epic translation

Eight exquisite Mughal miniatures of the Ramayana commissioned by emperor Akbar

Akbar spent a fortune translating Sanskrit texts into Persian. The Ramayana is one of them.

In the late 16th century, Tulsidas began to compose the Ramcharitmanas in Awadhi, one of the earliest vernacular versions of the Ramayana. At around the same time, Mughal emperor Akbar embarked  on a similar project – on a rather more royal scale.

There are hundreds of written and oral versions of the Ramayana, all of which differ widely depending on who narrates the epic and which country you are in. But for centuries, the definitive Brahminical version of the epic was held to be the Valmiki Ramayana, with seven books and 24,000 verses in Sanskrit. It was composed approximately in the fifth or fourth century BCE. Over the years, only a few additions were made by enterprising authors.

However, Akbar decided to change this. In 1574, in an effort to standardise communication in a court that spoke multiple languages, the emperor started a translation office to render Sanskrit, Arabic and even Turkish texts into Persian.

Akbar’s Ramayana, completed in 1584, is a product of several layers of translation. Brahmins at the court first translated the verses from Sanskrit into Awadhi. Court translators then rendered their transliteration into Persian verse, and court painters added their interpretations of the various scenes.

Badayuni, a secretary at Akbar’s court  better known for his critical history of the Mughals, is credited with this translation.

The original translation of Akbar’s Ramayana is lost, but pages from subsequent editions are available in private collections.

Here is a selection of images from the book.

Vishwamitra brings Rama and Lakshmana to his hermitage. Photo credit: Museum 'Rietberg.

The death of King Dasharatha, the father of Rama. Photo credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Rama slays the demon Trishiras. Photo credit: Christies.

Rama receives Sugriva and Jambavat, the Vanara kings. Photo credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sita shies away from Hanuman, believing he is Ravana in disguise. Photo credit: The David Collection.

Vanaras help Rama build a bridge. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Mandodari approaches her husband, Ravana. Photo credit: Asian Art Museum.

Atikaya, a son of Ravana. Photo credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology

Accessible technology has the potential to change lives.

“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.

Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology - it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.

That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.

— Ruchir.

Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.

Ruchir, then, migrated to Mumbai for the next phase in his career. It was in the Maximum City that his belief in technology being the great leveller was reinforced. “The city’s infrastructure is a challenging one, Uber helped me navigate the city” says Ruchir. By using the VoiceOver features, Ruchir could call an Uber wherever he was and move around easily. He reached out to Uber to see if together they could spread the message of accessible technology. This partnership resulted in a video that captures the essence of Ruchir’s story: The World in Voices.


It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.