Ramáyana Book I: Boyhood: Ancilliaries Introduction

(all notes are listed at the bottom of the page)

1. General Introduction

Few works of literature produced in any place at any time have been as popular, influential, imitated, and successful as the great and ancient Sanskrit epic poem, the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa. A. A. Macdonell’s sweeping comment is hardly an overstatement of the case: ‘Probably no work of world literature, secular in origin, has ever produced so profound an influence on the life and thought of a people as the Rāmāyaṇa.’ [ Note 1 Macdonell 1919, p. 574] For at least the last two and a half millennia, the tragic tale of Rāma and Sītā, the oldest and most influential surviving version of which is Vālmīki’s poem, has entertained, moved, enchanted, and uplifted untold millions of people in India and much of Southeast Asia for countless generations. The poem in all its versions and representations in the literary, plastic, and performing arts has constituted traditional India’s most pervasive and enduring instrument of acculturation.

If the Rāmāyaṇa has dominated the cultures of India and Southeast Asia, it has similarly fascinated a whole tradition of modern scholarship both in India and the West. The one hundred fifty years since the appearance of Schlegel’s partial edition and Latin translation [ Note 2 Schlegel 1829. Schlegel’s work was not the first piece of western Rāmāyaṇa scholarship. Carey and Marshman had published a rather confused edition of the text as early as 1808, and Frederich Schlegel had offered some tentative translations from Vālmīki in the closing decade of the eighteenth century. European orientalists and travelers must have known of the poem even earlier. ] have witnessed the growth of an enormous body of scholarly, pseudo-scholarly, sectarian, and popular literature on the Rāmāyaṇa, Rāma, and the Rāma cult and literature. This corpus includes an extraordinary variety of works, ranging from editions, translations, and serious research into the language, metrics, and text history of the poem to bizarre retellings, traditionalist apologia, and wishful fantasies about airborne monkeys, Indian pharaohs, and long-tailed tribal peoples. [ Note 3 One could compile a quite extensive negative bibliography of Rāmāyaṇa studies. A serious analysis of these often amusing works would constitute an important contribution to our understanding of the peculiar effect the poem has had on its audiences. Some striking examples of such works are: Mehta 1941, Buck 1976, and Iyer 1941.]

The reasons for these two closely related phenomena — the extraordinary influence of the epic at home and the curious fascination that it has exerted upon scholars and others in India and abroad — are interesting and important. An examination of them bears centrally upon our understanding not only of the poem and the culture whose touchstone it has become, but on the nature and function of traditional literature, and even on our own response to fantasies that touch the deepest roots of our being.

The story of Rāma, Prince of Ayodhyā, is not one that could be expected to interest greatly a general western audience. Aside from its rootedness in a foreign and alien-seeming culture, one far removed from ours in space and time, the poem’s central characters lack the quality of inner conflict, the human frailty that we have come to associate with the protagonists of the finest examples of western literature from Job and Achilles to the heroes and heroines of the contemporary novel. Were this absence of psychological complexity a universal feature of ancient Indian literature, it could constitute the basis for cross-cultural literary criticism. But the poem differs sharply in this respect from the work with which it is most intimately associated in time, place, style, content, and general world view — the other great epic of ancient India, the Mahābhārata. What is most interesting, as we shall see, is that this very feature of monovalent characterization is at the heart of the epic’s extraordinary success.

Leaving the characterization of Rāma and the other principal figures of the Rāmāyaṇa aside for the moment, there remains something in this long tale of the irreproachable but ill-starred prince and his faithful but ill-used princess, of their magical flying monkey companions, and their terrifying and implacable enemy, the ten-headed demon king, that continues to haunt us, to move us with its peculiar enchantment long after we set the book, with its textual and philological puzzles, aside. It is in an effort to convey something of this strange enchantment, this haunting sense of a distant yet somehow familiar inner world that we offer here what we have tried to make a readable and yet philologically accurate translation of the critical edition of the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa.

Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa: its nature and history

In the form in which we have it today, the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa is an epic poem of some 50,000 lines retelling in Sanskrit verse the career of Rāma, a legendary prince of the ancient kingdom of Kosala in the eastern portion of north central India. The text survives in several thousand partial and complete manuscripts, [ Note 4 For a discussion of the manuscripts of the Rāmāyaṇa, see Bhatt 1960, pp. xiii-xxix.] the oldest of which appears to date from the eleventh century a.d. [ Note 5 Ibid., p. xix.] The poem is traditionally divided into seven major kāṇḍas, or books, that deal chronologically with the major events in the career of Rāma, from the circumstances surrounding his birth to his death. The central body of the poem recounts his disinheritance and exile and the abduction and recovery of his wife.

The text has come down to us in two major regional recensions, the northern (N) and the southern (S), each of which has a number of versions defined generally by the scripts in which the manuscripts are written. [ Note 6 On the description, genesis, and interrelation of the recensions, see Bhatt 1960; Ruben 1936; Jacobi 1893, pp. 1-23; Bulcke 1949 and 1951; and van Daalen 1980, pp. 13-14.] The versions of N are somewhat less homogeneous than those of S and, in fact, the former may conveniently be spoken of as having two regional subrecensions belonging to the northeast (NE) and northwest (NW), respectively. [ Note 7 There appears to be in addition a western subrecension (W), heavily contaminated by both S and NW and represented in the Bālakāṇḍa by four Devanāgarī manuscripts (Bhatt 1960, pp. xiii-xiv; xxxii). Wirtz’s dissertation on the ‘Westliche Rezension des Rāmāyaṇa’ (Wirtz 1894) is, as Bhatt has noted (Bhatt 1960, p. xxi), concerned with what is, in fact, northwestern. Although Bhatt, in his introduction to the Bālakāṇḍa, originally accepted a separate western subrecension, he later, in his introduction to the Araṇyakāṇḍa (Bhatt 1963, pp. xxiii-xxv), felt that there was not enough manuscript evidence to support an independent western version. Other editors of the critical edition, however, have disagreed with him. Vaidya (1971, p. xv) apparently accepts a separate western recension, despite Bhatt’s arguments. Mankad (1965, pp. xxvi-xxviii) felt that evidence tended to support a separate recension for the Kiṣkindhākāṇḍa. Jhala (1966, pp. xxvii-xxx), like Mankad, felt that an independent western version ‘would be justified.’ Shah (1975, p. 23) briefly summarizes the different positions of these editors and feels that various manuscript evidence of the Uttarakāṇḍa supports the existence of an independent western recension.] The three major recensions and subrecensions differ considerably among themselves; approximately one-third of the text of each of them is common to neither of the other two. [ Note 8 Macdonell 1900, pp. 304-305; Jacobi (1893, p. 4) calculates on the basis of a thirty-sarga sample of the fourth book that his versions C and B (our S and the Bengal version of NE) have, respectively, only 57 percent and 66 percent of their text in common.] Nonetheless, elaborate text-historical studies of the Rāmāyaṇa, culminating in the preparation of the critical edition have, in our opinion, more than adequately established that all existing recensions and subrecensions are ultimately to be traced to a more or less unitary archetype. [ Note 9 Cf. Bhatt 1960, p. xx and van Daalen 1980, pp. 5-8. Hopkins (1926, p. 19) is overly pessimistic in his feeling that no textual reconstruction of the text is possible. For further and more detailed discussion of the textual issue, see the section below on text history and the critical edition.] The numerous interesting and important textual differences that characterize the various recensions, subrecensions, and versions of the epic — differences that we shall discuss in detail below — are not, in fact, reflected in any significant variations in the major outlines of the story, its contents, tone, moral, or characterizations.

Let us turn now to the central epic tale before continuing with a discussion of the history of the Rāmāyaṇa and of Rāmāyaṇa studies.

The story

The central narrative of the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, as it is contained in the critical edition, is easily told. [ Note 10 In fact, many of the subsequent versions of the Rāma story — Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain — condense the narrative considerably. In connection with the development of the Rāma cult, there developed a tradition of extreme compression of what is considered the essence of the tale into the space of a hundred verses, ten verses, one verse, and finally, into the recitation of the single saving name, Rāma. For a further discussion of this phenomenon, see our treatment of the first sarga of the epic, the so-called Saṃkṣipta, or abridged Rāmāyaṇa, below; and Masson 1980, p. 100 note 10.]

The poem, in its surviving form, begins with a curious and interesting preamble (upodghāta) that consists of four chapters (sargas) in which the audience is introduced to the theme of the epic, the story, and its central hero. This section also contains an elaborate account of the origins of the poem and of poetry itself and a description of its early mode of recitation by the rhapsodist-disciples of the traditional author, the sage Vālmīki. The upodghāta is of great importance to the study of the textual prehistory of the poem and to an understanding of traditional Indian thinking on the subject of emotion and literary process. As such we will treat it at length when we discuss the epic’s history and again in our detailed introduction to the Bālakāṇḍa.

The epic proper, which begins with the fifth, tells us of the fair and prosperous kingdom of Kosala whose king, the wise and powerful Daśaratha, rules from the beautiful, walled city of Ayodhyā. The king possesses all that a man could desire except a son and heir. On the advice of his ministers and with the somewhat obscure intervention of the legendary sage Ṛśyaśṛṅga, the king performs a sacrifice, as a consequence of which four splendid sons are born to him by his three principal wives. These sons, Rāma, Bharata, Lakṣmaṇa, and Śatrughna, we are given to understand, are infused with varying portions of the essence of the great Lord Viṣṇu who has agreed to be born as a man in order to destroy a violent and otherwise invincible demon, the mighty rākṣasa Rāvaṇa who has been oppressing the gods, for by the terms of a boon that he has received, the demon can be destroyed only by a mortal.

The king’s sons are reared as princes of the realm until, when they are hardly past their childhood, the great sage Viśvāmitra appears at court and asks the king to lend him his eldest and favorite son, Rāma, for the destruction of some rākṣasas who have been harassing him. With great reluctance, the aged king permits Rāma to go. Then, accompanied by his constant companion, Lakṣmaṇa, the prince sets out on foot for the sage’s ashram. On their journey, Rāma receives instruction in certain magical spells and in response to his questions, is told a number of stories from ancient Indian mythology that are here associated with the sites through which the party passes. At one point Rāma kills a dreadful ogress and as a reward for his valor, receives from the sage a set of supernatural weapons. At last the princes reach the hermitage of Viśvāmitra where, with his newly acquired weapons, Rāma puts an end to the harassment of the demons.

Viśvāmitra’s ostensible goal accomplished, the party proceeds to the city of Mithilā where Janaka, king of Videha, is said to be in possession of a massive and mighty bow. No earthly prince has so far been able to wield this divine weapon, and the old king has set this task as the price for the hand of his beautiful daughter, Sītā. After arriving at Mithilā, Rāma wields the bow and breaks it. Marriages are arranged between the sons of Daśaratha and the daughters and nieces of Janaka. The weddings are celebrated at Mithilā with great festivity, and the wedding party returns to Ayodhyā. On the way, Rāma meets and faces down the brahman Rāma Jāmadagnya, legendary nemesis of the warrior class. At last the brothers and their brides settle in Ayodhyā where they live in peace and contentment. This brings to a close the first book of the epic, the Bālakāṇḍa.

The Ayodhyākāṇḍa

The second book of the epic is set, as the name suggests, largely in the city of Ayodhyā. Here we find that, in the absence of Prince Bharata, Daśaratha has decided to abdicate his sovereignty and consecrate Rāma as prince regent in his stead.

The announcement of Rāma’s succession to the throne is greeted with general rejoicing, and preparations for the ceremony are undertaken. On the eve of the great event, however, Kaikeyī, one of the king’s junior wives — her jealousy aroused by a maidservant — claims two boons that the king had long ago granted her. The king is heartbroken, but constrained by his rigid devotion to his given word, he accedes to Kaikeyī’s demands and orders Rāma exiled to the wilderness for fourteen years while the succession passes to Kaikeyī’s son, Bharata.

Rāma exhibits no distress upon hearing of this stroke of malign fate but prepares immediately to carry out his father’s orders. He gives away all his personal wealth and donning the garb of a forest ascetic, departs for the wilderness, accompanied by his faithful wife Sītā and his loyal brother Lakṣmaṇa. The entire population of the city is consumed with grief for the exiled prince, and the king, his cherished hopes shattered and his beloved son banished by his own hand, dies of a broken heart.

