Aubrey Menen was a writer, essayist, broadcaster, journalist, drama critic and activist. His work explored the question of nationalism and the cultural contrast. The Ramayana, As Told by Aubrey Menen. [Aubrey Menen] on * FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Ramayana, The by Menen, Aubrey. New Mystics [Aubrey Menen] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

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A retelling of the Ramayana, a wondrous tale of cosmic adventure from India, immerses us in a world of heroes and gods and demons. Like another famous Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, it is both a teaching saga and an entertaining story of the eternal struggle between good and evil.

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Jan 16, Krishna rated it liked it. The reason I picked up this book was that Aubrey Menen, an Irish-Indian satirist, used to live until his death in in Trivandrum, the city where I grew up. Though I never met him personally, he apparently was a regular visitor to the British Library, that I too used to frequent in the early s.

He at that time reportedly looked like a Biblical prophet, with flowing white hair and beard, as he pottered about in the library and the nearby coffee house. Hard to miss, but unfortunately, I nev The reason I picked up this book was that Aubrey Menen, an Irish-Indian satirist, used to live until his death in in Trivandrum, the city where I grew up.

Hard to miss, but unfortunately, I never saw him. The Ramayana is his retelling of the epic of the same name. Though all the critical elements of the story are present — Dasharatha and his three queens, Manthara’s machinations, Rama’s exile, Sita’s abduction to Lanka, the war, and Rama’s triumphal return to Ayodhya — Menen’s tone is irreverent and satirical.

Dasaratha himself is a dissolute and lecherous old man, and Rama is an earnest and well-meaning, but rather naive and none-too-bright young man, given to noble gestures and grand sounding sentiments, the meaning of which he himself does not fully grasp. Luxman on the other hand, is brave, but brash and hot-headed, with no patience for his brother’s philosophical ruminations.

Sita is rather ordinary, “a good woman, a good wife, and a simple soul. While in exile, earnest young Rama, intent on cultivating his scholarship spends endless hours in conversation with Valmiki. Bored to tears, Sita escapes for long walks in the forest. There she chances upon Ravana, the ruler of a small frontier state in the wilderness, but also a bandit and raider.

Everybody in the school knew I was a born writer: Aubrey Menen

Intrigued by the somewhat dangerous but respectful stranger, twice more she meets him in secret. Luxman learns of these meetings aubry he himself runs into Ravana at aubrwy forest pavilion, and has a fierce fight with him from which he barely escapes. But Rama, deep in his discussions, is oblivious. Then one night, Ravana attack’s Valmiki’s hermitage. Taken by surprise, the brothers and Sita run into the woods to save themselves, but watch helplessly as Ravana’s soldiers torture and kill the hermits.

Through the chaos, Sita walks to Ravana and leaves voluntarily with him, on his blood-soaked horse.

Aubrey Menen: Born to write – Interview News – Issue Date: Mar 15,

His soldiers too stop the violence and leave. Though he saw this, to redeem his honor, Rama has to recover Sita.

The brothers assemble a coalition of local rulers, all with their own grievances against Ravana and attack Lanka. But their ‘generals’ have no idea how to proceed, and Lanka is too well-defended though behind the scenes there too, chaos and incompetence rule. Luxman, hothead that he is, provokes Ravana and engages him in man-on-man combat in which Ravana manages to floor Luxman using an illegal chariot move. Enraged at seeing this, Rama’s soldiers attack pell-mell, and through good fortune, manage to break through the castle gates.


Rama, finally moved to action, and liking it once he got started, fights his way into Ravana’s palace, only to find him already dead, killed by his own soldiers to get at his jewelry and treasure. The reunion with Sita is tense and Rama cannot bring himself to forgive her.

But eventually, through Luxman’s intervention, the couple reconcile and return to Ayoda. But wait, it is not over yet — Sita’s trial by fire is stage-managed aubre props and “Egyptian fire” that looks like smoke and flames, but does not hurt. Traditionalists would obviously be shocked by this book, and it was banned in India for a while. Sita’s mrnen is the most controversial aspect of the book, but as she explains to Luxman later, she had not intended to be unfaithful.

She went to Ravana seeing in Luxman’s face that he was preparing to die fighting Ravana’s soldiers.

Aubrey Menen – Wikipedia

It was part of a bargain, that Ravana will stop the killing and torturing if she would leave peacefully with him. She said she intended to kill herself, if Ravana had come to her drunken and raging, as she expected him to. But unfortunately for her chastity, he did not; he was courteous and kind — and this proved to be her undoing.

