The Ramayana

Rama Character Analysis

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 human form in order to kill the evil rakshasa (demon) Ravana. Because of this, Rama's true identity is identifiable by his desire to rid the world of evil. He's exceptionally strong and skilled in battle, which is also an early clue to those around him that he's an incarnation of Vishnu. Rama uses this strength to string Shiva's bow and win Sita's hand in marriage. Though every citizen of Kosala wants Rama to be king, Rama demonstrates his intense loyalty and honor when he insists that Dasaratha uphold his promise to Kaikeyi, one of his wives, and crown Rama's brother, Bharatha, king instead. Rama retreats to the forests with Sita and his brother, Lakshmana, for 14 years, during which time Rama battles demons and rakshasas. When Ravana kidnaps Sita, Rama works closely with the monkeys of Kiskinda to rescue her. During the fight with Ravana, Rama behaves honorably by allowing Ravana time to recover from fainting spells, and even doubts the legitimacy and righteousness of his victory when he notices an injury on Ravana's back and fears that he inflicted it while Ravana fled. Though Rama has a streak of jealousy and possessiveness, especially when it comes to Sita (and even moreso in a later episode that is left out of this version of the epic), in general he is presented as the ideal hero and man.

Rama Quotes in The Ramayana

The The Ramayana quotes below are all either spoken by Rama or refer to Rama. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Ramayana published in 2006.
Prologue Quotes

Ravana can be destroyed only by a human being since he never asked for protection from a human being.

Related Characters: Vishnu (speaker), Rama, Ravana, Dasaratha, Brahma, Shiva
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
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1. Rama's Initiation Quotes

You cannot count on the physical proximity of someone you love, all the time. A seed that sprouts at the foot of its parent tree remains stunted until it is transplanted...Every human being, when the time comes, has to depart and seek his fulfillment in his own way.

Related Characters: Viswamithra (speaker), Rama, Dasaratha
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
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You will learn the answer if you listen to this story—of a woman fierce, ruthless, eating and digesting all living creatures, possessing the strength of a thousand mad elephants.

Related Characters: Viswamithra (speaker), Rama, Lakshmana, Thataka
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:
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Just as the presence of a little loba (meanness) dries up and disfigures a whole human personality, so does the presence of this monster turn into desert a region which was once fertile.

Related Characters: Viswamithra (speaker), Rama, Lakshmana, Thataka
Page Number: 12
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A woman of demoniac tendencies loses all consideration to be treated as a woman.

Related Characters: Viswamithra (speaker), Rama, Lakshmana, Thataka
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:
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2. The Wedding Quotes

The sun set beyond the sea, so says the poet—and when a poet mentions a sea, we have to accept it. No harm in letting a poet describe his vision, no need to question his geography.

Related Characters: Rama, Sita, Kamban / The Poet
Page Number: 23
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As time passed Janaka became anxious whether he would ever see his daughter married and settled—since the condition once made could not be withdrawn. No one on earth seemed worthy of approaching Shiva's bow. Janaka sighed. "I tremble when I think of Sita's future, and question my own judgment in linking her fate with this mighty, divine heirloom in our house."

Related Characters: King Janaka (speaker), Rama, Sita, Shiva, Viswamithra
Related Symbols: Bows and Arrows
Page Number: 26
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3. Two Promises Revived Quotes

He is perfect and will be a perfect ruler. He has compassion, a sense of justice, and courage, and he makes no distinctions between human beings—old or young, prince or peasant; he has the same consideration for everyone. In courage, valor, and all the qualities—none to equal him.

Related Characters: Dasaratha (speaker), Rama
Page Number: 34
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"My father's name is renowned for the steadfastness of his words. Would you rather that he spoke false? ... I am thrice blessed, to make my brother the King, to carry out my father's command, and to live in the forests. Do not let your heart grieve."

Related Characters: Rama (speaker), Dasaratha, Bharatha, Kaikeyi, Kausalya
Page Number: 46
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"I'll be the fate to overpower fate itself," said Lakshmana, with martial arrogance. Rama argued with him further. "I'll change and alter fate itself, if necessary..."

