About the Book:
The present work is a word-by-word translation, from Samskrit into English, of selected chapters of Valmiki's Ramayana, mainly those chapters relating to the exploits of Hanuman. The aim was to present a complete picture of Hanuman's life as described in Valmiki's Ramayana.
The Ramayana is a celebrated old Indian epic. The greater portion of the Ramayana must have been current in India as early as the fifth century B.C. It was Samskrit language. It describes the life of lord Rama and his purpose on earth, the victory of good over evil. The evil is personified by the demon Ravana who kidnapped Rama's wife Sita and finally gets killed by Rama. In these events the great hero of this epic, the powerful monkey leader Hanuman, renders great help. Even nowadays both these important personalities of the Ramayana, lord Rama and Hanuman, are worshipped at home and in temples all over India.
The present work is especially meant for students with a basic knowledge of Samskrit grammar, and for others interested in refreshing their Samskrit knowledge, to help them to read Samskrit texts on their own.
About the Author:
IRMA SCHOTSMAN (1935) from the Netherlands retired early from her job because of health problems. In 1985 she began studying Samskrit in Kathmandu (Nepal). In 1990 she moved to Varanasi (Benares, India) where she continued her studies. Her word-by-word translation of Asvagosa's Buddhacarita was published in 1995. Her translation of Panditaraja Jagannatha's poem Ganga-lahari with its commentary was published in 1999. The present word-by-word translation of selected chapters on Hanuman in Valmiki's Ramayana and the forthcoming word-by-word translation of certain chapters of the Laghuyogavasistha are especially meant for students with a basic knowledge of Samskrit and for others interested in refreshing their Samskrit knowledge, to help them to read Samskrit texts on their own. However, these translations may also be of benefit to those who do not know Samskrit but are interested in the life of Hanuman and, or, the Yogavasistha philosophy, since it is easy to train the eyes to skip the Samskrit words in the translation so that one reads only the Enlgish.
This work is a word—by-word translation, from Samskrit into English, of selected chapters of Valmiki’s Ramayana, mainly those chapters relating to the exploits of Hanuman. The aim was to present a complete picture of Hanuman’s life as described in Valmiki’s Ramayana. The book is especially meant for students with a basic knowledge of Samskrit grammar, and for others interested in refreshing their Samskrit knowledge, to help them to read Samskrit texts on their own. However, this word—by-word translation may also be of benefit to those who do not know Samskrit but are interested in the life of Hanuman, since it is easy to train the eyes to skip the Samskrit words in the translation so that one reads only the English.
The Ramayana is a celebrated Indian epic about the adventures of lord Rama, and especially his search for Sita. No mention is made of Rama in the Vedas. Because of the absence of allusions to Buddhism, the greater portion of the Ramayana must have been current in India as early as the fifth century B.C. It was compiled by Valmiki in the Samskrit language; the reference in the epic to Yavanas (Greeks) and Sakas (Scythians) suggests that it received accretions in the Graeco—Scythian period and it may have acquired its final shape by about 350 A.D. Valmiki was probably a Brahmin closely connected with the court of Ayodhya who collected the legendary tales related to Rama and arranged them into one great continuous poem. The Ramayana describes the life of lord Rama and his purpose on earth, the victory of good over evil. The evil is personified by the demon Ravana who kidnapped Rama’s wife Sita and finally gets killed by Rama. In the genuine books (second to sixth) Rama is represented as a mortal hero, but in the first and last book, parts of which are interpolated afterwards, Rama is spoken of as divine. Centuries later Rama came to be accepted as the seventh avatara of lord Visnu. The other great hero in this epic is the monkey leader Hanuman. The Ramayana is still read daily in India by many people. (It is usually not recited in the Samskrit language, but mostly the popular, more devotional version, written in the Avadhi language by Tulasidasa about 400 years ago, is chanted.) Even nowadays the two important personalities of the Ramayana, lord Rama and Hanuman, are worshipped at home and in temples all over India. Posters depicting Hanuman carrying a Himalayan mountain with the medicinal herbs are for sale everywhere in India. The great respect people feel for Hanuman is even reflected in the treatment of present—day monkeys, which are expert thieves and sometimes a real nuisance, but remain beyond censure.
The Ramayana as compiled in Samskrit by Valmiki contains about 24,000 verses, of which 4,500 slokas are represented in this word—by-word translation. There are 7 volumes called kandas, viz. l.Balakanda, 2.Ayodhyakanda, 3.Aranyakanda, 4.Kiskindhakanda, 5.Sundarakanda, 6.Yuddhakanda, 7.Uttarakanda. Parts of the first and seventh book are thought to be comparatively modern additions. By selecting only those chapters relating to the acts of Hanuman, the continuity of the story may be lost to the reader; therefore a list of the contents of each chapter of the Kiskindha, Sundara and Yuddhakanda books has been added, and the chapters which have not been translated have been marked with an asterix (*). For the present translation the "Critical Edition of the Ramayana" by Prof. G.H.Bhatt was used. This edition is based on many manuscripts, and was published between 1958 and 1975 in seven volumes by Prof. B.J.Sandesara, the Director, Oriental Institute at Baroda, India. This edition was strongly recommended by Professor Srinarayana Misra, Dean and Head of the Samskrit Department at Banaras Hindu University (Varanasi, India), who also helped me with the correction work. In the different versions of the Ramayana the number of slokas in a chapter often do not tally and even the number of chapters in a volume may vary. The Critical Edition adds a concordance with four other Ramayana versions.
From the first book of the Ramayana, the Balakanda, we have here translated the first chapter, because it gives in short the whole Ramayana story: Narada visits Valmiki’s asrama, and Valmiki asks him whether he can think of a single man in this world blessed with all good qualities. Narada answers this question by telling him all about Rama. In the next chapter Valmiki hears the cry of a kraunca bird, which gives him the idea of using the anustubh metre for writing the Ramayana. Summarizing, the Balakanda thereafter describes the childless king Dasaratha, ruler of Ayodhya, performing a big sacrifice, where after his three wives give birth to four sons. Rama is the eldest, entitled to the throne, and marries Sita.
The second and third books have not been used for the present word- by—word translation. In the second book, the Ayodhyakanda, when preparations are being made for Rama’s coronation, the mother of Bharata reminds king Dasaratha of the two boons given to her, and she now demands that her own son Bharata will be appointed heir to the throne and that Rama will be banished to live in the forest for the next fourteen years. Sita and Rama’s step-brother Laksmana insist on accompanying Rama to the forest. Bharata rules the kingdom while out of respect placing Rama’s sandals in front of the throne. The third volume, Aranyakanda, describes the events in the forest. The rsis complain about being harassed by the Raksasas; Rama promises to destroy them. A Raksasi falls in love with Rama; incensed at this, Rama orders Laksmana to cut off her nose and ears. In retaliation a Raksasa army accosts Rama, who single—handedly kills all 14,000 of them in a battle at Janasthana. Hearing about the killing of his relatives, Ravana, the lord of the Raksasas, takes revenge. Sita sees a beautiful deer, which actually is a Raksasa in disguise, and while Rama is trying to catch that deer for her, Ravana appears and abducts Sita to Lanka. Rama and Laksmana now start their search for Sita.
At the beginning of the fourth volume, Kiskindakanda, Rama and Laksmana are spotted by the anxious Sugriva, the lord of the monkeys arid the bears. In the second chapter Sugriva sends Hanuman as a messenger to them. From here onwards Hanuman starts playing his important role in this epic. Rama and Sugriva reach an agreement, first Rama and Laksmana will help Sugriva by killing his brother Vali and re—installing Sugriva as ruler; thereafter Sugriva with his army of monkeys and bears will help Rama and Laksmana in the search for and recovery of Sita. The chapters translated are indicated in the list of contents. (The chapters connected with Vali have been omitted in the present translation since Hanuman does not figure prominently in those stories; also the chapter in which Hanuman consoles Vali’s widow has been omitted.) The monkey Hanuman is considered the only one able to jump the long distance across the ocean to Lanka to search there for Sita.
