The son of King Dasaratha and Queen Kausalya, Rama is the prince of Ayodya. He is an avatara of Vishnu, the Blue God and the sustainer of worlds. He is also a virtuous, strong, and just man in his own right. He is married to Sita, whom he loves deeply. He has a strong bond with his brother Lakshmana as well.
Sita's father, King Janak, found her lying in a furrow on sanctified ground and decided to raise her as his daughter. She marries Rama, and loves him so much that she follows him into exile. She is famed for her virtue and beauty, and is regarded as an avatara of the goddess Lakshmi, Vishnu's consort.
Ravana is a rakshasa who performed penance for the God Siva for many years, and in return received a great blessing from the God: he cannot be killed by any God, demon, or other divine being. His arrogance combined, with great intelligence and power, has led him to rule over much of the earth, spreading terrible evil everywhere he goes.
Son of King Dasaratha, and brother of Rama. He is deeply devoted to his brother, whom he follows through many dangerous adventures and quests. He is married to Sita's younger sister, Urmila.
King of Ayodhya, father of Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna. Of all his three sons, he loves Rama most deeply, and tries to shelter the boy from any danger. He is a good king: kind, just and well-liked by his people.
Viswamitra is a great sage and wise man who was once a king. Through long meditation, he gained a number of magical powers. He takes Rama on a quest to defeat a demon and to lift the bow of Siva, the first step in the future king's great journey.
Ganga is a goddess, the daughter of Himavan. Because of her incomparable beauty, she was given to the Devas, and she became the Milky Way. Later, Siva brought her down to earth and she became the river Ganges.
Siva is part of the great trinity in Hindusim, along with Vishnu and Brahma. He is a great ascetic, and often sits in meditation. He is able to tame the power of other gods, devas, and supernatural beings, and he often grants blessings and wishes to those who sit in dedication meditation ('tapasya'). His wife is Parvati.
Along with Kusha, one of the youths to whom Valmiki taught the Ramayana that he received from Narada. He is one of the sons of Rama, but he does not know this.
Along with Lava, one of the youths to whom Valmiki taught the Ramayana that he received from Narada. He is one of the sons of Rama, but he does not know this.
Guru to King Dasaratha, he offers religious advice to the king and the royal family.
A great rishi; he presides over the sacrifice that King Dasaratha offers in order to get a son. He is sometimes depicted as a combination of a deer and a man.
A beautiful woman who was transformed into a demon (rakshasi) when she tried to seduce the rishi Agastya. As a demon, she drinks the blood of living creatures and kills anything she can see. In one of his first great acts, Rama breaks her curse by slaying her.
The third and youngest wife of King Dasaratha, and mother of Bharata. She is famed for her beauty. After she saved the life of Dasaratha in battle, he offered to grant anything she would ask of him. She later calls in this favor to have Bharata crowned king and Rama sent into the forest, inspired by the worlds of her maid, Manthara.
Second wife of Dasaratha. She is the mother of Lakshmana and Shatrughna.
The first wife of Dasaratha and mother of Rama. She is the oldest wife, and very kind and wise. She does not have a close relationship with her husband, but she loves her son Rama very deeply.
An old maid of Kaikeyi's. She is a wicked woman, and gives Kaikeyi the idea to ask Dasaratha to exile Rama and crown Bharata king instead.
King of the hunters, he rules near the wilderness in Shringiberapura. He is fiercely loyal to Rama.
Wife of Dasaratha, mother of Rama. She is wise and kind, but she is not close with her husband; the greatest joy in her life is Rama.
Son of King Dasaratha and Queen Kaikeyi, he is half-brother to Rama, Lakshmana, and Shatrughna. He is devoted to his brother Rama, and he tries desperately to undo the damage committed by his mother Kaikeyi.
Son of King Dasaratha and Queen Sumitra (she drank two sips from the sacred cup, and consequently had twins). His twin brother is Lakshmana, and his half-brothers are Rama and Bharata. He follows his brother Bharata everywhere.
Chief counselor of Dasaratha. He is the one who unwillingly brings Rama into exile.
The sister of Ravana, she is a powerful rakshasi. She attempts to seduce Rama and kill Sita, but the princely brothers attack her. She tries to muster the rakshasa army against Rama.
A rakshasa, uncle of Ravana. Rama defeated him with a purifying magical weapon, and he renounced his evil ways to become a rishi.
A rakshasa, cousin to Ravana. He rules the area of Janasthana, near the forest of Rama's exile. He is very powerful, and likes to kill rishis and despoil sacred rituals.
A powerful golden eagle who speaks in the voice of a human being. He was loyal to King Dasaratha, and pledges his service to Rama. He dies defending Sita from Ravana.
A terrible rakshasa who has the form of a body with no legs or head -- only arms and a gaping mouth. He was transformed into this ugly shape by Indra; formerly, he was a celestial archer. He tells the brothers to seek Sugriva, the prince of vanaras.
The rightful king of the vanaras, a race of magical monkeys. He was usurped by his brother Vali, and pledges his service to Rama and Lakshmana if they can restore him to his throne.
Advisor to Sugriva. He is the son of the wind god Vayu and a vanari woman.
A vanara youth, son of Vali and nephew of Sugriva. He is brave and intelligent.
Young brother of Ravana. Though he is a rakshasa, he is wise and good. When Ravana refuses to listen to his counsel, he joins Rama's army.
A great golden eagle, brother of Jatayu. His wings were burned when he flew too close to the son.
King of the Riksharaj (magical bears). He is an ally of Sugriva and Rama. He is known for his gentle wisdom and quiet strength.
The favorite son of Ravana, and his most powerful warrior. He earned his name after he captured Indra, the king of the gods.
Ravana's brother. He is a giant with infinite strength who sleeps for six months at a time before waking up and eating everything he can see.
An elderly and extremely powerful rishi who blesses Rama. Later when Rama is king of Ayodhya, he comes to Rama's palace and tells him secret tales about the people he met on his journeys.
The Ramayana Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Ramayana is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.