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The Ramayana

The Ramayana, one among the two great epics of the later vedic period, was composed by Rishi (saint) Valmiki. Believed to have been composed in 8000 BC, the text contains about 24000 verses. There is another school of thought that attributes the text to 400 BC. Ramayana has now been translated into many languages of the world.

The Ramayana story is very popular. The story narrates the tale of a king named Dasaratha who ruled over a country named Ayodhya. He had three queens namely Kausalya, Sumitra, and Kaikeyi. Ram was Kausalya's eldest son. Lakshman was Sumitra's and Bharat was Kaikeyi's. When the king became old, he decided to give his kingdom to his eldest son Ram but the youngest queen Kaikeyi wanted to see her son as the king. She reminded the king about the two promises he had given her at the time of a war, when she had helped the king from being defeated, when his chariot was damaged. The queen demanded that Ram be sent to the forests for 14 years and her son Bharat be crowned king. The king was helpless and in order to carry out the promises of his father, Ram with his wife Sita went to the forests. Lakshman also followed them and Bharat was made the king. Bharat, who was away from the capital, refused to accept the kingship thrust on him and persuaded his brother to return and accept the throne. Ram insisted on carrying out the wishes of his father and safeguarding his promises.

It was during Ramís stay at Panchavati that Ravana, the demon king, abducted Sita and imprisoned her in Lanka (now Sri Lanka). Ram collected an army of monkeys in exile and could also win the support of the local chieftains. He invaded Lanka and defeated Ravana. Sita was set free and they returned to Ayodhya, as the 14 years were over. On his return, the populace of Ayodhya lit lamps and indulged in festivities to welcome him. Ram ascended the throne and was acclaimed a just and benevolent king.

Updated on 7th June, 2005

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