Related Characters: Lakshmana (speaker), Rama, Dasaratha, Bharatha, Kaikeyi
Page Number: 52
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"Oh, impossible thought—did he commit a wrong? But if Rama committed a seemingly wrong act, it would still be something to benefit humanity, like a mother forcibly administering a medicine to her child."

Related Characters: Bharatha (speaker), Rama, Kaikeyi
Page Number: 57
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4. Encounters in Exile Quotes

Rama's whole purpose of incarnation was ultimately to destroy Ravana, the chief of the asuras, abolish fear from the hearts of men and gods, and establish peace, gentleness, and justice in the world.

Related Characters: Rama, Ravana, Vishnu
Page Number: 63
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6. Vali Quotes

The perfect man takes a false step, apparently commits a moral slip, and we ordinary mortals stand puzzled before the incident. It may be less an actual error of commission on his part than a lack of understanding on ours; measured in Eternity, such an event might stand out differently.

Related Characters: Rama, Lakshmana, Sugreeva, Vali
Related Symbols: Bows and Arrows
Page Number: 90
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"We should not become too analytical about a friend, nor look too deeply into original causes; but accept only what appears good to us in the first instance, and act on it."

Related Characters: Rama (speaker), Lakshmana, Sugreeva, Vali, Bharatha
Page Number: 99
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"Creatures in human shape may be called animals if they display no knowledge of right and wrong and conversely so-called animals which display profundity cease to be animals and will have to be judged by the highest standards."

Related Characters: Rama (speaker), Vali
Page Number: 103
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"In spite of my obstinacy you have helped me attain a profound understanding and opened my mind with your magic. While other gods confer boons after being asked, you confer them on the mere utterance of your name. Great sages have attempted, after eons of austerities, to obtain a vision of God, but you have bestowed it upon me unasked."

Related Characters: Vali (speaker), Rama
Page Number: 104
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7. When the Rains Cease Quotes

"Even in jest, do not hurt anyone's feelings, not even the lowliest," he said—remembering how he used to make fun of Kooni's deformity when he was young...

Related Characters: Rama (speaker), Sugreeva, Kooni
Page Number: Book Page 106
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9. Ravana in Council Quotes

"You have done incompatible things. You have desired to appropriate another man's wife, which is against all codes of conduct, and now you are thinking of your prestige, reputation, fame, might, and eminence."

Related Characters: Kumbakarna (speaker), Rama, Sita, Ravana
Page Number: 125
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10. Across the Ocean Quotes

"After all, one who seeks asylum must be given protection. Whatever may happen later, it is our first duty to protect."

Related Characters: Rama (speaker), Hanuman, Vibishana
Page Number: 132
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12. Rama and Ravana in Battle Quotes

Rama at once invoked a weapon called "Gnana"—which means "wisdom" or "perception."

Related Characters: Rama, Ravana
Related Symbols: Bows and Arrows
Page Number: 144
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While he had prayed for indestructibility of his several heads and arms, he had forgotten to strengthen his heart, where the Brahmasthra entered and ended his career.

Related Characters: Rama, Ravana
Related Symbols: Bows and Arrows
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:
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14. The Coronation Quotes

The gods, who had watched this in suspense, were now profoundly relieved but also had an uneasy feeling that Rama had, perhaps, lost sight of his own identity. Again and again this seemed to happen. Rama displayed the tribulations and the limitations of the human frame and it was necessary from time to time to remind him of his divinity.

Related Characters: Rama, Ravana, Brahma, Shiva
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:
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Rama Character Timeline in The Ramayana

