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RAMA (/ˈrɑːmə/ ; Sanskrit : राम, IAST : _Rāma_), also known as RAMACHANDRA, is a major deity of Hinduism . He is the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu , one of his most popular incarnations along with Krishna and Gautama Buddha . In Rama-centric traditions of Hinduism, he is considered the Supreme Being.

Rama was born to Kaushalya and Dasharatha in Ayodhya , the ruler of the Kingdom of Kosala . His siblings included Lakshmana , Bharata , and Shatrughna . He married Sita . Though born in a royal family, their life is described in the Hindu texts as one challenged by unexpected changes such as an exile into impoverished and difficult circumstances, ethical questions and moral dilemmas. Of all their travails, the most notable is the kidnapping of Sita by demon-king Ravana , followed by the determined and epic efforts of Rama and Lakshmana to gain her freedom and destroy the evil Ravana against great odds. The entire life story of Rama, Sita and their companions allegorically discusses duties, rights and social responsibilities of an individual. It illustrates dharma and dharmic living through model characters.

Rama is especially important to Vaishnavism . He is the central figure of the ancient Hindu epic _ Ramayana _, a text historically popular in the South Asian and Southeast Asian cultures. His ancient legends have attracted bhasya (commentaries) and extensive secondary literature and inspired performance arts. Two such texts, for example, are the _Adhyatma Ramayana _ – a spiritual and theological treatise considered foundational by Ramanandi monasteries, and the _ Ramcharitmanas _ – a popular treatise that inspires thousands of Ramlila festival performances during autumn every year in India.

Rama legends are also found in the texts of Jainism and Buddhism , though he is sometimes called Pauma or Padma in these texts, and their details vary significantly from the Hindu versions.

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology and nomenclature

* 1.1 Indo-European roots

* 2 Legends

* 2.1 Birth * 2.2 Youth, family and friends * 2.3 Exile and War * 2.4 Post-war rule and death * 2.5 Inconsistencies

* 3 Dating * 4 Iconography * 5 Philosophy and symbolism

* 6 Literary Sources

* 6.1 Ramayana * 6.2 Adhyatma Ramayana * 6.3 Ramacharitmanas * 6.4 Yoga Vasistha * 6.5 Other texts

* 7 Influence

* 7.1 Hinduism

* 7.1.1 Rama Navami * 7.1.2 Ramlila and Dussehra * 7.1.3 Diwali * 7.1.4 Hindu arts in Southeast Asia

* 7.2 Jainism * 7.3 Buddhism

* 8 Worship and temples * 9 See also

* 10 References

* 10.1 Notes * 10.2 Citations * 10.3 Bibiliography

* 11 Further reading * 12 External links

ETYMOLOGY AND NOMENCLATURE

_Rāma_ is a Vedic Sanskrit word with two contextual meanings. In one context as found in _Arthavaveda_, states Monier Monier-Williams , it means "dark, dark-colored, black" and is related to the term _ratri_ which means night. In another context as found in other Vedic texts, the word means "pleasing, delightful, charming, beautiful, lovely". The word is sometimes used as a suffix in different Indian languages and religions, such as Pali in Buddhist texts, where _-rama_ adds the sense of "pleasing to the mind, lovely" to the composite word.

_Rama_ as a first name appears in the Vedic literature, associated with two patronymic names – Margaveya and Aupatasvini – representing different individuals. A third individual named _Rama Jamadagnya_ is the purported author of hymn 10.110 of the _ Rigveda _ in the Hindu tradition. The word _Rama_ appears in ancient literature in reverential terms for three individuals:

* Parashu-rama, as the sixth avatar of Vishnu. He is linked to the _ Rama Jamadagnya_ of the _Rigveda_ fame. * Rama-chandra, as the seventh avatar of Vishnu and of the ancient _Ramayana_ fame. * Bala-rama, also called _Halayudha_, as the elder brother of Krishna both of whom appear in the legends of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

The name Rama appears repeatedly in Hindu texts, for many different scholars and kings in mythical stories. The word also appears in ancient Upanishads and Aranyakas layer of Vedic literature, as well as music and other post-Vedic literature, but in qualifying context of something or someone who is "charming, beautiful, lovely" or "darkness, night".

The Vishnu avatar named Rama is also known by other names. He is called _Ramachandra_ (beautiful, lovely moon ), or _Dasarathi_ (son of Dasaratha), or _Raghava_ (descendant of Raghu, solar dynasty in Hindu cosmology).

Additional names of Rama include Ramavijaya (Javanese ), Phreah Ream (Khmer ), Phra Ram (Lao and Thai ), Megat Seri Rama (Malay ), Raja Bantugan ( Maranao ), Ramudu (Telugu ), Ramar (Tamil ). In the _Vishnu sahasranama _, Rama is the 394th name of Vishnu. In some Advaita Vedanta inspired texts, Rama connotes the metaphysical concept of Supreme Brahman who is the eternally blissful spiritual Self (Atman, soul) in whom yogis delight nondualistically.

INDO-EUROPEAN ROOTS

The root of the word _Rama_ is _ram-_ which means "stop, stand still, rest, rejoice, be pleased".

According to Douglas Adams, the Sanskrit word _Rama_ is also found in other Indo-European languages such as Tocharian _ram_, _reme_, _*romo-_ where it means "support, make still", "witness, make evident". The sense of "dark, black, soot" also appears in other Indo European languages, sach as _*remos_ or Old English _romig_.

LEGENDS

Sarayu river and the Ayodhya Rama Paidi in Uttar Pradesh India.

This summary is a traditional legendary account, based on literary details from the _ Ramayana _ and other historic mythology-containing texts of Buddhism and Jainism. According to Sheldon Pollock, the figure of Rama incorporates more ancient "morphemes of Indian myths", such as the mythical legends of _Bali_ and _Namuci_. The ancient sage Valmiki used these morphemes in his _Ramayana_ similes as in sections 3.27, 3.59, 3.73, 5.19 and 29.28.

