Painting depicting SriRama with his bow
|Affiliation||Incarnation of Vishnu|
|Mantra||Om Shri Ramaya Namah|
|Weapon||The Bow (Kodandam)|
|An article related to|
SriRama or SriRam (राम) (రామ) or sriRaamar (Tamil) is the seventh avatar of the God Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in Hindu scriptures. Along with Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu, SriRama is considered to be the most important avatar of Vishnu. He is also one of the most popular gods in Hinduism and is widely worshipped throughout Nepal and India. In a few SriRama-centric sects, SriRama is considered the Supreme Being, rather than an avatar of Vishnu. SriRama 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 SriRama in Hindu temples. The Hindi word parivar translates as "family." 
SriRama 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 SriRama, he is also worshipped as an infant or SriRama Lalla. Most of the details of SriRama'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, SriRama is referred to within Hinduism as Maryada Purushottama, literally the Perfect Man or Lord of Self-Control or Lord of Virtue. SriRama is the husband of Sita, whom Hindus consider to be an Avatar of Lakshmi and the embodiment of perfect womanhood.
SriRama'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, SriRama 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 SriRama, decide to join him, and all three spend the fourteen years in exile together. While in exile, Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, the Rakshasa monarch of Lanka. After a long and arduous search that tests his personal strength and virtue, SriRama fights a colossal war against Ravana's armies. In a war of powerful and magical beings, greatly destructive weaponry and battles, SriRama slays Ravana in battle and liberates his wife. Having completed his exile, SriRama 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 SriRama Rajya.
SriRama'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. SriRama'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 SriRama. SriRama'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 SriRama is deeply influential and popular in the societies of the Indian subcontinent and across South East Asia. SriRama is revered for his unending compassion, courage and devotion to religious values and duty.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Literary sources
- 3 Historical Period
- 4 Avatara
- 5 Initiation of the Avatara
- 6 Dharma of exile
- 7 SriRama and Sita
- 8 Later life
- 9 Maryada Purushottama
- 10 Companions
- 11 SriRama in war
- 12 International influence
- 13 Festivals
- 14 Temples
- 15 In Jainism
- 16 See also
- 17 Notes
- 18 References
- 19 External links
As a personal name it appears in RV 10.93.14:
- 10.93.14ab This to Duhsima Prthavana have I sung, to Vena, SriRama, to the nobles [Asuras], and the King.
The feminine form of the adjective, rāmīˊ is an epithet of the night (Ratri), as is kṛṣṇīˊ, the feminine of kṛṣṇa, viz. "the dark one; the black one". Two Ramas are mentioned in the Vedas, with the patronymics Mārgaveya and Aupatasvini; another SriRama with the patronymic Jāmadagnya is the supposed author of a Rigvedic hymn. Three Ramas were celebrated in post-Vedic times,
- SriRama, the seventh avatar of Vishnu and son of Dasharatha belongs to Raghuvamsa, believed to have descended from Raghu.
- Parashurama ("Shree SriRama with 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.
- Balarama ("the strong SriRama"), the elder brother and close companion of Krishna.
In the Vishnu sahasranama, SriRama is the 394th name of Vishnu. In the interpretation of Adi Shankara's commentary, translated by Swami Tapasyananda of the Ramakrishna Mission, SriRama 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(the universe) enchanting form of SriRama, the son of Dasaratha.
The primary source of the life and journey of SriRama is the epic Ramayana as composed by the Rishi Valmiki. The Vishnu Purana also recounts SriRama 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 SriRama's return to Ayodhya. Additionally, the tales of SriRama are reverently spoken of in the Mahabharata.
The epic had many versions across India's regions. However, other scriptures in Sanskrit also reflect the life of Ramayana. The followers of Madhvacharya believe that an older version of the Ramayana, the mula-Ramayana, previously existed. They consider it to have been 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" Bhaṭṭikāvya of Bhatti who lived in Gujarat, is a retelling of the epic that simultaneously illustrates the grammatical examples for Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī 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 SriRama 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 Kalpavruksham 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 SriRama 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 SriRama 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 SriRama. The legends of SriRama 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 SriRama is named Yama. In the Reamker of Cambodia, SriRama is known as Preah Ream. In the Phra Lak Phra Lam of Laos, Gautama Buddha is regarded as an incarnation of SriRama.
