The Ramayana: A New Retelling Of Valmiki's Ancient Epic--complete And Comprehensive by Linda EgenesThe Ramayana: A New Retelling Of Valmiki's Ancient Epic--complete And Comprehensive by Linda Egenes

The Ramayana: A New Retelling Of Valmiki's Ancient Epic--complete And Comprehensive

byLinda Egenes, Kumuda Reddy

Paperback | September 6, 2016

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A delightfully straightforward and lyrical retelling of the ancient Indian epic of loyalty, betrayal, redemption, and insight into the true nature of life -- one of history's most sacred ethical works, rendered with completeness and sterling accuracy for the modern reader.

Here is one of the world's most hallowed works of sacred literature, the grand, sweeping epic of the divine bowman and warrior Rama and his struggles with evil, power, duplicity, and avarice. The Ramayana is one of the foundations of world literature and one of humanity's most ancient and treasured ethical and spiritual works. Includes an introduction by scholar Michael Sternfeld.

Linda Egenes is the author of more than five hundred articles and five books about the benefits of meditation, yoga, and healthy living. With Kumuda Reddy, M.D., she co-authored three books on Maharishi Ayurveda for children and families, as well as All Love Flows to the Self: Eternal Stories from the Upanishads. A practitioner of the ...
Title:The Ramayana: A New Retelling Of Valmiki's Ancient Epic--complete And ComprehensiveFormat:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 8.2 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:September 6, 2016Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143111809