BIRTH

Rama was born on the ninth day of the lunar month Chaitra (March–April), a day celebrated across India as _Ram Navami_. This coincides with one of the four Navratri on the Hindu calendar , in the spring season, namely the _Vasantha Navratri_.

The ancient epic _Ramayana_ states in the _Balakhanda_ that Rama and his brothers were born to Kaushalya and Dasharatha in Ayodhya , a city on the banks of Sarayu River . The Jain versions of the _Ramayana_, such as the _Paumacariya_ (literally deeds of Padma) by Vimalasuri, also mention the details of the early life of Rama. The Jain texts are dated variously, but generally pre-500 CE, most likely sometime within the first five centuries of the common era. Dasharatha was the king of Kosala , and a part of the solar dynasty of Iksvakus. His mother's name Kaushalya literally implies that she was from Kosala. The kingdom of Kosala is also mentioned in Buddhist and Jaina texts, as one of the sixteen _Maha janapadas_ of ancient India, and as an important center of pilgrimage for Jains and Buddhists. However, there is a scholarly dispute whether the modern Ayodhya is indeed the same as the Ayodhya and Kosala mentioned in the _Ramayana_ and other ancient Indian texts.

YOUTH, FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Main articles: Bharata (Ramayana) , Lakshmana , and Shatrughna Rama is portrayed in Hindu arts and texts as a compassionate person who cares for all living beings.

Rama had three brothers, according to the _Balakhanda_ section of the _Ramayana_. These were Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna. The extant manuscripts of the text describes their education and training as young princes, but this is brief. Rama is portrayed as a polite, self-controlled, virtuous youth always ready to help others. His education included the Vedas , the Vedangas as well as the martial arts.

The years when Rama grew up is described in much greater detail by later Hindu texts, such as the _Ramavali_ by Tulsidas. The template is similar to those found for Krishna , but in the poems of Tulsidas, Rama is milder and reserved introvert, rather than prank-playing extrovert personality of Krishna.

The _Ramayana_ mentions an archery contest organized by King Janaka , where Sita and Rama meet. The contest is won by Rama, whereby Janaka agrees to the marriage of Sita and Rama. Sita moves with Rama to his father Dashratha's capital. Sita introduces Rama's brothers to her sister and her two cousins, and they all get married.

While Rama and his brothers were away, Kaikeyi, the mother of Bharata and the second wife of king Dasharatha, reminds the king that he had promised long ago to comply with one thing she asks, anything. Dasharatha remembers and agrees to do so. She demands that Rama be exiled for fourteen years to Dandaka forest. Dasharatha grieves at her request. Her son Bharata, and other family members become upset at her demand. Rama states that his father should keep his word, adds that he does not crave for earthly or heavenly material pleasures, neither seeks power nor anything else. He talks about his decision with his wife and tells everyone that time passes quickly. Sita leaves with him to live in the forest, the brother Lakshmana joins them in their exile as the caring close brother.

EXILE AND WAR

See also: Ravana , Jatayu (Ramayana) , Hanuman , and Vibheeshana Ravana's sister Suparnakha attempts to seduce Rama and cheat on Sita. He refuses and spurns her (above).

Rama heads outside the Kosala kingdom, crosses Yamuna river and initially stays at Chitrakuta, on the banks of river Mandakini, in the hermitage of sage Vasishtha . This place is believed in the Hindu tradition to be the same as Chitrakoot on the border of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The region has numerous Rama temples and is an important Vaishnava pilgrimage site. The texts describe nearby hermitages of Vedic rishis (sages) such as Atri , and that Rama roamed through forests, lived a humble simple life, provided protection and relief to ascetics in the forest being harassed and persecuted by demons, as they stayed at different ashrams . Ravana kidnapping Sita while Jatayu on the left tried to help her. 9th century Prambanan bas-relief, Java, Indonesia

After ten years of wandering and struggles, Rama arrives at Panchavati, on the banks of river Godavari. This region had numerous demons (_rakshasha_). One day, a demoness called Shurpanakha saw Rama, became enamored of him, and tried to seduce him. Rama refused her. Shurpanakha retaliated by threatening Sita. Lakshmana, the younger brother protective of his family, in turn retaliated by cutting off the nose and ears of Shurpanakha. The cycle of violence escalated, ultimately reaching demon king Ravana, who was the brother of Shurpanakha. Ravana comes to Panchavati to take revenge on behalf of his family, sees Sita, gets attracted, and kidnaps Sita to his kingdom of Lanka (believed to be modern Sri Lanka). Hanuman meets Shri Rama in the Forest

Rama and Lakshmana discover the kidnapping, worry about Sita's safety, despair at the loss and their lack of resources to take on Ravana. Their struggles now reach their heights. They travel south, meet Sugriva, marshall an army of monkeys, and attract dedicated commanders such as Hanuman who is a minister of Sugriva. Meanwhile, Ravana harasses Sita and tries to make her into a concubine. Sita refuses him. Ravana is enraged. Rama ultimately reaches Lanka, fights in a war that has many ups and downs, but ultimately prevails, kills Ravana and forces of evil, and rescues his wife Sita. They return to Ayodhya.

POST-WAR RULE AND DEATH

The return of Rama to Ayodhya is celebrated with his coronation. It is called _ Rama rajya_, described to be a just and fair rule.

Upon Rama's accession as king, rumors emerge that Sita may have gone willingly when she was with Ravana; Sita protests that her capture was forced. Rama responds to public gossip by renouncing his wife, and asking her to undergo a test before _Agni_ (fire). She does, and passes the test. Rama and Sita live happily together in Ayodhya, have twin sons named Luv and Kush, in the _Ramayana_ and other major texts. However, in some revisions, the story is different and tragic, with Sita dying of sorrow for her husband not trusting her, making Sita a moral heroine and leaving the reader with moral questions about Rama. In these revisions, the death of Sita leads Rama to drown himself. Through death, he joins her in afterlife. Rama dying by drowning himself is found in the Myanmar version of Rama's life story called _Thiri Rama_.

