The Ramayana and the Mahabharata Retold in Modern English Prose (Annotated)


Originally published in 1913 as a portion of the author’s larger “The Book of Epic,” and equivalent in length to a physical book of approximately 60 pages, this Kindle edition retells, in plain English, the stories of the two great Indian epic poems, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

The original Ramayana, which contains 24,000 verses, was written almost entirely by one author, the poet Valmiki (ca. 400 B.C.). The poem tells in detail the history of Rama, son of Dasaratha, king of Oude, and his successful conflict with Ravana, king of demons, who dwelt in Lanka.

The original Mahabharata, meaning literally “the great history of the descendants of Bharata,” consists of 110,000 couplets. It is divided into eighteen books and primarily narrates the history of the war between the Kurus and the Pandavs for the possession of the ancient kingdom of Bharata. The authorship of the epic is attributed to Vyasa, “the stranger,” but this simply means that the contents were welded together with a certain order and sequence so as to form one work.

Includes supplemental material:

• About the Ramayana
• About the Mahabharata

Sample passages:
(from the Ramayana) When the four bridal couples returned to Oude, Rama’s father decided to name his eldest son assistant king, and therefore gave orders to prepare for the ceremony. The mere rumor that Rama was about to be crowned aroused the jealousy of the king’s youngest wife, Kaikeyi, who, instigated by an evil-minded, hunchbacked maid, sent for her aged spouse and reminded him how once, when he was ill, he had promised in return for her care to grant any two [wishes] she asked. The infatuated monarch, seeing her grief, rashly renewed this promise, swearing to keep it by Rama’s head.

(from the Mahabharata) Beneath a golden canopy, seated on jeweled thrones, the Pandav found his blind uncle and cousins, but failed to discern any trace of his brothers or Draupadi. He, therefore, refusing to remain, begged Indra’s permission to share their fate in hell; so a radiant messenger was sent to guide him along a road paved with upturned razor edges, which passed through a dense forest whose leaves were thorns and swords. Along this frightful road the Pandav toiled, with cut and mangled feet, until he reached the place of burning, where he beheld Draupadi and his brothers writhing in the flames.

About the Author:
Helene A. Guerber brings literature and history to life. She is the author of numerous books, including “The Story of the Greeks,” “Stories of Shakespeare’s Tragedies,” and “The Story of the Thirteen Colonies.”

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