Ramayana is a lot many things. Apart from being a part of the Hindu civilization’s past, it is also considered as a literary epic. Originally attributed to sage Valmiki, over the number of centuries, Ramayana has received various modifications through additions and revisions. Because of this, there have been several adaptations of the original story based on the region and the populace in which the story has promulgated. Despite all this, the main story is widely considered as the work of a single author-Valmiki, who is considered as the First Poet, being the first one to invent the concept of verse (shloka) in Sanskrit literature.
Its value can be considered as immeasurable as not only is it a part of the India’s history (ithasa) but it also is an inspiring tale of love, valor, sacrifices, ideals, leadership, values, vices, virtues. Apart from being a guide to living the ideal religious life, from a purely literary perspective, Ramayana (Rise of the Sun Prince) is also a great story that has wildly imaginative characters, exotic places, mystical scenes, extraordinary situations and a countless number of eccentric ideas, all in epic proportions.
The action sequences and dramatic story segments are so epic and staged on such a large scale that each description will have your mind visualizing the whole imaginative setting. For example, here is an encounter between the protagonists and a great forest demon-
Rama and Lakshmana saw Tataka running toward them from a distance; her ghastly and monstrous features becoming clearer as she inched close. She had shoulders as strong as the Mandara Mountains, feet so huge and heavy that her earth-carving footsteps left behind a trail of lakes. As Tataka avalanched toward Rama, He was convinced that this couldn’t be a woman, because trapped and mauled under each of her footsteps were hundreds of living beings. She wore golden anklets, elephant head-studded earrings and a blood-oozing garland of elephants strung tail to trunk. Her teeth were like the trident of Yama, the God of death.
Then begins the rather one-sided yet decisive battle. Here is another example which paints the scene where Parashurama(a powerful incarnation of Lord Vishnu) makes his appearance and confronts Rama.
..Soon the earth shuddered and shook as if a million elephants had stomped in unison. A violent dust storm whirled up in the distance and came swirling at great speed toward the entourage. The storm was on a rampage, demolishing everything along its way. Trees lay uprooted, lakes evaporated, bees swarmed out of their hives, wild beasts fled out of their shelters, snakes and rats rushed out of their holes and hapless birds spun uncontrollably in the storm. The ravaging dust blanked soaked up to blur the sun and roll down a curtain of darkness. The shrieks and howls, the swirling dust and reigning gloom was more than any heart could withstand. Everyone in the faint-hearted procession fell unconscious..
Fans of fantasy/fiction can even look at this book (or rather the whole Ramayana story) to be a classic genre-defining title. Though it essentially is a sacred religious text, from a literary standpoint it could be considered as a modern day epic along the lines of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or other anthologies, in terms of its sheer grandiosity, the depth and scale of its story and the extravagance of various other elements.
The story is almost entirely handled through an all-knowing third person point of view narration. This results very few dialogs and one-to-one character interactions.
this was my first formal introduction to the Hindu Epic Ramayana
But the narrative is fluid, and free from flow breakers, and more importantly, this approach successfully accomplishes the goal of this work-which involves emphasizing the minute details and undertones, elucidating the various perspectives, highlighting the hidden lessons embedded throughout the story and shedding a new light on different events, occasions, backstories, character interactions and other facets surrounding the story.
The first thing to catch my attention and throw me off was the page division that begins right from the first page of the first chapter. I was a bit upset thinking it would turn out to be a purely objective commentary on the epic. But that is not the case.
The space below the page divider is the footnotes section which contains facts, explanations, and practical learnings gleaned from the text above it.
At the start it may seem like a distraction or an interference that sidetracks you from the main story. But as you give time to this new approach, the structure not only adds more details to the already intricate plot but also enhances its flavor.
The footnotes are practical, insightful, and verily relevant to every aspect of life, even today, as it was then, 3000 years ago.
The one who allows anger to affect him reacts, and the one who shields himself from anger responds. The one who reacts suffers alone and the one who responds can alleviate others’ suffering.
A past incident is not what agitates the mind at times of distress and pain; it is the amount of attention we give to the memory of that incident that unsettles us. The more the attention, the bigger the incident appears. Without attention, it would merely be irrelevant history.
As Shubha Vilas states, “These sutras will help you navigate and steer the ship of life through stormy seas and clear skies alike.” You can take that statement to heart without any hesitation, as, if thoroughly understood and applied, they will be beneficial to absolute anyone, be they a student struggling in early years of college, or a father having a hard time to balance his work and family life or the housewife struggling to live to the expectations of her large family, or the stressed out CEO of a small or giant corporation- absolutely anyone.
You can take that statement to heart without any hesitation, as, if thoroughly understood and applied, they will be beneficial to absolute anyone, be they a student struggling in early years of college, or a father having a hard time to balance his work and family life or the housewife struggling to live to the expectations of her large family, or the stressed out CEO of a small or giant corporation- absolutely anyone.
A desired qualification must be preceded with the endeavor to prove that it is deserved. If you want to be a source of light to the world, be ready to burn, too.
In life what we are supposed to do is love people and use things, but unfortunately, in this world we do exactly the opposite, we love things and use people.
Ramayana: The Game of Life is a book series divided into 6 parts of which only the first book is out. Rise of the Sun Prince is first and it begins with the first book (Bala Kanda) of the original Ramayana which is also divided into 6 books (with 1 part added later).
Rise of the Sun Prince starts from the initial part of the epic where Valmiki is introduced by Narada to Rama and his journey- the Ramayana and is then guided to compile the Epic in his own words. It ends with the marriage of Rama and Sita.
This is a tale to be revisited and devoured again and again, not only for its intriguing story which is backed by a deluge of characters with each one having their own personal journeys, but also for what it teaches through the examples it demonstrates.
an engaging and thoroughly enjoyable book which is also an easy read
As the author phrases it, “An all-encompassing story that adds value to every kind of reader and addresses every human need.”. Obviously, the credit goes to its original creator (Valmiki muni) for its expanse, the myriad aspects of life it touches on – from human relationships to social institutions like family, marriage, religion, to struggles of life, to larger worldly concerns and philosophical aspects of life.
But to communicate that epic while retaining the authenticity of the original and simultaneously, making it accessible to the modern day audience, is a task which the author has executed quite eloquently. This is palpable in every single page of the book up until the last. So what you get is an engaging and thoroughly enjoyable book which is also an easy read.
Being a Hindu, the thoughts and ideas of these epics were passed down to me through various social circles and other media, but it was all in bits and pieces or at best a poorly constructed form.
So this was my first formal introduction to the Hindu Epic Ramayana. It was whole, comprehensive, interesting and I loved it entirely.
And now, I am eagerly looking forward to the second book as an ardent follower of this book series right up to the last one. Already my patience has been wrought, which is in part due to the 22-page long glimpse into the second book which follows the last page of the Rise of the Sun Prince, right after the educational appendix section, lead by a monochromatic book cover of the Book 2 (of 6) titled – Shattered Dreams.