|Affiliation||Avatar of Vishnu|
|Mantra||Om Shri Ramaya Namah|
|Weapon||The Bow (Kodandam)|
Rama (राम, Rāma) is the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, and a king of Ayodhya in Hindu scriptures. Rama is also the protagonist of the Hindu epic Ramayana, which narrates his supremacy. Commonly it is proposed that Rama was born about 1.2 million years ago, during the Treta Yuga, age that lasted 1,296,000 years. Rama is one of the many popular figures and deities in Hinduism, specifically Vaishnavism and Vaishnava religious scriptures in South and Southeast Asia. Along with Krishna, Rama is considered to be one of the most important avatars of Vishnu. In a few Rama-centric sects, he is considered the Supreme Being, rather than an avatar.
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. His wife Sita is considered by Hindus to be an avatar of Lakshmi and the embodiment of perfect womanhood.
Rama's life and journey is one of adherence to dharma despite harsh tests and obstacles and many pains of life and time. He is pictured as the ideal man and the perfect human. For the sake of his father's honour, Ram abandons his claim to Ayodhaya's throne to serve an exile of fourteen years in the forest. His wife Sita and brother Lakshmana 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, 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 and eventually becomes emperor, rules with happiness, peace, prosperity and justice—a period known as Ram Rajya.
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.
- 1 Chanting of name 'Ram'
- 2 Parvati-Shiva dialogue
- 3 Reasons for Ram's incarnation
- 4 Literary sources
- 5 Balkand
- 6 Dharma of exile
- 7 Rama and Sita
- 8 Sita's banishment
- 9 Later life
- 10 Maryada Purushottama
- 11 Companions
- 12 Rama in war
- 13 International influence
- 14 Festivals
- 15 Temples
- 16 In Jainism
- 17 See also
- 18 References
- 19 External links
Chanting of name 'Ram'
Although the two aspects of God Nirguna (without form) and Saguna (with form) are inexplicable, immense, endless and unparalleled, name is superior to both which through its power controls both. They are like fire. Nirguna is that latent fire which is within wood, but is invisible and Saguna is that fire which is visible in the form of flame. Both the aspects are very difficult to know, but with name both become easily accessible. Both Name and form are inexplicable, endless and can be understood only with a pure mind. Form is subservient to name. Without name, form cannot be known. Any specific form without knowing its name cannot be identified even though kept at hand. Even without seeing the form if name is known then form readily comes to mind with a special love. Name is superior to Nirguna and Saguna experience of God.
The name 'Ram' is more powerful than both Nirguna Ram (invisible and omnipresent) and Saguna Ram (incarnated or in human form). Ram for his devotees assumed human form and enduring danger he made them happy, but by repeating his name with love, the devotees easily become abode of bliss and well being. Ram liberated only Ahalya, while the name rectified crores of wicked minds. For rishi Vishvamitra, Ram killed Suketu's daughter Tataka, a Yaksha princess-turned-demoness, along with her son Subahu and their army; but the name eliminates defects, sorrow and arrogance of devotees as the sun destroys the darkness. Ram broke the Shiva's bow, but the splendor of the name destroys all fear. Ram made the Dandaka forest pleasant, but the name purified the minds of countless devotees. While Ram eliminated Rakshasas, the name uproots all the sins of Kali Yuga. While Ram gave Moksha to Shabari, Jatayu and a few of his devotees, the name absolved countless wicked. Ram protected only two devotees Sugriva and Vibhishana, but the name was benevolent to countless poor. Beautiful legends of the power of the name are enlightened in the Vedas. While Ram collected an army of bears and monkeys and constructed a bridge to cross the ocean, the very act of repeating his name dries up the ocean of Saṃsāra (the cycle of birth and rebirth). Ram killed Ravana and his entire clan in the battle and with Sita returned to his kingdom Kosala where he became the king and made Ayodhya his capital, but mere act of taking his name with love, the devotees win over the powerful army of Maya and become overwhelmed with love and bliss, they do not have stress even in their dreams.
