Originally written in Sanskrit in the 4th century by Valmiki, there have been countless versions written since. Narayan drew on the work of the 11th century version written by Kamban to write a piece that was shorter and more accessible since the original is over 1000 verses long. The Ramayana is an epic tale known to almost everyone in India.
Rama was a prince and when his father felt it was time to retire and enjoy what remained of his life, he chose Rama to succeed him but one of his other wives called in a favor he had given her for saving his life and insisted that her son be named as his successor instead and that Rama be banished to the woods for 14 years. Rama as a dutiful son will not hear of his father going back on his word and departs immediately accompanied by his wife, Sita, and another brother, Laxman. While they live in the woods, a demon falls in love with Sita and steals her away. Rama is completely distraught and searches high and low for her. Eventually, she is found and Rama dispatches the demon with honor just in time for him to return home and claim his throne from his brother who would only accept being temporary ruler during Rama's absence because of his own mother's wickedness.
I really enjoyed the tale but I will state that I'm glad this version apparently glossed over the tests that Sita was put through to prove her purity and loyalness to Rama while she was held captive. Just hearing about it briefly in the forward bugged me a lot. I found some of the morals that Rama was upholding to be an interesting look at what was important during that time in that place and I find it fascinating that the whole epic is still given so much life today. I'm actually planning to try and find a tv or movie version and see it performed live.
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