According to the Valmiki Ramayana, SriRama was born in Ayodhya, India, on 9th day (now celebrated across India as SriRam Navami) 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. If taken literally, this would give (according to software calculations) a 'birth date' for SriRama of 1 January 5114 BCE and Hindu Astrological "birth star" of Punarvasu புனர்பூசம் (Punartham). The Puranas give a still earlier date.
Historian H.D. Sankalia has proposed a date of the 4th century BC for the composition of the text of the Ramayana sources describing SriRama. A. L. Basham, however, is of the opinion that SriRama may have been a minor chief who lived in the 8th or the 7th century BC.
The Ramayana speaks of how the earth goddess Bhumidevi, came to the Lord Creator, Brahma begging to be rescued from evil kings who were plundering her resources and destroying life through bloody wars and evil conduct. The deva (gods) also came to Brahma fearful of the rule of Ravana, the ten-headed rakshas emperor of Lanka. Ravana had overpowered the devas and now ruled the heavens, the earth and the netherworlds. Although a powerful and noble monarch, he was also arrogant, destructive and a patron of evil doers. He had boons that gave him immense strength and was invulnerable to all living and celestial beings, except man and animals.
Brahma, Bhumidevi and the devas worshipped Vishnu, the Preserver, for deliverance from Ravana's tyrannical rule. Vishnu promised to kill Ravana by incarnating as a man – the eldest son of Kosala's king Dasaratha. Also, the Goddess Lakshmi took birth as Sita in order to accompany her consort Vishnu and was found by king Janaka of Mithila while he was ploughing a field. Vishnu's eternal companion, the Ananta Sesha is said to have incarnated as Lakshmana to stay at his Lord's side on earth. Throughout his life, no one, except himself and a few select sages (among which are included Vasishta, Sharabhanga, Agastya and Vishwamitra) know of his destiny. SriRama is continually revered by the many sages he encounters through his life, but only the most learned and exalted know of his true identity. At the end of the war between SriRama and Ravana, just as Sita passes her Agni pariskha, Lord Brahma, Indra and the devas, the celestial sages and Lord Shiva appear out of the sky. They affirm Sita's purity and ask him to end this terrible test. Thanking the Avatara for delivering the universe from the grips of evil, they reveal SriRama's divine identity upon the culmination of his mission.
Initiation of the Avatara
Sage Vishwamitra takes the two princes, SriRama and Lakshmana, to his ashram, as he needs SriRama's help in slaying several Rakshasas that have been harassing him and several other sages living in the area. SriRama'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. SriRama 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 an arrow. After her death, the surrounding forest becomes greener and cleaner.
Vishwamitra presents SriRama with several astras and sastras (divine weapons) that will be of use to him in the future, and SriRama masters the knowledge of all the weapons and their uses. Vishwamitra then tells SriRama 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 Taadaka, 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. SriRama 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. SriRama deals with the rest of the demons. The yagna is completed successfully
SriRama 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 SriRama'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 and shoot an arrow from 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, SriRama 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 SriRama weds Sita and the entire royal family and the Ayodhya army begin their journey back, the great rishi Parashurama (Bhargava SriRama) 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 is 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 SriRama 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, SriRama 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. SriRama asks Parashurama what he will give as a target to the arrow. At this point, Parashurama feels himself devoid of the tremendous mystical energy he possessed for so long. He realizes that SriRama is Vishnu incarnate, his successor and definitely his superior. He accepts SriRama's superiority, devotes his tapasya to him, pays homage to SriRama and promises to return to his hermitage and leave the world of men.
SriRama 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 SriRama's arrow is still flying across space, across time and across all of the 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
King Dasaratha announces to Ayodhya that he plans to crown SriRama, 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 SriRama, is made to fear for the safety and future of her son Bharata. Fearing that SriRama would ignore or possibly victimize his younger brother for the sake of power, Kaikeyi demands that Dasaratha banish SriRama to a forest exile for fourteen years, and that Bharata be crowned in SriRama'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 SriRama dearly, and is in personal turmoil. Completely estranged now from his younger wife, he abhors the prospect of separation from SriRama. But SriRama 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 SriRama that she must be at his side at all times. His younger brother Lakshmana also immediately decides to join SriRama 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 during the night of the sixth day, unable to bear the agony of separation from SriRama. Despite the reasoning of Vasishtha and the pleas of his brothers, SriRama refuses to return. Although horrified at the news of his father's death, SriRama finds it impossible that he should break his dead father's word. SriRama 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 SriRama the opportunity to confront Ravana and his evil empire.
