It is indeed surprising that Ram Charit Manas, the beautiful poetic rendering of Ramayana by Tulsi Das has not ever been translated into English. That’s one of the first thoughts that occur when one reads the introduction of the author Satya Dev to his book Tulsi Ramayan in English Verse. He took 15 years to complete this monumental task. “A tender but firm invisible hand nudged me into achieving for myself internal joy and peace,” Satya Dev says.
The verses have been set to rhyme and hence should yield to rhythm. For instance, one of the most beautiful chapters in Ramayana, the marriage of Ram and Sita reads like this:
“He eyed Janaki, so considering in her heart,
The Lord enrapture, finding great love on her part.
In heart of hearts to the Guru, He offered salute,
Picked up the bow, with deftness of repute.
When lifted, it flashed like lightning’s norm,
Then in sky, the bow made a circular form.
Then to lift, string and also drawing deeply,
None could notice, all saw Him stand only.
That very moment, Raam broke the bow in the middle,
All spheres filled with crashing sound terrible.”
The verse describes how in a blink of a moment, with ease, the Lord lifted the bow and in the process of stringing broke it. The scenes of joy that followed are also described with great enthusiasm.
One of the most touching moments in the epic is Sumitra’s words of parting to Lakshman. She says:
“O’ My dear son! Vaidehi is your mother,
And every way loving Raam, like your father.
Your Avadh exists, only when Raam resides,
Its day only where the Sun’s brilliance presides.”
Indians who went outside the country always carried two things from home. A copy of the Ramayana and Ganga Jal. For centuries, Ramayana has guided the path of Dharma for the Hindus. The second, third generation of children of families of Indian origin growing up in various cultures around the globe are missing out on drawing from this rich source for lack of learning Indian languages. Ramayana has been written in every single Indian language.
What motivated Satya Dev was the “urge to give something to the third generation Indian-Americans who are purely American in taste, language and culture.” An English rendering of the Tulsi Ramayan would revive the spirit and tradition of Ramayana among the generation that is growing up in a culturally distanced atmosphere. As the author says, “Even if a handful of people read the book and see the right path, I would be extremely satisfied.” Noble intension well carried out. Satya Dev, born in Rajasthan and educated there and in Delhi University made America his home after 1981, when he completed his masters in Public Administration from Harvard University and joined the government of the City of Miami as a budget analyst.
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