Messengers are dispatched to bring back Bharata from his lengthy stay at the court of his uncle in Rājagṛha in the west. But Bharata indignantly refuses to profit by his mother’s wicked scheming. He rejects the throne and instead proceeds to the forest in an effort to persuade Rāma to return and rule. But Rāma, determined to carry out the order of his father to the letter, refuses to return before the end of the period set for his exile. The brothers reach an impasse that is only resolved when Bharata agrees to govern as regent in Rāma’s name. In token of Rāma’s sovereignty, Bharata takes his brother’s sandals to set on the throne. He vows never to enter Ayodhyā until the return of Rāma and to rule in his brother’s name from a village outside the capital.

Rāma, Sītā, and Lakṣmaṇa then abandon their pleasant mountaintop dwelling and move south into the wild and demon-infested forests of Daṇḍaka.

The Araṇyakāṇḍa

The third book recounts the dramatic events that occur during the years of Rāma’s forest exile. The trio have now pushed on into the Daṇḍaka forest, a wilderness inhabited only by pious ascetics and fierce rākṣasas. The former appeal to Rāma to protect them from the demons, and he promises to do so. Near the beginning of the book, Sītā is briefly carried off by a rākṣasa called Virādha in an episode that strongly prefigures her later abduction by Rāvaṇa, the central event of the book and the pivotal episode of the epic.

While the three are dwelling peacefully in the lovely woodlands of Pañcavaṭī, they are visited by a rākṣasa woman, Śūrpaṇakhā, the sister of Rāvaṇa. She attempts to seduce the brothers and failing in this, tries to kill Sītā. She is stopped by Lakṣmaṇa, who mutilates her. She runs shrieking to her brother, the demon Khara, who sends a punitive expedition against the princes. When Rāma annihilates these demons, Khara himself comes at the head of an army of fourteen thousand terrible rākṣasas, but the hero once more exterminates his attackers. At last news of all this comes to the ears of Rāvaṇa, the brother of Khara and Śūrpaṇakhā and the lord of the rākṣasas. He resolves to destroy Rāma by carrying off Sītā. Enlisting the aid of the rākṣasa Mārīca, a survivor of the battle at Viśvāmitra’s ashram, the great demon comes to the Pañcavaṭī forest. There Mārīca, assuming the form of a wonderful deer, captivates Sītā’s fancy and lures Rāma off into the woods. At Sītā’s urging, Lakṣmaṇa, disregarding his brother’s strict orders, leaves her and follows him.

Rāvaṇa appears and after some conversation, carries off the princess by force. Rāma’s friend, the vulture Jaṭāyus, attempts to save Sītā, but after a fierce battle, he falls mortally wounded. Sītā is carried off to the island fortress of Laṅkā where she is kept under heavy guard.

Upon discovering the loss of Sītā, Rāma laments wildly and maddened by grief, wanders through the forest vainly searching for her. At length he is directed to the monkey Sugrīva at Lake Pampā. This brings the Araṇyakāṇḍa to a close.

The book is remarkable in a number of respects. Like the following kāṇḍa, it has a number of passages of great poetic beauty in which the seasonal changes in the forest are described. Further, as has been noted by several scholars, [ Note 11 Cf. Macdonell 1900, pp. 312-13. ] it differs sharply from the preceding book in leaving the relatively realistic world of palace intrigue in Ayodhyā for an enchanted forest of talking birds, flying monkeys, and dreadful demons with magical powers. This is a difference, or perhaps an apparent difference, that we shall discuss further below.

The Kiṣkindhākāṇḍa

The fourth book of the epic is set largely in the monkey citadel of Kiṣkindhā and continues the fairy-tale atmosphere of the preceding book. Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa meet Hanumān, the greatest of monkey heroes and an adherent of Sugrīva, the banished pretender to the throne of Kiṣkindhā. Sugrīva tells Rāma a curious tale of his rivalry and conflict with his brother, the monkey king Vālin, and the two conclude a pact: Rāma is to help Sugrīva kill Vālin and take both his throne and his queen. In return for this, Sugrīva is to aid in the search for the lost Sītā.

Accordingly, Rāma shoots Vālin from ambush while the latter is engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Sugrīva. [ Note 12 It is interesting that, although Rāma provides a casuistic and, finally, unconvincing series of justifications for this seemingly cowardly act (4.18.18-39), the tradition has never been wholly comfortable with what it continues to regard as a stain on the hero’s character. See Masson 1976 and 1980, pp. 95-966. ] Finally, after much delay and procrastination, Sugrīva musters his warriors and sends them out in all directions to scour the earth in search of Sītā. The southern expedition, under the leadership of Aṅgada and Hanumān, has several strange adventures, including a sojourn in an enchanted underground realm. Finally, having failed in their quest, the monkeys are ashamed and resolve to fast to death. They are rescued from this fate by the appearance of the aged vulture Sampāti, brother of the slain Jaṭāyus, who tells them of Sītā’s confinement in Laṅkā. The monkeys discuss what is to be done, and in the end, Hanumān volunteers to leap the ocean in search of the princess. This brings to a close the Kiṣkindhākāṇḍa.

The Sundarakāṇḍa

The fifth book of the poem is called, for reasons that are not wholly clear, the Sundarakāṇḍa, [ Note 13 The Sanskrit word sundara means ‘beautiful.’ The title was therefore taken by Jacobi (1893, p. 124) and, after him, by Winternitz (1927, vol. 1, p. 490) to mean, ‘The Beautiful Book.’ This, however, makes little sense, for it does not appear that Sundara is so different in style, tone, or content from the two preceding books to justify its being singled out for its beauty by any criterion. Moreover, the titles of the other books refer to either subject matter or location, and it seems unlikely that the type of kāṇḍa name would change for this one book. Some writers have argued that the word Sundara is a place name, a reference to the Sunda islands or straits of Southeast Asia (see, for example, Mehta 1941, pp. 187-89). But this explanation, too, lacks any strong evidence to support it. I am inclined to agree with Jhala 1966, p. xxii that so far the question lacks a solution. ] and it is centrally concerned with a detailed, vivid, and often amusing account of Hanumān’s adventures in the splendid fortress city of Laṅkā.

After his heroic leap across the ocean, the monkey hero explores the demons’ city and spies on Rāvaṇa. The descriptions of the city are colorful and often finely written. Meanwhile Sītā, held captive in a grove of aśoka trees, is alternately wooed and threatened by Rāvaṇa and his rākṣasa women. Hanumān finds the despondent princess and reassures her, giving her Rāma’s signet ring as a sign of his good faith. He offers to carry Sītā back to Rāma, but she refuses, reluctant to allow herself to be willingly touched by a male other than her husband, and argues that Rāma must come himself to avenge the insult of her abduction.

Hanumān then wreaks havoc in Laṅkā, destroying trees and buildings and killing servants and soldiers of the king. At last he allows himself to be captured and brought before Rāvaṇa. After an interview he is condemned, and his tail is set afire. But the monkey escapes his bonds and leaping from roof to roof, sets fire to the city. [ Note 14 This passage, like several of its type in Sundara, appears to have been interpolated at some point in the textual prehistory of the epic, for the incidents described in it seem to be unknown to the characters in subsequent passages, a fact that has been noted by several scholars. See Jacobi 1893, pp. 33-34. ] Finally, Hanumān returns to the mainland where he rejoins the search party. Together they make their way back to Kiṣkindhā, destroying on the way a grove belonging to Sugrīva, and Hanumān reports his adventures to Rāma.

The Yuddhakāṇḍa

The sixth book of the poem, as its name suggests, is chiefly concerned with the great battle that takes place before the walls of Laṅkā between the forces of Rāma (Sugrīva’s monkey hosts) and the demon hordes of Rāvaṇa.

Having received Hanumān’s report on Sītā and the military disposition of Laṅkā, Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa proceed with their allies to the shore of the sea. There they are joined by Rāvaṇa’s renegade brother Vibhīṣaṇa who, repelled by his brother’s outrages and unable to reason with him, has defected. The monkeys construct a bridge across the ocean, and the princes and their army cross over to Laṅkā. A protracted and bloody, though far from realistic, battle rages. The advantage sways from one side to the other until, at length, Rāma kills Rāvaṇa in single combat. The prince then installs Vibhīṣaṇa on the throne of Laṅkā and sends for Sītā. But Rāma expresses no joy in recovering his lost wife. Instead, he abuses her verbally and refuses to take her back on the grounds that she has lived in the house of another man. Only when the princess is proved innocent of any unfaithfulness through an ordeal by fire does the prince accept her.

At last, traveling in the flying palace Puṣpaka, which Vibhīṣaṇa had given him, Rāma returns to Ayodhyā where, the period of his exile now over, his long-delayed coronation is performed.

The Uttarakāṇḍa

The seventh book of the Rāmāyaṇa is entitled simply ‘The Last Book’ and is more heterogeneous in its contents than even the Bālakāṇḍa. Of the nature of an extensive epilogue, it contains three general categories of narrative material. The first category includes legends that provide the background, origins, and early careers of some of the important figures in the epic whose antecedents were not earlier described. Approximately the first third of the book is devoted to a lengthy account of the early career of Rāvaṇa and to a much shorter account of the early life of Hanumān. In this section many of the events of the central portion of the epic story are explained as having their roots in encounters and curses in the distant past.

The second category of Uttarakāṇḍa material consists of myths and legends that are only incidentally related to the epic story and its characters. Some of these episodes concern ancestors of the epic hero and in the main, are related to the central story only in the loosely topical or associative way by which such material is included in the Bālakāṇḍa and in many sections of the Mahābhārata. This sort of material, as will be discussed below, is characteristic of only the first and last books of the Rāmāyaṇa.

The last and in several ways the most interesting category of material in the Uttarakāṇḍa concerns the final years of Rāma, his wife, and his brothers. Struggle, adversity, and sorrow seemingly behind him, Rāma settles down with Sītā to rule in peace, prosperity, and happiness. We see what looks like the perfect end to a fairy tale or romance. Yet the joy of the hero and heroine is to be short-lived.

It comes to Rāma’s attention that, despite the fire ordeal of Sītā, ugly rumors of her sexual infidelity with Rāvaṇa are spreading among the populace of Ayodhyā. In dreadful conformity to what he sees as the duty of a sovereign, Rāma banishes the queen, although she is pregnant and he knows the rumors to be false. After some years and various minor adventures, Rāma performs a great horse sacrifice during which two handsome young bards appear and begin to recite the Rāmāyaṇa. It turns out that these two, the twins Kuśa and Lava, are in fact the sons of Rāma and Sītā who have been sheltered with their mother in the ashram of the sage Vālmīki, author of the poem. Rāma sends for his beloved queen, intending to take her back. But Sītā has suffered too much. She calls upon the Earth, her mother, to receive her, and as the ground opens, she vanishes forever. Consumed by an inconsolable grief, Rāma divides the kingdom between his sons, and then, followed by all the inhabitants of Ayodhyā, enters the waters of the Sarayū river near the city and yielding up his life, returns at last to heaven as the Lord Viṣṇu. These events bring to a close both the book and the poem itself.

