51 facts – The Ramayana

Interesting facts from the Ramayana

Some more facts added in 2015, July

Lord Hanuman is one of the 7 chiranjeevs. These immortals will live till the beginning of the next Satya Yuga.

The stripes on the back of squirrels is supposed to be Ram‘s caress for their dedication to help construct the bridge to Lanka.

Ravana once broke his arm to construct a musical instrument to sing songs of praise for Shiva. It was called the Ravan Hatta. While Ravan lay dying Ram asked Laxmana to go up to him to learn all that Ravana had to offer since Ravan was a Brahman.

Hanuman rejected a pearl necklace gifted by to him by Sita saying “I don’t accept anything that does not contain Ram.” To prove his point he ripped his chest to show the presence of Ram in his heart.

Sita’s name while in exile was Vaidehi.

Vashishtha and Vishvamitra both were Ram’s gurus. And both hated each other at one point of time.

Lakshman is the avatar of Shesha Naga. The mount of Vishnu.

The Ramayana, the most read epic in Hindu mythology contains some very interesting facts, known and unknown. The ramayana is not only the story of Rama, but this is also a story of other people also. For instance, Laxman, Bharat and Hanuman. We can’t forget Sita, Urmila, Vibheeshana alongwith Kaikeyi and Manthra.

Lord Rama
Lord Rama

1. Author of The Ramayana is Sage Valmiki. There are many more versions of this epic are available by various writers. Valmiki’s version is thus also known as Valmiki Ramayana. Another famous version is by Tulsidas, known as Ramcharitmanas.

2. This great epic is composed of rhyming couplets called ‘shlokas’, employing a complex meter called ‘anustup’. These verses are grouped into individual chapters called ‘sargas’, wherein a specific event or intent is told. The ‘sargas’ are again grouped into books called ‘kands’.

3 The whole story of the Ramayana is written in seven chapters, also known as kands. These are

Bal Kand – Rama’s boyhood.

Ayodhya Kand – Rama’s life in Ayodhya until his banishment.

Aranya Kand – Rama’s life in the forest and his abduction by Ravana.

Kishkindha Kand – Rama’s stay at Kishkindha, the capital of his monkey ally Sugriva.

Sundar Kand –  Rama’s journey to Sri Lanka

Yudh Kand or Lanka Kand – Rama’s battle with Ravana, the recovery of Sita and their return to Ayodhya.

Uttar Kand – Rama’s life as king in Ayodhya, the birth of his two sons, Sita’s test of innocence and return to her mother, and Rama’s demise. This kand completes the story of the ramayana.

4 Rama ( the principal character of the ramayana), and his brothers were born as the result of putra-kameshti yagya by Dashratha. At the end of the yagya, a bowl of dessert was given to Dashratha, which was distributed among his wives. Sumitra was fed twice, so she gave birth to twins. Dasharatha was born in the line of Ikshvaku (“the first king of the Ikshvaku dynasty and founder of the Solar Dynasty of Kshatriyas in Vedic civilization in ancient India”).

5. Rama is the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, a dashavatar.

6 In their childhood, Rama and Laxman helped Vishwamitra and took care of Maricha and Subahu. Rama points his bow at the two, and with one arrow kills Subahu, and with the other arrow flings Mareecha thousands of miles away into the ocean

7. Sita is considered to be an incarnation of Goddess Laxmi. She is also believed to be the daughter of Bhoomi devi (earth).

8. Laxman or Lakshman is an incarnation of Sheshnaag or Adi Shesha. He also accompanied Lord Vishnu as Balrama in the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

9. Laxman never slept during the Rama’s exile. He is also known as Gudakesh, meaning, the one who has defeated “sleep”.

10. Laxman killed three sons of Ravana. While his killing of Meghnaad is more popular, other sons of Ravana were Prahast and Atikay.

11. Lord Shiva explained that Laxman would have escaped Shakti easily, but to respect the weapon, he took this on his chest.

12. The laxmanrekha episode is not mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayana. This is mentioned by Mandodri in Lanka kand in Ramcharitamanas.

