Ramayana Story, Summary, Facts, History and Quotes

Ramayana

The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit tale considered one of the major texts of the Hindu religion. It is believed to have been written between 500 and 100 BC, and is attributed to a revered Hindu sage, Valmiki. The Ramayana is the story of Prince Rama, whose wife, Sita, is kidnapped by a ten-headed evil king, Ravana.

What is the Ramayana?

The main plot of the Ramayana involves the life of Prince Rama and his attempts to retrieve his kidnapped wife. Rama is the favored son of a king, but is the victim of an evil plot by one of the king's wives and is forced to go into exile for fourteen years. His wife, Sita, and brother, Lakshmana, go into exile with him.

Sita is kidnapped through the deceptions of Ravana, a king who wishes to have her as his wife. Ravana tempts Rama away from their home by having a demon disguise himself as a beautiful golden deer. Rama becomes spellbound and hunts the deer, leaving Lakshmana to tend to Sita. Ravana convinces Lakshmana with an illusion that Rama is in dire trouble. Despite the additional protection of Jatayu, an enormous vulture loyal to Rama, Ravana steals Sita away and returns to his kingdom of Lanka.

Following Sita's abduction, Rama rages terrific war against Lanka. Hanuman, a monkey general and friend to Rama, destroys the city and locates Sita, but she will not come with him, insisting that it would insult Rama's honor if he does not rescue her himself. Rama rescues Sita, and then controversially forces her to survive trial by fire to prove that she has not been dishonored by Ravana.

The story illustrates a central Hindu concept, that of dharma. Dharma states that each human has a divine or righteous path before them, and their job in life is to satisfy dharma. Those who betray it, as Ravana does in the Ramayana by separating Sita and Rama, are doomed to death and punishment. Rama and Sita are both held up as models of Hindu virtue, as neither considers betraying their dharma throughout the epic.

Although Rama himself declares "he is but a man", and never once claims to be divine, Rama is regarded by Hindus as one of the most important Avatars of the god Vishnu and as an ideal man. (In contrast to Rama, Jesus Christ did declare himself as Divine and as God and as sinless.) The journey he undertakes across India is used as a pilgrimage by the devout. The birthday and wedding day of Rama are celebrated on the ninth day of the Hindu lunar calendar with a festival called Rama Navani. The festival is usually celebrated with plays and stories read from the Ramayana.

The Ramayana is not considered to be mere allegory, but serves as a religious text for the Hindus similar to the Christian Bible or Jewish Torah. Reading certain key passages is believed to protect and bless the audience. Rama's strict adherence to dharma makes him the prime example of proper Hindu behavior, much as stories of Jesus' life make him a model for Christians. However, critics argue that Rama as depicted in the Ramayana was clearly not the benevolent king devotees claimed him to be. For example, Rama killed the Shudra Shambuka, a character in the Ramayana, for performing a yogic penance not in keeping with his perceived "low" station in society. Rama was thus a follower of the caste system, which have oppressed hundred of millions of people throughout the ages. Some hold the position that Rama murdered shambuka to reinstate the apartheid varna system, the worst of all the caste systems, which is an important feature of Hindu Dharma.

Apartheid Varna System

The varna system of India during the Brahmanic Ages (1500 BC - 1000 AD) is to be distinguished from caste systems in other parts of the world. The Brahmanic varna system (varnashramadharma) is basically a genocidal apartheid system designed to exterminate the 'black varna'. Caste systems in other parts of the world (eg. US South, Brazil, Islamic millet systems in the Ottoman Empire and the Delhi Caliphate etc.) were by contrast far milder, permitting the co-existence of different races and discouraging miscegenation without extermination in mind. The word caste is of Portuguese origin, and refers to this co-existence and preservation of different identities for races, not necessarily with a loose hierarchy. It is thus not correct to apply the word 'caste' to the Hindu varna system, since it gives a false impression of a milder institution.

The caste system is ordered to maintain the purity of blood and to maintain white supremacy. Caste comes from the Spanish and Portuguese word "casta" which means "race", "breed", or "lineage". Many Indians use the term "jati". There are 3,000 castes and 25,000 subcastes in India, each related to a specific occupation. Originally, Hinduism recognized only four castes. These different castes fall under four basic varnas:

  • Brahmans, (highest) priests and scholars

  • Kshatriyas, (next) nobles and warriors

  • Vaisyas, (next) farmers and merchants

  • Sudras, (lowest) serfs and slaves

The Sudroid blacks (black race) are repeatedly referred to as 'animals', and never treated as humans in the Hindu scriptures.

"Having killed a cat, an ichneumon, a blue jay, a frog, a dog, an iguana, an owl, or a corw, he shall perform the penance for the murder of a Sudra."

-- [ Manu IX.132 ]

"'You may breed cows and dogs in your house,' wrote Mr. M.C. Raja. 'You may drink the urine of cows and swallow cowdung to expiate your sins, but you shall not approach an Adi Dravida"

-- [ Inf ]

"The murder of a Sudra by a Brahman is equal only to killing a cat or a frog or a cow."

-- [ Stat ] [ Wilk.248 ]

Whereas Brahmans are classed with gods, Sudras are classed with animals:

"Elephants, horses, Sudras and contemptiable Mlecchas, lions, tigers, and boars form the middle dark condition"

-- [ Manu i.43 ] [ Muir I.41 ]

The Sudra Black is also not allowed to participate in any rites of the Aryan Vaishnavite religion:

"A Brahman should never be the guru of a Sudra. 'While the first part of a Brahman's name should indicate holiness that of a Kshatriya's power and that of a Vashya's wealth, that of a Sudra's should indicate contempt. The Veda [the sacred Hindu scripture] is never to be read in the presence of a Sudra, and for him no sacrifice is to be performed. He has no business with solemn rites."

-- [ Stat ] [ Wilk.247-8 ]

Later, Vaisyas (the next lowest after Sudras) were degraded to the status of Sudras:

"Vish [ Vaisya ] is food for the kshatriya [those above Vaisyas]"

-- [ Sat.Br.3.3.2.8; Vedic Cosmology, Rajiv Verma, New Age International Ltd. New Delhi, 1996, p.110 ]

To enforce their domination over the subjugated races, all these and especially the negroid Sudras, were forcibly kept in illiteracy. This maintained the Brahmin state. Sudra Blacks are not allowed to even read the Vedas, and are punished by having their tongue cut out if they do so. Recitation of or listening to this sacred book is exclusively a privilege of the Aryan Hindus (nobles, i.e. of good qualities (sattva/white and not tamas/dark)). There is provision of severe punishment for a Sudra, in case he dares to enjoy this privilege,

"if he repeated recitation of the Vedas, his tongue should be cut"

-- [ Swami Dharma Theertha, History of Hindu Imperialism, Madras, 1992, p. 42 ]

That this rule was actually enforced is proven by the account of Alberuni, who visited India in the 10th century AD:

"The Vaisya and the Sudra are not allowed to hear it [ the Veda ], much less to pronounce and recite it. If such a thing can be proved against one of them, the Brahmans drag him before the magistrate, and he is punished by having his tongue cut off."

-- [ al-B.i.125 Ch.XII ]

And again,

"Every act that is considered the privelege of the Brahman, such as saying prayers, the reciting of the Veda, and offering of sacrifices to the fire, is forbidden to him, to such a degree that when, eg. a Sudra or a Vaisya is proved to have recited the Veda, he is accused by the Brahmans before the ruler, and the latter will order his tongue to be cut off. However, the meditation on God [ is not prohibited ]."

-- [ al-B.ii.127 Ch.LXIV ]

Hence, the caste system did not decrease in severity right from the Aryan invasion in 1500 BC upto the Islamic conquest ca. 1000 AD. That implies a 2500 year period during which the apartheid caste system was in operation - longer than anywhere else in the world.

Similarly, for contesting the claims of the pretentious fair-skinned Aryans, the black Sudra is to have his tongue cut off, hot oil poured in his ear, or a nail thrust into his mouth:

  • "A once-born man (Sudra) who insults a twice-born man (Aryan) with gross invective, shall have his tongue cut out; for he is of low origin."

    -- [ Manu VIII.270 ]

  • "If he mentions the names and castes (Jati) of the (twice-born) with contumely, an iron nail, 10 fingers long, shall be thrust red-hot into his mouth."

    -- [ Manu VIII.271 ]

  • "If he arrogantly teaches Brahmins their duty, the king shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and into his ears."

    -- [ Manu VIII.272 ]

And again,

"Rites are declared to be prescribed by the Vedas for the three (highest) castes... Next the Sudras, produced from extinction, are destitute of rites. Hence they are not entitled to be admitted to the purificatory ceremonies, nor does sacred science belong to them. Just as the cloud of smoke which rises from the fire on the friction of the fule, and is dissipated, is of no service in the sacrificial rite, so too the Shudras wandering over the Earth, are altogether (Useless for purpose of sacrifice) owing to their birth, their mode of life devoid of purity and their want of observances prescribed in the Veda."

-- [ Muir I. 153 ] [ Hari.11820 ]

"With whatever limb a man of a low caste does hurt to (a man of the three highest castes) even that limb shall be cut off; that is the teaching of Manu. He who raises his hand or a stick, shall have his hand cut off; he who in his anger kicks with his foot, shall have his foot cut off."

