Indians have held Rama to be the perfect man: unfailingly noble, utterly poised,
fearless and strong, wise, compassionate and free from anger, a just ruler and
an implacable foe of all wrongdoers. Countless others worship Rama as an avatar,
a human incarnation of Lord Vishnu born to vanquish the forces of evil and
establish a kingdom of perfect justice and harmony upon the earth. The Ramayana,
one of lndia's greatest epics, lovingly unfolds the story of Rama's life. Ever
since its original composition in Sanskrit by Vaimiki—possibly over 3,000 years
ago—it has grown to be an all-pervasive and hugely-loved part of Indian life and
ethos. Millions read it, re-read it, and revere it as a scripture. It is the perennially favourite bedtime story for children. And each autumn, Rama's
victory over the mighty demon-king Ravana is celebrated through plays and
dance-dramas in cities, towns and villages across the land. There is much
festivity: crackers are exploded, sweets distributed and all houses are lit up in
tribute to Rama.
Ramayana is inspired by a Tamil-version of the epic written by an eleventh
century poet, Kamban. It offers the reader a compact yet unhurried retelling of
this great epic, and succeeds marvellously in evoking its literary lustre which
has shone undimmed through the centuries.
"An enjoyable retelling ... the main story line comes out very well" — Joseph Campbell
"His appeal is timeless and very, very great" — Time Out
"A voice of great distinction ..., Narayan is a trustworthy guide to the heart and mind of India." — Sunday Times, London
R. K. Narayan was born in Madras in south India and educated in Mysore which had also been his home for over half-a-century now. Narayan
was one of India's most distinguished writers at work today. Through his several novels and short stories, he had created the enchanting fictional world of Malgudi which has captivated his readers throughout the world and, more recently, millions of Indian television viewers who saw TV adaptations of several of his Malgudi stories.
Narayan's books are regularly published in USA, UK and India and have also been widely translated into several European and Indian languages. His novel
The Guide (1958) won the Sahitya Akademi Award, India's highest literary honour. In 1980, Narayan was awarded the A.C. Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature and in 1982 he was made an Honorary Member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1986, he was nominated for a 6-year term to Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Indian Parliament in recognition of his outstanding literary stature.
Apart from The Mahabharata, Narayan had also retold the other great Indian epic
The Ramayana, as well as a selection of Indian legends in Gods, Demons and Others.