The Ramayana


R. K. Narayan

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The Ramayana Characters


Rama is the titular protagonist and the first son of King Dasaratha. Though in this story Rama is a human, he's actually an avatar of the god Vishnu, who decided to take a… read analysis of Rama


Sita is Rama's wife and the incarnation of the goddess Lakshmi, Vishnu's wife—Sita was literally made for Rama. In the human world, King Janaka found the infant Sita in a plowed field and… read analysis of Sita


Lakshmana is Rama's half brother, and son to King Dasaratha. The two are very close, and Lakshmana represents the ideal brother. He chooses to go with Rama when the sage Viswamithra asks for… read analysis of Lakshmana


Ravana is a rakshasa (demon) with ten heads and ten sets of arms, and is the king of the island Lanka. Long before Rama's birth, Ravana acquired powers from the gods Brahma and Shivaread analysis of Ravana


Hanuman is a monkey who initially serves Sugreeva. In his childhood, Hanuman's father told Hanuman to dedicate his life to serving Vishnu. Hanuman is the first monkey to realize that Rama is an… read analysis of Hanuman
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Dasaratha is the emperor of Kosala and Rama’s father. He has three wives, Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumithra, none of whom have children, but after offering specific sacrifices, he has four sons… read analysis of Dasaratha


Sugreeva is a monkey from Kiskinda. His brother, Vali, banished him from the kingdom because he believed that Sugreeva tried to usurp the crown, though Sugreeva remained honorable and loyal to his brother's claim… read analysis of Sugreeva


Vali is the initial king of the monkeys in Kiskinda. He's a very powerful being in his own right, but he also has the special power of being nearly invincible. When someone wishes to fight… read analysis of Vali


Bharatha is the son of Dasaratha and Kaikeyi. Like his brothers, Bharatha is a skilled warrior and exceptionally thoughtful. He is extremely angry when he hears that Kaikeyi forced Dasaratha to name him as… read analysis of Bharatha


Kaikeyi is Dasaratha's favorite wife and the mother of Bharatha. Though she's a kind and generous woman at heart, her companion Kooni encourages Kaikeyi to behave jealously and blackmail Dasaratha into crowning Bharatha… read analysis of Kaikeyi

King Janaka

King Janaka is Sita's adoptive father and the king of Mithila. He cares deeply for Sita, and to protect her from possibly having to marry an unworthy man, he declares that any suitor must… read analysis of King Janaka


Soorpanaka is Ravana's demoness sister. Though her demon form is horrific, with long fangs, a distended belly, and wild hair, she's also capable of assuming the form of a beautiful woman. She falls madly… read analysis of Soorpanaka


Kooni is a hunchback woman and one of Kaikeyi's companions. When Rama was a child he made fun of her deformities and threw clay balls at her, which causes Kooni to harbor ill will… read analysis of Kooni


Vishnu is one of the gods that make up the Hindu Trinity (alongside Shiva and Brahma). Vishnu is referred to as the protector. In his divine form, he carries a conch and a wheel… read analysis of Vishnu


Brahma is one of the gods that comprises the Hindu Trinity, along with Shiva and Vishnu. Brahma is the creator and has four faces. Though Brahma initially granted Ravana boons that made him very… read analysis of Brahma


Indra is a lesser god in Hindu mythology. He becomes obsessed with the perfect woman, Ahalya, and tricks her into having sex with him before assuming the body of a cat to escape. As… read analysis of Indra


Jatayu is a great eagle and was at one point a dear friend of Dasaratha. When he comes across Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita in the forest, he vows to stay alive and… read analysis of Jatayu


Mareecha is Thataka's son and Ravana's uncle. Though he's a demon, he attempts to correct his life by giving up his violent ways and praying. When Ravana threatens him, however, Mareecha agrees to… read analysis of Mareecha
Minor Characters
With Brahma and Vishnu, Shiva is one of the gods that makes up the Hindu Trinity. He's referred to as the destroyer. Shiva is one of the gods who granted Ravana the boons that made him powerful, and he assists Brahma and Vishnu in orchestrating Ravana's later downfall.
Kamban / The Poet
Kamban was a medieval poet who composed a Tamil translation of the Ramayana. The narrator uses Kamban's version as source material to write this edition of the Ramayana, and refers to Kamban as "the poet" when describing how he refers to certain plot points or descriptions.
Vibishana is Ravana's youngest brother. He's the most logical and good-hearted of all Ravana's brothers and tries to convince Ravana to release Sita. When Ravana refuses and banishes him, Vibishana joins Rama's army and offers intelligence on Ravana's weapons and army that allow Rama to plan a successful attack.
Lakshmi is a Hindu goddess and the god Vishnu's wife. She incarnates as Sita when Vishnu incarnates as Rama.
Kausalya is Rama's mother and Dasaratha's wife. She's devoted to her husband and loves her fellow wives' sons as her own.
Sumithra is the mother of the twins Lakshmana and Sathrugna, and one of Dasaratha's wives.
Viswamithra is a sage, though he was once a powerful king. He teaches Rama about weaponry.
Angada is the son of Tara and Vali. He's an instrumental figure in Rama's fight against Ravana.
Thataka is the first demoness that Rama kills. She eats everything that crosses her path, and her evil spoils the land and turns it into a desert.
Sampathi is Jatayu's brother. He's disfigured because the sun god burnt him many years ago. When he meets Angada and Hanuman, he hears Rama's name and this restores Sampathi to his original, majestic form.
Tara is initially Sugreeva's wife, but becomes Vali's wife when Vali banishes Sugreeva. She has one son, Angada.
Sathrugna is Lakshmana's twin and the son of Dasaratha and Sumithra. He helps Bharatha rule in Rama's absence, and helps Rama enter into exile safely.
Sumithra is Dasaratha's third wife. She's the mother of the twins Lakshmana and Sathrugna.
Brahma created Ahalya to be the most beautiful and perfect woman. The god Indra tricked Ahalya into having sex with him, and as punishment, Ahalya's husband cursed her to turn to stone until she hears Rama's name.
Kara is a demon warrior who serves Ravana and protects Soorpanaka. Rama kills him.
Indrajit is one of Ravana's sons. He wholeheartedly supports his father.
Kumbakarna is one of Ravana's brothers. He's massive, violent, and a deep sleeper—it takes an entire army to wake him.
Matali is the driver of the god Indra's chariot. The gods send him to assist Rama in the battle with Ravana.