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Valmiki composed his historical epic, the Ramayana, which means Rama’s journey, thousands of years ago as a contemporaneous biography of an exceptional man. The description of Rama’s exemplary life comprises six books and an epilogue, further divided into 500 cantos, containing 24,000 Sanskrit verses called shlokas. It is also called “adikavya,” the oldest piece of ancient poetic literature, and therefore part of world heritage, like the Taj Mahal or the Pyramids.
Rama’s laudable story has lived on for millennia in the hearts of millions, memorized and passed down from one generation to the next before it was finally put to writing. Although the narrative is ancient, it has endured the passage of time and continues to be read today in many languages. The gripping story depicts the achievements of one of humanity’s greatest ancestors. More important, however, Rama’s spiritual approach to hardship illustrates timeless values irrespective of race or religion that are as pertinent today as they were in the past.
This rendition is not a translation. Nonetheless, I have endeavored to retain the original flavor of the text with the readability of an abridged version. My goal was to share the essence of Valmiki’s fascinating masterpiece with a world audience in simple English so that anyone can enjoy it, whether aged nine or ninety-nine.