Ramayana / रामायण
Valmiki (Balmiki) Ramayana / वाल्मीकि (बाल्मीकि) रामायण
- The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic attributed to the Hindu sage (maharishi) Valmiki.
- The oldest surviving of which is dated from the eleventh century.
- Valmiki Ramayana has been traditionally divided into seven books, dealing with the life of Rama from his birth to his death.T
- The story is about Rama, a prince in the city of Ayodhya the capital of Kosala kingdom, belonging to Suryavansh (the Sun dynasty) sometimes referred to as Raghuvansh (Raghu dynasty, named after Raghu, one of his illustrious forefathers).
- Ramayana consists of seven books made up of 24000 verses in 5000 chapters, and records the deeds of Ram.
- The story starts just before his birth and ends after his death when his two sons ascend to power. Ram, born to Dashrath of his wife Kaushalya, was a virtuous prince, skilled and one who could bear suffering and self-denial with superhuman patience. Hence he was chosen as the appropriated heir to the throne of Ayodhya. But Dashrath's third wife, Kaikeyi intervened, and demanded the gratification of the two boons that the former had promised her. Bound to the pledge, Ram was exiled to the forest, and Bharat was to be crowned king. Lakshman, son of Dashrath by Sumitra, and Sita, wife of Ram, followed Ram in exile. After Ram's departure to the Dandak forest, king Dashrath died of a broken heart.
- Bharat, who was visiting his maternal uncle, was not aware to the recent happenings, and on his return was requested by his mother Kaikeyi and the priests to ascend the throne, but Bharat, who worshipped Ram, refused to take his place, and instead followed Ram into the forest to ask him to return to Ayodhya and to accept the throne. Ram, bound by his duty to his father, did not return, and Bharat had to be satisfied with a pair of Ram's sandals, which served as his substitute, and Bharat ruled the kingdom as a deputy of Ram. During their stay in the Dandak forest, many demons who terrorized them, were slain by Ram and Lakshman.
- Once, Lakshman cut of the nose and ears of a brazen and ugly demoness named Shurpnakha. To avenge his sister's insult, Khar, along with Dushan and Trishira and a large army, went to the forest, but were all slain by the two brothers. Finally, Shurpnakha went to Ravan, who, with the help of Mark, was able to draw away Ram and Lakshman and then abduct Sita.
- A bird named Jatayu, tried to save Sita, but was fatally wounded. When Ram and Ravan returned they learnt of the details from Jatayu, who afterwards breathed his last. In their search for Sita they came across a demon Kabandh, who they slew, and from his funeral pyre arose a Gandharv. The latter advised the brothers to seek the help of the monkey-king Sugriv. After slaying Bali, the elder brother of Sugriv, Ram installed Sugriv as the king of Kishkindha. The monkey-king then sent out messengers to look for Sita.
- Hanuman, on the basis of information received from the vulture Sampati, crossed the ocean to Lanka where he showed the captive Sita the token of Ram and raised her hopes. After killing many demons, including a son of Ravan, and setting fire to Lanka, Hanuman returned to Ram to inform him of Sita's where abouts. The monkey Nal built a bridge to Lanka, which was used by Ram, Lakshman and the monkey-army to cross the ocean into Lanka. In the fight that followed, Ravan was killed and Sita rescued. Vibhishan, brother of Ravan, was installed by Ram as king of Lanka. SIta was asked to prove her chastity by the ordeal of fire. She was escorted through the fire by Agni himself. Ram, Lakshman and SIta then returned to Ayodhya, where the coronation ceremony of Rant took place. Ram ruled a prosperously for many years.
- Once, due to certain rumours, Ram sent the pregnant Sita into exile in the forest, and in the hermitage of sage Valmiki, she gave birth to twins, Lav and Kush. The two brothers were tutored by the sage. The twins were united with their father during the Ashvamedha sacrifice conducted by Ram. Ram and Sita met again, but on having to prove her chastity once more, asked for the earth to open up and accept her, and thence returned to Bhumi, her mother. Ram ruled for many years and, after the death of Lakshman, divided his kingdom among his two sons and gave up his life.
Ahalya · Rama · Bharat · Laxman · Shatrughna · Dashrath · Kaushalya · Kaikeyi · Sumitra · Shurpnakha · Janak · Sita · Ravana · Urmila · Meghnad · Vibhishan · Angad · Hanuman · Kumbhakarn · Marich · Mandodari · Vasishtha · Vishvamitra · Bali · Sugriva · Sampati · Jambvan · Manthara · Jatayu · Shabri · Lanka · Neel · Nal · Panchvati · Lav Kush · Tadka