One day, a female child was found in the field by the king in the deep furrow dug by his plough. Overwhelmed with joy, the king regarded the child as a "miraculous gift of god". The child was named Sita, the Sanskrit word for furrow. Sita grew up to be a girl of unparalleled beauty and charm. The king had decided that who ever could lift and wield the heavy bow, presented to his ancestors by Shiva , could marry Sita.
Sage Vishwamitra takes Rama and Lakshmana to Mithila to show the bow. Then Rama desires to lift it and goes on to wield the bow and when he draws the string, it breaks. The weddings are celebrated with great festivity in Mithila and the marriage party returns to Ayodhya.
After Rama and Sita have been married for twelve years, an elderly Dasharatha expresses his desire to crown Rama, to which the Kosala assembly and his subjects express their support. On the eve of the great event, Kaikeyi — her jealousy aroused by Manthara , a wicked maidservant — claims two boons that Dasharatha had long ago granted her.
Kaikeyi demands Rama to be exiled into the wilderness for fourteen years, while the succession passes to her son Bharata. The heartbroken king, constrained by his rigid devotion to his given word, accedes to Kaikeyi's demands. Rama accepts his father's reluctant decree with absolute submission and calm self-control which characterises him throughout the story. He is joined by Sita and Lakshmana. When he asks Sita not to follow him, she says, "the forest where you dwell is Ayodhya for me and Ayodhya without you is a veritable hell for me.
Meanwhile, Bharata who was on a visit to his maternal uncle, learns about the events in Ayodhya. Bharata refuses to profit from his mother's wicked scheming and visits Rama in the forest. He requests Rama to return and rule. But Rama, determined to carry out his father's orders to the letter, refuses to return before the period of exile.
However, Bharata carries Rama's sandals and keeps them on the throne, while he rules as Rama's regent. After thirteen years of exile, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana journey southward along the banks of river Godavari , where they build cottages and live off the land. At the Panchavati forest they are visited by a rakshasi named Shurpanakha , sister of Ravana. She tries to seduce the brothers and, after failing, attempts to kill Sita. Lakshmana stops her by cutting off her nose and ears. Hearing of this, her brother Khara organises an attack against the princes.
Rama defeats Khara and his raskshasas. When the news of these events reach Ravana, he resolves to destroy Rama by capturing Sita with the aid of the rakshasa Maricha. Maricha, assuming the form of a golden deer, captivates Sita's attention. Entranced by the beauty of the deer, Sita pleads with Rama to capture it. Rama, aware that this is the ploy of the demons, cannot dissuade Sita from her desire and chases the deer into the forest, leaving Sita under Lakshmana's guard. After some time, Sita hears Rama calling out to her; afraid for his life, she insists that Lakshmana rush to his aid.
Lakshmana tries to assure her that Rama is invincible and that it is best if he continues to follow Rama's orders to protect her. On the verge of hysterics, Sita insists that it is not she but Rama who needs Lakshmana's help.
He obeys her wish but stipulates that she is not to leave the cottage or entertain any stranger. He draws a chalk outline, the Lakshmana rekha , around the cottage and casts a spell on it that prevents anyone from entering the boundary but allows people to exit. With the coast finally clear, Ravana appears in the guise of an ascetic requesting Sita's hospitality. Unaware of her guest's plan, Sita is tricked into leaving the rekha and is then forcibly carried away by Ravana. Jatayu , a vulture , tries to rescue Sita, but is mortally wounded.
At Lanka, Sita is kept under the guard of rakshasis. Ravana asks Sita to marry him, but she refuses, being eternally devoted to Rama. Meanwhile, Rama and Lakshmana learn about Sita's abduction from Jatayu and immediately set out to save her. During their search, they meet Kabandha and the ascetic Shabari , who direct them towards Sugriva and Hanuman.
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Kishkindha Kanda is set in the ape Vanara citadel Kishkindha. Rama and Lakshmana meet Hanuman, the biggest devotee of Rama, greatest of ape heroes and an adherent of Sugriva , the banished pretender to the throne of Kishkindha. Rama befriends Sugriva and helps him by killing his elder brother Vali thus regaining the kingdom of Kishkindha, in exchange for helping Rama to recover Sita. However Sugriva soon forgets his promise and spends his time in enjoying his powers. The clever former ape queen Tara wife of Vali calmly intervenes to prevent an enraged Lakshmana from destroying the ape citadel.
