Books: Hindu Mock Epic

THE RAMAYANA (276 pp.)—Aubrey Menen—Scribner ($3.50).

The Ramayana is the closest thing in Hindu literature to Homer's Odyssey. For centuries, young Hindus have been taught to revere its central characters. Dasa-ratha, the king, stands for fatherly devotion; Rama, his son and the hero of the tale, for strength of mind, arm and heart; Sita, his wife, for undying faithfulness. Under the guise of restoring the classic, Satirist Aubrey Menen (The Prevalence of Witches, Dead Man in the Silver Market) slyly milks a sacred cow for laughs. His freewheeling and irreverent Ramayana is a mock epic that owes less to its original author,...

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