This humanizes Sita, though her motives are still not entirely clear. Thrice before she had met Ravana secretly in the forest. Did she know before she went to Ravana, that the bargain would be acceptable to him? Did she herself desire it, but suppress it from her conscious mind? Did she really mean to kill herself. Later, after Ravana died, Luxman blames himself that he had three opportunities to kill Ravana — at the forest pavilion, during the attack on the hermitage, and man-on-man at the walls of Lanka — and failed to do it, on each occasion.

Had he succeeded the first two times, Luxman says, none of this would have happened. At this, Sita breaks down weeps bitterly.

Was this out of regret at her lost chastity, or because she was mourning for Ravana? In the mode of classic folklore, Menen too has side stories and digressions in plenty. The four side stories are interesting tales in themselves. In the tale of the hermit and the hidden wife, a false hermit seduces a rich merchant’s wife and elopes with her to his hermitage, only to find that she is insatiable in bed.

Exhausted, he tries to send her back, but to no avail, because the merchant, freed of his onerous marital responsibilities has prospered in his business. In the tale of the studious locust, a locust believing itself superior to its fellows, wants to pursue a life of scholarly study.

Luckily for it, he chances upon a hermit who offers to teach him if the locust would confine himself to eating only four leaves each day.

The locust, now learned but hungry, abides by this regimen until one day breaking loose and escaping back to gluttony. Meanwhile, back at the hermitage, a placid cow that the locust used to berate as being lazy and stupid, continues to peacefully eat and live, untroubled by false pretenses about herself. In the tale of the four jealous fishermen, four men fear that their wives are unfaithful even though they are not.

Shiva gives them a magic aubret that lets them be two places at the same time, on their boat fishing and back home with their wives invisibly. The men are thrilled and relieved to find that their wives are faithful, but the temptation to spy invisibly on each others’ wives is too hard to resist.


The invisible men all sleep with their friends’ wives, but the women innocently believe that they are having erotic dreams. The men are much chastened when they discover what they all have been up to — but wiser. In the tale of the sculptor and the stone woman, a talented young sculptor is set to work on a dark corner of a temple by a jealous master mason. He carves a beautiful woman’s figure, a composite of all the village women he observes.

The local prince visits and spots the woman’s statue and asks that the woman who modeled for the sculpture be presented to him, on threat of death to the sculptor if he does not. Not knowing what to aubreey, the sculptor seeks the advice of an older colleague who recommends that he present the village whore to the prince. Despite his pretensions of being a man of discrimination and taste, the prince proves to be not immune to lust and is perfectly satisfied — though the woman looks nothing like the statue.

Menen is also the master of the epigram, and here are a few. Mar 02, Katie Pierce rated it liked it Menne The Ramayana is one of the oldest novels ever written, and quite auubrey the oldest love story. It is a great and engaging story even today, and I really enjoy it. However, I think that I would like to read a version that is closer to the original epic written by Valmiki.

This was the only version I could meen at my college library, but it has been changed a lot from the original. For instance, all the parts about the gods and goddesses are removed from the storyline, making is a fully human st The Ramayana is one of the oldest novels ever written, and quite possibly the oldest love story. For instance, all the parts about mmenen gods and goddesses are removed from mensn storyline, making is a fully human story. In the introduction, Menen explains that she is trying to bring the story back to what she believes that Valmiki originally wrote, because the story has been changed so much over time by the Brahmins of India, but I feel like her interpretation of the story is somewhat lacking.

She also narrates within the story, and while her narrations are clever and poignant, I feel like they take away the mene opportunity to interpret the story as they wish.

To an extent they force the reader to accept Menen’s views on Indian history and on this classic love story itself. Jul 26, Sheece rated it it was amazing. This is a beautiful read. Interestingly, it is available here – https: The version I nenen, and available for download from the link I shared aubrsy titled slightly differently. It is called Rama Retold.

The Ramayana as Told by Aubrey Menen

While I am hearing and reading in other reviews that the book is irreverent, I feel not. The story is a different story, a story of familiar characters in a This is a beautiful read.

The story is a different story, a story of familiar characters in a similar situation but different times. For example, the original Ramayana is supposed to be in an era called Satyug.

I couldn’t relate to the original story, but this one is extremely real and pragmatic. The parables that mfnen interspersed in between are also very relevant in today’s times. To get worked up on this book and ban it, is just silly.