INCONSISTENCIES

Rama's legends vary significantly by the region and across manuscripts. While there is a common foundation, plot grammar and an essential core of values associated with a battle between good and evil, there is neither a correct version nor a single verifiable ancient one. According to Paula Richman, there are hundreds of versions of "the story of Rama in India, southeast Asia and beyond". The versions vary by region reflecting local preoccupations and histories, and these cannot be called "divergences or different tellings" from the "real" version, rather all the versions of Rama story are real and true in their own meanings to the local cultural tradition, according to scholars such as Richman and Ramanujan.

The stories vary in details, particularly where the moral question is clear, but the appropriate ethical response is unclear or disputed. For example, when demoness Shurpanakha disguises as a woman to seduce Rama, then stalks and harasses Rama's wife Sita after Rama refuses her, Lakshmana is faced with the question of appropriate ethical response. In the Indian tradition, states Richman, the social value is that "a warrior must never harm a woman". The details of the response by Rama and Lakshmana, and justifications for it, has numerous versions. Similarly, there are numerous and very different versions to how Rama deals with rumors against Sita when they return victorious to Ayodhya, given that the rumors can neither be objectively investigated nor summarily ignored. Similarly the versions vary on many other specific situations and closure such as how Rama, Sita and Lakshmana die.

The variation and inconsistencies are not limited to the texts found in the Hinduism traditions. The Rama story in the Jainism tradition also show variation by author and region, in details, in implied ethical prescriptions and even in names – the older versions using the name Padma instead of Rama, while the later Jain texts just use Rama.

DATING

The Rama story is carved into stone as an 8th-century relief artwork in the largest Shiva temple of the Ellora Caves , suggesting its importance to the Indian society by then.

The historicity of Rama, and when he lived in case he indeed reflected a real individual, is a disputed subject with wide variation among authors. In some Hindu texts, Rama is stated to have lived in the _Treta yuga_ or _Dvapar yuga_ that their authors estimate existed before about 5,000 BCE, while a few others place Rama to have lived in 102, 67 or 8 BCE. According to Dhirajlal Hasmukhlal, this is all "pure speculation".

According to Arthur Bonner, "what may have happened" is that some early Gupta Empire king built his capital on Sarayu river, called this new city as Ayodhya, claimed that Rama was born "millions of years earlier" on this exact spot so as to link his dynasty with the gods, and this belief got widely accepted in India after the Gupta Empire ended.

The composition of Rama's epic story, the _ Ramayana _, in its current form is usually dated between 7th and 4th century BCE. According to John Brockington, a professor of Sanskrit at Oxford known for his publications on the _Ramayana_, the original text was likely composed and transmitted orally in more ancient times, and modern scholars have suggested various centuries in the 1st millennium BCE. In Brockington's view, "based on the language, style and content of the work, a date of roughly the fifth century BCE is the most reasonable estimate".

ICONOGRAPHY

Rama iconography widely varies, and typically show him in context of some legend. Above, Rama trying to cross the sea.

Rama iconography shares elements of Vishnu avatars, but has several distinctive elements. It never has more than two hands, he holds (or has nearby) a _bana_ (arrow) in his right hand, while he holds the _dhanus_ (bow) in his left. The most recommended icon for him is that he be shown standing in _tribhanga_ pose (thrice bent "S" shape). He is shown black, blue or dark color, typically wearing reddish color clothes. If his wife and brother are a part of the iconography, Lakshamana is on his left side while Sita always on the right of Rama, both of golden-yellow complexion.

PHILOSOPHY AND SYMBOLISM

Rama's life story is imbued with symbolism. According to Sheldon Pollock, the life of Rama as told in the Indian texts is a masterpiece that offers a framework to represent, conceptualize and comprehend the world and the nature of life. Like major epics and religious stories around the world, it has been of vital relevance because it "tells the culture what it is". Rama's life is more complex than the Western template for the battle between the good and the evil, where there is a clear distinction between immortal powerful gods or heroes and mortal struggling humans. In the Indian traditions, particularly Rama, the story is about a divine human, a mortal god, incorporating both into the exemplar who transcends both humans and gods. RESPONDING TO EVIL

A superior being does not render evil for evil, this is the maxim one should observe; the ornament of virtuous persons is their conduct. (...) A noble soul will ever exercise compassion even towards those who enjoy injuring others. —_ Ramayana 6.115_, Valmiki (Abridged, Translator: Roderick Hindery)

As a person, Rama personifies the characteristics of an ideal person (purushottama), He had within him all the desirable virtues that any individual would seek to aspire, and he fulfils all his moral obligations. Rama is considered a _maryada purushottama_ or the best of upholders of Dharma.

According to Rodrick Hindery, Book 2, 6 and 7 are notable for ethical studies. The views of _Rama_ combine "reason with emotions" to create a "thinking hearts" approach. Second, he emphasizes through what he says and what he does a union of "self-consciousness and action" to create an "ethics of character". Third, Rama's life combines the ethics with the aesthetics of living. The story of Rama and people in his life raises questions such as "is it appropriate to use evil to respond to evil?", and then provides a spectrum of views within the framework of Indian beliefs such as on karma and dharma .

Rama's life and comments emphasize that one must pursue and live life fully, that all three life aims are equally important: virtue (dharma), love (kama), and legitimate acquisition of wealth (artha). Rama also adds, such as in section 4.38 of the _Ramayana_, that one must also introspect and never neglect what one's proper duties, appropriate responsibilities, true interests and legitimate pleasures are.

LITERARY SOURCES

_ Valmiki composing the Ramayana_.

RAMAYANA

The primary source of the life of Rama is the Sanskrit epic _Ramayana_ composed by Rishi Valmiki . Rama(left third from top) depicted in the Dashavatara (ten avatars) of Vishnu. Painting from Jaipur , now at the Victoria and Albert Museum

The epic had many versions across India's regions. The followers of Madhvacharya believe that an older version of the _Ramayana_, the _mula-Ramayana_, previously existed. The Madhva tradition considers it to have been more authoritative than the version by Valmiki .

