Volume One: Bala Kanda, Ayodhya Kanda, Aranya Kanda, Kiskindha Kanda.
Volume Two: Sundra- Kanda, Yuddha-Kanda(Ist Half), Yuddha-Kanda (IInd Half)
The story of Rama has been dominating the Indian religious scene from the time immemorial. The complete story of the Ramayapa was hardly popular with the masses in complete form till it was composed by the sage Vãlmiki in a book form. The Ramayana which is known as the Adi-kavya or the first ornate poem according to the indigenous estimation is ascribed to the sage Vãlmiki, the Adikavi or the first author of the ornate poetry. The Ramayaa deserves to be called as the Adikdvya because of the characteristics of the ornate poetry, such as the description of nature and the presence of the figures of speech, both of words and the sense are quite auspicious.
A number of Ramayapas were composed in different parts of the country. The regional Ramäyanas were composed not only in the north but also in the south, in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada languages. Of these regional works, the Kamba Ramãyaa which was composed by Mahari Kamban, possibly was the earliest. The Kamba Rämayaia comprises of six kãndas instead of seven of the Valiniki Rãmayaia.
The sage Kamban was well-versed in the southern recention of the Valmiki Ramãyaza, which would be evident from the following episodes which have been included by him in his work:
1. The churning of the ocean and taking of Visnu in the form of Mohini.
2. Conversation between Laksmana and Tãrã.
3. Destruction of Dhrumkulya.
4. Battle between Sugriva and Ravatta.
5. Journey of she-monkeys to Ayodhya.
6. Dialogue between Kurnbhakartia and Vibhlsana.
This is the first time that an English Translation of this great Tarnil work is in front of the curious readers in two hardbound volumes.
The story of Rãma has been dominating the Indian religious scene from the time immemorial. The complete story of the Ram Ayana was hardly popular with the masses in complete form till it was composed by the sage Valmiki in a book form. The Ramayana which is known as the Adi-kävya or the first ornate poem according to the indigenous estimation is ascribed to the sage Välmiki, the Adikavi or the first author of the ornate poetry. The Ramayana deserves to be called as the Adikdvya because of the characteristics of the ornate poetry, such as the description of nature and the presence of the figures of speech, both of words and the sense are quite auspicious. It differs even in its present form from the Mahabhãrata, not only in its external experience but even in spirit. Whereas the Mahabharata has lost its epic form to some extent, the Ramayarsia still retains the original character. The meters are almost alike in the Rämãyana and they appear more appealing and polished in spirit. On the other hand, the Mahdbharata, reflects the genuine feelings of its character without any artistic embellishment, whereas in the Ramayana they seem to bend under the pen of the poet and are therefore less natural and more self-conscious. The sacred character of the Mahdbhãrata is not so much due to its heroes as to the dedicative section added to it at some stage, but in the case of the Ramayana the sanctity attached to it, is due to the inherent purity of its hero and the heroine, who in their true deified character, have ever represented the high ideals of Indian conjugal love, devotion and faithfulness. Both the epics have influenced the actions and thought of the Indian people for thousands of years. Their universal popularity is evidenced from the fact that not only the dramatists of the classical period but also the writers in the medieval Indian languages to the present day in all parts of the country could not resist the temptation of drawing inspiration from the epic created by Valmiki consisting of seven books or the Kalidas enshrining therein twenty four thousand verses. As in the case of Mahabhãrata, the Ramayaiia also has not come down to us in its original form. Some of the scholars believe that the first and the seventh Kalidas are the later additions, but others have forcefully contested the view. As to the position of Daaratha and Rama in the Indian history and their antiquity, it may be stated that on the basis of the chronology worked out by the scholars, it would be evident that there had been a span of sixteen generations between Rãma and Kia or a distance of nearly four centuries or so between them. The scholars believe that the Bharata war was fought almost in the fifteenth century and in case 1450 B.C. is taken to be the probable date or the same, then the date of Räma on the basis of twenty five years for each generations between RAma and Srutayu, the last king of the race of Räma, it would work out to be 1850 B.C. or so, which compares well with the date of 1950 B.C. ascribed to RAma by Pusalkar (The Vedic Age, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, pp. 270 ff). Pusulkar takes 3102 B.C. as the age of Manu and he claims that Räma flourished sixty five generations subsequent to Manu. He considers eighteen years for
each generation. Thus the age of Rama according to him works out to be 3100-
65x18=1930B.C.orroughly 1950 B.C.
