This article is published with the permission of the author for THEAnswersBlog and was not written by me or under my pen name BarathBarathaDanava
The Ramayana is one of two great epics of Indian Civilization. As part of its community engagements, India Fine Arts, Inc. does the Ramanvami Utsavam in Austin. To stimulate interest in the reading of scripture and Indian literature we conduct essay competitions for different age groups. Each group is asked to choose a topic from the epic Ramayana and write an article of approximately 150 words. A panel of three experts reads them and scores them for content, knowledge and assessment of the characters involved. One of the prize winning essays submitted for the contest is printed below.
A.Nagarajan, India Fine Arts, Austin, Texas
Ramayana is one of the greatest epics in history. It was written by the great sage Valmiki in the second century B.C. To this day, it has a great impact on everyday life in India and provides inspirations for unity, loyalty, love and respect. The Ramayana teaches morals and ideals that set examples to be followed by everyone.
In the Ramayana, Lord Rama is sent into exile by his father Dasharatha because of his wife Kaikeyi’s wishes, whose mind was poisoned by her evil maid Manthara. This demonstrates the dangers of being convinced by evil people to do evil things. Rama, who has immense respect and love for his elders, accepts their wish with no argument and leaves to exile. This teaches us to display humbleness and respect towards our elders and teaches us to follow their wishes.
After being told by Kaikeyi that he must go to the forest in exile, Rama is unfazed. No matter how atrocious the order was, he accepted their wishes because his father promised Kaikeyi that he would grant her two boons and this was one of them. Lakshmana was shocked by this and told Rama that he would accompany him into exile because without Rama, life would be meaningless. This shows the dedication of a brother to his sibling and teaches us that we must always stay with our loved ones and be unified in hard times. Sita begs to accompany Rama because she has deep loyalty and love for her husband. This ties into the present world in India, as couples are often told to be like Rama and Sita, each having profound love and loyalty to each other and a willingness to protect each other no matter what.
Important lessons are also taught by the interaction between Bharatha and Rama in the forest. Bharata begged Rama to return to Ayodhya and rule as the true king. This teaches us the value of relationships over wealth. Even though Bharata had the entire kingdom, he chose his brotherly relationship with Rama over earthly possessions, because possessions come and go, but a relationship with a loved one stays forever. To this, Rama replied “Beauty may leave the moon, Himavaan may become bereft of snow, and the ocean may transgress its shores, but I will never violate the promise given by my father. This educates us about the power of a promise and its importance – once you give your word, you must stay true to it. If you promise something and do not do it, then your word will not be respected and valued, for what good is a promise if you do not uphold it?
The Ramayana is not just a story – it teaches invaluable lessons that are immortal and is an innate part of Indian culture. It provides directions to lead a meaningful, purposeful, fruitful life and its morals are taught everywhere in society, teaching us the value of relationships, love, loyalty, and other lessons in all aspects of humanity.