The world's greatest epic poem Valmikiramayana, composed over 2,500 years ago, is loved by countless millions of men and women of all religions, in India and abroad. It is told in every region of India in the language of the region. It inspires one to be brave, truthful, virtuous, and kind and compassionate towards all. This is seen not only in the story of Rama, but also in "the Great Story of Sita" as the epic calls itself. The present book is probably the first condensed version in English of the most reliable version of Valmikiramayana, the Critical Edition prepared by the Baroda Oriental Research Institute, India.
"In an earlier review of Dr. M R Parameswaran's Studies in Srivaishnavism, I had occasion to express my admiration for the author's outstanding linguistic competence in Sanskrit and Tamil, as well as his critical approach to the work of some well-known scholars. On the publication of his latest work, a condensed version of Valmiki's epic, I can congratulate him on his felicitous English renderings of a summary of this ancient Sanskrit epic. Dr Parameswaran's The Ramayana of Valimiki reads well; it reflects the style of the original and at the same time sounds modern. There are numerous additional helpful interpretative paragraphs to explain the background to some scenes".
Klaus K Klostermaier, FRSC and former Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Oxford, UK.
The rsi Valmiki composed an epic poem of about 24,000 verses about 2,500 years ago. We call it the "Ramayana of Valmiki. It describes itself as ramaysa caritam (the Story of Rama) and also as sitayas caritam mahat (the Great Story of Sita), Over the centuries after its composition, the epic poem spread to all parts of India, and indeed even abroad to East Asia. The transmission was oral, based on palm-leaf manuscripts that recorded earlier oral transmissions. When the difficulty of storing palm-leaf manuscripts and preserving them over the centuries is taken into account, it is not surprising that the text of the Ramayana got corrupted, although the main trend of the story remained intact. The result is that there came into existence several versions, or 'recensions', each claiming to be the Ramayana as composed by Valmiki. The differences or discrepancies between any pair of recensions of the Ramayana are sometimes trivial and on other occasions quite substantial; sometimes an entire sarga (chapter) is found in one recension but not in another.
In order to arrive at a reasonable reconstruction of what was most probably the original text of the Ramayana, the Oriental Research Institute in Baroda [Vadodara] embarked in the middle of the last century on a remarkable project. A large number of scholars were gathered to examine more than 2,000 palm-leaf and other manuscripts in various scripts like Devanagari, Grantha, Malayalam, Bengali etc. from all over India and Nepal. Finally, after several years of labour, the scholars compiled what is called the 'Critical Edition of Valmiki's Ramayana' (abbr.: CE); modern scholars call it also the 'monumental text of the Ramayana'. As of today, the CE is the most reliable text of the Ramayana.
The superior dependability of the CE in comparison with recensions of the Ramayana like the Southern or 'Kumbhakonam ' recension (abbr.: SR) is illustrated by a few examples: (1) The CE, as well as the highly regarded SR, show that Valmiki repeatedly describes Dasaratha as most virtuous, truthful, who had conquered his senses and so on; but the SR has some verses that say that he was infatuated with Kaikeyi, being "smitten by the arrows of Manmatha" and suggesting that he had neglected Kausalya; the SR thus contradicts itself. The verses are not found in most other manuscripts and are among those rejected by the CE as spurious.
(2) The verses [4.8.17-21]' and [4.5.23-27] in the Southern Recension have the same import, and cause confusion as to whether it was in the fifth sarga or in the eighth sarga that Rama declared that he would kill Vali. Some commentators of the SR appear to have failed to notice this fact.
(3) The SR has a number of verses (especially [4.16.26, 30-31]) that say that when Sugriva and Vali met in combat for the second time, Sugriva was in dire straits and on the point of being worsted by Vali when Rama shot a fatal arrow at Vali. These verses are contradicted by other verses like (4.16.21-22 [23-24]) and 4.19.2  which say that it was Vali whose limbs had been shattered and who was tottering, whereas Sugriva, whom the poet had taken care to describe, just before the fight, as highly skilled in combat (4.16.17[ 19]: ranapandita ), remained agile. The verses that say that Vali was on the point of winning are among those rejected by the CE, rejected by the CE not because of the contradictions mentioned above, but because most other manuscripts do not contain them. However, in the years before the CE was prepared, those verses in the SR appear to have misled many critics. Ifwe adhere to the CE, many details in the Ramayana become much clearer. Scholars today consider the CE to be the most authentic text of the Ramayana of Valmiki.
In these days, not many know Sanskrit and most people even in India know the story of Rama only by listening to expositions of the Ramayana, or through versions of it in the regional languages. The versions disagree among themselves on various points, and none of them corresponds to the CEo A group of scholars in the west, under the leadership of Prof R P Goldman, undertook the highly praiseworthy task of translating into modem English the Ramayana text as given by the CEo Six volumes have already been published. This multi-volume RV (Goldman, R P et al, (eds) 1984, The Ramayana of Valmiki, Princeton University Press), with translations and comments and annotations, is, as far as I know, the only translation of the CE in any language. The readily available volumes of the RV are therefore in fact in danger of being considered authoritative.
The translation and comments in the RV make good reading and are generally acceptable, although not totally free from errors. The errors give a slanted and highly distorted picture of the characters in the Ramayana, almost always tending to deny or diminish the nobility of the characters in the Ramayana, whether it be Dasaratha, Kausalya, Sugriva, or even Rama himself.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAQ580 Author: M R Parameswaran Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 2013 Publisher: MANIPAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ISBN: 9789382460084 Language: English Size: 8.50 X 5.50 inch Pages: 277 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.4 Kg