SUNDARA KANDAM OF SRIMAD VALMIKI RAMAYANAM: Original Sanskrit slokas with English translation by R. Viswanathan; Pub. By SRPK Charitable Trust, 19, Thiruvengadam Street, Adyar, Chennai-600020. Rs. 480.
VALMIKI'S RAMAYANA (in seven books) is the first epic poem (Adikavya) in Sanskrit literature. The Sundarakanda in particular has a special attraction for every one. There are 68 cantos in it. It is undoubtedly more popular with readers than the rest of cantos. The reasons are manifold: Valmiki is at his best as a poet here; he has described the exploits of Hanuman here in a beautiful way; he has incorporated the letters of the Gayatri Mantra in each and every canto so that those who chant it regularly can achieve all that they desire. This is a matter of practical experience for many who do "parayanam" of the Sundarakanda with absolute faith, dedication and devotion. Quite naturally there have been many scholars who tried to unravel the beauties of the Sundarakanda through explanations, commentaries, translations, transcreations and studies. The present publication is one such attempt. Translating a piece of work is very difficult. It is a tight-rope walk.
The present effort is meant to be a translation but almost every verse has been paraphrased and explained. Further the author has used the Tamil masculine gender suffixes "n" and "r" for the original Sanskrit masculine stems ending in "a" (e.g. Raman and Hanumar, whereas the right way of rendering them would be Rama and Hanuman). One with a knowledge of the Sanskrit original will be surprised to note that many of the words and expressions used by the present writer are not there in the original.
While the English expression and idiom are apt and pleasing, the work in general suffers from unnecessary elaboration. The get-up of the book, however, is beautiful.
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