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Dating the era of Ramayana
The twists and turns from each Kanda
Diversity of flora as per the Valmiki Ramayana
The sages and seers of Ramayana
Lesser known but fascinating anecdotes
Adbhuta Ramayana, an obscure version of Ramayana
The divine weapons of Ramayana
Amusing chronicles and facts from Ramayana
Valmiki states that twice six months had rolled away since the great sacrifice (Ashwamedha yagna) was over and, in the first month of the New Year, on the ninth day of the bright fortnight, it was a day in the month of Chaitra - neither too hot nor cool, with soft winds, the forest was in full bloom, and the rivers flowed swiftly and merrily. The sun, moon, and stars waited in graceful anticipation as the young prince - the one who possessed all divine attributes. Son of Kaushalya, thenceforth to be known as Rama, the world-honored One, the crowning glory of the grand line of Ikshwku, and the sum of all perfections was born.
Bharata was the second of the four sons of King Dasaratha, the emperor of Ayodhya. His mother was Kaikeyi, the daughter of Kekeya Kingdom. He was born on the day following that on which Rama was born at the auspicious hour of the confluence of the moon’s mansion Pushy a with the zodiacal sign Pisces.
Lakshamana and Shatrughna are twin brothers born to Queen Sumitra and King Dasharatha. Lakshamana is regarded as the avatar of Sheshanaag, the thousand-headed serpent associated with Vishnu and Shatrughna is regarded as part-incarnation of Sudashana Chakra and Shanka of Vishnu.
Sage Valmiki details the extraordinary birth of Sita in the Ramayana. King Janaka was ploughing the field to perform a Yagna, when he discovered a baby girl in the groove of the ploughed field. Sita had appeared splitting the earth. King Janaka and his Queen Sunaya adopted her - the Daughter of Bhumidevi - and raised her as their own.
The people of Ayodhya adored Rama, the eldest son of Dasharatha and the rightful heir to the throne of Ayodhya. Kaikeyi, who wished for her own son Bharata to be king, was aware of this. She knew that as long as Rama stayed in Ayodhya, the people would not accept Bharata as the king. In order to secure the throne for her son, Kaikeyi takes advantage of the two boons that Dasharatha had once offered her.
As Dasharatha was nearing his demise, he narrates the story of a curse to Kaushalya. While on a hunt, young Dasharatha mistakenly killed Shravan Kumar, the son of an aged hermit couple. Aggrieved upon hearing of their son's untimely demise, the elderly parents cursed the king that he too, would die from the sorrow of his son's separation. This way Dasharatha gave up his life, unable to bear the sorrows of Rama's separation. He pronounced Rama's name for six times while dying. Soon after the death of Dashrath, a deep sorrow gripped the entire subjects of Ayodhya.
Khara was a man-eating rakshasa and a younger male cousin of Ravana. After Lakshmana cut off Shurpanakha's nose, Khara fought against them. During this fight, Khara was killed by Rama, who also killed his brothers Dushana and Trishiras. Khara was the ruler of the Danda Kingdom, roughly equivalent to the Nashik district, with Janasthana as its capital. He protected the northern kingdom of Lanka in the mainland and his kingdom bordered with the Kosala Kingdom, the kingdom of Rama.
Bali had a boon to gain half the strength of his opponent. Hence, Rama decided to kill Bali hiding behind the trees while Sugriva called him for dual combat. Being brothers they had utmost similarities while combating. Thus, Rama couldn’t kill in the first attempt. However, for the second attempt, Rama placed a garland of flowers around Sugriva's neck. Targeting Bali, he shot an arrow and killed him.
Hanuman finally finds Sita in Ashok Vatika. Hanuman reassures her, giving Rama's signet ring as a sign of good faith. Hanuman applauded Sita for her modesty and wisdom, and requested a token to be taken back to Rama. Sita recalled a past adventure shared and known only to Rama and herself, about a crow that had befallen at Chitrakoot. She took a jewel from her hair and sent a message to Rama and Lakshamana. According to Ramacharitmanas, Hanuman meets Sita after setting Lanka on fire, before leaving Lanka. When he meets her she gives him "Choodamadi" (her jewellery as a token of proof).
Hanuman sees well-adorned Ravana, who is seated on a well-decorated throne of crystal. He is surrounded by four ministers, Durdhara, Prahasta, Mahaparshva, and Nikumbha. He declares himself to be a messenger of Rama, narrates the story of Rama and warns Ravana that if he wished to survive he should give back Sita to Rama and that he should be prepared for the worst if he refuses to do so. However, the army of Rakshasas put Hanuman's tail on blazing fire which eventually leads to the fiery burning down of most parts of Ravana's empire apart from Vibhishana's palace. Ravana's airport, Ussangoda, was also burnt down.