-- [ Manu VIII.279-280 ]

"If a low-caste man who tries to place himself on the same seat with a man of a high caste, shall be branded on his hip and is banished, or (the king) shall cause his buttock to be gashed."

-- [ Manu VIII.281 ]

"If out of arrogance he [ a Sudra ] spits (on a superior), the king shall cause both his lips to be cut off; if he urines (on him), the penis; if he breaks wind (against him), the anus."

-- [ Manu VIII.282 ]

"If ha lays fold of the hair (of a superior), let the king unhesitatingly cut off his hands, likewise (if he takes him) by the feet, the beard, the neck or the scrotum."

-- [ Manu VIII.282 ]

Some scholars have claimed that these laws and traditions were not necessarily followed in practice. However, this is not true because the account of Alberuni quoted above shows that these laws and traditions was enforced in all its severity. In addition, the accounts of countless Greek and Arab travellers prove that the caste system was enforced during the medieval period, and the account of European travellers, especially English ones, proves that it was in force in South India till the British conquest. However, the Islamic invasion relaxed caste systems to a great degree, when the more liberal (although false and evil) Quranic law substituted the harsh traditional/scriptural laws.

The caste system in India is directly related to their religious beliefs, especially reincarnation. Hinduism teaches that anyone born (or reborn) into a lower caste is being punished for the sins committed in his past life. If such a person is calmly resigned to his fate and lives rightly, he will be elevated in caste in his next life. This premise tends to make the members of the lower castes and the untouchables submissive to the terrible economic and social conditions under which they live.

A Sudra is debarred from marrying a woman of the higher castes; if he does, their offspring will sink into a class even lower than his own. He must not participate in carrying the corpse of a Brahman. He is allowed to carry his dead only through the southern gate of the city where he may live. The murder of a Sudra by a Brahman is equal only to killing a cat or a frog or a cow [ Wilkins, 1975, p.248. ].

As Wilkins suggests, "the Sudras were not originally part of the Hindu system, but were engrafted into it..."[ Wilkins, 1975, p.255. ] Still worse than the Sudras are the Dalits (also called Untouchables) who fall outside the caste system and are therefore the worst in the social hierarchy.

The castes became hereditary which meant that all sons are necessarily members of the same caste as their fathers and that he has to follow his father's occupation. The 25,000 modern castes even include a caste of thieves! If someone is expelled from his caste or has no caste by birth, he is known as an Untouchable or Dalit, a pariah, and such a person is in a hopeless and pitiable condition. There are currently more than 250,000,000 untouchables or Dalits worldwide with around 180,000,000 million of them living in India alone. Surely, only the devil could have come up with something this evil.

While the discrimination based on caste system (not the caste system itself) has been abolished under the Indian constitution since 1950, discrimination and prejudice against Dalits in South Asia still occur. According to a UN report, approximately 110,000 cases of violent acts committed against Dalits were reported in 2005. The report claimed 6.7 cases of violent acts per 10000 Dalit people. For context, the UN reported between 40 and 55 cases of violent acts per 10000 people in developed countries in 2005; and the total number of cases pending in various courts of India, on Dalit related and non-Dalit related matters were 31.28 million as of 2010.

Everyone Knows by Natural Instinct that One God Exists

Polytheism is belief in, or worship of, multiple gods or divinities. The word comes from the Greek words poly and theoi, literally "many gods." Most ancient religions were polytheistic, holding to pantheons of traditional deities, often accumulated over centuries of cultural interchange and experience. Present-day polytheistic religions include Hinduism, Mahayana, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shintoism in the East, and also contemporary African tribal religions. Note that according to some Hindu literature, there are 330 million (including local and regional) deities or gods worshiped in Hinduism. It is interesting to note that even in polytheistic religions, one god usually reigns supreme over the other gods, e.g., Zeus in Greek/Roman mythology and Brahman in Hinduism.

For the polytheists, deities or gods are formed around a number of aspects of life. These include natural forces and objects such as fertility and atmospheric forces; vegetation such as trees, herbs, and vineyards; animal and human forms such as serpents, cattle, and animal - human hybrids; and assorted functions such as love, agriculture, healing, and war, etc. In short, polytheists adore and worship the created world as divine rather then the creator God himself.

However, there are some serious philosophical problems when thinking about the definition of God in relation to polytheistic beliefs. By the broadest definition in most dictionaries, God refers to the supreme being that is above everything else. By very definition, this requires that it be only One being. The reasoning is that if this being was just another one of many gods, He would not necessarily be the highest or supreme. A polytheist might reply that there is one highest God with multiple lesser gods (i.e. Henotheism). However, this is still in contrast to the definition because those lesser beings cannot be referred to as "God", simply because they are not the supreme being. The definition of a supreme God demands that He is One.

