Rama is the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in Hindu scriptures. In a few Rama-centric sects, Rama is considered the Supreme Being, rather than an avatar. Rama was born in Suryavansha (Ikshvaku Vansham) later known as Raghuvansha after king Raghu. When depicted with his brother Lakshman and consort Sita, with Hanuman kneeling in a state of prayer, this form is called Ram Parivar, and is the typical fixture depicting Rama in Hindu mandirs, or temples. The Hindi word parivar translates as "family."
Prior to the eleventh century there were no temples to Rama, since he was viewed as human. Rama bhakti poetry starts to emerge only in the sixteenth century. However, the Archaeological Survey of India found ancient remains of a temple in the Rama Janmabhoomi in a survey conducted in 1992 indicating the existence of pre-ancient Rama worship.
Rama is one of the many popular figures and deities in Hinduism, specifically Vaishnavism and Vaishnava religious scriptures in South and Southeast Asia. In Ayodhya, the Indian city believed to be the birthplace of Rama, he is also worshipped as an infant or Rama Lalla. Most of the details of Rama's life come from the Ramayana, one of the two great epics of India.
Born as the eldest son of Kausalya and Dasharatha, king of Ayodhya, Rama is referred to within Hinduism as Maryada Purushottama, literally the Perfect Man or Lord of Self-Control or Lord of Virtue. Rama is the husband of Sita, whom Hindus consider to be an Avatar of Lakshmi and the embodiment of perfect womanhood.
Rama's life and journey is one of perfect adherence to dharma despite harsh tests of life and time. He is pictured as the ideal man and the perfect human. For the sake of his father's honour, Rama abandons his claim to Kosala's throne to serve an exile of fourteen years in the forest. His wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, unable to live without Rama, decide to join him, and all three spend the fourteen years in exile together. While in exile, Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, the Rakshasa (Asura) monarch of Lanka. After a long and arduous search that tests his personal strength and virtue, Rama fights a colossal war against Ravana's armies. In a war of powerful and magical beings, greatly destructive weaponry and battles, Rama slays Ravana in battle and liberates his wife. Having completed his exile, Rama returns to be crowned king in Ayodhya (the capital of his kingdom) and eventually becomes emperor, rules with happiness, peace, prosperity and justice a period known as Rama Rajya.
Rama's courage in searching for Sita and fighting a terrible war to rescue his wife and their honour is complemented by Sita's absolute devotion to her husband's love, and perfect chastity despite being Ravana's captive. Rama's younger brothers, namely Lakshmana, Shatrughna and Bharata strongly complement his piety, virtue and strength, and they are believed by many to belong to the Maryada Purushottama and the Seventh Avatara, mainly embodied by Rama. Rama's piety and virtue attract powerful and devoted allies such as Hanuman and the Vanaras of Kishkindha, with whose help he rescues Sita. The legend of Rama is deeply influential and popular in the societies of the Indian subcontinent and across South East Asia. Rama is revered for his unending compassion, courage and devotion to religious values and duty.
There is mention of another Rama in history. In Mahabharata, we find the mention of Rama, the son of Jamadagni. Between Treta and Dwapar yugas, on perceiving so much of wrongs around him, annihilated the Kshatriyas and formed five pools of blood at Samanta-panchaka, which later was the place where Kauravas and Pandavas waged a mighty war at the end of the Dwapara Yuga. He offered the blood to his ancestors. Richika was the first one to arrive, and forgave him for annihilating the Kshatriyas, and also gave a boon that Samanta-panchaka will be famous as holy shrines.
Sita (far right), Rama (center), Lakshmana (far left) and Hanuman (below seated) at Bhaktivedanta Manor, a temple in Watford (England)
This to Duhsima Prthavana have I sung, to Vena, Rama, to the nobles [Asuras], and the King.
The feminine form of the adjective, rama is an epithet of the night (Ratri), as is the feminine of viz. "the dark one; the black one". Two Ramas are mentioned in the Vedas, with the patronymics Mārgaveya and Aupatasvini; another Rama with the patronymic Jāmadagnya is the supposed author of a Rigvedic hymn. Three Ramas were celebrated in post-Vedic times,
1.Rāmachandra ("Rama-figuratively referred to as the full moon (bright light in the night sky) "), son of Dasharatha belongs to Raghuvamsa, believed to have descended from Raghu. (The Rama of this article).
2.Parashurama ("Rama of the battle axe"), the Sixth Avatara of Vishnu, sometimes also referred to as Jāmadagnya, or as Bhārgava Rāma (descended from Maharishi Bhrigu), a Chiranjivi or Immortal.
3.Balarama ("the strong Rama"), the elder brother and close companion of Krishna.
In the Vishnu sahasranama, Rama is the 394th name of Vishnu. In the interpretation of Adi Shankara's commentary, translated by Swami Tapasyananda of the Ramakrishna Mission, Rama has two meanings: the supreme Brahman who is the eternally blissful spiritual Self in whom yogis delight, or the One (i.e., Vishnu) who out of His own will assumed the enchanting form of Rama, the son of Dasaratha.
Other names of Rama include Jamal (Malay), Ramavijaya (Javanese), Phreah Ream (Khmer), Phra Ram (Lao and Thai), Megat Seri Rama (Malay), Raja Bantugan (Maranao) and Ramar (Tamil).