The timeline below shows where the character Rama appears in The Ramayana. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
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...his three wives, who will then have children. Within the year, Kausalya gives birth to Rama, Kaikeyi gives birth to Bharatha, and Sumithra bears the twins Lakshmana and Sathrugna. Dasaratha dotes... (full context)
1. Rama's Initiation
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Dasaratha offers to protect Viswamithra during the sacrifice, but Viswamithra suggests Dasaratha send Rama in his place. This shocks the king. Viswamithra is offended, and states that he wants... (full context)
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The priest tells Dasaratha that there's surely a divine reason that Viswamithra asked for Rama. Dasaratha, still worried, seems to concede his position, and Viswamithra kindly reminds the king that... (full context)
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Rama and Lakshmana follow Viswamithra until they reach a spot where Shiva once meditated. Viswamithra explains... (full context)
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Rama asks where he can find Thataka, and she suddenly arrives. She spits fire and roars... (full context)
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Later, Viswamithra tells Rama and Lakshmana the story of Mahabali. He explains that the ground where they're walking was... (full context)
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Viswamithra reaches the spot for his sacrifice and instructs Rama and Lakshmana to protect him and the other saints who mean to join Viswamithra in... (full context)
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By evening, Viswamithra, Rama, and Lakshmana reach the Ganges River. Viswamithra tells the story of Ganga, the goddess of... (full context)
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When Viswamithra, Rama, and Lakshmana catch sight of Mithila City, Rama brushes a slab of stone that turns... (full context)
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...to be a piece of granite that could only be returned to human form by Rama. Indra became a joke and refused to show himself, and was therefore unable to perform... (full context)
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Viswamithra addresses Rama, saying that he was born to restore righteousness and eliminate evil. Rama tells Ahalya to... (full context)
2. The Wedding
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...as there's no reason for the residents to pick it up. As Viswamithra, Lakshmana, and Rama cross the moat, Rama notices Sita on a balcony and is stunned by her beauty.... (full context)
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When Rama reaches his guesthouse, he wonders about the girl on the balcony and, though he remains... (full context)
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At dawn, Rama prepares to meet King Janaka. At the assembly hall, Viswamithra introduces Rama and Lakshmana, and... (full context)
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Rama looks to Viswamithra for permission and then approaches the bow. The assembly speculates that this... (full context)
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Sita is unaware that Rama broke the bow; she continues to move from bed to bed in an attempt to... (full context)
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...to meet Dasaratha. Dasaratha is filled with pride when he reaches the city and sees Rama. (full context)
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...how carefully Kamban describes the wedding festivities, taking nearly 1,000 lines to do so. After Rama and Sita are married, Rama's brothers marry women from Mithila as well. The people from... (full context)
3. Two Promises Revived
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...When everyone is assembled, Dasaratha speaks about his advancing age and the necessity of naming Rama his successor. He lists Rama's virtues and asks for the assembly's blessing. The assembly shouts... (full context)
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Dasaratha gives orders for the city to prepare and sends for Rama. He tells Rama that he's crowning him as his successor, and Rama accepts this gracefully.... (full context)
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...valid. Kooni, a hunchbacked companion of Bharatha's mother, Kaikeyi, is perturbed at the fact that Rama is going to be crowned. She wakens Kaikeyi and begins to suggest that Kaikeyi is... (full context)
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Kaikeyi remains indifferent to Kooni and insists that Rama will be a kind king. Kooni, however, says that Rama will surely try to behead... (full context)
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...redeemed at a later date. Dasaratha is filled with dread. Kaikeyi asks Dasaratha to banish Rama to the forest for 14 years and crown Bharatha king instead. (full context)
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...demon. He stays with her all night and tries to talk her out of banishing Rama, but she won't budge. (full context)
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The next morning, people begin to wonder where Dasaratha is. Rama is dressed for the coronation, and Dasaratha's chief minister finally decides to find the king.... (full context)
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When Rama arrives at the assembly hall, he explains the situation to Kausalya. She breaks down in... (full context)
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...a change in the arrangements. The priest demands a full explanation, and Kaikeyi explains that Rama surrendered the throne to Bharatha and will live in the forest for 14 years, but... (full context)
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...refuses. The priest accuses Kaikeyi of using her status for her own benefit, knowing that Rama would honorably obey. In a sudden outburst, Dasaratha calls Kaikeyi a devil and asks if... (full context)
