The Life of Padma, or the Paümacariu, is a richly expressive Jain retelling in the Apabhramsha language of the famous Ramayana tale. The work was written by the poet and scholar Svayambhudeva, who lived in south India around the beginning of the tenth century. Like the epic tradition on which it is based, The Life of Padma narrates Prince Rama’s exile, his search for his wife Sita after her abduction by King Ravana of Lanka, and the restoration of his kingship.
The first volume of The Life of Padma begins by recounting the histories and noteworthy ancestors of Rama’s allies and enemies, focusing on his antagonist, Ravana. Svayambhudeva connects central characters from the Ramayana tradition to one another and to Rishabha, the founding prophet of Jainism, in a complex web of family relations dating back generations. This is the first direct translation into English of the oldest extant work in Apabhramsha, accompanied by a corrected reprint in the Devanagari script of Harivallabh C. Bhayani’s critical edition.