Versions of the _Ramayana_ exist in most major Indian languages; examples that elaborate on the life, deeds and divine philosophies of Rama include the epic poem _ Ramavataram _, and the following vernacular versions of Rama's life story:

* _Kamba-Ramayanam_ by the 12th-century poet Kambar in Tamil ; * _ Ramcharitmanas _ in Hindi by the 16th-century saint _ Tulsidas _; * _Sri Ramayana Darshanam _ by Kuvempu and _Pampa Ramayana_ in Kannada ; * _ Ramayana Kalpavruksham_ by Viswanatha Satyanarayana and _Ramayana_ by Ranganatha in Telugu ; * _Vilanka Ramayana_ in Odia ; * _Kriyyivas Ramayana_ in Bengali ; * _Eluttachan_ in Malayali (this text is closer to the Advaita Vedanta -inspired rendition _Adhyatma Ramayana_).

The epic is found across India, in different languages and cultural traditions.

ADHYATMA RAMAYANA

_Adhyatma Ramayana_ is a late medieval Sanskrit text extolling the spiritualism in the story of Ramayana . It is embedded in the latter portion of _ Brahmānda Purana _, and constitutes about a third of it. The text philosophically attempts to reconcile Bhakti in god Rama and Shaktism with Advaita Vedanta , over 65 chapters and 4,500 verses.

The text represents Rama as the Brahman (metaphysical reality), mapping all attributes and aspects of Rama to abstract virtues and spiritual ideals. _Adhyatma Ramayana_ transposes _Ramayana_ into symbolism of self study of one's own soul, with metaphors described in Advaita terminology. The text is notable because it influenced the popular _ Ramcharitmanas _ by Tulsidas , and inspired the most popular version of Nepali _Ramayana_ by Bhanubhakta Acharya .

RAMACHARITMANAS

The _Ramayana_ is a Sanskrit text, while _ Ramacharitamanasa _ retells the _Ramayana_ in a vernacular dialect of Hindi language, commonly understood in northern India. _Ramacharitamanasa_ was composed in the 16th century by Tulsidas . The popular text is notable for synthesizing the epic story in a Bhakti movement framework, wherein the original legends and ideas morph in an expression of spiritual bhakti (devotional love) for a personal god.

Tulsidas was inspired by _Adhyatma Ramayana_, where Rama and other characters of the _ Valmiki Ramayana_ along with their attributes (_saguna_ narrative) were transposed into spiritual terms and abstract rendering of an _Atma _ (soul, self, Brahman) without attributes (_nirguna_ reality). According to Kapoor, Rama's life story in the _Ramacharitamanasa_ combines mythology, philosophy and religious beliefs into a story of life, a code of ethics, a treatise on universal human values. It debates in its dialogues the human dilemmas, the ideal standards of behavior, duties to those one loves, and mutual responsibilities. It inspires the audience to view their own lives from a spiritual plane, encouraging the virtuous to keep going, and comforting those oppressed with a healing balm.

The _Ramacharitmanas_ is notable for being the Rama-based play commonly performed every year in autumn, during the weeklong performance arts festival of _ Ramlila _. The "staging of the _Ramayana_ based on the _Ramacharitmanas_" was inscribed in 2008 by UNESCO as one of the Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity.

YOGA VASISTHA

Main article: Yoga Vasistha Human effort can be used for self-betterment and that there is no such thing as an external fate imposed by the gods. — _ Yoga Vasistha ( Vasistha teaching Rama)_ Tr: Christopher Chapple

_ Yoga Vasistha_ is a Sanskrit text structured as a conversation between young Prince Rama and sage Vasistha who was called as the first sage of the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy by Adi Shankara . The complete text contains over 29,000 verses. The short version of the text is called _Laghu Yogavasistha_ and contains 6,000 verses. The exact century of its completion is unknown, but has been estimated to be somewhere between the 6th century to as late as the 14th century, but it is likely that a version of the text existed in the 1st millennium.

The _ Yoga Vasistha _ text consists of six books. The first book presents Rama's frustration with the nature of life, human suffering and disdain for the world. The second describes, through the character of Rama, the desire for liberation and the nature of those who seek such liberation. The third and fourth books assert that liberation comes through a spiritual life, one that requires self-effort, and present cosmology and metaphysical theories of existence embedded in stories. These two books are known for emphasizing free will and human creative power. The fifth book discusses meditation and its powers in liberating the individual, while the last book describes the state of an enlightened and blissful Rama.

_ Yoga Vasistha_ is considered one of the most important texts of the Vedantic philosophy. The text, states David Gordon White, served as a reference on Yoga for medieval era Advaita Vedanta scholars. The Yoga Vasistha, according to White, was one of the popular texts on Yoga that dominated the Indian Yoga culture scene before the 12th century.

OTHER TEXTS

Other important historic Hindu texts on Rama include _Bhusundi Ramanaya_, _Prasanna raghava_, and _Ramavali_ by Tulsidas. The Sanskrit poem _ Bhaṭṭikāvya _ of Bhatti, who lived in Gujarat in the seventh century CE, is a retelling of the epic that simultaneously illustrates the grammatical examples for Pāṇini 's _Aṣṭādhyāyī_ as well as the major figures of speech and the Prakrit language.

Another historically and chronologically important text is _Raghuvamsa_ authored by Kalidasa. Its story confirms many details of the _Ramayana_, but has novel and different elements. It mentions that Ayodhya was not the capital in the time of Rama's son named Kusha, but that he later returned to it and made it the capital again. This text is notable because the poetry in the text is exquisite and called a _Mahakavya_ in the Indian tradition, and has attracted many scholarly commentaries. It is also significant because Kalidasa has been dated to between the 4th and 5th century CE, suggesting that the Ramayana legend was well established by the time of Kalidasa.

The _Mahabharata_ has a summary of the _Ramayana_. The Jainism tradition has extensive literature of Rama as well, but generally refers to him as Padma, such as in the _Paumacariya_ by Vimalasuri. Rama and Sita legend is mentioned in the Jataka tales of Buddhism, as _Dasaratha-Jataka_ (Tale no. 461), but with slightly different spellings such as _Lakkhana_ for _Lakshmana_ and _Rama-pandita_ for _Rama_.