Laxman draws Laxmanrekha
Laxman draws Laxmanrekha

13. Laxman was the twin brother of Shatrughana. Their mother was Sumitra.

14. Lord Rama left this earth by taking the Jal Samadhi in Sarayu river.

15. During Sita Swayamvara, Rama broken the bow of Shiva to win her hand.

Lord Rama breaking Shiva Dhanush (bow) – The Ramayana

16. Parshurama challenged Rama to string the bow of Vishnu. Which Lord Rama easily did and asked him to tell him to where he should release the arrow. Parshuram realized that Rama is no ordinary man. This is worth noting that both of these warriors were incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

17. The shiva dhanush was easily moved by Sita during her childhood.  King Janak observed this and this incident set the condition of Sita swayamvar in the Ramayana.

18. Lord Rama helped Sugriva to get back the kingdom of Kishkindha. He helped Sugriva to defeat his brother, Vali. He later married Tara, Vali’s wife. Tara is one of the Panchkanya. Mandodari, the wife of Ravana, is also a panchkanya from the Ramayana.

vali-sugriva-rama-the-ramayana-indian-mythology
Battle between Vali and Sugriva – Rama about to kill Vali

19  Rama, Laxman and Sita spent the vanvaas in Dandakaranya forests.

20 Laxman’s wife was Urmila. There is not much written about her, but she also made a supreme sacrifice while staying back in Ayodhya, while Laxman accompanied Rana and Sita for vanvaas. Urmila was Sita’s younger sister. Urmila slept both his and her shares of sleep so that Laxman remained awake protecting Rama and Sita. She slept for the whole period of exile (14 years) and only woke up when Laxmana returned to Ayodhya.

21 Tara was an apsara produced from the churning of ocean. During the churning, Vali was from gods side.

Reading suggestion

51 facts – Mahabharata

 

22. Jambavantha was created by Brahma, to assist Rama in his struggle against Ravana. During a duel with Ravana, he hit Ravana and Ravana  became unconscious. He also reminded Hanuman of his prowess, so he could cross the ocean and visit Lanka.

Jambvant praises Hanuman
Jambvant praises Hanuman

23. Vali was famous for the boon that he had received, according to which anyone who came before him lost half his strength to Vali, thereby making Vali invulnerable to any enemy.

24. Vali had defeated Ravana as well. Once Ravana called Vali for a fight. He took Ravana in his tail and took him around all the world. Humbled, Ravana called for a truce.

25. Hanuman, because of boons from Surya, laghima and garima, could take various forms. He used them to defeat Sursa, Lankini, Cat in the Ramayana.

Hanuman and Sursa

26. Hanuman slain the demon Kalanemi, while fetching sanjeevani herb. Kalanemi was sent by Ravana.

27. Hanuman also defied Sun from rising before time as it would have killed Laxman.

28. Hanuman was also shot by Bharat while flying over Ayodhya. Hanuman accepted the arrow as Lord Rama was written over it. Since he was shot on a leg, he had a limp.

29.  Shatrughan is supposed to be the incarnation of Vishnu’s conch. Shatrughna was married to Shrutakeerti, the daughter of King Kusadhbojan and his wife. Shrutakeerti was the cousin of Sita, daughter of King Janaka.

30 Shatrughana killed Lavanasura, a demon who was the son of Madhu. It is believed that Madhu is where Mathura is situated today.

31. Bharat was the husband to Mandavi, daughter of King Janaka’s brother Kushadhvaja and thus a cousin of Sita, who was wife of Rama. They had two sons, Taksha and Pushka. Thus, in the Ramayana, wives of all brothers were related.

32. Bharat is considered to be born in the aspect of the Sudarshana Chakra, the most famous of Vishnu’s Panchayudhas.

Sudarshan chakra
Sudarshan chakra

33. Ravana’s grandfather was Pulastya, one of the seven great sages or Saptarishis. His father was himself a great sage Vishrava.

34. His mother was the princess of Daityas. Her name was Kaikesi. Kaikesi father was Sumali. Ravana was half Brahmin and half asura.