SriRama and Sita
SriRama and Sita are the protagonists in one of the most famous[peacock term] love stories of all time. Described as being deeply in love, Sita and SriRama are theologically understood as Incarnations of Lakshmi and Vishnu respectively. When SriRama 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 SriRama 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. SriRama in turn is assiduously protective and caring for Sita throughout the exile.
When Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, both Sita and SriRama 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 SriRama, 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 SriRama'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.
The 'Wedding of SriRama and Sita' concerns two entities coming together to form a whole. An Indian marriage forges an alliance not only between two people, but also two families. The marriage of Sita and SriRama creates an alliance between two people, two families, and two kingdoms: Mithila, home of Sita, and Kosala, home of SriRama. Furthermore, SriRama's marriage to Sita on earth parallels the celestial union of Vishnu and Lakshmi; each deity took birth on earth, and so when SriRama marries Sita, he is actually reuniting with his divine consort Lakshmi, Goddess of Good Fortune, who brings prosperity to Kosala. At an allegorical level, the union of SriRama and Sita represents the relationship between God and the devotee, with SriRama as the beloved divine king and Sita as his devotee. Finally, at a societal level, the dance drama brings together north and south Indian dance traditions.
Lord SriRama sent a messenger to Ravana that said, "Come to me and I will forgive you," before he slays Ravana. After SriRama 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, but SriRama 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, SriRama decided to prove that his Sita is still pure and chaste, 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.
Sita begs Lakshmana to build her a pyre upon which she could end her life, as she could not live without SriRama. At this point, Lakshmana is angered at SriRama for the first time in his life, but following SriRama'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 astonishment and wonder, she is completely unharmed. Instead, she glows radiantly from the centre of the pyre. But the gods headed by Brahma and Shiva appear, reveal SriRama's and Sita's true identity and requests that SriRama take Sita back as she is truly pure. SriRama replies that he had never doubted her purity for a second, but, 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. 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 SriRama had Sita under the protection of Agni God. After Sita was released it was necessary to bring her out of security of Agni god. This finds echo in the sthala purana of Tirupathi. Another version of this, used in Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan, was that SriRama had known Sita was going to be abducted by Ravana ahead of time. So he entrusted her to Agni, the god of fire. SriRama 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 Deva. SriRama explains this to Lakshmana before the "Pariksha" is done. This version has also been written in the SriRam Charit Manas.
In the Uttara Kanda, SriRama banishes his wife Sita, even as she is pregnant, asking Lakshmana to deliver her safely to the forest. 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, SriRama reluctantly banished Sita in order to uphold his duty. Sita 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, had deprived the rishi of his loving wife. Thus SriRama, 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. An alternate 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 princes grew extremely intelligent and strong under Rishi Valmiki's tutelage. .
According to legend, Kusha and Lava are the twin sons of Lord SriRama 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 SriRama performed the Ashvamedha Yajna, a horse strayed into their forest, SriRama sent Hanuman to retrieve the horses. SriRama's sons Luv and Kush captured the horses. Hanuman, seeing Luv and Kush recognised that they were the son's of SriRama. He let them capture him and tie him up. There Hanuman started meditating on the name SriRama. Worried SriRama 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 SriRama's brothers should have won, but Luv and Kush defeated them all, knocking them unconscious. Luv and Kush were protected by Hanuman. Then SriRama himself went looking for the horses fearing that Hanuman and his brothers had been attacked. SriRama 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. SriRama 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 SriRama 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. SriRama then asked Sita to prove her chastity again by performing a miracle. In response Sita sought final refuge in the arms of her mother Bhumidevi, the Goddess Mother Earth.
SriRama's reign is known as the SriRama 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. SriRama 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 son and accused SriRama for committing a sin (under SriRama's rule nobody did the obsequies for their children). Sage Narada told SriRama 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. SriRama 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 SriRama did not see any sinful activities. SriRama 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. SriRama 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. SriRama 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, SriRama and his brothers and his allies peacefully left the earth on the river Sarayu abandoning their mortal bodies. Luv and Kush ruled Kosala and continued the solar race.
As a person, SriRama 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). SriRama'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 to Ayodhya and said that he did not want to rule in place of SriRama. But SriRama 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, SriRama 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, SriRama gave the 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 SriRama and Sita resided in each other's heart.
2. SriRama 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, SriRama 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 SriRama'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: SriRama 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 Vanara king) and Vibhishana a Rakshasa.
