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

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The greatest Indian epic, one of the world's supreme masterpieces of storytelling

A sweeping tale of abduction, battle, and courtship played out in a universe of deities and demons, The Ramayana is familiar to virtually every Indian. Although the Sanskrit original was composed by Valmiki around the fourth century BC, poets have produced countless versions in different languages. Here, drawing on the work of an eleventh-century poet called Kamban, Narayan employs the skills of a master novelist to re-create the excitement he found in the original. A luminous saga made accessible to new generations of readers, The Ramayana can be enjoyed for its spiritual wisdom, or as a thrilling tale of ancient conflict.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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About the author

R. K. Narayan (1906–2001), born and educated in India, was the author of fourteen novels, numerous short stories and essays, a memoir, and three retold myths. His work, championed by Graham Greene, who became a close friend, was often compared to that of Dickens, Chekhov, Faulkner, and Flannery O'Connor, among others.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Aug 29, 2006
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9781440623271
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
Poetry / Ancient & Classical
Religion / Hinduism / Sacred Writings
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Mahabharata tells a story of such violence and tragedy that many people in India refuse to keep the full text in their homes, fearing that if they do, they will invite a disastrous fate upon their house. Covering everything from creation to destruction, this ancient poem remains an indelible part of Hindu culture and a landmark in ancient literature.

Centuries of listeners and readers have been drawn to The Mahabharata, which began as disparate oral ballads and grew into a sprawling epic. The modern version is famously long, and at more than 1.8 million words—seven times the combined lengths of the Iliad and Odyssey—it can be incredibly daunting.

Contemporary readers have a much more accessible entry point to this important work, thanks to R. K. Narayan’s masterful translation and abridgement of the poem. Now with a new foreword by Wendy Doniger, as well as a concise character and place guide and a family tree, The Mahabharata is ready for a new generation of readers. As Wendy Doniger explains in the foreword, “Narayan tells the stories so well because they’re all his stories.” He grew up hearing them, internalizing their mythology, which gave him an innate ability to choose the right passages and their best translations.

In this elegant translation, Narayan ably distills a tale that is both traditional and constantly changing. He draws from both scholarly analysis and creative interpretation and vividly fuses the spiritual with the secular. Through this balance he has produced a translation that is not only clear, but graceful, one that stands as its own story as much as an adaptation of a larger work.
The Bhagavad Gita is the best known of all the Indian scriptures, and Eknath Easwaran’s best-selling translation is reliable, readable, and profound.

Easwaran's 55-page introduction places the Bhagavad Gita in its historical setting, and brings out the universality and timelessness of its teachings. Chapter introductions clarify key concepts, and notes and a glossary explain Sanskrit terms.

Easwaran grew up in the Hindu tradition in India, and learned Sanskrit from a young age. He was a professor of English literature before coming to the West on a Fulbright scholarship. A gifted teacher, he is recognized as an authority on the Indian classics and world mysticism.

The Bhagavad Gita opens, dramatically, on a battlefield, as the warrior Arjuna turns in anguish to his spiritual guide, Sri Krishna, for answers to the fundamental questions of life. Yet, as Easwaran points out, the Gita is not what it seems – it’s not a dialogue between two mythical figures at the dawn of Indian history. “The battlefield is a perfect backdrop, but the Gita’s subject is the war within, the struggle for self-mastery that every human being must wage if he or she is to emerge from life victorious.”

 

Arjuna’s struggle in the Bhagavad Gita is acutely modern. He has lost his way on the battlefield of life and turns to find the path again by asking direct, uncompromising questions of his spiritual guide, Sri Krishna, the Lord himself. Krishna replies in 700 verses of sublime instruction on living and dying, loving and working, and the nature of the soul.

Easwaran shows the Gita’s relevance to us today as we strive, like Arjuna, to do what is right.

“No one in modern times is more qualified – no, make that ‘as qualified’ – to translate the epochal Classics of Indian Spirituality than Eknath Easwaran. And the reason is clear. It is impossible to get to the heart of those classics unless you live them, and he did live them. My admiration of the man and his works is boundless.” – Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions.

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