15 APR 2016 RAMNVAMI

Ramnavami


|| Shriram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram ||

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‘The subjects were happy in Ramrajya; but in the rule of Ravana called democracy the subjects are very miserable. To make the subjects happy let us destroy the present demoniacal rule of anti-national elements and establish Ramrajya. To achieve this, spiritual practice and devotion are the need of the hour.’

 

Content


Introduction

Ramnavami is celebrated to proclaim the birth of Lord Sriram, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The 9th day (Navami) in the bright fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Chaitra is referred to as Ram Navami. On this day, when the five planets and the sun, etc. were in the first house of cancer at noon along with the lunar asterism Pushya, Ramachandra was born in Ayodhya. Several temples of Shriram celebrate this festival for nine days beginning from the first day (pratipada) of Chaitra. It is celebrated by periodic readings (parayans) of the Ramayan, organising spiritual discourses (kirtans) and beautifully embellishing Shriram’s idol. On the ninth day, in the afternoon, a spiritual discourse on Shriram’s birth is held. At noon, a coconut draped in a hooded cloak is placed in a cradle and the cradle is rocked. Devotees shower a red, fragrant powder (gulal) and flowers onto it.

Ramnavami Celebrations start on Gudi padwa, the first day of Chaitra; and continue for 9 days. During this period, devotees do parayans of Ramayan, recite the Ramaraksha stotra, sing bhajans-kirtans in His praise and chant His name.

Online Signature Campaign

To grant special permission to Hindus for worshipping Shriram at Shriram Janmabhumi on Shriram Navami and fulfil the promise by erecting a grand Shriram Temple in Ayodhya

Bhagawan Shriram is a seat of faith for crores of Hindus. The birth place of Shriram is located in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, the fact, which has been proved beyond doubts. On 30th September 2010, the Allahabad High Court has confirmed in its verdict that the place in question is the birth place of Shriram and Shriram Temple existed there. Despite the High Court verdict through which it has been proved that the birth place of Shriram is in Ayodhya, for which devotees of Shriram, Hindus are not permitted to perform worship at the main place. It is a biggest misfortune for Hindus that they are denied right to perform worship in the place of birth of Shriram.

        Hindu Janajagruti Samiti has started Online Signature Campaign to ‘Grant special permission to Hindus for worshipping Shriram at Shriram Janmabhumi on Shriram Navami and fulfil the promise by erecting a grand Shriram Temple in Ayodhya’. We appeal all devout Hindus to participate in the Online Signature Campaign. To sign the petition, please click here

Attributes of Shriram

ShriRam_Nampatti

Name : Shriram’s Name was prevalent even before His birth. After His victory at Lanka, that is, upon demonstrating His Godhood, everyone started addressing Him as Srirama (Shriram).

Ideal in All Respects : Shriram is an example of the ideal son, brother, husband, king, friend and enemy.

The Follower of Righteousness (Dharma) : Shriram observed all decorum prescribed by Dharma; that is why He is referred to as ‘Maryadapurushottam’. Also, honouring one’s word (Ekvachani) and needing just one arrow or shot to find the mark (Ekbani) and having only one wife (Ekpatni), when the norm was for Kings of that era to have many wives, are His well-known attributes.

Shriram’s Kingdom (Ramrajya) : During Shriram’s rule, that is, in the Tretayug it was not Shriram alone who was wise, His subjects, too, were prudent. Hence, during His reign not a single complaint was brought to His court.

The real kingdom of Shriram dwells within oneself. The implied meaning of this is absolute control over the five sense organs, five motor organs, mind, subconscious mind, intellect and ego by the Rama principle (Atmarama – the Soul principle).

Worship of Shriram

Once the stage of worship of the Divine principle or Deity according to one’s religion (that of the family Deity for Hindus) is completed, the spiritual practice (worship) of Shriram is useful for many seekers to go from many to One. This is because of Shriram’s attributes of being true to His word, devoted to only one wife and attaining the target with just one arrow.