The primary source of the life and journey of Rama is the epic Ramayana as composed by the Rishi Valmiki. The Vishnu Purana also recounts Rama as Vishnu's seventh avatar, and in the Bhagavata Purana, ninth skandha, adhyayas 10 & 11, the story of the Ramayana is again recounted in brief up to and including the slaying of Ravana and Prince Rama's return to Ayodhya. Additionally, the tales of Rama are reverently spoken of in the epic Mahabharata.
The epic had many versions across India's regions. However, other scriptures in Sanskrit reflect the life of Ramayana. The followers of Madhvacharya believe that an older version of the Ramayana, the mula-Ramayana, previously existed but is no longer extant. They consider it to be more authoritative than the version by Valmiki. Another important shortened version of the epic in Sanskrit is the Adhyatma Ramayana. The seventh century CE Sanskrit "Bhatti's Poem" Bhaikavya of Bhai who lived in Gujarat, is a retelling of the epic that simultaneously illustrates the grammatical examples for Pāini's Auadhyayi as well as the major figures of speech and the Prakrit language. Versions of the Ramayana exist in most major Indian languages; examples that elaborate on the life, deeds and divine philosophies of Rama include the epic poem Ramavataram by the 12th century poet Kambar in Tamil, and Ramcharitmanas, a Hindi version of the Ramayana by the 16th century saint, Tulsidas. Contemporary versions of the Ramayana include Sri Ramayana Darshanam by Kuvempu in Kannada and Ramayana Kalpavrikshamu by Viswanatha Satyanarayana in Telugu, both of which have been awarded the Jnanpith Award. The epic has transformed across the diverse regions of India, which boast their own unique languages and cultural traditions.
The essential tale of Rama has also spread across Southeast Asia, and evolved into unique renditions of the epic - incorporating local history, folktales, religious values as well as unique features from the languages and literary discourse. The Kakawin Ramayana of Java, Indonesia, the Ramakavaca of Bali, Hikayat Seri Rama of Malaysia, Maradia Lawana of the Philippines, Ramakien of Thailand (which calls him Phra Ram) are great works with many unique characteristics and differences in accounts and portrayals of the legend of Rama. The legends of Rama are witnessed in elaborate illustration at the Wat Phra Kaew temple in Bangkok. The national epic of Myanmar, Yama Zatdaw is essentially the Burmese Ramayana, where Rama is named Yama. In the Reamker of Cambodia, Rama is known as Preah Ream. In the Phra Lak Phra Lam of Laos, Gautama Buddha is regarded as an incarnation of Rama.
As per Valmiki Ramayana, Rama was born in Ayodhya, India, on 9th day (now celebrated across India as Ram Navmi) of Chaitra lunar month (March–April), when Moon and Jupiter were rising in the east in Cancer sign and four other planets (Sun, Mars, Saturn, Venus) were exalted in their exaltation signs.
Using a free planetarium software (Planetarium Gold)-that uses NASA JPL data files for planetary positions-Pushkar Bhatnagar has been able to establish in his research that the star positions at Rama's birth match 10 January 5114BCE However Baghavada purana says Rama lived about 800000 years ago
As per based on Puranic genealogy, Rama is believed by Hindus to have lived in the second Yuga called Treta Yuga, before Krishna-who was born towards the beginning of Dwapara Yuga. Rama is traditionally considered to have appeared in the last quarter of Treta Yuga.
Sage Vishwamitra takes the two princes, Rama and Lakshmana, to his ashram, as he needs Rama's help in slaying several Rakshasas that have been harassing him and several other sages living in the area. Rama's first encounter is with a Rakshasi named Taataka, who is a celestial nymph cursed to take the form of a demoness. Vishwamitra explains that she has polluted much of the habitat where the sages reside and there will not be any contentment until she is destroyed. Rama has some reservations about killing a woman, but since Taataka poses such a big threat to the Rishis and he is expected to follow their word, he fights with Taataka and kills her with a poisoned arrow. After her death, the surrounding forest becomes greener and cleaner.
Vishwamitra presents Rama with several astras and sastras (divine weapons) that will be of use to him in the future, and Rama masters the knowledge of all the weapons and their uses. Vishwamitra then tells Rama and Lakshmana that soon, he along with some of his disciples, will perform a yagna for seven days and nights that will be of great benefit to the world, and the two princes must keep close watch for the two sons of Taataka, Mareecha and Subahu, who will try to defile the yagna at all costs. The princes therefore keep a strong vigil for all of the days, and on the seventh day they spot Maricha and Subahu coming with a whole host of Raakshasas ready to pour bones and blood into the fire. Rama points his bow at the two, and with one arrow kills Subahu, and with the other arrow flings Mareecha thousands of miles away into the ocean. Lakshmana deals with the rest of the demons. The yagna is completed successfully
Ahalya offering fruits and flowers to Rama - her saviour, a 5th century AD Stone sculpture from Deogah, currently in the National Museum, New Delhi
Rama also frees Ahalya, the wife of Gautama Maharishi, from a curse. She was cursed to turn into stone by her husband after a displeasing incident. However, the dust on Rama's feet touched the stone and turned it back into a woman again. Gautama Maharishi was gratified that everything was back to normal again.
Sage Vishwamitra then takes the two princes to the Swayamvara a wedding ceremony for Sita. The challenge is to string the bow of Shiva called "Pinaka", and to break it. This task is considered impossible for any ordinary king or living being, as this is the personal weapon of Shiva, more powerful, holy and of divine creation than conceivable. While attempting to string the bow, Rama breaks it in two. This feat of strength spreads his fame across the worlds and seals his marriage to Sita, celebrated as Vivaha Panchami.
