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Who is Rama?

Rama, a revered figure in Hindu mythology, is the virtuous protagonist of the ancient Indian epic, the Ramayana. His life's journey, marked by duty, devotion, and moral integrity, offers profound insights into righteousness and dharma. As we explore Rama's trials and triumphs, we uncover timeless lessons on leadership and ethics. What can Rama's story teach us about navigating life's complexities?
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Rama is a prince in Hindu mythology and is the hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana. The character is revered as an exemplary Hindu and is a popular figure in the religion. He is remembered for his dedication to fulfilling his dharma, the spiritual obligation of his life.

The hero of the Ramayana is believed by some to be an incarnation of the god Vishnu. The legends state that Vishnu promised to be born as a man in order to defeat Ravana, the evil king of Lanka. His godly wife, Lakshmi, takes human form as well as Sita, who marries Rama before being kidnapped by Ravana.

Devout pilgrims regularly trace Rama's travels across India.
Devout pilgrims regularly trace Rama's travels across India.

In the Ramayana, Rama is the oldest son of King Dasaratha, and is the heir to the throne. To win Sita’s hand, he attempts to string the bow of Shiva, and accidentally breaks it, leading all to recognize his god-like powers. After the wedding, one of Dasaratha’s jealous wives tricks Dasaratha into exiling his heir for 14 years, during which time her own son, Bharata, will rule. The noble prince accepts the situation, believing that it violates dharma to break a promise or to go against his father.

Some people believe Rama is an incarnation of the god Vishnu.
Some people believe Rama is an incarnation of the god Vishnu.

While in exile, Sita is kidnapped, and her husband must wage war to get her back. Defeating Ravana in battle, the prince remains committed to his dharma, offering Ravana a chance to apologize and simply return Sita. Ravana refuses vehemently and is finally killed in battle. Continuing to act on his dharma, Rama feels great compassion for his fallen enemy, and orders him properly cremated according to custom.

Rama is the hero of the Hindu epic and prayer book, the Ramayana.
Rama is the hero of the Hindu epic and prayer book, the Ramayana.

After the death of Ravana, Sita is rescued. Despite her protestations that she has remained honorable throughout her captivity, her husband forces Sita to undergo trial by fire. Sita, though angry that her husband does not trust her, passes through fire unharmed, proving her fidelity. The prince apologizes, again citing that it is his dharma as a ruler to provide a correct example, though he never doubted her purity.

The couple returns to the city victorious, and the prince is properly crowned king, His reign is considered an age of perfect happiness. By the hero’s example of proper behavior and virtue, the whole country adheres to their dharma and peace and prosperity rule the land.

Rama is revered for his commitment to dharma, even when easier propositions are offered. He is considered the ideal Hindu, and his held up as an example of proper behavior. As an incarnation of a god, Rama is considered a deity in his own right, and devout pilgrims often trace the route of his travels across India.

Several festivals honor Rama, including Diwali, and Vijayadashami. Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is a five day celebration in memory of Rama’s return to his home city after his exile and war. Fireworks and special light displays are characteristic of this national Indian holiday. The ten-day festival of Vijayadashami celebrates the defeat of Ravana. Public readings and plays from the Ramayana are held, and effigies of Ravana are burned in memory of the triumph of good over evil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Rama in Hindu mythology?

Rama, also known as Lord Rama, is a major deity in Hinduism and the protagonist of the ancient Indian epic, the Ramayana. He is considered the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, one of the principal deities responsible for the preservation of the universe. Rama is revered for his unyielding adherence to dharma (duty/righteousness), his valor, and his compassionate nature. His life story, which includes his exile, the abduction of his wife Sita by the demon king Ravana, and their eventual reunion, serves as an allegory for the triumph of good over evil.

What are the key teachings associated with Rama?

The key teachings associated with Rama revolve around the principles of righteousness, moral values, and the importance of performing one's duty. Rama's adherence to dharma, even in the face of personal suffering, exemplifies the virtues of honesty, loyalty, and devotion to one's responsibilities. His life encourages followers to uphold truth and virtue, to respect family and relationships, and to remain steadfast in the pursuit of justice, as depicted in the Ramayana.

How do people worship Rama, and what festivals are associated with him?

People worship Rama through various means, including reading or reciting verses from the Ramayana, singing devotional songs (bhajans), and performing rituals like puja (worship). One of the most significant festivals associated with Rama is Rama Navami, which celebrates his birth. It is observed on the ninth day (Navami) of the Chaitra month of the Hindu calendar, typically falling in March or April. Devotees fast, visit temples, and participate in processions and enactments of scenes from Rama's life.

What is the historical significance of Rama?

Rama's historical significance is intertwined with his cultural and religious impact on India and other regions influenced by Hinduism. While the historicity of Rama is a subject of debate, his narrative has shaped the moral and social fabric of societies for millennia. The values embodied by Rama and the Ramayana have influenced literature, art, and performance traditions, and continue to offer moral guidance and inspiration to countless individuals.

Are there any archaeological findings related to Rama?

Archaeological findings related to Rama are scarce and often subject to controversy. While there are no definitive physical artifacts that can be directly linked to the historical figure of Rama, some proponents argue that places mentioned in the Ramayana, such as Ayodhya (Rama's birthplace), could offer potential archaeological insights. However, the evidence is largely circumstantial and the Ramayana is primarily regarded as a mythological text rather than a historical record.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a HistoricalIndex writer.

Learn more...
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a HistoricalIndex writer.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

anon127534

RE: "believed by some." On what basis, do you say "by some"?

anon49758

Dharma is a very loaded word in Sanskrit, and is usually translated as 'right conduct', 'morality', 'ethics' and so on. The difficulty to define dharma is essentially due to our inability to say what is right or wrong. Both the Hindu epics (Ramayana and the Mahabharata) repeatedly stress that Dharma is very difficult to define and that we need to depend upon one's own judgment, 'inner light' etc, and that only time will tell what's right or wrong.

anon32189

Can you explain what the dharma is?

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    • Devout pilgrims regularly trace Rama's travels across India.
      By: Tupungato
      Devout pilgrims regularly trace Rama's travels across India.
    • Some people believe Rama is an incarnation of the god Vishnu.
      By: neofile
      Some people believe Rama is an incarnation of the god Vishnu.
    • Rama is the hero of the Hindu epic and prayer book, the Ramayana.
      By: styf
      Rama is the hero of the Hindu epic and prayer book, the Ramayana.