She then eloquently convinces Sugriva to honour his pledge. Sugriva then sends search parties to the four corners of the earth, only to return without success from north, east and west. The southern search party under the leadership of Angada and Hanuman learns from a vulture named Sampati elder brother of Jatayu , that Sita was taken to Lanka. Sundara Kanda forms the heart of Valmiki's Ramayana and consists of a detailed, vivid account of Hanuman 's adventures. After learning about Sita, Hanuman assumes a gargantuan form and makes a colossal leap across the sea to Lanka. On the way he meets with many challenges like facing a Gandharva kanya who comes in the form of a demon to test his abilities.
He encounters a mountain named Mainakudu who offers Lord Hanuman assistance and offers him rest. Lord Hanuman refuses because there is little time remaining to complete the search for Sita. After entering into Lanka, he finds a demon, Lankini, who protects all of Lanka. Hanuman fights with her and subjugates her in order to get into Lanka. Here, Hanuman explores the demons' kingdom and spies on Ravana. He locates Sita in Ashoka grove, where she is being wooed and threatened by Ravana and his rakshasis to marry Ravana. Hanuman reassures Sita, giving Rama's signet ring as a sign of good faith.
He offers to carry Sita back to Rama; however, she refuses and says that it is not the dharma, stating that Ramayana will not have significance if Hanuman carries her to Rama — "When Rama is not there Ravana carried Sita forcibly and when Ravana was not there, Hanuman carried Sita back to Rama". She says that Rama himself must come and avenge the insult of her abduction. Hanuman then wreaks havoc in Lanka by destroying trees and buildings and killing Ravana's warriors.
He allows himself to be captured and delivered to Ravana. He gives a bold lecture to Ravana to release Sita. He is condemned and his tail is set on fire, but he escapes his bonds and leaping from roof to roof, sets fire to Ravana's citadel and makes the giant leap back from the island.
The joyous search party returns to Kishkindha with the news. Having received Hanuman's report on Sita, Rama and Lakshmana proceed with their allies towards the shore of the southern sea. There they are joined by Ravana's renegade brother Vibhishana. The apes named Nala and Nila construct a floating bridge known as Rama Setu  across the sea, using stones that floated on water because they had Rama's name written on them.
The princes and their army cross over to Lanka. A lengthy war ensues. During a battle, Ravana's son Indrajit hurls a powerful weapon at Lakshmana, who is badly wounded and is nearly killed. Upon reaching Mount Sumeru, Hanuman was unable to identify the herb that could cure Lakshmana and so decided to bring the entire mountain back to Lanka. Eventually, the war ends when Rama kills Ravana.
Rama then installs Vibhishana on the throne of Lanka.
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On meeting Sita, Rama asks her to undergo an Agni Pariksha test of fire to prove her chastity, as he wants to get rid of the rumors surrounding her purity. When Sita plunges into the sacrificial fire, Agni , lord of fire raises Sita, unharmed, to the throne, attesting to her innocence. In Tulsidas 's Ramacharitamanas , Sita was under the protection of Agni see Maya Sita so it was necessary to bring her out before reuniting with Rama.
At the expiration of his term of exile, Rama returns to Ayodhya with Sita and Lakshmana, where the coronation is performed. This is the beginning of Ram Rajya, which implies an ideal state with good morals. Ramayan is not only the story about how truth defeats the evil, it also teaches us to forget all the evil and arrogance that resides inside ourselves.
Uttara Kanda concerns the final years of Rama, Sita and Rama's brothers. After being crowned king, Rama passes time pleasantly with Sita. After some time, Sita gets pregnant with twin children. However, despite Agni Pariksha "fire ordeal" of Sita, rumours about her "purity" are spreading among the populace of Ayodhya.
Rama yields to public opinion and reluctantly banishes Sita to the forest, where the sage Valmiki provides shelter in his ashrama "hermitage". Here, she gives birth to twin boys, Lava and Kusha , who become pupils of Valmiki and are brought up in ignorance of their identity. Valmiki composes the Ramayana and teaches Lava and Kusha to sing it. Later, Rama holds a ceremony during the Ashwamedha yagna , which sage Valmiki, with Lava and Kusha, attends.
Lava and Kusha sing the Ramayana in the presence of Rama and his vast audience. Sita calls upon the Earth, her mother , to receive her and as the ground opens, she vanishes into it. Rama then learns that Lava and Kusha are his children. Many years later, a messenger from the Gods appears and informs Rama that the mission of his incarnation is over. Rama returns to his celestial abode along with his brothers. It was dramatised as Uttararamacarita by the Sanskrit poet Bhavabhuti.
