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Story


The original Ramayana written by the 4th c. sage Valmiki comprised of seven “kandas” or books. Many scholars question the authorship of the certain passages from the first book (Bala Kanda) and question the authenticity of the last book (Uttara Kanda) for various reasons.

  • Bala Kanda: “The Book of the Youth,” the boyhood and adolescence of Rama;

  • Ayodhya Kanda: “The Book of Ayodhya,” the court of Dasaratha and the scenes that set the stage for the unfolding of the story, including the exchange between Dasaratha and Kaikeyi and the exile of Rama;

  • Aranya Kanda: “The Book of the Forest ,” life in the forest during the fourteen year exile and the abduction of Sita by Ravana;

  • Kishkindhya Kanda: “The Book of The Empire of Holy Mokeys,” Rama’s residence in Kishkindhya, the quest for Sita, and the slaying of Bali;

  • Sundara Kanda: “The Book of the Beautiful (Hanuman),” sundara means beautiful, and this portion of the book has passages of lyrical beauty; description of the landscapes over which Rama roams, and the arrival of Rama and his allies in Lanka;

  • Yuddha Kanda: “The Book of War,” the defeat of Ravana, the recovery of Sita, the return to Ayodhya, and the coronation of Rama; and

  • Uttara Kanda: “The Book Beyond,” the “later section”, detailing Rama’s life in Ayodhya, the banishment of Sita, the birth of Lava and Kusa, the reconciliation of Rama and Sita, her death or return to the earth, and Rama’s ascent into heaven.


Summary

 

Dasharatha was the King of Ayodhya and had three wives and four sons. Rama was the eldest and his mother was Kaushalya. Bharata was the son of Dasharatha’s second and favorite wife, Queen Kaikeyi. The other two were twins, Lakshmana and Shatrughna whose mother was Sumithra. In the neighboring city the ruler’s daughter was named Sita. When it was time for Sita to choose her bridegroom (at a ceremony called a swayamvara) princes from all over the land were asked to string a giant bow which no one could lift. However, as Rama picked it up, he not only strung the bow, he broke it. Seeing this, Sita indicated that she had chosen Rama as her husband by putting a garland around his neck. Their love became a model for the entire kingdom as they looked over the kingdom under the watchful eye of his father the king.

 

 


 

A few years later, King Dasharatha decided it was time to give his throne to his eldest son Rama and retire to the forest. Everyone seemed pleased, save Queen Kaikeyi since she wanted her son Bharata to rule. Because of an oath Dasharatha had made to her years before, she got the king to agree to banish Rama for fourteen years and to crown Bharata, even though the king pleaded with her not to demand such a request. The devastated King could not face Rama and it was Queen Kaikeyi who told Rama the King’s decree. Rama, always obedient, was content to go into banishment in the forest. Sita and Lakshmana accompanied him on his exile.

One day Rama and Lakshmana wounded a rakshasas (demon) princess who tried to seduce Rama. She returned to her brother Ravana, the ten-headed ruler of Lanka. In retaliation, Ravana devised a plan to abduct Sita after hearing about her incomparable beauty. He sent one of his demons disguised as a magical golden deer to entice Sita. To please her, Rama and Lakshmana went to hunt the deer down. Before they did though, they drew a protective circle around Sita and told her that she would be safe for as long as she did not step outside the circle. After Rama and Lakshmana left, Ravana appeared as a holy man begging alms. The moment Sita stepped outside the circle to give him food, Ravana grabbed her and carried her to his kingdom in Lanka.


 

Rama then sought the help of a band of monkeys offer to help him find Sita. Hanuman, the general of the monkey band can fly since his father is the wind. He flew to Lanka and, finding Sita in the grove, comforted her and told her Rama would come to save her soon. Ravana’s men captured Hanuman, and Ravana ordered them to wrap Hanuman's tail in cloth and to set it on fire. With his tail burning, Hanuman escaped and hopped from house-top to house-top, setting Lanka on fire. He then flew back to Rama to tell him where Sita was.

