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Book Review

Thulasidas Ramayana

SRI RAAMACHARITA MAANASAMU: Telugu translation by Dr. M. Krishnamacharyulu and Dr. Goli Venkata Ramaiah; Gita Press, Gorakhpur-273005. Rs. 120.

THE STORY of Ramayana reflects all that is important in Indian culture. The roots of the story are said to have been formed in the Rig Veda. There are also some Upanishads, which reflect some of the aspects of Ramayana.

It is believed that the very first literary work outside the Vedic literature came through Ramayana. While it deals with the upliftment of the individual, the Mahabharata explains how man should live in the society and the Bhagavata Purana enunciates the path for spiritual elevation.

While the original version in Sanskrit by Valmiki is written in about 24,000 verses in six chapters, the translations in various Indian languages, many times present a much different picture — both in quality and quantity. Though all major Indian languages have their own versions of Ramayana, none of them has appealed to the connoisseurs of literature or even devotees of Rama as much as the Rama Charita Manas of Tulsidas in the North and Kamba Ramayanam by Kamban in Tamil.

The book under notice is a Telugu transliteration and translation of the Rama Charita Manas. There are many other Ramayanas in Hindi, but the Rama Charita Manas retains its supremacy over the others. Tulsidas is said to have completed this work within a span of three years, on the banks of river Sarayu, in Ayodhya.

There are many examples, which highlight the extraordinary beauty, excellent style, deep devotion, and indomitable dedication of Tulsidas in his Ramayana.

We find him employing a metrical style known as doha and chaupayi. While the former is a couplet, the later carries four lines. He embedded four chaupayis between two dohas and made a metrical style of his own. Apart from these metres he also employed others like the chanda and sortha. The later story of Ramayan, known as Uttar Kanda, is also written by Tulsidas and consists of 136 dohas.

He made a conscious effort to create unity among different religious sects. He gives equal importance to Saivism together with the doctrine of Shivakesava Advaita, where, Siva and Kesava are treated with same devotion. No wonder this book has swept the entire North India with its mellifluous style and inherent melody for over 500 years now and continues to be so.

The transliteration of the commentary in Telugu is faithful to the original, simple and lucid in style and helps understand the poetic soul of Tulsidas. The translation undertaken by the Gita Press marks another milestone in their endeavours to reach traditional texts at subsidised rates to common people.

PAPPU VENUGOPALA RAO

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