As in many oral epics, multiple versions of the Ramayana survive. In particular, the Ramayana related in north India differs in important respects from that preserved in south India and the rest of southeast Asia. There are diverse regional versions of the Ramayana written by various authors in India. Some of them differ significantly from each other. During the 12th century, Kamban wrote Ramavataram , known popularly as Kambaramayanam in Tamil.
The earliest translation to a regional Indo-Aryan language is the early 14th century Saptakanda Ramayana in Assamese by Madhava Kandali.
Valmiki's Ramayana inspired Sri Ramacharit Manas by Tulsidas in , an epic Awadhi a dialect of Hindi version with a slant more grounded in a different realm of Hindu literature, that of bhakti ; it is an acknowledged masterpiece of India, popularly known as Tulsi-krita Ramayana. Gujarati poet Premanand wrote a version of the Ramayana in the 17th century. There is a sub-plot to the Ramayana , prevalent in some parts of India, relating the adventures of Ahiravan and Mahi Ravana, evil brother of Ravana, which enhances the role of Hanuman in the story. Hanuman rescues Rama and Lakshmana after they are kidnapped by the Ahi-Mahi Ravana at the behest of Ravana and held prisoner in a subterranean cave, to be sacrificed to the goddess Kali.
Adbhuta Ramayana is a version that is obscure but also attributed to Valmiki — intended as a supplementary to the original Valmiki Ramayana. In this variant of the narrative, Sita is accorded far more prominence, such as elaboration of the events surrounding her birth — in this case to Ravana 's wife, Mandodari as well as her conquest of Ravana's older brother in her Mahakali form. Sita was the wife of Rama. To protect his children from his wife Kaikeyi, who wished to promote her son Bharata, Dasharatha sent the three to a hermitage in the Himalayas for a twelve-year exile.
There is no Ravan in this version i. But, Ravana appears in other Buddhist literature, the Lankavatara Sutra. Jain versions of the Ramayana can be found in the various Jain agamas like Ravisena's Padmapurana story of Padmaja and Rama , Padmaja being the name of Sita , Hemacandra 's Trisastisalakapurusa charitra hagiography of 63 illustrious persons , Sanghadasa's Vasudevahindi and Uttarapurana by Gunabhadara.
According to Jain cosmology , every half time cycle has nine sets of Balarama , Vasudeva and prativasudeva. Rama, Lakshmana and Ravana are the eighth baladeva , vasudeva and prativasudeva respectively. Instead they serve as names of two distinct classes of mighty brothers, who appear nine times in each half time cycle and jointly rule half the earth as half- chakravartins. Jaini traces the origin of this list of brothers to the jinacharitra lives of jinas by Acharya Bhadrabahu 3d—4th century BCE.
Perhaps this is because Rama, a liberated Jain Soul in his last life, is unwilling to kill. On the other hand, Lakshmana and Ravana go to Hell. However, it is predicted that ultimately they both will be reborn as upright persons and attain liberation in their future births. According to Jain texts , Ravana will be the future Tirthankara omniscient teacher of Jainism. The Jain versions have some variations from Valmiki's Ramayana.
Dasharatha, the king of Saketa had four queens: Aparajita, Sumitra, Suprabha and Kaikeyi. These four queens had four sons.
NOTES FROM THE RAMAYANA
Aparajita's son was Padma and he became known by the name of Rama. Sumitra's son was Narayana: Kaikeyi's son was Bharata and Suprabha's son was Shatrughna. Furthermore, not much was thought of Rama's fidelity to Sita. According to the Jain version, Rama had four chief queens: Maithili, Prabhavati, Ratinibha, and Sridama. Furthermore, Sita takes renunciation as a Jain ascetic after Rama abandons her and is reborn in heaven.
Rama, after Lakshmana's death, also renounces his kingdom and becomes a Jain monk. Ultimately, he attains Kevala Jnana omniscience and finally liberation. Rama predicts that Ravana and Lakshmana, who were in the fourth hell , will attain liberation in their future births. Accordingly, Ravana is the future tirthankara of the next half ascending time cycle and Sita will be his Ganadhara. In Guru Granth Sahib , there is a description of two types of Ramayana. One is a spiritual Ramayana which is the actual subject of Guru Granth Sahib, in which Ravana is ego, Sita is budhi intellect , Rama is inner soul and Laxman is mann attention, mind.
Guru Granth Sahib also believes in the existence of Dashavatara who were kings of their times which tried their best to restore order to the world. Guru Granth Sahib states:. He also said that the almighty, invisible, all prevailing God created great numbers of Indras, Moons and Suns, Deities, Demons and sages, and also numerous saints and Brahmanas enlightened people. But they too were caught in the noose of death Kaal transmigration of the soul.
