This publication is really a combination of two books on the RAMAYANA.
Book I is an abridgement of the Sanskrit verses of the 68 cantoes of Sundara Kandam of Valmiki Ramayana with a transcription in Tamil and a translation in English. A synopsis in English precedes each canto which contains some comments and also refers to important slokas and the philosophical concepts underlying some of the verses along
with relevant citations from other Tamil, Sanskrit and Hindi literature. This will be a handy volume for a daily parayanam of
the Sundara Kandam.
Book II is a "veritable treasure trove of information on some special aspects through 42 carefully selected diverse topics that will inform the reader not only about the epic but the many questions that arise in the minds of not only the lay persons but serious readers as well'. This will provoke interest for a detailed academic and analytical study of the Epic.
The Bibiography at the end draws attention to several publications that have inspired the author and will be of
help to those who would like to make a deeper study of like topics of interest in the Epic.
S. RANGANATHAN, born in Channai had his enrolled as an advocate of the Madras High Court in 1952 and the Incometax Appellate Tribunal as a Judicial Member in 1964 and, in course of time, became its President. He was elevated as Judge of the Delhi High Court in 1977 and then as a Judge of the Supreme Court in 1987. After retirement from the Supreme Court, he was a Member of the Law Commission of India and the Authority for Advance Rulings till 1997.
Apart from participation in several seminars and meeting in the legal discipline, he has authored two books: on e as the Revising Editor of two editions of “Sampath lyengar Law of Income tax” and the other a book on “Five Decades of the Indian Constitution” and two monographs on “Corporate Taxation in India” and “Taxation of Interest under the Income Tax Law”. In the Field of Sanskrit, Megha-Dutam and the Shri Hamsa Sandeshah-A parallel study has been published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. This is the second book in this field.
The Vedas, Upanishads along with the ltihasas (history) and Puranas formed the bedrock of Indian Civilisation both in the religious and temporal spheres as these laid down the basic tenets governing the life of an individual however high or low in station. The touchstone against which every action was judged was the one tenet, namely 'dharma' or righteousness. It is therefore no wonder that the two histories that dominated the discourse were the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as they told the story of the Supreme Lord born among mortals to protect the weak from the clutches of the wicked and uphold Dharma.
Of these, Ramayana or the story of Rama, the quintessential man of righteous conduct created such profound impression that generation after generation people have heard it told to them while young and have avidly read it later in their life, as the epic, written in Sanskrit by Sage Va1miki who had seen it all happen, had been retold practically in every Indian language. It is one of the sacred books of the adherents Santana Dharma and the recital of the whole of it is considered auspicious. Those who cannot recite the whole take up the
recital of Sundara Khanda, the Canto that recalls the search for the demon - abducted Mata Seetha and the exploits of Hanuman, the Parama Bhagavata, and his success in finding her and taking that glad tidings to Lord Rama. The author has taken upon himself the task of making that recitation easy by abridging it while still maintaining the fidelity to the contents of Valmiki' s original rendition.
There are however many other noteworthy aspects of his effort. Firstly he has tried to enhance the experience for the reader by providing Tamil transcription which will help those who are not familiar with Devanagari script. Second, the English translation of selected verses should be helpful in understanding the meaning while reciting. Thirdly brief sketch of the contents of each canto will make the reader better informed. But beyond all these if there is a unique feature, it is in Book II which is a veritable treasure trove of information on some special aspects through 42 carefully selected diverse topics that will inform the reader not only about the epic but the many questions that arise in the minds of not only the lay persons but serious readers as well. The effort put in by the author in this task is amazing to say the least as the bibliography indicates his wide reading, and his concise rendering of the many sources he has consulted is a witness not only to his judicial training with its questioning mind and eye for details, but also to his overwhelming concern to enhance the knowledge and experience for the reader. That the author, a retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India, has undertaken this task and has completed it successfully while in the 9th decade of his life, is a tribute to his deep and abiding interest in the epic as also to his tenacity. I am thankful to the author for giving me the honour to write the Foreword for this unique book.
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