Ramayana is an ancient Indian epic poem, written over 5000 years ago, which tells the story of Rama, Prince of Ayodhya, also believed to be the seventh incarnation of Vishnu. Ramayana was originally composed in Sanskrit by the great sage Valmiki.
Brave, handsome, talented, and wise, Rama was a devoted son and husband. He is considered to be the most perfect of all men and the ideal king – Maryada Purushottam. He was born to King Dasharatha, the King of Ayodhya and the first of his three wives, Kausalya. Rama was the eldest of four siblings and the favourite son of his father. In spite of being born to wealth and power, Rama felt deeply about the suffering and pain around him and spoke about it to his guru, Vasishtha. He was married to Sita, the daughter of Mother Earth who was found and adopted by King Janaka of Mithila.
The Ramayana talks about duty and honour, good and evil, love and loss, jealousy and destructive ambition. All these through different episodes of Rama’s life including his fourteen-year exile to the forest, Sita’s abduction by Ravana (the demon king of Lanka), Hanuman’s extreme devotion to Rama, the love and fierce loyalty of his younger brothers Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna , and the great war between the forces of good, as symbolised by Rama, and the forces of evil as symbolised by Ravana.
The composition of the Ramayana
The Ramayana is considered to be the first poem or Adi Kavya. The original version of Ramayana composed by Valmiki consists of nearly 24,000 verses, divided into seven Kandas (volumes) with 500 sargas (chapters). The seven Kandas include Bala Kanda, Ayodhya Kanda, Aranya Kanda, Kishkindha Kanda, Sundara Kanda, Yuddha Kanda, and Uttara Kanda. Since then there have been multiple translations and versions of it. However, the most popular versions are Valmiki’s Ramayana, Tulsidas’ Ramcharitamanas and the Kamba Ramayanam.