The Ramayana Story
This is an epic poem of courage, magic and humor,
containing 18 books and 24,000 verses divided into 500
songs. Set in India, Rama (avatar--incarnation--of the
God Vishnu) and his wife Sita have been banished from
their kingdom of Kosala for fourteen years, due to a
plot by the mother of one of Rama's four brothers to
keep Rama from the throne. Rama's brother, Laksmana,
accompanies the couple. King Rawana of Ceylon spies the
beautiful Sita and creates a plan to abduct her. He
sends one of his minions, magically disguised as a
golden deer to entice Rama and Laksmana away from Sita.
Rama goes after the deer, instructing Laksmana not to
leave Sita. Rama brings down the golden deer with his
bow and arrow. The golden deer reverts to its original
shape and with its dying breath calls out "Help,
help, help" in Rama's voice. Sita, hearing Rama's
voice, entreats Laksmana to go and help Rama. When he
refuses, she goads him into leaving. Laksmana draws a
magic circle around Sita and tells her that she must
stay inside it until he and Rama return. When Sita is
alone, Rawana appears, disguised as an ailing old man,
who begs Sita for help. When Sita steps out of the magic
circle to aid the old man, the old man changes into
Rawana and abducts Sita, telling her that Rama is dead.
He rises in the air with her and flies to his Kingdom.
of the Birds, (also known as Garuda) spies Rawana
carrying off Sita and they battle in the air. Rawana
delivers a fatal wound to Jatayu who falls to the
ground, where he is discovered by Rama and Laksmana.
Jatayu is near death and manages to tell Rama of his
failure to rescue Sita.
Rama and Laksmana travel onward and enlist the aid of
the army of wanaras, a race of huge monkeys. Sugriwa,
King of the wanaras, agrees to help Rama rescue Sita in
return for Rama's support of Sugriwa's attempt to regain
his rightful throne in the land of Guakiskenda. When
Sugriwa meets his nemesis, Subali, Rama saves Sugriwa's
life with a magic arrow which kills Subali. After
Sugriwa is crowned King of Guakiskenda, the white monkey
general, Hanuman, is sent to Alengka (Ceylon) to scout
the defenses and to deliver Rama's ring to Sita, so that
she would know that Rama was alive.
After a narrow escape from the stomach of Wikateksi, the
enormous sea monster which guarded the approaches to
Alengka, Hanuman kills Wikateksi and flies to the
capital of Alengka, the kingdom of the giants.
Fortunately, there are many monkeys living among the
giants, which provide cover for Hanuman, who reduces his
size. He looks everywhere in the city for Sita.
Eventually Hanuman finds Rawana's palace and the women's
quarters. Hanuman meets Sita in the garden and gives her
Rama's ring, which she recognizes at once, and tells her
that Rama is on his way to rescue her.
Hanuman, in order to test the strength of the city,
resumes his normal size, climbs to the top of a tall
building and hurls a challenge to the awestruck crowd
below. He begins to destroy the buildings around him by
using an uprooted palm tree as a club. He is felled by
an arrow shot by the crown prince of Alengka, Hindrajit.
Hanuman is shackled in chains and sentenced to die by
slow fire. Hanuman appeals to Agni, the god of fire, to
save him. A wall of flame springs up between Hanuman and
the watching crowd. With a burst of strength, Hanuman
breaks his bonds, and swinging a glowing torch picked up
from the fire, goes on a rampage which ends in the
burning of a large part of the city. Assuring himself
that Sita's pavilion is safe, Hanuman leaps into the air
and flies back to Guakiskenda.
After hearing of Hanuman's exploits, Rama adopts him as
his own son. The army then heads for Alengka, which they
find surrounded by a boiling sea. By hurling huge
boulders into the sea, the monkey soldiers build a
causeway to the island. Rawana learns of the invasion
and assembles his generals. Some of the generals resent
Rawana's evil rule, but heretofore have lacked the
courage to oppose him. Wibisana, Rawana's brother, as
spokesman, points out that it was because Rawana
abducted Sita that Alengka is now beset by enemy armies.
He suggests that Rawana release Sita and avoid bloodshed
and loss of life and property. Angered, Rawana strikes
Wibisana, who then deserts to Rama's army. Rawana is
tempted to murder Sita, but is thwarted by Trijata,
Wibisana's beautiful daughter, who has grown to love
Sita as a sister. Rawana turns to another brother, the
giant Kumbakarna, who although disapproving of Rawana's
crimes and baseness, decides to help because they are of
the same blood.
After many guerilla attacks by the monkey soldiers, the
two armies finally face each other. Two opposing
generals, Kumbakarna and Laksmana challenge each other.
Kumbakarna is killed by Laksmana's magic arrow. Other
duels take place on the battlefield. Rama spots Rawana
and pursues him, shooting showers of arrows, which seem
to have no effect on Rawana other than to make him back
off. Rawana backs in between two unusually formed rocks
which snap together and hold him in an inescapable grip.
These rocks are inhabited by the souls of two of his
daughters, who Rawana had murdered, and who are at last
able to avenge themselves on their father.
Rawana's army surrenders and Rama gives the throne of
Alengka to Wibisana. Rama and Sita are joyfully united.
The fourteen years of exile being over, Rama, Sita and
Laksmana return to Kosala, where they are welcomed by
all. However, rumors circulate about Sita's virtue. She
offers to test her virtue by fire. She enters the ring
of fire and emerges unscathed, her faithfulness
confirmed. When the rumors persist, she leaves the
palace for the spiritual life.
The Ramayana story is especially important to Hindus
because it is possible for ordinary people to identify
with the characters and situations. The heroes and
heroines are emulated for their positive qualities of
honesty, devotion, perseverance, fidelity, and bravery.
Strongly evident in this story is the portrayal of pure
evil and those who have the courage to resist and
overcome that evil.
Thus, the Ramayana story in brief.
invites you to the Wonderful Spiritual World
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