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Basic Description: Rama is the 7th avatar of the god Vishnu. He is usually depicted with his consort Sita, his brother Lakshman, and the monkey god Hanuman. Rama is the hero of the Ramayana which the story of Sita’s abduction by a demon king and her subsequent rescue by Rama and his friends. Sometimes Rama is considered the model of masculine virtue and power.
Alternate Names: Sometimes he is also called Shri Rama, or Ramachandra.
Iconography: Often he is green and holds a long bow. In paintings he is sometimes darker in color and depicted wearing a tall conical cap called a kiritamakuta.
Mythology: Here is a short summary of the epic of the Ramayana:
Rama’s goal in coming to earth was to kill the evil ten-headed king Ravana who was persecuting both men and gods. Rama was born the son of a king, Dasartha. He and his brother Lakshman did everything together, and even killed evil Rakshasas as children. When he grew up, Rama fell in love with Sita and broke a very powerful bow to win her in marriage. Later, his father decided to make him king. However, one of the kings wives begged him for a favor, and having been granted a wish asked that Rama be sent in to the wilderness for fourteen years. Thus Rama went and Sita could not be dissuaded from accompanying him, as did Lakshman. Some time later, the real trouble began. A giantess fell in love with Rama and became angry with Sita when Rama rebuffed her. With Ravana’s help, Sita was lured into a trap and caught. Ravana took her to Lanka and tried, to no avail, to seduce her. Eventually, with the help of Lakshman and especially Hanuman, Sita was rescued by Rama, and Ravana was slain. Nevertheless, the people of Rama's kingdom doubted Sita's fidelity. As a result Sita proved her fidelity by undergoing a fire ordeal and jumping into a pyre. The sky and the god of fire proclaimed her innocence, and Rama accepted her again. However, the people still doubted. To avoid slander he sent her to a hermitage. There she gave birth to twin sons of Rama. In time, Rama called them all back to court. But again she was asked to prove her innocence. Finally Sita could not bear it and calling upon the earth which had born her to take her back, she was swallowed up. Soon thereafter, Rama died of grief.
Consort: Sita is Rama's consort and the incarnation of Lakshmi for this incarnation of Vishnu.
Other References on the Karma-to-Grace website:
Corduan, Winfried, Neighboring Faiths. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1998.
Knipe, David M. Hinduism: Experiments in the Sacred. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, Inc., 1991.
“Rama” New Encyclopedia Britannica. Micropaedia Vol. 9. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 2002. 916.
Thomas, P. Epics, Myths and Legends of India. Bombay: D.B. Taraporevala Sons and Co. Private. Ltd., 1989.
Wilkins, W. J. Hindu Mythology. New Delphi: Heritage Publishers, 1991.