To ensure Sita is safe from the fire, Hanuman again visits Ashoka garden and sees her once more. He consoles her that Rama along with his forces of monkeys and bears will come soon and after conquering the enemies in battle, will take her back. After bidding adieu to Sita, he ascends Mount Arishta and enlarges his body making himself ready to leap across the ocean and took off from Lanka.
Hanuman arrives with the news to Rama. As Rama receives Sita's message, he proceeds along with Lakshmana and their allies towards the shore of the southern sea to avenge the offence of Sita's abduction and to kill Ravana, the King of Rakshasas.
After Ravan repeatedly refused the peace proposals sent by Rama, the vanara army marched across Lanka destroying defensive structures and sieged around the city gates. On the first day at the battlefield, Ravana’s son Indrajit (Meghanad) wreaked havoc on Sugriva’s army. Lakshmana challenged him for combat and they fought a fierce battle.
The catastrophic fight between Meghnad and Lakshmana lasted for a very long time as both of the strong warriors were almost equitably effiecient in warfare and agility. However, in this deadly duel, both of them consistently fought on their feet for the whole time. Moreover, the combat was so fierce that Meghnad's chariot was completely demolished in the process. But the momentum of the duel changed when Lakshmana eventually executed the lethal blow from the 'Indra-astra' while calling upon Rama's name continuously in his mind. The arrow pierced through the air furiously and separated Meghnad's head from his body. Flowers started falling down around the battlefield as a token to Lakshmana from the Gods and heavenly beings at this climax moment of the battle. The defeated head of Meghnad glistened as if it was on fire while it laid down on earth.
Rama fired golden arrows that turned into serpents as they reached Ravana. The arrows severed Ravana's heads, but they sprung back again. Ravana also shot hundreds of arrows in retaliation as the two warriors fought to the death. Rama's charioteer advises him to use the dreaded Brahmastra that Sage Agastya gave him. And so Rama shot the divine arrow with the power of the gods, which pierced Ravana in the navel and killed him.
On his return from Lanka, Rama and his retinue stopped at the ashram of Sage Bhardwaja before moving onward for Ayodhya. They had met the Sage when they had embarked on the Vanvas journey from Ayodhya and then, he had blessed and guided them with directions to Chitrakoot. Rama also sent Hanuman to Nandigram to inform Bharata about his arrival.
Since Rama's vanvas, Bharata also lived a simple life and attended to the matters of Ayodhya from his ashram in Nandigram. Upon hearing the news of his dear brother's return, Bharata is delighted and cries with joy when he finally reunites with Rama. He gives instructions to Shatrughna to organize a grand, ceremonial welcome for Rama, Sita and Lakshamana in Ayodhya.
After fourteen long years of his exile, Rama returns to a joyous Ayodhya, where the people were awaiting his return. Learned sages and pious saints chanted Vedic mantras and the women sang welcoming hymns. Rama's family had received them at Nandigram but when they entered Ayodhya, the ecstasy of the subjects knew no bounds.
Brahma came to give Valmiki divine inspiration for his verse and afterwards, Valmiki fell into a meditative trance and saw for himself the life and adventures of Rama and Sita. He composed the story in verse and later taught it to the sons of Rama, Lava and Kusha.
India is a secular nation with diverse religions and vibrant cultures. But if there is one epic that binds the 1.35 billion Indians together, it is Ramayana. A culturally diverse nation as ours boasts of an assortment of around 300 different versions of Ramayana, whose core themes are far broader than that can be understood from a consideration of the different languages in which it appears, as its essence has been expressed in a diverse array of regional cultures and artistic mediums.
Valmiki's Ramayana is an epic poem of some 24,000 verses; while in the south Ramavataram, popularly referred to as Kamba Ramayanam, is a Tamil epic that was written by the Tamil poet Kambar during the 12th century. While Ramcharitmanas is an epic poem in the Awadhi language, composed by the 16th-century Indian bhakti poet Goswami Tulsidas. Ramayana is a gamut of verses, stories and ideas which continuously enter and only the ones which survive the test of time are celebrated. But, what is often celebrated in India are the emotional bonds.
Ramayana is an integral part of special occasions and festivals for most Indians. Likewise, every generation revels in its different type of interpretations to the epic.