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French edition of Ramayana launched

books Updated: Oct 21, 2011 12:12 IST

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Considered a sacred text of universal appeal and a masterpiece of Indian literature, the epic Ramayana has now been launched in French with illustrations of Indian miniatures from 16th to 19th century.

Author, editor and publisher Diane de Selliers took more than ten years to produce "Ramayana by Valmiki" a dazzling edition that contains the integral text of the epic - 48,000 verses divided into seven books - illustrated with over 660 miniature paintings.

The art work in the book has been sourced from various private and museum collections in India, Europe, United States, Qatar, Pakistan, Australia and Canada.

"For me the Ramayana is a very complete literary text because it presents the philosophical point of view along with religious one. Also the human emotions are well described, the poetry is exquisite," Selliers told PTI.

During her first India trip in 1997 to Tamil Nadu and Kerala Selliers says she fell in love with the diversity of culture and rituals and the relevance of the epics to the people.

"I wanted to delve into the root of the culture and Valmiki's Ramayana was among the oldest available literature," says Selliers.

Several versions of the Ramayana that have been written over the centuries. Orally transmited, the most famous one has been attributed to Valmiki and was written in Sanskrit.

At the end of the 16th century Mughal Emperor Akbar decided to have the epic translated into Persian and in 1588 had it illustrated with 166 miniatures creating the first Mughal manuscript.