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1  Macdonell 1919, p. 574.
2  Schlegel 1829. Schlegel’s work was not the first piece of western Rāmāyaṇa scholarship. Carey and Marshman had published a rather confused edition of the text as early as 1808, and Frederich Schlegel had offered some tentative translations from Vālmīki in the closing decade of the eighteenth century. European orientalists and travelers must have known of the poem even earlier.
3  One could compile a quite extensive negative bibliography of Rāmāyaṇa studies. A serious analysis of these often amusing works would constitute an important contribution to our understanding of the peculiar effect the poem has had on its audiences. Some striking examples of such works are: Mehta 1941, Buck 1976, and Iyer 1941.
4  For a discussion of the manuscripts of the Rāmāyaṇa, see Bhatt 1960, pp. xiii-xxix.
5  Ibid., p. xix.
6  On the description, genesis, and interrelation of the recensions, see Bhatt 1960; Ruben 1936; Jacobi 1893, pp. 1-23; Bulcke 1949 and 1951; and van Daalen 1980, pp. 13-14.
7  There appears to be in addition a western subrecension (W), heavily contaminated by both S and NW and represented in the Bālakāṇḍa by four Devanāgarī manuscripts (Bhatt 1960, pp. xiii-xiv; xxxii). Wirtz’s dissertation on the ‘Westliche Rezension des Rāmāyaṇa’ (Wirtz 1894) is, as Bhatt has noted (Bhatt 1960, p. xxi), concerned with what is, in fact, northwestern. Although Bhatt, in his introduction to the Bālakāṇḍa, originally accepted a separate western subrecension, he later, in his introduction to the Araṇyakāṇḍa (Bhatt 1963, pp. xxiii-xxv), felt that there was not enough manuscript evidence to support an independent western version. Other editors of the critical edition, however, have disagreed with him. Vaidya (1971, p. xv) apparently accepts a separate western recension, despite Bhatt’s arguments. Mankad (1965, pp. xxvi-xxviii) felt that evidence tended to support a separate recension for the Kiṣkindhākāṇḍa. Jhala (1966, pp. xxvii-xxx), like Mankad, felt that an independent western version ‘would be justified.’ Shah (1975, p. 23) briefly summarizes the different positions of these editors and feels that various manuscript evidence of the Uttarakāṇḍa supports the existence of an independent western recension.
8  Macdonell 1900, pp. 304-305; Jacobi (1893, p. 4) calculates on the basis of a thirty-sarga sample of the fourth book that his versions C and B (our S and the Bengal version of NE) have, respectively, only 57 percent and 66 percent of their text in common.
9  Cf. Bhatt 1960, p. xx and van Daalen 1980, pp. 5-8. Hopkins (1926, p. 19) is overly pessimistic in his feeling that no textual reconstruction of the text is possible. For further and more detailed discussion of the textual issue, see the section below on text history and the critical edition.
10  In fact, many of the subsequent versions of the Rāma story — Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain — condense the narrative considerably. In connection with the development of the Rāma cult, there developed a tradition of extreme compression of what is considered the essence of the tale into the space of a hundred verses, ten verses, one verse, and finally, into the recitation of the single saving name, Rāma. For a further discussion of this phenomenon, see our treatment of the first sarga of the epic, the so-called Saṃkṣipta, or abridged Rāmāyaṇa, below; and Masson 1980, p. 100 note 10.
11  Cf. Macdonell 1900, pp. 312-13.
12  It is interesting that, although Rāma provides a casuistic and, finally, unconvincing series of justifications for this seemingly cowardly act (4.18.18-39), the tradition has never been wholly comfortable with what it continues to regard as a stain on the hero’s character. See Masson 1976 and 1980, pp. 95-966.
13  The Sanskrit word sundara means ‘beautiful.’ The title was therefore taken by Jacobi (1893, p. 124) and, after him, by Winternitz (1927, vol. 1, p. 490) to mean, ‘The Beautiful Book.’ This, however, makes little sense, for it does not appear that Sundara is so different in style, tone, or content from the two preceding books to justify its being singled out for its beauty by any criterion. Moreover, the titles of the other books refer to either subject matter or location, and it seems unlikely that the type of kāṇḍa name would change for this one book. Some writers have argued that the word Sundara is a place name, a reference to the Sunda islands or straits of Southeast Asia (see, for example, Mehta 1941, pp. 187-89). But this explanation, too, lacks any strong evidence to support it. I am inclined to agree with Jhala 1966, p. xxii that so far the question lacks a solution.
14  This passage, like several of its type in Sundara, appears to have been interpolated at some point in the textual prehistory of the epic, for the incidents described in it seem to be unknown to the characters in subsequent passages, a fact that has been noted by several scholars. See Jacobi 1893, pp. 33-34.
15  The two issues are to some extent connected in that both the poem (in the form in which we have it) and the unanimous tradition of India represent the sage Vālmīki, the legendary author of the work, as a contemporary of its hero and, indeed, a participant in the epic events. One of the first public recitations of the poem is said to have been given by Vālmīki’s disciples, Rāma’s sons Lava and Kuśa, in Rāma’s presence. Cf. 1.4 and 7.85.
16  See Ramaswami Sastri 1944, pp. 23-24.
17  See Weber 1870, pp. 44-63, and Ramaswami Sastri 1944, p. 39. Gorresio (1843, p. xcix) cites the opinions of Jones, Bendy, and Tod, who place Rāma in 2029, 950, and 1100 b.c., respectively. Gorresio, himself a keen student of the epic, dated the poem to the thirteenth century b.c. (1843, p. c). These early opinions are based on often faulty premises. Nonetheless, as we shall see, some of the positions taken with regard to the absolute and relative chronology of the Rāmāyaṇa are still defended today.
18  Jacobi 1893, pp. 50-59. Jacobi developed a suggestion first made by Holtzmann (1841, pp. 36ff.), whom he quotes. van Daalen (1980, pp. 1-2, 223) sustains Jacobi’s views on the Bāla, that is, that some portions of it belong to the oldest stratum of the text. On the basis of his own text-critical studies, he posits a single poet for the older portions of Bāla. There are a number of reasons for regarding Uttara as a later work even than Bāla (see Guruge 1960, p. 32). A number of scholars, particularly in India, have, however, seen some portions of Uttara as belonging to an early stratum of the text on literary critical grounds. See Kibe 1947, pp. 321ff. and Guruge 1960, p. 32.
19  Some of the more useful studies in this area are: Gorresio 1843; Michelson 1904; Roussel 1910; Brockington 1969b and 1970; Vrat 1964; the numerous valuable articles of N. M. Sen (see bibliography); and van Daalen 1980.
20  Most recently van Daalen (1980) has argued that the ‘irregularities’ are characteristic of late portions of the text and were largely alien to the original poet.
21  van Daalen’s disclaimer, ‘“Irregularities” have not been defined in this study in terms of forms contravening particular rules of Pāṇini’ (van Daalen 1980, p. 37) is confusing, especially in the light of his statement on the same page, that ‘the above does not mean that Pāṇini is not the frame of reference with previous collectors of irregularities and, consequently, implicitly in this study in many cases, since the collection of §4 is the summation of the previous collections as far as the items chosen for study are concerned.’ In any case, the analysis of ‘irregularities’ is problematic without some standard for what is regular. See Goldman 1982.
22  See Roussel 1910, p. 6, and Macdonell 1900, pp. 311-12.
23  For discussions of the common features, interrelationships, mutual influence, and metrical and common stylistic features of the two epics, see Hopkins 1901, Kane 1966, and Sukthankar 1941.
24  The tradition is not unanimous in making this distinction. The MBh, for example, refers to itself as kāvya. See, for example, the famous passage at the beginning of the Ādiparvan where, in an encounter parallel to that of Vālmīki and Brahmā at Rām 1.2. Vyāsa and the god discuss the creation of the former’s poem (MBh, crit. ed., Ādiparvan App. 1). Some writers on alaṃkāraśāstra regard Rām as an example of itihāsa and group it with the MBh for purposes of criticism. For a discussion of Abhinavagupta’s handling of the epics, see Masson 1969, pp. 78-84 and 103-12.
25  See Macdonell 1919; Winternitz 1927, vol. 1, pp. 324, 506.
26  In response to this objection, Winternitz was driven to the somewhat circular argument that ‘The Purāṇas have always retained these prose formulas in order to preserve the appearance of antiquity’ (1927, vol. 1, p. 506 note 1).
27  In any case, as we shall see, this ‘advance’ on the part of the Rāmāyaṇa poets often has the effect of slowing the epic text by dogging it with tedious formulae that merely mark the end of one speech and the beginning of another, whereas the ‘archaism’ of the Mahābhārata permits the poets to free themselves and their text of what is often a stylistic disaster. It seems to its an equally tenable argument that the poets of the MBh have made a stylistic advance over the Rām.
28  See, for example, the elaborate and useful treatment of Guruge 1960, and the works of Khan 1965, Vyas 1967, and Sharma 1971, which cull the text for information on the subjects of realia, social, economic, and political life, the arts, religion, and so on.
29  In fact, the practice is mentioned only once in the Rām, in a passage in the late Uttarakāṇḍa (7.17.13), where Vedavatī, who is represented as a prior incarnation of Sītā, tells Rāvaṇa that her mother had burned herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. On this point see Lassen 1858, p. 592; Hopkins 1889, pp. 116-17, 314-15; 1901, p. 149, Guruge 1960, pp. 203-204; Sharma 1971, pp. 95-98; and Meyer 1952, pp. 412-14.
30  See Guruge 1960, p. 201; Sharma 1971, p. 437; and Meyer 1952, pp. 165-73. At one point the MBh ascribes the practice of niyojana to the Ikṣvāku dynasty: at MBh 1.168.11-23, the sage Vasiṣṭha, the hereditary purohita, or family priest, of the Ikṣvākus, is said to have fathered an heir for King Kalmāṣapāda upon his queen at the king’s own request (see Goldman 1978, pp. 356-57). Although this practice is apparently eschewed in the royal family of the Rām, there is some evidence that it may lie at the bottom of the Bālakāṇḍa’s rather awkward introduction of the sage Ṛśyaśṛṅga into the account of Daśaratha’s efforts to procure an heir. If this is so, then the lack of instances of the levirate in the Rām cannot be used as an argument of the epic’s priority to the MBh.
31  See, for example, Guruge 1960, pp. 197-99.
32  Jacobi 1893, pp. 100-107. Jacobi’s arguments put to rest the issue of a post-Buddhistic date for the Rām raised by scholars such as Wheeler (1867-81, vol. 2, p. lxxiv and Weber (1870, pp. 1-13). For this reason, we shall not discuss the theses that they put forward. Moreover, the critical edition has shown the epic’s one explicit reference to Buddhism to be an interpolation. See Ayodhyākāṇḍa, crit. app., *2241, 14-15.
33  See Guruge 1960, pp. 51-80. It is interesting in this connection that, although the poem shows, in a textually well-supported passage from what is generally regarded as its oldest stratum (2.62.9-15), at least a general familiarity with north central and northwestern India, including sites central to the story of the MBh such as Hastinapura, Pañcāladeśa, and Kurujāṅgala, its authors nowhere show any familiarity with the characters or events of the longer epic. The absence of references to the MBh in the Rām has been noted many times before and has been urged as evidence of the priority of the latter (Jacobi 1893, p. 70). On the other hand, the significance of the Rām’s knowledge of Kurukṣetra has been perhaps insufficiently appreciated. It would appear to lend additional support to the supposition that the Rām was substantially completed at a time before the epic of the Kauravas had gained very wide currency in north India, for, had that not been the case, we would expect at least some passing reference to the events of the Bhārata war that took place in the regions named.
34  Jacobi 1893, pp. 101-102.
35  Cf. the treatments of the foundations of Kauṣāmbī, Mahodaya, Dharmāraṇya, Girivraja, and Vasumatī at 1.31.3-8, where the region of the latter is called Māgadhī.
36  Cf. Law 1951, pp. 23-27. One must treat such an argument from ignorance with great care. Nonetheless, the fact that the Bālakāṇḍa poet is at such pains to provide the legendary and historical traditions connected with the sites encountered during Rāma’s journey from Ayodhyā to Mithilā lends credence to the proposition that, if an important urban site at Pāṭaliputra had been known, it would have been mentioned.
37  7.98.5. Here Śrāvastī (crit. ed., Śrāvatī) is established as the capital of North Kosala, to be ruled by Rāma’s son Lava. South Kosala is to be governed from Kuśāvatī by Rāma’s other son, Kuśa. This division of the ancient janapada of Kosala into two parts, a northern and a southern, is well attested in inscriptional and literary sources, as shown by Sarma (1927). It is, however, a division that is only to be found in quite late material. Sarma’s contention that this distinction is known to the Bālakāṇḍa (1927, p. 70) is based on the vulgate passage at 1.13.26, according to which Daśaratha includes Bhānumant, the king of Kosala, among those he invites to his horse sacrifice. The passage is, however, a spurious one and known only to a very few Devanāgarī manuscripts. See crit. ed., 1.*373.
38  Jacobi 1893, pp. 104-105.
39  See Law 1951, pp. 4-6; Mookerji 1951, pp. 22-31, 36-38.
40  Cf. Pargiter 1922, pp. 90-95, who argues that the lists are often questionable and that the Rām version of the genealogy of the solar kings is much less reliable than the versions of the MBh and the purāṇas.
41  Cf. Johnston 1936, pp. xlvii-xliix, and Thomas 1927, pp. 5-15.
