Rise of the Sun Prince is the first book of Ramayana story in English written by Shuba Vilas, and published by Jaico. I know what you are thinking – why is this guy reading Ramayana story? Frankly, I don’t know the answer – there is something about our epics that sort of drags us into it. I am now glad that I agreed to read this book when the author approached me to send a free copy for review.
I remember watching Ramayana and Mahabharata on TV when I was young. Maybe I’ve watched a couple of movies based on this epic. I have seen a few people read large books written about the epic and I thought maybe one day I’ll read it too. Didn’t expect that day to arrive so soon!
This book deals with the early ages of Rama, up until his marriage with Sita. There are so many incidents narrated here that I was not aware of, earlier. The author says that the stories have been taken from Valmiki Ramayana and Kambar Ramayana.
The author rightly points out that the hero of this book is not Rama, but the Bhramaguru Vishwamitra who mentors Rama at this later stage (after Vasishta). The stories about the demons, Vishwamitra’s past, Dasarata’s past, Ganga’s descent to the earth, etc. keep us glued to the book. They have been narrated quite well.
The advice/interpretation of Ramayana story (at the bottom of most pages) is a double edged sword. First, it interrupts the story – so, I just scanned through some of them and if I liked them, I continued to read. Some advice given there were solid, like this –
“The law of balance is about balancing selfish desires with selflessness, thus taking oneself from the narrow world of self-satisfaction to the broad world of self-containment. Selfishness leads to discontent. No matter how much one has, one hankers for even more. Selfishness stems from an egocentric perception of existence. The owner of such a small world succumbs to the pride of being an exclusive enjoyer. The urge to take must be balanced by the wish to give. Part of fulfilling one’s own needs is to fulfill the needs of others, thus creating a balance.”
Gem, isn’t it? But others were preachy and unnecessarily interrupted the flow of the story. In some pages, the explanation and advise exceeded amount of space occupied by the story itself! Even though the interpretation is required, I think the author could have said the same thing using minimum words so that the story is not interrupted for a long time. At least at my age (or less), people maybe more interested in stories than interpretations. Also, I don’t know if enough material was covered for one book – the author could have combined the first two books into one. Just my thoughts . . .
It is true that the story of Ramayana (and other epics) don’t feel boring even if we keep listening/reading it again and again. Each time, we interpret it differently, it seems! I think this is a good effort by the author and publisher to bring the Ramayana story in English. It makes the epic available to youngsters and foreigners (who read mostly in English).
Interesting stories, well written. But the author should try to preach less and focus more on the story. IMO, messages are analyzed and accepted more readily if they stay at the sublime level. Some messages need to be direct – not all.
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