The chapter 4 of _ Vishnu Purana _, chapter 112 of _ Padma Purana _, chapter 143 of _ Garuda Purana _ and chapters 5 through 11 of _Agni Purana _ also summarize the life story of Rama. Additionally, the Rama story is included in the _ Vana Parva _ of the _ Mahabharata _, which has been a part of evidence that the _Ramayana_ is likely more ancient, and it was summarized in the _Mahabharata_ epic in ancient times.

INFLUENCE

Rama (Yama) and Sita (Thida) in Yama Zatdaw , the Burmese version of the Ramayana

Rama's story has had a major socio-cultural and inspirational influence across South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Few works of literature produced in any place at any time have been as popular, influential, imitated and successful as the great and ancient Sanskrit epic poem, the _ Valmiki Ramayana_. – Robert Goldman, Professor of Sanskrit, University of California at Berkeley

According to Arthur Anthony Macdonell , a professor at Oxford and Boden scholar of Sanskrit, Rama's ideas as told in the Indian texts are secular in origin, their influence on the life and thought of people having been profound over at least two and a half millennia. Their influence has ranged from being a framework for personal introspection to cultural festivals and community entertainment. His life stories, states Goldman, have inspired "painting, film, sculpture, puppet shows, shadow plays, novels, poems, TV serials and plays".

HINDUISM

See also: List of Hindu festivals

Rama Navami

Main article: Rama Navami

Rama Navami is a spring festival that celebrates the birthday of Rama. The festival is a part of the spring Navratri , and falls on the ninth day of the bright half of Chaitra month in the traditional Hindu calendar . This typically occurs in the Gregorian months of March or April every year.

The day is marked by recital of Rama legends in temples, or reading of Rama stories at home. Some Vaishnava Hindus visit a temple, others pray within their home, and some participate in a bhajan or kirtan with music as a part of puja and aarti . The community organizes charitable events and volunteer meals. The festival is an occasion for moral reflection for many Hindus. Some mark this day by vrata (fasting) or a visit to a river for a dip.

The important celebrations on this day take place at Ayodhya , Sitamarhi , Janakpurdham ( Nepal ), Bhadrachalam , Kodandarama Temple, Vontimitta and Rameswaram . Rathayatras, the chariot processions, also known as _Shobha yatras_ of Rama, Sita, his brother Lakshmana and Hanuman , are taken out at several places. In Ayodhya, many take a dip in the sacred river Sarayu and then visit the Rama temple.

Rama Navami day also marks the end of the nine-day spring festival celebrated in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh called Vasanthothsavam (Festival of Spring), that starts with Ugadi . Some highlights of this day are _Kalyanam_ (ceremonial wedding performed by temple priests) at Bhadrachalam on the banks of the river Godavari in Bhadradri Kothagudem district of Telangana , preparing and sharing _Panakam_ which is a sweet drink prepared with jaggery and pepper, a procession and Rama temple decorations.

Ramlila And Dussehra

Main article: Vijayadashami In Northern, Central and Western states of India, the Ramlila play is enacted during Navratri by rural artists (above).

Rama's life is remembered and celebrated every year with dramatic plays and fireworks in autumn. This is called Ramlila , and the play follows _ Ramayana _ or more commonly the _ Ramcharitmanas _. It is observed through thousands of Rama-related performance arts and dance events, that are staged during the festival of Navratri in India . After the enactment of the legendary war between Good and Evil, the Ramlila celebrations climax in the Dussehra (Dasara, Vijayadashami ) night festivities where the giant grotesque effigies of Evil such as of demon Ravana are burnt, typically with fireworks.

The Ramlila festivities were declared by UNESCO as one of the "Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity" in 2008. Ramlila is particularly notable in historically important Hindu cities of Ayodhya , Varanasi , Vrindavan , Almora , Satna and Madhubani – cities in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The epic and its dramatic play migrated into southeast Asia in the 1st millennium CE, and _Ramayana_ based _Ramlila_ is a part of performance arts culture of Indonesia, particularly the Hindu society of Bali , Myanmar , Cambodia and Thailand .

Diwali

Main article: Diwali

In some parts of India, Rama's return to Ayodhya and his coronation is the main reason for celebrating Diwali , also known as the _Festival of Lights_.

In Guyana , Diwali is marked as a special occasion and celebrated with a lot of fanfare. It is observed as a national holiday in this part of the World and some ministers of the Government also take part in the celebrations publicly. Just like Vijayadashmi, Diwali is celebrated by different communities across India to commemorate different events in addition to Rama's return to Ayodhya. For example, many communities celebrate one day of Diwali to celebrate the Victory of Krishna over the demon Narakasur .

Hindu Arts In Southeast Asia

Rama's story is a major part of the artistic reliefs found at Angkor Wat , Cambodia. Large sequences of Ramayana reliefs are also found in Java, Indonesia.

Rama's life story, both in the written form of Sanskrit _Ramayana_ and the oral tradition arrived in southeast Asia in the 1st millennium CE. Rama was one of many ideas and cultural themes adopted, others being the Buddha, the Shiva and host of other Brahmanic and Buddhist ideas and stories. In particular, the influence of Rama and other cultural ideas grew in Java, Bali, Malaya, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

The _Ramayana_ was translated from Sanskrit into old Javanese around 860 CE, while the performance arts culture most likely developed from the oral tradition inspired by the Tamil and Bengali versions of Rama-based dance and plays. The earliest evidence of these performance arts are from 243 CE according to Chinese records. Other than the celebration of Rama's life with dance and music, Hindu temples built in southeast Asia such as the Prambanan near Yogyakarta (Java), and at the Panataran near Blitar (east Java), show extensive reliefs depicting Rama's life. The story of Rama's life has been popular in southeast Asia.

