The Ramayana


R. K. Narayan

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Themes and Colors
Heroism Theme Icon
Duty, Honor, and Loyalty Theme Icon
Good vs. Evil Theme Icon
Storytelling, Teaching, and Morality Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Ramayana, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.


The Ramayana tells the story of Rama, a man who is an avatar (incarnation) of the Hindu god Vishnu. As such, Rama possesses all of Vishnu's godly qualities in the body of a man, and is therefore meant to represent an image of the ideal man according to Hindu philosophy. As the characters travel through the text, interacting with other honorable characters as well as less-ideal characters, the text seeks to discover what…

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Duty, Honor, and Loyalty

The characters in the Ramayana place a great deal of importance on honor, loyalty, and behaving dutifully to their family members. Honor and loyalty control every character in the story, humans as well as the demons and the gods. Even though honoring one's promises and behaving loyally often has disastrous short-term consequences for the characters, they overwhelmingly choose to follow through with their promises, which later result in long-term success. This suggests that though behaving…

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Good vs. Evil

On a very basic level, the Ramayana is a simple tale of good triumphing over evil. However, such a simplistic reduction doesn't do justice to the story's interrogation of what actually makes someone good or evil. Most importantly, the story suggests that good and evil exist on a spectrum, and one's choices in life can move one's life closer to one pole or the other. Similarly, the story also offers regular reminders that just because…

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Storytelling, Teaching, and Morality

This edition of the Ramayana makes it very clear that the story has been condensed into an abridged, prose version of the original Ramayana, which consists of over ten thousand stanzas of poetry. Further, Narayan draws his story from a Tamil version of the Ramayana by the medieval poet Kamban, who in turn created his version from the original Sanskrit version by Valmiki. Because of this, it's made very clear by its structure and…

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