3. World’s second most populous nation
Seventh largest in area with 3,000 km wide and Shoreline of about
”India” and “Bharat” are both official names of Republic of India
Early settlers called their land “Bharat Varsha” or “Bharat”
• More than 200 languages are spoken
• Linguistic diversity provides an important key to
understanding Indian civilization.
• Four major linguistic groups were represented.
• Most important are the Indo-Arab branch of the
Indo-European group and the Dravidian
8. • BUDDHISM
- Non violence is manifest in the
Buddha’s emphasis on
compassion and is also part of
the faith’s moral codes.
RELIGIONS IN INDIA
- Non violence is a core religious
duty and followed strictly that
the most Orthodox devotes
cover their faces with mask to
prevent accidentally harming
- Adherent to the prescription
against violence toward living
things can escape from the
cycle of rebirth and the doctrine
also form a basis for vegetarian.
9. GREAT PEOPLE
• The father of modern
India and known as
Mahatma (great soul).
• His family came from
traditional caste of grocers
• Born on October 2, 1869,
• Leader of the Indian
• Pioneered on civil
disobedience or the
philosophy of nonviolent
12. • Mostly written in
Sanskrit (oldest extant
• A small portion was
written in Prakrit
(vernacular form of
13. PERIODS OF LITERATURE
- Many types of
- 1500 BC-200BC
- 200 BC-present
14. RELIGIOUS WORKS
- Oldest sacred literature is found in the four Vedas.
• RIG VEDA - an anthology of 1028 hymns to
• SAMA VEDA - (Book of Chants) liturgies, mostly
repetitions of hymns in the Rig Veda
• ATHARVA VEDA - (Prayer Book) additional many
• YAJUR VEDA - (Book of Spells) incantations, notions
about demonology and witchcraft.
• Commentaries on
• Collection of 108
UPANISHADS on the
• Often unintelligible
• Kalidasa - leading
lyricist famous for a
large number of
poems of sentiment;
Sanskrit dramatist and
• Javadeva - author of
the Gitagovinda (love-
making of Krishna)
• The Toy Clay Cart -
attributed to King
Sundra; has three acts;
a courtesan saves the
life of a merchant
because of his former
• Sakuntala or
the Fatal Ring
- attributed to
• The Jatakas -
concerning the 550
births of Buddha and
his early life
• The Panchanatantra -
(Five Books); probably
intended as a manual
of instruction for kings’
• The Hitopdesa
- (Book of Good
• The Sukasaptati
- (Seventy Stories
of a Parrot) fairy
• Mahabharata -
written by Vyasa
- Longest poem in the
- About 200,000 lines,
nearly 8 times as long
as the Iliad and the
- Greatest epic of India
- Circa 500 BC
• Ramayana -
written by Valmiki
- Circa 500 BC to
- About 96,000
lines, in seven
19. The Rāmāyana is an ancient Sanskrit epic attributed to
the poet Valmiki and is an important part of the Hindu
The name Rāmāyana is a tatpurusa compound of Rāma
and ayana “going, advancing”, translating to “the travels of
Rāma”. The Rāmāyana consists of 24,000 verses in
seven cantos (kārnas) and tells the story of a prince,
Rama of Ayodhya, whose wife Sita is abducted by the
demon (Rākshasa) king of Lanka, Rāvana.
It contains the teachings of ancient Hindu sages and
presents them through allegory in narrative and the
interspersion of the philosophical and the devotional.
20. Valmiki Ramayana has been traditionally divided into
seven books, dealing with the life of Rama from his birth
to his death.
1.Bala Kanda – Book of the young Rama which details the
miraculous birth of Rama, his early life in Ayodhya, his
slaying of the demons of the forest at the request of
Vishvamitra and his wedding with Sita.
2.Ayodhya Kanda – Book of Ayodhya in which Dasharatha
comes to grief over his promise to Kaikeyi and the start of
3.Aranya Kanda – Book of the Forest which describes
Rama's life in the forest and the abduction of Sita by
4.Kishkindya Kanda – Book of Kishkinda, the Vanara
kingdom in which Rama befriends Sugriva and the Vanara
army and begins the search for Sita.