42  Cf. Gorresio 1843, pp. cx-cxi, basing his judgment on the traditional Tretā Yuga date and the Rājataraṅgiṇī legend that King Dāmodara, traditionally dated to remote antiquity, heard the Rām recited, puts the composition of the poem in the thirteenth or fourteenth century b.c., a date that he himself regards as conjectural. Weber (1870, pp. 61-62) has shown the unlikelihood of Gorresio’s argument, although, as noted above, his own views of the date of the core of the epic are equally unconvincing.
43  These dates, like so many in pre-Alexandrian Indian history, are ultimately based on the generally accepted date of the death of the Buddha in 486 b.c. If one accepts the Sinhalese tradition of the death of the Buddha in 544 b.c., then all the dates of the late Kosalan and early Magadhan period, and with them the latest date for the composition of the Rām, must be shifted back by some sixty years. For a discussion of the problem of the date of the Buddha’s death, see Raychaudhuri 1923, p. 184.
44  It has been generally accepted that tales of Rāma and the ancient royal house of Ayodhyā must have been current for some time before the composition of the epic itself. This is more than probable. But in the absence of any corroborative evidence, our conception of these tales must be purely speculative.
45  See Guruge 1960, pp. 7-9, and Jacobi 1893, pp. 127-32. Of these perhaps the most elaborately described in the vedic literature is the philosopher-king Janaka of Videha who plays an interesting and important role in the brāhmaṇas and upanishads.
46  Thus Jacobi’s arguments about the mythological connection between the epic heroine Sītā and the like-named vedic goddess, personification of the plowed furrow, are highly questionable. The former is doubtless named and perhaps inspired by the latter, but the superimposition of the epic story on the vedic myth of Indra and the rains is unwarranted by the evidence.
47  For discussions of these lists and the light that they are thought to shed on the Rām, see Lesny 1913; Pargiter 1910, 1913; and Smith 1973.
48  As noted above, Pargiter found the Rām lists to be inferior to the one generally common to the purāṇas. lf the Rām lists are not — as may well be the case — themselves late and abridged versions of a received genealogy, then the purāṇa list may simply be inflated with additional names as a result both of the conflation of the dynastic lists of various families that derived from or claimed to derive from the ancient solar race and of an effort to dignify the family further by extending its lineage. I am inclined toward this last position and am skeptical of Pargiter’s faith in the vaṃśa lists and his cavalier dismissal of the Rām genealogy as the product of brahmans who ‘notoriously lacked the historical sense’; see Pargiter 1922, pp. 93, 119-25.
49  See, however, Guruge 1960, p. 35 for reference to a tradition of Rāma’s having lived in the Dvāpara Yuga.
50  Abrupt if one disregards the Bāla. The subject matter of the first book with its demons and demonesses, its supernatural weapons, superhuman feats, and marvelous legends, is in many ways more like that of Books Three through Six than that of the more sedate and realistic Ayodhyā.
51  Macdonell 1900, pp. 312-13.
52  Gorresio 1843; Lassen 1867, p. 535; Weber 1870, pp. 8-9; Wheeler 1867-81 (vol. 2); Mehta 1941.
53  Gorresio 1847, p. iv. Citing Gioberti, he notes that an epic is nothing other than a system for representing poetically what philosophical systems express theoretically (p. v). The suggestion here is that the epic represents not the external historical data of an area, but rather the collective inner ‘history’ of a culture. A somewhat similar notion is expressed by B. J. Chatterjee 1956, p. 117, who quotes R. C. Dutt as follows: ‘To trace the influence of the Indian epics on the life and civilization of the nation, and on the development of the modern languages, literatures, and religious reforms, is to comprehend the real history of the people during the three thousand years.’ The point is well taken, although here, once again, the use of the word ‘history’ is questionable.
54  See Jacobi 1893, pp. 89-90; Macdonell 1900, p. 313.
55  It has been argued, for example (Bhatt 1960, pp. 446-47), that Indian tribal people may have had monkeys’ faces and tails, and it has even been proposed that the lord of the rākṣasas, the ten-headed Rāvaṇa, suffered from a birth defect that, incidentally, accounted for his hostility (Iyer 1941, pp. 55-56). Even so scientifically oriented a scholar as Mankad, critical editor of the Kiṣkindhākāṇḍa, argues that Rāma’s legendary feat of hurling the carcass of an enormous theriomorphic demon (a man, according to Mankad) a distance of considerably more than a mile with a single blow of his foot is well within the realm of possibility (Mankad 1965, p. 457).
56  See, for example, Pargiter 1894; Guruge 1960, pp. 51-80: Kibe 1914, 1928, 1941a, and 1947; Shah 1976; Sankalia 1973; Ramdas 1925 a and b. 1928, and 1930.
57  Jacobi 1893, p. 103. Cf. Macdonell 1900, p. 313, who remarks, ‘The poet knows nothing about the Deccan beyond the fact that Brāhman hermitages are to be found there. Otherwise it is a region haunted by the monsters and fabulous beings with which an Indian imagination would people an unknown land.’
58  Macdonell 1919, p. 574.
59  For more detailed discussion of the Ceylon issue, see Jacobi 1893, pp. 89-93; Keith 1915, p. 324; and Guruge 1960, pp. 67-69.
60  For a brief survey of these texts see Bulcke 1958, 1959.
61  Cf. Jacobi 1893, pp. 66-67; Weber 1870, p. 210; Winternitz 1927, vol. 1, p. 475; and Bulcke 1958, p. 121. Also cf. von Schroeder 1887, pp. 454ff., and Glasenapp 1929, p. 89, both cited in Bloch 1964, pp. 81-82 note 1. But see also Renou and Filliozat 1947, vol. 1, p. 404, who, like the above authors, see no reason to doubt the attribution of the poem to a single author named Vālmīki, but are not convinced of the poet’s contemporaneity with the protagonist of the epic story. For a lengthy discussion of this question, see Bloch 1964.
62  Even the stories of the two sages’ creation of their respective masterpieces through the inspiration of the god Brahmā, as given at MBh Ādiparvan, App. 1 and Rām 1.2, are closely parallel, and it is clear that one of them has been heavily influenced by, if not actually derived from, the other. Most likely the MBh episode, rejected as an interpolation by Sukthankar, was modeled on the famous story of Vālmīki and the origin of poetry.
63  The famous reference to Vālmīki’s ashram in Book Two has been shown to be an interpolation by the critical edition. For a discussion of the passage, see Bulcke 1958 and 1959.
64  See van Daalen 1980; Bulcke 1958 and 1959; and Bhatt 1960, p. 425.
65  Weber 1870, pp. 22-36; see, for refutation. Jacobi 1893, pp. 94-99, and Macdonell 1900, pp. 309-10.
66  Weber 1870, pp. 1-32.
67  See Lassen 1874, pp. 102-103, and Jacobi 1893, pp. 84-89. Cf. also Winternitz 1927, vol. 1, p. 510, and Macdonell 1900, pp. 308-309. For a comprehensive survey of the question of the Dasaratha Jātaka and the Rām, including summaries of the arguments of the principal writers on the problem, see Bulcke 1950, pp. 84-105.
68  On the date of the Rām, see Keith 1915, pp. 318-28. Keith, incidentally, does not accept the theory that the Rām is post-Buddhist. On the other hand, he denies the validity of Jacobi’s historical argument and does not accept a date for the text earlier than the third century b.c. On the date of the jātakas, see Rhys Davids 1903, p. 103, and Sen 1920, pp. 4-9. The theory was very strongly argued, for example, by Sen in his collection of lectures on the Bengali Rāmāyaṇas (Sen 1920, pp. 4-23). Here he adduces evidence from other jātakas that contain characters or themes in common with the Rāmāyaṇa in support of this hypothesis.
69  See, for example, the short but cogent remarks of the great epigraphist Sircar (1976, pp. 50-53). See also Kane 1966, pp. 45-46. There seems to be little likelihood of, and less evidence for, Keith’s suggestion (1915, p. 323) that the Dasaratha Jātaka and the epic are independently derived from a common source. Bulcke (1952, pp. 102-103) concludes his discussion of the jātaka problem by saying that although a narrative poem on the subject of the Rāma story was current at the time of the compilation of the Pali Tipiṭaka, the composition of the Rāmāyaṇa was not yet complete. This amounts to the same argument as Keith’s. The argument that the Jātaka is older than the epic because it would surely have included the story of the abduction of Sītā had its author known of it, still finds adherents among learned authorities on ancient Indian cultural history. The difficulty is that it is a purely negative argument that presumes a knowledge that we do not have of the motives and methods of the authors and compilers of the jātaka collection. We cannot say with any certainty that the author of the Dasaratha Jātaka would have included any portion of the Rāmāyaṇa that did not serve his needs, even if he knew it intimately. The jātakas are short stories, each of which is designed to illustrate some specific Buddhist virtue through an episode drawn from the career of some creature — animal, human, or supernatural. In the Dasaratha Jātaka, the virtue is steadfastness in the face of emotional trauma, and it is on the basis of his reputation as a paragon of steadfastness that Rāma is chosen to be its exemplar. The legend of the abduction of Sītā is irrelevant to this purpose. If anything, Rāma’s reaction to the loss of his wife is the very antithesis of that expected of the steadfast and self-controlled hero. The authors of the jātakas chose various legends from the Rāmāyaṇa and other stories as it suited their purposes. The fact that the author of the Dasaratha Jātaka restricted himself to one highly modified episode from the Rāma legend is to my mind no proof that he did not know the tale in its entirety.
70  MBh 3.257-76.
71  See Weber 1870, pp. 64-75; Hopkins 1901, pp. 58-84; Kane 1966, pp. 11-58; Winternitz 1927, vol. 1, pp. 500-507; Jacobi 1893, pp. 69-84; Sukthankar 1911, pp. 472-87, and 1939, pp. 406-15; Holtzmann 1846; Holtzmann 1892; Vaidya 1971, pp. xxxi-xxxvi: van Buitenen 1975, pp. 207-14; Shah 1975, pp. 29-53; and Raghavan 1973, pp. 2-31.
72  Weber 1870, pp. 68-71.
73  Sukthankar 1941, pp. 472-87 and 1939, pp. 406-15. Raghavan 1973, pp. 11-25. Sukthankar’s work has been updated with reference to the critical edition of the Rām by Jhala 1968, pp. 295-98. Jhala makes some interesting observations on the question of the recension of Rām known to the authors of the Nalopākhyāna. For a critique of this view and a discussion of the parallel passages of the two epics from the point of view of their grammatical irregularities, see van Daalen 1980, pp. 42-56. Also see Shah 1975, pp. 29-53.
74  For some dissenting views, see Hopkins 1901, pp. 62-64. Lüdwig 1894, pp. 30ff., and, more recently, Vaidya 1971, pp. xxxi-xxxvi, and van Buitenen 1975, pp. 207-14.
75  For a brief summary of some of the less recent opposing views and the rationales behind them, see Bulcke 1950, pp. 53-54. Bulcke himself is of the same opinion as Jacobi and Sukthankar.
76  Vaidya 1971, p. xxxii. xxxvi.
77  van Buitenen 1975, p. 214.
78  Ibid., p. 213.
79  Vaidya 1971, p. xxxii.
80  Ibid., pp. xxxiv-xxxv.
81  Raghavan 1973, pp. 12-13 note 3.
82  Vaidya 1971, p. xxxii.
83  van Buitenen 1975, p. 212. It is odd that in attempting to strengthen his sense of the contrast between Avindhya and Trijaṭā he should describe the latter as ‘young.’ Virtually the only thing we are told about the demoness in the Rāmāyaṇa is that she is vṛddhā, ‘old’ (5.25.4).
84  5.35.12-13 and 6.25.20 (v.l. Aviddha). Vaidya’s error was first pointed out by Raghavan (1973, p. 18). It is particularly unfortunate for van Buitenen’s argument that it is so heavily dependent on this error of Vaidya.
85  See his point 6 about the magic water (p. xxxii) and Raghavan’s discussion (Raghavan 1973, p. 22).
86  van Buitenen 1975, p. 209.
87  MBh 3.266.67, erroneously cited in van Buitenen (1975, p. 210) as 3.266.15.
88  van Buitenen 1975, p. 210.
89  Ibid.
90  For an extensive and comprehensive survey of virtually all of the major literary versions of the Rāma story in both Indian and non-Indian languages, see Bulcke 1950, pp. 1-285. Bulcke (pp. 281-285) also gives a short survey of early western writers on the Rāmāyaṇa. An early survey of the Indian Rāma literature is to be found in Baumgartner 1894, pp. 235-330. See also N. M. Sen 1956b, pp. 95-100. An interesting discussion of epic and puranic versions and variants is provided by Raghavan 1973. For a treatment of some of the less well-known and fragmentary Rāma plays, see Raghavan 1961. On Jain Rāmāyaṇas, see Narasimhachar 1939, pp. 575-94; Kapadia 1952, pp. 115-18; and Kulkarni 1959, pp. 189-204, 284-304. Sen 1920 has an interesting account of the nature and extent of the Bengali Rāmāyaṇas. For the expansion and development of the Rāma story beyond India, see the important and scholarly work of Sweeney on Malaysia (1972), as well as Hooykaas on Java (1958) and Sahai on Laos (1976). Raghu Vira and Yamamoto 1938 have presented the text and translations of two Rāmāyaṇa-derived jātakas found in China. For a general survey and discussion of the non-Indian versions of the Rāma story, see Raghavan 1975.
91  For treatments of important examples of artistic representations of the Rāma story see the select bibliography in Mittal 1969, p. 67. A sizable filmography of Indian cinematic representations of the Rām could be compiled and would be both interesting and useful.
92  Cf. Thompson 1957, vol. 5, p. 300, for references to folktales involving a wicked stepmother. If we can see in the unflattering portrait of Kaikeyī the wicked stepmother of the fairy tale, we may perhaps also perceive in Mantharā, her deformed and malicious maidservant, a variant of the fairy-tale figure of the wicked witch or evil fairy.
93  3.11.29-34. It is not unlikely that this encounter with the sage Agastya is the source for the much more elaborate episode of Viśvāmitra’s gift of divine weapons to Rāma at 1.26-27.
94  See, for example, Thompson 1955-1958, vol. 1, p. 450 for references to the motif of an animal helping in the quest for a vanished wife. For a thoroughgoing analysis of the poem as a ‘Märchen-epic,’ see Gehrts 1977.
95  1.1.1-18. This catalog of Rāma’s virtues is probably not the oldest of its type in the epic. At the beginning of the second book (2.1.15-27) there is a similar list that, if our understanding of the history of the text is correct, is very likely the source of the Bāla passage.
