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Summary

The ancient Indian Sanskrit epic the Rāmāyana was composed some time between the first and fifth centuries BCE. As is the case with most ancient literature firmly rooted in the oral tradition, precise dating is problematic. Traditionally attributed to the sage Valmīki, and composed in rhyming couplets, it is one of the two great Indian epics (the other being the Mahābhārata); consequently it is known and revered not just throughout the Indian subcontinent but also in South-East Asian countries as well, including Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia - indeed wherever Hindu culture became established. 

It relates the tale of a Prince of Ayodhya, Rāma, and recounts the various episodes of his exile and subsequent return. The narrative follows Rāma's quest and rescue mission, bringing home his beloved Sita from the clutches of the demon king of Lanka, Ravana, aided by an army of monkeys. While the basic story involves palace politics and battles with demon tribes, it is also infused with ethics, philosophy, logic and notes on duty. 

In the Mahābhārata, characters are presented with all their human follies and failings; the Rāmāyana by contrast leans towards an ideal state of things. For instance, Rāma is the ideal son and king, Sita the ideal wife, Hanuman the ideal devotee, Lakshman and Bhārat the ideal brothers, and even Ravana, the demon villain, is not entirely despicable. This translation, by Ralph T. H. Griffith, first published in 1870, was the first complete English version and has retained its initial reputation as an outstanding achievement - as much for its literary as its scholastic qualities. 

There are six Books or Khandas (a seventh which is sometimes included is generally regarded as a much later addition) containing some 24,000 verses which, as with the original, are presented in rhyming couplets. This makes the Rāmāyana of a similar length to the Iliad and Odyssey combined, and there are a handful of occasions when, to avoid repetition, Griffith inserts a prose précis. 

Curiously he declined to translate The Glory of Uma followed by The Birth of Kartikeya in Book 1 on the grounds that it might offend the sensibility of his contemporaries! As one commentator remarked, Griffith was sometimes reluctant to ‘show much leg.’ In this case, the ‘offending’ verses have been newly translated for this Ukemi recording by Anwesha Arya, and delightful they are too! 

The Rāmāyana and its stories have been part of the cultural life and language of the reader, Sagar Arya, since childhood; thus this recording was especially important to him, and he infuses it with a special understanding and authority.

Public Domain (P)2019 Ukemi Productions Ltd

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-05-20

Ending is Disappointing

The story of the Ramayana, like the Mahabharata is well known long before you ever get around to listening or reading it. You don't have to be of Indian heritage to know the story. Needless to say, I was truly excited to finally listen to the Ramayana in its entirety. So you can imagine my surprise and disappointment when, having pushed through the slower parts of the story filled with seemingly endless repetitive conversation, the final battle scene, the climax of the story I'd spent 40 hours listening to, had a multitude of chapters admittedly cut out for "repetition" ironically, and then an ending contrary to everything I know about the story. The ending has been changed and the story ended long before the famous ending of the actual account of the well known Ramayana. I don't know what happened here, but Valmiki famously wrote his story after a hunter killed a bird in love in front of him. There's no happy endings in the Ramayana, contrary to this retelling. What's even more upsetting is that the narration is fantastic! Way better than the vast majority of audiobooks. I'm so destroyed by the changed ending and the multiple chapter just removed for no apparent reason from the climax of the story! I don't understand, it simply makes no sense.

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  • Shubho
  • 11-09-20

So close to perfect but equally as close to failur

I first want to thank the author for taking on such a hard task and putting all the work in. However, when it comes to something as magnificent as the Ramayana, if you are taking up this task you are responsible to uphold a certain quality. Reading the first 3/4 it is obvious the level of care and dedication it took. So the expectations were set high. But at the end the most intense moments of the story parts are omitted. The strongest villain (besides Dashanan) is killed and we hear it as an after thought. As mentioned by another reviewer, we hear so much depth and detail about so many mundane parts of the story and when it gets to the climax(es) it falls flat. Frankly, I've never seen anything made so beautifully and with so much care that was fumbled, like this, at the finish line. Also missing a big chunk of the story at the end.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-03-20

Awesomely Done!

Awesome writing well expressed and read! I couldn't stop listening and was sad when it was done. So I shall start again!

2 people found this helpful