The Ramayana is one of the oldest epics in the world, believed to have been composed in the first millennium BC. Valmiki's Ramayana, which tells the story of Rama, prince of Ayodhya and an incarnation of Vishnu, his marriage to Sita, his fourteen-year exile to honour the word of his father King Dasharath, the abduction of Sita by the demon lord Ravana of Lanka, Rama and Lakshmana's battle with Ravana with the aid of an army of monkeys headed by Sugreev and Hanuman, and Rama's triumphal return to Ayodhya to reign as king, has been retold in several popular versions subsequently, notably by Kamban, Tulsidas and Krittivasa. The Ramayana pervades India's collective consciousness; its stories and moral lessons are still current, and both the text and its hero are revered as divine.
In today's fast-moving world, people are left with less and less time to read. The seven kandas and 24,000 Slokas of the Ramayana would daunt even the most assiduous reader, and yet people are curious about the stories and the sequence of event that unfold in the great epic, the many characters that populate this magnificent work, and interesting nuggets that one comes across in the course of reading this timeless masterpiece.
The Penguin Companion to the Ramayana is meant for those who might want to acquaint themselves quickly with the epic, or to revisit its many delights at leisure. It provides the reader with the story of the Ramayana, first in brief, and then in some detail. The section 'Known and Little-known Facts of the Ramayana's presents a series of interesting information culled from the epic. Finally, the section 'The Reader's Ready Reference to the Ramayana's has an alphabetically index of characters and places that appear in the Ramayana, with an account route of Rama's travels from Ayodhya to Lanka, and back.
Written in a lucid, colloquial style and full of anecdotes and information culled from all the major versions of the Ramayana, this book will be useful to anyone interested in any aspect of this great Indian epic.
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