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...his promise to Kaikeyi and disowns her and Bharatha. The priest goes to talk to Rama, and Dasaratha explains that the priest will be unsuccessful in holding Rama back: years ago,... (full context)
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When the news begins to spread that Rama won't be king, everyone in the city cries. Lakshmana becomes very angry, dresses for battle,... (full context)
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Rama bids his stepmother Sumithra goodbye. A servant brings clothes made of tree bark, and Lakshmana... (full context)
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When Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana emerge from the palace in their tree bark clothes, the crowd cries... (full context)
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Dasaratha remains lucid. Sathrugna enters his father's chamber and tells him that Rama crossed the river, and when he hears this Dasaratha dies instantly. Dasaratha's officials send for... (full context)
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...ask Bharatha to become king. Bharatha refuses and sets out with an army to find Rama. They find him quickly, and Lakshmana wants to kill Bharatha until they realize that Bharatha... (full context)
4. Encounters in Exile
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Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita travel far away from Ayodhya to keep people from trying to persuade... (full context)
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As they travel, Rama is enchanted by Sita's loveliness, particularly when she wears the jewelry from the sage's wife.... (full context)
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One night, Rama notices an exceptionally lovely woman in the woods. This makes him nervous, though he's struck... (full context)
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Soorpanaka refuses to outright state her purpose, but Rama realizes she wishes to marry him. He realizes that though she looks beautiful, she's actually... (full context)
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...cottage, stunning Soorpanaka with her beauty. Soorpanaka asks who Sita is, thinking that Sita and Rama are the perfect man and woman. She decides that Sita must have snuck up on... (full context)
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Rama tells Soorpanaka to leave before Lakshmana sees her. Soorpanaka tries to convince Rama again to... (full context)
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The next morning, Soorpanaka returns to Rama's house and watches him go to the river. She sees Sita leave the house to... (full context)
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Rama sees her when he returns from the river and asks Soorpanaka why she's all bloody.... (full context)
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Thinking it will help, Rama explains to Soorpanaka who he is and how he came to be in the forest.... (full context)
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...protects Soorpanaka. Soorpanaka explains to Kara what happened, and Kara instructs his commanders to attack Rama. When Rama sees Soorpanaka and the commanders coming, he instructs Lakshmana to protect Sita, and... (full context)
5. The Grand Tormentor
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...asks who did this to her. Soorpanaka explains what happened and mentions her admiration for Rama, though she adds that he's cruel. Ravana asks how Rama provoked Soorpanaka, and Soorpanaka says... (full context)
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...and asks her to confirm that he's hallucinating about Sita. Soorpanaka insists that she sees Rama, and that since he damaged her she can't forget him. She urges Ravana to go... (full context)
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...this quest will bring about the end of the rakshasas, angering Ravana. When Mareecha describes Rama's strength, Ravana threatens to kill Mareecha, and Mareecha finally agrees to help. He attempts to... (full context)
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Near Rama's cottage, Mareecha assumes the shape of the golden deer and walks past the cottage. Sita... (full context)
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Rama worries that Sita heard Mareecha's false cry, but reasons that Lakshmana will assure her that... (full context)
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...rakshasas are misunderstood, and are actually good to hermits such as himself. Sita explains that Rama's mission is to destroy the rakshasas, and Ravana asks what Rama will do when faced... (full context)
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...with her, and asks her to be his queen. Sita tells him to leave before Rama returns and begins to crying for help. Ravana remembers that he's been cursed to die... (full context)
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...comes to, tries to jump off the chariot. She yells at the animals to tell Rama what happened. Ravana laughs at Sita as she insults him. Jatayu challenges Ravana, telling him... (full context)
6. Vali
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The narrator prefaces this chapter by saying upfront that it's a puzzling episode: Rama, the perfect man, commits a morally questionable act by shooting a creature that didn't harm... (full context)
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Rama and Lakshmana enter Kiskinda while searching desperately for Sita. Hanuman, the helper of Kiskinda's king,... (full context)
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Hanuman bows at Rama's feet, though Rama insists that a scholar shouldn't do that. Hanuman explains that he only... (full context)
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This story moves Rama, and he offers Sugreeva his help. Hanuman and Sugreeva speak privately, and Hanuman says that... (full context)
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Rama then notices a pile of bones and asks Sugreeva about them. Sugreeva tells Dundubi's story.... (full context)
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Rama tells Lakshmana to get rid of the bones. Lakshmana kicks the bones away, returning the... (full context)