After Rama weds Sita and the entire royal family and the Ayodhya army begin their journey back, the great rishi Parashurama (Bhargava Rama) appears before them, having descended from his mountainous hermitage. Parashurama is an extremely powerful rishi, responsible for killing all of the world's tyrannical and oppressive emperors and kings 21 times. He was the sixth Avatara of Vishnu, and finds it unbelievable that anybody could break the bow of Shiva. Considering himself to still be the most powerful warrior-rishi on earth, he brings with them the bow of Vishnu, and intends to challenge Rama to prove his strength by stringing it, and then fighting a battle with him to prove superiority. Although the entire Ayodhya army is forestalled by his mystical power, Rama is himself angered. He respectfully bows to Parashurama, and within a twinkling of an eyelid snatches the bow of Vishnu, strings it, places an arrow and points it straight at the challenger's heart. Rama asks Parashurama what he will give as a target to the arrow in return for his life. At this point, Parashurama feels himself devoid of the tremendous mystical energy he possessed for so long. He realizes that Rama is Vishnu incarnate, his successor and definitely his superior. He accepts Rama's superiority, devotes his tapasya to him, pays homage to Rama and promises to return to his hermitage and leave the world of men.
Rama then shoots the arrow up into the sky with Vishnu's bow, performing a feat true to his supreme, divine nature with his natural weapon. His overpowering of Parashurama and using the supreme weapon with incredible ease and perfection dazzle the spectators and his relatives, but no one save Parashurama and Vasishta associate this with his true identity. It is said that the Rama's arrow is still flying across space, across time and across the entire universe. The day it will return to earth, it is said, it will bring the end of the world. Others say that the flying arrow destroys all evil on earth to uphold dharma and righteousness.
Dharma of exile
Rama portrayed as exile in the forest, accompanied by his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana
King Dasaratha announces to Ayodhya that he plans to crown Rama, his eldest child the Yuvaraja (crown prince). While the news is welcomed by everyone in the kingdom, the mind of queen Kaikeyi is poisoned by her wicked maid-servant, Manthara. Kaikeyi, who is initially pleased for Rama, is made to fear for the safety and future of her son Bharata. Fearing that Rama would ignore or possibly victimize his youngest brother for the sake of power, Kaikeyi demands that Dasaratha banish Rama to a forest exile for fourteen years, and that Bharata be crowned in Rama's place. She had been granted two boons by the king when she had saved his life a long time ago in battle, and the queen now used them to serve her purpose. The king's court and the people are outraged at this turn of events. Dasaratha loved and cherished Rama dearly, and was in personal turmoil. Completely estranged now from his younger wife, he abhors the prospect of separation from Rama. But Rama realizes that the king must not break a solemn promise at any time, and neither should a son disobey his father's command. Sita joins her husband in exile despite his discouraging her, as it is her duty and out of love for Rama that she must be at his side at all times. His younger brother Lakshmana also immediately decides to join Rama rather than remain in the city.
As he leaves for exile, the people of Ayodhya are deeply saddened and angered at Dasaratha and Kaikeyi. Dasaratha's heart is broken and he collapses and dies by the next day, unable to bear the agony of separation from Rama. Despite the reasoning of Vasishtha and the pleas of his brothers, Rama refuses to return. Although horrified at the news of his father's death, Rama finds it impossible that he should break his dead father's word. Rama does not bear any anger towards Kaikeyi, believing firmly in the power of destiny. According to the explanation of the classic, this exile actually presents Rama the opportunity to confront Ravana and his evil empire.
Rama and Sita
Rama with Sita on the throne, their children Lava and Kusha on their laps. Behind the throne, Lakshamana, Bharata and Shatrughna stand. Hanuman bows to Rama before the throne. Valmiki to the left
Rama and Sita are the protagonists in one of the most famous] love stories of all time. Described as being deeply in love, Sita and Rama are theologically understood as Incarnations of Lakshmi and Vishnu respectively. When Rama is banished from the kingdom, he attempts to convince Sita not to join him in a potentially dangerous and certainly arduous existence in the jungle, but Sita rejects this. When Rama orders her in his capacity as husband, Sita rejects it, asserting that it was an essential duty of a wife to be at her husband's side come good or ill. Rama in turn is assiduously protective and caring for Sita throughout the exile.
When Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, both Sita and Rama undergo great personal hardships during their separation. Sita protects her chastity assiduously, and survives over a year in captivity on the strength of her love and attention to religious values and duty. She is completely unfettered in her resolve despite Ravana's courting, cajoling and threats. Meanwhile Rama, not knowing who had kidnapped Sita or where was she taken, often succumbs to despair and tears, denouncing himself for failing to defend her and agonizing over her safety and pain. Sita knows that it is in Rama's destiny to fight to rescue her (she refuses to be rescued thus by Hanuman, who discovers her), but is deeply anxious for his safety and fearful of Ravana's power.
Lord Rama sent a messenger to Ravana that said, "Come to me and I will forgive you," before he slays Ravana. After Rama slays Ravana and wins the war, Sita wants to come before him in the state which over a year's imprisonment had reduced her to, Rama arranges for Sita to be bathed and given beautiful garments before they are re-united. But even as Sita comes before him in great excitement and happiness, after hearing a comment from a washer who wonders, "After a long time near Ravana how can Sita maintain her character?" Rama decided to prove that his Sita is still like as earlier, so he tells her that she has to give Agni pariksha. At this sudden turn of events, all the vanaras, rakshasas, Sugriva, Hanuman and Lakshmana are deeply shocked.