4. Even towards his enemies, SriRama 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. The duo sought SriRama's protection when the monkey warriors thrashed them. SriRama gave them refuge. SriRama 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 SriRama's charisma, courage, and adherence to the codes of war. After SriRama gave them leave, they knew that their king was bound to lose against this virtuous and courageous man. When Ravana first fought with SriRama, SriRama defeated him to such an extent that Ravana lost his charioteer, horses, chariot, flag, weapons and armor. Though the situation was at his advantage, SriRama 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 SriRama saved his life, and this led him to consider for a moment whether to retreat and give Sita back...
Even as SriRama 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 SriRama devotedly, at great personal risk and sacrifice.
Bharata and Lakshmana
Absent when SriRama 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 SriRama 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, SriRama 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 SriRama that he had taken back with him on the throne, and rules Ayodhya assiduously keeping SriRama's beliefs and values in mind. When SriRama 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 SriRama's name. 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 SriRama. Believed to be one-quarter of Vishnu incarnated, or as the incarnation of his eternal companion, Ananta Sesha, Lakshmana is always at SriRama's side. Although unconstrained by Dasaratha's promise to Kaikeyi, Lakshmana resists SriRama's arguments and accompanies him and Sita into the forest. During the years of exile, Lakshmana constantly serves SriRama and Sita – building huts, standing guard and finding new routes. When Sita is kidnapped, SriRama blazes with his divine power and in his immense rage, expresses the desire to destroy all creation. Lakshmana prays and pleads for SriRama 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 SriRama fears for Sita, and expresses despair in his grief and loneliness, Lakshmana encourages him, providing hope and solace.
When SriRama 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. Lakshmana twangs the bow inside the hall quaking the entire building and threatens to destroy Sugriva and the monkey kingdom with his own divine power. Lakshmana is unable to tolerate Sugriva breaking his vow to SriRama while enjoying material and sensual pleasures while SriRama 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 SriRama. Sugriva and SriRama are then reconciled with the help of Lakshmana and Tara. Sugriva sends the monkey hoards 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. SriRama 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 SriRama, his unconditional service and sacrifice, as well as qualities of practical judgment and clear-headedness make him SriRama'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 SriRama primarily embodies.
Jatayu, Hanuman and Vibheeshana
When SriRama 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 SriRama's arms. SriRama 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.
SriRama'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, SriRama 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. SriRama'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 SriRama, 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 SriRama's ring to Sita, as a mark of SriRama's love and his imminent intention of rescuing her. Though captured, he candidly delivers SriRama's message to Ravana to immediately release Sita, and when his tail is burned, he flies and sets Lanka on fire. When Lakshmana is struck down and near death and SriRama 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 SriRama's cause. They angrily dismiss Ravana's efforts to create divisions by suggesting that SriRama considered them, monkeys, as mere animals. At the end of the war, Indra restores life to the millions of fallen Vanaras.
Before the onset of war, rakshasa prince Vibheeshana, Ravana's youngest brother comes to join SriRama. 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 SriRama's compassion and piety, leaves Lanka to join the Vanara Army. His knowledge of rakshasa ways and Ravana's mind help SriRama and the Vanaras overcome black magic and mystical weapons. At the end of the war, SriRama 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.
SriRama in war
When SriRama is thirteen 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. When asked to slay the demoness, SriRama demurs, considering it sinful to kill a woman. But Vishwamitra explains that evil has no gender. SriRama replies that "My father asked me to follow your orders, I will obey them even if it is a sin". SriRama proceeds to slay Tadaka, a cursed yaksha demoness. 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. SriRama and Lakshmana are taught the advanced military arts and given the knowledge of all celestial weapons by Vishwamitra. The main purpose of Vishwamitra's exursion is to conduct his yagna without interruption from two evil demons, Maricha and Subahu sons of Tadaka. SriRama and Lakshmana guard the sacrifice, and when the two demons appear, SriRama shoots an arrow named Manava Astrathat carries Maricha across the lands and into the ocean, but does not kill him. SriRama and his brother then proceed to kill Subahu and accompanying demons. SriRama 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, SriRama 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, SriRama performs a penance tapasya, fasting and meditating in perfect dhyana for three days and three nights to Varuna, the Lord of Oceans. The ocean god does not respond, and SriRama on the fourth morning, pointed the Brahmastra towards the ocean. The Vanaras are dazzled and fearful at witnessing the enraged SriRama demolish the oceans, and Lakshmana prays to calm SriRama's mind. Just as SriRama invokes the Brahmastra, considered the most powerful weapon capable of destroying all creation, Varuna arises out of the oceans. He bows to SriRama, and begs for pardon. Since SriRama had to use the weapon, he suggests SriRama re-direct the weapon at a demonic race that lives in the heart of the ocean. SriRama's arrows destroys the demons, and establishes a purer, liberated environment there. Varuna promises that he would keep the oceans still for all of SriRama's army to pass, and Nala constructs a bridge (Rama's Bridge) across to Lanka. SriRama justifies his angry assault on the oceans as he followed the correct process of petitioning and worshipping Varuna, but obtaining the result by force for the greater good.
