Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Ramayana History

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 :


Traditionally, the Ramayana is attributed to Valmiki. The Hindu tradition is unanimous in its agreement that the poem is the work of a single poet, the sage Valmiki, a contemporary of Rama and a peripheral actor in the drama. The story's original version in Sanskrit is known as Valmiki Ramayana.[citation needed]

According to Hindu tradition—and according to the Ramayana itself—the Ramayana belongs to the genre of itihāsa like the Mahabharata. The definition of itihāsa is a narrative of past events (purāvṛtta) which includes teachings on the goals of human life. According to Hindu tradition, the Ramayana takes place during a period of time known as Treta Yuga.

In its extant form, Valmiki's Ramayana is an epic poem of some 24,000 verses. The text survives in several thousand partial and complete manuscripts, the oldest of which is a palm-leaf manuscript found in Nepal and dated to the 11th century CE. A Times of India report dated 18 Dec 2015 informs about discovery of a 6th-century manuscript of Ramayana at the Asiatic Society library, Kolkata.[2] The Ramayana text has several regional renderings, recensions, and subrecensions. Textual scholar Robert P. Goldman differentiates two major regional recensions: the northern (n) and the southern (s). Scholar Romesh Chunder Dutt writes that "the Ramayana, like the Mahabharata, is a growth of centuries, but the main story is more distinctly the creation of one mind."

There has been discussion as to whether the first and the last chapters of Valmiki's Ramayana were composed by the original author. Most Hindus still believe they are integral parts of the book, in spite of some style differences and narrative contradictions between these two chapters and the rest of the book.[citation needed]

Famous retellings include Gona Budda Reddy's Ramayanam in Telugu, Kamban's Ramavataram in Tamil (c. 11th–12th century), Madhava Kandali's Saptakanda Ramayana in Assamese (c. 14th century), Krittibas Ojha's Krittivasi Ramayan (also known as Shri Rama panchali) in Bengali (c. 15th century), Sarala Das' Vilanka Ramayana (c. 15th century)[3][4][5][6] and Balaram Das' Dandi Ramayana (also known as the Jagamohan Ramayana) (c. 16th century) both in Odia, sant Eknath's Bhavarth Ramayan (c. 16th century) in Marathi, Tulsidas' Ramcharitamanas (c. 16th century) in Awadhi (which is an eastern form of Hindi) and Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan's Adhyathmaramayanam in Malayalam.
Period[edit]

Rama(left third from top) depicted in the Dashavatara, the ten avatars of Vishnu. Painting from Jaipur, now at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Some cultural evidence, such as the presence of sati in the Mahabharata but not in the main body of the Ramayana, suggests that the Ramayana predates the Mahabharata. However, the general cultural background of the Ramayana is one of the post-urbanization period of the eastern part of north India and Nepal, while the Mahabharata reflects the Kuru areas west of this, from the Rigvedic to the late Vedic period.

By tradition, the text belongs to the Treta Yuga, second of the four eons (yuga) of Hindu chronology. Rama is said to have been born in the treta yuga to king Dasaratha in the Ikshvaku dynasty.

The names of the characters (Rama, Sita, Dasharatha, Janaka, Vashista, Vishwamitra) are all known in late Vedic literature. However, nowhere in the surviving Vedic poetry is there a story similar to the Ramayana of Valmiki. According to the modern academic view, Vishnu, who, according to bala kanda, was incarnated as Rama, first came into prominence with the epics themselves and further, during the puranic period of the later 1st millennium CE. Also, in the epic Mahabharata, there is a version of Ramayana known as Ramopakhyana. This version is depicted as a narration to Yudhishthira.

There is general consensus that books two to six form the oldest portion of the epic, while the first and last books (bala kanda and uttara kanda, respectively) are later additions. The author or authors of bala kanda and ayodhya kanda appear to be familiar with the eastern Gangetic basin region of northern India and with the Kosala and Magadha region during the period of the sixteen Janapadas, based on the fact that the geographical and geopolitical data accords with what is known about the region. The knowledge of the location of the island of Lanka also lacks detail. Basing his assumption on these features, archeologist Hasmukh Dhirajlal Sankalia has proposed a date of the 4th century BC for the composition of the text. Historian and indologist Arthur Llewellyn Basham is of the opinion that Rama may have been a minor chief who lived in the 8th or the 7th century BC.

Characters[edit]

Rama seated with Sita, fanned by Lakshmana, while Hanuman pays his respects.
Rāma is one of the protagonists of the tale. Portrayed as the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, he is the eldest and favourite son of Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya, and his Chief Queen, Kausalya. He is portrayed as the epitome of virtue. Dasharatha is forced by Kaikeyi, the second of his three wives, to command Rama to relinquish his right to the throne for fourteen years and go into exile. He kills the evil demon Ravana, who abducted his wife Sita and later returned to Ayodhya to form an ideal state.

Rama and the monkey chiefs
Sīta is another of the tale's protagonists. She is daughter of Mother Earth, adopted by King Janaka and Rama's beloved wife. Rama went to Mithila (located in Janakpur, Nepal) and got a chance to marry her by breaking the Shiv Dhanush (bow) while trying to tie a knot to it in a competition organized by King Janaka of Nepal in Dhanusa. The competition was to find the most suitable husband for Sita and many princes from different states competed to win her. Sita is the avatara of the goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu. Sita is portrayed as the epitome of female purity and virtue. She follows her husband into exile and is abducted by the demon king Ravana. She is imprisoned on the island of Lanka, until Rama rescues her by defeating Ravana. Later, she gives birth to Lava and Kusha.
Hanumān is a vanara belonging to the kingdom of Kishkindha. He is an ideal bhakta of Rama. He is born as the son of Kesari, a Vanara king in Sumeru region and the goddess Añjanā. He plays an important part in locating Sita and in the ensuing battle. He is believed to live until our modern world.
Lakṣmaṇa, the younger brother of Rama, who chose to go into exile with him. He is the son of King Dasaratha and Queen Sumitra and twin of Shatrughna. Lakshmana is portrayed as an avatar of the Shesha, the nāga associated with the god Vishnu. He spends his time protecting Sita and Rama during which he fought the demoness Surpanakha. He is forced to leave Sita, who was deceived by the demon Maricha into believing that Rama was in trouble. Sita is abducted by Ravana upon him leaving her. He was married to Sita's younger sister Urmila.

