Hinduism considers Ramayana a sacred text that is one of the texts from the Vedic period and has its origin in ancient India that lead to modern Hinduism and developed into modern Hindu traditions that are related to the Vedic traditions are also nearly related to Jainism and Buddhism. The importance of the Vedas is one of the main points that differs Jainism and Buddhism from Hinduism as Jainism and Buddhism do not give religious importance to Vedas and the Hindu tradition considers them as “not from human” texts, meaning from deities through the sages who collected knowledge because of deep meditations.
Ramayana is the epic that is written by Valmiki and is of religious importance to Hindus all over the world. The stories are believed to be told by the gods to Valmiki who wrote them down. The story of Ram is a perfect and model man. His life is an example of a how a person should act and live his life in the world. The story of Ramayana, however, has many ups and downs, and some elements make Ram look bad as a man of god(s) as he kills Vali the king of monkeys from behind to get his brother’s favor to win the war against Ravana. In the story, however, Rama is made into a hero who is a model of how a person is in every situation.
The intended audience of the Ramayana seems to be the reader and the listener of the story. The translation of the excerpt provided here is done in the third person, and it shows that it is a story that is narrated with the purpose of telling people a story. The story is intended for the people of India or the Hindu Religion to tell them about what is the perfect way of living a life. One of the great gurus in modern India Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says about Ramayana, “Ramayana is full of Enlightenment; Ramayana is for perfection in every profession; Ramayana is for mastery over natural law; Ramayana is for the fulfillment of any desire one may have. Ramayana is to create a perfect man, a perfect society, and a perfect world (Raja Felix Kägi).”
The author’s goal in the whole book is to outline a model life. The conduct of Ramayana is a model for everyone, and the people who read it are supposed to follow the example of Rama and Lakshmana. The model lives, brotherhood, and love are all outlined in the text. In the excerpt, there are some forms of conduct that are outlined as traditional model roles but are not possible to uphold in the modern world. The excerpt states, “0 Prince of Raghu, it is for thee to keep thy fair name untarnished! The husband is as a God to the woman, he is her family, and her spiritual ·preceptor, therefore, even at the price of her life, she must seek to please her lord.”(Shastri, 530)
There are lessons for the contemporary period as well from the Ramayana. Rama being a king showed so much compassion towards people which is a mode for the people in the modern world. It shows that people should always show compassion and friendliness towards others no matter what the dynamics of the relationship between them is. Compassion is an essential virtue according to the author, and the importance of this element is shown implicitly without saying the words but by making it a part of the character that is to be seen as a model person.
“Then Rama of imperishable exploits gave her permission to do so, saying: – “Be at peace, 0 Vaidehi, tomorrow without fail, thou shalt go there” (Shastri,520)
The author makes the character of Rama the most centered and best of the rest, and there is no one in the story who is nobler, more compassionate, and heroic than him. The text keeps making Rama look better at every turn, and the factors of him being a person of great capability are shown throughout the book. Rama is the perfect character according to the author despite minor flaws and is considered the best example to follow as a human being. Gods in the narrative come in contact with humans by showing themselves in the form of humans like Rama is considered an avatar of the god Vishnu. The interaction of gods with humans is like a model citizen. Gods in Hindu tradition are shown through people who are better than the rest and exemplary.
The characters in the Ramayana that are possible to have lived in reality are a fragment of the imagination of the author that wanted to make the story more interesting. The story with a narrative on simple humans might not have been as exciting to the audiences in ancient times as the story of mysterious creatures. This seems like an addition that the author did to make the story more mysterious and stimulating. The supernatural and inhuman creatures are a way of the author of the epic to make things more haunting and fascinating for the audience of ancient India. However, it could be argued that the demand for such characters has not decreased as the audiences even today love the themes of Ramayana portrayed in fares and theatres after centuries have passed since the original text was written.
Raja Felix Kägi. Ramayan in Human Physiology. https://www.slideshare.net/rajafelix/ramayan-in-human-physiology.
Shastri, Hari Prasad. The Ramayana of Valmiki: Yuddha Kanda. Uttara Kanda. Vol. 3, Shanti Sadan, 1970.