Essay Example on Ramayana
Originally written in Sanskrit, Ramayana is an Indian folk tale in the form of an epic. There are various different versions of the epic Ramayana. Over three hundred versions of the story. Ramayana is a heroic epic. The setting of the story takes place in the 5th century BCE terms. It is hard to tell which one is the original because there are so many versions, but from the variety I have read, they all seem to have the same plotline. The story represents heroism, honor, ethics and palace politics. At the beginning of the epic, Dasaratha, the king of Kosala, has four children with three wives, Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumithra. Four sons named Rama, Bharatha, Lakshmana, and Sathrugna. They all lived in a kingdom alongside demons and gods. Rama is the main character and the one true king of Kosala. After exiled from the kingdom, Rama went on a journey with his wife, Sita and his brother, Lakshmana. He battled demons, started a war and saved his wife from Ravana, the ten-head demon king. Eventually, Rama became king of his kingdom and earned respect from his people. He was considered a hero, a warrior, and a great leader. Whereas when Ramayana is first read, a reader might not acknowledge the gender difference and religious dominance, there are so many secrets to the epic of Ramayana given that the settings’ time and place represented the originated gender roles from back then and Hinduism and Buddhism were both included as religious roles in Ramayana.
The origins and meaning behind Ramayana are interesting to research. As stated before, Ramayana was originally written in Sanskrit and took place in the 5th century. Ramayana was not only just translated in one various language, but there are numerous amounts versions with different languages. The Indian epic was written by the poet, Valmiki. Valmiki came from a harsh background but he turned a new leaf and became a new good person. Valmiki was considered a nobleman and learned about Rama’s journey from Sri Rama, himself. All he had to do was take the highlights of values and morals from Rama’s tale a relate it to personal life. Coming from a secondary source, “Rama demonstrated through his personal life as an ideal son, an ideal husband, an ideal brother, an ideal friend, an ideal enemy, an ideal fighter, and an ideal king. These values are for all times for the entire humanity to follow.” (Narayanan 2015). Valmiki gave shelter to Sita when she got exiled into the forest by Rama. While in the forest, Sita gave birth to two children, Lava and Kusha. Valmiki taught the two children the epic of Rama and the children sang it for Lord Sri Rama. Ramayana was made to teach the people of India to honor there leader and stay loyal to their duties. It also teaches how to go with the flow of things and follow the path of destiny, like Rama. If Rama wouldn’t have respectfully followed his father’s wishes, he would still be the ruler of the kingdom and disregarded his fate. He balanced a lot of titles, for being a faithful husband, responsible brother, respectful son, an honorable leader and more. Not only was Ramayana a tale about a male hero and ruler of a kingdom, but it does have some feministic traits with the women in the epic.
Generally, the roles of men and women in society have been traditional. Traditional in the sense that men have been seen as the decision-makers and women have been seen as caregivers. This holding true as in the epic Ramayana. In Ramayana, men were considered the dominant species and held all of the positions as chiefs, warriors, and priests. Still taken on the role of caring for their wives, children and making key decisions that ultimately affected the family. While women were seen as the subservient beings expected to be loyal, loving, compassionate and faithful. A woman’s position in Ramayana was one that women would not have interests or ideas about things outside of the home. Women are seen as passive, vulnerable beings, objects, and prisoners of a male-dominated society. The epic also depicts that only men and their sons could be rulers as noted in the verse “ Mother, my father has appointed me the task of protecting the people”, (Mack, 584), This passage shows evidence that Rama believes in order to serve the people his male leadership passed down from his father or how his father would rule is the way the surrounding people will be protected and valued. Men and women in this epic were products of their era. As a reader would tell Sita was the representative of the women and Rama was connected to the men. While Sita was playing the damsel in distress, Rama was too busy being the hero, and at the beginning, King Dasaratha gave sacrifices to have four sons to take over his kingdom. While the concept men lead and women follow or that man is created to rule and women are created to serve is alive and well in the Ramayana epic, women have evolved into a more equal position as men. For decades as in Ramayana men were highly respected if they were well educated, held power and money, while women stayed home took care of the household, the children, acted as loving wives and no intentions or ambitions of being more than what was expected of them. Nevertheless, inequality between men and women in today’s society is better it still has room for growth. A gender-role reversal has taken place in the household were stay at home dads are now taking care of the children while women are working. Household chores are no longer just the responsibility of the wife they are now spilled among both men and women. Women are now leaders of countries, hold high positions in office, CEO’s of companies, high religious position and high ranking positions in armed services. In many ways the roles of men and women have and have not changed yet one thing has changed is that men and women have more choices. Choices, something that is not relevant for the characters portrayed in Ramayana.
Along with the many versions of Ramayana, there are different religions it is written in. Some of the versions of Ramayana are translated by Hindus and Buddhists. The Indian epic was favored by Buddhists but had Hindu figures and symbols, according to Santosh N. Desai (2019). Hinduism is “the dominant religion of India that emphasizes dharma with its resulting ritual and social observances and often mystical contemplation and ascetic practices.” ( Merriam-Webster ), and Buddhism is a religion of eastern and central Asia that is based around wisdom and insight. The Indian epic was mostly made up of Buddhism but had all Hinduistic myths, traditions, and etc. Both Hinduism and Buddhism benefited to the religious culture of India with Ramayana’s insight to follow your own path or dharma.
Ramayana does a lot of overwhelming topics, from how the epic came to be, to its gender politics, down to its religious meanings. Starting Valmiki, the author, starting a new by becoming a sage and learning about Sri Rama and Sita’s journeys. Thus creating the original version of Ramayana and the three hundred other versions of Ramayana. Versions include the Hindu and Buddhist versions. Even though the original was written in Sanskrit, the Hindu and Buddhist versions were the most popular. The epic itself was mostly made up of Buddhism but had all Hinduistic myths, traditions, and etc. Ramayana was created for the belief of honor and duty, but when it came down to analyzing the epic itself, it contained the hidden roles of women and men in Indian culture. How men like Rama were considered rulers and women like Sita were weak and underestimated. It was an unbalanced world, and it still is from then to now. Overall, Ramayana is a very important part of Indian religion and culture.
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