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Lectures on The Ramayana

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Item Code: NAL618
Author: V.S. Srinivasa Sastri
Publisher: The Samskrita Academy, Chennai
Language: Sanskrit Text With English Translation
Edition: 2013
Pages: 505
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Weight 680 gm
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Book Description

The first edition of the Ramayana lectures delivered by the Rt. Hon'ble V.S. Srinivasa Sastri was published in the year 1949 with a Foreword written by Sri T.R. Venkatarama Sastri. The analytical summary of the lectures was pepared by Sri R. Narayana Aiyar, I.C.S. (Retd.), a great critical scholar of the Ramayana; and he had also provided the index, cross-references and errata. The book was in great demand, especially, as these lectures were given by the Rt, Hon'ble V.S. Srinivasa Sastri, one of our greatest orators and an elder statesman who, during his life time, had often referred to the Ramayana as a book that influenced him most.

The Publishers are the well-known firm of Mr. S. Viswanathan, the Central Art Press, Madras. All the copies of the first edition were sold out. The Publishers have very kindly entered into an agreement with the Samskrit Academy under whose auspices the lectures were delivered and to whom the copyright was given. The second edition of the book had therefore to be published in the year 1952. All the copies of the second edition were also sold out and, as there is still heavy demand for the book by the reading public, the third edition has now been published by the Central Art Press. In the meantime much to our regret the proprietor of the Central Art Press passed away and the Press is now being run by Mrs. Anandam Viswanathan. She has very kindly agreed to print and publish this edition on the same terms as before.

The Academy is very greatful to her for undertaking this publication.

No words are necessary to commend this book to all lovers of our culture. The Ramayana is our great national epic and the author of these lectures is one of the greatest sons of India whose command of the English language and the mastery of the subject dealt with are unrivalled.


This volume is a collection of thirty discourses on the Ramayana by the Right Honourable Srinivasa Sastri delivered at the Samskrit Academy in 1944. They evoked great interest and were attended by a large number of persons from all parts of the City. There was a keen desire that they should be published in book-form and funds were contributed on the very day that these discourses were brought to a close. Publication was unavoidably delayed. There have been inquiries even from outside the Presidency as to when they will be published. Now at last they are published in this volume.

Mahatma Gandhi, when he was last in Madras, saw Mr. Sastri at the General Hospital and at the end of an interesting talk which turned on the Ramayana asked Mr. Sastri to put down his ideas in writing for the instruction of the public. When last I saw Gandhiji at Delhi he inquired when these lectures would be published. If he had been alive today, he would have gladly undertaken to write a Foreword to this volume. Now that neither he nor the author is alive, this volume may well go forth and deliver its message without Foreword or Introduction. But usage will not be denied and I have been asked to write a Foreword to the volume and I have undertaken this supererogatory task, persuading myself that it would be an act of piety towards one whom I held in great respect, and not without a desire to attain this lightly-won immortality of association with a book embodying so eminently pious a series of discourses on our Immortal Epic.

Having ventured to call these discourses pious, I am reminded of the hurt that they caused to some devout persons by their professed object of presenting Sri Rama in a purely human aspect, ignoring His place among the Great Avatars or Incarnations. I hope I shall not be deemed to be repeating the offence by putting he question whether there is nothing to be gained by studying the Epic as a human document rather than as a religious text-book. The author of The Ramayana puts in the mouth of his Divine Hero the words "Atmanam manusham manye," suggesting that according to himself his conduct was that of a human being desirous of acting conformably to the highest ideals of Dharma or the best traditions of his time. His example is of value to common men, not to be put aside as that of one who stood on a plane all his own and to be judged by other than human standards. The lessons of his life are available as much to those who do not accept his Divinity as to those who accept him as such.

To those who were present at these discourses and watched the lecturer's emotional breakdowns on occasions, it must have been obvious that Sastri was not without the reverence that is of the substance of religion, though it might not have satisfied orthodox standards of faith.

The commentators have struggled with the texts which pulled them one way and their own conception of what would be appropriate in an omniscient Divinity which pulled them another way, the conception of Godhead every time prevailing over the obvious meaning of the texts. It is worth noticing that Valmiki's sense of piety was not shocked by making the Hero say that he could not distinguish Vali from Sugriva at their first encounter or that he considered himself only as a human being. Orthodoxy might also reflect that if Divinity could exercise its omnipotence without employing human agency for its ends, incarnations would be unnecessary and we should not have had an Epic of heroic life to instruct and chasten the hearts of men. It is by assuming the human form and associating with erring humanity that God confers the choicest benefits on the world of men by precept and by example. It may also be added that the boon secured by Ravana that he should receive no hurt from all those other than mere mortals of whom he was not afraid had to be upheld by the Highest taking the human form before the Evil that was Ravana could be destroyed.

It is well known that particular incidents in the story of his life have been subjected to criticism as not coming up to the highest standards as conceived by the critics and the commentators have laboured to answer all such criticisms in their commentaries. To my mind even these criticisms are not wholly purposeless. Even orthodoxy at times is inclined to agree with the critics. To give but one illustration, there is the treatment by Rama to Sita which no pious person has approved and I have seen tears roll down the cheeks of devotees of Rama at the cruel words of Rama addressed to her in the Yuddha kanda.

While Rama's divine nature is to all devout Hindus an unquestionable fact, the chastening effect of the Epic on the minds of men comes out of the study of it as the unfolding of the drama of the highest human life. So at any rate it seems to me.

I dare say these discourses will be subjected to criticism, even as the Ramayana itself has been even before the age of the most ancient commentators. I should welcome all such discussions as educative and useful.


Preface v
  Analytical Summary of Contents i-xxxii
I Exordium 1
II Landmarks in the Main story of the Ramayana 13
IV Lakshmana Concluded 26
V Duodenal UlcerRama - Introduction 37
VI Rama Continued 54
VII Rama Continued 68
VIII Rama Continued 82
IX Rama Continued 94
X Rama Continued 103
Rama Continued-The Vali Episode
XII Rama Continued-The Repudiation of Sita 139
XIII Bharata 160
XIV Sugriva 183
XV Vibhishana 207
XVI Vibhishana Concluded. Hanuman 220
XVII Vibhishana Concluded Hanuman 244
XVIII Hanuman Continued 256
XIX Hanuman Continued - the exploits of Hanuman 267
XX Hanuman continued 277
XXI Hanuman Concluded 291
XXI Ravana 306
Ravana Continuedv- His Ability
XXV Ravana concluded Sita 326
XXIV Ravana continued - His Relations with Women 351
XXVI Sita Continued 368
XXVII Sita concluded 388
XXVII Kaikeyi 409
XXIX Kausalya and Sumitra 437
XXX Pattabhisheka Epilogue 458
  Index 469
  Cross References 475

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