Ramayana (15 Edition) by Kamala Subramaniam

Ramayana (13 Edition)

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Ramayana (13 Edition)
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Born on October 4, 1916, in Bangalore and educated in that city, the author had the privilege of studying under the distinguished Professor B. M. Srikantiah, Professor and Head of the English Department, Central College, Bangalore, and top litterateur in modern Kannada. She developed early in life an avid taste for English literature and particularly a love for Shakespeare’s plays.

In 1937, she married Dr. V. S. Subramaniam, the renowned E.N.T. Surgeon of Madras.

Preoccupation with family affairs did not come in the way of her literary pursuit. She wrote a series of “Imaginary Conversations” on the modern Landos for the Triveni under the pen-name “Ketaki.”

Smt. Kamala Subramaniam’s condensations of the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavatam, both Bhavan’s publications, have won wide acclaim and with her Ramayana, she successfully concludes her magnificent triad on the Epics and Puranas of India this latest offering marks a distinct landmark in her great voyage of self-discovery on which she set off long years ago.

The Epics and Puranas epitomize our culture. They are suffused with spiritual fervor, their heroes and heroines are exemplars of nobility, sublimity, valor, heroism, steadfastness, and chivalry. And anyone reading them will find himself a little better, a little nobler. They have molded our outlook, and our way of life from times immemorial.

It is this priceless treasure of the spirit Smt. Kamala Subramaniam has tried to recapture it for the benefit of the younger generation who, alas are deprived of this spiritual inspiration and nourishment.

A master storyteller, Smt. Kamala Subramaniam has retold the story of the “Perfect” man – the ideal man of the conception of the ageless Valmiki – lucidly, simply, elegantly.

If her Mahabharata established her as a born narrator and in her Srimad Bhagavatam she has soared to ecstatic devotional heights, in her Ramayana she has excelled herself in retelling the story of Sri Ramachandra – a story so soul-stirring, so ennobling, so elevating. Each one of the characters stands out for the quality predominant in him/her, but the focal point is the intensely humane hero, the shining symbol of dharma, Rama.


After presenting to the English-reading public two great books of the Hindu tradition earlier, namely, The Mahabharatam and The Srimad Bhagavatam, Srimati Kamala Subramaniam is now offering to the readers a third great book of the Hindu tradition, namely, The Ramayanam of Valmiki. Like the two previous books, this one also is an abridged edition of the large epic, retaining, however, all the essential parts of the book and its inspirational flow of epic narrative.

Eulogizing the two great epics of India, Swami Vivekananda says (Complete Works, Vol. IV, P. 96).

“In fact, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two encyclopedias of the ancient Aryan life and wisdom, portraying an ideal civilization, which humanity has yet to aspire after.”

The Ramayana has been the perennial source of spiritual, cultural, and artistic inspiration for these thousands of years, not only to the people of India but also to the peoples of South-East Asian countries. It has enriched the national literature of these countries and has also provided themes for every form of their art – dance, drama, music, painting, and sculpture. Its heroic characters have helped to mold the Hindu character; and its three great personalities, namely, Rama, Sita, and Hanuman, have inspired millions of her people, high or low in the socio-economic scale, with the deepest, tenderest, and holiest love, reverence, and devotion.

All Hindu spiritual teachers, ancient and modern, have responded ecstatically to this great book and its heroes. Says Swami Vivekananda in the course of his lecture on The Sages of India (Complete Works, Vol. III, pp. 255-56).

“Rama, the ancient idol of the heroic ages, the embodiment of truth, of morality, the ideal son, the ideal husband, the ideal father, and above all, the ideal king, this Rama had been presented before us by the great sage Valmiki. No language can be purer, none chaster, none more beautiful, and at the same time simpler, than the language in which the great poet has depicted the life of Rama.”

“And what to speak of Sita? You may exhaust the literature of the world that is past, and I may assure you that you will have to exhaust the literature of the world of the future, before finding another Sita. Sita is unique; that character was depicted once and for all. There may have been several Ramas perhaps, but never more than one Sita! She is the very type of true Indian woman, for all the Indian ideals of a perfected woman have grown out of that one life of Sita. And here she stands, these thousands of years, commanding the worship of every man, woman, and child, throughout the length and breadth of Aryavarta (India). There she will always be, this glorious Sita, purer than purity itself, all patience, and all suffering.”