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...to reason with Vali, but Vali is intent on fighting Sugreeva. Tara quietly mentions that Rama has joined with Sugreeva, and Rama has an invincible bow. Vali calls Tara foolish and... (full context)
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Hidden away from the battle, Rama is in awe of Vali's strength. He and Lakshmana debate whether involving themselves in this... (full context)
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...chest and blood spurts out, sending Sugreeva into tears. Vali studies the arrow and sees Rama's name, thinking that Tara had better judgment than he did. (full context)
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Vali asks Rama why he did this, saying that this destroys Rama's virtues. He questions if this is... (full context)
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Rama approaches Vali and explains to the dying monkey what happened after he pursued the demon... (full context)
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Vali tells Rama he's misjudging everything: it's a legitimate action in the monkey society to take his brother's... (full context)
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Vali accepts this and asks Rama why he shot him from hiding. Lakshmana explains that if Rama had spoken to Vali,... (full context)
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Finally, Vali asks Rama to explain to others that Sugreeva brought about Vali's salvation, not just his death. He... (full context)
7. When the Rains Cease
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After Sugreeva's coronation, he approaches Rama and asks him what he should do next. Rama instructs Sugreeva to return to the... (full context)
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Hanuman insists on staying with Rama, but Rama tells Hanuman to remain with Sugreeva and counsel him. The monkeys leave and... (full context)
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When the rains end, Rama feels better. However, Sugreeva doesn't arrive with an army as the days pass. Rama wonders... (full context)
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...yells that they've all forgotten their responsibilities—she's been telling them that it's time to help Rama, but nobody listens. She accuses her companions of being selfish and ungrateful. Hearing this, the... (full context)
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...Hanuman if he forgot his own promise, but Hanuman explains that he always thinks of Rama. Lakshmana explains that Rama is suffering and worried. Hanuman invites Lakshmana into the palace, and... (full context)
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...than a golden chair. The monkeys try to offer Lakshmana luxuries, but Lakshmana says that Rama lives on little and as Rama's companion, Lakshmana will too. He asks Sugreeva to begin... (full context)
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Sugreeva leaves to meet with Rama, and Rama greets him with open arms. Sugreeva is self-critical, but Rama brushes this aside.... (full context)
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Soon, the armies begin to arrive. Rama stands at a high spot to try to count them, but decides that counting will... (full context)
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...protected Jatayu under his wings. Sampathi was told that he'd be redeemed when he heard Rama's name. At that, the army yells "Victory to Rama," and Sampathi is restored to his... (full context)
8. Memento From Rama
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...a tree, but Hanuman cautiously approaches her and tells her who he is and what Rama's been doing. He shows her Rama's ring, and Sita offers Hanuman a piece of jewelry... (full context)
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...Ravana's son, Indrajit, to capture him and bring him before Ravana. Hanuman tells Ravana that Rama will destroy Lanka and Ravana with it if he doesn't give in, but Ravana orders... (full context)
9. Ravana in Council
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...heroic to abduct a woman while her husband is gone. He goes on to list Rama and Lakshmana's military victories and says that dealing with Rama and Lakshmana first would've been... (full context)
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...that because Ravana is so powerful, they should ignore the monkeys and instead wait for Rama to bring the fight to Lanka. Ravana's brother Kumbakarna gets up and says again that... (full context)
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...Ravana not take the trouble of using armies, and should instead let him singlehandedly kill Rama and Lakshmana. Finally, Vibishana stands up and sadly asks Ravana to listen to him. He... (full context)
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Ravana berates Vibishana for saying that Rama is powerful, and insists that the gods can't curse him. Ravana insists that he's not... (full context)
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...leave and apologizes to Ravana for hurting his feelings before he crosses the ocean to Rama's camp. (full context)
10. Across the Ocean
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Vibishana attempts to remain in the background of Rama's camp, but eventually Rama's army chiefs notice him and bring him before Rama. Vibishana asks... (full context)
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Rama decides to trust Hanuman's assessment of Vibishana's character. Rama says that his duty is to... (full context)
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When the plan of attack is prepared, Rama stands at the seashore and wonders how to cross the sea. Rama prays and fasts... (full context)
11. The Siege of Lanka
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...and family members to try to protect Lanka, but nobody returns. He tries to infiltrate Rama's ranks with spies, but this proves ineffective. Finally, he tries to convince Sita that Rama... (full context)
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Rama sends Angada as a messenger to Ravana to ask him to concede, and share that... (full context)
