The ramayana is one of the great Hindu epics. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu literature. The ramayana is one of the two great epics of Hinduism, the other being the Mahabharata. It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife and the ideal king. The name ramayana is a tatpurusha compound of Rama and ayana ("going, advancing"), translating to "Rama's Journey". The ramayana consists of 24,000 verses in seven books and 500 cantos, and tells the story of rama (an avatar of the Hindu supreme-god Vishnu), whose wife Sita is abducted by Ravan, the king of Lanka. Thematically, the ramayana explores human values and the concept of dharma.
Verses in the ramayana are written in a 32-syllable meter called anustubh. The ramayana was an important influence on later Sanskrit poetry and Hindu life and culture. Like the mahabharata, the ramayana is not just a story: it presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages (Vedas) in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and devotional elements. The characters Rama, Sita, Lakshman, Bharata, Hanuman and Ravana are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India, Nepal, and many south-east Asian countries such as Thailand and Indonesia.
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. Besides its epic narrative of the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pandava princes, the Mahabharata contains much philosophical and devotional material, such as a discussion of the four "goals of life" or purusharthas. Among the principal works and stories that are a part of the Mahabharata are the Bhagavad Gita, the story of Damayanti, an abbreviated version of the Ramayana, and the Rishyasringa, often considered as works in their own right.
Traditionally, the authorship of the Mahabharata is attributed to Vyasa. There have been many attempts to unravel its historical growth and compositional layers. The oldest preserved parts of the text are thought to be not much older than around 400 BCE, though the origins of the epic probably fall between the 8th and 9th centuries BCE. The text probably reached its final form by the early Gupta period (c. 4th century). The title may be translated as "the great tale of the Bhārata dynasty". According to the Mahabharata itself, the tale is extended from a shorter version of 24,000 verses called simply Bhārata.
This is an abridged verse translation of the two longest epic poems in world literature, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. This translation is surprisingly readable and very moving once you get used to the rhymed couplet format. This also serves as an ideal introduction to the sprawling plots of these epic tales.
Book 01: The Bridal of Sita
Book 02: The Banishment
Book 03: The Death of the King
Book 04: The Meeting of the Princes
Book 05: On the Banks of the Godavari
Book 06: Sita Lost
Book 07: In the Nilgiri Mountains
Book 08: Sita Discovered
Book 09: The Council of War
Book 10: The War in Ceylon
Book 11: Rama's Return and Consecration
Book 12: Sacrifice of the Horse
Book 13: The Tournament
Book 14: The Bride's Choice
Book 15: The Imperial Sacrifice
Book 16: The Fatal Dice
Book 17: Woman's Love
Book 18: Cattle-Lifting
Book 19: The Council of War
Book 20: Fall of Bhishma
Book 21: Fall of Drona
Book 22: Fall of Karna
Book 23: Funeral Rites
Book 24: Sacrifice of the Horse