Before He Was God: Ramayana Reconsidered Recreated

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Item Code: NAD485
Author: Ram Varma
Publisher: Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9788129116161
Pages: 341
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.0 inch x 8.5 inch
Weight 1.67 kg
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Fully insured
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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More than 1M+ customers worldwide
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100% Made in India
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23 years in business

Book Description

About the Book

Millions of people in India and elsewhere believe that Rama, the hero of Valmiki’s ancient Sanskrit epic, Ramayana, was a historical figure like jesus Christ, and Valmiki,s timeless epic, like the New Testament a faithful account of Rama’s life, his trials, tribulations and triumph.

Confining within the four corners of the original story Rama Varma brings in a refreshing whiff of realism in his retelling washing off the artificial veneer of obscurantism that has distorted and obscured Valmiki’s picture. The reader gets a glimpse of real Rama without the props of godhead provided in the puranic age.


About The Author

If the killing of a swam occasioned the birth of poetry in Valmiki’s heart. It was the wanton despoliation of his pristine poem. Ramayana, during Puranic times which kindled the sparks of wrath in Ram Varma’s heart which resulted in this book.

In his student days. Ram Varma was drawn to the fount of English poetry and took Master’s degree in English Literature from Allahabad University. He taught the subject at Jodhpur University for a couple of years before joining the Indian Administrative Service in 1964. He served the new state of Haryana right from its formative years in various capacities and rose to be its Chief Secretary.

Searching for his roots after retirement in 2000. Rama Varma entered the Charmed world of the Vedas, Valmiki, Vyasa. Bhavabhuti and Kalidasa, and glimpsed the ancient treasure of India. He searched for an original portrait of Rama in Valmiki but was pained and revolted to see garish colours daubed on it. He had a vision of Rama living in the primeval forests of India battling with life’s unexpected currents and undercurrents with equanimity and fortitude, and vowed to share it with millions of people who believed that Lord Rama walked the earth in flesh and blood.

Even the modern lay reader should find Ram Varma’s rendering of his enduring story from India’s mythical past in free-flowing English blank verse riveting and rewarding.

Vandana Sehagal: Whose Vibrant Paintings adorn this book is Ram Varma’s daughter. Architect, artist, teacher. Homemaker, she is currently researching a project on ‘Infinity and space in Architecture’. Paintings ooze out of her like babbling streams off mountain tops. She has held solo exhibitions of her paintings in Lucknow and Delhi. Her Paintings brings out the quintessential Indian-ness. Whether of a Vedic ashrama, a pillared temple hall or a street in Lucknow



Throughout the centuries, lovers of the Kama story all over India and far beyond have found man~ diverse ways of presenting its essence to audiences of all natures. Countless languages - those of Central and South-east Asia and of Europe as well as modern Indian vernaculars and ancient Sanskrit; literary genres of all types _ stories, poems and drama5, oral and written, simple and sophisticated, narrative, philosophical and lyrical visual representations _carvings in stone and wood, paintings on cloth and paper; performances - dance, puppets, TV serials; all demonstrate the enduring power of the Kama story to inspire and intrigue. Ram Varma's poem continues this tradition of seeking to present the essence of the well-known narrative in a way meaningful to author and audience alike. In a thoughtful, stimulating attempt to search out the heart of the story, he has chosen to focus on wh8t he sees as its historical basis. He has rigorously sought to uncover the fundamental truths underlying episodes he has found difficult to understand. That he has felt impelled be such a sincere and overpowering urge, not to reject such difficult areas as false, nor yet merely to repeat them without thought, but to come to terms with them in his own way is one more tribute to the everlasting potency of Rama's story. Careful readers of before he was God', convinced b~ his conclusions or not, will feel grateful that he has shared his insights with them.

In one respect, all such readers will disagree with the author. The first five words of the Prologue are not true. The work in this volume proclaims w out doubt that Ram Varma is indeed an accomplished poet. He handles the verse form with assurance, and expresses its content in powerful language, natural and fluent, and animated by vivid imagery as these lines from the Prologue with their sustained metaphor, demonstrate:




  Acknowledgements IX
  Timeline Xli
  Foreword XlV
  Prologue 1
1 Chaitra: 9
  Invocation 10
  Ayodhya 10
  Aja and Indumati 10
  Dashratha ascends the throne 13
  Dashratha's expedition against the Asuras 13
  Dashratha kills Shravana 15
  Yearning for a son- .Asboamedba yajna 18
  Kaushalya 20
  Kaikeyi 22
  Sumitra 23
  Birth of Rama and brothers 24
2 Vaishakh: 27
  Vishwamitra comes calling 28
  Journey to Siddhashram- Stories of Vishwamitra's life 29
  Rama kills Tataka 31
  Journey to Mithila 36
  Rape of Ahalya 37
  Janak finds a new-born babe 39
  Sita's swcryamvar 40
  Sita meets Rama 42
  Rama's arrow goes on target 43
  In Janak's palace 45
  Rama weds Sita 47
3 Jyaishtha: 51
  Life in Ayodhya 52
  Sita 52
  Vishwamitra takes his leave 55
  Bharat and Shatrughna leave for Girivrija 56
  Rama involves in state affairs 57
  Dashratha plans retirement 61
  Kaikeyi traps Dashratha 65
  The Play 68
  Kaikeyi asks for two boons 69
  Dashratha calls for Rama 71
  Rama's exile- Vanavasa 75
  Sita wants to go along 76
  Lakshman's fury 78
  Taking leave of Father 79
  Rama leaves Ayodhya 83
  Night at Tamasa's bank 83
  At Ganga's bank- Shringaverpur 86
  Crossing the Ganga 88
  Bhardwaja Ashrama 90
  Crossing the Yamuna 95
  Chitrakoot- The cottage upon Mandakini's bank 97
4 Ashadha: 103
  Dashratha's demise 104
  Bharat's dream 106
  Return to Ayodhya 106
  Bharat's lament 107
  Bharat gives mukhagni to Father 110
  Bharat's Coronation 111
  Bharat goes to meet Rama 112
  At Bharadwaja ashram 114
  Chitrakoot 116
  Reunion at Chitrakoot 119
  Bharat's entreaty for Rama's return 122
  Janak arrives at Chitrakoot 127
5 Shravana: 129
  Life in Chitrakoot 130
  Peace of paradise shattered 131
  Thunder, rain and the Fire God 132
  Autumn and Spring- hand in hand 135
  Beyond Chitrakoot- Dandakara'9a 138
  Attri's ashrama 139
  Other ashramas- Other abodes 141
  Yajna in honour of Rama 144
  Sita's plea on ahimsa 145
  Killing of Viradha 147
  Sharbhanga ashrama 148
  Sutikshna ashrama 148
  Agastya's ashrama 149
  Panchavati 150
6 Bhadrapad: 151
  A shadow of evil 152
  Injury and insult 157
  Khara and Dushana killed 158
  Shroopnakha heads for Lanka 160
  Ravana hatches a plan- rushes to Janasthan 162
  Ravana stalks his prey 163
  Sita's abduction 164
  Jatayu's rescue bid 168
  Rama is surprised by Lakshman 169
  Search for Sita 170
  Jatayu dies in Rama's arms 171
  Sita's unending journey to Lanka 173
  Ravana's proposition 174
7 Ashvin: 177
  Search for Sita 178
  Encounter at Pampa lake 179
  A cave on Mount Rishyamook 182
  Alliance with Sugriva 182
  Rama kills Vali 186
  Scouting for Sita 187
  Hanuman crosses the sea 188
  A yajna in Mahakaal temple 190
  Meeting Sita in Ashoka Vatika 192
  Hanuman's adventures 195
  Arrest and Punishment 196
  Hanuman returns 198
8 Kartika: 201
  Hanuman brings Sita's news 202
  March on Lanka 203
  Ravana's debaucheries 205
  Ravana makes overtures to Sugriva 206
  Ravana in Council 207
  Vibhishan seeks refuge 209
  The causeway repaired 210
  Rama's army reaches Lanka 215
  Gifts from surprise visitors 216
  Angad takes Rama's message 219
9 Margashirsha: 221
  Assault on Lanka fort 222
  The moat breached 223
  Meghnada fires naag-paash- Hanuman brings herbs 224
  Meghnada exults - Ravana 228
  Ravana's hopes belied- His generals killed 229
  Ravana enters the fray 232
  Ravana summons Kumbhakarna 234
  Kumbhakarna's tranquilizers 234
  Kumbhakarna goes to battle 236
  Ravana mourns lVlmbha's death 238
  Ravana grieves for his four sons 240
10 Pausha: 243
  Meghnada performs sacrifice 244
  Meghnada strikes again 245
  Meghnada slays 'Sita' 248
  Lakshman kills Meghnada 250
  Ravana goes to battle 255
  A ratha for Rama 255
  Ravana returns to battle 256
  Rama kills Ravana 258
11 Magha: 261
  Women wailing for Ravana 262
  Rama goes to bring Sita 262
  Lakshman crowns Vibhishan / Shroopnakha visits Rama 264
  Saudamini meets Rama 265
  The return to Ayodhya 266
  Urmila in Ayodhya 269
  Hanuman meets Bharat 270
  The Coronation 272
  Sita revives in love's shower 274
  The aftermath 277
  Rama wanders ingognito 277
  Sita's exile 278
  Lakshman takes Sita to Valmiki asbrama 280
  Sita is left alone 282
  Sita meets Valmiki 283
  Rohini 284
  Janak send Shatananda to bring Sita to Mithila 285
  Sita and Rohini 287
  Sita delivers twins 288
12 Phalguna: 289
  Rama awaits Lakshman's return 290
  Rama sends Shatrughna to Madhura 290
  Rama sends Bharat to fight .Asuras 291
  Kaushalya's demise 292
  Rama performs Ashvamedha yajna 293
  Lava and Kusha recite Ramayana 293
  Rama meets the rishis 294
  Rama sends Lakshman to bring Sita home 295
  Sita kills the sacrificial horse 297
  Janak's demise / Journey to Mithila 299
  Sita's demise 301
  Floating on Saryu's waves 303
  Author's Note 306
  Glossary 316

Sample Pages

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