Rama and the Ramayana: Crash Course World Mythology #27

Posted By on September 28, 2019


Hi, I’m Mike Rugnetta. This is Crash Course Mythology and today we continue our discussion of heroes and heroism. This time we are looking at a hero king. Rama, whose story is told in one of the core texts of the Hindu tradition. That’s right we’re discussing a living religious tradition, Thoth and I would like to remind you that we’ll be focusing on the narrative and cultural aspects of Rama’s story rather than its religious meaning or potential historical truth. Also, a quick note on pronunciation. There aren’t any Sanskrit scholars around Crash Course HQ, so we’re going to do our best but I can guarantee that I’m not going to be perfect. We’ve put the sources we used for pronunciations in the doobleedoo if you’re curious how we arrived at any of what I’m attempting to say. Thank you in advance for all of your kind and helpful comments. So, who is this Rama anyway? Rama is an avatar of the God Vishnu. He’s brave, philosophical, and really good at archery, and also blue which is very classy. OH! Very fashionable, Thoth The story of the hero King Rama comes from an epic poem known as the RAMAYANA. Like many other stories of antiquity, this one started as an oral tradition and was only written down later so there are a number of different versions. Today we’re mostly referencing the version recorded by the Poet Valmiki between 400 and 200 B.C.E. when the story was already at least 300 years old. We’ll talk about the significance of this myth to the Hindu tradition but not all versions of Rama’s story are Hindu He shows up in Buddhist mythology too. It’s also worth noting that there’s some debate over how well this story represents Hindu culture, values, and principles generally We’re not going to do the same hero’s journey blow by blow as we did with Gilgamesh but you definitely find plenty of those archetypal seeds. SPOILER ALERT, there’s at least 5 instances of supernatural aid, some of it from monkeys and we are going to come back to Campbell later to ask “Who really is the hero of the RAMAYANA?” Keep that question in mind . Our version of the RAMAYANA is a truncated version from thury and definies introduction to mythologies textbook. We start our story right at the beginning, from Rama’s birth. His family is really important, and there are lots of them. So, it actually might not hurt to take notes. You got a pen? No? It’s OK, I’ll wait. Okay, ready? Let’s do this. Rama is born the son of the Dasartha, the king of Kosala. He has an auspicious birth. The first of four sons, after a long period of kingly infertility. And the king has three principle wives: Kausalya, Rama’s mama, Kaikeyi, who gives birth to Rama’s brother Bharata, and Sumitra who has twins, Lakshmana and Satrughna. All four princes are very princely. Smart, polite, they look real sharp in fancy dress, but Rama is clearly the princeliest. One day day the sage of the Vishvamitra comes looking for help dealing with the Rakshasas a group of demons, who were just genuinely bad news. Rama, who was old enough to do something about it, pledges to help Vishvamitra. He and his brother Lakshmana, assist Vishvamitra in an important sacrifice first, though. Earning top marks for both piety and general heroic character. Afterwards, Vishvamitra takes Rama and Lakshmana to a neighboring kingdom, where they meet beautiful princess Sita. Her father, the king, had promised Sita’s hand in marriage, to any man who can who can string Shiva’s bow, and no! that is not a euphemism. Shiva has an incredible, divine, massive, bow, for arrows. So, here’s where Rama really distinguishes himself. He not only strings the bow, he draws it with so much force, that it breaks apart in his hands. The king is satisfied, Rama and Sita are married. Twelve years later, Dasartha decides to give up his throne, and names Rama as successor. In a moment of familial, political intrigue, tho. Manthara, the maid servant to queen Kaikeyi, convinces her that her son Bharata, Rama’s younger brother would be a better king. Kaikeyi goes to Dasartha, and begs him to fulfill the promise he made years before. Dasartha resists at first, but is stuck between his commitment. He makes Bharata king, and banishes Rama to the forest, for fourteen years. Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, the loyal brother, head out together in exile. The trio go to the Dandaka forest, where over the next ten years, they adventure like, woah! The defeat a demon named Viradha, they visit a hermitage, they receive a magical bow, and quiver with infinite arrows from the sage Agasthya Rama. They even make friends with a celestial eagle named Jatayu. who promises to watch over Sita, whenever the two brothers go out hunting. Sadly, the peace doesn’t last. The Rashasa’s learn of Rama’s exile in the Dandaka and send a fourteen thousand-strong army after him. Rama, armed with his magic bow, defeats them all. In the face of such an upset, the demon Ravana, who has ten heads, resolves to get back at Rama. The weakness he can exploit? Sita. Ravana orders the demon Maricha to change into a beautiful golden deer, and prance through the forest. When Sita sees it she is entranced, so Rama and Lakshmana go out to catch it. With Sita alone, Ravana shows up disguised as a hermit. He proposes marriage to Sita, who refuses. Dadoy. Ravana then reveals his true form and swipes her, carrying her off in his flying chariot all Sita can do as she struggles is drop bits of her jewellery to a group of monkeys in the trees below Hoping that Rama will figure out what has happened. Back in the forest Rama kills the golden deer and returns to find Sita gone. He and Lakshmana discover the wounded Jatayu, who relates the whole story before… expiring. Swearing to rescue Sita, the two travel to seek out Ravana’ lair. Their search brings them to The Monkey Kingdom, where they meet Sugriv, the Monkey King. At first Sugriv mistrusts the two humans, but after reassurance from his Chief councillor Hanuman, he decides to give them a chance. So Rama does what he does best. Boss archery feats and Sugriv is so impressed that they all become friends. The monkeys are happy to help Rama rescue Sita but there’s one problem: it’s monsoon season which makes travel very difficult. While he waits Rama pines away for his missing wife Finally, as the rains abate, Hanuman talks to Jatayu’s brother, the vulture Sampati and learns that Sita is being held in Lanka, far across the sea guarded by a group of titans and it just so happens that Hanuman isn’t any old monkey but the Son of the Wind. So he agrees to fly across the ocean and help locate Sita. Hanuman arrives in Lanka only to discover a grief stricken woman in ragged clothes sitting beneath a tree in the Ashoka garden It’s Sita. He watches as Ravana enters the garden and tries to convince her to marry him. Sita rebuffs him yet again and he flies into a rage, saying she has two months to change her mind or he’ll slice her up, cook her and eat her. This brings us to the Thought Bubble After Ravana makes his threat and leaves, Sita is stricken with grief Her thoughts turn to suicide but at this exact moment, Hanuman steps from his hiding place. He tells Sita he brings Rama’s good wishes but Sita baulks. What If this is Ravana in yet another disguise trying to trick her Hanuman proves who he is by presenting Rama’s signet ring and offers Sita escape but Sita refuses It’s only proper that Rama be the one to rescue her Hanuman flies back to Rama with this news Rama is overjoyed to learn that his wife is safe So, he leads a monkey army across the sea to Lanka They battle Ravana’s forces for several days The struggle is dire. In the end it all comes down to Rama’s awesome archery expertise He finally slays Ravana ending the skirmish Sounds like a happy ending, right? Well, not exactly when Rama sees Sita, he says “I have defeated my enemy annd avenged the insult to me. This campaign was not undertaken wholly for your sake; It was to uphold the honor of my illustrious family. Your very sight is now painful to me. For no man of honor can take back a beautiful woman who lived for a year in the house of a titan. But Sita is undaunted. To prove her faithfulness to Rama during captivity, she says she will undergo a fire ordeal She has Lakshmana raise a pire and enters the flames She is immediately taken up by the fire god, unscathed, thus proving her purity beyond the fire cast shadow of Thank You! Thought Bubble.. Rama accepts Sita

