The Ramayana is an ancient Indian epic about the exile and then return of Rama, prince of Ayodhya, written some time in the 5th century BCE. In Sanskrit, it was written by the sage Valmiki who taught it to the sons of Rama, the twins Lava and Kush. It is a very long poem at around 24000 lines and is recognized by tradition as the Adi Kavya (adi = first, first; kavya = poem).While the basic plot is about palace diplomacy and wars with demon clans, ideology, ethics, and obligation notes are interspersed throughout the tale. Although the protagonists are confronted with all their human follies and shortcomings in that other Indian story, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana bends more towards an ideal state of things: Rama is the ideal son and ruler, Sita is the ideal wife, Hanuman the ideal devotee, Lakshman and Bharat the ideal sisters, and even Ravana, the Villian lord, is not completely disgusting.
History of the Ramayana
The Ramayana has been performed for at least 2000 years in India and Southeast Asia. The oldest published text dates back to AD 400 and was composed by the poet Valmiki who took together legends, songs, and prayers relating to Rama and Sita.
Vinay Lal, professor of history at UCLA, wrote: “The Ramayana refers to a literature class recognized in Sanskrit as kavya (poetry), while in the West it is considered to belong to the literature group common to Homer’s writers, namely the epic. This is one of two epics, the other being the Mahabharata which has played a crucial role in defining the character of Indian society. The Ramayana may have lived as far back as 1,500 B.C. in the oral culture but it was the fourth century B.C. In Sanskrit, Valmiki is widely recognized as the date of its creation.
“While some right-wing ideologues in recent years, eager to get the same kind of historicity applied to the Ramayana as to the scriptures of Christianity and the Koran, get tried to date the Ramayana back to at least 6,000 years and have even set an exact date for its creation, it does not in some way diminish the significance of the text to say that the Ramayana I historicity. If in reality there was or not the hero Rama, who in Hindu mythology is an incarnation of Vishnu but a primary god in his own right, and who is still revered as a ruler in parts of north India, is of little significance. The other kind of exaggeration is to see him simply as a trope — as, for example, a symbol of masculinity, or as an insignia of heroic and revolutionary kshatriyahood, which is what the present generation of Hindutvavadis has made him into.
According to the British Museum: “The roots of the epic are in India and Hinduism but the plot has reached oceans and rivers, languages and beliefs, acting types and art forms over the years. There are variants of Muslims in Java and Buddhism in Thailand. The tale remains in Indonesia as shadow works, temple carvings in Cambodia, dances, songs, and ceremonial enactments in all of India. The text lives in Sri Lankan ola leaf journals, and in North India on painted shelves. One of the phenomena of this epic is its worldwide movement which has led to numerous iterations and tales, each storyteller recomposing the tale for each audience. Ramayana is still practicing with live performances today. “
The Ramayana is one of the well documented and many popular stories of India and Southeast Asia. Essentially a tale of love and banishment, it tells the story of Prince Rama, who was sent into forest exile with his wife Sita and Lakshamana, his nephew. Sita is captured by the wicked devil Ravana but eventually saved by Prince Rama with the aid of Hanuman, the Monkey King.
The Valmiki or Sanskrit Ramayana is divided into seven chapters, as follows: 1) Bala-Kanda: Rama’s boyhood and adolescence; 2) Ayodhya-Kanda: Dasaratha’s trial, and the scenes that set the stage for the tale to unfold, including the conversation between Dasaratha and Kaikeyi and Rama’s exile; 3) Aranya-Kanda: Ravana’s life in the forest and Sita’s abduction; 4) Kishkindhya-Kanda:
5) Sundara-Kanda: definition of the plains on which Rama roams, and the presence of Rama and his allies in Lanka; Sundara means lovely, and this section of the book includes passages of lyrical beauty; 6) Yuddha-Kanda, also known as the Lanka-Kanda: the book of war: the conquest of Ravana, the recovery of Sita, the return to Ayodhya and the crowning of Rama; and 7) Uttara-Kanda: the ‘later section’ [Source: History Professor Vinay Lal, UCLA, Culture of Asia]
The Ramayana Variants
Vinay Lal, professor of history at UCLA, wrote: “The keyframe of the Ramayana tale is extremely well-known in India, imbibed with, so to say, mother’s milk by any Indian… It is necessary to remember that there isn’t one Ramayana in India. Yes, Valmiki’s original writing in Sanskrit is scarcely read these days, and the most famous Ramayanas are in the Indian ‘vernacular’ languages. In South India, for example, Kamban’s Ramayana, written in Tamil in the 11th century, prevails; in North India, Tulsidas’ Ramayana, called the Ramacaritmanas, has become legendary. The Ramacaritmanas are the devotional document of Hinduism par excellence, also among the Hindus who reside in far-flung areas in the Indian diaspora, such as Fiji and Trinidad.
