My main aim in presenting the Rāmayana was to share the book with others, having myself found it so uplifting and enjoyable. I am not a Sanskrit scholar and have worked from existing translations, simply trying to present the book in a way which is easy to read and understand. It is possible that students of the work will find the odd detail which is different from what they have read in other versions. There are in fact numerous versions of the original now extant and they all differ a little in some details here and there. But the main substance of the story is common to all of them.
I have not referred to Tulsidas’s famous version, the Rāma Carita Mānasa as I did not want to confuse Vālmīki’s original telling of the story with later interpretations. I have included a few details from another Vedic literature known as the Adhyatma Rāmayana, a text spoken by Lord Śiva to his wife Parvati. In that text, from the Brahmanda Purana, Śiva has elucidated some of the spiritual understandings of Vālmīki’s original work.
The book is written in the “omniscient narrator” style because this is how it was originally composed. The original text of the Rāmayana itself explains how Vālmīki was able to compose the work. He was personally visited by Lord Brahmā, the creator of this universe, who told the sage that he should write Rāma’s history. Brahmā promised Vālmīki that by divine arrangement he would be able to understand everything about this history. Brahmā said, “Whatever account there is of the all-wise Rāma, as well as of Lakṣman and Sītā, and indeed of all the Rākṣasas and monkeys and any others, will all be known to you even if presently unknown.”
Vālmīki thus sat in meditation and composed the Rāmayana, consisting of twenty-four thousand Sanskrit verses. These original verses have been more or less preserved up until the present day, although as I note above, one will find the odd variation in some minor details.
I pray I may not have given offense to any lovers of this work by my attempt to render it accessible to a modern reader. I have tried to remain as faithful as possible to the original, without adding any interpretations or interpolations of my own. I hope I may have succeeded in giving a little happiness to my readers, although the credit actually lies with Vālmīki Muni, to whom I offer my most profound and humble respects.