God is present within every being. Through the practice of the name, he reveals himself. Tulsidas says that if you want to illuminate both inner and outer world then you should keep the lamp of the name on the threshold of the tongue at the doorway of your mouth. Tulsidas himself became pure by chanting the name. Repeating the name, Yogis attain Vairagya or detachment from the Maya of the Creator and experience unparalleled, inexplicable, and eternal bliss. Those who want to know the secrets of God, they too know it by mere chanting. If depressed devotees repeat name, then they get liberated from crisis and attain peace and happiness. Though the effect of name is in all the four Yugas and all the four Vedas, but in the current time Kali Yuga it's especially effective as there is no other remedy. The name 'Ram' is the essence of the Vedas. It is the powerful mantra that Shiva repeats and whose sermon on the name gives Moksha to those who die in Kashi. It's the power of the name that Ganesha is worshipped first among all the deities. Rishi Valmiki attained perfection by chanting the name even in reverse ('marā'). Knowing that the name is equal to Sahasranama, Shiva and Parvati always chant it. It's the power of the name that the Kalkut poison became Amrita for Shiva. Narada knows the glory of name. The world worships Hari, Hari worships Hara, while Harihara both worship Narada. Chanting the name, Prahlada became a supreme Ram devotee. Dhruva chanted the name although with anger but still attained a fixed and incomparable state. By chanting the name, Hanuman keeps Ram under his control.
In all the four Yugas, all the three Kalas (past, present and future) and all the three Lokas by chanting the name Jivas (beings) have got rid of grief. According to the Vedas, the Puranas and the Rishis, the fruit of all the good Karma is having love for Ram (the name). In the first Yuga (Satya Yuga) through Dhyana (meditation), in the second Yuga (Treta Yuga) through the Yajnas (rituals) and in the Dwapar Yuga through Puja (worship), God became happy. But Kali Yuga is only the source of sins and is impure, in this the human mind is immersed in sins. In such a hard time (Kali Yuga) the name is the Kalpavriksha (wish-fulfilling divine tree) which just by remembrance eliminates all the worldly troubles. In the Kali Yuga the name grants all the worldly wishes and liberates after death. Kali Yuga has no Karma, no Bhakti (devotion) and not even Jnana (knowledge); the name 'Ram' is the only help. With love, enmity, anger, laziness or in whichever way, chanting the name is always beneficial.
Shiva first created the characterization of Ram which he narrated to Parvati. That story Shiva also told to Kāka Bhusundi. From whom Yājñavalkya got who then sang it to Bharadwaja (one of the Saptarishis or the seven sages). These two reciter and listener are equally omniscient and knew the story of Ram. They with their foresight see the three Kalas (past, present and future) like a tiny object kept on their palm. Likewise other all-knowing devotees like Valmiki and Tulsidas say, listen and understand this story in various ways.
That Parvati-Shiva dialogue is as follows along with its time and purpose. Once in Treta Yuga Shiva went to sage Agastya with Sati (Parvati's previous birth). Those very days, Ram had incarnated himself. Ravana had asked Brahma (the Creator) that his death be at the hands of a human. Ram wanted to prove Brahma's blessing true. At that time, honouring his father's word, that immortal God had left the kingdom and was wandering in the Dandaka forest in the guise of an ascetic (Aranyakand). Through trickery Ravana had abducted Sita. Ram's reality was not known to him. In grief and like a human, Ram was searching Sita in the forest. Shiva wanted to have a glimpse of him. Since Ram incarnated secretly, Shiva was in dilemma because if he visits everyone will know.
On that very occasion Shiva got a glimpse of Ram and was overwhelmed with love at the sight of God. Sati saw Shiva thrilled with love. She became doubtful as to why Shiva was enchanted by a mere human prince. She wondered whether the God who is omnipresent, transcendental, unborn, invisible, free from desire and indistinguishable can assume a human form ? Will that all-knowing God search for his wife like an ignorant ? Such was the immense doubt in the mind of Sati. Although Sati did not say anything, Shiva being omniscient came to know of everything. Shiva said "If you are doubtful then why don't you verify?". To test Ram, Sati assumed the form of Sita and approached Ram. The incarnated God Ram recognised the trick of Sati. He first introduced himself and then asked with a smile "Where is Shiva? Why are you roaming in the forest alone?"  After listening to Ram's polite and mysterious words, Sati hesitated a lot and returned to Shiva in fear. She became sad and regretted doubting Shiva. When Ram realised that Sati was sad, he revealed some of his power to divert her mind. On the way Sati saw Ram along with Lakshmana and Sita walking in front of her. She then turned and found them at the back. Wherever she looked, she found him seated with Siddhas and Rishis worshipping him. All Devas in different forms were worshipping Ram. She saw many Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu each with tremendous power. She saw countless Sati (wife of Shiva), Saraswati (wife of Brahma) and Lakshmi (wife of Vishnu) with forms matching their consorts. She also saw many types of creatures. But she saw only one form of Ram. In awe she closed her eyes. When she again opened her eyes, everything vanished. She then returned to Shiva.
With a heavy heart Parvati (Sati's rebirth) requested Shiva to kindly narrate her the story of Ram. First she asked why Nirguna Brahman (formless God) becomes a Saguna Brahman (assumes form or incarnation). Then she asked the story of incarnation (birth) of Ram and his childhood deeds. Then about how he married Sita and why he left his kingdom. Then the deeds during his stay in the forest and how he killed Ravana. Then all his doings as the king. Then she asked that miraculous deed of Ram - how he returned to his abode Vaikuntha (It's a state not a place like solid, liquid and gas are states of water.) along with his people. Then she requested Shiva to explain that essence, in the experience of which the enlightened sages always remain immersed; and then to explain in detail the Bhakti (devotion), the Jnana (knowledge), the science and the Vairagya (detachment). The many mysteries of the character of Ram that are there, she asked Shiva to reveal those to her.
Listening to the beautiful and guileless questions of Parvati, Shiva was pleased. The entire character of Ram came to Shiva's heart. Tears filled his eyes and he was overwhelmed with love. The form (Saguna) of Ram came to his heart, which gave immense bliss to even an embodiment of bliss Shiva. For a couple of moments Shiva remain immersed in the ecstasy of meditation; then he pulled his mind outward and began to explain the character of Ram. Without knowing whom even an illusion appears as real, like without recognition a rope gives an illusion of a snake; and knowing whom the world disappears, like a dream disappears on being awake, I worship the child form of that Ram, chanting whose name readily gives all the Siddhis (spiritual powers). May Ram who is the abode of the auspicious, the destroyer of the ominous and who plays (childhood form) in the garden of Dasaratha be merciful to me. Ram's names, virtues, characters, incarnations and doings are all countless as per the Vedas. As Ram is endless so are his legends, glory and virtues. Nevertheless seeing your intense love, as I have heard and as my mind is, I will tell according to that. The sages, the Puranas, the scholars and the Vedas say that there is no difference between the Saguna and the Nirguna. Who is Nirguna, formless, invisible and unborn, overpowered by devotees love that only becomes Saguna. Who is Nirguna how is that Saguna? Like there is no difference between water vapour and snow. (Both are water only, likewise Nirguna and Saguna are one only.) Joy, grief, knowledge, ignorance, humility and arrogance - these all are the nature of Jiva. But Ram is the omnipresent God. He is an ocean of light, present in all forms and the lord of the Jivas, the Maya and the universe. While the ignorant do not realise their ignorance, they blame it on Ram. Like seeing the cover of clouds in the sky, the ignorant say that the clouds have covered the Sun!  Estimating through their intellect the Vedas have described Ram as — "Without legs he walks, without ears he listens, without hands he accomplishes various tasks, without a mouth (tongue) he enjoys all tastes and without a voice he is an eloquent speaker. Without a body (skin) he touches, without eyes he sees and without a nose he smells. His doings are transcendental in everyway."  Whom the Vedas and the scholars describe in this way and whom the sages meditate, that only is Dasaratha's son, favourable to devotees, the king of Kosala (Ayodhya) Lord Ram. Parvati said to Shiva, "You have cleared all my doubts. Now I have understood the true nature of Ram. But for what reason did he assume a human form?" Shiva then narrated the pure auspicious story of Ram (the Ramayana or the Ramcharitmanas) 
Reasons for Ram's incarnation
The reason for which Ram takes avatar 'is just this', such cannot be said (there can be many reasons including those which no one can know). Shiva's opinion is that Ram cannot be reasoned with intellect, mind and speech. But according to the saints, the sages, the Vedas and the Puranas, whenever the Dharma (righteousness) decreases and the degraded arrogant Rakshasas (the unrighteous) increase, and they do such an injustice which cannot be described and the Brahmanas (the devotees), the cows, the Devas and the earth are in pain, then that ocean of kindness Ram assumes various types of forms to relieve the pain of the righteous. Killing the Asuras (the unrighteous) he establishes the Suras (the righteous), protects the dignity of his Vedas and spreads his pure glory in the world. This is the reason of Ram's avatar (incarnation). Singing that glory the devotees cross the ocean of this world. The God incarnates for the devotees. There are many mysterious reasons for the incarnation of Ram. Shiva describes few in detail.
Curse on gatekeepers of Ram
Jaya and Vijaya are the two gatekeepers of Ram. Through the curse of a Brahmana (Sanakadi) those two brothers got the Tamasic bodies of Asuras. The name of one was Hiranyakashyapa and the other was Hiranyaksha. They were renowned as destroyers of the pride of the lord of the Suras Indra. One of them (Hiranyaksha) was killed by Ram by assuming the form of a boar (Varaha); then the other (Hiranyakashyapa) was killed as Narasingha and Ram spread the beautiful glory of the devotee Prahlada  Those two (Hiranyakashyapa and Hiranyaksha) became the conquerors of the Devas and great warriors named Ravana and Kumbhakarna who were very powerful and valiant Rakshasas. Despite being killed by God they did not attain Moksha because the Brahmana's curse was for three lives. Hence once again for their benefit the lover of the devotees Ram took avatar. In that avatar Kashyapa and Aditi were his parents, who were renowned by the name of Dasaratha and Kausalya. In one Kalpa taking avatar in this way Ram played sacred Leelas (characters) in this world.
Curse of Jalandhar's wife
In one Kalpa seeing all the Devas in misery because of getting defeated in a war with the Rakshasa Jalandhara, Shiva fought with him a very fierce battle; but that extremely powerful demon could not be killed. The wife of that Asura Vrinda (Tulsi) was staunchly loyal ("Pativrata") to her husband. Due to her power even Shiva could not win over Jalandhara. Ram through deceit broke her fast (destroyed her chastity). When she realised his trick, then in anger she cursed God. Ram accepted her curse and proved it. That Jalandhara in that Kalpa became Ravana, whom Ram killing in the battle gave the highest position (Nirvana). For one incarnation this was the reason, because of which Ram wore a human body.
Curse of Nārada
Once Nārada cursed, therefore in one Kalpa for that Ram took avatar. In the Himalayas there was one big cave. Near to that the beautiful Ganges flowed. Beholding that immensely sacred beautiful Ashram (hermitage) Nārada's mind was enraptured. Looking at the beautiful mountain, the river and the woods Nārada felt deep devotion for Ram. The very thought of God stopped the effect of the curse on him (the curse of Daksha because of which he could not stay in one place.) and as his mind was naturally pure he attained Samādhi. Noticing this state of Nārada the lord of the Devas Indra was in fear. He felt that Nārada was after his kingdom Amarāvati. He asked Kamadeva (god of desire) to break his Samādhi. But Kamadeva failed. However this incident sowed the seed of arrogance in the heart of Nārada that he won over Kamadeva. When Ram came to know that the seed of a powerful tree of vanity has germinated, then he vowed to uproot it immediately. His Maya created a town of a 100 Yojanas (around 1300 km2). That town was even more beautiful than the abode Vaikuntha of Ram. There was a king named Shilnidhi. He had a very charming daughter named Vishwamohini, whose beauty could even enchant Ram. The embodiment of all virtues she was in reality the Maya of Ram. That princess wanted to arrange her Swayamvara, that is why a lot of kings had come there as suitors. Playful sage Nārada went to that town. The king worshipped him and showed the princess to Nārada. Beholding her beauty the sage forgot Vairagya (dispassion) and just kept on looking at her for a very long time. Looking at her figure the sage forgot himself and was elated in his heart. Thinking of her figure he said in his mind — "Whoever marries her will become immortal". The sage resolved to marry the princess. He thought of somehow obtaining a great body to seduce the princess. At that time Nārada prayed to God in various ways and asked for his help — "O Lord! Please give me your appearance as there is no other way I can get that princess. O Lord! Whatever is beneficial to me, please do that quickly. I am your devotee." Noticing the immense power of his Maya the benevolent Ram laughed within himself and said — "O Narada! Listen, whatever is the best for you, I will do only that, nothing else. My word is never untrue. O Yogi Rishi! Listen, if a patient distraught with disease asks for a poison the doctor does not prescribe it. Likewise I've resolved to help you." Saying this he disappeared. Being in the grip of Ram's Maya the sage became such a fool that he could not even understand the guileless assertion of God. Nārada immediately went where Swayamvara was taking place. For the welfare of Nārada the benevolent Ram gave him a very hideous form, but this character no one could know. Everyone greeted him as Nārada only. Only the princess saw that appearance. Seeing his monkey-like face and terrible body the princess in anger ignored him completely. Ram also went there in the guise of a king. The princess happily married him. The two gatekeepers of Ram (Jaya and Vijaya) who had also assembled there disguised as Brahmanas (ascetics) ridiculed Nārada — “atleast see your face in the mirror”. When Nārada came to know of this trick he became furious and cursed them. He then went to Ram who was with Lakshmi and the princess and cursed him — “The body [of a king] assuming which you deceived me, you also assume that form, this is my curse. You gave me a monkey-like form, hence only monkeys will help you. [The woman I loved, effecting my separation from her] You have harmed me tremendously, so you will also suffer in the separation of your wife.” Respecting the curse, exulting in the heart Ram entreated a lot with Nārada and withdrew the effect of his Maya. When God removed the Maya, then there existed neither Lakshmi nor the princess. Then the sage in terror begged for mercy — “O benevolent! May my curse be in vain.” Then God said that all this was my will. The sage asked — “How will my sins be destroyed?” God said — “Go and chant Shiva Sahasranama, it will give you instant peace in the heart. No one is as dear to me as Shiva.” When the two gatekeepers saw Nārada free from delusion then they pleaded for the removal of their curse. The sage said — “You two be the Rakshasas; you will attain immense glory, splendor and power. You will win over the entire world, then Lord Ram will appear in the guise of a human. In the war you will die at the hands of him, because of which you will attain Moksha and you will not be born again in this world.” For this reason in one Kalpa Ram took avatar.
Boon to Manu–Sātarupā
Svayambhuva Manu and his wife Sātarupā, who are the progenitors of this incomparable human world, these two husband-wife had very good Dharma and behaviour. Even the Vedas sing their principles. King Uttānapāda was his son, whose son Dhruva became a famous Ram devotee. The name of his (Manu) younger son was Priyavrata, whom the Vedas and the Puranas extol. Again Devahuti was his (Manu) daughter, who became the beloved wife of Rishi Kardama and mother of Kapila, the founder of the Sāṅkhya school of philosophy. That Manu ruled for a very long time. Though he grew old, yet there was no Vairāgya from subjects (detachment from sensual pleasure or pain); thinking of this he became very sad that without the Bhakti (devotion) of Ram the life went just like that. Then Manu forcefully giving his kingdom to his son went to the forest with his wife. The extremely pure and provider of the Siddhis (spiritual psychic powers) to the Sādhakas (devotees) supreme among the Tirthas (places of pilgrimage) Naimisharanya is renowned. There groups of Rishis and Siddhas reside. The king Manu exulting in his heart proceeded there. They reached the bank of the river Gomti. Delightedly they bathed in the pristine waters. Siddhas and Rishis came to meet them. Wherever beautiful Tirthas were, Rishis with reverence took them to all. Their bodies had become lean, they were dressed like Rishis and in the community of saints regularly listened the Puranas. And chanted with love the Dwadash Mantra (the twelve-lettered mantra — ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय). In the lotus-feet of Krishna the mind of that king-queen was intensely absorbed. They ate vegetables, fruits and roots and meditated on Sachidānanda Brahma. Then they began Tapa for Ram and leaving roots-fruits sustained only on water. Persistent in the heart was the wish that how could we see that supreme lord through our eyes, who is Nirguna (formless), indivisible, endless and eternal (beginning-less) and whom seekers of the supreme reality meditate on. Whom the Vedas delineate by saying ‘Neti neti’ (not this, not this). Who is the embodiment of bliss, without designation and unparalleled, and from whose tiny fragments many Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu manifest. Even such a great lord is under control of the devotees and for them assumes a divine body. If in the Vedas this proposition is true then our wish will surely be fulfilled. Undergoing Tapa by taking a diet of only water six thousand years passed. Then for seven thousand years they lived on a sustenance of only air. For ten thousand years they left the support of even air. Both were standing on a foot. Seeing his tremendous Tapa Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva repeatedly came to Manu. They tempted them in many ways and said that ask for some boon. But that utmost stoic king-queen showed unflinching perseverance in their Tapa. Although their bodies were reduced to mere skeletons, then too in their minds there was not even a slight pain. The omniscient lord Ram regarded the Tapasvi king-queen in his sole refuge as ‘my devotee’. Then this utmost solemn and benevolent voice soaked in nectar came from the sky — ‘ask for a boon’. Making a dead alive this beautiful voice passing through the holes of the ears when reached the mind, then the bodies of the king-queen became such beautiful and muscular, as if just now came from home. To the ears like nectar hearing those words their bodies became blithe and euphoric. Then Manu in prostration said, his heart overwhelmed with love — “O Lord! Listen, you are for the devotees the Kalpavriksha and the Kamadhenu. Your feet-dust is worshipped by even Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. You are easy to worship and provider of all pleasures. You are the protector of the devotees and the lord of the universe. O benevolent! If you love us, then with pleasure bestow this boon that that form of yours which resides in the mind of Shiva and for attaining that the sages strive. O Lord! Be benevolent to us to satiate our eyes we want to see that form.” The gentle, respectful and soaked in love words of the king-queen were very endearing to Ram and he manifested himself.
Like a blue lotus, a blue gem and a blue (with rain) cloud the soft, bright and succulent body of God with a dark complexion was embarrassing crores of Kamadeva. His lovely face was the limit of the beauty of the autumn full moon. The cheeks and the chin were very attractive, the neck was like a conch-shell (spiral). The red lips, the teeth and the nose were extremely beautiful. The smile was slighting the moonlight. The exquisite beauty of the eyes was like the lotus in fresh blossom. The lovely glance was captivating the heart. The slant eyebrows were stealing the beauty of Kamadeva’s bow. There was a bright Tilak on the forehead. In the ears the fish-like ear-rings and on the head the crown was magnificent. The curly black hair were so dense, as if it were a swarm of bees. On the chest the curly hair, a beautiful garland, a gem embedded necklace and the jewellery of gems were ornate. The lion-like neck, and the sacred thread were pretty. The jewellery in the arms was alluring. The arms were like the trunk of an elephant. In the waist a quiver and in the hands the arrows and a bow were elegant. The golden-bright yellow robe could even embarrass the lightning. On the abdomen there were three beautiful lines and a pretty navel. On the left of God there was Sita. Beholding the form of the ocean of beauty Ram the stunned Manu-Sātarupā without blinking kept on staring. That divine form they reverently admired with an insatiable appetite.
Being excessively overpowered by excitement they forgot the consciousness of their bodies. Clasping the feet of God with their hands they fell straight on the ground like a stick (prostration). The ocean of benevolence lord with his hands touched their forehead and lifted them at once. Then Ram said — “Knowing me to be extremely happy and immensely generous, whatever pleases your mind ask for that boon”. Listening to the words of God, with folded hands and with patience the king in gentle voice said — “O lord! Seeing your lotus-feet now all our wishes are fulfilled. Then too in the mind there is one great craving. I want to have a son like you.” Seeing the king’s love and listening to his priceless words the ocean of benevolence God spoke — “So be it. O king! Where should I search the other like me! Hence I myself would be your son.” Seeing Sātarupā with clasped hands God said — “O queen! Whatever be your wish, ask for that boon.” She said — “O lord! O benevolent to the devotees! You are the father (the Creator) of even Brahma, you are the lord of the universe and you are the Brahman who knows all within everyone’s heart. [I ask you this] O lord! Who are your devotees, who attain that (divine everlasting) bliss and achieve that supreme state. O lord! That bliss, that state, that Bhakti (devotion), that love in your feet, that Jnana (knowledge) and that mode of life kindly bestow on us.” Listening to the gentle, mysterious and fascinating words of the queen Ram said — “Whatever wish is in your mind, all that I give you, never doubt it. O mother! Due to my benevolence your divine Jnana (knowledge) will never be destroyed.” Then Manu after praying the lord’s feet said — “O lord! I have one more request. In your feet my love be like the one a father has for his son, although the world may call me a great fool for that. Like a fish cannot survive without water, that way my life be dependent on you (without you no life).” Saying this the king remained holding on to his feet. Then God said — “So be it. Now obeying me you stay in the capital Amaravati of the king of the Devas Indra. O father! There enjoying a lot of divine pleasures, after some time, you will be the king of Awadh (Kosala or Ayodhya). Then I will be your son. Adorning a human body created as per my wish I will manifest myself in your home. O father! Incarnating along with my fragments I will perform characters blissful to the devotees. Reverently listening to those characters the very privileged humans, renouncing delusion and vanity, will cross the ocean of this world. The primordial force this Maya of mine, who has produced this universe will also take avatar [in the form of Sita]. This way I will fulfill your wishes. My pledge is true, is true, is true. Again and again saying this the benevolent God disappeared.” That couple (king-queen) keeping Ram in their hearts stayed in that Ashram (hermitage) for some time. Then at a suitable time, leaving their bodies with ease (without any pain), they went to Amaravati and stayed there.
