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Ramayana Paperback – November 13, 2000


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New Adult Fiction by Rainbow Rowell
Acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell's latest book, Landline, offers a poignant, humorous look at relationships and marriage. Learn more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 461 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (November 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520227034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520227033
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 16 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #608,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"To say the "Ramayana is one of the great epics of India may be a misleading understatement, for it is of far greater importance to India than the Greek epics are to Western thought. The "Ramayana and the "Mahabharata make up the framework of the Hindu religious, cultural, and social imagination. . . . Buck has succeeded better than anyone else in conveying the spirit of the original."--"Choice

About the Author

William Buck died in 1970 at the age of 37 after more than 15 years of work on the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and the unfinished Harivamsa. Of the two finished books, he wrote, "My method in writing both Mahabharata and Ramayana was to begin with a literal translation from which to extract the story, and then to tell that story in an interesting way that would preserve the spirit and flavor of the original."

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 24 customer reviews
Buck truly loves the characters and the meaning of the story.
Harinder Jadwani
It does not present Hindu theology-- to glimpse Hinduism's ancient essence, one must attempt to understand the more impenetrable Upanishads.
K_Street_NW
This is by far one of the most awesome (in awe insipiring sense) stories I have ever had the please of reading.
0xyjen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
In this "retelling" of the Ramayana, Buck succeeds in shortening a lengthy epic into 432 pages. Buck's Ramayana is exciting, poetic, and inspiring, somehow maintaining the digressive narrative of the original without alienating its Western audience; Buck's version makes a good introduction to a work which has had immeasurable religious impact on various Asian cultures.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By K_Street_NW on January 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ramayana is an unimaginably ancient epic poem, translated here into beautiful English prose. It does not present Hindu theology-- to glimpse Hinduism's ancient essence, one must attempt to understand the more impenetrable Upanishads. Rather, Ramayana presents in a literary, or fictional, work all of the values of right conduct, or "dharma," that are essential to happiness in all the worlds. The story so remarkably resembles Homer's The Illiad that it is difficult to believe some ancient wandering poet did not export the story to the near eastern culture of ancient Greece, many centuries after it began being told amongst Indian poets. Consequently, the values of Ramayana reverberate throughout three millenia of Eastern as well as Western literature. Honoring your father, fogiveness, loyalty to wife and husband irrespective of the hardships, devotion to God, knowing God when you see him, rejection of earthly wealth, and reverence for all of nature. These are but a few of the values, dharma, that revisit the reader through one beautiful character after another. Ramayana is essential reading for any ersatz scholar or well-read mind.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 24, 1997
Format: Paperback
In King Lear, a promise given by a foolish old man brings catastrophic changes to the world around him. Likewise, a foolish promise by an elderly king launches the epic Ramayana. Both stories bring forth the depth and strength of the human spirit. King Lear is a tragedy. The Ramayana is also; the author places his noble characters in harm's way to demonstrate their greatness. The Ramayana's chief purpose is to demonstrate the proper exercise of Dharma, the Hindu principle that is often loosely translated as "Law". The protagonist, Rama, his wife, Sita, his brothers and the army of animals they enlist show through their actions how life is to be spent in the service of truth.

Here's the plot (not to give away too much). Rama's father, King Dasratha promises two boons to his youngest wife Kaikeyi. Dasratha abdicates, intending to make Rama king, but Kaikeyi uses her boons on the eve of Rama's ascension to the throne, one to make her son Bharatha king in Rama's stead, the second to banish Rama for 15 years. The king wants to renege on his promises, but Rama refuses to let this happen. He leaves the kingdom willingly.

Rama, Sita and Rama's brother Lakshmana live in the jungle for 15 years, in the course of this time, Sita is kidnapped by daemons bent on destroying the world. Rama enlists the help of the bear and monkey kings to recapture her and this is the heart of the story.

Now, what makes this story is its characters and their courage. Rama will never break a promise, even when it may cost him his life. Sita and Lakshmana leave the palace for a life spent wearing the bark of trees. The animals, especially the immortal monkey, Hanuman, inspired by the love between Rama and Sita, fight ferociously against their much more powerful foes.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Harinder Jadwani on November 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
William Buck's Ramayana is beyond magnificent. He discovered Eastern mythology in 1955 through a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, set himself to learn Sanskrit, and devoted himself to a truly profound study of them. He captures, more than most Indian translators, the spirit of this epic, which (along with the Mahabharata) is the foundation of Indian culture. Buck truly loves the characters and the meaning of the story. He takes a few liberties with detail, but none of these changes alter his overall fidelity to the original composer's intent. He not only captures the wonder and magic of the story, but by his rendering, shows why it continues (unlike, say, the Greek myths which only educated elite in the West might concern themselves with) to enchant the population (even the illiterate) of India, and fill it with unshaken faith in the protagonist, Shri Rama. Nothing, not the Iliad or Odyssey, nor the Tolkien or Wagnerian Rings, can come close to the spiritual and mystical endurance of this tale.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
Like Mr. Buck's other retelling - The Mahabharata - The Ramayana is a wonderfully boiled down version of a classic Indian tale. It's a great introduction. Also the illustrations are wonderful in the California Press reprints. I love Hanuman particularly as he is drawn most delicately.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By K. Williamson on December 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was enthralled with this story years ago and continue to be. This condensed translation I think is excellent because it allows those who don't want to read an exhaustively long original version to experience this masterpiece of mythology. As an influencial piece in Hindu culture, understanding this writing is crucial for understanding human nature.

But I am appalled by the writer from October 2003 who ignorantly trashes the Ramayana and in doing so the whole Hindu culture. Sure there are parts of the Hindu culture that are hard to understand--but must I point out the Christianity is not the easiest to understand? A culture that promotes peace and loving thy brother only if they are Christian--if not kill them--is not one I find any easier to understand than culture that promotes turning away from a raped woman.

Oh, and let's not forget the Crusades. Christianity is chock-full of war, rape, and killing--it is called the Old Testament.

Importantly, if some readers are constantly turning their mind to their own lives while reading a delicious piece of historical art such as the Ramayana, maybe they should open their minds, realize that these were tales told to teach and build morals (like don't rape women or bad things will happen), and try to learn from other cultures--not to criticize everything your close mind cannot comprehend.

So, pick up a copy of this classic for a cultural experience that you'll be thinking about long after you have finished it.
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