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The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,951 ratings  ·  309 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 157 pages
Published November 2nd 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published 1972)
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I happened to pick up this book when I went to New Delhi for work.

I didn't know about Indian mythology at all, because in Europe we read only Greek Mythology at school, but what I've always like about India is that in this country, the animals seem to have equal rights as Man. So, when I picked up this book in the bookstore, and read the back cover, I was immediately drawn to the efforts of the monkeys, in collaboration with man, to save a kidnapped woman.

And I was touched by the book's deep
Vikas Singh
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book
This edition was published specially for Paper boat. This version of Ramayan by R.K. Narayan is excellent introduction to the Indian epic, specially for those who are short on time. Narayan has used Kamban's version for writing this and not Valmiki's version. Having read both versions, I could find one major difference- the laxman rekha, or line of protection drawn by Laxman is missing in this version. Overall a good quick and fascinating read
This is one of those really entertaining but makes you want to smack someone. But at least the gods in this version agree with me.
It is nice to know that the Bible isn’t the only work that screws women over.
The amount of time that men in this epic, who keep telling you they are powerful dudes, blame women for everything is just maddening. Even Sita who couldn’t be raped because Ravena can’t force her has to prove her virtue.

Yeah, yeah, I know it was before feminism. I get it. But I am a
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I couldn't belief that I actually enjoyed it despite being far removed from the cultural context of the work! The moment I ascertained that I was required to read The Ramayana for my World Literature Module in university, I felt frightened and intimidated. I had a strong feeling that I would not enjoy it because of its unfamiliarity and because of the fact that I had to step out of my comfort zone and read a book involving wars. The first two chapters of the book was perplexing to me; ...more
Yigal Zur
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
his style is flowing and the story is running and rich. i read few versions and i find this one the most satisfying. maybe because is short.
Wesley Fox
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
An interesting shortened version of the Indian epic. It has less lecturing than the Bhagavad Gita and more ethical and moral dimensions to it. I enjoyed it more.

It is about Rama, the son of a king in a fictitious kingdom in some forgotten time. He is adored by his family and his people. One day a sage comes by and requests Rama come with him to complete a ritual in a remote place. During the journey Rama completes several great deeds even as a child, convincing the sage and others he is the
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is more of a prose novelization than a translation (and of Kamban's Tamil translation/adaptation rather than Valmiki's Sanskrit original). I can't speak to its accuracy or veracity as a representation of the original text, but it is a very entertaining read and made the story very clear, accessible, and exciting.
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Even to a skeptic like me, there is something soul stirring in the Ramayana .. mystic even!
Timons Esaias
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Okay, first the consumer warning: THIS IS NOT THE VALMIKI VERSION OF THE RAMAYANA, nor is it the Kamban version, which is referred to on the back cover description. I was insufficiently attentive in the bookstore, when buying the Penguin Classics of this and the Mahabharata. I did not realize that this was essentially a modern novel version of the Tamil version, reshaped by the Indian novelist R. K. Narayan.

So what you get in this edition is part of the story of Ramayana, revised to modern
Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا
I guess the whole world has heard of blue Rama and his beautiful Sita, but now that I'm actually reading the story, I find their love not as amazing as I thought. In the movie A Little Princess, Sarah was obsessed with the story, and I liked the scenes she imagined.

Rama is not as amazing and dashing as all that, he even cheats on Sita and treats her badly. Another book that encouraged me to read this book (though it wasn't about it) The Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck, because I was obsessed with
Jan 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, school, read-2011
The Ramayana by R. K. Narayan
Penguin, 1972
157 pages
Epic; Mythic
5/5 stars

Source: Bought and read for school

Summary: The epic of Rama, the god Vishnu in human form, and his quest to rid the world of Ravana.

I loved this book. I thought that I was vaguely familiar with the story as I read it and I think I may have seen parts of a filmed adaptation at some point. This is a shortened prose version so it has lost some of its embellishments; I imagine that this would be a very fun story to hear as the
Mar 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly pleasant read, with some interesting additional apologetic work by the translator that adds value to the criticism and understanding of the "original" text (such as Sita's immolation and his murder of Vali).

This version is barebones, but with enough meat to really provide a great framework for diving into a deeper, lengthier version of the text, provided an English reader such as myself can find one. If anything, this text reminds me how absurdly complex and rich this culture is
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Narayan’s translation of The Ramayana is an entertaining and interesting read, especially in regards to the gender roles within the story. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in classic Indian mythology, although it is worth looking into other translations of The Ramayana as well since Narayan has omitted and/or simplified a few important scenes.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This book must be reviewed in two parts: one for the story itself, and the second for the way it is told. The Ramayana is the national epic of India. It tells the story of how Rama, an avatar of Vishnu, is incarnated as an earthly prince.

In his human form, Rama is handsome, rich and virtuous. He himself doesn’t realize he is Vishnu, yet he carries himself with an otherworldly perfection.

Early in the story, Rama meets his soulmate, Sita. She is a princess who will only marry the man who can
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For what it is, a shortened and translated version of the tale that when read in it’s classic form takes 120 hours or so to recite, it was wonderful. I feel I have dipped a toe into the cultural waters belonging to a significantly large portion of humans. While the narrator notes that this story is integral to the culture of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, I have Nepali friends who were delighted to hear I was reading this! The swath of our planet knitted together by the tradition of telling and ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review can also be found on Snow White Hates Apples.

After I’ve finished reading this book, I’m certain that mythology, fairy tales, folklore, legends and such all share common notions no matter which culture they are part of. In The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic (which I will shorten to ‘ The Ramayana ' from here onward), is a tale both familiar and unknown to me. Although the Indians are ‘one of the three main races’ in my country, I’ve never really
Afsana Islam
Feb 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. When I first took a look at the cover, I thought it was a book on culture and I’ll most likely learn a lot from it. I opened the book and it I did not want to read it anymore. It was an assigned book so I HAD to read it.