The bridge today is known as SriRama Setu, which supposedly has its existence between India and Sri Lanka, originates from Rameshwaram, India.
In another version of the story, Lord SriRama 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.
SriRama 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, SriRama slayed the most powerful rakshasa commanders, including Atikaya, 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, SriRama also proved vulnerable on occasion to his enemies. He was put to a deep sleep along with Lakshmana by the nagapash of Indrajit, but they recovered when Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu and enemy of serpents appear.
In the grand finale of the battle, SriRama 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. SriRama and Ravana competed fiercely, inflicting severe injuries on one another with powerful weapons capable of destroying the universe. After a long and arduous battle, SriRama 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, SriRama 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. Mathali, Indra's charioteer who had been sent by Indra after being counselled by the witnessing Rishis, Danavas and Devas; seeing this then told SriRama 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, SriRama worshiped Lord Aditya, the Sun, with the famous Aditya Hridayam prayer and then invoked Brahmastra. SriRama fired an arrow into Ravana's chest/stomach and evaporated the store of amrit, finally killing him. however it is stated in the Ramayana that Ravana called for SriRama as he was shot and as a result, was immediately dispatched to Heaven. Following Ravana's death, SriRama 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, despite his patronage of evil.
The end of the war coincides with the end of SriRama's tenure of exile. Flying home on the Pushpaka Vimana, SriRama returns to a joyous Ayodhya. His mothers, brothers and the people joyously welcome him. The next day, SriRama is invested as the King of Ayodhya, and Emperor of the World. Although he first asks Lakshmana to become the yuvaraja, upon the rejection of Lakshmana he invests the position to Bharata, who has had fourteen years of experience as the ruler of Ayodhya. SriRama performs the holy Ashwamedha sacrifice, purifying and establishing dharma across earth. SriRama’s birthday is Celebrated as SriRama Navami (On Chaitra Shukla Navami, Punarvasu Nakshatra fourth Pada) as SriRama Born On that Day. SriRama Navami is also the Same Day as the Day Of Killing Demon Ravana and Successfully Returning Victorious SriRama to Ayodhya With Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuma, Sugriva, Jambavantha, Angadha etc., from Completing his Exile Period and then SriRama's Coronation(Saamraajya Pattabhisekham) Ceremony took Place on the Following Day or very Next Day when returned from Exile On Chaitra Shukla Dasami, Pushya Constellation (Chaitra Shukla Dasami, Pushyami Constellation, the same Muhurtha kept for Rama’s Coronation which is given by Dasaratha and Vasista before SriRama’s 14 years of Exile, Padhuka Pattabhisekham [happened before SriRama completing his exile time] done by Rama’s brother Bharatha, when then Ayodhya is ruled by his Padhuka or SriRama shoes till the end of 14 years exile time period of SriRama returning Ayodhya) which is on Darmaraja Dasami day after SriRama Navami day, Lord SriRama and his virtues besides, his popular regime ‘SriRama Raajyam' to mark DharmaRaja Dashami as part of Sri RamaNavami as 'Ramo Vigrahavan Dharmah' Which Means SriRama is The Embodiment Of Dharma Or Dharma has taken a form of Ramachandrah , It is the Happiest and Unforgettable Day to Every Hindu.
Beyond the Ramayana, the eleven thousand years of SriRama'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, SriRama 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.
SriRama 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 SriRama's tenure as King, the people apparently had no locks on their doors as they feared no burglaries or other such misfortunes.
SriRama remains 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, SriRama is enumerated among the nine "Baladeva". Hundreds of towns and villages are named after SriRama.
SriRama 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 SriRama 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 SriRama as their name.