96  The Yuddhakāṇḍa chapter (6.105) in which Brahmā reveals to Rāma his divine nature and praises him as the supreme lord Nārāyaṇa has good manuscript support. It is, however, virtually the only unambiguously Vaiṣṇava passage in Books Two through Six, and like the devotional portions of Books One and Seven, it is almost certainly a relatively late addition. Several authors have remarked that the closing verses of the late first chapter in all but a few Devanāgarī manuscripts have Nārada tell Vālmīki that, at the end of Rāma’s eleven-thousand-year reign, he will go to Brahmā’s world and not Viṣṇu’s (1.1.76), whereas earlier in the same passage the hero is compared to Viṣṇu for his valor (1.1.17). These references would seem to support the theory that the identification of Rāma with Viṣṇu is not known to some strata even of the Bālakāṇḍa. Ruben 1936, p. 63. argued that the issue of the hero’s identification with Viṣṇu has little bearing on the question of the relative age of the Bālakāṇḍa, since we cannot explain the fact that Books Two through Six, which have numerous late interpolations, have still no Vaiṣṇava passages. Therefore, Ruben argues, the central books and the bulk of the Bālakāṇḍa may deliberately withhold allusions to Rāma’s divinity. I find Ruben’s argument to be implausible, not least because it would seem to imply some unspoken but uniformly observed agreement among generations of Rāmāyaṇa scribes and reciters. As to why so few of the later interpolations in Books Two through Six are of a Vaiṣṇava cast, there is little that can be said with any certainty; but there is little evidence to oppose the theory that an explicit Vaiṣṇava reference is a sign of a relatively late stratum of text formation in the Rāmāyaṇa. The question of the textual history of the Bālakāṇḍa will be taken up in greater detail below. For a provocative and dissenting discussion of the divinity of Rāma in Vālmīki, see Pollock’s forthcoming Introduction to Volume 3 of this translation and forthcoming article in JAOS.
97  1.1.77-79.
98  GPP 6.128.105-122, crit. app. *3703. Similar passages at the end of Uttara are, likewise, relegated to the apparatus.
99  6.105. This is the only passage accepted by the critical edition that resembles a classic Vaiṣṇava devotional hymn in both form and content. The hero, hearing this hymn of praise from the mouths of the gods, is puzzled and remarks, ‘As far as I know I am a man, Daśaratha’s son.’ Brahmā then intervenes, explaining to Rāma that he is, in fact, Nārāyaṇa. He identifies Rāma with various of the avatāras of Viṣṇu, including Kṛṣṇa, and this fact alone suggests the late date of the passage. The testimony for this passage is unusually uniform, and the variants are remarkably few and insignificant. In this case, as in many others in the epics, textual homogeneity indicates not antiquity but a late and sectarian passage accepted with little change by all scribes. One is reminded of the situation of the Bhagavad Gītā in the recensions of the Mahābhārata. Passages such as this must make us very wary of claims, such as those put forward by van Daalen 1980, pp. 5-13, that universal testimony is a sign that passages belong to the archetype or even to the corpus of the original poet. See Goldman 1982.
100  At 1.75.17-19. This episode, with its preamble (1.74.14-20), is one of the few truly sectarian passages in the epic. The Bhārgava Rāma, who in the purāṇas and very late strata of the MBh is elevated to the status of an avatāra, shows no evidence of divinity in this passage, even though the episode is a relatively late addition to the Bālakāṇḍa and presupposes knowledge of the MBh tradition of the warrior-sage. The Bāla episode (1.48.12-21) in which Rāma releases Ahalyā from her long curse — an episode that in the hands of Tulsi Das (Rāmcaritmānas 1.210-211) and other poets of the bhakti movement becomes the archetypal demonstration of the lord’s saving grace — is in Vālmīki handled with no reference to the divinity of the hero.
101  There can be little doubt that the HariVaṃ is later than the bulk of the Rām. For a discussion of this point, see Ingalls 1967, pp. 393-94. If, as seems likely, the HariVaṃ was the first great Sanskrit epic poem to concern itself centrally with the life of a divine incarnation, it is at least plausible to see the Vaiṣṇava element in the Rām as derived from the poetic life of Kṛṣṇa. The date of the HariVaṃ is uncertain, but it would appear unlikely that, in the absence of any new evidence, the core of the work, the Viṣṇuparvan, much predates the beginning of the Christian era. If all of these suppositions are correct, we can take the first century a.d. as the rough date of the introduction of the Vaiṣṇava portions of the Bāla and Uttara Kāṇḍas.
102  The HariVaṃ knows Rāma as an incarnation of Viṣṇu (HariVaṃ 65.42-43). The significance of this, however, is unclear. The HariVaṃ reference to Vālmīki as a poet of Vyāsa’s eminence (see Ingalls 1967, p. 393) has been relegated to an appendix by the compilers of the critical edition. See HariVaṃ App. No. 8.30.
103  See Ingalls 1967, for a discussion of the poetry of the HariVaṃ. There is even some evidence that specific incidents in the HariVaṃ account of Kṛṣṇa’s career may have been drawn from the Rāmāyaṇa. Thus the story of how Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma come to Mathurā to see the great bow of Kaṃsa, which Kṛṣṇa then breaks (HariVaṃ 71.27-46), must certainly be an adaptation of the story of Rāma’s breaking of Janaka’s bow that forms the climax of the Bālakāṇḍa.
104  See Bhandarkar 1913, pp. 1-4, 30-48. On the basis of literary, inscriptional, and other evidence it is clear that the cult of Vāsudeva must date from at least the third century b.c., and that the identification of this figure with the cowherd-god Kṛṣṇa cannot be much later than the beginning of the Christian era. On the other hand, despite the evidence of the Bāla, Uttara, and other stray references in the Rām and the inclusion of Rāma Dāśarathi in epic and puranic lists of avatāras, an organized cult of Rāma does not appear to have existed much before the eleventh century a.d.
105  Additional evidence of this may be found in the Uttarakāṇḍa’s knowledge of Mathurā as an important site, and its appropriation on behalf of Rāma’s brother, Śatrughna, of the glory of having founded that important city.
106  See 1.2.32-34 where, through the grace of Brahmā, Vālmīki is granted knowledge of all the actions and thoughts of the epic characters — the public and private, the known and the unknown.
107  Thus, for example, Wheeler felt he could discern four distinct historical stages of religion and civilization in the epic, whereas Lassen and Weber saw the poem as a sort of chronicle of Aryan expansion into peninsular India. These interpretations and others offered by nineteenth-century scholarship are no longer generally accepted, but the idea that the Rām developed around a historical core is still current.
108  Cf. Jacobi’s amusing deflation of Wheeler’s interpretation of the epic as a historical allegory: ‘Imagine! Vālmīki, the greatest poet of the pre-classical age composed an allegory that no one understood until a European nineteen centuries later came upon the obscure secret!’ (1893, p. 90). The point is a good one and ought to be brought to bear on all interpretations that seek to ‘discover’ a concealed meaning in the epic. It is, ironically, equally damaging to Jacobi’s own cherished interpretation.
109  Jacobi 1893, pp. 126-39. It is probable that the figure of Sītā is somehow derived from the vedic divinity of the plowed field, but we are in agreement with Winternitz 1927, pp. 515-16 that Weber 1891, p. 818 was right in his feeling that a wide gulf separates the vedic from the epic legends. Moreover, there is evidence to indicate that the Rāma story does not proceed originally from the vedic legends of the asuradeva conflict. See Goldman and Masson 1969, pp. 95-100.
110  Narain 1957, pp. 111-15. Despite Narain’s statement, Rāma is subject in certain circumstances to almost total loss of self-control, a loss accompanied by unrestrained anger and sorrow; see Goldman 1984 pp. 166-67. This will be discussed further below.
111  This difference has long been a subject of discussion among scholars. Gorresio summed it up in a sort of aphorism: ‘accordo dell’ uomo col creato in Grecia, lotta dell’ uomo col creato nell’ India’ [Harmony of man with nature in Greece, struggle of man with nature in India] (Gorresio 1847, p. vii).
112  Bhīṣma, like Rāma, is deprived of his rightful succession to the throne through his father’s infatuation for a beautiful and ambitious woman. His sacrifice is, however, in many ways more complete than that of Rāma: he relinquishes his claim to the throne voluntarily. His father does not have to ask or order him to do so. Moreover, his loss of royal power is permanent, unlike Rāma’s, which has a fixed term. Finally, Bhīṣma also renounces both the pleasures of sex and the hope of progeny in an act of self-denial so dreadful that the gods, seers, and heavenly nymphs cry out ‘bhīṣmo ’yam,’ ‘He’s awesome!’ thus giving the hero his best known epithet; see MBh 1.94.86-90. For a discussion of some of the psychological implications of Bhīṣma’s filial devotion and that of similar MBh figures such as Pūru and Rāma Jāmadagnya, see Goldman 1978, pp. 338-47.
113  BhagGī 1.25-47, 2.4-8.
114  2.91.6-8. In this sarga, many southern manuscripts and the vulgate have a passage of some twenty lines in which Rāma, in a virtual paraphrase of the comparable Gītā passage, expresses his horror at the thought of fighting his kinsmen (Ayodhyākāṇḍa, crit. app. 2112*.1-12; GPP 2.97.2-8). Like Arjuna, Rāma argues that there is no point in killing his kinsmen for the kingdom, since it is only for their sake that he desires wealth, power, and pleasure. Like Arjuna, he too claims that, although he could easily gain the earth, he would not wish even the lordship of the gods (śakratvam), if it should come to him through foul means. He too likens things acquired through the killing of his friends and kinsmen to the consumption of tainted food (bhakṣyān viṣakṛtān iva). Although several factors make it difficult to determine the relative priority of the two passages, it seems probable that one is a paraphrase of the other. It is especially interesting that the tradition sees the two confrontations as similar, even though their resolutions are radically different.
115  In the Rām, Bharata, although he is Rāma’s junior and must therefore defer to his elder brother, is viewed by the latter as the representative of Daśaratha, since he is now the appointed heir.
116  2.16.27-61.
117  2.98-104.
118  6.113.12-16. Rāma’s unwavering devaluation of the throne relative to what he perceives as his duty to his father and such abstractions of paternal authority as dharma and truth is closely paralleled by his recurrent undervaluation and repeated rejection of Sītā in favor of his male kinsmen and such abstractions as duty and reputation. For a detailed discussion of this see Goldman 1980.
119  For a detailed study of this phenomenon in the Rām with special reference to the epic’s composite hero, see Goldman 1980.
120  See Goldman 1978; Devereux 1951; and Carstairs 1961, pp. 159-60.
121  MBh 1.94.86-88. It is interesting to note that in a Jain account of this episode, found in the Pāṇḍava Purāṇa of Vāḍicandrasūri (1.105-106), Bhīṣma is said to have lent substance to his famous vow by actually castrating himself. I am grateful to Professor P. S. Jaini for pointing out this reference to me.
122  MBh 1.79.27-29.
123  MBh 3.116.13-14. See Goldman 1978, pp. 342-44.
124  See 1.76 where the blossoming of this love is charmingly described; and 3.59-61, 4.1. etc. for his grief.
125  For a detailed discussion of this, see Goldman 1980, pp. 160-63.
126  For a dramatic illustration of this attitude in Indian society, see Gandhi 1960, pp. 43-46.
127  1.25.2-4.
128  1.25.11-12. In the vulgate and several southern manuscripts, Rāma’s reluctance is so great that the sage has to order him once more, rather sharply, to get on with it. See App. I, No. 5.15-20.
129  MBh 3.116.18. This is one of the several ways in which the MBh accounts for Rāma Jāmadagnya’s reputation for being a great master of the science of arms. For a discussion of this and other legends bearing upon the Bhārgava Rāma’s acquisition of his military skills, see Goldman 1977, pp. 99-112 and 1982a.
130  1.26-27. Bhīṣma and Pūru, the other major epic exemplars of filial subservience, are also given boons by their fathers in compensation for their renunciation of sexuality. Śantanu grants Bhīṣma the power to choose his time of death (MBh 1.94.94), whereas Yayāti makes Pūru, his youngest son, his heir and successor (MBh 1.79.30).
131  1.66.15-23.
132  1.73.
133  A detailed psychological analysis of the Rāmāyaṇa, although desirable, is beyond the scope of this introduction. For psychological discussions of particular characters and episodes in the epic, see Goldman 1978 and 1980; and Masson 1975 and 1980, pp. 80-109.
134  Holtzmann 1841, pp. 36-38.
135  See Lesny 1913, p. 497; Macdonell 1900, pp. 304-307; Winternitz 1927, vol. 1, pp. 495-96; Bulcke 1952/1953, pp. 327-31; and Jacobi 1893, pp. 50ff.
136  Lesny 1913, p. 497.
137  Tiwari 1952-53, pp. 9-17.
138  Jacobi 1893, pp. 55-59.
139  Jacobi 1893, p. 59.
140  Actually sargas 1, 2, and 4: see Bulcke 1952/1953, p. 329. The exclusion of sarga 3, the second conspectus of the epic poet, is evidently based upon the fact that it knows the events of Bāla: the journey with Viśvāmitra, the marriage, the breaking of the bow, and the confrontation with Bhārgava Rāma (1.3.4-5). This exclusion is problematic, however, in the light of Bulcke’s acceptance of these events as belonging to the oldest portion of Bāla.
141  Tiwari’s arguments as to the late date of the Bālakāṇḍa (Tiwari 1952/1953, p. 15) are, in fact, relevant only to the later portions of the text. His remarks about the Śakas, Yavanas, and other barbarians produced by Viśvāmitra’s cow — remarks similar to those of earlier writers on the date of the Rām — apply only to the passage in which the reference occurs, a fact first pointed out by Jacobi (Jacobi 1893, pp. 94-95).
142  Ghosh 1967, pp. xlix-lii.
143  Holtzmann 1841, p. 39.
144  Jacobi 1893, p. 52 note 1; Winternitz 1927, vol. 1, p. 496; Bulcke 1952/1953, p. 328.
145  See crit. app. for 2.110. The passage appears in the vulgate and is accepted by the critical edition. It is, in fact, very widely distributed and is omitted only in a few B and D manuscripts. Jacobi was aware of the passage and mentioned it specifically in a note (Jacobi 1893, p. 53 note). Yet so firm was he in his belief in the lateness of the first book that he regards the episode as interpolated.
146  3.36.3-9.
147  This is precisely the material that Bulcke regards as constituting the oldest stratum of the Bālakāṇḍa. Regardless of the direction of the borrowing, it is clear that all of this material is early, and it is probable that these portions of the Bālakāṇḍa are contemporaneous with or not very much later than the ‘genuine’ books. The detailed and highly colored account of the confrontation between the sage and the king over the issue of sending Rāma to fight Mārīca and Subāhu is found at 1.17.22-1.21.6. Although Mārīca’s account in Araṇya is concise and omits many details, it covers the whole period described at Bāla 17-29. Similarly, the tale Sītā tells Anasūyā at the end of Ayodhyā summarizes the events detailed in Bāla 65-76.
148  Some of the passages and episodes within these sargas have been introduced at later periods. The most significant of these, such as the story of the encounter of the two Rāmas, will be discussed individually below.
149  ‘Diese Episode scheint eingeschoben zu sein, alt das erste Buch noch keinen festen Bestandteil der Rāmāyaṇa bildete.’ Jacobi 1893, p. 53 note 1.
150  See Goldman 1980, pp. 167-70.
151  Cf. Carstairs 1961, pp. 69-70. The culturally enjoined suppression of a younger brother’s reference to his sexual life, even mention of his wife’s name, is amusingly illustrated in the context of the Rāma story by the great Sanskrit playwright Bhavabhūti in his famous Uttararāmacarita. After verse 18 in act 1, Sītā who, with Rāma, is being shown a group wedding portrait of the brothers and their brides asks Lakṣmaṇa to identify Ūrmilā. This embarrasses the prince so much that he quickly skips to another picture to cover his confusion and avoid having to mention his wife’s name or openly acknowledge her existence in the presence of his elder brother and sister-in-law. See Belvalkar 1915, p. 20. For a discussion of this incident and this phenomenon in the traditional literature, see Goldman 1978, pp. 327-29 and note 21.
152  Jacobi 1893, p. 53; Winternitz 1927, vol. 1, p. 487 note 2; Bulcke 1952/1953, p. 328.
153  For a detailed discussion of this incident and its implications both for the development of the epic story and for our understanding of the relationship between Books Two through Six and the Uttarakāṇḍa, see Goldman and Masson 1969, pp. 95-100.
154  See Bulcke 1952/1953, p. 330.
155  Ibid., p. 328.
156  It is interesting that the Bālakāṇḍa, although it has often been regarded as a late addition to the poem, does not, according to the best reconstruction of the manuscript evidence, end with a phalaśruti.
157  1.76.18; the reference to Śrī and the identification of Viṣṇu, rather than Indra, as the ruler of the gods is a sure sign of sectarian influence.
158  Bulcke 1952/1953, p. 328.
159  These events — the journey with Viśvāmitra, the breaking of the bow, the marriage, and the encounter with the other Rāma — are mostly those that constitute the older strata of the first book. In addition, the chapter contains a couple of lines mentioning some of the events of the Uttarakāṇḍa (1.3.28).
160  As discussed above, it is clear that the Rāmopākhyāna is later than and derived from the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa. That its authors knew the Uttarakāṇḍa is demonstrated by their familiarity with the legend and antecedents of Rāvaṇa and by the fact that they quote the latter book. See Jacobi 1893, pp. 74-75, and Raghavan 1973, pp. 11-12.
161  This episode, in which Rāma and his sons first meet and the king is overwhelmed by emotion at hearing the moving ballad of his tragic career, has fascinated the transmitters of the Rāmāyaṇa. They return to it at the end of the Uttarakāṇḍa where an elaborate and highly dramatic version culminating in Rāma’s recognition of his sons and the return and final disappearance of Sītā is made to occupy five sargas (7.84-89). Most of the dramatic events in this version, including the encounter of Rāma and Vālmīki and the return of Sītā, are unknown to the Bālakāṇḍa passage.
162  1.2.8-13. For a brief discussion of the underlying psychological significance of this episode and its relation to similar legends in the Sanskrit epics, see Goldman 1978, p. 392.
163  The episode has been regarded by many literary critics as foreshadowing the tragic events of the central epic narrative, while the Vaishnava scholiasts have interpreted the verse, ingeniously if not wholly convincingly, as encoding allusions to many of the episodes in the epic and their underlying theological significance. For a discussion of the interpretations of the episode at the hands of Indian writers on poetics, see Masson 1969. For some examples of the treatment of the verse on the part of the Rāmāyaṇa commentators, see the notes to 1.2.14 below.
164  The position that the upodghāta appears to hold regarding the priority of the karuṇarasa is strikingly articulated (in a non-technical context) by the great dramatist Bhavabhūti who in the Uttararāmacarita (3.48) has one of his characters remark à propos the pathos of the Rāma story, eko rasaḥ karuṇa eva nimittabhedād, bhinnaḥ pṛthak pṛthag iva āśrayate vivartān, āvartabudbudataraṅgamayān vikārān, ambho yathā salilam eva hi tat samastam. ‘There is really only one aesthetic mood, that of pity. It is only through its different modifications and manifestations that it appears to have different forms. It’s just like water that, although it may take on the forms of whirlpools, bubbles or waves, is still, in the end, just water.’
165  See 1.4.8 where, in a reading regarded as uncertain by the editor, the poem is said to possess the traditional rasas, of which seven are named in the S manuscripts and nine in the N manuscripts. For a discussion of the commentators’ views on the Rāmāyaṇa’s rasas and the text-historical implications of the difference between the N and S recensions, see Bālakāṇḍa, critical notes, at 1.4.8.
166  It is evident that the names of Rāma’s sons are derived from the term for bard, not vice versa, as tradition holds. See Bālakāṇḍa, critical notes, at 1.4.3, for further details.
167  Bhatt 1960, p. 437.
168  See Holtzmann 1841, pp. 36-37, and Bulcke 1952/1953, pp. 330-31.
169  Bulcke 1952/1953, p. 331. Bhatt, who has argued for the propriety of performing the Aśvamedha as a device for producing an heir, appears willing to accept the traditional view that the purpose of the former sacrifice was merely to remove the sins that were obstructing the birth of a royal heir (Bhatt 1960, p. 446).
170  Aside from the detailed description of Daśaratha’s sacrifice, the poem mentions those of Sagara (1.38-40), Ambarīṣa (1.60), Saudāsa (7.57.18), and, of course, Rāma (7.82-83). By way of preamble to the performance of Rāma’s sacrifice, the Uttarakāṇḍa briefly mentions two legendary performances of the rite for the purpose of freeing someone from an impure undesired state. At 7.77.8-10 the gods perform the rite on behalf of Indra in order to free him from the taint of brahmahatyā. At 7.81.12-20 the sage Marutta and a company of brahmans perform the sacrifice on behalf of King Ila who has been transformed into a woman by Śiva. The rite does not operate directly, as in the case of Indra, but rather serves to ingratiate the officiants with Śiva who, as a favor to them, agrees to restore the king’s masculinity. At 7.23.7-8 the Aśvamedha is mentioned as one of the seven sacrifices completed by Rāvaṇa’s son, Meghanāda.
171  For a discussion of this fascinating character, the probable prototype of the European unicorn, whose legend has permeated the literatures of Hinduism, Buddhism, and of areas far beyond the borders of India, see Lüders 1897 and 1901, and the forthcoming study of the legend by Masson and Goldman.
172  The northern recensions of the epic, and much of later Indian literature, regard Śāntā as actually a daughter of Daśaratha given in adoption to his friend and ally Lomapāda (Romapāda). On the basis of careful textual analysis, Asoke Chatterjee has shown this tradition to be a later invention of the northern redactors, owing its existence to their confusion of the Aṅga monarch, Daśaratha or Lomapāda, mentioned in several puranic genealogies, with the Kosalan Daśaratha. See A. Chatterjee 1954 and 1957.
173  1.8.22. In a passage substituted in a number of manuscripts of various recensions it is specified that the sage will accomplish this after haying offered oblation in the sacrificial fires. See crit. app. *298.
174  1.9. The story, like all but a few of the puranic narratives inserted into the Bālakāṇḍa, is brief to the point of opacity, and largely lacks the charm and power that characterize many other versions. This is especially noticeable in the Bālakāṇḍa versions of the stories of the churning of the ocean (1.44) and the birth of Kumāra (1.36), which are terse, perfunctory, and obscure, comparing unfavorably with the Mahābhārata versions.
175  Although I have as yet come across no assertion on the part of any scholar that the sacrificial role of Ṛśyaśṛṅga is, in fact, a disguised form of niyojana, I think that the evidence of the text leads us to serious consideration of such an underlying element. Other scholars may have advanced this thesis, for we find that one V. Panoly takes issue with them in the strongest and most colorful language. See Panoly 1961, pp. 17-19.
176  The story is popular in the epic and puranic literature, and Sagara is one of the cherished dynasts of the Rāghava House. Its somewhat separate origin is suggested by its ending in a widely distributed phalaśruti (1.43.20).
177  Cf. Sukthankar 1937, pp. 1-76, and Goldman 1977.
178  It is probably related to other epic accounts of the confrontations between heroes and rākṣasa women such as those between Bhīma and Hiḍimbā in the Mahābhārata (1.139-144) and between Rāma and Śūrpaṇakhā in our text (3.16-17). Those episodes are, however, typologically different from the slaying of Tāṭakā.
179  In fact, the conferral of the magic weapons upon Rāma by the Kauśika sage, although it is a version of a motif common to the epics, is probably a transposition and expansion of a similar conferral of divine weapons upon the prince by the seer Agāstya at 3.11.29-34. It is these latter weapons, most particularly the great Vaishnava bow, that Rāma appears to use in his battles with the rākṣasas in much of the remainder of the poem.
180  See Goldman 1977.
181  It should be noted here that if we do not presuppose the Mahābhārata or a still later puranic account of Jāmadagnya and his extermination of the kshatriyas, the figure introduced in the Bālakāṇḍa would be utterly mysterious, for the Rāmāyaṇa nowhere recounts his proper legend, trusting to its audience’s knowledge of the story from the greater epic and puranic tradition. The encounter of the two Rāmas, which appears to be a Rāmāyaṇa application of a figure drawn from the Mahābhārata, in turn appears in a late stratum of the latter text where, in a Vaishnava passage known to the vulgate and a few northern manuscripts, a version of it appears. See MBh 3, crit. app. I, No. 14.20-84 (Citrashala ed. 3.99.40-71). Sukthankar 1937, pp. 20-21, has clearly shown the Mahābhārata passage to be the work of a late and ‘ignorant’ northern interpolator. In this way the Mahābhārata has borrowed a Rāmāyaṇa episode in which one of its own heroes is humiliated by the hero of the older epic.
182  See 1.1ff. on Nārada; 12.40 on the new metrical form; 1.3 on Brahma; 1.2.40, 7.84.5 on the whole Rāmāyaṇa poem. In the northern variant of 1.3.1 Vālmīki is said to discover the other events in Rāma’s life — to supplement the account of Nārada — ‘from the world,’ though we need not, with Agrawala, view the poet as an early folklorist ‘who collected the several versions of the legend from what was current as folklore’ (Agrawala 1962, p. 578). See 1.4.5 on the performers and 1.4.12, 7.84.9,16 on memorization. The singers are to recite twenty chapters per day (7.84.9) or about some 1,200 sixteen-syllable lines; the performance is said to take many days. (Excluding Book Seven, there are 500 chapters, according to 7.85.20, and thus, the performance would extend over approximately a month.) For the various types of duo oral recitation, cf. Chadwick 1932, p. 574; Lord 1960, p. 125 and note. It is not clear from the Rāmāyaṇa itself how we are to picture the recitation.
183  See P. A. Grintser 1974 (English summary, pp. 416ff.) on the genesis of the oral poem. That the transmission of the Rāmāyaṇa cannot be reconciled with the image of a wholly memorized original is not a serious contradiction. Although exact reproduction is an ideal that performers of oral poetry envision, in reality a certain amount of personal modification occurs in any given performance.
184  See Shah 1975, pp. 50-51 and references. The Buddhist poet Aśvaghoṣa (fl. a.d. 50) might have known a written Rāmāyaṇa, for the close agreement in verbal and narrative detail between his Buddhacarita and the Rāmāyaṇa argues for the kind of ‘consultability’ that only a written text allows. Cf. also Gawrónski 1914-1915, pp. 280-81.
185  This was already apparent to the editors of the incomplete editio princeps, Carey and Marshman, in 1806, see Gorresio 1843, p. xx. Sometimes it appears as if we must speak rather of three recensions, distinguishing a NW (Kashmir and west) from a NE (Nepal and east), cf. especially Shastri 1940, pp. 58 and 75. But there is so much contamination among N manuscripts that it is difficult to decide for certain. Ruben, additionally, wished to divide the southern recension into two, one represented by the commentators Vaṃśīdhara Śivasahāya (Rāmāyaṇaśiromaṇi), Maheśvaratīrtha (Tattvadīpikā), and Govindarāja (Bhūṣaṇa), and the other by Kataka Mādhava Yogīndra (Kataka) and Nageśa Bhaṭṭa (Tilaka). The editors of the critical edition are not unanimous in their understanding of these problems, and, in fact, the whole notion of ‘recensions’ with regard to the Indian epics is somewhat indeterminate (see Johnston 1933, pp. 182-83).