Building a Rama Setu Bridge to Lanka.
Rāvaṇa, a rakshasa, is the king of Lanka. He was son of a sage named Vishrava and daitya princess Kaikeshi. After performing severe penance for ten thousand years he received a boon from the creator-god Brahma: he could henceforth not be killed by gods, demons, or spirits. He is portrayed as a powerful demon king who disturbs the penances of rishis. Vishnu incarnates as the human Rama to defeat him, thus circumventing the boon given by Brahma.
Jaṭāyu, the son of Aruṇa and nephew of Garuda. A demi-god who has the form of an vulture that tries to rescue Sita from Ravana. Jatayu fought valiantly with Ravana, but as Jatayu was very old, Ravana soon got the better of him. As Rama and Lakshmana chanced upon the stricken and dying Jatayu in their search for Sita, he informs them of the direction in which Ravana had gone.
Daśaratha is the king of Ayodhya and the father of Rama. He has three queens, Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra, and three other sons: Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Kaikeyi, Dasharatha's favourite queen, forces him to make his son Bharata crown prince and send Rama into exile. Dasharatha dies heartbroken after Rama goes into exile.
Bharata is the son of Dasharatha and Queen Kaikeyi. When he learns that his mother Kaikeyi had forced Rama into exile and caused Dasharatha to die brokenhearted, he storms out of the palace and goes in search of Rama in the forest. When Rama refuses to return from his exile to assume the throne, Bharata obtains Rama's sandals and places them on the throne as a gesture that Rama is the true king. Bharata then rules Ayodhya as the regent of Rama for the next fourteen years staying outside the city of Ayodhya. He was married to Mandavi.
Śatrughna is the son of Dasharatha and his second wife Queen Sumitra. He is the youngest brother of Rama and also the twin brother of Lakshmana. He was married to Shrutakirti.
Sugrīva, a vanara king who helped Rama regain Sita from Ravana. He had an agreement with Rama through which Vaali – Sugriva's brother and king of Kishkindha – would be killed by Rama in exchange for Sugriva's help in finding Sita. Sugriva ultimately ascends the throne of Kishkindha after the slaying of Vaali and fulfills his promise by putting the Vanara forces at Rama's disposal
Indrajit or Meghnadha, the eldest son of Ravana who twice defeated Rama and Lakshmana in battle, before succumbing to Lakshmana. An adept of the magical arts, he coupled his supreme fighting skills with various stratagems to inflict heavy losses on the Vanara army before his death.
Kumbhakarṇa, a brother of Ravana, famous for his eating and sleeping. He would sleep for months at a time and would be extremely ravenous upon waking up, consuming anything set before him. His monstrous size and loyalty made him an important part of Ravana's army. During the war he decimated the Vanara army before Rama cut off his limbs and head.
Sūrpanakha, Ravana's demoness sister who fell in love with Rama and had the magical power to take any form she wanted.
Vibhīṣaṇa, a younger brother of Ravana. He was against the kidnapping of Sita and joined the forces of Rama when Ravana refused to return her. His intricate knowledge of Lanka was vital in the war and he was crowned king after the fall of Ravana.[citation needed]
Synopsis[edit]
Bala Kanda[edit]
Main article: Bala Kanda

Pictorial depiction of the birth of the four sons of Dasharatha.

Vishvamitra looks on as Rama breaks the bow, to win the hand of Sita in marriage.
Dasharatha was the king of Ayodhya. He had three wives: Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra. He was childless for a long time and anxious to produce an heir, he performs a fire sacrifice known as putra-kameshti yagya. As a consequence, Rama is first born to Kausalya, Bharata is born to Kaikeyi, Lakshmana and Shatrughna are born to Sumitra. These sons are endowed, to various degrees, with the essence of the Supreme Trinity Entity Vishnu; Vishnu had opted to be born into mortality to combat the demon Ravana, who was oppressing the gods, and who could only be destroyed by a mortal. The boys are reared as the princes of the realm, receiving instructions from the scriptures and in warfare. When Rama is 16 years old, the sage Vishwamitra comes to the court of Dasharatha in search of help against demons who were disturbing sacrificial rites. He chooses Rama, who is followed by Lakshmana, his constant companion throughout the story. Rama and Lakshmana receive instructions and supernatural weapons from Vishwamitra and proceed to destroy the demons.

Janaka was the king of Mithila. One day, a female child was found in the field by the king in the deep furrow dug by his plough. Overwhelmed with joy, the king regarded the child as a "miraculous gift of god". The child was named Sita, the Sanskrit word for furrow. Sita grew up to be a girl of unparalleled beauty and charm. The king had decided that who ever could lift and wield the heavy bow, presented to his ancestors by Shiva, could marry Sita. The sage Vishwamitra takes Rama and Lakshmana to Mithila to show the bow. Then Rama desires to lift it and goes on to wield the bow and, when he draws the string, it breaks.[7] Marriages are arranged between the sons of Dasharatha and daughters of Janaka. Rama gets married to Sita, Lakshmana to Urmila, Bharata to Mandavi and Shatrughan to Shrutakirti. The weddings are celebrated with great festivity at Mithila and the marriage party returns to Ayodhya.

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