The fifth and most popular book of the Ramayana of Valmiki, the Sundarakanda, recounts the adventures of the monkey hero Hanuman in leaping across the ocean to the island citadel of Lanka. Once there, he scours the city for the abducted Princess Sita. The poet vividly describes the opulence of the court of the demon king, Ravana, the beauty of his harem, the splendours of the palace gardens, and the hideous deformity of Sita's wardresses. After witnessing Sita's pathetic state and her stern rejection of Ravana's blandishments, Hanuman reveals himself to the princess and restores her hope of rescue. The great monkey then wreaks havoc on the royal park and fights a series of hair-raising battles with Ravana's generals. Permitting himself to be captured by the warrior Indrajit, Hanuman is led into the presence of Ravana, whom he admonishes for his lechery. His tail is set ablaze, but he escapes his bonds and, leaping from rooftop to rooftop, sets fire to the city. Taking leave of Sita, Hanuman once more leaps the ocean to rejoin his monkey companions. Returning in triumph to report the news of Sita's discovery to Rama, the monkey's pause for an interlude of drunken revelry in the pleasure grove of the monkey king. At last, Hanuman reports on his adventures to Prince Rama. This is the fifth volume translated from the critical edition of the Valmiki Ramayana. It contains an extensive introduction, exhaustive notes, and comprehensive bibliography.
Robert Goldman is the William and Catherine Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Sanskrit and India Studies. He completed his doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1971 and has taught and held fellowships and several academic institutions around the world, including the University of Rochester, Oxford University, Jadavpur University, and Jawaharlal Nehru University. His areas of scholarly interest include Sanskrit literature and literary theory, Indian Epic Studies, and psychoanalytically oriented cultural studies. He has published widely in these areas, authoring several books and dozens of scholarly articles. He is perhaps best known for his work as the Director, General Editor, and a principal translator of a massive and fully annotated Princeton University Press translation of the critical edition of the Valmiki Ramayana, perhaps the single most widely copied and massively influential text on the religions, literature, societies politics and general cultures of the entire region of South and Southeast Asia from antiquity to the modern world. His work has been recognized by several awards, fellowships, and prizes including election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1966), Citation and Award for Distinguished Teaching at the University of California at Berkeley (1974), Honorary Fellowship at Calcutta Sanskrit College (1992), Honorary Degree of “Vidyāsāgara” (“Ocean of Learning”) by the Mandākinī Saṃskṛta Vidvat Pariṣad, New Delhi (1997), President’s Certificate of Honour for Sanskrit (International) (2013), Excellence in Teaching Award presented by the Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association ( 2016), the World Sanskrit Award 2017 presented by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, (2017) and the A.K. Ramanujan Translation Prize by the Association of Asian Studies (with Sally Sutherland Goldman) ( 2020).