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 100 comments

  1. THE MOST IMPORTANT PART YOU GUYS MISSED TO PUT OUT ON YOUR VIDEO
    The main reason that led to the abduction of Sita was Laxmana’s attack on Ravana’s sister Surpanaka. This attack is mentioned as Laxmana cuts Surpanaka’s nose which could also mean sexual assault as a personification. It is said that Surpanaka had a little crush on Rama and when she confessed her feeling towards him which leads to latter realisation that he’s married. Laxmana then lays down an attack when the conversation goes wrong. The greater truth is that Ravana was also present during Sita’s ceremony for finding the best groom. However, after the Surpanaka’s incident Ravana kidnaps Sita in disguise. And Sita wasn’t kept under the security of titans but instead he was kept in a garden called Asoka Vana where she was accompanied by a group of females from Lanka.

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  2. Do you know that RAMA and ROME looks similar, and yes cartoon show's dark colour people as blue so he is a bit dark not blue

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  3. Ramayana usually ends like that.
    There is one more twist to this!
    After all that happened, Rama felt that he has done a disgusting act asking his wife to prove her purity!
    He went inside a sea after that (after feeling immensely guilty).

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  4. Thanks to Tulsidas the poet of ramcharitramanas who started the play of ram story as RamLila every year in Navratri because of this play world knows lord ram Lila.

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  5. Very well done video. And your pronunciations were pretty good. You pronounced the vowels better than most white dudes.

    Also, on the topic of following dharma, I don't think the story has a single hero. I think it's a modern conception to have a hero. In Ramayana most of the characters follow their own dharma as well as the dharma their social role requires. Rama is an exemplary kshatriya , Sita is an exemplary wife, Hanuman is an exemplary devotee (since Rama is an avatar of Viṣṇu), and Lakṣmaṇa is an exemplary brother. And, Bharata, whose mother started the mess, is held up as dharma itself.

    Having said that, they are all incarnations of deities, so of course they would follow their dharma so perfectly. 😊

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  6. Mr crash course never ever ravana said to sita that he would cook her if she doesn't marry after two months get your facts right make a thorough research and then only make a video on ramayana

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  7. The tragic hero would be Bali who was unscrupulously killed by Rama..
    And the epic doesn't have a happy ending

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  8. This is gonna sound over religious and typically from a religious person who likes to defend his own faith above the others but anyways. Lord Rama and the Ramayana are the PERFECT standard of how the Lord of the Universe is supposed to be or act if there is a God, I never in my whole time since i started to become a Ram bhakta saw anyone use any scene from the Ramayana to say "that was evil from Rama! Or that was immoral" unlike the Bible where you gotta defend it 24/7 because that deity is always murdering and advocating slavery.

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  9. Mythology word actually originates from sanskrit word मिथ्या – mithya which means wrong interpretation or a lie

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  10. Krishna and rama are described as Neela mega Shama meaning as black as a rain filled cloud but indians don't wanna worship a brother modulded him to blue colour

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  11. That is a westernized version Indian version is a lot more complex one. Although I wish it had ended your way but it has a sad ending.

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  12. Because ravana has 10 head's like the story told here and most people are believing that ravana has 10 head's..and in reality no one would have 10 head's so this story has been carrying mythology name ..10 head's means every head represents an different kind of character ravana had..not that like people telling he has 10 head..and making this ancient story with full of wisdom discipline gone wrong finally misunderstand the whole story of ramayana..if this story was myth ,,then srilanka wouldn't have ramsetu or king ravana palace that still standing still till nowadays..anyone can visit there see it byself and understand it byself without listening at social media that almost spreading wrong story without knowing the truth ..see listen clearly here,,why only carrying or spreading this all to world??because,,we would not enough time to live here and make every mistakes and get knowledge of it..but ,,we can learn it from those stories..strong meaningful messages for life inside those stories ,,and it was passed generation to generation till now has it's own reason here,, why only this few story?? Together we learn it from that and share it to everyone let this knowledge has no death lines

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  13. But, jesus, Ravana does not want to exploit Sita. He just simply in love with her because Sita is his reincarnation of Widowati(or we can call her Vedavati), the love of Ravana's life.

    So he takes her to his kingdom and treat her like The Queen, he even made this Agrasoka in Alengka for Sita.