Curse on Pratapbhanu
In the Kaikeya kingdom there was a king named Satyaketu. Pratapbhanu was his elder son and the younger was Arimardan. The king gave the kingdom to the elder son and himself went to the forest for Tapa. There was a minister named Dharamruchi who was a devotee of Ram. Through his power Pratapbhanu subjugated all the seven continents. Once he went to the dense forest of Vindhyachal for hunting. There he saw a boar in the forest. He chased it but the boar ran into a deep cave of the mountain. Exhausted due to hard work and restless due to thirst the king became enervated in search of river or lake. Wandering in the forest he saw one Ashram (hermitage); there in the deceptive guise of a Rishi a king lived, whose kingdom Pratapbhanu had confiscated and who leaving the army had escaped from the battle. The king Pratapbhanu went to that Ashram. He immediately recognised Pratapbhanu. As the king was exhausted he could not recognize the hermit. He asked — “Who are you?” The king said — “O Rishi! Listen, There is a king named Pratapbhanu, I am his minister.” The king did not recognize him but he recognized the king. While the king was pure-hearted the Rishi was an expert in deception. That enemy remembering his kingly-pleasures was sad. Seeing the holy attire not just the ignorant but even the learned get deceived. Karma, Dharma and recounting many types of legends he started delineating Vairagya and Jnana. A lot of mysterious stories about the origin of the universe, its position and eventual destruction he explained in detail. After listening the king came under control of the hermit. He told the king to ask for whatever he likes. The king said — “I want my body to be free from aging, death and misery; no one could win over me in the battle and on the earth my rule be for a hundred Kalpas.”
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 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 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 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 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.
to the Valmiki Ramayana, Rama was born in Ayodhya, India, on 9th day (now celebrated across India as Ram 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. Jupiter in the sign Cancer is exalted.
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. , 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. Rama 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 Rama 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 Rama's divine identity upon the culmination of his mission.
Initiation of the Avatara
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 an 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 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. 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. Rama deals with the rest of the demons. The yagna is completed successfully
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 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, 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 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 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. 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 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 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 younger 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 is 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 during the night of the sixth day, unable to bear the agony of separation from Rama. Despite the reasoning of Vashistha 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 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 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.
The 'Wedding of Rama 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 Rama creates an alliance between two people, two families, and two kingdoms: Mithila, home of Sita, and Kosala, home of Rama. Furthermore, Rama's marriage to Sita on earth parallels the celestial union of Vishnu and Lakshmi; each deity took birth on earth, and so when Rama 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 Rama and Sita represents the relationship between God and the devotee, with Rama 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 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, but 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,the society starts doubting Sita's purity so Rama decided to prove that his Sita is still pure and chaste in front of the society, 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 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 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 Rama's and Sita's true identity and requests that Rama take Sita back as she is truly pure. Rama 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 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. This finds echo in the sthala purana of Tirupathi. 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, 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 Deva. 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 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, Rama 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 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. 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 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. On his way there, Rama intuitively knew that Luv and Kush were his sons and purposely slept on his chariot to delay tension and confrontation with his sons as he knew it would be inappropriate for a father to fight his sons. Upon reaching the battlefield, the sage Valmiki interrupted the potential battle between father and sons by explaining to Rama that Luv and Kush were his sons. A familial reunion took place.
