rāmāyaṇam

Rama's Journey

The Ramayana is an ancient poem that has delighted readers the world over for millennia. Its influence on poetry, religion, and art is profound, and it plays a foundational role not only in India but throughout the many cultures of South and Southeast Asia.

This series tells the Ramayana from the beginning. Our first book can be read by complete beginners, and each book afterward gets a little closer to the language and style of the original Ramayana.

The world of the Ramayana is a world of gods and demons, powerful sages, sacred rituals, divine weapons, and supernatural power. But the core story is universal and transcends time and culture.

bāla­kāṇḍaḥ

— Childhood —

King Dasharatha of Ayodhya conducts a sacrifice to the gods for an heir. By the power of the god Vishnu, Dasharatha has four sons, the eldest of whom is Rama. Rama marries Sita, the princess of Mithila.

ayodhyā­kāṇḍaḥ

— Ayodhya —

Rama and Sita live happily in Ayodhya. But when Dasharatha names Rama as the next king, Dasharatha's wife Kaikeyi forces Rama into exile in the Dandaka Forest. Rama leaves with Sita and his brother Lakshmana.

araṇya­kāṇḍaḥ

— The Forest —

Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana live happily in their new forest home. But Sita is seen by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. Overcome with desire, Ravana abducts her and returns to Lanka.

kiṣkindha­kāṇḍaḥ

— Kishkindha —

In search of Sita, Rama and Lakshmana become friends with Sugriva and Hanuman, exiles from the monkey kingdom of Kishkindha. Rama establishes Sugriva as king of Kishkindha, and Hanuman learns that Sita is in Lanka.

sundara­kāṇḍaḥ

— Hanuman —

Hanuman leaps across the ocean and finds Sita in Lanka. He promises her that Rama is coming soon to free her. After wreaking havoc in Lanka and letting Ravana know that Rama is coming, Hanuman returns to the search party.

yuddha­kāṇḍaḥ

— War —

Rama and his army of friends and allies makes the long journey to Lanka. After an intense battle, Rama slays Ravana and reunites with Sita. The search party goes its separate ways, and Rama returns to Ayodhya to rule as king.

uttara­kāṇḍaḥ

— The Final Chapter —

(Many versions of the Ramayana do not include this chapter.)

Rumors about Sita start to spread, and Rama is forced to exile Sita from Ayodhya. Rama and Sita eventually reunite, but Sita soon disappears for good. After a long reign as king, Rama dies.