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individual Essay An individual paper of 700-1,000 words by responding to the provided question (double space)Grading is evaluated by the student’s ability to1) Explaining the scene from the story that appeared in the question2) Create connection to the overall story3) Make connection on the story’s decision in the scene with the culture of South Asia.ESSAY 1: Choose one from the following topicsDiscuss what you have learned about the status of woman in Hindu culture from Ramayana and how it is in today’s India?From Ramayana, please discuss about how the story relates with Indian History, Belief, Social status – Hierarchy) please provide connection to the story.Dhama is one of the important practices in Hinduism, discuss about the practices of Dhama in any character in Ramayana (at least 2 characters)?Rama is the main character of the story and an avatar of Lord Vishnu. In your opinion, please evaluate his decision making based on (1) as a King and Lord of Dharma(2) as a human and a husband. Are you agreed with his decision and why? If not, please explain why you are not disagree with him.
Overview: The Ramayana
Sacred work, 400 B.C.
Novels for Students.
Ed. Sara Constantakis. Vol. 41. Detroit: Gale. From Literature
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2013 Gale, Cengage Learning
The Ramayana is one of the great masterpieces of Sanskrit and of world literature, an
epic poem that ranks alongside
the Iliad, the Odyssey, and Beowulf from Western
culture. At the same time, the Ramayana is a sacred text of Hinduism, narrating the
incarnation of the god Vishnu on earth in the same way the Christian Gospels narrate
the incarnation of Jesus. R. K. Narayan’s prose version of the epic, The Ramayana, first
published in 1972, retells the story in a brief novel in a highly modern style. Set in a
mythical version of Indian history, the plot of The Ramayana unfolds like a fairy tale,
belying its serious philosophical and theological purpose. The prince Rama is cheated
out of his rightful inheritance of his father’s kingdom and forced to flee into the
wilderness, where his wife, Sita, is captured by the demon Ravana and can only be
rescued by a band of flying monkeys. Rama is the incarnation of the god Vishnu as a
mortal man who alone can save the world from Ravana. Composed by the early
Indo-European invaders of ancient India, the Ramayana is a work that, though not well
known in the West, contains many elements that will remind readers of Western
legends and tales. L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful
Wizard of Oz (1900), was a
member of the Ramayana Brotherhood of the Theosophical Society and borrowed the
flying monkeys for his own novel. The leader of the Ramayana’s monkeys, the god
Hanuman, is the basis for Sun Wukong–known in the West as the Monkey King–the
hero of the medieval Chinese novel
Journey to the West.
The Ramayana begins with Dasaratha, the emperor of Kosala, which is a prosperous
realm in northern India. His life is perfectly contented, except that none of his three
wives, Kausayla, Kaikeyi, or Sumithra, has borne him a child. His sages advise him to
perform a horse sacrifice, an ancient Indo-European custom. It is revealed in one of the
sage’s visions that this has all been arranged by the god Vishnu, who has been
petitioned by the other
gods to destroy the rakshasa (ogre) Ravana. This monster has
magical protections against all harm, except against human beings, whom he
considered too weak to threaten him. Therefore Vishnu and his entourage will be
incarnated in human form, born as sons to Dasaratha’s wives.
Chapter 1: Rama’s Initiation
When Rama (son of Dasaratha and incarnation of Vishnu) is a young man, the sage
Viswamithra comes to Dasaratha’s court and asks the assistance of Rama in performing
a sacrifice in a foreign land. The emperor is reluctant to dispatch Rama, since it will
require crossing a desert inhabited by monstrous serpents, but is persuaded by the
sage’s holiness. Accompanied by his faithful brother Lakshmana, Rama is able to kill all
the monsters with his bow, exhibiting clearly superhuman fighting skill. Viswamithra tells
Rama a number of myths that relate to their quest as well as to later events in the story.
The most important of these is a version of the episode of Sita’s abduction by Ravana. It
tells the same story, though in briefer form and concerning other characters, illustrating
the original oral composition of the narrative as a whole and its tendency to tell a few
basic stories repeatedly.
Chapter 2: The Wedding
Returning home, Rama passes through the kingdom of Mithila, ruled by King Janaka.
Rama and Janaka’s daughter Sita fall in love at first sight, since they are the
incarnations of Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi. Sita, in fact, had been harvested by
Janaka when she grew out of a plowed field. Janaka has the bow of the god Shiva,
which no human being can string because of its difficulty. He has decreed that any man
who would marry Sita must string the bow. He has fought a veritable war against his
daughter’s suitors, enraged by their failing the test. Not only can Rama string the bow,
but it snaps like a toy from the strength of his hands. So the royal couple are married.
Chapter 3: Two Promises Revived
Having grown old and infirm, Dasaratha wishes to devolve his empire through his son
Rama. But Kooni, a deformed woman kept as a sort of jester by Dasaratha’s wife
Kaikeyi, reminds her mistress that Kaikeyi had once saved her husband’s life and in
return was promised to have two of her wishes granted. Kooni urges Kaikeyi now to
wish that Rama be exiled to the forest for fourteen years and that her own son Bharatha
be made heir. Although Dasaratha seems to suffer a stroke upon hearing this request,
he honors his promise and agrees to her wishes. Rama’s brother Lakshmana wishes to
stage a coup d’état in Rama’s favor, but Rama is perfectly content to go and seek
wisdom as a hermit in the forest, taking Lakshmana and Sita with him. Dasaratha dies
that same night. When Bharatha, who had been visiting his grandfather, returns, he
wants none of this and chases Rama down in the forest to ask him to return and rule.
But since Rama is destined to fight and kill Ravana, a voice from the sky orders
Bharatha to take up the throne during the fourteen years of Rama’s exile.
Chapter 4: Encounters in Exile
Rama considers his exile a spiritual pilgrimage, and as he and his companions move
south through the forest, they, for the most part, encounter hermits and sages who have
found a secluded life of holiness in the forest. Rama takes it as his special purpose to
fight and destroy the evil spirits (asuras) that also live in the forest. The rakshasa
Soorpanaka becomes infatuated with Rama because of his beauty, but when she is
rebuffed, she unleashes an army of ogres to kill him. Rama succeeds in destroying
them all single-handedly.
Chapter 5: The Grand Tormentor
Soorpanaka reports her defeat to her brother Ravana, the king of all rakshasas, in his
island fortress Lanka. He becomes desirous of Sita based on his sister’s description.
Ravana is so tormented by the fire his vision of Sita has lit inside him that he causes
rains to fall and the winter to come out of season. He stops the whole process of time,
but nothing can assuage him. Fearful of Rama, he decides to kidnap Sita through
deception. He lures Rama and Lakshmana away from Sita with magical illusions.
Ravana approaches Sita disguised as a sage and sings his own praises to her in the
third person. He then reveals himself and proposes marriage to her, since he is under a
curse whereby he will be destroyed if he ever touches a woman against her will. When
he finds Sita disgusted, he carries her off in his flying chariot back to Lanka.
Chapter 6: Vali
Heading south in search of Sita, Rama and Lakshmana come to Kiskinda, a land
inhabited by monkeys. They meet Sugreeva, brother of the monkey king Vali, and his
general Hanuman. Sugreeva too has been exiled because of a disagreement with his
brother, and he swears that, if Rama will help him kill his brother and put Sugreeva on
the throne, he will then use his monkey army to find Sita and fight the rakshasa army.
Rama agrees, and while the two monkey brothers are fighting a duel, he shoots Vali in
the back with an arrow. When the dying Vali cries treachery, Rama tells him that he was
only taking vengeance for his old unjust treatment of Sugreeva.
Chapter 7: When the Rains Cease
No search can be undertaken during the monsoon rains that fall in India each year, and
further delays are caused by Sugreeva’s drunkenness and devotion to pleasure. But
soon the monkey army is assembled and sent to search for Sita. The band led by
Hanuman comes to the coast opposite Lanka and is told by an eagle that Sita is on the
island. Using his divine powers, Hanuman steps across to the island that lies over the
Chapter 8: Memento from Rama
Hanuman, shrunk to the size of an insect, searches Lanka and eventually finds Sita
when she is on the verge of hanging herself in despair of ever seeing Rama again. He
reassures her that Rama is coming. He leaves to report back to Rama, but not without
inflicting considerable damage on the city as a warning to Ravana.
Chapter 9: Ravana in Council
After repairing the damage to Lanka, Ravana takes advice from his councilors on how
to deal with Rama and the monkey army. Most of what he hears is flattery, and he
mocks the few of his generals who advise him to return Sita and try to make peace. This
is particularly true of Ravana’s brother, Vibhishana, who is so certain of Ravana’s defeat
that he defects to Rama’s side.
Chapter 10: Across the Ocean
Vibhishana, concluding that his brother is unjust, seeks asylum with Rama in his camp
on the mainland opposite Lanka. Rama accepts him and makes him the head of a
government-in-exile of Lanka. The monkey army builds a mole (a bridge made of
rubble) to Lanka.
Chapter 11: The Siege of Lanka
This chapter, relating the siege, was originally published as a short story in Gods,
Demons, and Others. Narayan does not describe the actual fighting in much detail but
emphasizes that one after another of Ravana’s generals and heroic warriors go forth to
challenge Rama, or the most important monkey fighters, only to be killed. Rama and
Lakshmana are briefly immobilized by poisoned darts but are revived by magic.
