Martin Buckley travels from north-east India to Sri Lanka to recreate one of the great journeys in world literature — the Ramayana.
Myth, travelogue and holy writ, the Ramayana — the journey of Rama — is India’s best-loved book, an inspiration to schoolchildren, monks and movie-makers. It’s one of the world’s great epic tales, yet it is largely unread in the Western world. The story of a man searching savage jungles for his kidnapped wife, the Ramayana combines Heart of Darkness with the Odyssey. And, bizarrely, this violent and erotic account of a war between light and dark is at the heart of the fiercest controversy in contemporary Indian politics — one that has claimed over 10,000 lives.
In his book, Martin Buckley fulfils a dream — to retrace the route of Rama from his birthplace in north India to the climax of his confrontation with Evil in Sri Lanka. In doing so, he finds that the epic is as much a key to understanding India today as it was 3,000 years ago.
An Indian Odyssey is the story of a perilous passage through India by motorbike, microlight, bus and train. In the course of his physical and spiritual odyssey, Buckley witnesses death on the chaotic Great Trunk Road and passes through a war zone in Sri Lanka. A cast of mystics, Marxists, idealists and cynics — Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist — lays out the rich fabric of contemporary India and Sri Lanka, illuminated by the remarkable story of their past.
From the Trade Paperback edition.