186  Ruben 1936, pp. ix, xi, and Bhatt 1960, p. xxxiv, do not adequately appreciate this signal difference. Bhatt’s editorial practice, in fact, contradicts his theoretical statements; contrast his remarks in volume 1 with Vaidya’s statement (Vaidya 1971, p. xxx).
187  The most recent major work on the subject, van Daalen 1980, takes issue with the theory but not, in our opinion, in an adequate fashion. For a detailed discussion, see Goldman 1982.
188  See Jacobi 1893, p. 9; repeated with approval by Bhatt 1960, p. xv, Burrow 1959, p. 78, Renou 1963, p. 283. and, most importantly, Bulcke 1955, p. 92, and 1960, p. 38. The editors of the critical edition, when they do not simply parrot this theory (as Mankad 1965, p. xxiv; Jhala 1966, p. xxiii; Vaidya 1971, p. xxx), have only trivial examples to offer in support of it (Bhatt 1960, p. xiii, Suppl. Intro.).
189  It is not clear how much reliance is to be placed on the so-called linguistic archaisms preserved in the southern recensions. as indicating an earlier date. A very large percentage of the archaisms that have been examined (Böhtlingk 1887, 1889; Michelson 1904; Roussel 1910; Satya Vrat 1964, pp. 173ff.; N. M. Sen, all items in bibliography; van Daalen 1980, especially pp. 72-117) are contained only in the first or seventh book, of which substantial portions are later additions, and, more remarkably, in passages that the critical edition excludes from the constituted text as more recent interpolations. The northern recension, moreover, frequently preserves archaisms that appear in the southern recension, and quite often ‘archaizes’ where the southern recension does not. See also van Daalen 1980, pp. 27-32.
190  In essence, the critical edition of the Rāmāyaṇa has collected the fullest record anywhere of the stages of growth and development of a great oral epic tradition.
191  In the south the religious significance imputed to the text lent it an almost scriptural status, insulating it to a greater extent from alteration. The commentators, attracted to the text for this same reason, would have been particularly instrumental in preserving the poem in its archaic state. Just the opposite is true of the Mahābhārata. There the southern recension revises rather freely, whereas the northern recension (the NW version in particular) preserves more authentically the tradition of the archetype.
192  See Pollock 1981. For examples, see the notes on 1.8.9, 2.17.7, 21.11, 47.26, 94.49 (lexical glosses); 2.24.7, 51.42 (syntactical glosses).
193  Like any commentary, the northern recension must be used with discretion as a gloss. The glossers were not invariably right, though as participants in a continuous and ancient tradition of recitation they can claim weightier authority than our medieval commentators. The general editor of the critical edition seems to have been aware of this feature, but the examples he provides are trivial (e.g. dhanuḥ replacing śarāsanam, Bhatt 1960, p. xxxiii).
194  Hopkins 1926, pp. 206, 219. As early as 1870, Weber argued that ‘there are as many Rāmāyaṇas as there are manuscripts’ (p. 21; cited in Ruben 1936, p. x; cf. Burrow 1959, p. 78). Recent work on oral poetry might appear to support Hopkins’ impression. For example, Lord concludes that ‘it is impossible to retrace the work of generations of singers to that moment where some singer first sang a particular song. … There was an original, of course, but we must be content with the works that we have and not endeavor to “correct” or “perfect” them in accordance with a purely arbitrary guess at what the original might have been’ (Lord 1960, p. 100). It seems to us, however, that the type and quality of manuscript congruence in important sections of the Rāmāyaṇa suggest that the sort of transmission here may be of a different order from what we see, for example, in Slavic or French literary history. Very possibly the mnemonic tradition of vedic transmission exerted some influence upon the performers of secular heroic poetry. The text may preserve an historical reminiscence when it states that the first performers of the Rāmāyaṇa were deeply grounded in the vedas (1.4.5). In any case, broad arguments from the nature of oral poetry in general should not be applied uncritically to the Indian evidence, where a reconstruction may not be ‘purely arbitrary.’
195  Jacobi 1893, p. 11 (this position is somewhat contradicted by what we find on pp. x, 5). Lévi also speaks of a written archetype. ‘Our Rāmāyaṇa, composed at a still undetermined period, derives in its multiple recensions from an edition published sometime around [the commencement of] the Christian era’ (Lévi 1918, p. 150). Ruben’s Studien are predicated on the existence of an archetype: Agrawal, too, assumes one, without explanation (1963, p. 577).
196  See Bhatt 1960, p. xxx.
197  The agreements among the recensions in the Sundara passage noticed by Jacobi (1893, pp. 17ff.), for example, can be as conveniently explained by postulating an oral transmission, which saves us from the real contradictions involved in the archetype theory. We may then interpret the data in Jacobi’s passage by the special dynamic of an oral tradition, which in one place gives rein to variation, in another inhibits it, which permits deviation in wording to some extent but demands conservation of the significant structures of significant passages.
198  One need only glance at Ruben’s Textproben to confirm this (1936, pp. 84-222).
199  Such is also more or less the opinion of Bulcke 1955, p. 66. and 1960, pp. 37-38. The versions continued to grow, perhaps orally, and to interact throughout the period of written transmission, both within and, to a lesser extent, across recensional boundaries. A number of passages that on the grounds of higher criticism must be considered quite late additions to the text are sometimes, especially when they have a powerful sectarian thrust, unusually well represented in all the recensions, with a minimum of variation. A good example is Brahmā’s hymn in praise of Rāma as Viṣṇu at 6.105.
200  Bhatt 1960, p. xiv and particularly Vaidya 1971, p. xxx understood this. Contrast however Mankad (1965, p. xxiv) and Jhala (1966, p. xxvi).
201  This principle was clearly enunciated by Sukthankar with respect to the Mahābhārata. ‘The peculiar conditions of the transmission of the epic force upon us an eclectic but cautious utilization of all manuscript classes. … Each variant has to be judged on its own merits.’ But where the tradition is irreducibly divided, a choice on the basis of otherwise generally best versions must be followed (Sukthankar 1944, pp. 243, 249). It is even more compelling in the case of the Rāmāyaṇa than the Mahābhārata, for which a written archetype must have existed.
202  Granted the circularity involved in applying standards of authenticity to correct a text from which those sane standards are derived, nevertheless, as Kenney puts it, ‘critical argument is by its very nature circular,’ and it is not ‘necessarily vicious, providing, as Lachmann said, that the circle is trodden with care and discretion’ (Kenney 1974, pp. 126, 135). Ruben adduces other grounds for the relative antiquity and sincerity of the southern recension, such as the agreement in parallel passages of the Mahābhārata with the southern recension against the northern recension (Ruben 1936, pp. 47, 54. etc.; but n.b. his caution, p. 55).
203  Sylvain Lévi, in a fascinating article on the geographical data of the Rāmāyaṇa, determined that a text of the Kiṣkindhākāṇḍa (39-43) was used by a Buddhist work, the Saddharmasmṛtyupasthānasūtra, which was translated into Chinese in a.d. 593; and since, he says, the translator only worked with materials of great authority, the Sūtra must be far older than that (Lévi 1918, p. 15; Lin Li-Kouang, however, has shown that the Sūtra is a composite work and that chapter VII, the one in question, is the latest, see 1949, pp. 111-12). He concluded that, although the southern recension alone does preserve some readings and details that are in harmony with the Sūtra, the northwestern recension is in fact closest to it (p. 135), and he considers this fact ‘the most ancient datum with regard to the recensions and a datum decisively in favor of the western recension’ (p. 14). It is only reasonable, however, that the Sūtra should employ the version current in the area in which it itself was composed. This would apply also to the arguments adduced in favor of the northwestern recension by Słuszkiewicz 1938, pp. 266-73. Furthermore, the evidence can only serve to confirm the fact that the split in the transmission of the Rāmāyaṇa occurred at a relatively early date; it cannot prove which branch of the tradition was more conservative.
204  Because the northern recension transposed or vulgarized in one place it does not mean that it did so in another, nor is the southern recension’s conservation is absolute. Furthermore, the problems inherent in transcribing an oral poem would affect the southern recension no less than the northern.
205  See the note on 2.63.4; unfortunately the editor of the Ayodhyākāṇḍa mistook this variant for a corruption. One serious error of the critical edition is its failure fully to exploit the northern recension and to realize that a reading that is not utterly impossible (Bhatt 1960, p. xxxiv) does not, therefore, become probable.
206  Edgerton 1944, p. xxxiv. Rāmāyaṇa commentators continue to transmit passages even when they themselves consider them interpolated.
207  Johnston 1933, p. 183.
208  West 1973, p. 9.
209  Some influential authors, however, such as Abhinavagupta, refer to the poem as itihāsa, or traditional history, whereas others, such as Madhusūdana Sarasvatī, regard it as śāstra.
210  The few actual attempts to capture the flavor of the epic in English verse are particularly unpalatable to the modern reader. Thus, Griffith’s noble effort (Griffith 1870-1874) in rendering the entire poem in rhymed octosyllabic couplets does not, as he himself warned, ‘bear reading through’ (p. viii).
211  I am referring here to attempts at actual translation, but similar problems have beset the authors of the numerous retellings and ‘transcreations’ (to use P. Lal’s infelicitous term) of the poem and its derivative works that have appeared in recent years. These authors, such as Buck (1976), Menen (1954), and Narayan (1972) have had the advantage of being able to select and modify the episodes that appeal to them and to render them in their own words. Their efforts have, therefore, produced works which, if occasionally entertaining, bear no resemblance whatever to the style or the feeling of their originals. We believe, however, that the task of representing Vālmīki in a readable guise to the English reader is not an impossible one and have striven to avoid what Griffith feared, that his version might actually enhance the tediousness of some of the original. (See Griffith 1870-1874, p. vii.)
212  Arnold 1905, pp. 41ff.
213  Auerbach 1953, p. 6.
214  Cf. Griffith 1870-1874, p. viii. In parts of the Bālakāṇḍa, for example, nearly one-quarter of the verses contain formulaic elements. For an analysis of the first book from the standpoint of the study of oral poetry and formulaic analysis, see Nabaneeta Sen 1966, pp. 397ff.
215  “Iliad” 5.259-268; Fitzgerald 1974, pp. 118-19.
216  6.55.120-125.
217  Or, according to Cg, inimical (to foes); neither rendering of ariṣṭa helps us form a visual impression of the arrow.
218  Macdonell 1919, p. 574.
219  For a discussion of Hanumān as an imaginary companion, see Masson 1981.
220  For a discussion of some of the uses of fantasy and hyperbole in the Rāmāyaṇa, see Masson 1980, pp. 80-109.
221  Auerbach 1953, p. 6.
222  1.1.9-10.
223  For a sympathetic and learned discussion of the Sanskrit poets’ preference in general for idealization and impersonality as opposed to realism and kinesthesia see Ingalls 1965, pp. 1-29.
224  Ibid., pp. 49-53.
225  Griffith 1870-1874, p. viii.
226  In 1974-1975 I had the privilege and pleasure of reading the Bālakāṇḍa with Pandit Śrīnivāsa Śāstri of the Deccan College in Poona. He had read the entire epic through several times and knew it intimately. Day after day he would clearly and brilliantly elucidate for me words, phrases, and passages that had seemed utterly opaque. Yet, not infrequently, even he would find a passage lucid at first glance, remarking without hesitation, ahaṃ vacmi, ‘I’ll explain it,’ only to stare at it, examine four or five Sanskrit commentaries, and conclude by saying, īśvaro veda, ‘God knows!’
227  Thus, for all the importance that the Vaishnava poet attaches to the exact apportionment of the divine pāyasa, or porridge, among the three wives of Daśaratha, it is all but impossible to make out exactly what fraction of the stuff goes to each woman. This imprecision, in turn, leads to a traditional debate of some theological significance. For a discussion of this point, see the notes to the translation below at 1.17.
228  The effect is somewhat monotonous, especially since the reciter rarely varies the cadence or intonation except where the meter changes. The Rāmāyaṇa of Vālmīki is recited today mostly for religious purposes, its place in popular entertainment having been taken by its vernacular derivatives.
229  Through the use of compounds it is possible, as Ingalls has noted, to generate hundreds of synonyms for some words. See Ingalls 1965, pp. 6-8.
230  Cf. Gorresio 1847 and Griffith 1870-1874, pp. 527-565.
231  See Peterson 1879 and Bhandare 1920.
232  See Raghavan 1950 for the date of Uḍāli. See also Bhatt 1964. Bhatt’s Appendix III in Shah 1975 at pp. 655-64 provides a list of commentaries, including Aufrecht’s list (Catalogus Catalogorum, pp. 523-24) as well as references to and extracts from a number of unpublished commentaries. The question of the chronology of the commentators and of the ways in which they were influenced by their predecessors is a complicated and interesting one, with important implications for our understanding of the history of Vaishnavism, and it will be taken up in the forthcoming volume of Rāmāyaṇa studies.
233  Unavailable for the Bālakāṇḍa.
234  See, for example, the notes to 1.2.14 and 1.42.17.

