This 'Read Ramayana' initiative is the brain child of Sri Krishna Sharma. He was born in 1958. He hails from the village of Kavur near Kotappa Konda in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh, India. He has been living in USA since 1989. Currently, he lives in Chapel Hill, NC, USA.
He is a psychologist and sociologist at heart, though he happened to get his Masters degree in Mathematics and pursue a career in the software industry. He has wide interest in the subjects of sociology and psychology, which led to his other effort, Medha Jananam (Ignite the Intellect).
Just like many children growing up in India, he grew up hearing the stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata. He was interested from a young age in understanding these stories and relating them to the sociological times when the stories occurred, and comparing them with current sociological conditions. He noticed that some of the observations and advice from these great epics is very relevant even today, but some of them need to be re-interpreted with respect to the contemporary times. This 'Read Ramayana' initiative is to provide a simple meaning of all the slokas and commentary on interpreting it to the current times.
Young as well as old people have several questions about Ramayana that were born out of partial information they gleaned from movies, TV serials and websites. These sources cannot take the readers/viewers to the full context of original Ramayana with its 24,000 slokas and numerous stories and analysis and commentary on human nature.
As an example, many people are not aware that, in the Balakanda, Vasishtha gives instructions to the organizers of the Putra Kameshti Yaga. Almost all of his advice is relevant even today, for anyone organizing any type of event and function. Vasishta gives detailed instructions on how to treat guests that are attending the event. Every single piece of that advice is stunningly relevant even today. You do not come to know about these kind of gems in Ramayana without reading the original text and without somebody pointing it to you!
Ramayana is like Veena. Veena is just a curious piece of wood for an ordinary onlooker. The essence of Veena comes out only when an able musician plays it out. Ramayana, in the hands of a good narrator, gives that sweet music. In this translation of Ramayana, we focus on bringing the music out. The tradition of rendering Ramayana using multiple art forms had been alive throughout India until very recently, i.e., until few decades ago. All those practices and art forms are evaporating, quickly, right in front of our eyes. This translation cannot substitute for the loss of all those practices and art forms. But it tries to get us back in touch with that great epic, in a form and structure that is feasible in this day and age.
Saying that Ramayana is a great epic, without understanding why it is a great epic, breeds chauvinism and fanaticism. It is only when we understand the greatness of the epic, our respect to it finds real meaning. Only an avid player of chess or cricket or other games knows the greatness of those games. Only an avid player of Veena or Sitar or any other music instrument knows the greatness of those instruments. Similarly, only an avid, enthusiastic and keen reader of Ramayana knows the greatness of this epic poem. This 'Read Ramayana' effort is to bring the experience and enjoyment of this great epic to as many people worldwide as possible.
This effort is a result of many volunteers, who have been helping behind the scenes since 2010. And that list of volunteers is growing, every month. Please see the Volunteers Page to find a volunteer in your area.