Here’s the Ramayana you ought to be reading

At one point a little less than half-way through our Indian yatra, our leader and guide Robert Moses passed a book back to me as we bumped our way along the Indian roads.

It was one part of the Ramayana. And actually a pretty good part: Hanuman’s leap to Lanka.

I read, I flip through some other pages, as our bus continued careening along. At one point, Robert made some comment about birds of a feather (or something similar): Right across the aisle from me, one of our Swamijis was absorbed in his own book.

Of course, he was reading Sanskrit. But the book I had included the Sanskrit as well as the translation.

It was the Clay Sanskrit Library version of the Ramayana. And while having the Sanskrit more or less corresponding to the translation — it’s pretty much page by page, so you can track the Sanskrit fairly well — is great, it was the translation itself that really caught my eye.

We’re fans of Ramesh Menon’s translations, no doubt. They tend to read that contemporary fantasy novels, which is the point. The Clay Sanskrit Library books try to capture the feel and style of the original, which means a lot of repetition — Rama’s the “tiger among men,” and you read that a lot — but also a certain flow and ebb to the story-telling that is, decidedly, not modern.

There are still two volumes (and three books total) yet to be published of this version of the Ramayana. But that shouldn’t stop you from taking a look at the ones that are out — or the other 50 or so books they have translated and published.

Posted by Steve


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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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