Ritualistic Worship (Puja) :

Since Shriram is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, He too is worshipped like Vishnu in sixteen steps (shodashopachar puja).Tulsi (a sacred and medicinal plant found in India) leaves are essential for His worship. Tulsi has the ability to attract the subtlest pure particles (pavitrakas) of Vishnu. It is even better if one can use Lotuses for the worship. Khir (a sweet delicacy made from milk and rice or vermicelli) or shira (a sweet delicacy made from semolina, pure ghee and sugar) is Lord Vishnu’s favourite sacrament (naivedya). Choosing the substances offered in the worship according to the science of Spirituality helps generate Divine consciousness (chaitanya) in the idol, so that it aids one’s spiritual progress.

Celebration of Ram Navami

ram-lakshman-sita

  • Holy festival (san) : when it is celebrated individually,
  • Religious festival (utsav) : when celebrated collectively and
  • Vowed observance (vrat) : when performed individually with a resolve (sankalpa).

Also, unlike most vowed religious observances, which are practiced individually, Sriram Navami is a vowed religious observance undertaken by a group.

Several temples of Shriram celebrate this festival for nine days, beginning from Gudhipadva (the first day (pratipada) of the month of Chaitra). It is celebrated by periodic readings (parayans) of the Ramayan, organizing and attending spiritual discourses (kirtans) and beautifully embellishing Shriram;s statue. During these nine days, reciting the Ramaraksha prayer (stotra) eleven times daily with a resolve (sankalpa) brings the prayer to fruition, yielding benefits like reduction of speech impairment and other ailments, and gaining prosperity. On the ninth day, that is, on Sriram Navami a spiritual discourse on Shriram’s birth is held in the afternoon. At noon, a coconut, draped in a hooded cloak is placed in a cradle and rocked. The coconut signifies the baby Shriram. A red, fragrant powder (gulal) and flowers are showered onto it. Many places in North India host fairs in connection with the festival, culminating in spectacular fireworks on Rama Navami.


Shriram: An Ideal

The Ideal son : He always obeyed His parents; at times even advised the elders.

The Ideal brother : Rama-Lakshman’s love is cited as the ideal of brotherly love.

The Ideal husband : He was devoted to His one and only wife. Kings, then, use to have many wives.

The Ideal friend : He helped Sugreev, Bibhishan and many others during their difficult times.

The Ideal King : He followed all codes of conduct for Kings as laid down in our scriptures.

The Ideal Enemy : Bibhishan refused to perform the last rites of Ravan, his brother. Shriram said to him, ”If you do not do it, I will. He was my brother too!”

Maryadapurushottam : He represents the Supreme extent of Righteousness.

Shriram’s Human Nature

ramayanHe displays emotions of happiness & unhappiness just like humans do. (His melancholy at Sita’s abduction is an example.) Hence, we feel closer to Him than we feel towards other Deities.

The implied meaning of the Ramayana in our lives :

  • Lakshman refers to the focus on the soul, instead of the worldly.
  • Bharat signifies a seeker engrossed in the worship of radiance.
  • Shatrughna is the one who destroys the six foes (Shadripus) of the soul.
  • Rama, Sita and Lakshman together stand for spiritual knowledge, devotion and detachment respectively.
  • Hanuman is the activated Kundalini and
  • Ravana embodies the 6 enemies of a human being which are desire, anger, greed, attachment, vanity and envy.

Every Incarnation comes to Earth with a specific purpose : The main task of every Incarnation is to destroy evil and establish the Divine Kingdom; but the percentage and proportion of this varies in different Yugas. And, all activities of the Incarnation are centred around this task.

Killing of Ravana : Ravana was highly learned and possessed the knowledge of Righteousness (Dharma). Shriram had to destroy him, so that He could protect the embodied souls doing spiritual practice. Shriram acquired a gross body to help the souls pursue their spiritual aspirations appropriately.

Final Liberation : Many embodied souls completed their individual spiritual practice through the path of Knowledge (Dhyanyoga) but since their spiritual practice for the sake of society (Samashti sadhana) was incomplete, their spiritual practice for Final Liberation remained incomplete. In Satya-yuga there was no way to perform spiritual practice for the sake of society and as a result many embodied souls got stuck midway. For their progress and liberation, they were born as monkeys (vanars) during Shriram’s time. Some of the Gods who had been cursed were also born during this period as monkeys. In order to make all these embodied souls practice spirituality for the sake of society and their progress, Shriram acquired a gross body.

