Srimad Valmiki Ramayana (Sanskrit: श्रीमद् वाल्मीकि रामायण, Srimad Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa) is one of the great Hindu epics. It is ascribed to the Hindu sage Valmiki and forms an important part of the Hindu literature (smṛti), considered to be itihāasa. Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is an epic poem of India which narrates the journey of Virtue to annihilate vice. Ramayana describes that, Sri Rama is the Hero and aayana means his journey. In India believe that Sri Rama lived in Treta Yug, millennia BC and we are presently concerned with what Srimad Valmiki Ramayana tells us, rather than when it was told.
It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife and the ideal king.The name Ramayana is a tatpurusha compound of Rāma and ayana (“going, advancing”), translating to “Rama’s Journey”.
Srimad Valmiki Ramayana is composed of verses called Sloka, in Sanskrit language, which is an ancient language from India and a complex meter called Anustup. These verses are grouped into individual chapters called Sargas, wherein a specific event or intent is told. These chapters or sargas are grouped into books called Kaandas where Kaanda means the inter-node stem of sugar cane, or also a particular phase of the story or an event in the course of story telling.
Srimad Valmiki Ramayana consists of 24,000 verses distributed across seven kāṇḍas (books) and 500 Sargas (cantos or chapters), and tells the story of Rama (an avatar of the Hindu preserver-God Vishnu), whose wife Sita is abducted by the king of Sri Lanka, Ravan. Thematically, the Ramayana explores human values and the concept of dharma.
- Bala Kanda ( Book of Youth)
- Ayodhya Kanda (Book of Ayodhya)
- Aranya Kanda (Book of Forest )
- Kishkindha Kanda (The Empire of Holy Monkeys)
- Sundara Kanda ( Book of Beauty )
- Yuddha Kanda ( Book of War )
While stabilizing the original text of Ramayana, historians surmised that portions of two Books [Kaandas], namely Book I, Bala Kaanda and Book VII, Uttara Ramayana (not listed above) are later additions – “The first and the last Books of the Ramayana are later additions. The bulk, consisting of Books II–VI, represents Rama as an ideal hero. In Books I and VII, however Rama is made an avatara or incarnation of Vishnu, and the epic poem is transformed into a Vaishnava text. The reference to the Greeks, Parthians, and Sakas show that these Books cannot be earlier than the second century B.C……”[ The cultural Heritage of India, Vol. IV, The Religions, The Ramakrishna Mission, Institute of Culture ].
However Book I, Balakanda is considered to be an original version except for some injected stories. Story starts from the fifth chapter of Book I, and tradition demands it to be read with the others. This stipulation is not obligatory to Uttara Kaanda, a later kaanda, wherein Sita’s expulsion to forest takes place. Theologists worship Sri Rama as a God incarnate, philosophers make him the philosophical Absolute, while at the same time, materialists, condemning the above, appreciate the lyrical values of Ramayana, but as a great devotee-singer said “Whoever calls you in whatever way, you are that One”.
ApadAm apahartAram dAtAram sarvasaMpadAm.h |
lokAbhirAmam shriirAmam bhUyo bhUyo namAmyaham.h ||
“I bow again and again to Sree Rama who removes (all) obstacles and grants all wealth and pleases all. ”
This is a salutation offered at the start of reading any scripture as per tradition. This prayer is for removing all obstacles encountered. The prefix Sri to Rama indicates that Rama is always accompanied by Sri, His consort Seetha in the form of goddess Sri Maha Lakshmi.