The events experienced by Hanuman in Lanka are described in the Sundarakanda, the fifth volume, of which all chapters have been translated. Hanuman finds Sita and meets Ravana, kills many Raksasas, is caught, sets fire to the city of Lanka, and escapes to report news to Rama and Sugriva.
In the sixth volume, Yuddhakanda, many fights are described whereby the Raksasa leaders, one after another, are eliminated. Several chapters have been translated, as indicated in the list of contents. All those chapters which pertain to Hanuman have been selected, except chapter 29, 60, 62, 76, 78, and 79 in which Hanuman’s name appears only once or twice. A few chapters, most relevant to the main story though not mentioning Hanuman, have been included in this translation, for example the final fighting between Rama and Ravana, the reunion with Sita, the fire ritual, and the arrival at Ayodhya where Rama is offered the throne which was temporarily occupied by his step-brother Bharata.
The seventh and last book, Uttarakanda, describes the history of Rama and Sita after their reunion and installation as king and queen of Ayodhya. Since these chapters are thought to be later additions, only two of them, those which give an account of Hanuman’s birth, childhood, and the explanation how he became so powerful due to boons received from several gods, have been translated. These stories about Hanuman are still very popular in India and told with great love and affection.
I have tried as far as possible to use the translations of words as given in "The practical Sanskrit English Dictionary" by V.S. Apte and "A Sanskrit English Dictionary" by Sir Monier Monier Williams (both reprinted by Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi. India). This word—by-word translation aims at being as literal as possible, using simple English expressions, especially in view of those students for whom not only Samskrit but also English is a foreign language. It is unavoidable that at times literary grace is sacrificed. The compounded Samskrit words are shown in their uncompounded state. The transliteration of Samskrit names into English is always a problem. For example in several translations the stem Hanumat is used, whereas in other places the nominative singular form Hanuman is preferred. I have always spelt Hanuman’s name with a short ‘u’, though in this Samskrit text the name of Hanuman is sometimes written with a long ‘E’, to suit the metre, but much more often with a short ‘u’; both Samskrit words ‘raksas’ and ‘raksasa’ have been translated as Raksasa, plural Raksasas (feminine Raksasi, plural Raksasis); both words ‘apsara' and ‘apsaras’ have been translated as ‘Apsara’, plural ‘Apsaras’. The stories have no headings, because in Samskrit texts the "heading" of a story is always mentioned at the end, not at the beginning; since the name of the book and the number of the chapter is given at the very top of every page this should not cause any problem.
In the summer of 1996 in the Netherlands I started with the translation of the whole Sundarakanda volume, and the next winter in Varanasi, a holy place in India abundant with small and bigger temples in honour of Hanuman, Professor Srinarayana Misra helped me with the correction work. We used the commentaries included in "The Ramayana of Valmiki", edited by Shastri Shrinivasa Katti Modholakara (reprinted by Parimal Publications, Delhi, 1991). Thereafter, because of a special affinity I feel for Hanuman, I decided to translate all other chapters relating to Hanuman from Valmiki’s Ramayana, so that readers may get a more complete picture of Hanuman. The chapters, selected from Balakanda, Kiskindhakanda, Yuddhakanda and Uttarakanda, have been translated in the Netherlands in the summer of 1997, and during the following winter in Varanasi Professor Srinarayana Misra again helped me with the correction work, so that by spring 1998 most of the actual translation work had been completed.
I feel much gratitude to Professor Srinarayana Misra for his generous help, advice and patience during the many hours we set together working on this beautiful text.
In 1961 I visited India for the first time, and at that time, of all representations of gods and goddesses which I saw, Hanuman’s form always appealed to me the most, in whatever form, even if it had become reduced to a red-painted stone without any recognizable physical characteristics. Later on, when I started making Samskrit translations, I felt this obligation to make a book in honour of Hanuman. It took some time before I had collected enough courage to start this big text but it has been a real pleasure for me to work on these Ramayana stories describing Hanuman’s life, and I hope many readers will enjoy Hanuman’s exploits and find this word-by-word translation useful and beneficial.
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