When Devi Sita found out that Lava and Kusha had defeated Ayodhya's forces, she proudly revealed their/her identity. Rama desired Sita and his sons to live with him in his kingdom but as this took place, the general population of the kingdom resented Sita from returning. In response, Sita forsaked her like and sought final refuge in the arms of her mother Bhumidevi, the Goddess Mother Earth and ultimately returned to Rama in the form of Vishnu in Vishnu's abode - indicating that forced separation from her beloved husband is only limited in life on earth compared to her eternal union with her beloved in life after death.
Rama's reign is known as the Rama Rajya which lasted for 11,000 years. During this period, people were healthy, holy, 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 son. According to the Uttara Kand, a later edition and possible non-canon part of the Ramayana, 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, Sambuka, on top of a hill in sirsana position, who was . Rama asked him his caste and on receiving the reply that he was a Shudra, beheaded him, establishing Dharma of the Yuga once again. His brothers Bharata and Shatrughna settled in their later lives. Bharata, with the help of his uncle Yudhajita, 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 abandoning their mortal bodies. Lava and Kusha 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 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 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 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 Vanara 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. The duo sought Rama's protection when the monkey warriors thrashed them. Rama gave them refuge. 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
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 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 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. 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 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. 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. 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
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 flies 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 international divisions within their army when he suggested that Rama 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 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
When Rama 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, 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". Rama 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. Rama 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. Rama and Lakshmana guard the sacrifice, and when the two demons appear, Rama shoots an arrow named Manava Astra that 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 Samudra, the Lord of Oceans. The ocean god does not respond, 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, Varuna 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. Varuna 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 Varuna, but obtaining the result by force for the greater good.
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.
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 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 since he was playing the part of a human being, Rama also proved "vulnerable" on occasion to his enemies. He was put to a deep sleep along with Lakshmana by the nagapash of Indrajit (though this is attributed by Vaishnavas to his Rama-lila or divine play, as he is to purposefully lose consciousness from the nagapash so that his devotees could engage in the divine task of serving him), but they recovered when Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu and enemy of serpents appear.
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. Mathali, Indra's charioteer who had been sent by Indra after being counselled by the witnessing Rishis, Danavas and Devas; 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 Brahmastra. Rama 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 Rama as he was shot and as a result, was immediately dispatched to Heaven. 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, despite his patronage of evil.
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 rejection 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. Rama’s birthday is Celebrated as Rama Navami (On Chaitra Shukla Navami, Punarvasu Nakshatra fourth Pada) as Rama Born On that Day. Rama Navami is also the Same Day as the Day Of Killing Demon Ravana and Successfully Returning Victorious Rama to Ayodhya With Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuma, Sugriva, Jambavantha, Angadha etc., from Completing his Exile Period and then Rama'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 Rama’s 14 years of Exile, Padhuka Pattabhisekham [happened before Rama completing his exile time] done by Rama’s brother Bharatha, when then Ayodhya is ruled by his Padhuka or Rama shoes till the end of 14 years exile time period of Rama returning Ayodhya) which is on Darmaraja Dasami day after Rama Navami day, Lord Rama and his virtues besides, his popular regime ‘Rama Raajyam' to mark DharmaRaja Dashami as part of Sri RamaNavami as 'Ramo Vigrahavan Dharmah' Which Means Rama 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 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 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, Rama is enumerated among the nine "Baladeva". Hundreds of towns and villages are named after Rama.
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.
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:
- 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 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.
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 Ram. In fact most of the names of these ancestors of Lord Ram 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. Ram 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
- Seetha Rama Temple, Bhadrachalam (Andhra Pradesh)
- Kalaram Temple, Pune
- Raghunath Temple, Jammu
- Raghhunath Temple, Kullu
- Sitaram Temple, Dongri
- Ram Mandir, Tulsi Bagh, Pune
- Ram Mandir, Colvale
- SitaRam Mandir, Nadi
- Ram Mandir, Nairobi
- Ram Mandir, Bhubaneswar
- Poddareshwar Ram Mandir, Nagpur
Rama, Lakshmana and Ravana forms one of the nine set of Baladeva, Vasudeva and Prativasudeva whose stories forms a basis of Jain universal history. Rama 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). Rama (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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