5.Sundara Kanda – Book of Sundara (Hanuman) in which
Hanuman travels to Lanka and finds Sita imprisoned there
and brings back the good news to Rama.
6.Yuddha Kanda – Book of the War, which narrates the
Rama-Ravana war and the return of the successful Rama
to Ayodhya and his coronation.
7.Uttara Kanda – Epilogue, which details the life of Rama
and Sita after their return to Ayodhya, Sita's banishment
and how Sita and Rama pass on to the next world.
22. Once upon a time, in
the ancient city of Ayodhya lived
His name was Dasharatha.
He was a great and happy King.
24. His mother is Kaushalya.
Bharata is the son of his second and
favoritewife, Queen Kaikeyi.
Rama and Bharata are blue,
perhaps indicating they were dark
skinned or originally south Indian
Rama is the eldest and favorite son
of the King.
25. A sage takes the boys out
to train them in archery. Rama
has hit an apple hanging from a
The boys grew up
learning the scriptures and the
art of bowmanship from the sage
26. One day, the sage Vishwamitra
visited the kingdom and asked King
Dasharatha to send Rama to protect
him from demons who had been
disturbing his sacrifices.
Although very reluctant,
Dasharatha agreed to send Rama and
As the brothers fulfilled their
duties, Vishwamitra was pleased with
them and bestowed upon them various
27. In a neighboring city the
ruler's daughter is named Sita.
When it was time for Sita
to choose her bridegroom, at a
ceremony called a swayamvara,
the princes were asked to string a
28. No one else can even lift the
bow, but as Rama bendsit, he not only
strings it but breaks it in two. Sita
indicates she has chosen Rama as her
husband by putting a garlandaround
The disappointed suitors watch.
Janaka gladly gave himhis beautiful
daughter. After the splendid wedding
ceremonies were over, the happy pair
travelled back to Ayodhya.
29. King Dasharatha, Rama's
father, decides it is time to givehis throne
to his eldest son Rama and retire to the
forest to seek moksha. Everyone seems
This plan fulfills the rules of dharma
because an eldest son should rule and,
if a son can take over one's
responsibilities, one's last years may be
spent in a search for moksha.
In addition, everyoneloves
30. However Rama's step-mother, the king's
second wife, is not pleased. She wants her
son, Bharata, to rule.
Kaikeyi's jealousy was aroused by
her evil maid Manthara, because the son of
Kausalya and not her own son Bharata, at
that time absent from the city, was to be
made king. She fled to an ante-chamber
where Dasharathafound her in tears.
To Dasharatha's concerned
queries, Kaikeyi recalled that, ages ago,
the old king had granted her two boons.
This was as a result of a war that the
king was in before his children were
31. He was riding in a chariot
when the wheel was about to fall off.
Queen Kaikeyi was with him, and
sacrificed her finger by putting into the
wheel to hold it into place, thus saving
her husband's life.
To show his gratitude, he
offered her 2 wishes/boons. She
gratefully accepted them, and told
him that she had no use for them at
present, and would use them when the
She now demanded the
fulfilment of these before she would
consent to smile upon him.
32. Dasharatha agreed and Kaikeyi
revealed her demands. She required
him, first, to appoint her son Bharata
as co-regent and, second, to exile
Rama for fourteen years to the terrible
forest of Dandaka.
33. Because of an oath Dasharatha
had made to her years before, she gets
the king to agree to banish Rama for
fourteen years and to crown Bharata,
even though the king, on bended knee,
begs her not to demandsuchthings.
Broken- hearted, the
devastated king cannot face Rama with
the news and Kaikeyi must tell him.
With Dasharatha lying grief-
stricken, Rama left for the forest,
followed by the lamenting people of
Ayodhya. Soon after, king Dasharatha
died, overcome by grief.
34. Rama, always obedient, is as
content to go into banishment in the
forest as to be crowned king. Sita
convinces Rama that she belongs at his
side and his brother Lakshman also
begs to accompany them. Rama, Sita
and Lakshmanset out for the forest.