“In nearly all the big Indian languages, there are Ramayanas, and a few hundred versions, mostly abbreviated, and English” transcreations. Ravana is transformed into the hero in the Bengali edition of the story; and this interpretation was again taken up by the Bengali writer of the nineteenth century, Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-73), whose own epic retelling of the Ramayana depicts Rama as a frail and effeminate character reflecting an earlier period of political naivete and parochialism. It’s no wonder that one American author, Paula Richman, wrote the same title in a book about the “different Ramayanas.”
The Beginning of the Ramayana
Essentially Ramayana is a tale of devotion and banishment. It ends with the gods waking Vishnu from a deep celestial sleep and encouraging him to go to earth to rid the universe of Ravana, who can not be overcome by gods by a vow by Brahma and must be vanquished by a man. Vishnu descends as the guy Rama and woos to earth and Sita recovers. Rama is offered the king’s hand to Sita in marriage, so he will take the bow of Shiva.
Rama is Dasharatha’s youngest, King of Koysala, with Ayodhya as its base. The king is comprised of three wives and four daughters. Kaushalya is Rama’s girlfriend. Bharata is the son of Queen Kaikeyi, his second and favorite child. The other two, Lakshman and Shatrughna, are sisters.
Sita, the daughter of a ruler in a neighboring region, is revered for her beauty and matchless virtue. When it came time for Sita to select her bridegroom, the princes were required to tie a giant bow on a ceremony called a swayamvara. Nobody else can even raise the bow, but when Rama twists it, he not only loops it but also splits it into two. Sita suggests that by placing a garland around his face, she chooses Rama as her husband.
Later Dasharatha declares that it is time to surrender Rama his throne and to retreat to the woods to try moksha. All are satisfied. This scheme fulfills the dharma rules that the oldest son will govern, so if a son will take up his duties, he will devote his last years in looking for moksha. Everybody likes Rama, too. Rama’s step-mother, the second wife of the monarch, is not content though. She wishes to rule over her baby, Bharata. She gets the king to consent to banish Rama for fourteen years and to crown Bharata because of a promise that Dasharatha had given to her years earlier, even though the king, on bended knee, begs her not to claim these things. The distraught king, broken-hearted, can not approach Rama with the news, and Kaikeyi will inform him. And though he is not a party to the story, Bharatha becomes ruler and becomes devoted to his elder brother Rama.
Also, See Shri Ram Janma Bhoomi Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, India
Rama and Sita in the Wald
Rama, still faithful, embraces his banishment with dutiful consent. Sita persuades Rama that she is on his side. He even begs his brother Lakshmana, who is one of two sons of the third queen of Dasaratha, Sumithra, to go home. Rama then continues to the forest with Lakshmana and the uncompromising Sita.
Although the two men live like ascetics in the wood, with no protests from Sita, and have plenty of adventures. Rama and Lakshman kill the rakshasas (evil creatures) in their meditations which disturb the sages. For one episode Sita is abducted by a rakshasa. Just as her Rama and Laksmana are about to devour, save her and kill the devil.
Bharata, a whose bad scheme by his mother won him the throne, is angry when he figures out what happened. He does not think for a moment violating dharma laws and being king instead of Rama. He goes to the woodland refuge of Rama and begs Rama to come back and govern but Rama refuses. “We have to follow Dad,” says Rama. Then Bharata takes Rama’s sandals, stating, “I’m going to place these on the chair, and every day I’m going to bring the fruits of my labor at my Lord’s feet.” Accepting Rama, he takes the sandals and heads back to Ayodhya.
Years pass and in the trees, Rama, Sita, and Lakshman are extremely happy. They’re more daring. One day Rama attempts to be seduced by a rakshasa queen, and Lakshmana hurts her and sends her out. She returns to her brother Ravana, Lanka’s ten-headed monarch, and asks her brother about lovely Sita — who has a weakness for beautiful ladies.
