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Exploring Indian Epics: The Ramayana

Romsha Vats   •   21 Aug, 2023   •   6 mins

The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India.

A still from the movie ‘Ramayana: The Legend Of Prince Rama’. Photo by Ramayana: The Legend Of Prince Rama.

The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India. While it is a sacred text for Hindus, the story is widely popular in many non-Hindu, Southeast Asian countries as well. It was composed as a 24,000 verses-long poem by sage Valmiki between 500-100 BCE. It centres around the life of Lord Rama, who is viewed as the most ideal human being to ever exist by the Hindu tradition.

The epic is divided into six long chapters (Kandas) that deal with his childhood, his coronation, his exile into the forest, his meeting with Lord Hanumana, the story of Lord Hanumana, and the Lanka war, respectively.

The story begins in the north Indian kingdom of Ayodhya, whose ruler is King Dasharatha. The king has three wives – Kaushalya, Sumitra, and Kaikeyi. Lord Rama was born to King Dasharatha and his first wife, Kaushalaya. Sumitra had twin boys, Lakshmana and Shatrughana, while Kaikeyi had a son called Bharata. Lord Rama marries Sita, the princess of Mithila. They spend the next ten years of their married life in Ayodhya.

As King Dasharatha advances in age, he wants to make Rama the king. But Queen Kaikeyi demands that her son (Bharata) should be made the king while Rama should go into exile for 14 years.

King Dasharatha had promised to fulfil any two wishes of Queen Kaikeyi, but he doesn’t want his son Rama to leave. However, Lord Rama takes it upon himself to fulfil his father’s promise. He lets Bharata have the crown while he leaves for the forest along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana.

A still from the movie ‘Ramayana: The Legend Of Prince Rama’. Photo by Ramayana: The Legend Of Prince Rama.

Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana live far away in a forest for many years. Then one day, Rama and Lakshmana get into an ugly fight with Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana (the King of Lanka). When she tries to kill Sita Maa, Lakshamana saves her by badly injuring Surpanakha’s nose and ears. This does not sit well with King Ravana.

To avenge his sister, Ravana decides to kidnap Sita and takes her to Lanka while Rama and Lakshmana are out hunting. Lord Rama and Lakshmana then embark on a long journey across the country and battle the forces of evil to rescue Sita from the demon king.

The story of Ramayana signifies the victory of good over evil. The festival of Dussehra is celebrated to mark the day Rama killed Ravana, while Diwali commemorates the day Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana returned to Ayodhya after their exile.

A still from the movie ‘Ramayana: The Legend Of Prince Rama’. Photo by Ramayana: The Legend Of Prince Rama.

If you would like to know the complete story, do watch ‘Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama’, an anime film by Yugo Sako.

General Knowledge Questions on The Ramayana

  1. Which forest did Lord Rama, Sita Maa, and Lakshmana stay in during their exile?
    Answer: Dandakaranya forest
  2. What was the name of the bow that Rama broke at Sita’s svayamvara?
    Answer: Pinaka
  3. Who was the wife of Lakshmana?
    Answer: Urmila
  4. What was the name of Rama and Sita’s sons?
    Answer: Luv and Kush
  5. Whose Ashram were Luv and Kush brought up in?
    Answer: Sage Valmiki’s Ashram
  6. Which mountain did Lord Hanuman lift to bring medicinal herbs for the fainted Lakshmana?
    Answer: Dronagiri mountain
  7. Who was Mandodari?
    Answer: King Ravana’s wife
  8. Who was King Janaka?
    Answer: He was the king of Mithila and the adoptive father of Sita
  9. Which sage took Lord Rama and Lakshmana to Mithila?
    Answer: Sage Vishwamitra
  10. Which bird tried to stop Ravana from taking Sita Maa away?
    Answer: Jatayu
  11. What was the name of Lord Hanuman’s son?
    Answer: Makardhwaj
  12. Where did Lord Rama establish a Shivling before the war began?
    Answer: Rameshwaram, in modern-day Tamil Nadu.
  13. Where was Sita Maa held captive in the kingdom of Lanka?
    Answer: The Ashok Vatika
  14. Which goddess was Sita Maa an avatar of?
    Answer: Goddess Lakshmi
  15. Lord Rama and his brothers were a part of which dynasty?
    Answer: Suryavanshi
  16. What was the name of Ravana’s parents?
    Answer: Sage Visharva and Princess Kaikesi
  17. Lord Rama is the avatar of which Hindu god?
    Answer: Vishnu
  18. How many siblings did King Ravana have?
    Answer: Eight
  19. Which demon’s help did Ravana take to fool and later carry away Sita?
    Answer: Mareecha, who turned into a golden deer
  20. Ayodhya was the capital of which ancient Indian kingdom?
    Answer: Kosala, located in parts of modern-day Uttar Pradesh and Nepal
  21. Which sage educated the four sons of King Dasharatha?
    Answer: Sage Vashishta
  22. Who are Lord Hanuman’s parents?
    Answer: Kesari and Anjana
  23. Who was given the responsibility of building the bridge to Lanka?
    Answer: The vanara (monkey) brothers, Naala and Neela.
  24. Which Hindu god was Lakshmana an avatar of?
    Answer: Sheshnaga, the snake that sheltered Lord Vishnu
  25. Which herb helps revive the unconscious Lakshmana?
    Answer: Sanjivani
  26. Which brother of Ravana was cursed to sleep for six months in one continuous period?
    Answer: Kumbhakaran
  27. Who killed Indrajit, son of Ravana?
    Answer: Lakshmana
  28. On the banks of which river is Ayodhya located?
    Answer: River Sarayu
  29. Which yagna (ritual sacrifice) did King Dasharatha perform to be blessed with sons?
    Answer: Putrakamesthi
  30. Which weapon did Indrajit use against Hanuman?
    Answer: Brahmastra

Quiz on Ramayana