35. Rama, Sita and Lakshmana
left behind Ayodhya and its people,
crossed the river Ganges and went
into the forest.
They found an idyllic place called
Chitrakuta to establish their
hermitage. No more beautiful place
could be imagined.
Flowers of every kind, delicious fruits,
and on everyside the most pleasing
prospects, together with perfectlove,
is stated to havemade their hermitage
a paradise on earth. In theforest,
Rama befriendedthe old vulture-
37. Bharata, whose mother's evil
plot has won him the throne, is very
upset when he finds out what has
happened. Not for a moment does he
consider breaking the rules of dharma
and becoming king in Rama's place.
He goes to Rama's forest retreat
and begs Rama to return and rule, but
Rama refuses. "We must obey father,"
38. Bharata then takes Rama's
sandals saying, "I will put these on the
throne, and every day I shall place the
fruits of my work at the feet on my
Lord." Embracing Rama, he takes the
sandals and returns to Ayodhya. He also
vowed to end his own life if Rama failed
to return afterfourteenyears.
39. Years pass and Rama, Sita
and Lakshman are very happy in the
forest. Rama and Lakshman destroy
the rakshasas (evil creatures) who
disturb the sages in their meditations.
One day a rakshasa princess tries
to seduce Rama by taking the form of a
beautiful young girl. Rama, ever faithful
to his wife Sita, did not respond and asked
her to approach Lakshmana.
Lakshmana too refused, stating
his duty towards his brother and his
40. An infuriated Surpanakha blamed Sita
for the men scorning her charged at
her in her original demonic form.
However, Lakshmana saved Sita by
severing Surpanakha's nose and ears.
41. Surpanakha flew back to her
brother Ravana, the ten-headed ruler of
Lanka (Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon), and
tells her brother (who has a weakness for
beautiful women) about lovely Sita.
Ravana, after hearing of the
beautiful Sita from Surpanakha,
resolved to kill Rama in revenge and
take Sita for himself. He enlisted the
aid of the demon Maricha.
42. Maricha turned himself into a
golden deer that Sita wanted for herself.
She asked Rama to get it for her, but
after Rama left to find it, Maricha began
screaming to trick Lakshmana.
Lakshmana, convinced Rama was in
danger, resolved to go out and find his
43. Before leaving Sita alone in the
hut, Lakshmana drew a circle in the
dirt saying that Sita would be safe as
long as she stayed in the circle.
Initially hesitantto step out of
Lakshmana's circle, Sita finally stepped
out to givethe old man some food.
Ravana approached the
hermitagein the guise of an old man
and askedSita to givehimsome food.
44. At this moment Ravana
grabbed Sita and fled in his airborne
vehicle, (Pushpaka Vimana). Jatayu,
seeing them fly, attempted to save
Sita, but Ravana engaged Jatayu in
combat and chopped off the vulture's
On returning to the hermitage, Rama
and Lakshmana found it empty and
anxiously began a search. Through
Jatayu, whom they found lying
mortally wounded, Rama and
Lakshmana learnt of Sita's fate.
45. At this moment Continuing
their search, they encountered the
Vanara king of Kishkindha, Sugriva,
and Hanuman, one of his generals,
among whom Sita had dropped from
the chariot her scarf and some
Sugriva had been deposed
from his kingdom by his brother, Vali,
who had also taken his wife Roma
from him. Rama agreed to defeat Vali
if Sugriva would assist in the search
46. The agreement made, Sugriva
challenged Vali to a duel. While the
duel was progressing, Rama shot
from his bow and killed Vali. Sugriva
regained his kingdom and his wife.
Sugriva and Rama sent the Vanara
soldiers in various directions in search
However, their efforts didn't
bear fruit until they met another
ancient vulture, Sampati, who was the
brother of the slainJatayu.
47. While Jatayu was the
physically stronger of the two,
Sampati possessed a compensating
gift of vision. Sampati's vision was
incredibly powerful, spanning several
hundred yojanas and enabling him to
see farther thananyone else.
