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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This book would not have seen the light had my distinguished friend, Mr V S Ramamurthy
(who, I later discovered to my delight, was born in the sam e village as K am ban), not
collaborated w ith me in the initial stages. For over a year, R am am urthy w ent through
stanza by stanza of K am ban's epic and made notes of possible English equivalents,
making my work that much easier. I must thank Mrs D Maheswari and M r S Ganapathy
for patiently typing and retyping my w ork as it progressed.

By graciously blessing my effort, His H oliness Jayendra Sarasw ati of Kanchi has
done me a great honour.

I am th an kfu l to Ju stic e M M Ism a il, w h o in a w ay inspired me w ay b ack in


1986 to take up this w ork, for his lucid Forew ord. I am beh old en to m y good friend,
M r M N allaperum al, who constantly encouraged me during 1990-1993 to continue
with m y w ork and com plete it. Prof S Ramaswamy, a nonagenarian w ho w as H ead
of the English D epartm ent in Presidency College during the sixties, did m e the favour
of going through the final copy. To him I am indebted.

I am ever grateful to Mr S Ram akrishnan of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan for going
through m y m anuscript and agreeing to publish it, and for rather insisting that it be
read and edited by M rs Kam ala Chandrakant. She tirelessly and doggedly scanned
every w ord of my m anuscript, corrected and pruned the copy and, firm ly but gently,
often sent me back to Kam ban to recheck my English rendering w ith his Tamil
original, for accuracy, authenticity and artistry. I acknow ledge w ith adm iration her
professional skills and how useful they are to a writer.

I m ust also thank M r K S Venkataram an for his total involvem ent w ith the
m anuscript w hile he com posed and designed the book and M r V Subram anian w ho
has done an excellent print job. I owe my thanks to Mr M Shrinivas Shetty for
preparing the form at of this book, and to M rs Lalitha Tyagarajan and M r J M enon
(Sanka G raphics) for the cover design.

Last but not least, I thank Shanti, my wife, Krishna and Vishw anath, m y sons, and
Siddharth, m y grandson, for their encouragem ent and support.

H V HANDE
Chennai
October, 1996.
GENERAL INTRODUCTION

Salutations and adorations to Adikavi Valmeeki, Kavicakravarti Kamban (9th century),


Sant Sahitya Shiropatra Tulasidas (16th century) and the grand, endless procession of
poet-saints of M other India!

"Dharma (Aram) leads to w ell-being here and hereafter, declared an ancient sage.
This for the individual. W hen it com es to a nation, too, it is dharm a that holds it
together. No one can deny that for both, individual and national w elfare, people at all
levels should adhere to dharma or right conduct, a concept w hich springs from the
very Vedas. However, our com passionate sages realised that dharm a, as propounded
in the Vedas, was too abstruse for laym en to com prehend and practise. So they created
w orks in w hich the main characters exem plified dharma. Sage V alm eeki's epic poem ,
Ramayana, is one such great work. Presented in a delectable literary form, his Sanskrit
epic of 24,000 verses is a practical guide to dharma. It also delineates the consequences
of follow ing dharm a, and of transgressing it. H ence reading it and listening to
discourses on it, are a m eans to learning the lessons of right conduct. M ore than any
law there is a w ell-know n saying that w e cannot legislate a people into m orality
it is this epic that has shaped the ethos of a large m ajority of Indians. Therefore any
effort to revive the study o f the epic, is a positive m easure towards strengthening the
moral fibre o f the nation. For this important reason Dr H V Hande's English prose
rendering o f Kamban's Ramayanam fo r those who do not know Tamil, deserves all
praise.

Sage Valm eeki, in his quest for the ideal protagonist, goes to the om niscient sage,
N arada. N arada gives him a short account of the story of Ram a. The hero has to be
hum an; or else of w hat use will the standards he sets for him self be to the com m on
man? Rama him self says in the Rjdmdyana, "I consider myself to be a hum an being."
Valmeeki performs the miracle of casting the Infinite in the role of the finite, of squeezing