35. Kaikesi chose Vishrava as her husband in quest to mother a son who was incomparable.

36. Vishrava was the father of Kubera. Thus Ravana was the half brother of Kubera. Ravana conquered Sri Lanka from Kubera and became the King of Lanka.

37. Ravana was also an excellent veena player and the sign of his flag had a picture of veena on it.

38. Ravana had four brothers. Vibhishana, Kumbhakarna and Ahiravan and Mahiravan. Khara and Dushan are also believed to be his brothers.

39. Kumbhakarna was considered pious, intelligent and brave that Indra was jealous of him. Along with his brothers, Ravana andVibhishana, he performed a major yajnaand penance for Lord Brahma. When the time came for asking a boon (blessing) from Brahma, his tongue was tied by goddess Saraswati (acting on Indra’s request). So instead of asking “Indraasana” (seat of Indra), he asked for “Nidraasana” (bed for sleeping).

Kumbhakarna – The Ramayana

40. Kumbhakarna had two sons, Kumbha and Nikumbha, who too fought in the war against Rama and were killed.

41. Ravana also asked for absolute invulnerability from and supremacy over gods, heavenly spirits, other rakshas, serpents, and wild beasts. He did not ask for protection from mortal men, as he did not think that they would cause him any harm.

42. Rama and Laxman were abducted by Ahiravan. Ahiravan was the brother of Ravana and king of patala (netherworld).  The two brothers were saved by Hanuman.

43. Following the capture of Lanka, Ravana pleased Shiva with his penance. Shiva said to pinned Ravana with his toe, but he offered his ten heads to appease Shiva. Pleased with his resilience and devotion, Shiva gave to him the divine sword Chandrahas

44. Ravana was cursed by Nandi that Lanka would be destroyed by a monkey. Later Hanuman put Lanka into flames.

45 Hanuman defeated his son Makardhwaj when he was guarding Rama and Laxman and rescued the two brothers.

46. Hanuman killed Ahiravan and Mahiravan by taking his panchroopi form.

47. Ravana did severe penance to appease Brahma. Brahma blessed him with nectar which could keep him alive as long as it lasted.

48 Vibheeshana told this about to Rama when in the battlefield, everytime Rama cut his head, another head sprang up. On his advise, Rama first dried the nectar using Prasvapana and later killed him. This is important to know that the ramayana puts importance to Vibheeshana, who left his brother and helped the cause of Dharma.

Rama using Prasavapana on Ravana
Rama using Prasavapana on Ravana

49. Sita remained with Agni when Ravana abducted her. When Ravana came to kidnap mother Sita and she saw him, she took shelter of Agni. The fire-god covered the body of mother Sita, and in this way she was protected from the hands of Ravana. The fire-god, Agni, took away the real Sita and brought her to the place of Parvati, goddess Durga. An illusory form of mother Sita was then delivered to Ravana. The original Sita went to the abode of the fire-god. During Agnipariksha, illusory Sita entered the fire. At that time Agni brought the original Sita from his abode and delivered her to Lord Ramachandra.

50. Sita summoned Bhoomi devi to take her back after completing the Agni pariksha.

51. Rama and all his brothers left their abode by taking Jal samadhi in Sarayu river. This completes the story of the Ramayana.

Reading suggestion – 51 facts from Mahabharat

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The Ramayana story in pictures – Ayodhya Kand (2)

Ayodhya Kand – The Ramayana in pictures

The Ramayana story is told by sage Valmiki in various kandas. This is the story which is told in Ayodhya kand and is primarily around Rama’s vanvaas. Kaikeyi and Manthra were the central characters towards Rama’s vanvaas.

Manthra and Kaikeyi

Manthra advised Kaikeyi to ask for her boons from Dashrath

Manthra advising Kaikeyi to ask for Bharat’s ascendance to throne. Kaikeyi had two boons from Dashrath. Dashrath was the king of ayodhya and Kaikeyi’s husband.

 Kaikeyi in kopa bhavan

Kaikeyi in kopabhavan – asking for her two boons to Dashrath

She asks Dashrath for two boons. These boons have been given to her when Dashrath was helped by Kaikeyi in Dev Asur sangram. He was wounded in the battle field and Kaikeyi rode her to safety and later, tended him. Pleased with her, Dashrath asked her for two boons. She has now asked for Bharat’s coronation and Rama’s banishment.