ISBN - 13:9780143111801


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oneBla Kn.daChildhoodChapter 1King Dasharatha's JoyO Ayodhy!Architects designed youto be beautiful,gracious, and strong.Untouched by enemies,invincible behind towering gateswith a wide moat circling your waist,your brave and noble warriorscould find their target through sound alone.O Ayodhy, delight to the senses!Melodies of poets, singers, and musiciansechoed through your marketswhere merchants from faraway kingdomstraded their wares in peace.Trumpets, bugles, flutes, conches, and gongssweetened the air with music.Mansions lined your wide, straight streets,their high-arched porches streamingwith flags and banners,ringed by gardensof sweet-smelling flowers.An array of palaces adorned youlike a string of pearls,their walls set with precious gemsand their high domes toweringlike mountain peaks.Mango groves andtall trees girded your edges like a sash.The chanting of sages and panditslearned in the four Vedasblessed your people,who shimmered with goldand jeweled ornamentslike the sun.Truthful, brave, and contented,no one lived in poverty,and all lived happily with their families.Elephants, camels, horses, cattle, and muleslightened the work.Rice was plentifuland the water pure.Your generous and truth-loving peoplelived long lives,revered by their children and grandchildren.Like great sages,they were pure and chaste,clear-minded, self-controlled,and only did what was right.All your people were blessedwith beauty and riches.And all these noble people of Ayodhywere devoted to their noble king, Dasharatha.King Dasharatha waited alone inside his private chambers. It was spring, the ninth day of the pleasing lunar month of Chaitra. A light breeze carried the sweet scent of jasmine blossoms through the open windows, but the king did not notice. His mind was absorbed in thoughts of his three cherished queens, who at this moment were about to give birth.How many years had he waited to be blessed with an heir? How many hours had he prayed for healthy offspring? And now, the fulfillment of his heart's desire was only moments away. As King Dasharatha reflected on his long and celebrated life, the past, glorious as it had been, seemed like the darkness of night compared to the joy he glimpsed ahead.The king stepped onto his verandah. From there, he could see the golden rooftops of the city below, beyond that the holy River Sarayu, and beyond that the fertile fields of his beloved country of Kosala, which stretched as far as the rays of the sun. Since the beginning of time, King Dasharatha's family, of the glorious and peaceful dynasty of Ikshvku, had ruled Kosala from the capital city of Ayodhy. Founded by Manu, the father of Ikshvku, king of the solar dynasty, the fabled city of Ayodhy was celebrated throughout the three worlds.As King Dasharatha thought of the virtuous people of Ayodhy, he was grateful that they deemed him worthy to rule. For the king was humble in his greatness. Learned in the Vedas, truthful and pious, he had never broken his word. He had performed many yagyas, ceremonies to create balance in nature, and always gave generously to the pandits, saints, and wise men of the kingdom. His name, Dasharatha, meant "strong as ten chariots," a title he had earned long ago, while helping the Devas, the divine forces of nature, achieve victory over the asuras, the negative forces of nature. Celebrated on earth and in heaven, King Dasharatha was loved and revered by all.Standing on his verandah, King Dasharatha reflected on his long rule, the years when Kosala had lived peacefully with its neighboring kingdoms and increased its wealth many times.Like the sun surrounded by brilliant rays, King Dasharatha was surrounded by eight wise ministers, who practiced right conduct with their families and friends, never speaking a word in anger. They were known for their honesty, courage, and friendliness.Versed in economics, they kept the kingdom's treasuries full without unduly taxing the people. Experts in defense, they made friends with the neighboring kingdoms. Skilled in lawmaking, they governed all with justice, levying fines on wrongdoers, but never more than the person could afford.King Dasharatha also relied on the judgment of spiritual advisors, wise R.ishis, headed by the radiant Vasishtha. Supported by benevolent ministers and enlightened sages, celebrated as the ocean of truth, King Dasharatha had no equal among all the monarchs on earth.In all the years of his long rule, the king had known only one sorrow: even though he had ruled with wisdom and had conducted many yagyas, he had not been blessed with an heir. The grief of reaching old age without a son had weighed heavily on him, like a grinding stone on wheat chaff. Knowing that the illustrious line of the Ikshvkus would not continue, Dasharatha and his three wives were not able to fully enjoy the wealth and glory of their kingdom.But that was behind him now, for on this very day his three queens would give birth to his children.King Dasharatha felt the cool spring breeze and stepped back inside his palace, drawing the curtains over the doors. His chief minister, Sumantra, waited inside. Ghee lamps cast a warm glow over Sumantra's shining garments."O Sumantra," said King Dasharatha with a smile. "How delightful to have your company as I await glad tidings. After all, it was you who helped me reach this happy state."Sumantra, who was the minister of the household and the king's most trusted ally and friend, smiled as he bowed low to King Dasharatha. "It was not I who helped you, but Destiny herself," he said humbly. He took a seat across from his esteemed monarch, whom he had served during King Dasharatha's entire rule.The king smiled at Sumantra, but soon was lost again in his thoughts. As old friends, they fell into a comfortable silence, content just to be in each other's company at such a moment.King Dasharatha thought back six seasons, to the moment when he realized that he could no longer bear to live without an heir. On that day he had called the sage Vasishtha and all of his wise advisors to the court."O honored sages," he said, "I have walked the path of virtue, and yet I have not been fortunate enough to produce an heir. With your blessings, it is my desire to conduct a special yagya, and by so doing I wish to gain a son.""Glory to King Dasharatha!" the ministers exclaimed. "Success to King Dasharatha! Your wish is now our desire."Later that day Sumantra asked for a private audience with King Dasharatha."O gracious king," said Sumantra, bowing low. "There is an ancient story that came to my mind as you spoke today. I think it will help you obtain a son.""Then by all means, tell me, trustworthy Sumantra," said Dasharatha, his eyes shining with love."Many years ago I heard a prophecy about our kingdom. Sanatkumra, the sage of eternal youth, predicted that a certain young ascetic called R.ishyashr.inga would marry the daughter of King Romapda in order to end a drought in his kingdom. After that, the story predicted, the esteemed R.ishyashr.inga would travel to Ayodhy and perform a yagya, and as a result, King Dasharatha would gain four sons of untold valor, who would become the glory of the