Thursday, July 26, 2012

Brief history of Ramayana

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A Very Brief Summary of the Ramayana

Dasharatha, King of Kosala, had no sons, so he performed fire sacrifice. A figure appeared in the fire and offered the king rice pudding to give each of his three wives. Kausalya, the oldest gave birth to Rama. Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharata, and Sumitra, gave birth to the twins, Laxman and Shatrugna.

Rama, well-liked by all, was to be the heir to the throne. In his youth, he went with a sage to kill rakshasas. Pleased with Rama, the sage taught him several mantras to invoke heavenly power in his weapon. At the Sita’s swayambara, it was proclaimed that he who was strong enough to lift an string a powerful bow would marry Sita. All failed, but Rama picked up the bow and snapped it in two trying to string it. Sita chose Rama as her husband.

Because of Jealousy and the bad advice of Manthara, Kaikeyi invoked a promise Dasharatha had once made to grant two wishes to his wife. She wished that her son, Bharata, become king and that Rama be exiled to the jungle for 14 years. Rama happily obliged, but the shock of the request ended up killing Dasharatha.

Loyal to Rama, Laxman and Sita request to go with Rama to the jungle. When Bharata returns, he is angry at his mother for making such a request and refuses the throne. Kaikeyi sees the error of her ways. Bharata goes to Rama and asks that he forget the request, but Rama insists on carrying out his father’s word. Bharata returns to become temporary king, and Rama, Laxman and Sita begin life in the jungle.

Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana, lived in the jungle. One day, she saw Rama and became infatuated with him. Rama refused her advances and pointed her to Laxman, who also refused. Jealous, Surpanakha attacked Sita but was cut by Laxman in defense. She fled but brought her Asura brothers, Khara and Dhusana, to attack the them. Raman and Laxman killed them both. Frustrated, Surpanakha went to Lanka to consult with Ravana. Angered at seeing his sister mutilated, Ravana vowed revenge on Rama.

Ravana sent Maricha, a shape-shifter, in disguise as a deer to distract Rama. At Sita’s request, Rama went to bring the deer to Sita but didn’t return for a while. Worried, Sita sent Laxman to get Rama. Seeing that Sita was now alone, Ravana came to her in the form of an old beggar and tricked then abducted her and took her to Lanka.

Rama went Sugriva, king of the monkeys to ask them to look for Sita. Sugriva sent Hanuman to meet Rama and they started searching. Hanuman found an eagle in the South that had seen Ravana taking Sita and so the search party moved south, to Lanka. There, Hanuman grew in size and traversed 100 leagues of water as he jumped to Lanka. There he found Sita sitting in a grove of Ashoka trees.

Hanuman gives Sita the ring Rama had given him to prove his loyalty. Sita in turn gave her necklace to Hanuman. Ravana discovered the monkey god and his son, Inderjeet, captured him and demanded an explanation. Hanuman ordered Ravana to release Sita or else. Ravana, in turn set Hanuman’s tail on fire. Seeing this, Hanuman jumped all over Lanka and set the city ablaze with his tail.

The monkeys built a bridge to Lanka in 5 days and Rama’s army invaded the island. Many died on both sides. Ravana awoke his brother, Kumbhakarna, a sleeping behemoth to attack Rama. By using the mantras he had learned in youth, Rama emerged victorious.

Rama Killed Inderjeet, Ravana’s son, in battle and Ravana furiously went to attack Rama. The two fought until they were badly wounded. Ravana then threw a spear that hit Laxman’s chest, and left. The effects of the spear were such that Laxman would die without a particular medicine that grew in a tree in the Himalayas. Hanuman went to get this medicine but couldn’t identify the tree upon arrival. Thus, he lifted the entire mountain and brought it to Rama. The medicine was administered and Laxman recovered.

In their second battle, Rama killed Ravana, first cutting of each of his 10 heads in procession and then piercing his heart with enchanted arrows. Ravana was practically invincible because no human was strong enough to kill him and a boon protected him from any God. Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu who didn’t realize his divinity, was what ultimately did Ravana in. After the 14th year of exile, Rama returned to Ayodya to become king and ruled the happy Kingdom for many years.

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