The Ramayana


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A Note on The Late Romesh C. Dutt
Romesh Chunder Dutt, to whom English readers are indebted for the condensed metrical versions of the ancient Indian epics given in this volume, was one of the most distinguished sons of modern India. He came of a Hindu family standing high among the Kayasths, second of the great castes Bengal, was born in 1848, and grew to manhood amid influences of deep spiritual disturbance. In those days an Indian youth who had felt the call of the west encountered the sternest opposition, from both his own family and the community, if he avowed his ambition of making the voyage to Europe. Romesh Dutt, having passed through the Presidency College, Calcutta, took his fate into his own hands. Accompanied by two friends, both of whom afterwards rose to eminence civil Service, and took third place in the open examination of 1869. He was the first of his race to attain the rank of divisional commissioner, and long before his retirement in 1897, at the end of twenty-five years' service, had made a high reputation as an administrator. He sat for a time in the Bengal Legislative Council, and, in recognition of his official work, received the Companionship of the Indian Empire. He died on November 30, 1909, at Baroda, the capital of the important Native State which he has served with brilliant success as revenue minister and dewan.

The influences which determined his literary activity were primarily European. As a student in Calcutta he had made acquaintance with the English Classical, and later, while at university College, had read the poets insatiably. Nevertheless his first successes were achieved in his mother tongue. He wrote in Bengali, poems and plays, historical and social novels, and aroused a storm of protest within the orthodox community of his province by publishing a Bengali translation of the Rig-Veda. In English, of which he had complete mastery, his first considerable essay was a history of Civilisation in ancient India, which though not a work of research, fulfilled a useful purpose in its day. When freedom from Government service gave him the opportunity he set himself to writing the Economic History of India in the Victorian Age, the two together forming his chief contribution to the subject which he, more than any other Indian of his time, had made his own. In these books as in others of kindred theme and purpose, there is much criticism of British administrator, strongly felt if temperately expressed. Apart from this, its more controversial side, the work of Romesh Dutt is valuable mainly in that it has helped to reveal, to his own people no less than to ours, the spiritual riches of ancient India.


Book Page
I. Sita-Swayamvara (The Bridal of Sita) 11
II. Vana-Gamana-Adeas (The Banishment) 23
III. Dasa-ratha-Viyuga (The Death of the King) 40
IV. Rama-Bharata-Sambada (The Meeting of the Prince) 60
V. Panchavati (On the Banks of the Godavari) 71
VI. Sita-Haran (Sita Lost) 80
VII. Krishkindha (In the Nilgiri Mountains) 92
VIII. Sita Sandesa (Sita Discovered) 103
IX. Ravana Sabha (The Council of War) 110
X. Yudha (The War in Ceylon) 118
XI. Rajya-Abhisheka (Rama's Return and Consecration) 137
XII. Aswa-Medha (Sacrifice of the Horse) 144
Conclusion 150
Translator's Epilogue 151