Book Review: The Ramayana

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic – R.K. Narayan (Translator)

I wanted to read the ‘Ramayana’ because I am looking forward to reading ‘Kaikeyi’ by Vaishnavi Patel, which is a reimagining of her character and motivations in this Indian epic. I was grateful for this shortened prose version of the epic poem and enjoyed immersing myself in the Indian/Hindu legend of Rama.

From Narayan’s description, I imagine this legend is similar to many Biblical stories in the Western/American world. Narratives such as ‘Adam and Eve’ or Moses and the ten commandments which permeate our society/culture even for those who do not identify as Christian. Additionally, like many of the Biblical narratives there are issues with the treatment of particular groups within the story (women, animals, slaves, etc.) that are difficult for the modern reader to reconcile (as well they should be). 

While these narratives oftentimes contain material that should be called into question they also provide a basis by which we can understand the world and our place in it. Stories tell us about who and what we were while it’s up to us to become what we can be. Rama and Sita’s story is important for just this reason and I look forward to reading Kaikeyi (she is one of Rama’s mothers whose actions result in his exile) and the author’s reimagining of a key figure in this Indian epic.   

If you are interested in religious/cultural texts, I highly recommend this shortened prose version of the epic poem, as it is easy to read and understand even if you are unfamiliar with Hindu/Indian culture. 

Read on my friends!

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