Sampati was earthbound and
deformed - his wings were burnt
when he flew too close to the Sun (a
story that can be considered to be
similar to that of Icarus's). His
brother, being hardier, had saved him
fromfalling to his death.
48. Sugriva dispatched his army to
the south with his nephew Angada at the
head. Hanuman went with Angada as his
general. When they reached deep south,
they found a great ocean stretching
between them and land of Lanka. They
could find no means by which to cross the
On hearing of Ravana's
killing his brother, he readily agreed
to help the vanaras. He was soon able
to spot Sita in the southern direction.
He could see her imprisoned in a
garden of Ashoka trees on the island
of Lanka, beyondthe southernocean.
49. Perceiving the city to be
closely guarded, he assumed the form
of a cat, and thus, unsuspected, crept
through the barriers and examined
the city. He found Ravana in his
apartments, surrounded by beautiful
women, but Sita was not among them.
Commanding his soldiers to
remain where they were, Hanuman
expanded his body to enormous
proportions, leaped the vast expanse
of water, and alighted upon a
mountain Trikuta from which he
could look down uponLanka.
50. Continuing his search, he at
last discovered her, her beauty dimmed
by grief, seated under a tree in a
beautiful asoka grove, guarded by
hideous rakshasas with the faces of
buffaloes, dogs, and swine.
Assuming the form of a tiny
monkey, Hanuman crept down the tree,
and giving her the ring of Rama, took
one from her. He offered to carry her
away with him, but Sita declared that
Rama must himself come to her rescue,
and as proof of finding her Sita gave
Hanuman a priceless jewel to take back
51. While they were talking
together, Ravana appeared, and, after
fruitless wooing, announced that if Sita
did not yield herself to him in two
months he would have her guards
“mince her limbs with steel” for his
In his rage, Hanuman destroyed a
mango grove and was captured by the
rakshasa guards, and brought before
Ravana. Hanuman proclaimed that he was
a messenger of Rama, and demanded that
Ravana restore Sita to Rama or fall victim
to Rama's wrath. Furious at hearing
Hanuman's words, Ravana ordered
52. Vibhishana, Ravana's righteous
brother, intervened and counseled Ravana
to follow the scriptures, reminding that it
was improper to execute a messenger, and
instead told him to exact the appropriate
punishment for Hanuman's crime.
Ravana accepted and ordered his
rakshasas to set fire to Hanuman's tail.
As soon as this was done,
Hanuman made himself very small, slipped
from his bonds, and, jumping upon the
roofs, spread a conflagration through the
city of Lanka. He leaped back to the
mainland, conveyed the news of Sita's
captivity to Rama and Sugriva, and was
soon engaged in active preparations for the
53. Rama decided that as long as
the ocean was not bridged, it was
impossible for any one but Hanuman to
cross it. Rama meditated for thirteen
days without food or water, until from
the terrified waves arose Varuna, the
god of the ocean.
Varuna was so preplexed on
Rama's meditation for meditating for
thirteen days without food and water
for he was the image Vishnu, the
Hindu Trinity, a higher ranked God
54. Vibishana, Ravana's brother,
deserted to Rama, because of the
demon's rage when he advised him to
make peace with Rama. Fiercely fought
battles ensued, in which even the gods
took part – Vishnu and Indra taking
sides with Rama, and the evil spirits
fighting with Ravana.
After the war had been fought
for some time, with varying results, and
a great number of troops on both sides
were killed, it was decided to determine
the victor by single combat between
Ravana and Rama.
55. Even the gods were terrified at
the fierceness of the conflict. At each
shot Rama's mighty bow cut off a head
of Ravana, which at once grew back,
and the hero was in despair until
Vibhishana told him to aim at
Rama took careful aim as the
source of “amrit” or divine nectar that
allowed the regeneration of Ravans
head was stored in his belly button.
