religion..... goes to show, you can learn things everyday. Definately a book I will be revisiting.
Minnow
3.5 stars. Have not read the Ramayana yet. Learned much about the epic as well as the Indian peoples. Encourages me to read further on the topics.

My India book for 2012 Around the World in 52 Books Challenge.
Rachele
Very interesting.... it re-tells the Ramayana while giving a modern (outdated, since it's from the early 90s, but o well) take on Indian life and culture. I loved it, definitely fed my obsession with India further.
Jrobertus
an american reporter travels the path that rama took in the ramayana. he braids this legend with his observations of contemporary india and ceylon to good effect. very interesting.
Jessica
I figured I should contribute a little bit. This is one of my all time favorite books. A little bit anthropology, a little bit ancient myth, and thought-provoking too.
Pallavi Homan
I read this book a long time ago, but I remember being very enchanted by it. A great read for anyone that is traveling to India or interested in Indian society and culture.
Madhusree
Just a well written book that works as a memoir,travelogue,commentary on the 90's in India.loved it,recommend it strongly to any Indiophile time-traveler.
Erika
Made me laugh out loud, and I learned so much about Indian current events (from the 90s, I think, but I forgot it all anyway!) and culture.
Steve Pearcy
Read it before my first trip to India. Great background on what India is like today, interwoven with the tale that created what it is to be Indian.
Nicky
An easy and intelligent book....a good introduction to traditional and contempary aspects of India.....from Brendan Hahn's excellent bookshelf.
Katie
slow going, felt like i was slogging through for the first two-thirds or so... and then it sort of blossomed & i was glad i stuck with it.
John
One of the best books on India's past and present. Brilliantly juxtaposes the ancient Ramayana with contemporary India.
Susan
A travelogue mixed up with bits of the epic and insights into the cultures of India.
Newton
I reflect on "the shoe-wallah who saved my sole" at least once a week.
Kevin p.
Awesome...an incredible journey through modern and mythical India. Enchanting.
Chelsy Healy
Great book to wet your appetite about India.
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