In the 14th-century, the Ayutthaya Kingdom and its capital Ayuttaya was named after the Hindu holy city of Ayodhya, with the official religion of the state being Theravada Buddhism. Thai kings, continuing into the contemporary era, have been called Rama, a name inspired by Rama of _Ramakien_ – the local version of Sanskrit _Ramayana_, according to Constance Jones and James Ryan. For example, King Chulalongkorn (1853-1910) is also known as Rama V, while King Vajiralongkorn who succeeded to the throne in 2016 is called Rama X.

JAINISM

See also: Rama in Jainism and Salakapurusa

In Jainism , the earliest known version of Rama story is variously dated from the 1st to 5th century CE. This Jaina text credited to Vimalasuri shows no signs of distinction between Digambara-Svetambara (sects of Jainism), and is in a combination of Marathi and Sauraseni languages. These features suggest that this text has ancient roots.

In Jain cosmology , characters continue to be reborn as they evolve in their spiritual qualities, until they reach the Jina state and complete enlightenment. This idea is explained as cyclically reborn triads in its Puranas, called the Baladeva , Vasudeva and evil Prati-vasudeva . Rama, Lakshmana and evil Ravana are the eighth triad, with Rama being the reborn Baladeva, and Lakshmana as the reborn Vasudeva. Rama is described to have lived long before the 22nd Jain Tirthankara called Neminatha . In the Jain tradition, Neminatha is believed to have been born 84,000 years before the 9th-century BCE Parshvanatha .

Jain texts tell a very different version of the Rama legend than the Hindu texts such as by Valmiki. According to the Jain version, Lakshmana (Vasudeva) is the one who kills Ravana (Prativasudeva). Rama, after all his participation in the rescue of Sita and preparation for war, he actually does not kill, thus remains a non-violent person. The Rama of Jainism has numerous wives as does Lakshmana, unlike the virtue of monogamy given to Rama in the Hindu texts. Towards the end of his life, Rama becomes a Jaina monk then successfully attains siddha followed by moksha . His first wife Sita becomes a Jaina nun at the end of the story. In the Jain version, Lakshmana and Ravana both go to the hell of Jain cosmology, because Ravana killed many, while Lakshmana killed Ravana to stop Ravana's violence.

BUDDHISM

The _Dasaratha-Jataka_ (Tale no. 461) provides a version of the Rama story. It calls _Rama_ as _Rama-pandita_.

At the end of this _Dasaratha-Jataka_ discourse, the Buddhist text declares that the Buddha in his prior rebirth was Rama:

The Master having ended this discourse, declared the Truths, and identified the Birth (...): 'At that time, the king Suddhodana was king Dasaratha, Mahamaya was the mother, Rahula's mother was Sita, Ananda was Bharata, and I myself was Rama-pandita. — Jataka Tale No. 461, Translator: W.H.D. Rouse

While the Buddhist Jataka texts co-opt Rama and make him an incarnation of Buddha in a previous life, the Hindu texts co-opt the Buddha and make him an avatar of Vishnu . The _Jataka_ literature of Buddhism is generally dated to be from the second half of the 1st millennium BCE, based on the carvings in caves and Buddhist monuments such as the Bharhut stupa. The 2nd-century BCE stone relief carvings on Bharhut stupa, as told in the _Dasaratha-Jataka_, is the earliest known non-textual evidence of Rama story being prevalent in ancient India.

WORSHIP AND TEMPLES

Rama is a revered Vaishanava deity, one who is worshipped privately at home or in temples. He was a part of the Bhakti movement focus, particularly because of efforts of poet-saint Ramananda who created the Ramanandi Sampradaya , a _sannyasi_ community. This _sampradaya_ has grown to become the largest Hindu monastic community in modern times. This Rama-inspired movement has championed social reforms, accepting members without discriminating anyone by gender, class, caste or religion since the time of Ramananda who accepted Muslims wishing to leave Islam. Traditional scholarship holds that his disciples included later Bhakti movement _poet-sants_ such as Kabir , Ravidas , Bhagat Pipa and others.

Temples dedicated to Rama are found all over India and in places where Indian migrant communities have resided. In most temples, the iconography of Rama is accompanied by that of his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana. In some instances, Hanuman is also included either near them or in the temple premises.

Hindu temples dedicated to Rama were built by early 5th century, according to copper plate inscription evidence, but these have not survived. The oldest surviving Rama temple is near Raipur (Chhattisgarh), called the Rajiva-locana temple at Rajim near the Mahanadi river. It is a Vishnu temples complex dated to be from the 7th-century with some restoration work done around 1145 CE based on epigraphical evidence. The temple remains important to Rama devotees in the contemporary times, with devotees and monks gathering there on dates such as Rama Navami .

Important Rama temples include:

* Ram Janmabhoomi , Ayodhya * Kalaram Temple , Nashik—built in 1788 * Raghunath Temple , Jammu—built in 1827 * Ram Mandir, Bhubaneswar , Odisha * Kodandarama Temple , Chikmagalur * Kothandarama Temple, Thillaivilagam * Kothandaramaswamy Temple , Rameswaram * Odogaon Raghunath Temple , Odisha—dates from Middle Ages * Ramchaura Mandir , Bihar * Sri Rama Temple, Ramapuram * Bhadrachalam Temple , Telangana —built in 1674 * Shree Rama Temple , Triprayar , Kerala

*

The UNESCO world heritage site of Hampi monuments in Karnataka , built by the Vijayanagara Empire , includes a major Rama temple. Its numerous wall reliefs tell the life story of Rama. *

Rama Temple at Ramtek (10th century, restored). A medieval inscription here calls Rama as _Advaitavadaprabhu_ or "Lord of the Advaita doctrine".