Ravana abducted Sita
The wicked Ravana, King of the Demons who had ten heads and twenty wings, spied beautiful wife Sita in the forest and immediately fell in love with her. Ravana is enthralled by the beauty and rage of Sita at Rama, as he refused the sister of Ravana, who had fallen in love with him. With the aid of Marica, Ravana conspires to kidnap Sita who disguises himself as a golden deer to draw Rama and Laksmana away from Sita.
When Rama and his brother are busy, Ravana planned to disguise himself as a golden deer for his servant Maricha and to lure Rama and Lakshman away from Sita. In the dust around Sita Lakshman created a shield to cover her and instructed her not to venture out of the shield. Yet Ravana cleverly dressed as an elderly beggar and pleaded for food and water from Sita. Sita showed sympathy for him and walked out of the circle. The beggar turned back to Ravana, taking Sita in his arms and throwing her onto his mystical traveling chariot. Sita screamed for aid and Jatayu struck Ravana with a furious bird in an attempt to save him. But with his knife, Ravana sliced off the bird’s eyes. Sita threw her necklace to the ground, in the hope that Rama would save her.
As Rama returns to the lonely house, he becomes broken-hearted, and can not locate Sita. A pair of monkeys have been trying to help him locate Sita. Meanwhile, Ravana has brought Sita back to Lanka’s Golden City (now Sri Lanka). Ravana is attempting to manipulate Sita into being his wife. He places her in a grove in one iteration of the tale and alternately sweet-talks her and scares her in an attempt to convince her to decide to marry him. Sita isn’t going to glance at him but instead thinking about her beloved Rama. Through another tale of the narrative, in the castle of Ravana, Sita is kept captive. The devil tries to torment Sita before she gets married. The devil tries to torment Sita before she gets married. Meanwhile, Rama and Laksmana go through a number of challenges and hardships to save Sita. They are aided by Hanuman who points out where Sita is being held.
Hanuman Flies to Save Sita in Lanka
Rama is aided by Hanuman, the monkey god and general of a monkey force, in his attempts to locate Sita, whose location was not specified. There is no better example of dedication in Indian literature and mythology than Hanuman. Since his father is the wind god Vayu, Hanuman can float. Hanuman had the vitality and rapidity, the control, and the determination of his father. As a boy, Hanuman thought the sun was a ripe fruit and tried to jump up and catch it. He leaped so high that he almost got burned, but the Sun was fascinated and offered Hanuman the gift of life as a reward for his bravery and cleverness.
Rama had given his ring to Hanuman, to send to Sita. Monkeys and bears agreed that because Hanuman was the son of the god of the sea, and he was excellent at leaping and sailing, he had to sail to Lanka to try Sita. Hanuman prayed to his father and fled to Lanka, sailing across the ocean and escaping from many devouring demons he encountered along the way. The jump to Hanuman became the subject of several drawings. One popular example, on his way to Lanka, shows him leaping through the jaws of Surasa, a sea monster.
Having shrunk to a mouse’s scale, Hanuman raced through Lanka, searching for Sita. He discovered her being kept captive near Ravana’s palace in an Ashok grove. She was guarded by horrific demonesses and threatened by Ravana who wished Rama to be forgiven and then married him. She stood beneath a crying oak. In the meantime, Hanuman climbed the vine, lowered the ring of Rama into her lap, and assured her that Rama would come and rescue her.
But Hanuman was seized by the spirits, hugged him closely, and took him to Ravana. Ravana and the Demons agreed to set Hanuman’s tail in flames. They covered his tail in cotton strips and drenched the cotton in gasoline. Hanuman released a magic spell while the Demons started to plan Hanuman’s hair, making his hair grow longer and longer and longer. The demons quickly run out of cotton and gasoline. They mounted his tail light anyway. But Hanuman shrank down to a mouse’s scale, and now his tail is dwindling too. He managed to flee this route, setting Ravana’s throne alight in the end, and leaving a trail of flames all over Lanka. Hanuman once easily dipped his tail into the water, and sprung back to Rama, Lakshmana, and the bears and tells Rama where Sita is.
Fight between Ravana and Rama and Hanuman Armed Forces
When Rama was unable to enter Lanka Island he sought Hanuman’s aid, gathered his monkey army to throw stones into the sea, and build a bridge to Lanka. Tiny palm squirrels helped to take pebbles to the bottom of the waters and Rama, moved by their actions, stroked one, labeled it with the stripes – thereby granting their name to the five-striped palm squirrels. Rama crossed the bridge trailing him with the monkey army to do war with Ravana’s demon force. Strong combat ensues. Rama destroys multiple brothers from Ravana and then Rama meets ten-headed Ravana, renowned for his cleverness.
