ABOUT THE BOOK:
This Publication (in two volumes and four parts) unfolds the Buddhist transformation of the Indian epic Ramayana, known as the Phra Lak Phra Lam or the Rama Jataka in Laos. The Laotian text is based on careful collating of six parallel palm-leaf manuscripts available in different monasteries of Laos, Its English translation and critical studies have been carried out in a broader comparative perspective rooted in socio-linguistic and cultural anthropology. For Indian studies in general and for Buddhist studies in particular these volumes offer rare source material.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Professor Sachchidanand Sahai carried out research for this publication in Vientiane (Laos) and Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Recipient of Padmashree award, the author is currently adviser to the Preath Vihear National Authority and Angkor Archaeological Park under the Royal Government of Cambodia.
In 1973, I edited the palm-leaf manuscript of the Phra Lak Phra Lam. collating six parallel texts available in different Buddhist monasteries of Laos. That critical edition in two parts published from Vientiane has long been out of print. I completed the English translation and critical study of the Phra Lak Phra Lam after two decades of sustained research. In 1996, my good friend Praveen Mittal of B.R. Publishing Corporation, New Delhi published this work in two volumes entitled The Rama Jataka in Laos: A Study in the Phra Lak Phra Lam. This English edition is also out of print.
This is a glowing testimony of the popularity of the Phra Lak Phra Lam, the Laotian Buddhist retelling of the Indian Epic Ramayana. In fact, the new revolutionary regime in Laos was prompt to recognize the Phra Lak Phra Lam as a national Laotian epic. When the Laotian Palace at Luang Prabang was turned into a museum, a special institution called the Phra Lak Phra Lam Theatre was established in the Premises of the palace. The Phra Lak Phra Lam Theatre is now a thriving institution where the episodes inspired by this Laotian Buddhist Ramayana are enacted.
I am glad that the “Buddhist World Press” now presents the original Laotian text of the Phra Lak Phra Lam, its English translation and critical study as a set of 2 volumes in 4 parts. I hope this Buddhist Ramayana, retold as the Phra Lak Phra Lam by a Laotian monk called Buddhaghosacarya, will offer an interesting and insightful reading for future researchers and the lay Buddhist readers world over.