[Valmiki] declared, "Holy One, I wonder if any man born into the world was blessed with all the virtues by your Father in heaven."
"Tell me what the virtues are, and I will tell you the man who has them."
Valmiki began in his inward way, enunciating each attribute carefully: "Integrity, bravery, righteousness, gratitude, dedication to his beliefs, a flawless character, compassion for all living, learning, skill, beauty, courage beyond bravery, radiance,control over his anger and his desires, serenity, a lack of envy, and valor to awe Indra's Devas." As Narada's eyes grew wistful, Valmiki continued. "I know I am asking for perfection in a mere mortal. But I wondered if a man of this world could have all these, which not even the Gods possess." The sage was convinced his perfect man could only be the figment of a romantic imagination
Narada still gazes out over the river' crisp currents. [...]. At last he said softly, "In these very times such a man was born into the world. His name is Rama."
This quote presents a list of Rama's personal virtues, which are a central focus of the poem. Significantly, Valmiki notes that not even gods necessarily possess all the virtues that Rama does.
The rishis bathed in the river, shot with saffron shafts of the setting sun. Standing in velvet water, they said sandhya prayers.
After leaving Viswamitra's asrama, Rama and Lakshmana watch the rishis perform their evening prayers. This sentence evokes vivid imagery by melding sensory experiences: saffron is a rare spice that is usually tasted and velvet is an expensive fabric that is generally touched, but these things are compared to a scene that the princes are witnessing.
"If you had been banished to the Dandaka vans, then so have I. I will go with you, Rama; my place is at your side. With you, I would walk down the paths of hell. The jungle will be like heaven for me. I must disobey you in this, my love; forget my disobedience, as you do the water you leave behind in a glass after drinking."
Sita makes this speech to Rama after he tells him that he has been exiled. He initially asks her to stay behind and look after his mother, but she loves him too much to be parted from him. In this quote, she beautifully explains her love and loyalty to him, refusing to abandon him even when he is sent into exile. This quote exemplifies the virtues that have made Sita so renowned in India: her loyalty and her love for her husband.
Rama replied, "It is not that I don't understand you, or feel sympathy for you. But fate had ordained that my path lead through the jungle, and yours to the throne of Ayodhya. I grant that common sense might cry out otherwise; but fate is beyond mere common sense. Once I cam out into the wilderness, I sensed fate clearly in my heart: the forest calls me more urgently that Ayodhya. For me Ayodhya is far away. I will surely return to it one day; but not yet."
Faced with the protestations of his brother, mothers, people, and guru, Rama at last argues that the hand of fate has a part in his exile to the forest. This quote showcases Rama's uncanny knack for discerning the right path of dharma, and it also demonstrates the importance of fate to the narrative.
One should never discount the majesty of Ravana of Lanka. Evil he was, but he was also the greatest of all the created beings of his time. He had dominated the known universe for centuries, and even Deva women felt weak with desire just to see him. He was matchless at arms, in his generosity, in his intelligence and knowledge of the sacred lore, and in his indomitable courage. He was Ravana, the peerless, the invincible. There was no one like him, as complex, as powerful, or as wise, save the great Gods of the Trinity themselves. But let us not forget he was evil as well: a Beast of the night.
Ravana is established as a worthy adversary for Rama; he is no mean villain, but instead a complex and powerful nemesis. Intriguingly, this passage emphasizes Ravana's majesty rather than his wickedness, highlighting some of his virtues, such as his intelligence and his desirability to women.
Jambavan said to the moody Hanuman, "Why, O Son of the wind, do you doubt yourself so much? But it is the curse of all the greatest. Those who cannot do a tenth of what you can, those who haven't a shadow of your strength, stand up and boast about their prowess, while you sit here listening to them and say nothing. Hanuman, we need a hero to leap across the see and bring glory to the vanaras."
Hanuman is the vanara search party's only hope for searching the island of Lanka, but he isn't sure that he can accomplish this task. It is up to his friend Jamabavan to remind him of his abilities. This quote argues that those who boast the loudest often have the fewest skills, which highlights the virtue of humility in the Ramayana. This passage is an inspiration for anyone who doubts his or her own skills.
She looked up briefly into his eyes and, her voice firmer, said, "You have violated dharma and punishment will come to you more quickly than you think. You don't know Rama; he is not what you imagine him to be. You speak of the sea being an obstacle between him and me. But I say to you, Ravana, even if an ocean of stars lay between us, my Rama would come to find me."
Kidnapped and held against her will in Ravana's palace, Sita will not be seduced by either the rakshasa king's kindness or his terrible threats. She remains loyal to Rama even months after being kidnapped, never losing faith that he will come to rescue her. This quote uses beautiful imagery - crossing an ocean of stars - to emphasize the devotion between Rama and Sita.
"Uncanny visions arise in my mind: of timeless evil, and a battle older than the earth, which has been fought before on countless worlds, in forgotten ages. Even after this battle of Lanka, the war shall be fought again and again; until time ends, and dharma and adharma with it."
Having arrived on the shores of Lanka, Rama speaks these words to Lakshmana as if in a trance. Rama is alluding to his great destiny: to eradicate the evil of the age. This passage also emphasizes the deep and cyclical nature of time in Hindu cosmology; over long ages, events tend to repeat themselves.
At last, Rama stood against Ravana. Blue and serene, the prince of light stood against the king of darkness. Rama of Ayodhya stood forth, bright and fearsome on that fateful day. The Kodanda [his bow] was in his hand, a faint smile on his lips. Lakshmana was at his side, and they were elite Mahavishnu with his brother Indra beside him.
For a moment their gazes locked, Rama's fine, clear eyes and the Rakshasa's sallow ones. A chasmal hush fell on Lanka. Like twin moments of time being born from Brahma, the human and the Demon raised their bows at once and the duel began.
The great battle of Lanka has been raging for days, and at last Ravana comes out of his palace for a final stand against Rama and his army. This is the climax of the narrative, the moment at which the greatest good and the greatest evil clash. True to the central theme of brotherly love, Lakshmana does not leave Rama's side even at this dangerous and decisive moment. Significantly, the bulk of the description focuses on Rama; this may be foreshadowing indicating his ultimate victory.
"Muni, I never doubted Sita's purity. I beg you, do not accuse me of a sin I never committed, to add to the one that I did. Indeed, I did banish my queen for fear of what the people were saying about her. But then, my lord, I am a king, and m first and final dharma is toward my people. It would never have done for them to have doubted their king, for even a moment: that he was weak and took back a tainted woman."
In this scene from the seventh book of the Ramayana (which is not always included as part of the text), Rama has exiled Sita to the forest after his people suggested that she actually slept with Ravana. Sita returns along with the sage Valmiki and her two sons by Rama. Rama argues that he banished his devoted wife in order to be a better king to his people. Sita does not accept this explanation, and vanishes into her mother, the earth.
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.