A senior fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies enabled me to prepare the first version of the translation and commentary of the Araṇyakāṇḍa in India in 1979-1980. The research for the book and most of the writing were finished by summer, 1984.

Robert Goldman proved again to be a wonderful colleague and friend. I thank him for his patience with the delays caused by my other research commitments and for his many suggestions on ways to improve the work. Sally Sutherland expertly dealt with all our electronic communications and labored hard to ensure editorial consistency. I am grateful to the late V. W. Paranjpe, Professor Emeritus of Deccan College, Pune, for checking files of the “Encyclopedic Dictionary of Sanskrit” on my behalf, and to Pt. Srinivasa Sastri, with whom I discussed some of the problematic passages in the text.

Two-thirds of my way through this volume, my second and last of the Translation Project, I received much needed encouragement from my friends U. R. Ananthamurthy and A. K. Ramanujan, who not only taught me a great deal about the meaning of the Rāmāyaṇa but also reminded me how profoundly important this poem has been, and continues to be, to the social, religious, and literary life of India.

The last of countless passes through the translation was reading it aloud, commas and all, to the poet Judith Kroll. I appreciate her goodwill enormously and her many fine suggestions. My colleague at the University of Iowa, Paul Greenough, as ever was willing to read through my essays and share his learning and critical intelligence with me. Susan Oleksiw did a good job copy-editing a complicated work.

The Introduction brings together in abbreviated and revised form essays that have appeared elsewhere: “The Divine King in the Indian Epic”, Journal of the American Oriental Society 104 (1984), pp. 505-28; “Rāma’s Madness”, Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens 29 (1985), pp. 43-56; “Rākṣasas and Others”, Indologica Taurinensia 13 (1985-86), pp. 152-67. I want to thank Ernest Bender, Gerhard Oberhammer, and Oscar Botto for their suggestions.

My daughters were the greatest source of joy and support while I worked on this book. If it has any merit, it is mainly because I wanted them to like it.

Sheldon Pollock