Namastey—I bow to the divine in you!
In this blogpost, as usual, we are going to discuss several questions and answers about the Ramayana, especially Valmiki Ramayana.
The first topic we shall discuss is Ramayana Story. The second one is the dating of Ramayana; third one about the great character; the fourth about the great scene in the Ramayana.
Let’s start therefore by summarising Ramayana Story.
Ramayana Story Summary
If one needs to read the actual Ramayana Story then s/he actually needs to Ramayana in English, but, for the sake of simplicity, we are going to give a summary of Ramayana here.
Ramayana—the word is made up of Rama+Ayana, which collectively means the journey of Rama—is an ancient Indian Hindu epic whose protagonist is Shri Ramachandra (henceforth Rama) and antagonist being Ravana.
Originally chronicled by Valmiki, it compromises almost 24,000 slokas which are divided into seven kandas—Balkanda, Ayodhyakanda, Aranyakanda, Kishkindhakanda, Sundarkanda, Lankakanda, and Uttarakanda. The last one, according to the popular belief, was added later into original Ramayana.
Dashratha, the glorious king of Ayodhya, the capital of Kosaladesha, had three wives, but, sadly, no child. He organised a yajna under the consultancy of sage Rishya Shringa and he was blessed with four children—Rama (from Kaushalya), Lakshmana and Shatrughna (from Sumitra), and Bharata (from Kaikeyi)
Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, won the hand of the gorgeous princess Sita in Swayamwara, but was exiled with his wife and his brother (actually, step-brother) Lakshmana for 14 years through the plotting of his stepmother, Kaikeyi.
During the exile, Sita was abducted by Ravana, the powerful king of Lanka who wanted to take revenge of what he understood the insult of his sister Surpankha by Rama, using illusion of golden deer. Jatayu fought against Ravana while the latter was abducting Sita.
Rama and Lakshmana, in search of Sita, found wounded Jatayu followed by his last rites. Thereafter, both met Hanumana and Sugriva. Rama helped them Sugriva in defeating Vali and making the king of Kishkindha.
Rama gathered an army of vanaras and bears to search for her. Hanumana went to Lanka with his gigantic jump, found Sita there and burnt Lanka barring Ashok Vatika, where Sita was held captive.
The allies built the bridge across the Indian Ocean. They attacked Lanka, killed the mighty Ravana, and rescued Sita from there.
After the couple’s triumphant return to Ayodhya, Rama’s righteous rule (Ram-rajya) inaugurated a golden age for entire humankind.
Now, a question comes: What can be done if one wants to read actual Ramayana Story? Who Wrote Ramayana?
The answer is already given that Valmiki wrote the original Ramayana in Sanskrit. But, as of now, the version is already translated into multiple Indian and foreign languages including English.
If you want to read the Ramayana in English then please visit this website: https://www.valmiki.iitk.ac.in/
For Ramayana Story PDF, click on this website: https://holybooks-lichtenbergpress.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/Ramayana.pdf
Now, let’s move to another set of questions.
Did Lord Rama Exist? When Did Ramayana Happen?
After reading the Ramayana, or after listening its tales, or after watching movies and shows based on it, many people simply ask: Did Lord Rama exist? When did Ramayana happen exactly?
They ask whether Rama was a fact or a fiction. They are curious to know when was Lord Rama born and when was he died.
Let’s tell you the answer: yes, he did indeed exist.
Ramayana literally means the journey of Shri Rama as we have told you previously. It mentions various precise locations where he lived or went during his exile. How can these details be accurate when he didn’t exist!
If that’s not enough then some question its veracity and ask for the exact chronology.
Nilesh Nilkantha Oak, an amazing researcher has done his brilliant research on the chronology of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. His work on the chronology of the Ramayana is explained in details in his book The Historic Rama.
According to Oak, Shri Rama was bron on 29th November 12240 BCE which is Chaitra Shukla Navami as per the Indic calendar. On 4th December 12224 BCE, Rishi Vishwamitra arrived in Dashratha’s court.