The war — pitting Rama, and the Hanuman and Sugriva armies against Ravana and the demons — is the Ramayana’s key occurrence. It begins after Hanuman carries fire to the city of Ravana and goes through a long string of offensives, counterattacks, and fights. Forces of Ravana shoot arrows that transform into serpents, and wind like nooses around their victims’ heads.
Everything seems lost as Indrajit — a prince of Lanka and an Indra Loka (heaven) conqueror — nearly destroys Laksmana, and Sugriva’s armies are on the verge of defeat. Hanuman flies back to the Himalayas at this stage and returns several mystical plants. In some variation of the tale Indrajit destroys Rama and Laksmana and they try to get the powerful herb back to existence.
Hanuman Flies To Get magic Treatment in the Himalayas
During the war between the demon army of Ravana and the animal army of Rama, Lakshman was so severely injured that it appeared he would die before sunrise. (A number of monkeys and bears are also injured in certain interpretations of the story.) Monkeys and bears agreed that Hanuman had to spring to the Himalayas to bring back the curing herb from the Medicine Mountain to save Lakshman’s life. So Hanuman jumped across the seas, and to the Himalayas in India.
It took a long time to discover the fabled Medicine Mountain landing in the Himalayas. Hanuman eventually discovered it -filled with spices, but he did not realize what the true curing herb was. And he put his arms around the whole peak, dragged it out of the earth, and raised it into his hand palms. He then flew back to Lanka, with the top. The sun had begun to climb on the road. So Hanuman wanted to catch the sun under his neck, so he could get back in time to rescue Lakshman before sunrise. Lakshman was picked up and given the curing herb. Lakshman was packed with love and was restored.
He and Rama relive the Sugriva wars with Laksama returning from near death. Laksmana fails to defeat Indrajit in a series of duels and Rama defeats Ravana with an arrow. Finally, all the kin of Ravana and all his power is overcome by Rama and his friends in the military. Rama returns with Lakshmana and Sita to Ayodhya in victory and is proclaimed a ruler.
Sita’s Fire Test and The Ramayana End
After 14 years Rama was reunited with Sita but was unexpectedly unwilling to forgive her, suspecting her of unfaithfulness. He believed she and Ravana have deceived him. Rama insisted that Sita show her innocence before he could take her back as his wife to set a decent precedent and waylay his fears.
Sita, angry and screaming against her innocence, asked Lakshmana to make a fire that would consume her if she had done something wrong. Rama put fire on his uncle. Sita bursts back into the fire. The fires were roaring and consuming but they failed to kill her. Sita stepped unharmed, through the fire. The fire changed to roses as she moved around. Rama instead pleaded for forgiveness.
Rama, Sita, and their faithful followers then returned south, north India, to the Kingdom of Ayodhya. The band left and reached the road. Once they hit the other shore, the bridge fell into the water, leaving just a line of rocks jutting out into the water towards Lanka (the chain of shoals still recognized as Adam’s Bridge). The band marched through India and people came out of their homes on the way and put small lamps on their doorsteps to light their path. The trio had been able to make their way home after these lights. Today this journey is celebrated with the Lights Festival – Divali – where citizens put lights in their windows to welcome Sita / Lakshmi, richness and prosperity, into their homes.
Some epic versions conclude with Rama banishing innocent Sita to please his subjects. This is too late by the time Rama discovers she was faithful: she was eaten up by the world. The dutiful wife is known as a model for the self-sacrificing Sita. Some interpretations of the tale have a “happier” conclusion, with Rama remembering that when she throws herself into a fire she was right, confirming that she was wrong. According to some interpretations, she and Rama head to Ayodhya after Sita shows innocence here and Rama becomes king. His law, Ram-Rajya, is a perfect moment when everybody performs their dharma, and “fathers never have to light up their sons’ funeral pyres.”Mahatma Gandhi dreamed that one day modern India would become a Ram-Rajya.
Virtuous Rama, Sita, and Bharata
Rama, Sita, and Bharata are all manifestations of dharma-followers. The New York University’s Jean Johnson wrote: “The hero, Rama, lived his entire life by the dharma rules; in reality, that’s why Indians find him heroic. When a young boy Rama was, was the ideal kid. He later became an excellent husband to his faithful wife, Sita, and a leading Aydohya king. “Be as Rama,” they taught young Indians 2,000 years ago; “Be as Sita.”
