The Philadelphia Interfaith Community
June 8, 2011
1. Ramayana – what it is
one of two great epics of India, the other
being the Mahabharata.
originally composed in Sanskrit by Valmiki
around 1500 BCE or earlier.
considered the first great poetical work.
comprised of 7 books (Kanda), each book
consisting of several chapters (Sarga), and
each chapter consisting of several stanzas
(Shloka); in all, there are 24,000 stanzas.
2. Ramayana – what does
the title mean?
Ramayana literally means Rama’s journey (
‘ayana’ = Journey; Rama+ayana = Ramayana).
The word ‘journey’ here refers to his
wanderings in the forest when he is banished
from the kingdom of Ayodhya for 14 years
Rama’s journey also includes Rama’s march to
far off Lanka to battle King Ravana who had
abducted Rama’s wife, Sita, and his journey
back to Ayodhya after he recovers her.
3. Ramayana – a living epic
“If a poem has contributed substantially in keeping a culture
alive amongst vast masses of people through ages, it is
certainly the epic Ramayana.” ---Professor Uma Shankara Joshi, a noted poet
and scholar
People read it for spiritual guidance, peace of mind and to
experience a ‘cleansing of the mind.’
Favorite of Mahatma Gandhi who upheld the values of Ramayana
(when he was assassinated, the last words he spoke were “Oh,
Mass reading of the text, mass story-telling
Celebration of Ramanavami – Rama’s birthday.
Theater and cinema
Rama is one of the most common given names in India
4. Ramayana- influence on
Indian Literature
It is a literary masterpiece.
One of the best known works in India. There is hardly
anyone who doesn’t know at least some parts of
Inspired innumerable poets who have created their own
masterpieces based on episodes from Ramayana
Translated into practically all languages of India.
Some regional versions are almost as popular as the
original – e.g., Ramacharita Manasa of Tulasi Das
Has spread to many other countries of Asia
5.Ramayana- how did it
come to be composed?
The result of a conversation between Sage
Valmiki and his mentor Narada about the
Ideal Man
Narada’s reply
6. Ramayana - all about
relationships between...
Individuals in Society Individuals & Society
Husband & wife
King & subjects
Parents & children
King & other kings
Mentor & student
7. Ramayana- importance
to humanity
Ramayana is a Dharmagrantha, or religious text that
illuminates the path of righteousness, offering a code
of moral or ethical conduct to develop personal
character and sustain relationships.
Shows that worthwhile relationships must be based
on values recognized as building blocks of character:
love, respect, loyalty, honesty, dignity, self-control of
senses and emotions, valor, skill in action,
accountability, charity, intellect and knowledge,
physical strength, refinement, etc.
Not by exhortation, but by weaving a beautiful story in
which the characters are tested to their limits in their
adherence to these values.
8. Ramayana - a personal
Rama is an avatar of Vishnu, the Preserver who descends from
heaven and takes human
form on earth to eliminate the Demon
King Ravana who was spreading adharma (unrighteousness) in
the world and consequently to restore dharma to its rightful place
in the world. But...
in Valmiki’s story, Rama always considers himself a man; he
thinks as a man and acts as a man.
Rama’s journey is a quest for perfection, a journey to the frontiers
of human possibilities.
Rama is known as purushottama, or ‘the noblest man.’
Thus, Rama’s journey is more the story of a man ascending to
heaven than of a Divine Being descending to earth.
9. Ramayana - further
R.K. Narayan’s ‘Ramayana.’