Facts about Ramayana that you must know

We all know the story of the great epic Ramayana, and many of us have either learned from Ramananad Sagar’s Ramayana on TV or have heard its short stories in the form of folklore from our grandparents who always added their creativity to make it more interesting. If you are from the North the other way you know the story is through the Ramayana Path ceremony (Ramayana reading ceremony which is considered auspicious). In this ceremony, Tulsidas’s Rachit Ramchritmanasa is read. When we see plays on Ramayana where stories are borrowed from numerous versions available of Ramayana, hence we end up learning mixed-up stories and sometimes newly added stories too. We must understand that Ramayana is not only the pride of Indian culture but also provides a spiritual, moral, and cultural compass that continues to guide and inspire people in many countries. There are many basic aspects of this great Epic that we are still unaware of. Here are some facts about Ramayana that we must know:

Valmiki’s Ramayana is the original Ramayana: Ramayan is written by Adikavi Maharishi Valmiki which is why the older name of Ramayana is known as Adikavya. Later Ramayana was adapted in different versions. Valmiki’s Ramayana is considered the earliest and most authoritative version of the epic. However, over time, various regional versions and adaptations of the Ramayana have emerged in different languages and cultures. These include the Adhyatma Ramayana, Kamban’s Ramavataram in Tamil, and Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas in Hindi. Each version may have variations in details and interpretations, but Valmiki’s Ramayana is considered the foundational text.

Ramayana is Itihasa and not a myth: Ramayana is not only the greatest epic of Indian literature but it actually happened. In the Indian genre, Valmiki Ramayan is termed as Itihasa along with Ved Vyasa’s Mahabharata. The literal meaning of itihasa is it+ha+asa ,”it thus happened”. Maharishi Valmiki was the contemporary of lord Rama and he has visited the places he speaks of in the story. Rather the word mythology was a  Colonial construct by the British who were aghast and scared by the advancement of indian culture. As the white man’s burden syndrome has it Britishers found it difficult to get colonial control over such a developed culture. Hence they started stating everything as “mythology” which was the pride of Indian culture and was way ahead of its time.

Narada passed on knowledge to Maharishi Valmiki: Once, Sage Narada visited Valmiki’s Ashram. It was during this time that Maharishi Valmiki asked Narada Muni if he knew someone who was currently alive and had all the 16 virtuous qualities that a man could possess. Then Maharishi Valmiki told him about Rama. Narad muni blessed Maharishi Valmiki with divya drishti and lord Brahma encouraged him to write the story of Ramayana. Meaning of Ramayana Rama+Ayana journey of Rama.

There are 7 kandas of Ramayana : There are 7 kanda (Chapters) of epic Ramayana and it has 24,000 verses. There 7 kandas are Bala kanda, Ayodhya kanda,Aranya kanda,Kishkinda kanda,Sundara kanda ,Yuddha Kanda and Uttara Kanda.

Difference between Valmiki Ramayana and Ramcharita Manasa: Ramcharitmanas is the retelling of Ramayana by Tulsidas ji in chopai form in the 16th century. Valmiki Ramayana is written in Sanskrit while Ramcharitmanas is written in the Awadhi language. The most important thing to notice is that both the epics were written in different yugas. Valmiki Ramayana was written in Treta Yuga while Ramcharitamanasa was written in Kaliyuga. There are many incidents added and dropped in Ramcharitmanasa. e.g. Ramcharitmanas mentions laxman rekha while it is not there in Valmiki Ramayana.

As a kid, we have learned the lessons of loyalty, friendship, and virtue from its characters but there are many basic aspects of Ramayana that we are unaware of. Ramayana is the greatest epic and nuanced we must read our scriptures to understand our culture better.

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