SriRama'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 SriRama and Sita as well as the birthday of SriRama. People normally perform Kalyanotsavam (marriage celebration) for small statues of SriRama 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:
- Kalyanam (Ceremonial wedding performed by temple priests) at Bhadrachalam on the banks of the river Godavari in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh.
- Panakam, a sweet drink prepared on this day with jaggery and pepper.
- Procession of idols in the evening that is accompanied with play of water and colours.
- For the occasion, Hindus are supposed to fast (or restrict themselves to a specific diet).
- Temples are decorated and readings of the Ramayana take place. Along with SriRama, 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 SriRama Leela is publicly performed in many villages, towns and cities in India. SriRama'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.
ABOUT SURYA VAMSA: Ancestors of ShriRam: Co-relation of genealogy with genetic studies Indian history has recorded that ShriRam belonged to Surya Vansh and he was the 64th ruler of this dynasty. Most of the names and other relevant particulars of previous 63 kings are listed in ‘Ayodhya Ka Itihas’ written about eighty years back by Rai Bahadur Sita SriRam. In fact most of the names of these ancestors of Lord SriRam have been listed in Valmiki Ramayan itself as narrated by Vashistha Muni to Raja Janak. (1/70 and 71). (all listed below in table 1).
1. Manu 2. Iksvaku 3. Vikuksi-Sasada 4. Kakutstha 5. Anenas 6. Prithu 7. Vistarasva 8. Ardra 9. Yuvanasva (I) 10. Sravasta 11. Brihadasva 12. Kuvalasva 13. Drdhasva 14. Pramoda 15. Haryasva (I) 16. Nikumba 17. Samhatasva 18. Akrsasva 19. Prasenajit 20. Yuvanasva (II) 21. Mandhatr 22. Purukutsa 23. Trasadsyu 24. Sambhuta 25. Anaranya 26. Trasadsva 27. Haryasva (II) 28. Vasumata 29. Tridhanvan 30. Trayyaruna 31. Trishanku 32. Satyavrata 33. Harischandra 34. Rohita 35. Harita, Cancu 36. Vijaya 37. Ruruka 38. Vrka 39. Bahu (Asita) 40. Sagara 41. Asamanjas 42. Amsumant 43. Dilipa (I) 44. Bhagiratha 45. Sruta 46. Nabhaga 47. Amabarisa 48. Sindhudvipa 49. Ayutayus 50. Rtuparna 51. Sarvakama 52. Sudasa 53. Mitrasaha 54. Asmaka 55. Mulaka 56. Sataratha 57. Aidavida 58. Visvasaha (I) 59. Dilipa (II) 60. Dirghabahu 61. Raghu 62. Aja 63. Dasaratha 64. SriRam 65. Kusa 66. Atithi 67. Nisadha 68. Nala 69. Nabhas 70. Pundarika 71. Ksemadhan 72. Devanika 73. Ahinagu 74. Paripatra 75. Bala 76. Uktha 77. Vajranabha 78.Sankhan 79. Vyusitasva 80. Visvasaha (II) 81. Hiranyabha 82. Pusya 83. Dhruvansan 84. Sudarsana 85. Agnivarna 86. Sighra 87. Maru 88. Prasusruta 89. Susandhi 90. Amarsa 91. Mahashwat 92. Visrutavant 93. Brihadbala 94. Brihatksaya
- Ram Temple, Ayodhya
- Kalaram Temple, Pune
- Raghunath Temple, Jammu
- Raghhunath Temple, Kullu
- Sitaram Temple, Dongri
- SriRam Mandir, Tulsi Bagh, Pune
- SriRam Mandir, Colvale
- SitaRam Mandir, Nadi
- SriRam Mandir, Nairobi
- Ram Mandir, Bhubaneswar
- Poddareshwar SriRam Mandir, Nagpur
SriRama, Lakshmana and Ravana forms one of the nine set of Baladeva, Vasudeva and Prativasudeva whose stories forms a basis of Jain universal history. SriRama is described as a pious layman in Jain scriptures. Jain scriptures tells different version of Ramayana than Valmiki's version. According to this version, Lakshmana (Vasudeva) is the one who kills Ravana (Prativasudeva). SriRama (Baladeva) is described as a non-violent person who attains moksha. Lakshmana and Ravana, on the other hand, goes to hell on account of their violence & will attain moksha in their next birth. Ravan will take birth as tirthankara of next era.
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