Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas: Best English Translations

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The ideas of Hinduism as not only a religion but a way of life, a guide to having a better and more fulfilling existence have been popular among its followers for a long time. Through cultural exchanges and trade contacts, Hindu religious thoughts, art, and practices have traveled far and wide where they have gained a vast followership. In modern times, when the divine path of Hinduism is becoming even more popular and significant, the seminal texts of the Hindu faith have a vital role in its dissemination. These texts interact with the enthusiastic and knowledge-seeking reader and lead them into the enlightened world of ancient Indian culture. Exotic India Art is here with a list of some of the best English translations of important Hindu religious books, which can be used by anyone who wishes to learn and practice the ways of Hindu life and thought.

  1. The Ramayana


Sri Rama’s life, his journey from Ayodhya to Lanka and back, and the various episodes around that are of the utmost importance in the life of a Hindu. The Ramayana written by Maharishi Valmiki and later retold in various Indian languages serves as a handbook for a Hindu who reads and listens to the text to gain insights into a life well-led. The Srimad Valmiki Ramayana from Gita Press Gorakhpur in English comes as a two-volume book set, with lucid translation while keeping the sacred words of the texts intact. For anyone who wishes to drench in the sweetness of Sri Rama’s life story, this translation of the Ramayana is an excellent choice.

2. The Mahabharata

The second part of ancient Indian epic literature, the Mahabharata is also central to Hindu culture as a text that leaves no human emotion untouched. Divine and human characters are placed in a powerful literary setting in the Mahabharata, to narrate one of the most impressive stories the world has ever heard. Including the celestial message of Sri Krishna- the Gita, Mahabharata is a pious book of Hinduism. A set of 10 volumes by Penguin Books India, translated by Bibek Debroy is a brilliant English translation of the Mahabharata. The huge size of the translation ensures that the mighty epic is not reduced in terms of its literary and spiritual beauty while presenting to the audience a readable version of the text.

3. Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurana

One of the most important and widely read Mahapurana, Srimad Bhagavata is at the base of Hindu devotional practices and life. The “Paath” or reading of Bhagavata and “shruti” or listening to the Purana are believed to yield great results, which is why the Purana is often read in front of an audience and also by individuals at home seeking knowledge and grace of god. Gita Press Gorakhpur in a two-volume English translation of Srimad Bhagavata provides the reader with the original Sanskrit text and its translation for a wonderful reading experience. Containing classic details on Sri Vishnu, his various incarnations, and philosophies of Hinduism, the Bhagavata Purana’s English translation is any reader’s chance to witness the expansiveness of Hindu wisdom. 

4. The Shiva Purana

Lord Shiva, the powerful Mahadeva and a member of the Hindu Trideva (trinity) are one of the most widely revered Hindu deities in the world. His paradoxical nature as a householder and Yogi (ascetic) stirs devotion and curiosity in people across the globe who seeks to find relevant and authentic sources to know more about the great god. Answers to these numerous queries can be found in Motilal Banarasidas Publisher’s translation of the Shiva Mahapurana, in a 4 volume set. Complied using reliable sources and eloquent language, this translation of the Shiva Purana is the one to be read if you are looking to understand Shiva’s cosmic powers and his impact on Hindu culture.

5. Srimad Devi Bhagavatam

Along with Vishnu and Shiva, a divinity who has ruled the religious world of Hinduism is Shakti- the primordial great goddess, who is the manifestation of the combined powers of all gods. Goddess’ various forms as Durga, Kali, Saraswati, and Lakshmi, her warring aspects as Chandi, Tara, Bagalamukhi, Chinnamasta, Dhumavati and, her benign aspects as Uma-Parvati, Shakambhari, Ambika, and Jagadamba are worshipped in different states of India, in the national and regional festival and daily. These ideas and practices around the mother goddess owe their origin to the Srimad Devi Bhagavatam, a seminal text of the tradition of the goddesses or Shakta sampradaya. The best English translation of Srimad Devi Bhagavat can be found in the two-volume set published by Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan. Those who pursue knowledge of Hinduism’s thoughts on the worship of the great feminine or Shakti should give this English translation an in-depth read to enhance their awareness of this complex theme.

The five English translations mentioned here are some of the most popular and sacred texts of Hinduism. Devotees not only use these books to evoke and worship the gods and goddesses, but they worship these texts as divine symbols of supreme wisdom. With the laborious dedication of experts, translators, and publishers these English translations have been prepared to make the divine wisdom accessible to everyone who wishes to learn from it. To find these complete, unabridged translations of Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Puranas along with thousands of books on Hinduism and Indian culture and heritage translated into English and other languages, visit Exotic India Art and get in touch with the ancient insights of India.

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