It is indeed a fact that the story of RAma does not famed exhaustive coverage in the
Vedic literature, but several of the names of the important characters, do fmd place in the Vedic literature, which includes Rãma, Daaratha, AhalyA, Vasitha, VivAmitra,
Hanumän, Gautama and others. They are mentioned there in one form or the other.
Before the emergence of the Aryans on the sacred soil of India, they are believed
to have lived in Iran as the part of the large Aryan community. It appears that the Räma tradition had been quite strong in Iran and west Asia in the remote past. Dr. A.W. Azhar has identified several sites in Afghanistan, Iran and several other west Asian countries where the name of Rãma is present in one form or the other. These include Ramaha, Ramakanda (the name of a hill in the north-west of Afghanistan), Ramagud (the name of a town in Persia), Rämanuid (a village in Hamadan), RArnaduni (a small village in the outskirts of Bukhara), Rämasan (a village in Bukhara), Ramayan (a village in Kakjan), Ramatun (a city of Gurgan), Rãmajaid (a village in Bukhara established by the king Afrasah) etc. This list is only illustrative and not exhaustive. (A.W. Azhar, Persian Ramakatha, Surya, Delhi - Vol. I, Part-I, 1982, pp. 26 ff.)
Indeed Välmiki was inspired to compose the work at the instance of the four-faced
Brahma, who also provided him with the brief of the story through ages. Of course the brief provided to him by Narada, made available to him the highlights of the story and the rest of the work of composition was done by the sage Välmiki according to his own intelligence and laming, which he had achieved after performing great tapas. It is quite surprising that the person known as Ratnakara who earned his live LaHood by evil means was totally changed after the performing of tapas and the cruel Ratnäkara in the form of the sage ValmIki developed such a tender heart that he could feel painful at heart with the cry of a Krauflca bird which was shot by a hunter. In disgust Valmiki pronounced a curse on him as follows:
equally well. At that stage one person used to recite the Ramayaiia verses, explaining the meaning and significance of each one of them, while the large crowd, listened to the same. Indeed the composing of the work by ValmIki gave a boost to the popularity to the Ramayaia since it could tell the complete story. Soon there developed a desire, by other writers to incorporate the story in their contemporary works in one form or the other whether in Sanskrit or other regional languages. The great poets like Bhafli, Kalidas, and others, produced many works highlighting the story. The Purana writers could not escape from influence of the story and several Puraiias like Brahinida, Hariva,ñáa, Vãyu, Narasimha, Matsya, Bhagavata, Visnudharmottara, Skanda, Varãha and other Puraias incorporated the story of Rama in one way or the other. By about the medieval times a large number of poets mushroomed who produced the works of excellence on Ramayana in the regional languages which carried the popularity of Ramayana with the masses even in remote regions.
The regional Ramayanas were composed not only in the north but also in the
south, in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada languages. Of these regional works, the Kamba
Rãmãyaia which was composed by Mahari Kamban, possibly was the earliest. The
date of this Ramayana has been a matter of controversy. While some scholars take it to be the work of seventh century A.D., others consider it to be the work of ninth to twelfth century A.D. The Kamba Ramayana comprises of six kaiçlas instead of seven of the Valmiki Ramayaza . There is a tradition that Oflakkutana who happened to be the contemporary poet of Tamil language also composed the Ramayaiia in Tamil but on listening to the work of Ramayaiia by Kamban, he destroyed the six kalidas of this work. When Kamban came to know about it, he rushed to Oakkutana and could rescue only the seventh kändas of the Ramayaiia with a promise to him that he would not compose the Uttara-kaiicla of the Tamil Ramayaiia. Because of this, the Kamba Ramayaa does not have the Uttara-kaiçla which was composed by Of laldcutana, and includes the episodes of the excise of Sita because of the evil words of a waterman which is on line with the story of the Valmiki Ramayana.
Evidently the hoping verses of the Kamba Ramãyana reveal that Kamban was a
devotee of iva. He has made it clear while composing his work that he had followed
the arrangement of his work on lines of the Vãlmiki Ramäyana and other few works.