The Agni pariksha
Sita begs Lakshmana to build her a pyre upon which she could end her life, as she could not live without Rama. At this point, Lakshmana is angered at Rama for the first time in his life, but following Rama's nod, he builds a pyre for Sita. At the great shock and sorrow of the watchers, Sita sits into the flames. But to their shock and wonder, she is completely unharmed. Instead, she glows radiantly from the centre of the pyre. Immediately Rama runs to Sita and embraces her. He had never doubted her purity for a second, but, as he explains to a dazzled Sita, the people of the world would not have accepted or honoured her as a queen or a woman if she had not passed this Agni pariksha before the eyes of hundreds, where Agni would destroy the impure and sinful, but not touch the pure and innocent. There is a version of Tulsidas's Ramacharitamanasa, which is popular, which states that Rama had Sita under the protection of Agni God. After Sita was released it was necessary to bring her out of security of Agni god. Another version of this, used in Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan, was that Rama had known Sita was going to be abducted by Ravana ahead of time. So, he entrusted her to Agni Dev, or the God of Fire. Rama did this so that he, who in reality was Vishnu, could kill Ravana. Sita, in turn, left behind a "shadow", or twin-like version of herself behind. The "shadow" Sita had been abducted by Ravana. Therefore, the lila of Agni Pariksha was to retrieve the genuine Sita from the temporary care of Agni Dev. Rama explains this to Lakshmana before the "Pariksha" is done. This version has also been written in the Ram Charit Manas.
In the Uttara Kanda, Rama banishes his wife Sita, even as she is pregnant, asking Lakshmana to deliver her safely to Rishi Valmiki's ashram. He does so after receiving word that some of his subjects in Ayodhya believed that Sita was unfit due to her long captivity in Ravana's city. As a king is expected to uphold moral principles, Rama reluctantly banished Sita in order to uphold his duty.As per Ramayana written by Goswami Tulsidas, Sitaji was deported by Shree Rama and after that she took refuge under the noble sage Valmiki.
A legend by Rishi Agastya in the epic states that Vishnu in a previous age had been cursed by Rishi Bhrigu, whose wife had been killed by Vishnu for sheltering his enemies escaping from battle. The Rishi condemns Vishnu to be denied for a long age the companionship of his soul mate, just as Vishnu, by an inadvertent display of anger, had deprived the rishi of his loving wife. Thus Rama, Vishnu's incarnation, must live the rest of his life without Sita.
Many Hindus, such as the followers of Sri Vaishnavism, consider this entire section of the Ramayana to be interpolated, and thus they do not accept the authenticity of this story claiming that Sita was banished. A general narration of Ramayana does not state it so. It says that Sita later lived in her father's kingdom of Mithila with her sons Lava and Kusha as per the North Indian (especially in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) custom that children be brought up in their nanihal, or maternal grandmother's place. Sita and her sons later live in Valmiki's ashram for the boys' education and military training.As per Tulsidas's Ramcharitmanas, both the princesses grew extremely intelligent and strong under Rishi Valmiki's tutelage.
Main articles: Kusha (Ramayana) and Lava (Ramayana)
Lava and Kusa, the sons of Rāma.
According to legend, Kusha and Lava are the twin sons of Lord Rama and Sita. Born in the forest after the banishment of Sita from Ayodhya, the twins were educated and trained in military skills as their mother took refuge in Sage Valmiki's ashram, located in a forest on the banks of the River Tamsa.
As Rama performed the Ashvamedha Yajna, a horse strayed into their forest, Rama sent Hanuman to retrieve the horses. Rama's sons Luv and Kush captured the horses. Hanuman, seeing Luv and Kush recognised that they were the son's of Rama. He let them capture him and tie him up. There Hanuman started meditating on the name Rama. Worried Rama sent his brothers to look for the horses. As they saw Hanuman tied up and two boys guarding him, they thought that the two boy had stolen the horses. So Ramas brothers started attacking Luv and Kush. Although Rama's brothers should have won, but Luv and Kush defeated them all, knocking them unconscious. Luv and Kush were protected by Hanuman. Then Rama himself went looking for the horses fearing that Hanuman and his brothers had been attacked. Rama found his brothers on the floor. He was enraged. He then started fiercely attacking Luv and Kush not knowing they were his children. Though his attacks had no effect on them he saw Hanuman meditating. At that moment he knew that Hanuman was protecting them. Rama then started attacking Hanuman to awaken him. But none of his weapons had any effect on him either. The sage Valmiki then awoke the brothers and Hanuman, explaining to Rama that Luv and Kush were his sons.
When Devi Sita found out that Lava and Kusha had defeated Ayodhya's forces, she proudly revealed their/her identity. Once she had witnessed the acceptance of her children by Rama, Sita sought final refuge in the arms of her mother Bhumidevi, the Goddess Mother Earth.