Later on, the marriage of Mata Sita with Rama, as per The Historic Rama, happened on 4th or 5th day of January of year 12223 BCE. In the same year, the book states, on 21st December, Rama left for Vanavasa with his beloved wife and brother. In the forest, according to this book, during Rama’s exile, Bharata, the son of Kaikeyi, met on 10th April 12222 BCE.
Let’s take a leap of 12 years in dating: On 22nd September 12210 BCE, Rama killed the Vali in the fight with his brother, as Oak found out in his book. At this time, Sita was already kidnapped by Ravana.
After this point of time, Sugriva, the brother of Vali, became the king of Kishkindha; Rama reminded him of his promise to find Sita; they gathered an army of vanaras and sent them in all the directions; Hanumana went to Lanka and found Sita there; he burnt Lanka and came back.
Hanuma’s arrival from Lanka was on 30th August 12209 BCE, states Oak in his book.
Thereafter, according to the Ramayana, Rama built the bridge on the Indian Ocean and reached to Lanka where war happened. According to Oak, the first day of the great war between Rama and Ravana was 25th December 12209 BCE. He also states that Rama killed Ravana on 7th January 12208 BCE and Rama’s coronation took place on 13th January 12208 BCE at Ayodhya, the capital of Kosaldesa.
A quick info-graphic on it is given below:
If one looks at this rigorous research, then s/he can’t deny the existence of Shri Rama. And then we have answered the question about when did Ramayana happen.
Let’s move to another set of questions which are many popular:
Who is great in Ramayana? Is it Lord Rama or Ravana? Was Lord Rama (Ramayana) a great person? Was lord Rama an ideal person? Justify.?
Many are confused over a question: Who is great in Ramayana? Is it Lord Rama or Ravana?
The obvious answer, from our perspective, is Rama. Yes, great and ideal was he.
Some argue, either ignorantly or deliberately, Ravana was great because he never touched Sita without her consent; he took the revenge of his sister’s humiliation; he was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva; and composed poems for praising him but does that make him a great as human?
No, because, he never stopped his sister from doing indecent behaviour but instead stood by her. He didn’t follow his dharma.
He didn’t touch Sita inappropriately but that was out of his obligation because he was cursed, as the Ramayana tells that to us, that he would be burnt if he would ever touch any woman without taking her permission. That curse was also from a woman he raped.
Ravana was arrogant for his knowledge and he was a tyrant ruler too.
These are, obviously, not the characteristics of any great man. Are they?
On the other hand, Rama went to the forest just to keep his father’s promise unbroken; he built an entire army out of the scratch and showed the characteristics of a true leader; he not only stood for dharma but also lived for it; he built a bridge to cross the giant ocean; he tried to convince Ravana using all the tactics available; he won Lanka but made Vibhishana because he was the legitimate heir of the kingdom.
Thus, Rama’s character and his life makes him not only great but an ideal person too
In the Ramayana, Rama comes as an ideal man who should be followed. So, of course, Rama was great and would remain so.
What is the best scene in the story of Ramayana? Why? Or What are some famous short stories inside Ramayana?
After Rama left for the exile due to his father’s obligations, Bharata became aware of her mother’s sinister plot. He goes on to explain his mother about her grid but nothing happens.
Thereafter, he, along with his army and raj-darbar, goes to Chitrakoot, a place where Rama was staying with his wife and brother, Lakshamana.
The conversation between two brothers happen at that moment. And that was the best scene in the story of the Ramayana. This is the famous short story in the Ramayana too.
It was full of respect, devotion, and sacrifice among other quantities. After that conversation, Rama remained unconvinced to go to his palace and become King, as was the intention of Bharata.
But, Rama gave his charan paduka- a pair of sandals, to Bharata which the latter took along with him and ruled the kingdom of Kosaladesha under its guidance.
Isn’t this amazing when both the brothers weren’t fighting for the property unlike modern day scenarios?
We hope that we have answered many questions of yours in our subsequent blogposts. The Ramayana School is an initiative to take age-old wisdoms of the Ramayana through new-age methods. We are active on various social media platforms; follow us on Twitter; like us on FB; connect with us on Instagram.
Jai Shri Rama—Hail Shri Rama!