List of Abbreviations

Manuscripts, Commentaries, and Editions Used in Volume 1, Following the Conventions Established in the Crit. Ed. of the Bālakāṇḍa (see pp. xiii-xiv)

I. Manuscripts

Northern Manuscripts (N)

(21 MSS — including 10 Devanāgarī)

Northwestern Manuscripts (NW)

ŚŚ1  Śāradā NW undated (=)

Northeastern Manuscripts (NE)

  1. Ñ Nepālī Ñ1   a.d. 1020 Ñ2   a.d. 1675
  2. V Maithilī V1   a.d. 1360 V2   a.d. 1551 V3   a.d. 1831 V4   a.d. 1836
  3. B Bengālī B1   a.d. 1688 B2   a.d. 1789 B3   a.d. 1832 B4   undated
  4. D Devanāgarī manuscripts aligned with N D1   a.d. 1455 W D2   a.d. 1594 W D3   a.d. 1717 W D5   a.d. 1786 NW D7   a.d. 1817 NW D9   a.d. 1848 W D10   undated NE D11   undated NW D12   undated NW D13   undated NW

Southern Manuscripts (S)

(16 MSS — including 5 Devanāgarī)

  1. T Telegu T1   undated T2   undated T3   undated
  2. G Grantha G1   a.d. 1818 G2   undated G3   undated G4   undated
  3. M Malayālam M1   a.d. 1512 M2   a.d. 1690 M3   a.d. 1823 M4   undated
  4. D Devanāgarī manuscripts aligned with S Dt   the ‘vulgate’; the version of Tilaka undated D4   a.d. 1774 D6   a.d. 1796 D8   a.d. 1831 D14   undated

II. Commentaries

(Note: Spelling follows the conventions established by the crit. ed., see vol. 7, pp. 655-56.)

Ck  the commentary called the Amṛtakataka of Kataka Mādhav Yogīndra
Crā  the commentary called Rāmānujīya of Rāmānuja[Note 1]
Cm  the commentary called Tattvadīpikā of Maheśvaratīrtha
Ctś  the commentary called Taniśloki of Ātreya Ahobala
Ct  the commentary called Tilaka of Nāgeśa Bhaṭṭa, composed in the name of Rāmavarmā
Cg  the commentary called Bhūṣaṇa (the name of the commentary on the Bālakāṇḍa is the Maṇimañjirā) of Govindarāja
Cv  the commentary called Vivekatilaka of Varadarāja Uḍāli (Uḍāri)
Cmu  the commentary called Munibhāvaprakāśikā — author unknown
Cr  the commentary called Rāmāyaṇa Śiromaṇi of Vaṃśīdhara (Bansidhara) Śivasahāya[Note 1]

III. Editions

GPP  Gujarati Printing Press (also called the vulgate). Rāmāyan of Vālmīki. 7 vols. Bombay: Gujarati Printing Press, 1914-1920. With three commentaries called Tilaka, Shiromani, and Bhooshana.
VSP  (Venkateśvara Steam Press). Śrīmadvālmīkirāmāyaṇa. 3 vols. Bombay: Lakṣmīvenkateśvara Mudraṇālaya, 1935. Edited by Gaṅgāviṣṇu Śrīkṛṣṇadāsa.

IV. Journals

AJP  American Journal of Philology
ABORI  Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute
AOR  Annals of Oriental Research (University of Madras)
IA  Indian Antiquary
IHQ  Indian Historical Quarterly
IIJ  Indo-Iranian Journal
IL  Indian Linguistics
IR  Indian Review
JAOS  Journal of the American Oriental Society
JAS  Journal of Asian Studies
JASB(L)  Journal of the Asiatic Society, Bengal (Letters)
JA  Journal Asiatique
JBORS  Journal of the Bihar and Orissa Research Society
JIH  Journal of Indian History
JIP  Journal of Indian Philosophy
JOIB  Journal of the Oriental Institute, Baroda
JORM  Journal of Oriental Research, Madras
JRAS  Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
JUB  Journal of the University of Bombay
PO  Poona Orientalist
QJMS  Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society
RO  Rocznik Orjentalistyczny
ZDMG  Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft

V. Commonly Quoted Sanskrit Texts

AdhyāRā  Adhyātmarāmāyaṇa
AmaK  Amarakośa
ĀpaŚS  Āpastambaśrautasūtra
ĀśvaŚS  Āśvalāyanaśrautasūtra
UttaRāCa  Uttararāmacarita
AitBr  Aitareya Brāhmaṇa
KumāSaṃ  Kumārasaṃbhava
KauṭArthŚā  Kauṭilya Arthaśāstra
ChāndoU  Chāndogyopaniṣad
Pā  Pāṇini’s Aṣṭādhyāyī
PadmP  Padmapurāṇa
BhagGī  Bhagavadgītā
BhāgP  Bhāgavatapurāṇa
ManuSm  Manusmṛti
MBh  Mahābhārata
RaghuVa  Raghuvaṃśa
Rām  Rāmāyaṇa
VājaS  Vājasaneyisamhitā
VāmaP  Vāmanapurāṇa
ŚatBr  Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa
HariVaṃ  Harivaṃśa

VI. Other Important Abbreviations

crit. app.  critical apparatus
crit. ed.  critical edition
crit. notes  critical notes
PW  Petersburg Wörterbuch: Böhtlingk, Otto and Rudolph Roth. Sanskrit-Wörterbuch.