Rama's reign is known as the Rama Rajya which lasted for 11,000 years. During this period, people were healthy, satisfied and lived with complete peace and harmony. There was no evil, no wars, no natural calamity and no diseases. Rama ruled the whole earth without using military force as all kings submitted themselves to him.Once a Brahmana came to him, lamenting over his dead 15 year old son and accused Rama for committing a sin (in those days, nobody had a short life and died of natural causes). Sage Narada told Rama that a Sudra was doing a penance somewhere in his kingdom, which was a sin because in the Treta Yuga only Brahmanas and Kshatriyas were expected to do penances. Vaishyas and Sudras could attain salvation by doing their duty only. Rama set out in the Pushpaka Vimana (which Kubera had given it in gratitude for killing Ravana) and travelled in North, East and Western directions but Rama did not see any sinful activities. Rama then went out in the southern direction where he found a Sudra on top of a hill in sirsana position. The Sudra wanted to defeat Indra and conquer the heavens. Rama then beheaded the Sudra with his sword and left for Ayodhya to find the Brahmana's son alive.His brothers Bharata and Shatrughna settled in their later lives. Bharata, with the help of his uncle Yudhajit, conquered the eastern land of the Gandharvas and ruled it. Shatrughna slew the Asura Lavana and founded the city of Mathura. Rama acquired a rare gem from Rishi Agastya which entombed the powers of the gods Indra, Varuna, Yama and Kubera, which helped the king rule efficiently.After his reign, Rama and his brothers and his allies peacefully left the earth on the river Sarayu without abandoning their mortal bodies. Luv and Kush ruled Kosala and continued the solar race.
As a person, Rama personifies the characteristics of an ideal person (purushottama) who is to be emulated. He had within him all the desirable virtues that any individual would seek to aspire, and he fulfils all his moral obligations (maryada). Rama's purity and piety in his intentions and actions inspires affection and devotion for him from a variety of characters from different backgrounds. For example, he gave up his rightful claim to the throne, and agreed to go into exile for fourteen years, to fulfill the vow that his father had given to Kaikeyi, one of King Dashratha's wives. This is in spite of the fact that Kaikeyi's son, Bharat, begged him to return back to Ayodhya and said that he did not want to rule in place of Rama. But Rama considered his dharma as a son above that of his own birthright and his life's ambition. For such supreme sacrifices, and many other qualities, Rama is considered a maryada purushottamor the best of upholders of Dharma, a basically human but exemplary figure Some of his ideals are as follows:
1. At the time when it was normal for kings to have more than one wife, Rama gave ideal of having a single wife. After Sita was banished, he was doing penance with a gold statue of Sita. In Balakanda of Valmiki Ramayana it is written that Rama and Sita resided in each other's heart.
2. Rama always followed his promise at any cost. In fact, he went to forest to make his father's promise to Kaikeyi true. Another instance was when, he had promised the Spirit of Time that during their conversation, if anyone was to intrude, Rama would have pronounce an instant death sentence upon the individual. They were intruded upon by his beloved younger brother Lakshmana, and to keep his part of the promise, pronounced the death sentence. There are many examples of Rama's promises which he kept. Most important are the promise to sages to save their lives from Rakshasas, getting back Sugreeva's kingdom, making Vibhishana the king of Lanka.
3. Excellent friend: Rama had very touching relations with his friends irrespective of their status. Some of his friends are Nishada-raja Guha, King of Nishaadas (a caste whose profession was hunting the birds), Sugreeva (the Vanar king) and Vibhishana a Rakshasa.
4. Even towards his enemies, Rama showed great nobility and virtue. To gather information about the enemy army's strengths and weaknesses, Ravana sent two of his spies, Suka and Sarana, to the Vanara camps. Disguised as Vanaras they blended into the enemy camp, but Vibhishana saw through their deceit and presented the two spies to Rama. Rama then asked them what their mission was and whether they fulfilled it. After listening to them, he sent for a Vanara to give them a proper tour of all the Vanara camps and give them all the information they desired about the major soldiers and their strengths. He then told the spies to give this message to Ravana. "Tomorrow morning, I will destroy all of Lanka. Keep all sides of your palace well defended and be ready with all of your men by sunrise." The spies were greatly astonished with Rama's charisma, courage, and adherence to the codes of war. After Rama gave them leave, they knew that their king was bound to lose against this virtuous and courageous man. When Ravana first fought with Rama, Rama defeated him to such an extent that Ravana lost his charioteer, horses, chariot, flag, weapons and armor. Though the situation was at his advantage, Rama instead praised Ravana for a great fight that day, and asked him to retire and take rest, as he must be quite tired. Ravana was greatly embarrassed at this, but he was also gratified that Rama saved his life, and this led him to consider for a moment whether to retreat and give Sita back...
Even as Rama is the ideal conception of manhood, he is often aided and complemented in different situations by the characteristics by those who accompany him. They serve Rama devotedly, at great personal risk and sacrifice.
Bharata and Lakshmana
Main articles: Bharata (Ramayana) and Lakshmana
See also: Shatrughna
File:Rama, Lakshman and Sita at the Kalarama Temple, Nashik..jpg
Deities inside the Kalarama Temple, Nashik
Absent when Rama is exiled, upon his return Bharata is appalled to learn of the events. And even though Kaikeyi had done all this for his benefit, Bharata is angered at the suggestion that he should take Ayodhya's throne. Denouncing his mother, Bharata proclaims to the city that he would go to the forest to fetch Rama back, and would serve out his term of exile himself. Although initially resentful and suspicious, the people of Ayodhya hail Bharata's selfless nature and courageous act. Despite his fervent pleas to return, Rama asserts that he must stay in the forest to keep his father's word. He orders Bharata to perform his duty as king of Ayodhya, especially important after Dasaratha's death, and orders Shatrughna to support and serve him. Returning saddened to the city, Bharata refuses to wear the crown or sit on the throne. Instead, he places the slippers of Rama that he had taken back with him on the throne, and rules Ayodhya assiduously keeping Rama's beliefs and values in mind. When Rama finally returns, Bharata runs personally to welcome him back.
