An Indian Epic, written a long time ago (This is not really concerned with the historicity) to the people of Southeast Asia, the Ramayana is about equal in importance to the Bible in Europe. From India to Indonesia, there are regular Ramayana plays, songs, and bits of stories being recycled. The greatest impact might be in Thailand, a country often hailed as the freest in the world, where Rama is king. Every Thai is supposed to read the Ramakien, but like the English Bible, the writing gives people a headache.
So I would like to do a quick rendition, a quick series of articles, retelling the story of the Ramayana. It tells the story of the perfect king, the perfect wife, the perfect family, the perfect friend, and the perfect adversary. Perfection is very hard to render, which is why most translations can be hard to write in the first place and get through in the second.
Anyone in the audience who knows the story is free to correct me. I am trying to put this in plain, easy to understand terms.
Table of Contents
Rama (Ram, Sri Ram) The Perfect King. - He is the favorite Son of King Dasrutha. He is an incarnation of Vishnu the Preserver.
King Dasrutha - The King of Ayodhya (Ayutthaya in Thai) He has three wives. This is sort of where the problem enters into the story.
Lakshman - Ram's Brother. He is an incarnation of the snake that Vishnu sleeps on while his wife Lakshmi rubs his feet. Through eternity and endless space.
Bharat - The son of Dasrutha's youngest wife. He's not in the story very much, but he has an important role.
Shatrugna - Lakshman's twin, but closer to Bharat than Rama. He makes very few appearances in the story.
Sita (Rama Sita Ram is a very common prayer) - Rama's wife and an incarnation of Lakshmi.
Hanuman - The Monkey Saint. Son of the Wind. Incarnation of Shiva. Most people's favorite character. Mine anyway.
Ravana - The Bad Guy who conquered the three worlds thanks to a boon from Brahma, the Creator God who in Hindu mythology is always messing things up. He is the Demon Lord who rules from Lanka while sacking every city in the universe and making princesses into concubines. His story will be part one. He has two brothers of importance and one I first read about just now in wikipedia. Vibhishana, Kumbhakarna and Ahiravana <----- who is this guy?
That about covers the cast. In part one we will hear the story of Ravana and why exactly the gods had to take the forms of humans and monkeys.
Here will be detailed the story of Ravana and his two brothers, the sacrifices and prayers they made to the gods to gain their incredible powers and the crimes and conquests they committed with them. This will take us to the birth of Rama Sita and Lakshman as well as Hanuman and the other Vanaras.