Rt. Hon. The late V.S. Srinivasa Sastry, India’s distinguished scholar and statesman, in his famous Lectures on the Ramayana, delivered in Madras in 1944 and published by the Madras Sanskrit Academy, invited the Indian youth to benefit from this great and immortal epic of their country (p. 2):

“Perhaps, The Ramayana is not quite as familiar to the younger generations that are coming up, as it was to us of an older day. Is it not true, alas, that great numbers of our youth at school and college of our civilization and culture?... Is it an exaggeration to say that a student of the Ramayana, not out of touch with its sanctity and its unequaled importance to the study of our civilization, can talk to an audience largely composed of the younger generation with some hope of profiting them? I believe there is, and in the coming years there is going to be, a greater need than ever of our going back with reverent hearts to this most beautiful and moving of all stories in literature.”

I cannot conclude this Foreword better than by quoting the two popular verses that salute, in highly elevating poetic imageries, the greatness of the intensely human sage-poet Valmiki and the heroic and self-effacing devotee Hanuman:


Kujantam rama rameti madhuram madhuraksaram;
Aruhya kavita-sakham vande va lmiki-kokilam

“I salute Valmiki, the cuckoo, who, perching on the tree of poesy, melodiously sings the sweet syllables – Rama, Rama!”


Sita-rama gun a-grama pun yaran ya viharinau
Vande visuddha-vijn anau kavis vara-kapis varau

“I salute the master of kavis, i.e. poets (Valmiki), and the master of kapis, i.e. monkeys (Hanuman), who are endowed with pure Reason and who move freely and joyously in the sacred grove of the myriad virtues and graces of Rama and Sita.”

The author and publishers have done a great service to humanity by bringing out this immortal epic in a pleasantly readable edition.


It has been universally accepted that the three epics, Mahabharata, Bhagavata, and Ramayana, comprise our cultural heritage. It has been my dream to render all three of them into English in a manner that will appeal to young people and my dream seems to have come true. I have finally managed to complete the narration of the Ramayana in the same vein as I have the other two.

What is fascinating about these three treasure houses is the fact that each is completely different from the other. One cannot but think of the river Ganga in this context. Ganga, hurtling through space, rushing down in a torrent towards the earth from the heavens, makes one think of the great epic Mahabharata which is full of action, full of passion, full of force, full of emotion. There is nothing placid about the flow of the narration.

Now think of Ganga as she enters the sea, when she becomes one with her lord. There is a feeling that the long tortuous journey is ended: that the strife is over: that at last, at long last, all passion spent, she has found Peace. This, to me, seems to compare with Srimad Bhagavatam.

Let us watch Ganga between these two extremities. Flowing calmly, placidly, in an unruffled manner, like the Mandakranta meter, chastening everyone who comes in contact with her: this Ganga makes me want to compare her to the Ramayana. There is, in the Ramayana, everything that is beautiful and the very atmosphere is purifying.

“Drama” is the first word that comes to mind while reading the great epic, Mahabharata. “Bhakti,” on the other hand, is the thread running through the entire narration of the Bhagavata. “Pain” is the predominant emotion in the Ramayana. Pain is the monochord that can be heard throughout: and yet, this very pain is ennobling, purifying, and satisfying. Ramayana is a threnody filled to the brim, with noble thoughts, noble sentiments, and noble characters, not one of whom is spared the experience of pain.

The Bhagavata has a mystic veil that shrouds it throughout. The Ramayana, however, has less number of “characters”, but each is so clearly and sharply portrayed that we can almost see them. It is full of word pictures that reveal the sufferings of the different characters.

The morning of the proposed coronation of Rama when the young prince is summoned to the apartment s of Kaikeyi where he sees his father, the very picture of woe, while Kaikeyi is ‘different’, to quote Rama. This was one of the most painful days in the life of Rama and how calm and composed he is when he is told about the banishment! The death of Dasaratha, and the moment when Bharata comes to know of it: all these three scenes are so clearly described, one cannot forget them easily.

Can one forget the other scene when Rama comes back to the ashrama at Panchavati and finds it empty? And we see Sita in Lanka, in the Ashokavana, like a figure carved out of suffering.

Consider the later scenes when Ravana’s pride is humbled day after day and the ultimate heartbreak when he hears of the death of Indrajit. Ravana rises to tragic heights during the end when he faces the consequence of his ‘tragic fault’ and we see the truth of the Greek proverb: “Character is Destiny.”

Ramayana has been called the Adi Kavya. If one were to try and look at it as one would at a Sanskrit drama and search for the predominant ‘Rasa’, it is evident that the Ramayana is, in essence, full of ‘Viraha’, ‘Vipralambha Shringara’ in a very wide sense. It is not just the separation of a husband and wife but several partings of different kinds. The predominant motif of the epic is: “Separation”.

