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Ramayan: Characters

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  • Rama is one of the protagonists of the tale. Portrayed as the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, he is the eldest and favorite son of Dasharatha - the king of Ayodhya current day Ayodhya, India - and his Queen, Kausalya. He is portrayed as the epitome of virtue. Dasharatha is forced by Kaikeyi, one of his wives, to command Rama to relinquish his right to the throne for fourteen years and go into exile. Sita is another of the tale's protagonists. She is King Janaka's daughter, and Rama's beloved wife. Rama went to Mithila current day Janakpur, Nepal, and got a chance to marry her by lifting a heavy bow in a competition organized by King Janaka. The competition was to find the most suitable husband for Sita, and many princes from different states competed to win her. Sita is the avatara of goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu. Sita is portrayed as the epitome of female purity and virtue. She follows her husband into exile and is abducted by Ravana. She is imprisoned on the island of Lanka, until Rama rescues her by defeating the demon king Ravana. Later, she gives birth to Lava and Kusha, the heirs of Rama.
  • Hanuman is a vanara belonging to the kingdom of Kishkindha. In some versions other than Valmiki's, he is portrayed as the eleventh avatar of Shiva he is also called rudra and an ideal bhakta of Rama. He is born as the son of Kesari, a Vanara king, and the goddess Anjana. He plays an important part in locating Sita and in the ensuing battle. He is believed to live until our modern world.
  • Lakshmana, the younger brother of Rama, who chose to go into exile with him. He is the son of King Dasaratha and Queen Sumitra, and twin of Shatrughna. Lakshmana is portrayed as an avatar of the Shesha, the nāga associated with the god Vishnu. He spends his time protecting Sita and Rama during which he fought the demoness Surpanakha. He is forced to leave Sita, who was deceived by the demon Maricha into believing that Rama was in trouble. Sita is abducted by Ravana upon him leaving her. He was married to Sita's younger sister Urmila.
  • Ravana, a rakshasa, is the king of Lanka. After performing severe penance for ten thousand years he received a boon from the creator-god Brahma: he could henceforth not be killed by gods, demons,or spirits. He is portrayed as a powerful demon king who disturbs the penances of rishis. Vishnu incarnates as the human Rama to defeat him, thus circumventing the boon given by Brahma.
  • Jatayu,the son of Aruṇa and nephew of Garuda. A demi-god who has the form of an vulture that tries to rescue Sita from Ravana. Jatayu fought valiantly with Ravana, but as Jatayu was very old, Ravana soon got the better of him. As Rama and Lakshmana chanced upon the stricken and dying Jatayu in their search for Sita, he informs them of the direction in which Ravana had gone.
  • Dasharatha is the king of Ayodhya and the father of Rama. He has three queens, Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra, and three other sons: Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Kaikeyi, Dasharatha's favourite queen, forces him to make his son Bharata crown prince and send Rama into exile. Dasharatha dies heartbroken after Rama goes into exile.
  • Bharata is the son of Dasharatha and Queen Kaikeyi. When he learns that his mother Kaikeyi had forced Rama into exile and caused Dasharatha to die brokenhearted, he storms out of the palace and goes in search of Rama in the forest. When Rama refuses to return from his exile to assume the throne, Bharata obtains Rama's sandals, and places them on the throne as a gesture that Rama is the true king. Bharata then rules Ayodhya as the regent of Rama for the next fourteen years. He was married to Mandavi.
  • Shatrughna is the son of Dasharatha and his second wife Queen Sumitra. He is the youngest brother of Rama and also the twin brother of Lakshmana. He was married to Shrutakirti.
  • Sugriva, a vanara king who helped Rama regain Sita from Ravana. He had an agreement with Rama through which Vaali – Sugriva's brother and king of Kishkindha – would be killed by Rama in exchange for Sugriva's help in finding Sita. Sugriva ultimately ascends the throne of Kishkindha after the slaying of Vaali, and fulfills his promise by putting the Vanara forces at Rama's disposal
  • Indrajit, a son of Ravana who twice defeated Lakshmana in battle, before succumbing to him the third time. An adept of the magical arts,he coupled his supreme fighting skills with various stratagems to inflict heavy losses on the Vanara army before his death. As a consequence, Rama is first born to Kausalya, Bharata is born to Kaikeyi, Lakshmana and Shatrughna are born to Sumitra. These sons are endowed, to various degrees, with the essence of the god Vishnu; Vishnu had opted to be born into mortality to combat the demon Ravana, who was oppressing the gods,and who could only be destroyed by a mortal. The boys are reared as the princes of the realm, receiving instructions from the scriptures and in warfare. When Rama is 16-years-old, the sage Vishwamitra comes to the court of Dasharatha in search of help against demons who were disturbing sacrificial rites. He chooses Rama, who is followed by Lakshmana, his constant companion throughout the story. Rama and Lakshmana receive instructions and supernatural weapons from Vishwamitra, and proceed to destroy the demons.

Kishkindha Kanda

Sundara Kanda

Lanka Kanda

Buddhist Version

Sikh Version

:ਹੁਕਮਿ ਉਪਾਏ ਦਸ ਅਉਤਾਰਾ॥

:हुकमि उपाए दस अउतारा॥

:By hukam supreme command, he created his ten incarnations,

Jain Version

In Nepal

Southeast Asian Versions

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