Book Review – The Song of Rama by Vanamali
By: Kate Carvalho
As a dedicated fan of Vanamali’s spectacular The Play of God My heart skipped a beat when I saw her latest book The song of Rama on a book stall. I knew it would be hard to match the genius that is The Play of God, but I was more than ready to delve into the dense forests that play host to the epic that is The Song of Rama
Being fairly ignorant of Rama I was curious to acquaint myself with this first of Avatars or human descendent s of Vishnu himself, who descends to earth from time to time in order to redeem mankind from the treacherous grasp of ignorance, usually personified in a terrible and almighty Rakshasa or demon.
It seems as though Rama has come up against quite a bit of flack since his reign, as Vanamali dedicates quite a bit of narrative to his defense. I have to admit there were times during the story where I was ready to fling the book out the window in a fit of rage against the seemingly unthinkable stone heartedness of Rama towards the stainless Sita. Thus the need for Vanamali’s explanations and indeed justifications of Rama’s actions. Ultimately I discover that Rama did not come down to earth to please Sita, himself or me. His main purpose was to establish and extol dharma or righteousness. And that he did – at all costs, and for this he must be applauded.
I was expecting ‘The song of Rama’ to be just like The Play of God but with Rama replacing Krishna as the lead role. This expectation was proved to be all wrong by the great author Vanamali. The story of Rama is vastly different than that of Krishna, and Vanamali has treated it thus in an entirely different manner. Whereas The Play of God was a sensuous feast of prose, beauty and enchantment, the story of Rama begins with sorrow, continues with sorrow and ends with more sorrow. Unlike Krishna who in his earthly foray still maintained his superhuman godliness, Rama, although divine, was a man, with the same frailties, weaknesses and susceptibilities, He is more like us – more human, and in a way his actions more instructive to those of us who still operate on the human level. Sri Chinmoy – an authority on Rama, poses this question …"if an Avatar does not play the human role, who is going to follow him?"
Rama and Sita sacrificed their own happiness for the sake of the Kingdom, nay – for the sake of humanity and it is through their sacrifice that we have prospered. Even the hardest of hearts would have found it difficult to not shed a tear throughout the duration of the story at the enormity of Sita and Rama’s anguish.
The Song of Rama is an engaging and colourful read, a bitter-sweet love story replete with kingdoms, heroes, scandal, trickery, devotion, battles, honour, Monkey armies, demons… rendered in beautiful language – all the ingredients for a great and enthralling story which will inspire you, break your heart, but ultimately make you a better person.
By: Kate Carvalho
Kate Carvalho resides in beautiful Christchurch, New Zealand. She has a penchant for and regularly writes about cooking, reading, health, sports, music but most importantly spirituality and meditation. She has been studying the latter under the tutelage of New York based Indian spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy since the year 2000.
The Song of Rama by Vanamali at Blue Dove Press
The Song of Rama by Vanamali at Amazon.com
My Rama is My All – by Sri Chinmoy. A play about the life of Rama