To set an ideal for the people : Shriram set an example through each and every action of His. He explained how an embodied soul can attain Final Liberation by acting in accord-ance with the scriptures.

He set an example of a Divine Kingdom for the people : When Righteousness (Dharma) manifested in the gross, Unrighteousness (Adharma) also manifested in the gross. Many embodied souls started troubling Sages and others who acted in accordance with the scriptures. During that time Shriram protected the Sages and set an example through His own deeds for all kings as to how a Divine Kingdom should be. Shriram is an ideal of how selfless, free from desire and impartial a King can be!

Reference : Monthly Sanatan Prabhat

Interesting articles about Lord Ram

1358175389_Shri-RamWhy should one chant the Name ‘Sree Ram’ instead of ‘Ram’?

Chant the Names Rama and Sree Rama each for two minutes and record your spiritual experiences, that is note with which Name you feel pleasant or distressed.

1358175389_Shri-RamWhat is the real meaning of Ramarajya ?

During His times, that is in the Tretayug Rama alone was not wise, His subjects too were prudent.

1367165823_PadukaWhy did Bharat install padukas of Lord Rama on the throne instead of His idol?

With one boon Kaikeyi got Rama banished to the forest for fourteen years and with the other, she asked that Bharat be made the crown prince.

Save Ram Setu

ram_bridge
Divine Ram Setu

Setu Samudram shipping canal project (SSCP) has been approved by the Government of India and work has been started near Kodand Ram Temple. Setu Samudram [shipping canal project] is based on the notion that it is inevitable to break the Sri Ram Setu for easy navigation. This will amount to damaging a monument of both, historical and religious importance.

Participate in online protest campaign

Defamation of Shriram by modern incarnations of Ravan

1. Defamation on Orkut Community

orkut_ram

The website ‘Orkut’ of ‘Google’ company has published pictures of Shriram. The pictures indicate the perverse mentality of the ‘community’ started on the website as they have stooped to a very low level in their display of vile denigration. HJS has therefore, warned the website to immediately withdraw all such ‘communities’.
(Click here for details)

2. Defamation through shoes

minellishoesMinelli of Italy painted images of Shriram on shoes made by them and deliberately advertised this aspect. Hindus protested against this denigration and the company was compelled to withdraw their shoes from the market.

See also: The other defamation of Hindu Deities

Hindus bring back Ramrajya !

Ramrajya is the only solution to all the problems. It can only be possible if Hindus wake up and destroy the Modern incarnations of Ravan. The attacks on the Hindu Dharma are growing from the Christians, Muslims, atheists and all other anti-Hindus and yet Hindus are not retaliating. If the condition remains as it is then Hindu Dharma as well as Hindus will become extinct forever. Keep in mind that changes do not occur by big miracles, but acts within the common man’s reach.

 

How to Perform Ram Navami Puja at Home?

Ram Navami puja 2014

Ram Navami is celebrated on the ninth day of the Chaitra Shukla Paksha (March – April). It is the birthday anniversary of Lord Ram and is celebrated all over Indian. Puja and observing fast are considered as essential part of Ram Navami celebration. Let’s learn about Ram Navami puja rituals.