Rama, Lakshmana and the monkey army built a causeway from the tip of India to Lanka and crossed over to Lanka where a cosmic battle ensued. Rama killed several of Ravana’s brothers and eventually confronted the ten-headed Ravana. He killed Ravana, freed Sita and after Sita proved here purity, they returned to Ayodhya where Bharata returned the crown to him.

Interesting Facts

  • Sita wasn't born to king Janaka.She was the daughter of the Goddess of Earth (Bhumi). She was found by king Janaka in a box while ploughing the earth as a part of a yagna who then adopted her as his daughter considering her to be a boon from the goddess of the earth.

  • Sita was an incarnation of goddess Laxmi.

  • The name Sita actually means Furrow.

  • Urmila (sister of Sita) Laxmana's wife slept both his and her shares of sleep so that Laxmana remained awake protecting Rama and Sita. She slept for the whole period of exile (14 years) and only woke up when Laxmana returned to Ayodhya.

  • Lava and Kusha sons of Rama defeated all the three Brothers of Ram (Laxman,Bharat,Shatrughna) in a battle the latter waged for retrieving the horse which was being used by Rama while performing Ashvamedha Yagna.

  • Valmiki the author of Ramayana was a Hunter before he turned a sage. He was also the Guru of Lava and Khusha and trained them in every form of art and battle.

  • Vashishta Maharshi the guru of Raghu dynasty named Rama. He explained that the name 'Rama' is made up of two beeja aksharas(alphabetical seeds): Agni beeja(Ra) and Amrutha beeja(Ma). Agni beeja energises the soul, mind and body. Amrutha beeja reinvigorates the prana shakti(life force) in all the body.

  • There are many speculations on the birth of Hanuman but the widely accepted one states that Hanuman was born to the king of vanaras Kesari and Anjana (who was an apsara born as a female vanara due to a curse) as a boon from lord Shiva due to which he is considered as an incarnation of Lord Shiva.

  • Hanuman fought lord Rama in a battle and won. Rama was ordered by sage Vishwamithra to kill Yayati an ally of Rama to which Rama obliged. Knowing this Yayathi went to Hanuman seeking his help who in turn promised him that he would save him from any kind of danger without knowing that it was Lord Rama who was coming to kill him. Hanuman did not use any weapon in his battle against Lord Rama, instead stood chanting Rama's name in the battle field. The arrows from lord Rama's bow did not have any effect on Hanuman. Lord Rama then gave up and sage Vishwamithra relieved Rama of his word seeing the devotion and courage of Hanuman and gave Hanuman the name "Veer Hanuman".

  • After killing Vali , Lord Rama promised that Vali would have his revenge in his next birth. Vali was reborn as Jara a hunter who was the cause of death of Krishna.

  • Hanuman had a son by the name 'Makara Dhwaja' who was a loyal soldier of Ahiravan the ruler of nether world, Ravana's step brother. Makara Dhwaja defeated Hanuman in a duel when Hanuman went to the rescue Rama and Laxmana who were kidnapped by Ahiravan.

  • Ahiravan was killed by Hanuman. He then made his own son Makara Dhwaja the king and left with Rama and Laxmana.

  • Makara Dhwaja was born to a crocodile. When Hanuman was on his way back after destroying lanka he bathed in the sea to cool himself off. While he was doing so a fish swallowed some of the sweat from Hanumans body and Makara Dhwaja was conceived.

  • Kubera The god of Wealth was Ravana's half brother. Both had the same father.

  • Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna are considered to be the incarnations of Jaya and Vijaya the gate keepers of Lord Vishnu's world. They were cursed by Brahmas sons Four Kumaras to be born in earth after they were refused entry into Lord Vishnu's world. Jaya and Vijaya then pleaded Lord Vishnu to show them solution by which they could avoid the dire consequence of their insolence.

  • Lord Vishnu gave them two options. They could either be born as his devotees for 7 life cycles or as his enemies for 3 life cycles. They chose the later since they preferred not to be separated from Lord Vishnu for a Long period of time.
    They were born as

    • Hiranyaksha & Hiranyakashapa in Satya Yuga

    • Ravana and Kumbhakarna in Tretha Yuga

    • Dantavakra and Shishupala in Dwapara Yuga.

  • After the battle Vibhishana presented "Pushpaka Vimana" to Lord Rama which his brother Ravana received after he defeated his half brother Kubera. Lord Rama along with Sita returned to Ayodhya on Pushpaka Vimana.

  • Bharata never sat on the throne of Ayodhya , instead he placed Lord Rama's slippers on the throne and carried out his duties as a king on Lord Rama's name. He returned the throne to Lord Rama when he returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana.

  • Pleased with his help during the battle with Ravana, Lord Rama granted Jambavantha a wish. Jambavantha then expressed his wish to fight Lord Rama in a duel. Lord Rama said he would definitely fight him but not as Rama.

  • Later in Dwapara yuga Krishna fought Jambavantha in a duel and defeated him. Jambavantha then realized that it was Lord Rama who in Krishna's form defeated him.

  • Once Hanuman saw Sita applying sindhoor (Vermillion to non indians) to her hair. He asked her what purpose it served to which Sita replied that it was for the well being and long life of Lord Rama. Then Hanuman smeared his entire body with sindhoor for the long life of Lord Rama.

  • Hanuman once visited Sita in sage Valmiki's cottage and expressed his desire to eat the food cooked by Sita. Sita cooked many delicacies and started serving Hanuman. But Hanuman's hunger was insatiable and the entire rations of the cottage were coming to an end. Sita then prayed to Lord Rama who suggested her she serve a morsel with a Tulsi Leaf. Sita did the same and Hanuman's hunger was finally satisfied.

  • Parvathi's Curse:

  • After Ravana and his brothers received boons from lord Brahma, Ravana planned on invading the kingdom of Amaravathi, the capital of the heavenly kingdom of Indra. Knowing Ravanas strength and capability Indra consults Narada for help. Narada tells Indra that Ravana is powerful because his family worships Lord Shiva and that the worship in turn gives them such tremendous power. Narada then suggests Indra that he disrupt Kaikesi's (Ravan's Mother) worship of a Linga which is made of sand. Indra disrupts the prayer by destroying the Linga. Knowing this Ravana then promises Kaikesi that he will perform penance and bring Lord Shiva's Aatma Linga for her to worship.Goddess Parvathi comes to know about Ravana's penance and fears that Lord Shiva might leave Kailasa and go to earth forever. Narada then suggests Goddess Parvathi that she seek Lord Vishnu's help in this matter. Lord Shiva impressed by Ravana's penance grants him a wish. Lord Vishnu then uses his magic to trick Ravana into asking Goddess Parvathi's hand from lord Shiva instead of the Aatma Linga. Shiva grants Ravana's wish. Goddess Parvathi then curses Lord Vishnu that he will also be seperated from his spouse the next time he is born as a human.

  • This curse laid the path for Sita's abduction and the Ramayana.

Quiz Time!

Check your Ramayana knowlegde with these interesting questions!
Comment your answer and Share!

Q.1 Urmila was wife of ________.
a) Bharat
b) Ram
c) Shatrughna
d) Laxman

Did you get the correct answer??


Q.2 Ravan was also a skilled ________ .
a) Sculptor
b) Dancer
c) Musician
d) Painter

This was not that difficult, right?


Q.3 Ram was the son of Dasharath and _________ ?
a) Kunti
b) Sumitra
c) Kaikayi
d) Kaushalya

Are you sure you can handle next questions?


Q.4 Bali was killed by ______ .
a) Sugreev
b) Ram
c) Ravan
d) Hanuman

Did you know that?


Q.5 What was the name of Jatayu's brother?
a) Virbhadra
b) Sampati
c) Chitrasen
d) Garuda

That was an awesome question! Wasn't it?


Q.6 On the advice of _______, Ravan agree to spare Hanuman and set him free after setting alight his tail?
a) Prasanjit
b) Indrajit
c) Vibhishan
d) Kumbhkarna

We hope you are up for the next question!


Q.7 Who is the avataara of Indra in Raamayana?
a) Vaali
b) Jaambavantha
c) Sugreev
d) Neela

How many answers did you get right? Comment here

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