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Ramayana, Epic of Rama, Prince of India

An Abbreviated Translation of the Indian Classic, the Ramayana by Romesh Chundar Dutt in 2,000 verses

Epilogue by the

Epilogue by the Translator - 168 ‘“For my mother often taught me and my father often spake, That her home the wedded woman doth beside her husband make, As the shadow to the substance, to her lord is faithful wife, And she part, not from her consort till she parts with fleeting life! Therefore bid me seek the jungle and in pathless forests roam, Where the wild deer freely ranges and the tiger makes his home, Happier than in father’s mansions in the woods will Sita rove, Waste no thought on home or kindred, nestling in her husband’s love!’’ The ideal of life was joy and beauty and gladness in ancient Greece; the ideal of life was piety and endurance and devotion in ancient India. The tale of Helen was a tale of womanly beauty and loveliness which charmed the western world. The tale of Sita was a tale of womanly faith and self-abnegation which charmed and fascinated the Hindu world. Repeated trials bring out in brighter relief the unfaltering truth of Sita’s character; she goes to a second banishment in the woods with the same trust and devotion to her lord as before, and she returns once more, and sinks into the busom of her Mother Earth, true in death as she had been true in life. The creative imagination of the Hindus has conceived no loftier and holier character than Sita; the literature of the world has not produced a higher ideal of womanly love, womanly truth, and womanly devotion. The modern reader will now comprehend why India produced, and has preserved for well-nigh three thousand years, two Epics instead of one national Epic. No work of the imagination abides long unless it is animated by some sparks of imperishable truth, unless it truly embodies some portion of our human feelings, human faith and human life. The Maha-bharata depicts the political life of [189] ancient India, with all its valour and heroism, ambition and lofty chivalry. The Ramayana embodies the domestic and religious life of ancient India, with all its tenderness and sweetness, its endurance and devotion. The one picture without the other were incomplete; and we should know but little of the ancient Hindus if we did not comprehend their inner life and faith as well as their political life and their warlike virtues. The two together give us a true and graphic picture of ancient Indian life and civilisation; and no nation on earth has preserved a more faithful picture of its glorious past. In condensing the Ramayana with its more than 24,000 Sanscrit couplets into 2000 English couplets I have followed the same plan which was adopted in my translation of the Maha-bharata. I have selected those sections or cantos which tell the leading incidents of the Epic, and have translated the whole or main portions of them, and these selected passages are linked together by short notes. The plan, as was explained before, has this advantage, that the story is told not by the translator in his own way, but by the poet himself; the passages placed before the reader are not the translator’s abridgment of a long poem, but selected passages from the poem itself. It is the ancient poet of India, and not the translator, who narrates the old story; but he narrates only such portions of it as

Epilogue by the Translator - 169 describe the leading incidents. We are told that the sons of Rama recited the whole poem of 24,000 verses, divided into 500 cantos or sections, in twenty-five days. The modern reader has not the patience of the Hindu listener of the old school; but a selection of the leading portions of that immortal song arranged in 2000 verses and in 84 short sections, may possibly receive a hearing, even from the much-distracted modern reader. While speaking of my own translation I must not fail to make some mention of my predecessors in this work. The magnificent edition of the Ramayana (Bengal recension), published with an Italian translation by Gorresio, at the expense of Charles Albert King of Sardinia in 1843-67, first introduced this great Epic to the European public; and it was not long before M. Hippolyte Fauche presented the European world with a French translation of [190] this edition. The Benares recension of the Ramayana has since been lithographed in Bombay, and a printed edition of the same recension with Ramanuja’s commentary was brought out by the venerable Hem Chandra Vidyaratna in Calcutta .n 1869-85. The talented and indefatigable Mr. Ralph Griffith, C.I.E., who has devoted a lifetime to translating Indian poetry into English, has produced an almost complete translation of the first six Books in more than 24,000 English couplets, and has given an abstract of the seventh Book in prose. And a complete translation of the Ramayana into English prose has since appeared in Calcutta. The object of the present work is very different from that of these meritorious editions and translations. The purpose of this work, as explained above, is not to attempt a complete translation of a voluminous Epic, but to place before the general reader the leading story of that Epic by translating a number of selected passages and connecting them together by short notes. The purpose of this volume is not to repeat the long poem which Rama’s sons are supposed to have recited in 24,000 Sanscrit couplets, but only to narrate the main incidents of that poem within the reasonable limit of 2,000 verses. And the general reader who seeks for a practical acquaintance with the great Indian poem within a reasonable compass will, it is hoped, find in this book a handy and not unacceptable translation of the leading story of the Epic. I have stated before that in India, the Ramayana is still a living tradition and a living faith. It forms the basis of the moral instruction of a nation, and it is a part of the lives of two hundred millions of people. It is necessary to add that when the modern languages of India were first formed out of the ancient Sanscrit and Prakrits, in the ninth and tenth centuries after Christ, the Ramayana had the greatest influence in inspiring our modern poets and forming our modern tongues. Southern India took the lead, and a translation of the Ramayana in the Tamil language appeared as early as 1100 A.D. Northern India and Bengal and Bombay followed the example; Tulasi Das’s Ramayana is the great classic of the Hindi language. Krittibas’s Ramayana is a classic in the Bengali language, and Sridhar’s Ramayana is a classic in the Mahratta language. [191] Generations of Hindus in all parts of India have studied the ancient story

Mahabharata, Epic of the Bharatas