Scenes from the RAMAYANA


Through his austerities the demon Ravana becomes so powerful that he is able to cause even Shiva's heaven, Mount Kailasha, to tremble slightly; *the India of the Ramayana*
Rama and Lakshmana go with the sage Vishvamitra to his hermitage, to chastise the Asuras who, under Ravana's protection, are disturbing the sages' austerities
Rama and Lakshman slay the demon (asura) Taraka, who has been disrupting the austerities of the sages.
Rama also liberates Ahalya, the wife of a sage, from the effects of a curse
Sita puts the garland symbolizing marriage-choice around Rama's neck
At Rama's wedding the huge and powerful Parasurama, another avatar of Vishnu, appears; but their encounter fortunately ends in reconciliation
But the jealous Kaikeyi, one of Dasharatha's wives, calls in an old favor and forces him to banish Rama to the forest and make her own son Bharata king
Everyone grieves inconsolably; Rama's brother Bharata seeks in vain to persuade him to return




In the forest, Ravana's sister Surpanakha makes romantic overtures to Rama; when Rama mocks her, and the brothers cut off her nose and drive her away, she goes to Ravana to seek vengeance
Sita begs Rama to go and capture the golden deer
In Rama's absence, Ravana abducts Sita, killing the noble bird Jatayu who tries to prevent him
Rama meets Hanuman, a monkey chieftain who becomes his greatest ally and devotee; in the process, Rama agrees to ambush and kill Vali, a contender for the monkey kingship; he thus cements the loyalty of the monkey king Sugriva
In a popular episode from Tulsidas's later "Ramcharitmanas," Rama eats (ritually polluted) berries that have been lovingly pre-tasted by the naively devoted tribal woman Shabari; Lakshmana is astonished
Meanwhile, Sita is held captive in Ravana's city of Lanka, in a grove of ashoka trees, and guarded by frightful Rakshasis
Braving many dangers (including a giant Rakshasi who actually swallows him), Hanuman visits Sita and assures her that help is on the way; the Rakshasas later set fire to his tail, but he breaks free and uses it to burn Lanka
Ravana's gigantic brother Kumbhakarna is awakened from his habitual sleep to prepare for war
As Rama's allies, the monkey and bear tribes gather into a tremendous army, build a bridge across the sea, and then attack Lanka
The battle rages furiously, with both armies fully engaged
Hanuman plays a major role in assisting Rama and Lakshmana, and rescues them from dire situations
Finally Ravana is slain, and victory is attained; Rama and Sita travel home on the magic "pushpak viman" flying chariot




To quell doubts about her chastity, Sita successfully undergoes a trial by fire, after which Rama accepts her once again as his wife
Rama and Sita are then enthroned in splendor in Ayodhya, and reign for many years
Plagued by recurrent rumors of her unchastity, Rama causes the pregnant Sita to be abandoned in the forest, where she takes refuge in Valmiki's hermitage and gives birth to twin sons, Lav and Kush
Sita's final "bhumi pravesh," or entry into the earth


Artists have also often portrayed the whole story of Rama, amalgamated into one complex scene
Tulsidas composing his famous Ramcharitmanas, in the early modern North Indian language of Avadhi
Ramayana illustrations by Raja Ravi Varma
The story has also inspired folk opera traditions in Thailand, and other dramatic forms elsewhere in Southeast Asia
Ramayana masks from Indonesia



 
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