RAMA in Ramayana- The seventh incarnation of Vishnu

rama The Rama myth cycle is especially complex because there are so many literary and oral versions, each language of India having its own variations, as well as expressions in art, dance, drama, and film or video. Since Rama was an incarna­tion of Vishnu, his story is nested within the Vishnu myth cycle, requiring sto­ries about the need for another incarnation and its outcome. Some of the power of the basic story can be suggested by the fact that it traveled all the way to the island of Bali (then considered a part of greater India), to be performed there to this day.
While the variations are complex, the plot would be simple without nested stories about previous births and rebirths. Rama was the elder son of King Dasaratha by his first wife Kausalya. Rama was a one-half incarnation of Vishnu, being conceived from a half portion of divine pudding, given by Vishnu. Dasia- ratha’s other wives, Kaikeyi and Sumithra, received the other half and also con­ceived sons. (For more details see entry on Dasaratha.) Dasaratha prepared to crown Rama as king or as king-regent, but his second wife Kaikeyi demanded that she be granted now boons she had won long ago. (See entry on Kaikeyi for more details.) Rama helped his father with the decision to grant her the boons, so that he could fulfil his duty (svadharma). Thus Rama, his brother Lakshmana, and his wife Sita went into exile, according to the wish of his stepmother.
After about ten years of exile in the forest, the three moved, on the advice of the sage Agastya, into a region where there were dangerous rakshasas (demons). One of them, Surpanakha, saw Rama and fell in love. What happened next, Rama’s rejection of her and Surpanakha’s mutilation at the hands of the brothers, provoked her older brother Ravana to seek revenge. (For more details see Lakshmana.) Ravana abducted Sita, though fortunately prevented by a curse from raping her as he had done to so many women, including his nephew’s wife. Ravana took Sita to Lanka. Rama won the aid of Hanuman and Sugriva and their monkey armies. (Was this a disguised reference to South Indians, Dravidians, helping Rama?) Hanuman built a causeway or bridge from the Indian subcontinent to Lanka, and Ravana was finally defeated. Techni­cally, the reason for Vishnu’s incarna­tion was complete. However, the myth’s significance for modern India continued, with Rama’s return to Ayodhya and setting up of his divine rule there. (In 1992 and 2002 Ayodhya was the focus of communal killings in the hundreds provoked by a desire to set Sri Rama, divine king and an avatara of Vishnu up another period of ideal Hindu rule (TRIP) from Rama’s birthplace and capital.)
Rama’s rule restored virtue and order (dharma) and brought a golden age. Nevertheless, several incidents marred this perfect period. Rama did not support Sita powerfully against the charge that she was polluted after she had lived in the house (or palace) of another man. Sita was forced to perform a fire ritual to prove her purity, then banished anyway into the ever dangerous forests for most of her life, or in some versions, the rest of it.
This ending has been revised constantly because it is central to the theme of the relationship between the perfect king and the perfect wife. This conflicted aspect of the myth cycle has been reworked in numerous ways in order to attempt to overcome some of the ambiguities. The following is generally agreed: Sita was blameless, an ideal wife. She followed her husband to the forest and waited for Rama to come and rescue her in Lanka without yielding to Ravana’s temptations. She was both courageous and faithful in every way. After her res­cue and Ravana’s death, her life took a sad turn. Rama abandoned the pregnant Sita because of the verdict of the people of his country: that Sita must not be pure after having stayed in Lanka for such a long time. In many versions of the myth, public opinion led Rama to denounce Sita.
There are several endings to this myth. One brings Sita back to the throne; another has her returning to her mother, the earth. They begin in much the same way. After abandoning Sita, Rama ruled the country for many years. Once his sons by Sita, Lava and Kusa, came to visit him. They pleaded that he take their mother back. They, along with their mother, were being looked after by the sage Valmiki. Rama accepted Sita back and restored her to the palace as his queen. The latest versions—with this correction—end happily here. However, the ear­lier versions had a different ending. After her return to the palace, the murmur­ing of the people began again: she was not chaste (pure) enough to be the wife of Rama. And Rama abandoned Sita again. This time she chose to return to the earth, her mother (Bhu-devi). The earth split apart and took her—entering back into the furrow from which she was born.
Rama did not live long after Sita’s death. He drowned himself in the river Sarayu. (Or, it was also said that he went through water purification to heaven.) Rama and Sita returned to Vaikuntha and were merged into Vishnu and Lakshmi.

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