Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ramayana History In Variant Versions

Lord Hanuman is well known for his extreme devotion to Lord Rama. Lord Hanuman is always depicted in the Indian folklaire as an icon of true devotion and a symbol of the power of true devotion and chastity.
Lord Hanuman's devotion to Lord Rama is symbolic of the devotion of the enlightened individual soul towards the supreme soul.
Many stories from the Indian literature tell the tales of Lord Hanuman protecting devotees of Lord Rama and helping those who seek his either spiritually or otherwise. Swami Tulasidas has written these lines in respect of Lord Hanuman's great character, in praise of his powers and also devotion.




Ramayana History In Variant Versions:


The Rāmāyaṇa ( Devanāgarī: रामायण) is an ancient Sanskrit epic attributed to the poet Valmiki and is an important part of the Hindu canon ( smṛti). The name Rāmāyaṇa is a tatpurusha compound of Rāma and ayana "going, advancing", translating to "the travels of Rāma". The Rāmāyaṇa consists of 24,000 verses in seven cantos (kāṇḍas) and tells the story of a prince, Rama of Ayodhya, whose wife Sita is abducted by the demon ( Rākshasa) king of Lanka, Rāvana. In its current form, the Valmiki Ramayana is dated variously from 500 BC to 100 BC, or about co-eval to early versions of the Mahabhārata. As with most traditional epics, since it has gone through a long process of interpolations and redactions, it is impossible to date it accurately. The Rāmāyana had an important influence on later Sanskrit poetry, primarily through its establishment of the Sloka meter. But, like its epic cousin Mahābhārata, the Rāmāyana is not just an ordinary story. It contains the teachings of ancient Hindu sages and presents them through allegory in narrative and the interspersion of the philosophical and the devotional. The characters of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Hanumān and Rāvana (the villain of the piece) are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India.
One of the most important literary works on ancient India, the Ramayana has had a profound impact on art and culture in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. The story of Rama also inspired a large amount of later-day literature in various languages, notable among which are the works of the sixteenth century Hindi poet Tulsidas and the Tamil poet Kambar of the 13th century.
The Ramayana is not just a Hindu religious tale. Starting from the 8th century, the colonisation of Southeast Asia by Indians began. Several large empires like the Khmers, the Majapahits, the Sailendras, the Champas and Sri Vijaya were established. Because of this, the Ramayana became popular in Southeast Asia and manifested itself in text, temple architecture and performance, particularly in Indonesia ( Java, Sumatra, Bali and Borneo), Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam.
Structure of Valmiki Ramayana




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Valmiki's Ramayana, the oldest and most widely read version of Ramayana is the basis of all the various version of Ramayana that are prevalent in the various cultures. The text survives in numerous complete and partial manuscripts, the oldest surviving of which is dated from the eleventh century AD. The current text of Valmiki Ramayana has come down to us in two regional versions from the north and the south of India. Valmiki Ramayana has been traditionally divided into seven books, dealing with the life of Rama from his birth to his death.
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.
Ayodhya Kanda – Book of Ayodhya in which Dasharatha comes to grief over his promise to Kaikeyi and the start of Rama's exile.
Aranya Kanda – Book of the Forest which describes Rama's life in the forest and the abduction of Sita by Ravana.
Kishkindya Kanda – Book of Kishkinda, the Vanara kingdom in which Rama befriends Sugriva and the Vanara army and begins the search for Sita.
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.
Yuddha Kanda – Book of the War, which narrates the Rama-Ravana war and the return of the successful Rama to Ayodhya and his coronation.
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.
There have been speculations on whether the first and the last chapters of Valmiki's Ramayana were indeed written by the original author. Many experts are of the opinion that they are integral part of the book in spite of the many differences in style and some contradictions in content between these two chapters and the rest of the book. These two chapters contain most of the mythological interpolations found in the Ramayana, such as the miraculous birth of Rama and his divine nature as well as the numerous legends surrounding Ravana.
Main characters

Sculpture of Hanuman carrying the Dronagiri mountain, sculpted in Terra cotta
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Sculpture of Hanuman carrying the Dronagiri mountain, sculpted in Terra cotta
Rama is the hero of this epic tale. He is portrayed as an incarnation of the god Vishnu. He is the eldest and the favorite son of the King of Ayodhya, Dasharatha. He is a popular prince loved by one and all. He is the epitome of virtue. Dasaratha, forced by one of his wives Kaikeyi commands Rama to relinquish his right to the throne for fourteen years and go into exile by his father. While in exile, Rama kills the demon king Ravana.
Sita is the wife of Rama and the daughter of king Janaka. Sita is the epitome of womanly purity and virtue. She follows her husband into exile and there gets abducted by Ravana. She is imprisoned in the island of Lanka by Ravana. Rama rescues her by defeating the demon king Ravana.
Hanuman is a vanara belonging to the kingdom of Kishkinda. He worships Rama and helps find Sita by going to the kingdom of Lanka crossing the great ocean.
Lakshmana, the younger brother of Rama, chose to go into exile with him. He spends his time protecting Sita and Rama. He is deceived by Ravana and Maricha into believing that Rama was in trouble while Sita gets abducted.
Ravana, a rakshasa, is the king of Lanka. 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 years. He was also the most intelligent and erudite living being of his time. He has ten heads and twenty arms. After getting his reward from Brahma, Ravana begins to lay waste the earth and disturbs the deeds of good Brahmins. Rama is born a human to defeat him, thus overcoming the boon given by Brahma.
Dasharatha is the king of Ayodhya and the father of Rama. He has three queens, Kousalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi, and three other sons, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Kaikeyi, Dasharatha's favourite queen forces him to make his son Bharata heir apparent and send Rama into exile. Dashatara dies heartbroken after Rama goes into exile.
Bharata is the second son of Dasharata. When he learns that his mother Kaikeyi had forced Rama into exile and caused Dasharata to die broken hearted, he storms out of the palace and goes in search of Rama. When Rama refuses to break his exile to return to the capital to assume the throne, he requests and gets Rama's sandals and places them on the throne. Bharata then rules Ayodhya as a representative of Rama.

Vishvamitra is the sage who takes Rama into the forest at the behest of defeating the demons destroying his Vedic sacrifices. On the way back he takes Rama into Mithila where Rama sees and falls in love with Sita.

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