Subsequently, Rama killed Ravana
using Bramhas divine weapon, the
56. As Ravana fell by this weapon,
flowers rained from heaven upon the
happy victor, and his ears were ravished
with celestial music. Touched by the grief
of Ravana's widow, Mandodari, Rama
told Vibhishan to conduct the funeral in
the manner deserved by kings.
Sita was led forth, beaming with
happiness at finding herself re-united to
her husband; but her happiness was
destined to be of short duration. Rama
received her with coldness and with
downcast eyes, saying that she could no
longer be his wife, after having dwelt in
the house of Ravana.
57. Sita assured him of her
innocence; but on his continuing to
revile her, she ordered her funeral pyre
to be built, since she would rather die by
fire than live despised by Rama. The
sympathy of all the bystanders was with
Sita, but Rama saw her enter the flames
without a tremor.
SoonAgni, the god of fire,
appeared, bearing the uninjured Sita in
his arms. Her innocence thus publicly
provedby the trial by fire, she was
welcomedby Rama, whose treatment she
58. Rama reveals to Lakshman why
the pyre was necessary. Earlier during
the exile, Rama already knew Ravana
would be kidnapping Sita. If Ravana
had attempted to touch Sita, her
devotion to her husband, her purity and
chasity would have burned Ravana's
Hence, the only way to let Sita be
kidnapped was for her soul to be sent
with Agni, the fire god, whereas a
physical formof Sita remained.
Hence, when Rama told Sita to prove
herself with fire, he was really asking
Agni, the fire god, to give him back his
59. The conquest won, Ravana
defeated, and Sita restored, Rama
returned in triumph to Ayodhya, and
assumed the governance to the great
delight of Bharata and the people of
Ayodhya was prosperous, the
people were happy, and for a time all
It was not long, however,
before whispers concerning Sita's long
stay in Lanka spread through the city,
and Rama came to hear the
whisperings that a famine in the
country was due to the guilt of Sita,
who had suffered the caresses of
Ravana while in captivity.
60. Under the pressure from the
citizens of Ayodhya, Rama banished her
to the forest in which they had spent
together the happy years of their exile.
Sita was already several months
pregnant when she was banished by
Without a murmur the unhappy Sita
dragged herself to the forest, and,
torn with grief of body and spirit,
found the hermitage of Valmiki, where
she gave birth to twin sons, Lava and
61. Here she reared them, with the
assistance of the hermit, who was their
teacher, and under whose care they grew to
manhood, handsome and strong. It
chanced that about the time the youths
were twenty years old, Rama began to
think the gods were angered with him
because he had killed Ravana, who was the
son of a Brahman.
Rama became determined to propitiate
them by means of Ashvamedha, the great
sacrifice, in which he caused a horse to be
turned loosein the forest.
When his men went to retake it, at the
end of the year, they found it caught by
two strong and beautiful youths who
resisted all effortsto capturethem.
62. When his men couldn't retake
the horse, Rama went to the forest in
person, only to learn that the youths
were his twin sons, Lava and Kusha.
Struck with remorse, Rama recalled the
sufferings of his wife Sita, and on
learning that she was at the hermitage of
Valmiki, requestedher to come with him.
Sita had had time to recover
fromthe love of her youth, and the
prospect of life with Rama, she felt, was
not altogether pleasant. She appealedto
the earth, if she had never lovedany man
but Rama, if her truth and puritywere
known to theearth, let it openits bosom
and take her to it.
63. While the people stood
trembling with horror, the earth opened,
a gorgeous throne appeared, and the
goddess of earth, seated upon it, took
Sita beside her and conveyed her to the
realms of eternal happiness, leaving the
too late repentant people to wear out the
remaining years in penitence.
67. King of Ayodhya
(capital of Kosala),
whose eldest son was
had three wives and
four sons Rama,
Bharata, and the
twins Lakshmana and
68. Dasharatha's first-born
son, and the upholder of
Dharma (correct conduct and
duty). Rama, along with his
wife Sita, have served as role
models for thousands of
generations in India and
Rama is regarded by
many Hindus as an incarnation
of the god Vishnu, and by
Southeast Asian Buddhists as
an incarnation of the Buddha.
69. Rama's wife, the
adopted daughter of
Sita was found in
the furrows of a sacred
field, and was regarded
by the people of
Janaka's kingdom as a
70. Rama's younger
brother by Dasharatha's
third wife, Sumitra.
When Rama and
Sita were exiled to the
followed in order to
71. A leader of the
monkey tribe allied with
Rama against Ravana.
Hanuman has many
magical powers because
his father was the god of
to Rama, and his
supernatural feats in the
battle to recapture Sita,
has made him one of the
most popular characters in
72. A rakshasa, is the
king of Lanka. The 10
headed and twenty arms
king who abducted Sita.
He received a boon from
Brahma that he will not be
killed by either gods,
demons or by spirits, after
performing a severe
penance for ten thousand
73. He was also the
most intelligent and
erudite living being of
After getting his
reward from Brahma,
Ravana begins to lay
waste the earth and
disturbs the deeds of
Rama is born a
human to defeat him,
thus overcoming the
boon given by Brahma.
74. Rama's brother by
Queen Kaikeyi. When
Bharata learned of his
mother's scheme to
banish Rama and place
him on the throne, he
put Rama's sandals on
the throne and ruled
Ayodhya in his name.
76. The sage who
takes Rama into the
forest at the behest of
defeating the demons
destroying his Vedic
On the way back
he takes Rama into
Mithila where Rama
sees and falls in love
77. The third and youngest
wife of King Dasharatha, and
mother of Bharata. She is
famed for her beauty. After
she saved the life of
Dasharatha in battle, he
offered to grant anything she
would ask of him.
She later calls in this
favor to have Bharata
crowned king and Rama sent
into the forest, inspired by
the worlds of her maid,
80. The importance of one man being wedded to only one wife
• During Ramayana period, polygamy was quite
prevalent and it was quite an acceptable social
norm for kings to marry many women.
• Rama's own father Dasharatha was wedded to
3 wives (queens) and he had innumerable
concubines at his palace.
81. • In a stark contrast to his father, Rama
remained wedded and staunchly loyal to his
only wife Sita. With this qualification, he held
his head high as the greatest king ever ruled
in Bharat (India).
• He set example for future generations of men
as to what constitutes a sterling quality for
the respectability of a man in society.
82. Respecting father's word of Honor
• Just on the previous night to Rama's crowning
ceremony, Kaikeyi made use of her boons not
only to deny Rama his rightful ascend to the
kingdom, but also to send him in exile to the
83. • But true to his greatness, Rama, with utter
detachment and without even a trace of
disappointment reflecting on his face, conceded to
both the demands. For him, "pitru vakya
paripalanam" (honoring his father's words) was one
of the highest dharmas.
• Rama, as a kshatriya (a person belonging to ruler/
warrior class), had every right to question such an
injustice meted out to him and he was in not really
duty-bound to honor his father's unjust promises.
84. Relationship between Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha
• Human life is consumed in chasing materialism
(Artha) and sense pleasures (Kama). Ramayana
makes it clear that these two pursuits should
never be at the cost of Dharma (righteousness).
• In withholding dharma, both Artha and Kama can
be and must be sacrificed.
85. • The ultimate goal of life is Moksha
(liberation) and it can be attained only by
relinquishing Artha and Kama and by
strictly following a life of Dharma.
86. The importance of humility as a great virtue
• Hanuman was physically very powerful, was a
great diplomat, was very erudite in spoken
words and was full of wisdom. Yet his
humility was unsurpassed.
87. • The great feats he did in the service of Rama
subsequently were unparalleled and the
humility he displayed despite his greatness
• The moment he met Rama, he was bowled
over by Rama’s divinity and charm and he
committed himself to be the life-long servant
88. The greatness of true friendship
• Rama befriended the estranged Vanar King Sugriva
(who’s brother Vali forcefully took Sugriva's wife
and also denied his share of Vanar kingdom) with a
mutual promise of help - Rama to eliminate the
immensely powerful Vali and Sugriva in turn to help
Rama to seek and locate Sita and wage war against
Ravana to retrieve Sita.
