Valmiki Ramayanam is known as the Adi Kavya, the first poetic work in Sanskrit. It is also known as a Bhakti Kavya, a poetic work which instils in the minds of its readers unflinching devotion to God, especially Lord Rama. Srimad Bhagavatam describes it as a work relating to "martyavataram martyasikshartham" - "the incarnation of Lord as a human being to teach a lesson to human beings in the righteous way of living".
Its universal appeal is however in the firm faith of the people in its recital bestowing blessings on the person who recites. There are hundreds of people who do daily parayanam of the Ramayanam. There are other recitals in the form of Sundarakanda parayanam, Saptasarga parayanam and the like. Many abridged versions of the Ramayanam containing selected important verses have been published from time to time for convenience of the people who want to do recitals that are less time consuming. Among them particular mention has to be made of the Srimad Valmiki Ramayana Sara, by Sri Anna Subramaniya Iyer, a prolific writer on Sanskrit works like Upanishads, the Ramayanam and the Bhagavatham.
Ms. K. Vijayalakshmi Sundari had earlier published a condensed version of selected verses of the Ramayanam, with Tamil meaning. In her great desire and enthusiasm to popularise recital of the Ramayanam, she has come out with another abridged version of about 4000 selected verses. When she approached the Academy for publication of this abridged version, it was handed over to Dr. K. Sreekantha Sarma, Professor of Sahitya of the Madras Sanskrit College for testing its worthiness for publication. On his approval, the Academy took up the publication of the same.
Ms.Sita Sundar Ram, and Ms. S.Annapurna, scholars of the Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, headed by Dr. Y. Kameswari, Director of the Institute, checked the entire text given by Ms.K. Vijayalakshmi Sundari and made necessary editorial corrections and alterations. The Academy is beholden to them.
The Academy records its gratitude to the MLJ Press, (P) Ltd., Chennai, for giving permission to print 16 pictures from their 1933 edition of the Valmiki Ramayana.
The Academy is also grateful to Ms. K. Vijayalakshmi Sundari and her brother Dr. K. Srinivasa Rao for having extended financial help for the publication. The book is released by Dr. R. Krishnamurthy Sastrigal, a profound Sanskrit scholar and former Principal of the Madras Sanskrit College.
Ms.V, Gowri (Sanskrit Teacher, S.A.O.H.S. School, Mylapore) and Mr. B. Ganapathy Subramanian of the KSRI are to be thanked for the neat and error free typing and M/s. Vignesha Printers are to be thanked for the nice get-up.
For Hindus, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Bhagavata are very sacred. Among these three, the Ramayana is the most popular and many poets have written the Ramayana in various languages. In Andhra we have many Ramayanas - Ranganatha Ramayana, Gopinatha Ramayana, Sri Krishna Ramayana, Molla Ramayana (a very small but sweet poetic version) and so on.
In our home, we were brought up by our dear parents with the Ramayana from childhood and our versatile father used to put us to sleep by singing the praises of Lord Sri Rama. During our childhood we use to read Sri Rajaji's Ramayana for every Ramanavami. Our dear father loved the Sanskrit language and encouraged all of us to study Sanskrit.
Ours was a well-knit family. My affectionate elder sister, Ms. K. Bhuvaneswari (Dec.5, 1932 - June 1,1994) always gave everything to me first, jewels or whatever was bought by my father for us, before taking her just share of whatever could be shared. Also, we both shared the joy of reciting the Bhagavadgita musically, for which our father acquired a full- size veena preferred by my sister, and a smaller one which I use even to this day.
My younger brother, K. Sri Krishna Narasimha Murthy (June 26,1938- Feb.10, 1974), was a very kind and affectionate person by nature and especially to me, an immediate elder sister of his. We called him Krishna. He was a Rama Bhakta. He did not cross the hurdle of the S.S.L.C Public Examination, due to liver and spleen enlargement affecting his childhood for nearly ten years. He liked to read Sri Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari's Ramayana, Kamba Ramayana and Sri Chandrasekara Sastri's Mahabharata.
During our stay at No.3, Kapaleeswarar Sannidhi Street, we had the pleasure of witnessing the 10- day Kapaleeswarar Temple festival, entertaining friends and relatives, thanks to our generous parents who provided snacks and refreshments to all who came to see the festival from behind the bars of the street house, especially on the Temple Car Festival day and the following Aruvathumoovar (63-Nayanmars of Lord Siva) festival day. Being a vantage location, we had the pleasure of seeing the deities taken out in a grand procession both on their outward and return journeys through the Sannadhi Street. It was only Krishna and I, who would silently get up on hearing the band and Nadaswaram preceding the Panchamurthi - deities (Lord Vinayaka in the front, Lord Muruga with his consorts on the Vimana, Lord Kapaleeswara in the centre and Goddess Karpagambal to his right, with Chandikeswarar in the rear), and remain awake whatever the return time of the procession was and have darsan again.
He died in his mid. thirties on a festival day, and his last reaction while in a coma was to the Mallari on a Nadaswaram played by the vidvans at the head of the procession of the Panchamurthy deities. While grieving over his premature death, it occurred to me that it would be desirable to compile an abridged vesion of the Valmiki Ramayana. I completed my first effort in 275 days (during my spare time after taking care of the daily puja and domestic chores) . My cherished desire, for nearly 30 years now, was to publish this book and present it to the citizens of the world. I am grateful to the Sanskrit Academy for making this dream come true.
This effort of mine became fruitful with the enthuisiastic support given by my elder brother Dr. K.Sivarama Sastry, Ph.D, Retired Professor of Biochemistry, Osmania University, Hydrabad, his wife Ms. Rajeswari Sastry. M.A, and their son Sri Karthik, completing his Ph.D at the Osmania University.
I have to acknowledge the unstinted support and help of the family of my youngest brother Prof. Dr. K.Srinivasa Rao, Ph.D., FNASc, FTNASc, Retd. Sr.Prof., The Institute of Mathematical Sciences and at present Distinguished DST - Ramanujan Professor for Mathematical Sciences at the Srinivasa Ramanujan Center of SASTRA University, Kumbakonam, and his wife Dr.Geetha Srinivasa Rao, Ph.D., FNASc.,Retd. Prof. Ramanujan Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics of the University of Madras, at present Visiting Prof.(Hon.) at the Portland State University, Oregon, USA and their two sons Dr. K.S. Aravind, Ph.D.(Cornell University, USA), and Mr. K.S. Anand studying M.B.A at Portland University.
Every Rama - devotee can easily read this abridged Ramayana daily and complete it in a year's time - probably starting on a Rama Navami day and completing it on the same day next year. I have great faith and hope that whoever reads this holy book can find it absorbing and rewarding. Thus I want to perpetuate the memories of my honourable parents, my dear elder sister K.Bhuvaneswari and my younger brother Sri Krishna Narasimha Murthy by dedicating this book to them. I want to fulfill my younger brother's last desire of reading the Ramayana within nine days, by publishing this compact version.
May Lord Sri Rama bestow His blessings on all those who read this book.