Ram Navami Puja Muhurat 2014Ram Navami puja

Rama Navami Puja Muhurta = 11:08:01 to 13:38:19
Duration = 2 Hours 30 Mins

Ram Navami Puja Rituals

  • First of all clean your house for Ram Navami puja.
  • Place Lord Ram’s idol in puja room. You can also keep portraits of Mata Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman along with Lord Rama.
  • Lord Ram was born at noon. So, you should perform Ramnavami puja at noon.
  • Perform puja with all the members of your family.
  • Offer flowers, sweets, light diyas and incense sticks in order to please Lord Ram.
  • You should also offer tulsi leave and fruits to lord Ram. After all he his Lord Vishnu’s avatar.
  • After lighting the diyas sprinkle holy water, roli, kumkum and rice on the deities.
  • They also read out holy mantras, Ramayana in order to please the deity.
  • After puja is done, Perform aarti, offer Prasad and seek blessing of Lord ram.
  • Apply Tilak and distribute Prasad to all the members.
  • Many people break the fast at noon with this Puja ‘prasad.’
  • Sing Ram Bhajan or Vishnu Sahasranama.
  • People visit temples and listen to stories of Ram janam Katha (Rama’s birth).
  • Various other legends from Ramayana like bala kand and sundrakand are read.

This Ramnavami, Offer prasad and seek blessings from Ram Mandir Ayodhya, Click Here

– See more at: http://blog.onlineprasad.com/how-to-perform-ram-navami-puja-at-home/#sthash.9t5NDbHl.dpuf

Rama

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Rama (disambiguation).
“Râm” redirects here. It is not to be confused with Ram (disambiguation).
Rama
Lord Ramaji.png

Lord Rama with his Divine “Dhanusha” (bow).
Devanagari राम
Affiliation Human and seventh Avatar ofVishnu
Abode Ayodhya, Santanaka
Mantra Om Shri Ramaya Namah
Weapon The Bow (Kodandam)
Consort Sita
Parents
Children Lava and Kusha

Rama (/ˈrɑːmə/;[1] Sanskrit: राम Rāma) or Ram is the seventh avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu.[2] Rama, also known by his full name Rama Dashrath Suryavanshi, is the central figure of the Hindu epic Ramayana, which is the principal narration of the events connected to his incarnation on earth, his ideals and his greatness. Rama is one of the many popular deities in Hinduism, and especially of the various Vaishnava sects. Religious texts and scriptures based on his life have been a formative component in numerous cultures of South and Southeast Asia.[3] 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,[4] 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 a great woman.[4][5]

Rama and his brothers Lakshman, Bharat, Shatrughna were the chaturvyuha expansions of Vishnu (Vasudev, Sankarshan, Pradyumna, Aniruddha). Rama’s life and journey is one of adherence to dharma despite harsh tests and obstacles and many pains of life and time. For the sake of his father’s honour, Rama abandons his claim to Ayodhaya’s throne to serve an exile of fourteen years in the forest.[6] 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.[7] Having completed his exile, Rama returns to be crowned king in Ayodhya and eventually becomes emperor,[6] rules with happiness, peace, duty, prosperity and justice—a period known as Rama 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,[8] courage and devotion to religious values and duty.

Etymology[edit]

Sita (far right), Rama (center),Lakshmana (far left) and Hanuman(below seated) at Bhaktivedanta Manor, a temple in Watford (England)

The name Rama appears repeatedly in Hindu scriptures. Besides the name of the protagonist of the Ramayana (subject of the current article), the name is also given to other heroes including Parashu-Rama (Bhargava Rama) andBalarama (Bala-Rama).

In the Vishnu sahasranama, Rama is the 394th name of Vishnu. In the interpretation of Adi Shankara‘s commentary, translated by Swami Tapasyananda of the Ramakrishna Mission, Rama has two meanings: the supreme Brahmanwho is the eternally blissful spiritual Self in whom yogis delight, and the One (i.e., Vishnu, the supreme Brahman) who out of His own will assumed the enchanting form of Rama, the son of Dasaratha.[9]

Other names of Rama include Ramavijaya (Javanese), Phreah Ream (Khmer), Phra Ram (Lao and Thai), Megat Seri Rama (Malay), Raja Bantugan (Maranao), Ramudu (Telugu) and Ramar (Tamil).

The greatness of chanting of Rama’s name is mentioned in the Ramacharitamanasa.[10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

In Sanskrit, the word Rama (राम) means ‘charming’. The name is commonly given to male in India and Nepal.

Some of the popular names of Rama are-

  • Rama – charming
  • Ramachandra – Rama with a moon
  • Raghava – descendent of Raghu
  • Siyaavara – husband of Sita
  • Ayodhyapati – king of Ayodhya
  • Dashrathaputra – son of Dasharatha
  • Maryada-Purushottama – best ideal man

Literary sources[edit]

Valmiki composing the Ramayana.

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 earliest documentation of Rama is in the Buddhist text of Dasharatha Jataka.[17]

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.[18] 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, aHindi 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 Satyanarayanain 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.[19]

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,[20] 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.

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.[21][22][23]

Composition of Ramayana in its current form is usually dated to 7th – 4th Century BCE.[24][25][26]

Balkand[edit]

Birth as an avatar[edit]

Rama (left third from top) depicted in the Dashavatara (ten avatars) of Vishnu. Painting fromJaipur, now at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Ramayana speaks of how the earth goddess Bhudevi, came to the creator-god 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 rakshasa 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.[27]

Brahma, Bhumidevi and the other gods requested Vishnu, the Preserver, to intervene and rid the Earth from Ravana’s tyrannical rule. Vishnu promised to kill Ravana by incarnating as a man – the eldest son of Kosala’s kingDasharatha.[27] According the Ramayana, king Dasharata remained childless for a long time and finally decided to perform an putrakameshti yaga under the supervision of the royal priest. During the ritual, Prajapati arose from the sacrificial fire and gave a vessel of sacred potion to Dasharata for distribution to his three wives. The three queens drank the divine potion and conceived four sons: Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna.[28]

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 Shesha is said to have incarnated as Lakshmanato stay at his Lord’s side on earth. Throughout his life, no one, except 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, Brahma, Indra and the gods, the celestial sages and Shiva appear out of the sky. They affirm Sita’s purity and ask him to end this terrible test. Thanking the avatar for delivering the universe from the grips of evil, they reveal Rama’s divine identity upon the culmination of his mission.[29]

Other scriptures provide other reasons for the avatar. The chastity of Vrinda, wife of the demon Jalandhara, that protects the life of her husband is destroyed by Vishnu by deceit so that Shiva can slay the demon. She curses Vishnu to be born on earth and that in this birth of his, his wife’s (Lakshmi as Sita) purity and chastity will be a question in his mind throughout his life and he will be separated from her and live with sadness and grief.[30][31]

Another legend narrates that Jaya and Vijaya, the gatekeepers of Vishnu, were cursed by the Four Kumaras to be born on earth three lives; Vishnu took avatars each time to free them of their earthy existence. They as born as Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna, who are both killed by Rama. Also, due to a boon, Kashyapa and Aditi are born as the parents of Rama, Dasharatha and Kausalya.[32] In another version, Svayambhuva Manu and his wife Satarupa are blessed to be born as Rama’s parents.[33][34]

Another tale says that the sage Narada cursed Vishnu to be born on earth as a king, to be helped by monkeys and suffer separation from his wife. Narada also curses Jaya and Vijaya to be born as the demon brothers.[35][36]

Initiation of the Avatar[edit]

Visvamitra came to Dasaratha and asked him to send Rama with him to fight with the demons

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

Ahalya offering fruits and flowers to Rama – her saviour, a 5th-century AD Stone sculpture from Deogah, currently in theNational Museum, New Delhi.

Rama also frees Ahalya, the wife of Gautama Maharishi, from a curse. She was cursed to turn into stone by her husband after a displeasing incident. However, the dust on Rama’s feet touched the stone and turned it back into a woman again. Gautama Maharishi was gratified that everything was back to normal again.

Sage Vishwamitra then takes the two princes to the Swayamvara a wedding ceremony for Sita. The challenge is to string the bow of Shiva (Pinaka) 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.[37]

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 (Saranga), and intends to challenge Rama to prove his strength by stringing it, and then fighting a battle with him to prove superiority.[38] 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,(that is his own, an example of irony here) 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.[39]

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.[39]

Dharma of exile[edit]

Rama portrayed as exile in the forest, accompanied by his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana

Hanuman meets Sri Rama in Forest

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.[40] 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.[41]

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.[42] According to the explanation of the classic, this exile actually presents Rama the opportunity to confront Ravana and his evil empire.

Rama and Sita[edit]

Rama with Sita on the throne, their children Lava and Kusha on their laps. Behind the throne, Lakshamana, Bharata and Shatrughna stand. Hanuman bows to Rama before the throne. Vashishta to the left

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 Incarnationsof 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.[41] 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.[43]

Agni pariksha[edit]

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.[44]

The Agni pariksha

Sita begs Lakshmana to build her a pyre upon which she could end her life, as she could not live without Rama. At this point, Lakshmana is angered at Rama for the first time in his life, but following Rama’s nod, he builds a pyre for Sita. At the great shock and sorrow of the watchers, Sita sits into the flames. But to their 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 parikshabefore the eyes of hundreds. Agni would destroy the impure and sinful, but not touch the pure and innocent, irrespective of Parvati‘s/Adishakti’s curse on him.[45] There is a version of Tulsidas‘sRamacharitamanasa, 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.[46] 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.

Sita’s Exile[edit]

Rama fighting his sons Lava and Kusha

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’ Ramcharitmanas, both the princes grew extremely intelligent and strong under Rishi Valmiki’s tutelage.

Children[edit]

Lava and Kusha, the sons of Rama.

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 Tamsa river.

As Rama performed the Ashvamedha Yajna, a horse strayed into their forest, Rama sent Hanuman to retrieve the horses. Rama’s sons Lava and Kusha captured the horses. Hanuman, seeing Lava and Kusha 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 Rama’s brothers started attacking Lava and Kusha. Although Rama’s brothers should have won, but Lava and Kusha defeated them all, knocking them unconscious. Lava and Kusha 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 Lava and Kusha 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 Lava and Kusha 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 life 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.

Later Life[edit]

Rishi Agastya(Father of Tamil literature) – Rama acquired a rare gem from him which entombed the powers of the gods Indra, Varuna, Yama and Kubera

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.

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, his brothers and his allies peacefully left the earth on the river Saryu abandoning their mortal bodies. Valmiki Ramayana mentions an abode named Santanaka invested with all spiritual qualities and located beyond Brahmaloka, which was attained by all followers of Rama, after Rama along with his brothers, entered into Vaishnava potency. Lava and Kusha ruled Kosala and continued the solar race.

Maryada Purushottama[edit]

As a person, Rama personifies the characteristics of an ideal person (purushottama)[4][47] 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 purushottama or the best of upholders of Dharma, a basically human but exemplary figure[48]

Some of his ideals are as follows:[citation needed]

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. In Balakanda of Valmiki Ramayana it is written that Rama and Sita resided in each other’s heart.[citation needed]

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 ofLanka.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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. He 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…[citation needed]

Companions[edit]

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[edit]

Main articles: Bharata (Ramayana) and Lakshmana
See also: Shatrughna

Rama and Sita worship theShiva Lingam at Rameswaram, as his companions Vibhishana (right) looks on with Lakshamana,Tumburu and Narada along with the Vanar Sena.

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.[49] Vasishtha proclaims that no one had better learnt dharma than Bharata,[50] 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.[51] 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.

Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. Indian painting, 1875

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.[52]

Lakshman is uniquely responsible for slaying Indrajit, the invincible son of Ravana who had earlier defeated Indra and the devas, outwitted the Vanara‘s on several occasions and even twice defeated the brothers.[53] 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[edit]

Ravana kidnapping Sita while Jatayu on the left tried to help her. 9th century Prambanan bas-relief, Java, Indonesia

When Rama and Lakshmana begin the desperate search to discover where Sita had been taken, after traversing a distance in many directions, they come across the magical eagle Jatayu, who is dying. They discover from Jatayu that a rakshasa was flying away with a crying, struggling Sita towards the south. Jatayu had flown to the rescue of Sita, but owing to his age and the rakshasa’s power, had been defeated. With this, Jatayu dies in Rama’s arms. Rama is overcome with love and affection for the bird which sacrificed its own life for Sita, and the rage of his death returns to him in the climactic battle with Ravana.

Rama’s only allies in the struggle to find Sita are the Vanaras of Kishkindha. Finding a terrified Sugriva being hunted by his own brother, king Vali, Rama promises to kill Vali and free Sugriva of the terror and the unjust charge of plotting to murder Vali. The two swear everlasting friendship over sacred fire. Rama’s natural piety and compassion, his sense of justice and duty, as well as his courage despite great personal suffering after Sita’s kidnapping inspire devotion from the Vanaras and Sugriva, but especially Hanuman, Sugriva’s minister. Devoted to Rama, Hanuman exerts himself greatly over the search for Sita. He is the first to discover that Sita was taken to Lanka, and volunteers to use his divine gifts in a dangerous reconnaissance of Lanka, where he is to verify Sita’s presence. Hanuman hands Rama’s ring to Sita, as a mark of Rama’s love and his imminent intention of rescuing her. Though captured, he candidly delivers Rama’s message to Ravana to immediately release Sita, and when his tail is burned, he 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.[54] 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.[55]

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.[56] 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[edit]

The epic story of Ramayana was adopted by several cultures across Asia. Shown here is a Thaihistoric artwork depicting the battle which took place between Rama and Ravana.

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 hisyagna 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.[57] 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.

Raja Ravi Varma Painting – ‘Rama Conquers Varuna’

Varuna[edit]

Rama Setu (Adam’s) bridge as seen from the air, Rameshwaram,Tamil Nadu, India

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.[58]

The bridge today is known as Rama Setu, which supposedly has its existence between India and Sri Lanka, originates from Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, India.

Facing Ravana[edit]

Main article: Ravana

Ravana, Demon King of Lanka

Rama asserted his dedication to dharma when he offered Ravana a final chance to make peace, by immediately returning Sita and apologizing, despite his heinous actions and patronage of evil, but Ravana refused. In the war, Rama slayed the most powerful rakshasa commanders, including 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, but they recovered when Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu and enemy of serpents appear. Before Indrajit was killed, he twice defeated Lakshman and Rama and in both occasions Hanuman‘s intervention saved them from certain death.[59]

Rama launched at his foe a fearsome a bolt

In the grand finale of the battle, Rama engaged Ravana, who through the devastation of losing his sons, his brothers and friends and millions of his warriors, aroused his magical powers and made full use of the boons of Siva and Brahma, and the magical knowledge of warfare possessed by the greatest of rakshasas. Rama and Ravana competed fiercely, inflicting severe injuries on one another with powerful weapons capable of destroying the universe. After a long and arduous battle, Rama successfully decapitated Ravana’s central head, but an ugly head, symbolic of all of Ravana’s evil powers arose in its place. After another long battle, Rama decapitated it again, only to find another growing in its place. This cycle continues, and as darkness approached, Ravana’s magical powers increased in force. 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.[60]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.[61]

Rama Rajya[edit]

The return of Rama

Coronation of Rama with Sita (center on the throne), surrounded by his brothers and other deities including Hanuman (bottom left)

The end of the war coincides with the end of Rama’s tenure of exile. Flying home on the Pushpaka Vimana, Rama returns to a joyous Ayodhya. His mothers, brothers and the people joyously welcome him. The next day, Rama is invested as the King of Ayodhya, and Emperor of the World. Although he first asks Lakshmana to become the yuvaraja, upon the 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.[62] Rama’s birthday is Celebrated as Rama Navami (On Chaitra Shukla Navami, Punarvasu Nakshatra fourth Pada). Diwali is celebrated as a festival to commemorate the successful victorious return of Lord Rama after killing of the demon Ravana to Ayodhya with Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman, Sugriva, Jambavan, Angada etc., which coincided with the end of his exile period. Then Lord Rama’s Coronation(Saamraajya Pattabhisekham) ceremony took place on the following day at 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). Lord Rama ruled Bharatvarsha through his virtues which is popularly known as period of Ram Rajyam which lasted for 11 thousand years. Ram Raajyam means the embodiment Of Dharma Or Dharma has taken a form of Ramachandrah.[63]

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.