• Both did a commendable job in honoring their
91. • Romantic Love - A central focus of the Ramayana is the love
between Sita and Rama.
• The Perfect Man -
• Dharma - A central concept in Hinduism and Indian philosophy,
dharma may be translated as truth, justice, and duty.
• Brotherly Love
• Good and Evil - In the Ramayana, good and evil are diametrically
opposed forces, locked in eternal combat.
• Combat - Large portions of the Ramayana describe incredible battles
between Rama and various wicked rakshasa.
• Human and Divine - The differences and similarities between human
and divine are a major theme in the Ramayana.
92. Romantic Love
A central focus of the Ramayana is the love
between Sita and Rama. As incarnations of the goddess
Lakshmi and the god Vishnu, they are literally been made for
each other. They fall in love at first sight, and their relationship
is characterized by harmony and devotion. Sita follows Rama
into exile out of her love for him, and she refuses Ravana's
advances at great risk to herself because of her loyalty to her
husband. Rama, in turn, defends Sita fiercely and cares for
her tenderly. For centuries, the love between Rama and Sita
has been a model relationship for South Asians.
93. The Perfect Man
Rama is the time-honored symbol of the perfect
man: he is generous, just, merciful, the master of
his emotions, and a valiant warrior. He is a
dedicated son and a loyal husband. Other
characters exemplify perfect virtues as well. Sita,
with her perfect devotion to her husband, is the
eternal symbol of the perfect woman and
wife. Lakshmana, who never leaves his brother's
side despite the horrible dangers, is the image of
the perfect brother. Hanuman, witty, loyal, and
wise, is the perfect advisor.
A central concept in Hinduism and Indian philosophy,
dharma may be translated as truth, justice, and duty.
It refers to the central purpose of a particular being,
as well as the correct path that she or he should
follow in this world. Dharma also describes a conduct
defined by truth and justice, which is divinely
commanded. Populated with perfect characters,
the Ramayana offers a playbook for how to behave
with virtue and dharma in the world.
95. Brotherly Love
Lakshmana is an exemplar of brotherly love. He is
never envious of his more accomplished brother
Rama, and supports him in his every adventure.
When they are still boys, Lakshmana
accompanies Rama into the forest to defeat the
rakshasa Tataka, having full faith in his brother
despite their youth and inexperience. Rama tells
Lakshmana that he is like part of his own body;
Rama is never more devastated than when
Lakshmana falls injured on the battlefield.
96. Good and Evil
In the Ramayana, good and evil are diametrically opposed
forces, locked in eternal combat. They are frequently
represented as a contrast between human/god and
rakshasa. The rakshasas exhibit a number of vices
(violence, blasphemous impulses, sexual indiscretions),
while the righteous humans are exemplars of every virtue.
Though good and evil are opposed,
the Ramayana suggests that they are not innate but rather
the result of choice. Some rakshasas have been turned
into demons as punishment for a transgression, while
previous virtuous human beings can become wicked when
they choose to abandon the path of dharma.
Large portions of the Ramayana describe incredible
battles between Rama and various wicked
rakshasa. These battles are intense and described
in evocative prose, featuring a great deal of
violence and magical weapons. Rama's success in
combat is part of his identity as the perfect man, an
unconquered warrior. The centrality of combat in
the Ramayana may also be symbolic: the
rakshasas symbolize the evil impulses in every
person, which must be destroyed in order for the
soul to be made pure.
98. Human and Divine
The differences and similarities between human and
divine are a major theme in the Ramayana. Rama
himself is the incarnation of a god, but much of his
goodness is the result of his own personal choices
rather than this divine heritage. Rama has been born
into the world because an enormously powerful
rakshasa, Ravana, cannot be killed by any deity or
supernatural creature; the gods themselves are
unable to defeat them. In some ways, some human
beings and vanaras (magical monkeys) are superior
to the gods in their virtuous conduct. However, the
gods still have the power to offer boons to mortals,
such as weapons and invincibility.