2 Corinthians 4:3: "And if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them."

All the people who die in cultures which have never been penetrated by the Gospel go to Hell for sins against the natural law and the other grave sins which they commit – which bad will and failure to cooperate with God's grace is the reason He does not reveal the Gospel to them.

God defined infallibly, based on Romans 1, that the one true God can be known with certitude by the things which have been made, and by the natural light of human reason.

Romans 1:18-20: "For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice: Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it to them. For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable."

Everyone can know with certainty that there is a supreme spiritual being, Who is the One True God and the Creator of the world and all that it contains. There is no one who cannot understand and believe that God exists, if he considers how the earth bears fruit and how the heavens give rain, how the trees bloom, how each and every animal exists in its own kind, how the stars serve man, and how troubles and sorrows come and often happen against the will of man. From all these things, man can see that he is mortal and that it is God who arranges and directs all these things. For if God did not exist, everything would be disorganized. Thus, all things are of God, and everything is rationally arranged for the use and knowledge of mankind. And there is not the least little thing that is created or exists in the world without reasonable cause. (cf. St. Bridget's Revelations, Book 1, chapter 15)

Everyone knows that God is not something that they have carved out of wood or jade or stone. They know that God is not the tree that they worship or the river they worship or the rock or the snake or the sacred tree frog or nature spirits. They know that these things aren't the Creator of the universe. Every such person knows that he is worshipping a creature rather than the Creator.

If a man cannot understand or comprehend God's virtues and powers as they are because of his weakness, he can still see them with faith and believe. But if people in the world do not want to use their reason to consider God's power, they can still use their hands to touch and sense the deeds that Jesus Christ and His saints have done. They are namely so obvious that no one can doubt them to be the deeds of God. Who raised the dead and gave sight to the blind if not God? Who cast out the evil devils from men if not God? What have God taught if not things beneficial for the prosperity of soul and body and easy to bear? (cf. St. Bridget's Revelations, Book 1, chapter 15)

They are, as St. Paul says in Romans 20, without excuse. If there were truly people of sincere and of good will amongst them who had not yet attained the faith, and if they cooperate with the natural law, then God would send a preacher (even miraculously, if necessary) to bring the Faith and baptism to him.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. III, 25, Q. 2, A. 2, solute. 2: "If a man should have no one to instruct him, God will show him, unless he culpably wishes to remain where he is."

St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. II, 28, Q. 1, A. 4, ad 4: "If a man born among barbarian nations, does what he can, God Himself will show him what is necessary for salvation, either by inspiration or sending a teacher to him."

St. Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, 14, A. 11, ad 1: Objection: "It is possible that someone may be brought up in the forest, or among wolves; such a man cannot explicitly know anything about the faith. St. Thomas replies: It is the characteristic of Divine Providence to provide every man with what is necessary for salvation… provided on his part there is no hindrance. In the case of a man who seeks good and shuns evil, by the leading of natural reason, God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or would send some preacher of the faith to him…"

2 Corinthians 4:3: "And if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them."

St. Augustine explains this well in reference to persons who died ignorant of the Faith and without baptism.

St. Augustine (+428): "… God foreknew that if they had lived and the gospel had been preached to them, they would have heard it without belief."

"It is in accord with God's justice that entry into heaven must be gained through steadfast faith, rational hope, and fervent love. A person ponders more frequently and adores more lovingly that which the heart loves more and loves with greater fervor. So it is with the gods that are placed in temples - though they are not gods nor creators, since there is but one sole creator, I myself, God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But the owners of temples and people in general love the gods more than they love me, seeking to achieve worldly success rather than to live with me.

"If I were to destroy the things that people love more than me, and make the people adore me against their will, then I would certainly do them an injustice by taking away their free will and desire from them. Since they have no faith in me, and there is in their hearts something more delightful than me, I reasonably permit them to produce externally what they love and long for in their minds. Because they love creation more than me, the Creator, whom they can know by probable signs and deeds, if only they would make use of their reason, and because they are blind, accursed is their creation and accursed are their idols. They themselves shall stand in shame and be sentenced for their folly, because they refuse to understand how sweet I am, their God, who created and redeemed humankind out of fervent love." (St. Bridget's Revelations, Book 5 or The Book of Questions, Interrogation 8)

I am a Hindu, why should I consider becoming a Christian?

What is Hinduism?

What is Karma?

What is Yoga?

What is Dharma?

What is Brahman?

What is Reincarnation?

What is the Bhagavad Gita?

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