In Treta Yuga (there are four Yugas according to Hindu mythology- Sat (Krita) Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga), Ramkatha, the story of Rama, the eldest son of Ayodhya king Dashratha. After King Dashratha organized Putreshthi yagya (a sacrifice performed for having a son), Rama was born to the eldest Queen Kaushalya. According to the ancient stories, the demon King of Lanka, Ravan had acquired a boon from Lord Shiva that he will not be killed by the hands of a deity, demon, demigod or a Kinnar (a demigod with a head of a horse). Due to this boon, Ravan had become fearless and so he had started attrociting the Saints, Sages and gentlemen. Even the deities had started getting scared of Ravan. Religion was getting destroyed and injustice was increasing. In this condition, to protect religion and to reduce the pain of gentlemen, Lord Vishnu took birth at King Dashratha’s house in the form of a human. In Vishnu- puran, Rama is said to be the incarnation of Vishnu. Ramnavami or the birthday of Lord Rama falls on the 9th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Chaitra (March-April).
Dashrath’s family teacher Vashishtha educated Rama. Rama killed the demons and protected the yagya (sacrifice) of Vishwamitra. He went to Mithila to attend Swayamvar (the choice of husband made by a princess in public) of Sita, daughter of King Janak. He broke the Shiv-dhanush (a bow) and Sita made him wear the nuptial garland. He obeyed his father and went for exile for fourteen years to keep the promise that his father gave to queen Kaikeyi. During the period of their stay at the forest, Sita was kidnapped by Ravan, King of Lanka. Due to this, a war was fought between Rama and Ravan. Ravan was killed by Rama during this war. By killing Ravan, Rama made the sages and gentlemen tension free and reinstalled the glory of religion. On finishing the stay at the forest, Rama became the king of Ayodhya and ruled as an ideal protector of his subjects and dutiful religious king.
Rama and Sita are the protagonists in one of the most famous love stories of all time. Sita and Rama are described as being deeply in love and are theologically understood as avatars of Lakshmi and Vishnu respectively. When Rama is banished from the kingdom, he attempts to convince Sita not to join him in a potentially dangerous and certainly arduous existence in the jungle, but Sita rejects this. When Rama orders her in his capacity as husband, Sita rejects it, asserting that it was an essential duty of a wife to be at her husband’s side come good or ill. Rama in turn is assiduously protective and caring for Sita throughout the exile.
Rama’s reign was the one with happiness, prosperity, peace, good conduct and honoured with virtues. That is why it is one of the best and ideal reigns and so is called ‘RAMRAJYA’. Rama himself is the idol of mercy, modest, virtuous conduct, sacrifice and generosity. He became an ideal image of Indian civilization because of utmost virtues and bright character. Rama is paid homage as ‘MARYADA- PURSHOTTAM’ in the puranas as he is the perfect man who maintains the decoram.
Ramkatha is famous in the whole world. Except the demons, all the principal characters of Ramkatha also cherish the social ideals. Rama’s wife Sita was also an ideal wife. His brothers Lakshman,Bharat and Shatrughna were also ideal brothers.Hanuman and Sugriv has been picturised as an ideal devotee and an ideal friend respectively. The demon family also had a gentleman like Vibhishan. That is why ‘RAMAYAN’ is approved as the best epic of social ideals.
Apart from India, Ramayana is famous in the countries like Indonesia, Java, Thailand, Myannmar (Burma) and Cambodia. Ramkatha is available in three hundred forms in different languages. In this, ‘Ramayana’ composed by Valmiki in india and ‘Ram Charit Maanas’ composed by Tulsidas is the most famous. Valmiki’s Rama is a human (comman man) and the way he conducted his life, he is the ideal man whereas Tulsidas believes Rama to be a God and devotedly bowed to him. In both these forms, Rama’s character is generous and inspiring. The classical poet Kalidas was inspired with the royal character of Rama and he created ‘Raghuvansh Mahakavyam’.
In the modern times, national poet Maithili Sharan Gupta’s famous poem ‘Saket’ is focused on the luminous character of Rama.
Rama’s character will always remain an ideal in every age for the making of single faced, complete and peaceful society. As a person, Rama personifies the characteristics of an ideal person (Purshottam) who is to be emulated. He had within him all the desirable virtues that any individual would seek to aspire, and he fulfils all his moral obligations (Maryada). Rama’s purity and piety in his intentions and actions inspires affection and devotion for him from a variety of characters from different backgrounds. For example, he gave up his rightful claim to the throne, and agreed to go into exile for fourteen years, to fulfill the vow that his father had given to Kaikayee, one of King Dashrath’s wives. This is in spite of the fact that Kaikeyee’s son, Bharat, begged him to return back to Ayodhya and said that he did not want to rule in place of Rama. But Rama considered his dharma as a son above that of his own birthright and his life’s ambition. For such supreme sacrifices, and many other qualities, Shri Rama is considered a Maryada Purshottam.
Rama – Ramayana Characters