Ikshvkus."Sumantra paused for a moment. Then he said, "Just today, word reached us that King Romapda's daughter has recently married the pure-souled sage named R.ishyashr.inga, and their marriage did, indeed, end the drought in their kingdom."King Dasharatha's face lit up."O fearless king," Sumantra advised, "do not delay. Invite R.ishyashr.inga here to conduct your yagya and thereby obtain your sons."Taking his trusted minister's words to heart, King Dasharatha first sought the blessing of the holy Vasishtha. Having received the sage's blessing, King Dasharatha, the most powerful ruler on earth, set out the next day to the domain of King Romapda with his wives and ministers. As they neared that virtuous king's domain, they passed fertile fields and lush gardens, and noticed that the rivers ran with ample waters now that the drought was ended there.He spent a week being entertained in the opulent palace of his friend King Romapda, where the young sage R.ishyashr.inga sat beside his father-in-law like a blazing fire. On the seventh day, King Dasharatha shared with King Romapda the reason for his visit, and humbly requested that the king's lovely daughter Shant and the wise R.ishyashr.inga return to Ayodhy with him.When King Romapda consented, King Dasharatha faced the young sage with his palms pressed together in a sign of respect, said, "O holy one, I beseech you to fulfill my desire for an heir, just as you have ended the drought for King Romapda."Sage R.ishyashr.inga said, "Do not fear, O noble king. Four courageous sons will be born to continue your line."Thus the luminous R.ishyashr.inga and his wide-eyed bride, Shant, traveled to Ayodhy with King Dasharatha. There, in due time, R.ishyashr.inga began the powerful Ashvamedha Yagya, the ceremony of the horse, which lasted more than a year and was attended by all the kings of the land.After the flawless completion of the Ashvamedha Yagya, which is difficult even for the greatest monarch to achieve, King Dasharatha radiated purity and light. Sage R.ishyashr.inga, in the silence of his meditations, knew what to do next. He said to Dasharatha, "I will now perform a certain yagya from the Atharva Veda to enable you to attain an heir."While the yagya was taking place, while King Dasharatha and Queen Kausaly, his first queen, were pouring ghee on the ceremonial fire, a secret meeting of the celestials was taking place in heaven.It seemed that Rvan.a, a demon who terrorized the earth, could not be defeated even by Indra, the king of the divine Devas. Rvan.a and his rkshasa armies wreaked havoc on the people and even desecrated the yagyas of holy men, spreading fear in all three worlds.All of the Devas and the celestial musicians called Gandharvas had gathered together to ask Brahm, the Creator, to save them from this dangerous tormentor."O revered Brahm," said Indra, bowing low, "it is because of your boon that Rvan.a is so powerful. He destroys all good, all truth in the world. He and his warriors make the heavens and the earth tremble."Everyone knew that at one time Rvan.a had engaged in difficult austerities and had mastered the four Vedas. Pleased with his devotion, Brahm had granted him any boon he desired. "May I never be destroyed by Devas, Gandharvas, yakshas, or rkshasas," Rvan.a begged. And Brahm had granted him his wish.That was why even Indra, the king of the Devas, could not defeat Rvan.a in battle. Rvan.a and his armies had even entered the gates of heaven and scattered the Devas to the four ends of the earth.Now Brahm, the Creator, seated on his lotus flower, clearly remembered the boon that he had bestowed on Rvan.a. Rvan.a was, in fact, his great-grandson. But Rvan.a was also the son of a rkshasa woman and had followed in her ways of evil. Rvan.a was terrifying to look at, with ten heads and twenty powerful arms. He had become the king of Lank, the sumptuous city of the rkshasas far to the south. There he enjoyed boundless wealth, entertainments, and luxury. Yet it was not enough. He wanted to rule over heaven and earth.Brahm knew all of this, but he also knew a secret. "In his arrogance," Brahm told the assembly quietly, "Rvan.a did not ask to be invulnerable to mankind. He thought that man was not significant enough to hurt him. This blind pride is Rvan.a's weak point, for he will surely be destroyed by a mere man."At this the celestial Devas and Gandharvas joyfully cried out praises to Brahm. Then, placing their palms together in respect, they turned and bowed to the immortal Vishn.u, the Maintainer of the Universe. He rested on a golden couch, his skin blue as a summer sky, his face radiant and peaceful."Revered Lord Vishn.u, we entreat you to hear our prayers," cried the Devas after bowing to him in reverence. "Today the noble King Dasharatha is conducting a ceremony to beget four sons. His three queens are chaste and virtuous, beyond reproach. O most compassionate one, we entreat you, let yourself be born as King Dasharatha's son! This monster Rvan.a has destroyed all good in the world. The way of Dharma, of truth, has never been in greater danger. Cruelty reigns on earth while he still lives. Be born as Dasharatha's son and destroy him!"The ever-compassionate Lord Vishn.u, whose desire was to maintain the balance of good and evil in the world, reassured the Devas. "So be it," he said, raising his right hand to bless them. "I will take birth in the world of men and destroy this enemy of truth."Meanwhile, back on earth, the blameless R.ishyashr.inga, having conducted the yagya without flaw, poured a final offering of ghee on the ceremonial fire. A radiant being emerged from the flames. It was Agni, the lord of fire. Shining like the sun, he wore robes of red, the color of his flaming hair. His skin shimmered like burnished copper, and his eyes blazed like yellow sapphires.Agni stepped out of the flames holding a golden container with a silver lid, filled with a mixture of milk, rice, and sugar called pyasa. He handed the sacred vessel to King Dasharatha, who bowed with reverence. "Take this pyasa, prepared by the Devas. Give this fruit of your yagya to your three queens, who will bear sons in due time."Having delivered the pyasa, Agni melted into the flames. Dasharatha offered half of the pyasa to the pious Queen Kausaly, who was his first wife. He offered half of what remained to Queen Sumitr, and half of what remained of that to his youngest queen, Kaikey. That still left a tiny portion, and that he gave to Queen Sumitr, who then had two portions. The queens felt blessed to eat the auspicious pyasa, the fruit of King Dasharatha's yagya.In a few months, the three queens basked in carefree happiness as they prepared for the birth of their children. The children that they carried were so pure that the wombs of the three queens were said to glow like the sun. The halls of the palace were filled with laughter and delight, and the entire kingdom lived in happiness, hearts swelling in joyful anticipation of the long-awaited births of King Dasharatha's sons.As King Dasharatha sat with his trusted friend Sumantra, remembering the blissful months since Sage R.ishyashr.inga's yagya, he fell into a sweet slumber. Sumantra slipped away, leaving his beloved monarch to his dreams.

