Between the two, however, it is the Ramayana that is
ruling the hearts of the Hindus with its innumerable and
elegant offshoots. One such which is extremely widespread
and popular even today is the "Ramayana Sankirtanam"
often set to music and sung. This poetical composition of just
108 lines has admirably condensed in itself, the entire story
of the Ramayana of 24,000 verses. That is perhaps the reason
that it is often termed as "Nama Ramayana".
In the centres of the Ramakrishna Order, as also their
associated official or unofficial units, this Nama Ramayana
is generally sung on the evades days along with some other
hymns, the whole programme being christened as "Ramayana
Though the lines of this Nama Ramayana are very short
they contain-like the image of a huge elephant being
contained or reflected in a small mirror-a lot of the original
suitably condensed or intuited. It is but natural for a devoted
listener to hanker for more. This is exactly what has been
attempted here, by supplying a lot of the original material
between every two lines. As a result, by the time you complete
reading the whole book you have in a way covered the entire
work of Valmiki and perhaps more.
This 'more' has been made possible primarily due to the
addition of relevant portions culled from the Adytum
Ramayana, the Ananda Ramayana and the Ramacarita Manas
(of Sri Tulasldas). Appropriate selections from the Hindu
Scriptures too have found a place here and there.
Apart from some (apparently) controversial incidents
-like the killing of Vali-the huge work includes some special
but well-known topics like grhapravesa (entering a newly
built house), vivaha or marriage and sraddha or obsequies
rites which though common are not known much. This has
necessitated the expansion of the work to produce greater
clarity. Consequently these topics too had to be integrated.
As a result what was intended to be a small work has
now grown to huge proportions. However, the exhaustive
treatment meted out has definitely and rightly resulted in a
more useful treatise.
This book has a strange history which must be revealed
now. The contents were originally delivered as 150 discourses
of one hour each in the Kannada language, at the auditorium
of the Ramakrishna Math of Bangalore (in the Karnataka
State of South India). These discourses were duly recorded
and then brought out as a compact disc, containing all of
them in one unit.
Dr. Krishna Murthy Ramakrishna of Tampa, FL, USA,
happened to listen to the same. He was so deeply impressed
that he decided to bring it out in the book form in English.
He first transcribed the contents of the whole disc in the
original Kannada script and then took immense trouble to
translate the same into eminently readable English. After
suitably editing it he published it along with the necessary
appendages. Apart from the Nama Ramayana part he
published all the allied literature also which formed the
original Ramayana Sankirtanam. disc.
This work he has done is, by any standards, simply
superb. But for him, the present book would not have seen
the light of the day. To say the least, we are extremely
grateful to him.
There has been a debate on two aspects of the life of
Sri Rama-the period of his life and his divinity. Regarding
the period of Sri Rama, the tradition believes Sri Rama's
incarnation dating back to some 800,000-900,000 years ago.
But the modern thinkers or historians based on the
zodiacal movements of planets recorded at the birth of
Sri Rama and other events documented in Ynlmlhi Ramayana
estimate the date of Sri Rama's time as 5000 Bee (about
7,000 years ago).
Sage Valmiki himself addresses the issues of divinity
when he questions sage Narada-c-'Is there a person who has
some dozen qualities (Valmiki Ramayana, Balakanda, 1-2, 5)
and if so who is that person?' Narada replies that, though
it is extremely difficult to find a person with one of those
qualities, yet there is one supreme human, in whom alone
you will find all the qualities you have listed-he is Rama,
born in the dynasty of Iksvaku (Valmiki Ramayana,
Balakanda, 1-8, 19). Here Narada refers to Rama as a supreme
human being. Rama identifies himself as a human being-
"atmanam manusam manye raman dasarathatmanjam-e-know
me to be a human being, Rama, son of Dasaratha", Yet Rama
displays many divine actions, like giving liberation to the
bird Jatayu etc. But at times he also displays human emotions,
making one wonder if he is a human or divine! 'As much as
Rama is divine, he also had to display human emotions to
lead the ordinary mortals as a role model for them to emulate
in similar circumstances,' is the general consensus among
In this context, the devotees of Ramayana quote a very
The entity Parabrahma knowable through the Vedas is
born as Dasaratha's son, Sri Rama. The Veda manifested in
the epic language as Ramayana through Valmiki.
However, some pragmatists seem to suggest that the
debate itself is mute. Either way-'Sri Rama is divine and
took human birth to establish dharma or he was a human
being, climbed up to the level of divinity by his steadfast
adherence to dharma'. The values expounded in the Ramayana
are virtuous values worthy of emulation by every human
being, setting aside the value of the debate of his divinity.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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