The Ramayana of Valmiki, An Epic of Ancient India (Vol-V : Sundarakanda)

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The Ramayana of Valmiki, An Epic of Ancient India (Vol-V : Sundarakanda)
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About the Book

The fifth and most popular book of the Ramayana of Valmiki, the Sundarakanda, recounts the adventures of the monkey hero Hanuman in leaping across the ocean to the island citadel of Lanka. Once there, he scours the city for the abducted Princess Sita. The poet vividly describes the opulence of the court of the demon king, Ravana, the beauty of his harem, the splendors of the palace gardens, and the hideous deformity of Sita’s wardresses. After witnessing Sita’s pathetic state and her stern rejection of Ravana’s blandishments, Hanuman reveals himself to the princess and restores her hope of rescue. The great monkey then wreaks havoc on the royal park and fights a series of hair-raising battles with Ravana’s generals, Permitting himself to be captured by the warrior Indrajit, Hanuman is led into the presence of Ravana, whom he admonishes for his lechery. His tail is set ableze, but he escapes his bonds and, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, sets fire to the city. Taking leave of Sita, Hanuman once more leaps the ocean to rejoin his monkey companions. Returning in triumph to report the news of Sita’s discovery to Rama, the monkeys pause for an interlude of drunken revelry in the pleasure grove of the monkey king. At last, Hanuman reports on his adventures to Prince Rama.

This is the fifth volume translated from the critical edition of the Valmiki Ramayana. It contains an extensive introduction, exhaustive notes, and comprehensive bibliography.

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About the Author

ROBERT GOLDMAN and SALLY J. SUTHERLAND GOLDMAN are both professors in the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

 Sample Pages


A work such as this cannot be completed without the good will, generosity, and help of many different people, agencies, and institutions. We have been extremely fortunate, throughout our work on the Sundarakanda, as throughout our efforts on the entire Ramayana, to have had these things in abundance.

Numerous scholars, many of them deeply learned in the Ramayana, gave of their learning unstintingly at various stages in the project. Sheldon I. Pollock, George V. Bobrinskoy Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Chicago and the translator of Books 2 and 3 in this series, has always been a profound and original source of knowledge and valuable advice on every aspect of Sanskrit literary and epic studies. Dr. Rajagopalacharya, former Director of the Oriental Institute, Mysore, provided us with a wealth of information on the interpretation of the Ramayana and particularly on the modes of parayana of the Sundarakanda and its special role in the lives and traditions of the Srivaisnavas. The late Professor Shivaganesh Murty, Director of the Oriental Institute, Mysore, placed the resources of that insti- tution as well as his own considerable learning at our disposal. We are particularly grateful to him for providing us with the important but otherwise unavailable proofs and manuscript for the Amriakataka commentary of Madhav Yogindra (Madhavayog)).

Our warmest gratitude also must be expressed to Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Member-Secretary of the Indira Gandhi National Centre forthe Arts, who made the considerable resources of her institution and her staff available to us whenever necessary.

Numerous scholars and devotees of the Ramayana met with us and generously shared their knowledge with us to assist us with the puzzles that abound in the Sundarakanda. It would be impossible to nameall of them here; but two are deserving of special mention. Pt. Srinivasa Iyengar, a learned sastrin and Ramayana scholar and translator of Bangalore, gave generously of his time to clarify several difficult points in the text. Dr. Bannanje Govindacharya of Udupi provided us with a learned and original analysis of several obscure matters in the Rumayana and offered a scholarly and pointed critique of the Doordarshan serialization of the epic. Our special thanks must go to Dr. Ramaswamy Iyengar of the NMKRV College in Bangalore. Inaddition to the benefit of his considerable learning in Sanskrit studies and the Ramayana, he graciously arranged for us to meet with many other scholars in Bangalore during our stay in that city in April 1992. We must also express our deepest gratitude to his colleagues Dr. Ranganathan and Dr. Leela, who not only helped us with their broad knowledge of Sanskrit literature but graciously gave of their time to escort us everywhere through the city to meet outstanding scholars and devotees of the Ramayana.

Of the dozens of learned scholars who assisted us in so many ways, there are two whose mention we must reserve until last; for their affection and generosity to us in connection with this project was superlative and far greater than we can in any sense hope to repay. These are our guru, Pt. T. Shrinivas Shastri, formerly of the Deccan College, Pune, and Mr. K. Venugopalan of the Sanskrit Dictionary Department of that same institution.

Throughout the greater part of our eight-month stay in Pune, they graciously met with us for many hours each week to review, discuss, and clarify the many difficulties in the text and the commentaries we encountered during the course of our reading of the Sundarakanda. Sastri-ji was an unfailing source of profound learning and insight into the Ramayana, its commentaries, and above all the vast array of sastratc literature one has to master to be truly conversant with this encyclopedic epic, His scholarship, good humor, and meticulous dlis- section of the occasional excesses of some of the commentators were both humbling and inspiring to us and provide us with some of the most memorable hours of our stay in India. Mr. Venugopalan’s meticulousness. deep learning, unparalleled knowledge of the wide diversity of Sanskrit texts, and unstinting generosity and hospitality were in large measure responsible for the relative speed with which we were able to complete our reading of the text.

To both of these men the present volume owes more than can be easily expressed in mere words. Although in their modesty they would perhaps deny it, much of what is good in this work is owed to their learning. Whatever may be deficient is the entire responsibility of the authors.

A project such as this cannot, however, survive on scholarship alone. Scholars, like other workers, require material, institutional, and financial support to Carry on productively. We have been extremely fortunate to have had the combined support of a number of institutions that made our work on this volume possible.

We should like to thank especially the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS), whose Senior Fellowships, in one case Jointly with the National Endowment for the Humanities, provided support for the authors while in India during 1992. Our special thanks to the Institute’s Vice President and Director, Dr. P. R. Mehendiratta, whose considerable expertise and abilities smoothed all potential adminis- trative difficulties we may have encountered. Special thanks also to our friend, Mr. Madhav Bhandare, AHS Regional Officer in Pune, without: whose constant and vital assistance we would have spent much of the time we had allocated to our work on the often tedious mechanics of setting up a household in India.

We should also like to thank Dr. V. N. Misra, Director of the Deccan College Postgraduate Research Institution, who graciously permitted us to live on the campus of the college and so made our time in Pune far more productive than would otherwise have been possible; and Dr. S. D. Joshi, Head of the Sanskrit Dictionary Department at the Deccan College, who generously agreed to serve as our research supervisor and who made the facilities of the depart- ment-~the library and the scriptorium---freely available to us.

We must also express our thanks to the University of California at Berkeley for providing us academic leave to pursue our work on this project in India and especially to the Committee on Research for its award of a Humanities Research Fellowship in the spring of 1992 that made our research trip to India possible.

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