Editorial Reviews

"This new version is so simply and beautifully written -- it will stir the soul!" —David Lynch “A luminous new rendering of an epic that remains as relevant as it is timeless.”  —Craig Pearson, author of The Supreme Awakening “This retelling of the Ramayana is an impressive compilation, beautifully narrated, mingled with thoughtful poetic expressions both original and modern. A retelling for all times, it stays true to the original Valmiki Ramayana, and its exalted execution by Egenes and Reddy sounds natural to the ear for modern readers.”   —Bal Ram Singh, Ph.D.,Director, Center for Indic Studiesat the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, and author of Exploring Science in Ancient Indian Texts“At last! A retelling of Valmiki’s Ramayana that understands and expresses the role of consciousness in thought, speech, and action. This elegantly written version is the one to read.”  —Rhoda Orme-Johnson, Ph.D., co-author of The Flow of Consciousness“The age-old Sanskrit epic poem, The Ramayana, animates timeless themes of good and evil through the story of Rama’s journey. Reimagined by Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy, this vernacular prose retelling features narrative clarity, richly textured imagery, and a luminous storytelling voice that leaps off the page. This is a treasure that begs to be read out loud.”  —Hertha D. Sweet Wong, Ph.D., assistant chair of the English Department at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Sending My Heart Back Across the Years: Tradition and Innovation in Native American Autobiography“In this wonderful newly abridged adaptation by Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy, the Ramayana takes on new life.  Egenes and Reddy have given us a text that is lucid and lyrical, eminently readable, and will make a fine addition to libraries and classrooms.” —Steven Schneider, professor of English at University of Texas-Pan American and editor of The Contemporary Narrative Poem: Critical Crosscurrents“The Ramayana is one of the great treasures of mankind. It tells a gripping story but it is very long and it is in Sanskrit. Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy have retold the story at manageable length in beautiful English and they have kept the dramatic tension, which makes the reader want to read on. I know the story well but I could not wait to see what came next. Well done.”—Vernon Katz, Ph.D., author of Conversations with Maharishi"This eminently readable and poetic retelling by Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy captures the flavor of the ancient text, brings out philosophical and spiritual truths sometimes glossed over by modern translators, and flows so smoothly it is hard to put down. — Jack Forem, author of Transcendental Meditation: The Essential Teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi “Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are resplendent in our minds and ensconced in our hearts as we traverse the beauty, tragedy, and adventure of the Ramayana in this elegant retelling of the classic.” —Saraswati Nagpal, author of Sita, Daughter of the Earth  “Perhaps the best modern retelling to date, this version by Egenes and Reddy is true to Valmiki’s text yet keeps you turning the pages. Will be appreciated by adults and children, Indian and Western audiences alike.”  —Chandrika Tandon, Grammy nominee and founder of Soul Chants Music “This lovely and sensitive adaptation of the Ramayana is easy and enjoyable to read without losing the deeper layers of insight that make the story timeless.  I heartily recommend it!” —Prudence Farrow Bruns, Ph.D. in South Asian Studies, University of California Berkeley, and author of Dear Prudence: The Story Behind the Song  “In this new prose translation of the Ramayana, Linda Egenes and Kumuda Reddy maintain the cadence and richness of language of the original poetic epic. Their retelling is marvelously accessible to the modern reader, adding a welcome freshness to this timeless tale. Furthermore, Sternfeld’s introduction provides a new dimension to understanding the depth and breadth of this universal story.” —Care Connet, poet and author of Diary of the White Bush Clover: A Peace Pilgrimage“These authors portray Vedic life in its larger and deeper context, bringing out the nobility of the heroic action of the characters. It is beautifully written, suitable for all ages, and keeps the reader engaged. By the end I was moved to tears.” —Susan Andersen, Ph.D., co-author of The Flow of Consciousness