SEE ALSO

* Hinduism portal * Hindu mythology portal * Indian religions portal * India portal

* Ayodhya dispute * Culture of India * Genealogy of Rama * Hindu philosophy * Natyashastra * Ram Nam

REFERENCES

NOTES

* ^ The legends found about Rama, state Mallory and Adams, have "many of the elements found in the later Welsh tales such as _Branwen Daughter of Llyr_ and _Manawydan Son of Lyr_. This may be because the concept and legends have deeper ancient roots. * ^ Kosala is mentioned in many Buddhist texts and travel memoirs. The Buddha idol of Kosala is important in the Theravada Buddhism tradition, and one that is described by the 7th-century Chinese pilgrim Xuanzhang. He states in his memoir that the statue stands in the capital of Kosala then called Shravasti, midst ruins of a large monastery. He also states that he brought back to China two replicas of the Buddha, one of the Kosala icon of Udayana and another the Prasenajit icon of Prasenajit. * ^ For example, like other Hindu poet-saints of the Bhakti movement before the 16th century, Tulsidas in _Ramcharitmanas_ recommends the simplest path to devotion is _Nam-simran_ (absorb oneself in remembering the divine name "Rama"). He suggests either vocally repeating the name (_jap_) or silent repetition in mind (_ajapajap_). This concept of Rama moves beyond the divinized hero, and connotes "all pervading Being" and equivalent to _atmarama_ within. The term _atmarama_ is a compound of "Atma" and "Rama", it literally means "he who finds joy in his own self", according to the French Indologist Charlotte Vaudeville known for her studies on Ramayana and Bhakti movement. * ^ Richard Gombrich suggests that the Jataka tales were composed by the 3rd century BCE.

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ISBN 978-0-226-84664-4 . * ^ Paula Richman (1991). _Many Rāmāyaṇas: The Diversity of a Narrative Tradition in South Asia_. University of California Press. pp. 17 note 11. ISBN 978-0-520-07589-4 . * ^ _A_ _B_ Robert Goldman (2013), The Valmiki Ramayana, Center for South Asia Studies, University of California at Berkeley * ^ P S Sundaram (2002). _Kamba Ramayana_. Penguin Books. pp. 1–2. ISBN 978-93-5118-100-2 . * ^ James G. Lochtefeld (2002). _The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z_. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 562. ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4 . * ^ The nine-day festival of Navratri leading up to Sri Rama Navami has bhajans, kirtans and discourses in store for devotees _Indian Express _, Friday , March 31, 2006. * ^ Ramnavami _The Times of India _, Apr 2, 2009. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Ram Navami _ BBC _. * ^ "President and PM greet people as India observes Ram Navami today". _IANS_. news.biharprabha.com. Retrieved 8 April 2014. * ^ Ramnavami Govt. of India Portal. * ^ _A_ _B_ Hindus around the world celebrate Ram Navami today, DNA, 8 Apr 2014 * ^ Sitamarhi, Encyclopedia Britannica (2014), Quote: "A large Ramanavami fair, celebrating the birth of Lord Rama, is held in spring with considerable trade in pottery, spices, brass ware, and cotton cloth. A cattle fair held in Sitamarhi is the largest in Bihar state. The town is sacred as the birthplace of the goddess Sita (also called Janaki), the wife of Rama." * ^ On Ram Navami, we celebrate our love for the ideal _Indian Express _, Monday , March 31, 2003. * ^ Shobha yatra on Ram Navami eve _ Indian Express _, Thursday, March 25, 1999. * ^ James G. Lochtefeld 2002 , p. 389. * ^ Encyclopedia Britannica 2015 . * ^ Ramlila _Pop Culture India!: Media, Arts, and Lifestyle_, by Asha Kasbekar. Published by ABC-CLIO, 2006. ISBN 1-85109-636-1 . _Page 42_. * ^ James G. Lochtefeld 2002 , pp. 561-562. * ^ Mandakranta Bose (2004). _The Ramayana Revisited_. Oxford University Press. pp. 342–350. ISBN 978-0-19-516832-7 . * ^ Willem Frederik Stutterheim (1989). _Rāma-legends and Rāma-reliefs in Indonesia_. Abhinav Publications. pp. 109–160. ISBN 978-81-7017-251-2 . * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ James R. Brandon (2009). _Theatre in Southeast Asia_. Harvard University Press. pp. 22–27. ISBN 978-0-674-02874-6 .