The killing of the krauncha bird and the course of Valmiki strike the keynote of the entire epic. Consider the number of partings. In the very beginning, Rishyashringa is parted from his father who was doting on him. Later, Rama is taken away from his father by Vishvamitra though the duration of the separation is short. Then comes the time when Bharata and Shatrughna are parted from their father as they go to Kekaya. Nothing is the same when they come back to Ayodhya. Bharata’s father is dead and his mother is so changed that he refuses to consider her his mother any longer. And Rama was far away. There is the exile of Rama to the Dandaka forest, the great separation from his father and mother which kills the king and breaks the heart of his mother.

We come to the poignant scenes in the Aranya Kanda when Rama suffers the pangs of separation from Sita. The Kishkindha Kanda is filled to the brim with sublime poetry when Rama pines for Sita on the banks of the Pampa and later, at Prasravana when the rainy season visits the hill.

We see Sugriva parted from his wife. Then follows the death of Vali and the lament of Tara. Again, later, we are confronted with the painful scene when Mandodari grieves for Ravana.

Rama’s coronation takes place and, with Sita, he spends a short happy time: and again, separation. Sita s sent away and Rama spends the rest of his life in loneliness.

The Ramayana is a sad story. At the same time, like a Greek tragedy, it is the very summit of poetic art.

“Unarm, Eros, the long day’s task is done,” says Mark Antony. Even so, I am in a mood to say: a task which I undertook thirty years ago has now been completed and I feel a strange contentment stealing over me. I have but one regret. I only wish Pujya Munshiji had been with us. He would have been happy. But for his words of encouragement, I would never have been able to do what I have done.

I am extremely grateful to Swami Ranganathananda for having been gracious enough to write the Foreword to the book. I feel very happy that he has blessed this book, and is highly honoured.



  Chapter Page
  Foreword v
  Preface ix
1 Valmiki And Narada 3
2 The Coming of Brahma 10
3 Valmiki Composes The Great Poem 13
4 Dasaratha, And His Grief 15
5 The Ashvamedha Yoga 19
6 The Devas in Distress 21
7 The Birth Of Rama 23
8 Vishvamitra Comes to Dasaratha 27
9 Vishvamitra And the Young Princes 33
10 Tataka Vana 36
11 The Killing of Tataka 39
12 Siddhashrama 41
13 The Yoga of Vishvamitra 45
14 To Mithila 48
15 Ganga 50
16 Bhagiratha’s Penance 55
17 Towards Gautama’s Ashrama 57
18 Mithila 61
19 Vishvamitra 64
20 Vasishta Hosts the King 64
21 A Frustrated King 67
22 The Power of the Brahmin 70
23 Trishanku of the Solar Race 72
24 A New Heaven 76
25 Sunashepha 78
26 Kaushika’s Lapses 82
27 Vishvamitra, the Brahmarshi 85
28 The Bow of Mahadeva 87
29 Dasaratha Leaves For Mithila 90
30 In Mithila 91
31 Sita Kalyanam 94
32 Parasurama, the Bhargava 95
1 Rama 103
2 The Desire in the Heart of Dasaratha 105
3 “Tomorrow” – Said The King 110
4 Preparations 113
5 The Maid, Manthara 114
6 Kaikeyi’s Decision 119
7 Dasaratha Comes to Kaikeyi 122
8 The Dawn of the Terrible Day 129
9 Kaikeyi Talks to Rama 133
10 Lakshmana’s Anger 142
11 Rama’s Firmness 147
12 A Mother’s Bleesings 151
13 Rama and Sita 153
14 Laksmana’s Request 161
15 In The Presence of Dasaratha 163
16 Kaikeyi Brings The Valkalas 168
17 A Painful Farwell 171
18 Dasaratha’s Despair 174
19 On the Banks of the Tamasa 177
20 The Journey 179
21 Guha, A Chieftain of Hunters 181
22 The Third Night of the Exile 188
23 The Ashrama of Bharadvaja 190
24 Chitrakuta At Last 194
25 Sumantra Returns to Ayodhya 196
26 The Curse of a Rishi 199
27 The Death of Dasaratha 203
28 Bharata Has Bad Dreams 205
29 Bharata in Ayodhya 208
30 The Wrath and Sorrow of Bharata 212
31 Bharata’s Oath 215
32 The Last Rites for The King 217
33 Manthara Again 220
34 The Throne is Yours 222
35 Bharata On His Way 225
36 Bharata Meets Bharadvaja 230
37 Lakshmana is Worried 233
38 Bharata’s Quest 236
39 Bharata Meets Rama 237
40 Bharata’s Appeal 242
41 Bharata Asks for he Padukas 250
42 Bharata’s Return 251
1 Rama Abandons Chitrakuta 257
2 Atri and Anasuya 259
3 The Dandaka Forest 263
4 The Killing of Viradha 265
5 The Sage Sharabhanga 268
6 The Sage Sutheekshna 272
7 Sita’s Admonition 273
8 The Greatness of Agastya 276
9 Agastya’s Ashrama 279
10 Panchavati 284
11 Shurpanakha 287
12 Khara, Dushana and Trishiras 291
13 Ravana Is Told About Janasthana 298
14 Shurpanakha And Her Tale of Woe 301
15 To Maricha’s Ashrama Again 305
16 The Golden Deer 313
17 The Killing of Maricha 315
18 Ravana In Ochre Robes 319
19 Jatayu’s Death 325
20 Sita in Ravana’s City 329
21 Rama’s Lament 331
22 The Fruitless Search 336
23 Meeting With Jatayu 340
24 Ayomukhi and Kabandha 343
25 A Ray of Hope 346
26 Shabari’s Ashrama 348
27 The Lake by Name Pampa 350
28 Rama’s Grief 351
1 Sugriva Sends Hanuman to Rama 359
2 A Friendship Is Forged 364
3 Vali and Sugriva 368
4 The Valour of Vali 372
5 Sugriva Has Doubts 375
6 The Killing of Vali 377
7 Vali’s Censure 380
8 Rama Justifies His Action 383
9 Tara’s Grief 386
10 The Cornation of Sugriva and Angada 391
11 Rama and Lakshmana In Prasravana 392
12 Rama’s Impatience 394
13 The Fury of Lakshmana 397
14 Lakshmana Is Pacified 401
15 The Beginning of the Search 406
16 The South-Bound Vanaras 408
17 The Despair of the Vanaras 412
18 Sampati, The Old Eagle 416
19 How to Cross The Sea? 421
20 The Greatness of Hanuman 423
1 The Magnificent Leap 429
2 Hanuman Enters Lanka 433
3 Lanka 436
4 Hanuman Sees Mandodari 436
5 Hanuman Sees Sita 438
6 The Coming of Ravana 446
7 A Ray of Hope 451
8 Hanuman Meets Sita 455
9 Sita Hears About Rama 459
10 Sita’s Message to Rama 465
11 Destruction of the Ashokavana 469
12 The Brahmastra 473
13 Hanuman in the Court of Ravana 474
14 Conflagration in Lanka 479
15 The Return of Hanuman 485
16 Sugriva’s Madhuvana 489
17 The Narration of Hanuman 492
1 Preparations 499
2 The March Southwards 502
3 Ravana is Worried 505
4 Ravana Loses Vibhishana 510
5 Vibhishana And Rama 516
6 Preparations For the War 520
7 Rama’s Anger 524
8 The Building of the Bridge 527
9 Speculations 530
10 Ravana Tries to Distress Sita 534
11 In The Council Hall Again 538
12 Rama With His Men 541
13 Sugriva’s Impulsiveness 543
14 Angada’s Mission 545
15 The Nagapasa 547
16 Sita Sees Rama On the Field 550
17 The Recovery of the Princes 553
18 Ravana Sends Prahastha 554
19 Ravana on the Field of Battle 557
20 Kumbhakarna Is Woken Up 562
21 Kumbhakarna on the Field 570
22 The Death of Kumbhakarna 576
23 The Young Heroes 577
24 The Valour of the Princes 579
25 Indrajit 581
26 The Sanjivini 585
27 Kumbha and Nikumbha 587
28 Indrajit to the Rescue 589
29 Maya Sita Slain 591
30 Yoga at Nikumbhila 593
31 Lakshmana Accosts Indrajit 596
32 The Killing of Indrajit 599
33 Rama’s Joy 603
34 Ravana’s Grief 605
35 The Moolabala Of Ravana 608
36 Ravana Sets Out to the Field of Battle 611
37 Sanjivini Again 616
38 The Final Encounter 618
39 The Killing of Ravana 624
40 When Ravana Died 627
41 The Lament of Mandodari 630
42 The Funeral Rites 632
43 The Funeral Rites 634
44 Rama And Sita 636
45 The Ritual of Fire 640
46 The Gods Speak 642
47 Homeward-Wound 646
48 Hanuman in Nandigrama 651
49 The Home-Coming of Rama 653
50 The Coronation of Rama 655
  Phalashruti 658
  Glossary 660


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