The poet therefore seems to have been influenced with the Janaki-harazarn by Kumaradasa who flourished in the eighth century A.D.
The sage Kamban was well-versed in the southern reception of the Valmici Rãmãyana, which would be evident from the following episodes which have been included by him in his work:
1. The churning of the ocean and taking of View in the form of Mohini.
2. Conversation between Laksmana and Tãrã.
3. Destruction of Dhrumkulya.
4. Battle between Sugriva and Rävaia.
5. Journey of she-monkeys to Ayodhya.
6. Dialogue between Kumbhakaria and Vibhiaia.
Some of the episodes are however available in the Adhyatma Ramayaa,
Ranganatha Ramayana and other texts also, which also stand included in the work of Mahari Kamban; some of these episode are of special importance in the Kamba
(1) The entry of Rama and Lakmaiia together with Visvamitra m Mithila has been
exclusively mentioned in this Ramayaia. The city of Mithila has been described in
considerable detail. The poet arranges for meeting between Rama and Sita all the
time of Rama’s entry in Mithilä. As a result of this, both of them fall in love with
each other. Thereafter their meeting with Janaka and the svyamvara of Sita has
been mentioned. This narration is also available in one form or the other in the
(2) The journey of Daaratha from Ayodhya to Mithilã has been described by Kamban
in five saragas providing elaborate details of the damsels of the inner quarters, the
conjugal pleasure, the collection of flowers, and the water-sport. Almost similar
discussion is found in Janaki-haranath wherein the water sport of Daaratha with
his queens has been highlighted.
(3) In the episode of the abduction of Sitã a new element has been introduced by
Kamban in which Ravana has been depicted to have become panicky,
apprehending his destruction with the very touch of Sitã. He is therefore said to
have dug the earth around her and carried the block of earth together with Sita
(Aranya-Kanda, Sarga-8) to Lanka.
(4) In the Yudha-Kanda, Vibhiashana advices Ravana not to engage himself in battle
with Rama who happened to be the incarnation of Narasimha. This is a unique
projection which is not found in any other text (Sarga-3).
(5) At the command of Mahodara, a demon named Maruta takes to the form of Janaka and advices Sita to accept Ravana as her husband. This episode is also not met with in any other text (Sarga- 16).
(6) There is a mention of the conjugal pleasure by the demons and the demo nesses
before the start of the battle. Such projection is also found in Setubandha and Jãnaki-haraiath (Sarga-24)
The text of Kamban moves on the parallel to the text of the Valmiki a few
examples of which are given under here:
6, (1) The turning of Indra into the form of a cat.
(2) Indra’s attraction towards Ahalya and curse of Gautama.
(3) Origin of the enmity of Manthara towards Rama.
(4) Personification of the goddess of sleep, the breaking of the bow of Siva by
(5) The description of the ornaments of Hanuman.
(6) Throwing of the bones of Dundubhi by Lakmana
(7) The episode of Svyamprabha and meeting of the army of monkeys with Sampati.
(8) Mention of Trijata as the daughter of Vibhiana.
(9) Mandodari’s departure with her husband, after her death.
(10) Binding of Lakmana with Nagapaa.
(11) The killing of Illusory Sitä and departure of Vibhishana to Lanka in the form of a bee to fumed out the truth about Sitä.
(12) The killing of Kumbhakaria and Indrajit, Bharata’s resolve for ending his life in the absence of Rama.
On the basis of the work composed by Kamban he could very well be placed in the category of Amharic and because of that he has been described as a Mahari Kamban as the author of the Tamil work, which indeed had been quite an enormous job.
I had taken up the translation of several Ramayanas works in Sanskrit and regional languages. Out of these, some have already come out and the rest are in the process of printing. In all, I intend to translate into English as many of the Ramayanas works as possible and hope to do so in future with great speed, though I am not quite satisfied with the past progress. I hope by the grace of Rama, I would be able to do as much as possible in future. My only associate in bringing out this work has been Añkita, who has worked quite hard, willingly and diligently. I wish her all well in her future life. My grateful thanks are also due to the Bhuvan Vanu Trust, Lucknow, the Hindi translation of Kamba Rdmãyaa published by them and other works provided me the necessary guide lines in my translation work.
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