“Prince Rama was the youngest of four children, and when his father withdrew from governing he was to become king. However, his stepmother wanted to see her son Bharata, the younger brother of Rama, become king. Remembering that the king had once agreed to give her whatever two wishes she wished, she requested the banishment of Rama and the crowning of Bharata. The king needed to honor his wife’s word, so ordered the banishment of Rama. Rama unquestionably acknowledged the Order. “I gladly obey the order of my dad,” he told his stepmother. “Why, even though you ordered this, I should go.
“When Sita, the wife of Rama, heard that Rama was to be banished, she begged to accompany him to his retreat in the forest. “Like shadow to material, so husband to woman,” she told Rama. “Isn’t the wife’s dharma to be at the side of her husband? Let me step ahead of you, so I can smooth your feet on the road,” she begged. Rama accepted, and all went into the forest with Rama, Sita, and his brother Lakshmana.
“He was looking for Rama in the forest when Bharata discovered what his mother had accomplished. “The oldest will rule,” Rama told him. “Just come back and assert your rightful position as king.” Rama declined to go against his father’s orders, but Bharata took his brother’s sandals and said, “I’ll bring these sandals on the throne as tokens of your power. I’ll rule in your position only as monarch, and every day I’ll bring my offerings at my Lord’s feet. As Bharata left, Rama said to him, “I would have realized you should happily renounce what other people are doing work lifetimes to learn to give up.
Vinay Lal, a UCLA history lecturer, wrote: “Ravana appears in the Ramayana as Lanka’s demon-king and Rama’s principal antagonist. In both interpretations of the Ramayana, Rama vanquishes and destroys him in a brutal fight in which all are compelled to rely on all the tools at their disposal, including the most amazing weapons. Thus she is returned to her husband by Sita, who had been kidnapped by Ravana. If Rama holds out as a glorious symbol of the king of goodness, Ravana is the very representation of bad in the popular imagination. In Hindi, for example, a man who behaves wickedly is identified as acting like Ravana, and Ravana’s effigies burnt at the mark of Dusshera the triumph of good over evil.
“However, there are Indian myths where Ravana is not only vindicated as a man of tremendous moral and physical power but where he stars as the Ramayana’s leading protagonist. His profound penance, understanding, and dedication to Brahma won him appreciation from this latter. Brahma bestowed the blessing of near invulnerability on Ravana, rendering him exempt from the devastation of gods or (other) demons; he also acquired the capacity to alter his size, and in the Ramayana, he is identified as having ten heads and twenty arms. He was born with the ability to raise the oceans and to break the mountain tops. Ravana’s body carried all the signs of one who battled the devas: Indra’s thunderbolt, Indra’s elephant Airavata’s tusks, and Vishnu’s discus were all scarred at him.
“If Ravana has a tragic weakness, his hubris was unquestionably his. Once Brahma bestowed a blessing on him, and Ravana requested that the devas be unable to cause damage to him, he did not think it would be wise to inquire for human or animal safety. Consequently, Vishnu had to incarnate himself as a human being, Rama, and it is an army of monkeys, headed by Hanuman, which allows Rama to free Sita from the clutches of Ravana and to kill him. Ravana’s hubris reaches to such a degree that he at first fails to take Rama seriously because he assumes that the notion that any human being might present a danger to him is completely despising.
When Rama and Ravana meet in combat, it is Ravana’s hallmark that he flaunts his strength, and talks arrogantly of smashing Rama to bits; meanwhile, Rama merely carries out his job. As Rama sends his final arm, the “Brahmasthra,” hurtling toward Ravana, he pursues it to his core. While Ravana had been looking for invincibility and might substitute his head or weapons with another package, he had not considered safeguarding his heart. Maybe in appreciation of the fact that he had almost met his match, or that Ravana was by birth a Brahmin, well versed in the Vedas, and abundant in his mastery of Sanskrit, Rama ordered that Ravana’s funeral arrangements be those fitted to his grandeur.
