6 Essential Books on the Ramayana

Lord Hanuman with Ram and Sita, depicting an episode from Ramayana, Sigtia haveli, around 1880).
Pramod R. Mistry / Getty Images

The Ramayana, written over 2,000 years ago, never fails to capture our mind and spirit with its stunning stories and moral lessons. Its profound influence on Hinduism and Indian culture is everlasting. Reading and re-reading the Ramayana can be a rewarding experience for people of all ages at all times. Here is a selection of transliterations and interpretations of this remarkable epic.

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"The Ramayana," by R. K. Narayan

In this 'Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic' from Penguin, master novelist RK Narayan, drawing inspiration from the work of the 11th century Tamil Poet Kamban, recreates the thrill of the original epic, which, he suggests, can be enjoyed for its psychological insight, spiritual depth, practical wisdom, or just as a wonderful tale of deities and demons.

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"A Tale of Gods and Demons: Ramayana," by R Prime

This illustrated version of Ramayana depicts the events of the epic, drawing on the traditional styles of Kangra, Kishangarh, and Moghal art. Beautifully visualized by B. G. Sharma, the exciting adventures of Rama spring forth to life. It never fails to transport you to that golden era, and help you gain a rich experience.

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"The Song of Rama," by Vanamali

The beautiful prose of this edition of Ramayana has the power to move you to tears and make you feel ecstatic. The spirituality beneath the story comes to surface and touches the reader with a certain sense of wonder just as the sage poet Valmiki's Sanskrit couplets do.

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"Ramayana," by Krishna Dharma

A novelized version of the Hindu classic, this retelling by Krishna Dharma, a Vaishnava priest and translator of Sanskrit writings, is meant for Western readers and serves well for academic purposes.

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"Ramayana," by William Buck, S Triest (Illustrator)

Another illustrated retelling of the story of Rama in a length and manner suitable for the contemporary Western reader. Buck, who died in 1970 at the age of 37, preserves the spirit of the original, and narrates the story with "all the elan of a Tolkien."

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"Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God," by Jonah Blank

This unique approach to the Ramayana is more than a mere retelling of the epic. It's a cultural and political analysis of India from its mythological past to its mundane present. Retracing the footsteps of Rama across the subcontinent, its journalist-anthropologist author examines various aspects of the Hindu way of life, with insight and humor, while focusing on the epic's narrative.

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Das, Subhamoy. "6 Essential Books on the Ramayana." Learn Religions, Sep. 10, 2021, learnreligions.com/essential-books-on-the-ramayana-4590152. Das, Subhamoy. (2021, September 10). 6 Essential Books on the Ramayana. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/essential-books-on-the-ramayana-4590152 Das, Subhamoy. "6 Essential Books on the Ramayana." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/essential-books-on-the-ramayana-4590152 (accessed February 1, 2023).