The Ramayana is undoubtedly the most popular and timeless Indian epic read and loved by all. The term 'Ramayana', literally means "the march (ayana) of Rama" in search of human values. As a literary work, it combines "the inner bliss of Vedic literature with the outer richness of delightfully profound story telling."

This story of Shri Rama by the great sage Valmiki is referred to as the Adi Kavya or original epic. About the Valmiki Ramayana, Swami Vivekananda has said: "No language can be purer, none chaster, none more beautiful, and at the same time simpler, than the language in which the great poet has depicted the life of Rama."

About the Poet
Universally acclaimed and accepted as the first among Sanskrit poets, Valmiki was the first to discover a metrical expression of epic dimension and vision to match the emotional ecstasy of the story of Rama. According to a legend, Valmiki was a robber who one day met a hermit who transformed him to a virtuous being. Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom was believed to have assured the sage to stand by his side and guide him to visualize the events of Ramayana, and eulogize them with epic dignity and secular simplicity.

The Seven 'Kandas' or Sections:
The epic poem is composed of rhyming couplets called 'slokas', in high Sanskrit, employing a complex meter called 'anustup'. These verses are grouped into individual chapters or cantos called 'sargas', wherein a specific event or intent is told. The 'sargas' are again grouped into books called 'kandas'. The seven 'kandas' of Ramayana are: Bal Kanda, the boyhood section; Ayodhya Kanda, Rama's life in Ayodhya, until his banishment; Aranya Kanda, Rama's life in the forest and Sita's abduction by Ravana; Kishkindha Kanda, Rama's stay at Kishkindha, the capital of his monkey ally, Sugriva; Sundara Kanda, Rama's passage to Sri Lanka; Yuddha Kanda or Lanka Kanda, Rama's battle with Ravana, the recovery of Sita, and return to Ayodhya; and Uttara Kanda, the section narrating Rama's life in Ayodhya as king, the birth of his two sons, Sita's test of innocence and return to her mother, and Rama's demise or 'jala samadhi' (water-tomb).

Time of Composition
There was a long period of oral tradition before the Ramayana was actually written, and the original strand of the story drew upon various pre-existing folk tales about Rama. Like many other classical poems written in ancient times, the exact date and time of the genesis of Ramayana is yet to be determined accurately. The reference to the Greeks, Parthians, and Sakas shows that the time of composition of Ramayana cannot be earlier than the second century BC. But the consensus is that Ramayana was written between the 4th and the 2nd centuries BC with augmentations up to about 300 CE. Linguistically and philosophically, a period just after the Vedic age, would most suit the content of the epic.

The Ramayana is a smaller work than the Mahabharata, having about 24, 000 couplets.

The fortunes of Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, form the main theme of the epic. The prince who was virtuous, brave and kind was the eldest son of king Dasharath who, as he grew old, decided to crown Rama as king and then retire. On the eve of the coronation, Kaikeye, the youngest wife of Dasharatha, though manipulation extracted a promise from him to get her son Bharata installed as the king and. exile Rama, his wife Sita, and half brother Lakshman to the jungles of the Deccan.

Bharata, who was away when this was happening was full of remorse and a followed Rama to the jungles and offered his kingdom back to him. This meeting of the brothers is described with much, pathos and tenderness. But Ratna would not cause the promise given by his father to be broken and sent his brother back to rule as his regent.

From this point the real saga begins. Ravana, the demon king of Lanka (Ceylon) came to hear about the beauty of Sita and abducted her, carrying her away in his aerial chariot, Pushpak. Rama and Lakshmana were out at that time and on returning, set out on a search for Sita. After long wanderings in the forests’ they found out her whereabouts with the help of wild bears and monkey tribes that inhabited the hills. Under Rama’s leadership, an army of monkeys was raised who built a bridge across the gulf between the rnainlafl(l and Lanka,. and stormed Lanka. After many bloody battles, the ten-headed Ravana was killed and Sita reclaimed. After the exile Rama returned to Ayodhya with many of the monkey chiefs. Of them, Hanuman was considered the most loyal and brave and is worshipped at present by the Hindus as a god.

Post A Comment: