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RAMA, RAMACHANDRA. [Source: Dowson's Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology] Eldest son of Dasaratha, a king of the Solar race, reigning at Ayodhya. This Rama is the seventh incarnation (Avatar) of the god Vishnu, and made his appearance in the world at the end of the Treta or second age. His story is briefly told in the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata, but it is given in full length as the grand subject of the Ramayana.

King Dasaratha was childless, and performed the Aswamedha sacrifice with scrupulous care, in the hopes of obtaining offspring. His devotion was accepted by the gods, and he received the promise of four sons.

At this time the gods were in great terror and alarm at the deeds and menaces of Ravana, the Rakshasa king of Lanka, who had obtained extraordinary power, in virtue of severe penances and austere devotion to Brahma. In their terror the gods appealed to Vishnu for deliverance, and he resolved to become manifest in the world with Dasaratha as his human father. Dasaratha was performing a sacrifice when Vishnu appeared to him as a glorious being from out of the sacrificial fire, and gave to him a pot of nectar for his wives to drink. Dasaratha gave half of the nectar to Kausalya, who brought forth Rama with a half of the divine essence, a quarter to Kaikeyi, whose son Bharata was endowed with a quarter of the deity, and the fourth part to Sumitra, who brought forth two sons, Lakshmana and Satrughna, each having an eighth part of the divine essence.

The brothers were all attached to each other, but Lakshmana was more especially devoted to Rama and Satrughna to Bharata. [...] The four brothers grew up together at Ayodhya, but while they were yet striplings, the sage Vishvamitra sought the aid of Rama to protect him from the Rakshasas. Dasaratha, though very unwilling, was constrained to consent to the sage's request. Rama and Lakshmana then went to the hermitage of Vishvamitra, and there Rama killed the female demon Taraka, but it required a good deal of persuasion from the sage before he was induced to kill a female.

Vishvamitra afterwards took Rama and his brothers to Mithila to the court of Janaka king of Videha. This king had a lovely daughter name Sita, whom he offered in marriage to any one who could bend the wonderful bow which had once belonged to Siva. Rama not only bent the bow but broke it, and thus won the hand of the princess, who became a most virtuous and devoted wife. Rama's three brothers also were married to a sister and two cousins of Sita.

This breaking of the bow of Siva brought about a very curious incident, which is probably an interpolation of a later date, introduced for sectarian purpose. Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu, the Brahman exterminator of the Kshatriyas, was still living upon earth. He was a follower of Siva, and was offended at the breaking of that deity's bow. Notwithstanding that he challenged Rama to a trial of strength and was discomfited, but Rama spared his life because he was a Brahman.

Preparations were made at Ayodhya for the inauguration of Rama as successor to the throne. Kaikeyi, the second wife of Dasaratha, and mother of Bharata, was her husband's favourite. She was kind to Rama in childhood and youth, but she had a spiteful humpbacked female slave named Manthara. This woman worked upon the maternal affection of her mistress until she aroused a strong feeling of jealousy against Rama. Kaikeyi had a quarrel and a long struggle with her husband, but he at length consented to install Bharata and to send Rama into exile for fourteen years.

Rama departed with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana, and traveling southwards, he took up his abode at Chitrakuta, in the Dandaka forest, between the Yamuna and Godavari.

Soon after the departure of Rama, his father Dasaratha died, and Bharata was called upon to ascend the throne. He declined, and set out for the forest with an army to bring Rama back. When the brothers met there was a long contention. Rama refused to return until the term of his father's sentence was completed, and Bharata declined to ascend the throne. At length it was arranged that Bharata should return and act as his brother's viceregent. As a sign of Rama's supremacy Bharata carried back with him a pair of Rama's shoes, and these were always brought out ceremoniously when business had to be transacted.

Rama passed ten years of his banishment moving from one hermitage to another, and went at length to the hermitage of the sage Agastya, near the Vindhya mountains. This holy man recommended Rama to take up his abode at Panchavati, on the river Godavari, and the party accordingly proceeded thither. This district was infested with Rakshasas, and one of them named Surpanakha, a sister of Ravana, saw Rama and fell in love with him. He repelled her advances, and in her jealousy she attacked Sita. This so enraged Lakshmana that he cut off hers and nose. She brought her brothers Khara and Dushana with an army of Rakshasas to avenge her wrongs, but they were all destroyed. Smarting under her mutilation and with spretae injuria formae, she repaired to her brother Ravana in Lanka, and inspired him by her description with a fierce passion for Sita.

Ravana proceeded to Rama's residence in an aerial car, and his accomplice Maricha having lured Rama from home, Ravana assumed the form of a religious mendicant and lulled Sita's apprehensions until he found an opportunity to declare himself and carry her off by force to Lanka. Rama's despair and rage at the loss of his faithful wife were terrible. He and Lakshmana went in pursuit and tracked the ravisher.

On their way they killed Kabandha, a headless monster, whose disembodied spirit counseled Rama to seek the aid of Sugriva, king of the monkeys.

The two brothers accordingly went on their way to Sugriva, and after overcoming some obstacles and assisting Sugriva to recover Kishkindhya, his capital, from his usurping brother Vali (Bali), they entered into a firm alliance with him. Through this connection Rama got the appellations of Kapiprabhu and Kapiratha. He received not only the support of all the forces of Sugriva and his allies, but the active aid of Hanuman, son of the wind, minister and general of Sugriva. Hanuman's extraordinary powers of leaping and flying enabled him to do all the work of reconnoitering.

By superhuman efforts their armies were transported to Ceylon by "Rama's bridge," and after many fiercely contested battles the city of Lanka was taken, Ravana was killed and Sita rescued. The recovery of his wife filled Rama with joy, but he was jealous of her honour, received her coldly, and refused to take her back. She asserted her purity in touching and dignified language, and determined to prove her innocence by the ordeal of fire. She entered the flames in the presences of men and gods, and Agni, god of fire, led her forth and placed her in Rama's arms unhurt.

Rama then returned, taking with him his chief allies to Ayodhya. Reunited with his three brothers, he was solemnly crowned and began a glorious reign, Lakshmana being associated with him in the government.

The sixth section of the Ramayana here concludes; the remainder of the story is told in the Uttarakanda, a subsequent addition. The treatment which Sita received in captivity was better than might have been expected at the hands of a Rakshasa. She had asserted and proved her purity, and Rama believed her; but jealous thoughts would cross the sensitive mind, and when his subjects blamed him for taking back his wife, he resolved, although she was pregnant, to send her to spend the rest of her life at the hermitage of Valmiki. There she was delivered of her twin sons Kusa and Lava, who bore upon their persons the marks of their high paternity.

When they were about fifteen years old they wandered accidentally to Ayodhya and were recognized by their father, who acknowledged them, and recalled Sita to attest her innocence. She returned, and in a public assembly declared her purity, and called upon the earth to verify her words. It did so. The ground opened and received "the daughter of the furrow," and Rama lost his beloved and only wife.

Unable to endure life without her, he resolved to follow, and the gods favoured his determination. Time appeared to him in the form of an ascetic and told him that he must stay on earth or ascend to heaven and rule over the gods. Lakshmana with devoted fraternal affection endeavoured to save his brother from what he deemed the baleful visit of Time. He incurred a sentence of death for his interference, and was conveyed bodily to Indra's heaven. Rama with great state and ceremony went to the river Sarayu, and walking into the water was hailed by Brahma's voice of welcome from heaven, and entered "into the glory of Vishnu."

The conclusion of the story as told in the version of the Ramayana used by Mr. Wheeler differs materially. It represents that Sita remained in exile until her sons were fifteen or sixteen years of age. Rama had resolved upon performing the Aswamedha sacrifice; the horse was turned loose, and Satrughna followed it with an army. Kusa and Lava took the horse and defeated and wounded Satrughna. Rama then sent Lakshmana to recover the horse, but he was defeated and left for dead. Next Bharata was sent with Hanuman, but they were also defeated. Rama then sent out himself to repair his reverses. When the father and sons came into each other's presence, nature spoke out, and Rama acknowledged his sons. Sita also, after receiving an admonition from Valmiki, agreed to forgive her husband. They returned to Ayodhya. Rama performed the Aswamedha, and they passed the remainder of their lives in peace and joy.

rāma [Source: from the Monier Williams Sanskrit Dictionary]
. (prob. 'causing rest', and in most meanings fr. √ ram) dark, dark-coloured, black
. pleasing, pleasant, charming, lovely, beautiful
. a kind of deer
. a horse
. a lover
. pleasure, joy, delight
. in later times three Rāmas are celebrated, viz.
1. Paraśu-rāma, who forms the 6th Avatāra of Vishṇu and is sometimes called Jāmadagnya, as son of the sage Jamad-agni by Reṇukā, and sometimes Bhārgava, as descended from Bhṛigu
2. Rāma-candra see below
3. Bala-rāma, 'the strong Rāma', also called Halâyudha and regarded as elder brother of Kṛishṇa

rāmacandra [Source: from the Monier Williams Sanskrit Dictionary]
• 'Rāmas-moon', N. of the principal Rāma called Dāśarathi, as son of Daśa-ratha, and Rāghava, as descended from Raghu (although the affix candra seems to connect him with the moon, he is not, like Kṛishṇa and Bala-rāma, of the lunar but of the solar race of kings
• he forms the 7th Avatāra of Vishṇu and is the hero of the Rāmāyaṇa, who, to recover his faithful wife Sītā, advanced southwards, killed the demon Rāvaṇa and subjugated his followers the Rākshasas.


Modern Languages MLLL-4993. Indian Epics. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. The textual material made available at this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. No claims are made regarding the status of images used at this website; if you own the copyright privileges to any of these images and believe your copyright privileges have been violated, please contact the webmaster. Page last updated: October 16, 2007 12:22 PM