Dashrath and Kaikeyi

Rama is exiled for fourteen years and Bharat becomes the king of Ayodhya. Dashrath dies as he could not cope up with the parting of Rama. Dashrath had a curse earlier because of that he had to leave this world in this manner.

Once while hunting, he accidentally killed Shravan Kumar. Shravan kumar was a dedicated son who was serving his blind parents. When Dashrath told this unfortunate incident to them, they cursed him saying that he would also suffer for his son as they are suffering because of him.

Shravan kumar and his parents
Dashrath and Shravan Kumar
Dashrath and Shravan Kumar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dashrath’s was inconsolable when Rama, laxman and Sita were preparing to go to the forests.

Ram laxman preparing to go to vanvaas
Ram laxman preparing to go to vanvaas

Rama, alongwith Laxman and Sita go to forest to abide with their father orders.

Rama, Laxman and Sita

Bharat requests him to come back. But Rama refused as this was his duty to obey his father’s orders. Bharat then asks for his sandals and he put Rama’s sandals on the throne of Ayodhya. He then conducted the governance in the name of Lord Rama.

Rama and Bharat
Rama and Bharat

The Ramayana story in pictures – Bal Kand (1)

Story of the Ramayana – in pictures

In Indian mythology, there are two major epics. The Ramayana, and the Mahabharat. In Treta yuga, the story of Rama and his wife Sita, is the main story around which the Ramayana is written. This epic was written by Sage Valmiki, who himself was a robber, but later mended his ways to become a sage.

The Ramayana epic – written by Sage Valmiki

Ramcharitamanas is also written on Rama and Sita by Tulsidas.

King Dashrath, the king of Ayodhya organised yagna with a desire for son. Agni, the god of fire presented him with a bowl of kheer(sweet rice). Upon comsumption of kheer, Dashratha would beget sons.

Dashrath performing yagna and receiving prasad from Agni god
Dashrath performing yagna and receiving prasad from Agni god

The Kheer or payasam, thus obtained, was distributed among Dashrath’s three wives, Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra. Soon enough, these queens have been blessed with sons, Rama, Bharat, Laxman and Shatrughan.

Princes Rama, Laxmana, Bharat and Shatrughana as newborn.

in their childhood, sage Vasistha acted as their teacher. He taught them all the skills required by them as the princes.

Education of princes by sage Vasistha in the Ramayana

Helping Vishwamitra

Rama and Laksham helped sage Vishwamitra. Rakshasas were creating problems for him. Sages were unable to perform yagna. Sage asked Dashrath to give Rama and Lakshman to help him. Dashrath was initially worried. Persuaded by Vasistha, he agreed. This helped the princes as Vishwamitra trained them in warfare. Both brothers killed Taraka and Subahu among other demons.

Rama killing Taraka

Swayamvar of Sita and liberation of Ahalya

Vishwamitra received invitation from King Janak for Sita’s swayamvar. He asked  Rama and Lakshman to accompany him.

on the way, they came to a place where Ahilya was present in a form of stone. Rama liberated her on advise of sage. She was serving a curse of sage Gautam, who was her husband.

Liberating Ahilya by Rama

At Mithila, the challenge of Sita swayamvar was to tie the string of Shiva’s bow. Many warriors including Ravana has failed in even moving the bow. However, Rama could easily lift the bow. While trying to string the bow, it broken into two pieces. Sita got Rama as her husband.

Rama breaking Shiva’s bow during Sita Swayamvar

However, this brought Parshurama (vishnu dashavatar) to the ceremony. There was the classic confrontation between two avatars of Vishnu. Rama succeeded in pacifying parshurama.

Rama and Parshurama’s confrontation

Finally, the wedding of Rama and Sita took place. All four brother were married. Lakshman was married with Urmila, Janak’s second daughter and Bharat and Shatrughna with Mandavi and Shrutikirti, the daughters of Janak’s younger brother Kushadhwaj.

Wedding of Sita and Rama