Bharata is hailed for his devotion to his elder brother and dharma, distinguished from Lakshmana as he is left on his own for fourteen years. But he unfailingly denies self-interest throughout this time, ruling the kingdom only in Rama's image. Vasishtha proclaims that no one had better learnt dharma than Bharata, and for this piety he forms an essential part of the conception of perfect manhood, of the Seventh Avatara of Vishnu. Shatrughna's role to Bharata is akin to that of Lakshmana to Rama. Believed to be one-quarter of Vishnu incarnated, or as the incarnation of his eternal companion, Ananta Sesha, Lakshmana is always at Rama's side. Although unconstrained by Dasaratha's promise to Kaikeyi, Lakshmana resists Rama's arguments and accompanies him and Sita into the forest. During the years of exile, Lakshmana constantly serves Rama and Sita – building huts, standing guard and finding new routes. When Sita is kidnapped, Rama blazes with his divine power and in his immense rage, expresses the desire to destroy all creation. Lakshmana prays and pleads for Rama to calm himself, and despite the shock of the moment and the promise of travails to come, begin an arduous but systematic search for Sita. During times when the search is proving fruitless and Rama fears for Sita, and expresses despair in his grief and loneliness, Lakshmana encourages him, providing hope and solace.
When Rama in his despair fears that Sugriva has forgotten his promise to help him trace Sita, Lakshmana goes to Kishkindha to remind the complacent monarch of his promise to help. But Lakshmana kicks down the city gate and threatens to destroy Sugriva and the monkey kingdom with his own divine power. Lakshmana is unable to tolerate Sugriva breaking his vow to Rama while enjoying material and sensual pleasures while Rama suffers alone. It is only through the diplomatic intervention of Queen Tara, Sugriva's wife, that Lakshmana is pacified. Tara then scolds and galvanises Sugriva into honoring his promise to Rama. Sugriva and Rama are then reconciled with the help of Lakshmana and Tara. And finally Sugriva appoints Hanuman to find the location of Sita and lead the monkey army into battle against the demonic forces of Ravana.
Lakshmana is uniquely responsible for slaying Indrajit, the invincible son of Ravana who had humiliated Indra and the Devas, and outwitted the brothers and the Vanaras on several occasions. Rishi Agastya later points out that this victory was the turning point of the conflict. Rama is often overcome with emotion and deep affection for Lakshmana, acknowledging how important and crucial Lakshmana's love and support was for him. He also trusts Lakshmana to carry out difficult orders - Lakshmana was asked to take Sita to the ashrama of Valmiki, where she was to spend her exile. Lakshmana's deep love for Rama, his unconditional service and sacrifice, as well as qualities of practical judgment and clear-headedness make him Rama's superior in certain situations and perspectives. Lakshmana symbolizes a man's duty to his family, brothers and friends, and forms an essential part of the conception of ideal manhood, that Rama primarily embodies.
Jatayu, Hanuman and Vibheeshana
Ravana kidnapping Sita while Jatayu on the left tried to help her. 9th century Prambanan bas-relief, Java, Indonesia
When Rama and Lakshmana begin the desperate search to discover where Sita had been taken, after traversing a distance in many directions, they come across the magical eagle Jatayu, who is dying. They discover from Jatayu that a rakshasa was flying away with a crying, struggling Sita towards the south. Jatayu had flown to the rescue of Sita, but owing to his age and the rakshasa's power, had been defeated. With this, Jatayu dies in Rama's arms. Rama is overcome with love and affection for the bird which sacrificed its own life for Sita, and the rage of his death returns to him in the climactic battle with Ravana.
Rama's only allies in the struggle to find Sita are the Vanaras of Kishkindha. Finding a terrified Sugriva being hunted by his own brother, king Vali, Rama promises to kill Vali and free Sugriva of the terror and the unjust charge of plotting to murder Vali. The two swear everlasting friendship over sacred fire. Rama's natural piety and compassion, his sense of justice and duty, as well as his courage despite great personal suffering after Sita's kidnapping inspire devotion from the Vanaras and Sugriva, but especially Hanuman, Sugriva's minister. Devoted to Rama, Hanuman exerts himself greatly over the search for Sita. He is the first to discover that Sita was taken to Lanka, and volunteers to use his divine gifts in a dangerous reconnaissance of Lanka, where he is to verify Sita's presence. Hanuman hands Rama's ring to Sita, as a mark of Rama's love and his imminent intention of rescuing her. Though captured, he candidly delivers Rama's message to Ravana to immediately release Sita, and when his tail is burned, he flees and sets Lanka on fire. When Lakshmana is struck down and near death and Rama overcome with love and concern for his brother, Hanuman flies to the Himalayas on the urgent mission to fetch the sanjeevani medicinal herbs, bringing the entire mountain to Lanka so that no time is lost in saving Lakshmana. The Vanaras fight the rakshasas, completely devoted to Rama's cause. They angrily dismiss Ravana's efforts to create divisions by suggesting that Rama considered them, monkeys, as mere animals. At the end of the war, Rama worships Brahma, who restores life to the millions of fallen Vanaras.