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The battle rages for days. Indrajit at one point attacks Rama and Lakshmana with arrows that make them faint. This pleases Ravana, as he thinks they're... (full context)
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...to join the battle himself. Lakshmana faints at the sight of Ravana, but Hanuman lifts Rama onto his shoulders and they attack Ravana. Rama severely wounds Ravana and breaks his crown.... (full context)
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...battle earlier, and he rushes to Ravana to assure him that he'll take care of Rama. Kumbakarna is surprised to see Ravana look so anxious. Kumbakarna says that Ravana should've never... (full context)
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Though Kumbakarna's presence on the battlefield causes mayhem, Rama manages to use his bow and kill him. When Ravana hears of this development, he... (full context)
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...this is a good idea, but others instruct Ravana to use his anger to kill Rama, which will then give him the right to take Sita as his own. (full context)
12. Rama and Ravana in Battle
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...resolve attracts the attention of the gods, and they send down Indra's chariot to help Rama. The charioteer introduces himself as Matali, and explains that the gods Indra, Brahma, and Shiva... (full context)
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On the battlefield, Ravana aims his chariot to charge Rama at full speed, while Rama tells Matali to drive calmly. One of Ravana's supporters tries... (full context)
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Rama pauses and decides that if he kills Ravana's army, Ravana himself might experience a change... (full context)
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Ravana notices that Rama is riding in Indra's chariot, which makes him angry that the gods are supporting Rama.... (full context)
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Ravana orders his charioteer to fly into the sky and Rama pursues him. Ravana destroys some of Rama's army from there, but Rama's arrows deflect most... (full context)
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...arrows, turning the fight into a battle of supernatural powers rather than simple military strength. Rama's arrows neutralize Ravana's first attempt, and Ravana decides to use an asthra that causes confusing... (full context)
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Ravana uses an asthra that creates darkness and horrible weather, but Rama again counters Ravana's attack with the appropriate asthra. Finally, Ravana shoots his deadliest asthra towards... (full context)
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Facing all this destruction, Ravana begins to feel hopeless. Rama, however, feels better and better, and begins to send arrows to cut off Ravana's many... (full context)
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When Ravana comes to he berates his charioteer, and the charioteer explains that Rama backed off while Ravana was unconscious. Ravana accepts this explanation and begins hurling all sorts... (full context)
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...is cleansed of evil and instead looks devout and capable, as though his meditation on Rama had given him some peace. Rama instructs Matali to land the chariot. After Rama exits... (full context)
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Rama, Lakshmana, and Hanuman gather around Ravana's body. Rama notices a huge scar on Ravana's back... (full context)
13. Interlude
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Rama sends Hanuman to fetch an overjoyed Sita. Hanuman instructs Sita to dress herself beautifully before... (full context)
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...and orders Lakshmana to light a fire. Lakshmana hesitates, but finally does as she asks. Rama does nothing as Sita bows before the fire and jumps into it. Moments later, the... (full context)
14. The Coronation
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Rama explains that he had to test Sita's purity, which the narrator points out is very... (full context)
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In the heavens, Shiva asks Dasaratha to visit Earth and meet Rama. Dasaratha agrees, and Rama is struck with joy to see his father. Dasaratha says that... (full context)
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Dasaratha insists that Bharatha has already been forgiven, but says he can't forgive Kaikeyi. Rama lists all the reasons why Dasaratha should forgive Kaikeyi, and finally Dasaratha agrees. He blesses... (full context)
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The gods remind Rama that the following day is the final day of his 14-year exile. They tell him... (full context)
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Outside Ayodhya, Bharatha had been counting the days until Rama's return. He thinks that Rama isn't going to come, tries to pass ruling responsibilities on... (full context)
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When Rama arrives, he greets his mother and stepmothers. He quickly dresses himself like a king, and... (full context)
Epilogue
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The narrator says that Rama entered Ayodhya and picked up right where he left off 14 years earlier. Hanuman and... (full context)
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...Vishnu, which he did. The narrator says that the story goes that wherever you hear Rama's name, the spirit of Hanuman is there. He says that Hanuman is one of the... (full context)
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...narrator explains that storytellers today often change the story or add embellishments to make The Ramayana seem contemporary: Rama's vehicle at the end of the story is often cast as an... (full context)
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Finally, the narrator admits that he's leaving out the "sequel," which tells the story of Rama and Sita's second parting. Sita gives birth to twin boys in the forest, and the... (full context)