Ramayana, in Sanskrit means march or journey. It is part of the Hindu smriti written by Valmiki. The smriti is secondary in authority to the shruti. The Ramayana consists of 24,000 verses spanning seven books. It is believed to be written between the 4th and 2nd century B.C. The first book is called The Book of Youth; it is mostly about Ram. He is the oldest son in the kingdom born to King Dasarath and Queen Kausalya. Both Ram and Lakshman (one of the twin born to Queen Kaikeyi) are sent to live with sage Vishwamitra in order to help him keep away demons during his sacrifice rituals. During his final days with Vishwamitra Rama was invited to King Janaka’s kingdom where numerous princes were fighting for Sita’s hand in marriage, the incarnation of goddess Lakshmi. Rama succeeds in bending and stringing the bow and therefore winning Sita’s hand in marriage. Rama and Sita are the ideal husband and wife and are therefore modeled after by all worshipers. The second book is called the Book of Ayodhya; this tells the story of how Queen Kaikeyi is jealous of Rama. She forces King Dasarath to crown her son Bharata king instead of Rama and gets Rama exiled out of the kingdom for 14 years. The Book of the Forest is the third book. In this book Bharata actually goes after his brother Rama to beg him to come back to the kingdom from the jungle. However, Rama refuses and Bharata remains king. Meanwhile, Dasarath dies of sorrow from being separated from his son Rama. In addition, the demoness Surpanakha tries to seduce Rama but is unable to and Lakshmana cuts off her nose. Therefore, her brother Ravana sends the demon Maricha to lure both brothers and succeeds. Hence, Sita is alone and Ravana abducts her. Rama’s friend from the jungle, Jatayu, an acncient vulture king tries to save Sita, but is unable to. Jatayu dies in the hands of Rama while narrating the incident. The fourth book is the kingdom of monkeys; Rama receives help from Sugriva, the king of Kishkindha, to...
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