International influence[edit]

Rama (Yama) and Sita ( Thida) in Yama Zatdaw, the Burmese version of the Ramayana

Rama remains an immensely revered and inspirational figure to people across the Indian subcontinent and South East Asia, as well as increasingly across Western civilization, where the Hindu epics and values are gaining recognition and popularity. In Jainism, Rama is enumerated among the nine “Baladeva”. Hundreds of towns and villages are named after Rama.[64][65]

Rama is a great hero to the adherents of Agama Hindu Dharma and to the Muslims who practice Abangan, a syncretic form of Islam and Hinduism, in Indonesia. He is revered by the people throughout Indochina who otherwise adhere to different forms of Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism. His regal bearing and fighting prowess is emulated in various Indian martial arts which in turn influenced various Southeast Asian fighting systems such as silat. The Rama Leela is performed across South East Asia in numerous local languages and the story has been the subject of art, architecture, music, folk dance and sculpture. The ancient city of Ayutthaya stands in Thailand, as the tribute of an ancient Thai kingdom to the great legend. Many ancient and medieval era kings of India and South East Asia have adopted Rama as their name.

Reviewers linked the imagery of the blue-skinned Na’vi in James Cameron‘s film Avatar to Rama as one of their possible conceptual prototypes.[66][67][68]

Muslim poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal had presented tribute to Rama through a poem.[69][70]

Rama worship[edit]

Festivals[edit]

Main article: Rama Navami

Rama Navami[edit]

Rama’s day and time of birth,[71] 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 Festival celebrated in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh called Vasanthothsavam (Festival of Spring), that starts with Ugadi. Some highlights of this day are:

A Home shrine with images of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana andHanuman, on Sri Rama Navami

  1. Kalyanam (Ceremonial wedding performed by temple priests) at Bhadrachalam on the banks of the river Godavari in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh.
  2. Panakam, a sweet drink prepared on this day with jaggery and pepper.
  3. Procession of idols in the evening that is accompanied with play of water and colours.
  4. For the occasion, Hindus are supposed to fast (or restrict themselves to a specific diet).
  5. Temples are decorated and readings of the Ramayana take place. Along with Rama, people also pray to Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman.

Vijayadashami celebrations

Vijayadashmi[edit]

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 Northern India and also in places where there is a large population of North Indians. Hindus also celebrate Vijayadashmi as the day of victory of the Goddess Durga over the Rakshas Mahishasur.

Diwali[edit]

In some parts of India, Rama’s return to Ayodhya and his coronation is the main reason for celebrating Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights. 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.

Deities inside the Kalaram Temple, Nashik

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. Just like Vijayadashmi, Diwali is celebrated by different communities across India to commemorate different events in addition to Rama’s return to Ayodhya. For example, many communities celebrate one day of Diwali to celebrate the Victory of Krishna over the demon Narakasur.

Temples[edit]

Temples dedicated to Rama are found all over India and in places where Indian migrant communities have resided. In most temples, the standing idol of Rama is accompanied by that of his wife Sita and brother Laxman. In some instances, the monkey God, Hanuman sits at the feet of Rama or is situated facing the Rama family at a distance or at the entrance of the temple. Important Rama temples include:

Ram, Sita, Lakshman, Hanuman, at Vallipuram Temple, Sri Lanka

In Jainism[edit]

Main articles: Rama in Jainism and Salakapurusa

Rama, Lakshmana and Ravana forms one of the nine set of Baladeva, Vasudeva and Prativasudeva whose stories forms a basis of Jain universal history.[72][73] 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.

Portrayals of Rama in mass media[edit]

Smite, a multiplayer online battle arena video game, Rama is a hunter.[74]

Rama has been portrayed by several actors in television adaptations of the Ramayana:

Year TV series Channel Country Played by
1987 Ramayan DD National India Arun Govil
2006 Raavan Zee TV India Chirag Ruia and Diwakar Pundir
2008 Ramayan (2008 TV series) NDTV Imagine India Gurmeet Choudhary
2012 Ramayan (2012 TV series) Zee TV India Gagan Malik
2015–Present Sankatmochan Mahabali Hanuman Sony TV India Gagan Malik
2015 Siya Ke Ram Star Plus India Ashish Sharma

See also[edit]

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