This is similar to the explanation in Bhagavad Gita which is part of the Mahabharata. Besides being the site of discovery of the oldest surviving manuscript of the Ramayana , Nepal gave rise to two regional variants in mid 19th — early 20th century.
One, written by Bhanubhakta Acharya , is considered the first epic of Nepali language , while the other, written by Siddhidas Mahaju in Nepal Bhasa was a foundational influence in the Nepal Bhasa renaissance. Ramayana written by Bhanubhakta Acharya is one of the most popular verses in Nepal. The popularization of the Ramayana and its tale, originally written in Sanskrit Language was greatly enhanced by the work of Bhanubhakta.
The Cambodian version of the Ramayana , Reamker Khmer: It adapts the Hindu concepts to Buddhist themes and shows the balance of good and evil in the world. The Reamker has several differences from the original Ramayana , including scenes not included in the original and emphasis on Hanuman and Sovanna Maccha , a retelling which influences the Thai and Lao versions. Reamker in Cambodia is not confined to the realm of literature but extends to all Cambodian art forms, such as sculpture, Khmer classical dance , theatre known as lakhorn luang the foundation of the royal ballet , poetry and the mural and bas-reliefs seen at the Silver Pagoda and Angkor Wat.
Ravana is the king of Lanka and has 10 heads and 20 arms. He received a boon from the God Brahma that he cannot be killed by gods, demons or by spirits, after performing a severe penance for 10, years. After receiving his reward from Brahma, Ravana began to lay waste to the earth and disturbed the deeds of the good Hindu sages.
Vishnu incarnates as the human Rama to defeat him, assisted by an army of monkeys and bears, thus circumventing the boon given by Brahma. Kaikeyi is Dasaratha's wife and Rama's stepmother. She demands that Rama be banished to the forest and that her son Bharata be awarded the kingdom instead. Bharata is the second son of Dasaratha. When he learns that his mother Kaikeyi had forced Rama into exile, causing Dasaratha to die broken hearted, he storms out of the palace and goes in search of Rama.
When Rama refuses to return from his exile to assume the throne, Bharata obtains Rama's sandals and places them on the throne as a gesture that Rama is the true king.
Sumitra is Dasharatha's wife and mother of the twins Lakshmana and Satrughna. Hanuman is the wise and resourceful monkey who helps Rama in his quest to defeat Ravana and rescue Sita. Sugriva is the ruler of the monkey kingdom. His throne was taken by his brother Bali, but Rama helps him to defeat the usurper in return for his assistance in finding Sita.
Quick guide to the Ramayana
The epic's poetic stature and marvellous story means that the story of Rama has been constantly retold by some of India's greatest writers both in Sanskrit and regional languages. It is one of the staples of various dramatic traditions, in court drama, dance-dramas, and in shadow-puppet theatres. In northern India, the annual Ram-lila or 'Rama-play' is performed at the autumn festival of Dassehra to celebrate with Rama and Sita the eventual triumph of light over darkness.
A hugely popular television series, 'Ramayan', was aired in India , drawing over million viewers to become 'the world's most viewed mythological serial'. Dubbed 'Ramayan' fever by India Today magazine, it was reported that India came to a virtual standstill as so many people who could gain access to a television stopped whatever they were doing to watch the small screen adventures of Rama. From January , a new big-budget primetime series of the Ramayana has been appearing on television screens across India. Rama was of a royal race descended from the Sun, and Rajput clans of the Solar dynasty, among them the rulers of Mewar or Udaipur, claimed Rama as their ancestor, making the Ramayana something of a family history.
The Ramayana manuscripts commissioned by Rana Jagat Singh of Mewar are among the most important documents of 17th-century Indian painting. Unlike most other Ramayana manuscripts, they have not been dispersed as individual paintings into various collections but remain largely intact. The huge scale of the project with originally over paintings allowed the artists to focus on telling an epic story on the grandest scale.
The seven books of the Ramayana are illustrated in three different styles of Mewar painting, including two books by Sahib Din, the greatest Mewar artist of the 17th century. Four of the seven books and part of a fifth are in the British Library. The two remaining books are still in India. James Tod, the historian of the Rajputs, who brought them back to London in Bhim Singh also gave Tod a separate manuscript of the first book of the Ramayana dated They were all acquired by the British Museum in , and from there came to the British Library.
The Ramayana manuscripts commissioned by Rana Jagat Singh of Mewar were illustrated on the grandest scale so that no episode or detail of importance was omitted.
Related Notes from the Ramayana
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