* ^ _A_ _B_ James R. Brandon (2009). _Theatre in Southeast Asia_. Harvard University Press. pp. 15–21. ISBN 978-0-674-02874-6 . * ^ Jan Fontein (1973), The Abduction of Sitā: Notes on a Stone Relief from Eastern Java, Boston Museum Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 363 (1973), pp. 21-35 * ^ Kats, J. (1927). "The Ramayana in Indonesia". _Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies_. Cambridge University Press. 4 (03): 579. doi :10.1017/s0041977x00102976 . access-date= requires url= (help ) * ^ Francis D. K. Ching; Mark M. Jarzombek; Vikramaditya Prakash (2010). _A Global History of Architecture_. John Wiley & Sons. p. 456. ISBN 978-0-470-40257-3 . , Quote: "The name of the capital city derives from the Hindu holy city Ayodhya in northern India, which is said to be the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama." * ^ Michael C. Howard (2012). _Transnationalism in Ancient and Medieval Societies: The Role of Cross-Border Trade and Travel_. McFarland. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-0-7864-9033-2 . * ^ Constance Jones; James D. Ryan (2006). _Encyclopedia of Hinduism_. Infobase Publishing. p. 443. ISBN 978-0-8160-7564-5 . * ^ John E Cort (1993). Wendy Doniger, ed. _Purana Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts_. State University of New York Press. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-7914-1381-4 . * ^ Jacobi, Herman (2005). _Vimalsuri's Paumachariyam_ (2nd ed.). Ahemdabad: Prakrit Text Society. * ^ Iyengar, Kodaganallur Ramaswami Srinivasa (2005). _Asian Variations In Ramayana_. Sahitya Akademi. ISBN 978-81-260-1809-3 . * ^ Zimmer 1953 , p. 226. * ^ Daniel E Bassuk (1987). _Incarnation in Hinduism and Christianity: The Myth of the God-Man_. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-349-08642-9 . * ^ Edward Geoffrey Parrinder (1997). _ Avatar and Incarnation: The Divine in Human Form in the World\'s Religions_. Oxford: Oneworld. pp. 19–24, 35–38, 75–78, 130–133. ISBN 978-1-85168-130-3 . * ^ Peter J. Claus; Sarah Diamond; Margaret Ann Mills (2003). _South Asian Folklore: An Encyclopedia_. Taylor & Francis. pp. 306–307. ISBN 978-0-415-93919-5 . * ^ Naomi Appleton (2010). _Jātaka Stories in Theravāda Buddhism: Narrating the Bodhisatta Path_. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 51–54. ISBN 978-1-4094-1092-8 . * ^ Mandakranta Bose (2004). _The Ramayana Revisited_. Oxford University Press. pp. 337–338. ISBN 978-0-19-803763-7 . * ^ Selva Raj and William Harman (2007), Dealing with Deities: The Ritual Vow in South Asia, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791467084 , pages 165-166 * ^ _A_ _B_ James G Lochtefeld (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 978-0823931804 , pages 553-554 * ^ Gerald James Larson (1995), India's Agony Over Religion, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791424124 , page 116 * ^ David Lorenzen , Who Invented Hinduism: Essays on Religion in History, ISBN 978-8190227261 , pages 104-106 * ^ J. L. Brockington (1998). _The Sanskrit Epics_. BRILL. pp. 471–472. ISBN 90-04-10260-4 . * ^ Meister, Michael W. (1988). "Prasada as Palace: Kutina Origins of the Nagara Temple". _Artibus Asiae_. 49 (3/4): 254–280 (Figure 21). doi :10.2307/3250039 . access-date= requires url= (help ) * ^ James C. Harle (1994). _The Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent_. Yale University Press. pp. 148–149, 207–208. ISBN 978-0-300-06217-5 . * ^ Monika Horstmann (1991). _Rāmāyaṇa and Rāmāyaṇas_. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 72–73 with footnotes. ISBN 978-3-447-03116-5 . * ^ Hans Bakker (1990). _The History of Sacred Places in India As Reflected in Traditional Literature: Papers on Pilgrimage in South Asia_. BRILL. pp. 70–73. ISBN 90-04-09318-4 .

BIBILIOGRAPHY

* Chapple, Christopher (1984). "Introduction". _The Concise Yoga Vāsiṣṭha_. Translated by Venkatesananda, Swami . Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-87395-955-8 . OCLC 11044869 . * Das, Krishna (15 February 2010), _Chants of a Lifetime: Searching for a Heart of Gold_, Hay House, Inc, ISBN 978-1-4019-2771-4 * " Navratri Hindu festival". _Encyclopedia Britannica_. 2017-02-21. Retrieved 2017-02-21. * Flood, Gavin (17 April 2008). _The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism_. Wiley India Pvt. Limited. ISBN 978-81-265-1629-2 . * Hertel, Bradley R.; Humes, Cynthia Ann (1993). _Living Banaras: Hindu Religion in Cultural Context_. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-1331-9 . * Miller, Kevin Christopher (2008). _A Community of Sentiment: Indo-Fijian Music and Identity Discourse in Fiji and Its Diaspora_. ProQuest. ISBN 978-0-549-72404-9 . * Leslie, Julia (2003). _Authority and meaning in Indian religions: Hinduism and the case of Vālmīki_. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 0-7546-3431-0 . * Morārībāpu (1987). _Mangal Ramayan_. Prachin Sanskriti Mandir. * Poddar, Hanuman Prasad (2001). _Balkand_. 94 (in Awadhi and Hindi). Gorakhpur , India: Gita Press . ISBN 81-293-0406-6 . * James G. Lochtefeld (2002). _The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z_. The Rosen Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8239-2287-1 . * Lutgendorf, Philip (1991). _The Life of a Text: Performing the Rāmcaritmānas of Tulsidas_. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-06690-8 . * Naidu, S. Shankar Raju (1971). _A Comparative Study of Kamba Ramayanam and Tulasi Ramayan_. University of Madras. * Platvoet, Jan. G.; Toorn, Karel Van Der (1995). _Pluralism and Identity: Studies in Ritual Behaviour_. BRILL. ISBN 90-04-10373-2 . * Rocher, Ludo (1986). _The Puranas_. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3447025225 . * Schomer, Karine; McLeod, W. H. (1 January 1987), _The Sants: Studies in a Devotional Tradition of India_, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., ISBN 978-81-208-0277-3 * Stasik, Danuta; Trynkowska, Anna (1 January 2006). _Indie w Warszawie: tom upamiętniający 50-lecie powojennej historii indologii na Uniwersytecie Warszawskim (2003/2004)_. Dom Wydawniczy Elipsa. ISBN 978-83-7151-721-1 . * Varma, Ram (1 April 2010). _ Ramayana : Before He Was God_. Rupa & Company. ISBN 978-81-291-1616-1 . * Zimmer, Heinrich (1953) , Campbell, Joseph , ed., _Philosophies Of India_, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, ISBN 978-81-208-0739-6

FURTHER READING

* Ramayana, translated in English by Griffith , from Project Gutenberg * Willem Frederik Stutterheim (1989). _Rāma-legends and Rāma-reliefs in Indonesia_. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 978-81-7017-251-2 . * Vyas, R.T. (ed.) _Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Text as Constituted in its Critical Edition_, Oriental Institute, Vadodara, 1992. * Valmiki , _Ramayana_, Gita Press, Gorakhpur, India. * Ramesh Menon , _The Ramayana: A Modern Retelling of the Great Indian Epic_ ISBN 0-86547-660-8 * F.S. Growse , _The Ramayana of Tulsidas_ * Jonah Blank , _Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God: Retracing the Ramayana Through India_ ISBN 0-8021-3733-4 * Kambar , _Kamba Ramayanam_.

EXTERNAL LINKS

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* Definitions from Wiktionary * Media from Commons * Quotations from Wikiquote * Data from Wikidata

* Rama at Encyclopædia Britannica * Rama and Sita in Wonoboyo, Willem van der Molen (2003), Brill (10th century Indonesian treasure discovered in 1990)

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