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Tuesday, December 8, 2009
The Ramayana, a heroic story of grand proportions, is, together with the Mahabarata, two of the great epics of India. Ramayana, meaning Rama’s journey, consists of 24,000 verses in seven books or “kandas.” Traditionally, it is believed that Valmiki, known to be India’s first poet, is the author of this poetic tale of heroism, demonism, courage, sacrifice, loyalty and devotion. This grand epic of the Ramayana tells of Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu, whose wife Sita is abducted by the evil Ravana, king of Lanka. The foundation of human existence and the concept of dharma or “right action” are explored in great depth. ” A singular book entitled Ramayana by William Buck retells the story of Rama and Sita in a very contemporary and readable fashion.
The main characters within the Ramayana are Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Hanumana and of course, the evil villain, Ravana, all typifying and symbolizing the cultural and spiritual beliefs of India. Rama is the epitome of virtue. His father Dasharatha is forced by his wife to command Rama to relinquish his right to the throne and go into exile. Sita follows her husband into exile and gets abducted by Ravana and imprisoned on the island of Lanka by Ravana. Ravana is a powerful demon king who received a boon that he cannot be killed by gods, demons or spirits. Bharata, another heroic figure within the Ramayana, goes in search of his brother Rama into the forest. When he meets up with Rama, Rama tells him that he does not wish to come back from his exile and thereupon Bharata takes his place upon the throne and puts Rama’s shoes upon it, thus signifying that Rama is the true king. This act of virtue is symbolic of the ethics and morality within the Ramayana. Ramayana by Ranchor Prime is a more traditional conveyance of the story of the Ramayana.
This powerful story of gods and demons and the contrast of vice and virtue is magnificently illustrated in Ramayana: A Tale of Gods & Demons by Prime and Sharma. Hanuman, an important incarnation of the god Shiva, plays an important part in the Ramayana by locating Sita in the battle that ensues later.
Hanuman’s Journey to the Medicine Mountain is a wonderful book for children, telling the story of Hanuman’s journey to rescue Sita and Rama. Hanuman is the major prototype of devotion and obligation within the Ramayana and is honored ever after by all devotees wishing to manifest devotion and love.
The Ramayana is divided into several major “kandas” or books that deal chronologically with major events in the life of Rama: These “kandas” of the Ramayana start from the birth of Rama all the way to his final departure from the world. In between are the forest life of Rama, the eventual kidnapping and finally, the fierce battle between Rama and Ravana’s armies, symbolizing of course the eventual victory of good over evil. The fifth book of the Ramayana, for those who are Hanuman devotees, particularly narrates the heroism of Hanuman and his flight to Lanka and meeting with Sita. This “kanda” has been considered the most readable of all the “kandas.”
May your own life be seen as the victory of spirit and goodness prevailing. Om Sri Hanumanji Ki Jai!
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