Ramáyana III: The Forest

By Vālmīki
Translated by Sheldon I. Pollock

Ramáyana III: The Forest

This is the third book of the seven books of India’s most beloved and influential epic tale—the Ramáyana of Valmíki. This third book carries forward the narrative by following the exiled hero Rama, his wife, and his brother on their wanderings. The book contains the narrative center of the epic, the abduction of Sita by the demon king Rávana. It provides a profound meditation on the paradox of the hero as both human and divine.

The skies darken for the exiles, who have taken refuge in forest hermitages. First one demon, then another, attempts to harm or corrupt them. When these efforts fail, an army of demons is sent, and then a bigger one, but each time Rama again defeats them. Finally Rávana, the supreme lord of the demons, decides to cripple Rama by capturing Sita; he traps her, and carries her off under heavy guard to the island fortress of Lanka. Rama is distraught by grief, and searches everywhere without success.

436 pp.  |  ISBN-13: 978-0-8147-6722-1  |  ISBN-10: 0-8147-6722-2  |  Co-published by New York University Press and JJC Foundation


“Sita’s Isolation and Abduction” (Canto 41–43, pp. 241–261)
(28 pp, 2.3mb)

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Download the title page and table of contents and one chapter of the book (in English and Sanskrit on facing pages), bundled together as a .pdf file. You can also download the CSL Front Matter (6pp, 1.3mb). It describes how we transliterate the Sanskrit text in the Roman alphabet and includes a guide to pronunciation. It also explains our system of representing phonetic fusion (sandhi).

You can set Adobe Acrobat Reader to display the Sanskrit text and translation in facing page view. Simply go to “View” in the toolbar, select “Page Layout” and click on “Facing.”

About the Translator

Sheldon I. Pollock is William B. Ransford Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Columbia University. He has also translated Ramáyana II: Ayódhya of the Ramáyana, “Bouquet of Rasas” and “River of Rasas” and Rama’s Last Act.
He and is the author of The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India and editor of Cosmopolitanism and Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia.