The Cycle Of Life In The Indian Epic Of The Ramayana

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To be able to talk about the Ramayana, one must understand that it is an Indian epic that is full of Hindu traditions. Indians used to live in a caste system where people were born into a caste and remained there for life. There are four major castes, at the top is the Brahmins (priests), followed by Kshatriyas (ruling warriors), next the Vaishyas (skilled tradesmen), and finally the Sudras (common workers). Each of these castes has a dharma (duty) that the people must live by to reach a peaceful afterlife that does not include samsara, the infinite cycle of life and death. Along with the importance of dharma, Indians also believe that the events in one’s life are the works of fate. Rama shows himself as the hero of dharma because he responds to fate according to his dharma as a kshatriya. The story begins with the god Vishnu deciding that he will be born in human form to destroy Ravana, a demon that rules the three worlds from Lanka. Because Ravana has boons (favors) from Brahma, he is protected from and stronger than all the celestial beings (10-11). So, Rama was born to King Dasaratha of Ayodhya and before Rama turned sixteen, a holy rishi came to Ayodhya to ask Dasaratha if he could have Rama’s assistance in killing Ravana’s rakshasas that were causing a nuisance for the rishis in the forest. Dasaratha protested, but Guru Vasishta spoke up and said that the dharma of the kshatriya is to protect and help those that are being tormented, mistreated, and hindered

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