Similarly, many of Ravana’s most successful ploys are magical tricks, creating the
impression that Rama or Sita is dead, or the illusion that all of his own dead warriors
have come back to life.
Chapter 12: Rama and Ravana in Battle
Ravana finally has no choice except to enter the battle himself, and he and Rama fight
against each other in flying chariots. The failure of his magical weapons forces Ravana
to conclude that he is fighting a god rather than a man, although he cannot say which
This is, perhaps, the highest God. Who could he be? Not Shiva, for Shiva is my
supporter; he could not be Brahma, who is four faced; could not be Vishnu, because of
my immunity from the weapons of the whole trinity. Perhaps this man is the primordial
being, the cause behind the whole universe.” Rama eventually kills Ravana after a
Chapter 13: Interlude
This chapter was also originally published as a short story in Gods, Demons, and
Others. When Sita is brought into Rama’s presence after the victory, he exiles her, on
the grounds that any woman who has lived in another man’s house must be considered
to have committed adultery. Instead, Sita commits sati (or suttee), throwing herself on a
bonfire as was customary for the widows of Hindu aristocrats. But the god of the fire
rejects her, and so Rama is satisfied that she is innocent.
Chapter 14: The Coronation
Narayan’s voice breaks into the narrative to criticize Rama for testing Sita in this way,
since he clearly holds her to a different standard than he did other female characters in
the story. The fourteen years of exile are over, so Rama and his entourage fly back to
Ayodhya for his coronation, sending Hanuman ahead as his herald.
In the epilogue, Narayan goes so far as to narrate the last book of Valmiki’s Ramayana.
He comments upon it from his post-modern perspective, assuming that his readers
know the story.
Bharatha : Bharatha is the son of Dasaratha and Kaikeyi and the half brother of Rama.
He rejects the unjust claim for his rule of Ayodhya made by his mother, but he is
convinced by Rama and a voice from heaven to accept rule as a sort of viceroy for
Rama. He swears to kill himself, however, rather than rule beyond Rama’s period of
exile, and is on the point of doing so when Rama returns years later.
Dasaratha : Dasaratha is the emperor of Kosala. He has three wives simultaneously.
With Kausalya, he is the father of Rama. With Kaikeyi, he is the father of Bharatha. With
Sumithra, he is the father of the twins Lakshmana and Sathrunga. He sets the story in
motion when he decides to retire before his death and yield the rule of Kosala to Rama.
Although he is a just ruler, he is forced against his will to exile Rama and make
Bharatha his heir by an injudicious promise he once made to the latter’s mother,
Kaikeyi, pledging to grant any request she might make as a reward for saving his life.
Once he is informed that he is obligated to disinherit and exile Rama, he suffers a
stroke from his grief, and he dies shortly after Rama’s departure.
Hanuman : Hanuman is the companion of Sugreeva and the general of the monkey
army. In Rama’s war against Lanka, he proves himself the most able helper of Rama.
The son of the wind god, he is possessed of divine powers, including the power of flight.
He was dedicated as a child to become the servant of Vishnu and his attribute dharma,
or justice, and so becomes Rama’s faithful ally. His chief exploit is the initial
reconnaissance of Lanka, during which he uses his godlike powers to nearly overturn
Ravana’s kingdom on his own.
Janaka : Janaka, the king of Mathila, is the father of Sita. He received her grown from
the earth, and he established a test for her suitors of drawing the bow of Shiva, even
though the failure of any mortal to do so involved him in war with disgruntled suitors.
Kaikeyi : Kaikeyi is the wife of Dasaratha and mother of Bharatha. While, by nature,
she seems simply pleasure-loving, her servant Kooni is able to stir up envy and fear in
her at the time the kingdom is given to Rama rather than Bharatha.
Kausalya : Kausalya is the wife of Dasaratha and mother of Rama.
Kooni : Kooni is the maid to Kaikeyi and the source of Bharatha’s unjust claim to
privilege that sends Rama into exile and motivates the plot of The Ramayana.
Lakshmana : Lakshmana is a son of Dasaratha and Sumithra and the half brother of
Rama. He is exceptionally devoted to Rama as his friend and follower throughout his
adventures, voluntarily sharing his exile and acting as his right-hand man at every turn.
He is, however, more rash than Rama, who must frequently restrain him from violence.
Rama : Rama is portrayed as a prince and, eventually, king of Kosala, a state in
northeastern India in the early first millennium bce. He is the main character of The
Ramayana. The remarkable personality possessed by Rama is the driving force of the
tale. Narayan places the main description of Rama in the mouth of his enemy the
Even if I had a thousand tongues, I could never fully explain his beauty and the
grandeur of his personality. Even if one had a thousand eyes one could not take in the
splendour of this being. His strength is unmatched. Single-handed he wiped out all our
army. . . . His mission in life is to wipe out our whole family, clan, class from the face of
But even while he is kingly and warlike, Rama is self-restrained and humble beyond
human possibility. Rama embodies all of the virtues of traditional Indian culture,
particularly dharma, or (in this sense) duty. He does not question the commands of his
father even when he is disinherited. His duty to obey his father in accepting his
disinheritance towers above any idea of his own rights or needs. Later, Rama rejects his
beloved wife at the mere rumor of scandal because he owes to his civilization the duty
of having a pure wife. Rama is able to attack and kill the monkey king Vali in a way that
might seem treacherous precisely because he owes no duty to him. But at the same
time, whenever he meets any of the inhabitants of Ayodhya, he greets them by asking,
“How are you? Are your children happy? Do you want any help from me?” though of
course he has already done everything to provide for his subjects’ happiness. Rama’s
inability to compromise his devotion to duty makes him seem inhuman, and in fact, he is
an incarnation of the god Vishnu.
Ravana : Ravana is the villain of The Ramayana, whose desire for Sita and kidnapping
of her creates the story’s plot, resulting in the destruction of his kingdom of Lanka and
his fatal duel with Rama. In Valmiki’s Ramayana, Ravana is an ogre with ten heads and
twenty arms, the king of the rakshasas, who can be compared to the monstrous earth
spirits that live beyond the bounds of human habitation in the Western tradition (see,
e.g., Beowulf, line 112; Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain, 1.11.76).
He was a terrible monster, feared and hated by the gods as well as by his human
neighbors, but his sphere of operation was limited to southern India and especially his
own kingdom on the island of Lanka. But Narayan elevates him to the status of a
cosmic ruler and menace: “Ravana, the supreme lord of this and other worlds, sat in his
durbar hall. . . . The kings of this earth whom he had reduced to vassaldom stood about
[him]. . . . He had also enslaved the reigning gods.” His title is modeled after the
description of Satan in the Christian New Testament, at 2 Corinthians 4:4, as the “god of
this world.” But Narayan’s conception is more nearly Gnostic in presenting a cosmos
that is ruled at every level by an evil power. When Ravana disguises himself to deceive
Sita he inverts the cosmic order, saying of himself and his rakshasas, “They are good
people, not harmful or cruel like the so-called gods. The rakshasa clan have been
misrepresented and misunderstood.” He wishes to replace a true characterization of the
world with a false one supported by his authority and power. Recasting Ravana in this
way allows Narayan to make his story more familiar to Western Christian readers. At the
same time, turning Ravana into a cosmic oppressor invokes the sense of human
alienation from the world that permeates modern Western literature but which is foreign
to traditional systems of thought like Hinduism.
Sathrunga : Sathrunga is a son of Dasaratha and Sumithra, the twin of Lakshmana,
and the half brother of Rama.
Sita : Sita is a human incarnation of the earth goddess Lakshmi, who grew out of a
furrow in a plowed field. She was adopted by King Janaka and is frequently referred to
by the patronymic “Janaki.” Only Rama is able to pass the test set by her father of
stringing the bow of Shiva and thus marry her. But she is abducted by the rakshasa
Ravana, who desires her for himself. However, she is able to preserve her virtue until
rescued by Rama and his army of monkeys owing to a curse long ago placed on
Ravana that dooms him if he should ever rape a woman. She is an example of ideal
womanhood as viewed by the early Indo-European culture of India: she is incapable of
shaming her family by feeling adulterous desire, and at the same time she obeys the
dictates of her husband even when she know them to be unjust. When she first sees
Rama before their marriage, she feels desire for him and interprets this as a loss of her
own shame, believing that she has no right to her own feelings in view of the role
imposed on her by her culture and by her father.
Soorpanaka : Soorpanaka is the sister of Ravana. Just as Ravana desires Sita
because of her perfect beauty, Soorpanaka is overcome by desire for Rama. Rama’s
first encounter with the rakshasas comes when he spurns Soorpanaka’s advances and
annihilates her bodyguard.
Sugreeva : Sugreeva is the brother of Vali, the king of the monkeys, who was
reluctantly forced to take the throne when Vali was thought dead. When he finally
returned, Vali considered this treason and exiled his brother. Sugreeva makes a pact
with Rama that, once Rama has helped him kill his brother Vali and once more become
king of the monkeys, he will use the monkey army to help rescue Sita. But he is
distracted from his vows by his animalistic desire for pleasure.
Sumithra : Sumithra is the wife of Dasaratha and mother of the twins Lakshmana and
Vali : Vali is the king of the monkeys of Kiskinda. After fighting a demon in his
underground lair for two …
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