Kamba Ramayanam- An introduction
Without any doubt whatsoever , the story of Rama was popularized by the Ramayana written by Valmiki. This has been translated in to almost all the main languages in India. Kamban (who is supposed to have lived between 1180-1250 AD) one of the greatest poets of Tamil Nadu translated it in to Tamil . He preferred to call it Ramavatharam(the incarnation of Rama) . In this great job, he received the support of Thiruvennai nallur Chadayappa vallal, a great philanthropist who lived in Tamil Nadu at that time. Kamban who admired this Vallal mentions his name once in 1000 verses in his book. Kamban did not do a literal translation of Valmiki Ramayana. He condensed it a lot , while adding some portions of his own. While Valmiki’s great epic consists of 24000 verses, Kamaban’s translation only contains 12000 verses. Though he adopted the six book(Kandam) concept of Valmiki , he has not adopted the sargam concept of Valimi. He has divided the Kandas in to Padalams and his Padalams are not direct translation of the Sargams of Valmiki. His book has only 123 Padalams . Kamban also did not adopt the story of Valmiki verbatim and made changes to the story. There is a folk story that The entire Kamba Ramayanam was written by Lord Ganesa as per his dictation.
I have done this translation based on the great commentary in Tamil published by the Kamban trust by a group of 16 experts lead by Professor Aa.Sa.Jnanasambandan in 8 volumes . I am deeply indebted to this great trust and great author.