Later on, I started really liking it. I developed favorite characters and predictions as well as respect in Hindu culture. The book was about a reincarnation of Vishnu who is a God in Hinduism. Vishnu is reincarnated in human form as Rama to show
Feb 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book so far, The 4 stories told in the first chapter are really good stories! I think a good proverb for all 4 stories can be "We do sins to realize we are right in the end”, or "Everyone has a good and a bad side, people just see one side of the story”. I think this because the stories have a bad guy, that was a good guy before, but they had a reason to do what they did, for example in Ahalya’s story, Indra can be taken as the bad guy since he cloned himself to make love to Ahalya, ...more
Apr 18, 2018 rated it liked it
In many parts of this adaptation, Narayan accomplishes his goal of bringing the rich imagery and allegory of Kamban's Ramayana to an English-speaking audience. Unfortunately, in too much of it, Narayan's prose has the narrative force of a Wikipedia synopsis.

Throughout the book, Narayan takes pains to inform us of the brilliance of Kamban's original, but we are often left with at most only a tantalizingly small glimpse of what the original might have held. One of the most frustrating passages in
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am currently reading several books to prepare for a trip to India. This is a prose retelling (in English) of the Ramayana by great Indian Author R.K. Narayan. It is also considerably condensed from the original epic poem. I thought Narayan did a great job of making the story very readable and understandable. Images of and references to Rama and Sita are plentiful in Indian culture, so it is great to now understand their story and its implications.
Nov 16, 2017 added it
Shelves: mythology
A little too late for Diwali, but.

Really enjoyed this. I would like to read it in verse eventually.
Oct 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mythology
Fun read! This epic is translated here into a narrative, English form by a scholar deeply familiar with the original Indian text.
This is the story of Vishnu during his human incarnation as Rama. The story mostly revolves around his quest to get his beloved wife back after she is kidnapped during his 14 years of exile. Before that occurs, and then on his path to save her, he encounters other significant characters, always displaying his moral fiber and just ways and often departing great wisdom.
Apr 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this epic poem for many reasons. It is jam-packed with adages and proverbial messages that can still be used in the present day. Also, one literary element that really stood out for me in this poem was imagery. The author, R.K. Narayan really wanted the readers to feel and imagine the setting. I felt as if the beginning of this poem had so much detail, it was almost like Narayan was preparing one for all the imagery that one was going to face while reading The Ramayana. Although I ...more
Mar 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"The Ramayana", by R. K. Narayan, is an amazing book that gives the reader insight into the large, diverse culture of India. Set back in history, it reflects a time and place where the gods and the mortals encountered one another, and the two worlds mix. The main character, Rama, is seen as the incarnation of the god Vishnu, the Supreme God. He is set with the task of destroying all evil and overcoming the demon, Ravana, who has set himself up agaist the gods and threatened to destroy all that ...more
Angel Cruz
Mar 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this epic poem for various reasons found in the plot. This epic contains many life lessons and messages throughout its plot. There are also many proverbs found through this book that one can apply to their everyday life. Along with lessons one can also find great details and imagery about a certain setting or character. I enjoyed how the author, Narayan, used several details to describe one place, like in the beginning of the book where he describes Ayodhya. I always joined the effects ...more
Charnelly Francis
Feb 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I thought that this poem was really great because it thought me a lot more about the Indian culture. This is also a great book for anyone who wants to learn about the gods of India. One can see that this book gives great examples about being a tragic hero. It shows how one must be loyal, worthy, and vow keeping. By doing this, its certain that one will receive filial love, and more brotherly love/respect. One down fall of reading this book is that there are too many characters with confusing ...more
Jul 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Narayan's The Ramayana is a nice modern prose retelling of the longer Indian epic originally written in verse. It serves as a wonderful introduction to Indian culture, values, mythology, and spirituality. However, it was extremely difficult to get into at first, but once I was engaged, it was difficult to put down. There were so many vividly drawn battle scenes that successfully put this reader right into the middle of the action with all of the great accompanying visuals--flaming serpents, ...more
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so interesting, it gave me a real sense of the Hindu religion. The one thing that did confuse me about this book was the over dose of characters, it was a little bit overwhelming. While reading this book i found it helpful to make a story chart for the characters so i could keep track of who's who. As in most old stories women are not as shown as intellegent as the men or even as import. The reason i thought this was at the very beginning when Rama was a god in the heavens who ...more
Mar 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The epic poem, Ramayana was about the life of a prince who was the reincarnation as Vishnu, one of the god of Hinduism. Ramayana who was suppose to be king, was later sent on exile by his setpmother for fourteen years. Ramayana's mission was to free the world from all evil. During Rama's exile he met faithful and also he fought against foes. His wife sita was captured by Ravana, went looking for sita and there the adventure became interesting.

these are example of voice of reason in
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R. K. Narayan is among the best known and most widely read Indian novelists who wrote in English.

R.K. Narayan was born in Madras, South India, in 1906, and educated there and at Maharaja's College in Mysore. His first novel, Swami and Friends and its successor, The Bachelor of Arts, are both set in the enchanting fictional territory of Malgudi and are only two out of the twelve novels he based
“I came in several times and spoke, but perhaps you were asleep when I thought you were awake.'
'You are very considerate to explain it this way,' Sugreeva said, 'but I was drunk”
“In a world where we are accustomed to rivalries over possession, authority, and borders, and people clashing over the issue, “Ours,” or “Mine, not yours,” it is rather strange to find two people debating whose the kingdom is not, and asserting: “Yours, not mine.” 4 likes
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