Before the onset of war, rakshasa prince Vibheeshana, Ravana's youngest brother comes to join Rama. Although he loves his brother and Lanka, he fails in repeated efforts to make Ravana follow religious values and return Sita. Vibheeshana believes that Ravana's arrogance and callousness will cause the destruction of Lanka, which is a gross violation of a king's duty, and that Ravana's actions have only propagated evil. Vibheeshana refuses to defend the evil of Ravana's ways and inspired by Rama's compassion and piety, leaves Lanka to join the Vanara Army. His knowledge of rakshasa ways and Ravana's mind help Rama and the Vanaras overcome black magic and mystical weapons. At the end of the war, Rama crowns Vibheeshana as the king of Lanka. Vibheeshana, and to a greater extent Hanuman, embody the perfect devotee in the wider conception of perfect manhood.
Rama in war
The epic story of Ramayana was adopted by several cultures across Asia. Shown here is a Thai historic artwork depicting the battle which took place between Rama and Ravana.
When Rama is sixteen years old, he and his brother Lakshmana are taken by Vishwamitra to the forests, with the purpose of killing rakshasas who are wrecking the tapasya and sacrifices of brahmins. Rama and Lakshmana are taught the advanced military arts and given the knowledge of all celestial weapons by Vishwamitra. Rama proceeds to slay Tadaka, a cursed yaksha demoness. When asked to slay the demoness, Rama demurs, considering it sinful to kill a woman. But Vishwamitra explains that evil has no gender. Rama replies that "My father asked me to follow your orders, I will obey them even if it is a sin" The killing of Tadaka liberates the yaksha soul who was cursed for a sin, and had to adopt a rakshasi's body. It restores the purity of the sacrifices of the brahmins who live nearby, and protects the animals who live in the forest, and travelers. The main purpose of Vishwamitra's exursion is to conduct his yagna without interruption from two evil demons, Maricha and Subahu sons of Tadaka. Rama and Lakshmana guard the sacrifice, and when the two demons appear, Rama shoots an arrow named Manava Astrathat carries Maricha across the lands and into the ocean, but does not kill him. Rama and his brother then proceed to kill Subahu and accompanying demons. Rama explains to Lakshmana that leaving Maricha alive was an act of compassion, but the others did not heed the point and chose to attack. During the forest exile, sages plead for protection and help against evil rakshasas who spoil their sacrifices and religious activities and terrorize them. Many rakshasas had even killed and eaten sages and innocent people. At Janasthana, Rama uses his exceptional prowess to single-handedly kill over fourteen thousand demon hordes led by the powerful Khara, who is a cousin of Ravana and Dushana.
Faced with the dilemma of how to cross the ocean, Rama performs a penance tapasya, fasting and meditating in perfect dhyana for three days and three nights to Sagara, the Lord of Oceans. The ocean god does not respond out of arrogance, and Rama on the fourth morning, pointed the brahmastra towards the ocean. The Vanaras are dazzled and fearful at witnessing the enraged Rama demolish the oceans, and Lakshmana prays to calm Rama's mind. Just as Rama invokes the brahmastra, considered the most powerful weapon capable of destroying all creation, Saagara arises out of the oceans. He bows to Rama, and begs for pardon. Since Rama had to use the weapon, he suggests Rama re-direct the weapon at a demonic race that lives in the heart of the ocean. Rama's arrows destroys the demons, and establishes a purer, liberated environment there. Saagara promises that he would keep the oceans still for all of Rama's army to pass, and Nala constructs a bridge (Rama's Bridge) across to Lanka. Rama justifies his angry assault on the oceans as he followed the correct process of petitioning and worshipping Saagara, but obtaining the result by force for the greater good.
The bridge today is known as Rama Setu, which supposedly has its existence between India and Sri Lanka, originates from Rameshwaram, India.
In another version of the story, Lord Rama redirected his missile to the barren Island, and as a result huge volcanic eruption resulted. This volcano is the one which is found till today at the southern part of Indian peninsula.
Ravana, Demon King of Lanka
Rama asserted his dedication to dharma when he offered Ravana a final chance to make peace, by immediately returning Sita and apologizing, despite his heinous actions and patronage of evil, but Ravana refused. In the war, Rama slayed the most powerful rakshasa commanders, including Prahasta, Atikaya, and with Ravana's brother, Kumbhakarna along with hundreds of thousands of rakshasa soldiers. He defeated Ravana in their first battle, destroying his chariot and weapons, and severely injuring him, but he allowed Ravana to live and return to fight another day. But as a human being, Rama also proved vulnerable on occasion to his enemies. He was put to a deep sleep with Lakshmana by the nagapash of Indrajit, but they recovered when Hanuman obtained the magical medicine according to Vibheesana's advice.
Rama launched at his foe a fearsome a bolt
In the grand finale of the battle, Rama engaged Ravana, who through the devastation of losing his sons, his brothers and friends and millions of his warriors, aroused his magical powers and made full use of the boons of Siva and Brahma, and the magical knowledge of warfare possessed by the greatest of rakshasas. Rama and Ravana competed fiercely, inflicting severe injuries on one another with powerful weapons capable of destroying the universe. After a long and arduous battle, Rama successfully decapitated Ravana's central head, but an ugly head, symbolic of all of Ravana's evil powers arose in its place. After another long battle, Rama decapitated it again, only to find another growing in its place. This cycle continues, and as darkness approached, Ravana's magical powers increased in force. Vibheeshana, seeing this then told Rama that Ravana had obtained amrita, the nectar of immortality, from the gods. Though he could not consume it, he nevertheless stored a vessel of it in his stomach. This amrit was causing his heads to regenerate as soon as they were cut off. Upon the advice of Agastya, Rama worshiped Lord Aditya, the Sun, with the famous Aditya Hridayam prayer and then invoked Prasvapna. Rama fired an arrow into Ravana's chest/stomach and evaporated the store of amrit, finally killing him. Following Ravana's death, Rama expressed deep compassion. After investing Vibheeshana as the next king of Lanka, he asked the new king and the surviving rakshasas to properly cremate their dead king, who he acknowledged as a great being worthy of respect and admiration, despite his patronage of evil.
