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Important Lessons for Humanity in R.k. Narayan’s Ramayana

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In R.K. Narayan’s “The Ramayana” Rama is a perfect human being. He is banished from his kingdom shortly after being told he would be king because one of his father’s wives demanded her son to rule and not him. Rama is banished and must live fourteen years in the forests. His wife, Sita, and brother, Lakshama. Throughout the story, Rama’s story provides many examples of how to live ideally. According to “The Ramayana,” Humans should live altruistically and seek out fulfillment. They also must respond to new and tough decisions with grace and humility. Humans should avoid being tempted by things such as lust and greed as well.

In “The Ramayana” it is believed that humans ought to live without being selfish and search for their own personal fulfillment. Within the start of the novel, Rama and Lakshama are taken by Viswamithra as bodyguards to perform a ritual while on a journey. While under Viswamithra’s watch, they are told stories and taught lessons about living selflessly. One thing Viswamithra tells his students is “he who is selfish is never worse than the one who stays the hand is about to give” which means that being selfish could get one in a lot of trouble.

A good example of humans handling tough new situations in an ideal way is when Rama is being banished from his kingdom. Kaikeyi, one of the king’s wives and mother to Bharatha, urgently desires her son to be the next king rather than Rama. To accomplish her goal, Kaikeyi tricks her husband, the king named Dasaratha, into fulfilling two promises made between the two years ago. She says that Dasaratha must fulfill two promises by banishing Rama to the forest for fourteen years and instead letting her son Bharatha be ruler instead. Dasaratha, although deeply saddened by these demands, grants his wife’s desires. When Rama is told of the news, he takes the news “with much grace” (Narayan 47). He doesn’t act out of anger or greed, but accepts his new fate. He is happy to let his brother have the crown, but even more happy to grant his father’s command. Rama says that Dasaratha’s wives should stay and comfort him, since he appeared upset by having to ban him to the forest.

This story also teaches that humans should avoid temptations from lust and greed. A good example of this within the story is the character Ravana. Ravana is the ruler of Lanka and begins to feel feelings of lust towards Rama’s bride, Sita. He devises a plan to steal Sita away from her two companions and take her back to his palace. The plan succeeds and Ravana makes numerous attempts to get Sita to succumb to his lustful needs, but to no avail. Once confronted with an attack from Rama and his army of monkeys to rescue Sita, he discusses what he should do with a council of other members of his kingdom. Vibishana, Ravana’s younger brother, tells Ravana that “a man loses his honour and name only through lust and avarice” (Narayan 127). Vibishana expresses that the difficulty between Ravana and Rama is from his lustful capture of Sita, not from anything to do with Rama. Vibishana says that this kidnapping of Sita is the wrong use of his godly power and releasing her to her real husband would improve his morality. Of course, Ravana ignores this advice and ends up losing in battle.

Rama’s story presents several lessons and guidelines for readers. These lessons are taught through certain situations, character representations, or sayings and stories. The plot and characters of “The Ramayana” are fictional, it provides life lessons to be used in the real world.

Works Cited

  • Narayan, R. K. Ramayana: a Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic. Penguin, 2006.

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