Valmiki’s unabridged text is reproduced in our edition in the English translation of Robert P. Goldman, Sheldon I. Pollock, Rosalind Lefeber and Sally J. Sutherland Goldman published by Princeton University Press between 1975 and 2011.

It was translated directly from Sanskrit into English.
It is a reference edition in verse, presented in couplets, which preserves the rhythm of the epic, its poetry, the refinement of its language, the power of its metaphors and the richness of its narration.

Sītā’s warning against violence ( detail ) Rajasthan school, Kishangarh, c. 1750–1775. Gouache and gold on paper. Navin Kumar Collection, New York.

Sita to Rama

“Only because I love and respect you am I reminding you –not teaching you- that on no account should you take up your bow and, unprovoked, turn your thoughts to killing the râksasas of Dandaka. My mighty husband, I dispapprove of your killing creatures that have done no wrong.
Mighty kshatriyas, finding themselves in the forests inhabited by men who practice self-restraint, need bows only for protecting those in distress.
How incongruous they are, weapons and the forest, the kshatriya order and the practice of asceticism –it is all so at odds. We must respect the customs of the place.
Wicked thoughts, my noble husband, can come from handling weapons. When you are back in Ayodhyâ, you may follow the kshatriya code.
But my joy would be unending, like that of my mother-in-law and father-in-law, should you renounce the kingship altogether and become a contented sage.
From righteousness belongs only to the vigilant, those who recentlessly control themselves by various acts of self-restraint. No, trus happiness is not easily won.
Remaining ever pure of heart, dear husband, follow the ways of righteousness appropriate to an ascetics’grove. But then, you already know all this, this and the whole universe as it is on truth.”
Book 3, Sarga 8
The Ramayana by Valmiki

Sheldon I. Pollock

Sheldon I. Pollock is the Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies at Columbia University, New York. From 2005-2011 he served as the William B. Ransford Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Columbia, and before that as the George V. Bobrinskoy Distinguished Service  Professor of Sanskrit and Indic Studies at the University of Chicago, where he taught from 1989-2005. He was educated at Harvard University, receiving his undergraduate degree in Classics (Greek) magna cum laude in 1971, before completing a Masters in Sanskrit and Indian Studies in 1973. His Ph.D. in Sanskrit and Indian Studies followed in 1975. His areas of specialization are Sanskrit philology, Indian intellectual and literary history, and, increasingly, comparative intellectual history.

Pollock is General Editor of the Murty Classical Library of India (Harvard U. Press). He was General Editor of the Clay Sanskrit Library, for which he also edited and translated a number of volumes, and joint editor of “South Asia across the Disciplines,” a collaborative venture of the University of California Press, University of Chicago Press, and Columbia University Press. He also directs the international collaborative research project “Sanskrit Knowledge Systems on the Eve of Colonialism.”

His publications include the monograph The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India (2006), which won the Coomaraswamy Prize from the Association of Asian Studies as well as the Lionel Trilling Award, and the edited volume Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia (2003). Two new book projects are entitled Liberation Philology (Harvard University Press) and Reader on Rasa: A Historical Sourcebook in Indian Aesthetics, the first in a new series of historical sourcebooks on classical Indian thought that he is editing for Columbia University Press.

In 2008, Pollock’s students organized a conference in his honor entitled Language, Culture and Power. In the same year, he received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, for significant contributions to humanistic inquiry. In 2009, he received the President’s Award for Sanskrit, and in 2010, the Padma Shri award, both from the Government of India. His newest initiative is the Ambedkar Sanskrit Fellowship Program at Columbia, which aims to establish an endowment to fund graduate studies in Sanskrit for students from historically disadvantaged communities.


Robert P. Goldman

“Goldman has chosen a translation style that is simple, direct, and very close to the text, without being prosaic. He has avoided the twin pitfalls of preciousness and pedantry. The Ramayana, as he reminds us, is a poem in a sense we have almost lost touch with: intended to be heard, easily understood, chanted in a loose and repetitive meter that permits the lapidary phrase.”
Edwin Gerow, Journal of Asian Studies

Robert P. Goldman is Professor of Sanskrit at Berkeley University, California. 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 translation of the critical edition of the Valmiki Ramayana. His work has been recognized by several awards and fellowships including election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

  • A.B. Columbia College, Columbia University, 1964
  • Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, 1971

  • Distinguished Teaching Award, The University of California at Berkeley 1974
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, 1978
  • National Endowment for the Humanities; Translation Project Grant, 1977-1979; 1980-1983;
  • 1990-92, 1994-96
  • “The 100 Best Books of 1997” (for The Ramayana of Valmiki: An Epic of Ancient India, Vol. V: Sundarakanda.. Princeton. Princeton University Press, 1996. (Translated, annotated, and edited with Sally. J. Sutherland-Goldman) according to the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Sunday, December 14, 1997.
  • Distinguished Faculty Lecturer. Central University of Hyderabad, 2005

Sally J. Sutherland Goldman

Sally J. Sutherland Goldman received her Ph.D. in 1979 from the University of California at Berkeley, where she has taught Sanskrit and related subjects since 1981. She is also the Associate Editor of the Valmiki Ramayana Translation Project. She is the co-annotator of the Bālakāṇḍa (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), and co-translator of the Sundarakāṇḍa (Princeton: Princeton University Press,1996), Yuddhakāṇḍa (Princeton: Princeton University Press,2009), and the Uttarakāṇḍa (forthcoming).

Dr. Sutherland Goldman has lectured, taught, and published widely in the areas of Sanskrit epic and literature and traditional South Asian constructions and representations of gender. She is co-author of the Devavāṇīpraveśikā: An Introduction to the Sanskrit Language (Berkeley:  Centers for South and Southeast Asia Studies, U. C. Berkeley, 1980, 2004) and the editor of Bridging Worlds:  Studies on Women in South Asia (Berkeley:  Centers for South and Southeast Asia Studies, U. C. Berkeley 1991.  Reprint:  Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1991).

A frequent visitor of India, she spent the Spring of 2010 as a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies at Jahwarhal Nehru University. She was selected for and received the University of California at Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award for 2012. She is a co-organizer of a conference on epic studies to be held Oct. 26–27th, 2012 in celebration of the long-anticipated concusion of the Rāmāyaṇa Translation Project.

  • University of California, Berkeley, Department of South and Southeast Asian
  • Studies. Sanskrit. 1979. Ph.D.
  • Graduate Research, Poona University, Poona, India. 1975–76. (Funded through a grant from the American Institute of Indian Studies).
  • California State University, Fullerton, California. 1971. Linguistics. A.B., M.A.
  • Sarah Kailath Fellow in Indian Studies, 1996–97.
  • American Institute of Indian Studies Senior Fellowship, 1991–92.
  •  BCL Language Travel Grant, 2005