“No one who has read the Ramayana would have stopped to ask if she was not raped by Ravana who lusted after Sita and held her in captivity for years. He constantly begged her to become his wife and tried to end her life on more than one occasion, but she was only as adamant in resisting his advances. Devotee readers are likely to view Sita’s innocence as rendering her inviolable. Except Ravana had the power edge and she’d been his prisoner. The Ramayana recommends a variety of other readings themselves. It’s claimed he was dissuaded by one of Ravana’s wives from infringing Sita. Ravana is claimed to have been incapacitated by a spell to the effect that he would be reduced to dust if he made any effort to molest her. And it is also possible to say that Ravana, having abducted her, only wanted Sita for himself if she gave her consent; to do so was to give up the honor badge that he, the most strong of the asuras or demons, bore. His exceptional restraint and Tapasya was remarkable: right next to him, subject to his immense strength, he was a woman for whom he had a raging passion, and yet he controlled himself. Had it been too high a price to pay for such an incredible thing to be burned to ashes?
“Certainly some interpreters, such as the Bengali writer of the nineteenth century Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-1873), we’re inclined to assume that Ravana showed the virtues of integrity, honor, honesty, loyalty, and righteousness to a greater degree than Rama did. How could Rama, a hero of an earlier pastoral village republic, promote himself to the notice of the new, and what was so remarkable about a hero who, having permitted himself to be expelled, was unable to defend his wife? When the nation’s safety had been assigned to incompetent and feminine leaders such as Rama in the past and these alleged legends were now kept up for emulation, was it any wonder that India had fallen under British rule? While Ravana’s story can seem like a closed book, there’s plurality enough in Indian traditions that even Ravana is capable of some recovery.
Contradictions, Flaws and Variant Endings of The Ramayana
The Ramayana talks of life in India around 1000 B.C. And is providing dharma versions. Professor Lal wrote: “While the Ramayana’s key tale might seem uncomplexed, as has already been stated, the epic poses various problems of understanding. Real, Rama appears as the very model of the monogamous husband and just and decent king in traditional Indian depictions (especially in the north); likewise, Sita has been seen as the supreme model of the noble, self-sacrificing, and faithful female, the ultimate embodiment of femininity as well as womanhood. But just a simplistic Ramayana reading places the understanding at some risk.
“One concern is that the Ramayana exists in several iterations, and the ends of the variations reflect the essence of the different readings. In the widely agreed version of the tale, after Rama had rescued Sita and taken her back to Ayodhya, there emerged various rumors regarding Sita’s dubious fidelity, which had the consequence of irritating Rama. While Rama knew that his wife was the very paragon of unchanged goodness and that she should not have succumbed to Ravana’s physical demands, under whose bondage she had lived for several years, certain suspicions started to creep into his mind; however, as a monarch, it was his responsibility to bring the anxieties shared by his people to rest. He put Sita then to a public test: if she should escape unscathed from the flames of the explosion, this would be the touchstone of her irrefutable moral nature. Sita completes the exam (agnipariksha) with flying colors, and subsequently, she takes her place alongside Rama, and they preside over Ayodhya together.
“After a version, Sita is sent to live the remainder of her time at Valmiki’s hermitage, where she gives birth to the twin’s Lava and Kusa; and then, begging with the world from which she came down to be her witness, Sita [the term means” furrow] “returns to the planet from which she came. It can be used as a reproof to Rama, as a reaffirmation of the feminine concept toward the realpolitik masculinity. Ramachandra Gandhi’s latest and stirring reinterpretation of the Ramayana indicates that the section regarding the agnipariksha is not part of the tale as it existed in the oral history, introduced at the instance of patriarchal people who came to exercise that power in Indian society.
“Yet Rama’s portrayal is not without its [see Rama] blemishes. Contrary to this, only the Ramacaritmanas of Tulsidas, which is the most oppressive among commonly read stories, acknowledges that Ravana was not without any admirable qualities. In reality, the Ramayana tales indicate a marvelous self-reflexivity. When Rama decides to go into exile, he seeks to dissuade Sita from joining him; she is told that the difficulties of a poor and hard existence in the forest are not for her as a queen, accustomed to all the luxuries which life has to offer. Yet, as a Hindu woman, Sita indicates she happily shares the life of her husband, and that she can not leave him at this crucial moment. The Indian writer Ananthamurthy has written about one edition of the Ramayana, where Rama pleads with Sita to live behind in Ayodhya; eventually, exasperated by his belief that women should not be exposed to the burdens of life, Sita asks Rama: “If I follow you in all other Ramayanas, how should I not do it in this Ramayana.