The Ramayana Family Role
The Ramayana Hindus are extremely respectful and prideful people with many strong core beliefs. These beliefs have been passed down through the ages in The Ramayana. Throughout this epic poem, Rama, his family, and many others exemplify what it means to be Hindu. Rama is considered to be a perfect Hindu and follows all aspects of Hinduism flawlessly. This includes following duty, honor, responsibilities based on a person’s place in society, and most important to Rama, family. In the epic The Ramayana, family is portrayed as the most important aspect to the Hindu belief.
The importance of family is shown early in the epic when King Dasaratha begs of Viswamithra to not take Rama away from his family, or at least to wait till he’s older. Viswamithra wants to take him on a journey to perform a yagna, or a journey to conquer the five-fold evils. The king’s love for his son Rama was most likely the strongest of all relationships, greater even than that of husband and wife. Rama’s father assumed the role of a teacher his son and gave all his good aspects of learning to him while growing up.
Since this father and son bond was so strong, the king had great difficulty in handing Rama and his brothers over to the sage and was said to have “the look of one delivering hostages into the hand of an enemy. ”(Narayan, 10) On Rama’s journey, Rama met a beautiful princess who eventually became his wife, though only after proving her worthiness by completing the task of rebowing Vishnu’s bow. When King Dasaratha heard of this he swelled with pride and couldn’t have been more proud of Rama and his brothers. After marrying, Rama’s father treats him as his equal and even as a friend.
Over time, Dasaratha grows old, and with the utmost trust and pride in his son Rama, decides to pass on his throne to him. However, one of Dasaratha’s wives forces the king to banish Rama from the city for fourteen years because of a past predicament. Dasaratha is tremendously heartbroken. The king begs for Rama to not leave, and is in a state of complete immobility from the situation. The king shows how important family really is when he says to Rama with all seriousness, “How can I bear to see you go? I will not survive your departure. (Narayan, 49) When news arrives to tell that Rama will not be returning, King Dasaratha dies while the messenger is still talking to him. This shows how important family really was to the king. He knew Rama was to return after his fourteen year banishment, but the king could not last that long without his son by his side. Rama showed an incredible amount of respect to family as well. He was willing to take on many great sacrifices in the interest of family harmony. He anticipated what his father desired and acted cheerfully without even being told.
He never questioned the ethics of his father’s actions or his stepmother’s actions, even when they seemed crazy to others or affected Rama personally. He followed orders from his father and mothers without question and felt honored while doing so. He called all of his stepmothers mother as a sign of respect and saw them as equals to his biological mom Kausalya. When his stepmother Kaikeyi told Rama that his father would no longer pass the throne to him and he would be banished for fourteen years Rama asked no questions and immediately agreed to leave.
He even felt honored in doing so. “Throughout he referred to Kaikeyi in the gentlest terms and always as “mother”. ”(Narayan, 60) He continued to call Kaikeyi mother even after he found out it was her who wanted him gone; he even agreed she had the right to decide who was to be king. He also stated that his parents are of highest command and that he will do anything they tell them when Vasishtha, Rama’s guru, tried to take authority and stop Rama from leaving. Rama stayed loyal to his brothers and his wife Sita through the epic.
Ravana’s sister, who was extremely beautiful and perfect in every way, wished to pleasure and serve Rama but he remained strong and refused, for his heart belonged to Sita. He wished for nothing but to please his wife and would do anything for her. He even risked his life by battling Ravana in order to save her. After Rama defeated Ravana and saved Sita, he not only became King again, he was made Emperor of the World. He requested that his trustworthy brother Lakshmana become the yuvaraja, or prince, though he ultimately the position to his other brother Bharata, who ruled the kingdom while Rama was gone.
Rama’s brothers were perpetually loyal to Rama and could not have loved him more. They were furious when they heard he was banished and would no longer become crowned king. Lakshmana, outraged, threw on his battle robe and weapons and was ready to take on a whole army to see that Rama was crowned king, as he rightfully should be. He even stated, “I know no father and no mother, other than you. ”(Narayan, 52) He loved his brother so much that he saw him as greater than his own parents, who gave him life.
Lakshmana would have died at any moment for his brother Rama; this is why he decided to leave with Rama on his banishment and swore to protect him with his life. Rama’s other brother Bharata, who was away at the time, was also appalled when he heard the news of Rama being banished. It was Bharata’s mother who banished Rama and when he found out that it was she who was responsible he told her, “If I do not snuff your wretched life out with my own hand, do not pride yourself that it’s because you are my mother, but you are spared because Rama would despise me for my deed. (Narayan, 58) It was Bharata who was to be crowned king after Rama was banished, however he did not wish this upon himself and begged for Rama’s forgiveness and asked him to come back and take the crown. Rama declined and Bharata agreed to rule the kingdom while he was gone, but he vowed to step down fourteen years from the day Rama left, whether or not he came back. Bharata took and wore Rama’s sandals to show that the throne was Ramas and that he would rule Ayodhya in his name while he was gone . He even refused to go back into the kingdom but stayed outside of the gates, for he felt unworthy.
Sita also showed great love, compassion, and loyalty to Rama. Sita was the epitome of womanly virtues and purity and she was almost perfect in appearance. Fro the moment she laid eyes on Rama she couldn’t sleep or even rid her mind of Rama, and she thought about killing herself if she could not be with him. Sita, too, refused to stay when Rama was banished and eventually convinced Rama to take her with him. She stated that there would be no point in living if he was not there with her. One day, while Rama was out trying to catch a golden deer that was really a trick, a voice disguised as Rama’s shouted for help.
Lakshmana was protecting Sita at the time and knew it was most likely a set up so he did not worry about it. However, Sita worried greatly and did not understand that he was safe. She desperately wanted Lakshmana to go save Rama. She stated, “If you don’t want to save him, there is nothing more I can do, nor anyone I could turn to for support. The only thing left will be for me to build a fire and throw myself into it. ”(Narayan, 84) By saying this, Sita shows that she would rather die than live without Rama, showing how much she cares for him.
This loyalty and desperation was also displayed when Sita almost hung herself when she thought Rama had forgotten her after she was captured by Ravana. After being saved from Ravana, she proved her purity and served not only as queen, but as part of Rama’s family. Family was the most important core value to the Hindus and was shown in many ways throughout the epic. To dishonor one’s family was the worst punishment that one could bring upon him or herself. Rama’s family members were willing to die for each other, and unfortunately some even did.
Were it not for Rama’s relationship with his family, he would not have succeeded in the way he did. Rama and his brothers achieved a sense of family harmony with the virtuous, wise, and strong elder brother, the obedient, extremely devoted younger brothers, and the self sacrificing, ever-loving wife. Rama has served as a perfect role model for thousands of generations in India. The Ramayana displays the way a son, husband, and brother should act in a Hindu society. Cultures today still value family relations, but the bond is nowhere near the same as shown in The Ramayana.