    Fun fact Sita actually is Ravana's daughter from Dewi Tari.

    Correct me if im wrong.

    Btw never said he was a righteous-man.😒

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  14. That's some mythological, bobs and vegana monkey business. You shouldn't have wasted your time and energy on something irrelevant, unreal, autistic,
    high-on-weed delusional fairytale.

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  15. The reason for Sita to jump into pyre is different the kingdoms people were not happy with a queen who is pregnant they had doubts as it might be of Ravana, Ram had faith in her but he chose his duty as a good king over wife also he had complete faith in her

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  16. Let's see Krishna loves all regardless of your religion and all life forms lived on earth over 5000years ago. Rama lived over 9000 years ago , always promoting Peace, .fighting for defense is the last resort..peace all. Hare Krishna.

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  17. Ravana didn't propose to Sita, he came to her as a beggar, begging for food. The hut of Sita was protected with enchanted lines (Lakshmana Rekha) drawn around it by Lakshmana while he left after Raam into the jungle, leaving Sita behind, vulnerable. Ravana couldn't cross that circle line and so he persuades Sita to come out of that circle. Once Sita steps out for giving the old hermit some food, he reveals his demonic self and kidnaps her with force and takes off with her in his paliolithic chopper Pushpak. The kidnap was revealed to Raama by Jatayu, who soon succumbed to his wounds from battle in the air with Ravana, in an attempt to rescue Sita.

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  18. Well tried – but not with an honest open mind. I realize you posted this in 2017. Let's just say – you are the hero – for editing this video and bringing animation in. You are Rama. Ramayana is not that simple my friend.

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  19. Great Video and disclaimer that you have barely scratched the surface. There is no reason to critique rather appreciation of time and energy invested to create this beautiful work.

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  20. you guys can watch the japanese animated movie "Ramayana-the legend of prince rama" by yugo sako to understand the ramayana more clearly while having good quality of entertainment and also it is available in english. 👌👍

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  21. The saiyan race in dbz is just a futuristic representation of the ancient vanar race in india who helped lord rama

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  22. Indian mythology is diff from greek mythology. In greek or norse mythology one person is given as position of hero but in indian mythology every character has its own significance. If u refer mahabharata u will get more confuse than this that who is hero but it doent matter who the hero is but what any story gives to us to improve our life. This stories are not for entertainment purpose only they shows the way of living.

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  23. 1st of all Ramayan is not myth its our history . So there was no supernatural events . Sita didn't set on fire . Rama stopped her from doing that .

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  24. Ravanan is the real Hero. These Aryan Nomads take Dravidian Hinduism and twist and fabricate to depict themselves as the hero and all the dark people are demons for them.

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  25. There are many potholes in the plot and there are many versions of the ramayana , also ramayana does not end with Rama bieng crowned again , there is a lot afterwards and certainly you will not get a happy ending in it……

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  26. "For no man of honor can take back a beautiful woman who lived for a year in the house of a titan"

    Translation: I think he's got a bigger D than me.

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  27. I'm gonna play devil's advocate and say Ravana is the true hero for having a flying chariot like Helios. The Dandu Monara sounds awesome.

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  28. I know most Hindu people say Rama is the hero of ramayana but I am the fan of the ravan because he don't torture sits and other side after war ends Rama refused sita for his country and make her to live in the forest

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  29. The question is not about if Rama existed or not however one should question or prove if he is really a god to be worshipped.

    If one says he is the lord and to be worshipped, please explain me the reasons why he has to be worshipped?

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  30. You did pretty well on the translations, however, the names with "a"s at the end of them usually long concinents its a weird sanscript thing basically if a consinent is followed by a vowel then it is pronounced heavier if that makes sense? Like Rama would be pronounced Ramm. Both are used interchangeably but this pronunciation is more accurate to old sanskript. 🙂

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  31. You left out the part about Ravan being very knowledgeable and a great worshipper of Shiva .And how Chess comes from Sri Lanka is also mentioned in the Ramayan.
    P.S please correct me if I said something wrong

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