Coronation of Rama with Sita (center on the throne), surrounded by his brothers and other deities including Hanuman (bottom left)
The end of the war coincides with the end of Rama's tenure of exile. Flying home on the Pushpaka Vimana, Rama returns to a joyous Ayodhya. His mothers, brothers and the people joyously welcome him. The next day, Rama is invested as the King of Ayodhya, and Emperor of the World. Although he first asks Lakshmana to become the yuvaraja, upon the advice of Lakshmana he invests the position to Bharata, who has had fourteen years of experience as the ruler of Ayodhya. Rama performs the holy Ashwamedha sacrifice, purifying and establishing dharma across earth.
Beyond the Ramayana, the eleven thousand years of Rama's rule over the earth represent to millions of modern Indians a time and age when God as a man ruled the world. There was perfect justice and freedom, peace and prosperity. There were no natural disasters, diseases, ailments or ill-fortune of any nature on any living being. There were no sins committed in the world by any of his people. Always attentive and accessible to his people, Rama is worshipped and hailed by all – the very symbol of moksha, the ultimate goal and destination of all life, and the best example of perfect character and human conduct, inspiring human beings for countless succeeding ages.
Rama like other Indian kings went undercover every night to hear the pleas of his subjects and have a common man's perspective of his rule. During Rama's tenure as King, the people apparently had no locks on their doors as they feared no burglaries or other such misfortunes.
Rama (Yama) and Sita ( Thida) in Yama Zatdaw, the Burmese version of the Ramayana
Be it as a manifestation of God or simply as a legendary hero of myths and folktales, Rama is an immensely revered and inspirational figure to people across the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia, as well as increasingly across Western civilization, where the Hindu epics and values are gaining recognition and popularity. In Jainism, Rama is enumerated among the nine "Baldevs"
Rama is a great hero to the adherents of Agama Hindu Dharma and to the Muslims who practice Abangan, a syncretic form of Islam and Hinduism, in Indonesia. He is revered by the people throughout Indochina who otherwise adhere to different forms of Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism. His regal bearing and fighting prowess is emulated in various Indian martial arts which in turn influenced various Southeast Asian fighting systems such as silat. The Rama Leela is performed across South East Asia in numerous local languages and the story has been the subject of art, architecture, music, folk dance and sculpture. The ancient city of Ayutthaya stands in Thailand, as the tribute of an ancient Thai kingdom to the great legend. Many ancient and medieval era kings of India and South East Asia have adopted Rama as their name.
Reviewers linked the imagery of the blue-skinned Na'vi in James Cameron's film Avatar to Rama as one of their possible conceptual prototypes.
Rama's day and time of birth, as well as marriage to Sita are celebrated by Hindus across the world as Rama Navami. It falls on the ninth day of a Hindu lunar year, or Chaitra Masa Suklapaksha Navami. This day is observed as the marriage day of Rama and Sita as well as the birthday of Rama. People normally perform Kalyanotsavam (marriage celebration) for small statues of Rama and Sita in their houses and at the end of the day the idols are taken in a procession on the streets. This day also marks the end of nine-day utsavam called Vasanthothsavam (Festival of Spring), that starts with Ugadi. Some highlights of this day are:
A Home shrine with images of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, on Sri Rama Navami
1.Kalyanam (Ceremonial wedding performed by temple priests) at Bhadrachalam on the banks of the river Godavari in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh.
2.Panakam, a sweet drink prepared on this day with jaggery and pepper.
3.Procession of idols in the evening that is accompanied with play of water and colours.
4.For the occasion, Hindus are supposed to fast (or restrict themselves to a specific diet).
5.Temples are decorated and readings of the Ramayana take place. Along with Rama, people also pray to Sita, Lakshmana and Hanumana.
The occasion of victory over Ravana and the rakshasas is celebrated as the 10-day Vijayadashami, also known as Dussehra. The Rama Leela is publicly performed in many villages, towns and cities in India. Rama's return to Ayodhya and his coronation are celebrated as Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights. The latter two are the most important and popular festivals in India and for Hindus across the world. In Malaysia, Diwali is known as Hari Deepavali, and is celebrated during the seventh month of the Hindu solar calendar. It is a federal public holiday. In many respects it resembles the traditions followed in the Indian subcontinent. In Nepal, Diwali is known as Tihar and celebrated during the October/November period. Here, though the festival is celebrated for five days, the traditions vary from those followed in India. On the first day, cows are worshipped and given offerings. On the second day, dogs are revered and offered special food. On the third day, celebrations follow the same pattern as in India, with lights and lamps and much social activity. On the fourth day Yama, the Lord of Death, is worshipped and appeased. On the fifth and final day, brothers sisters meet and exchange pleasantries. In Guyana, Diwali is marked as a special occasion and celebrated with a lot of fanfare. It is observed as a national holiday in this part of the world and some ministers of the Government also take part in the celebrations publicly.