The Ramayana

The Ramayana Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Flowers (Symbol)

The features of good or divine characters are often compared to flowers, and flowers miraculously fall from the sky as a sign of divine blessing. Conversely, places occupied by demons and rakshasas are described as being flowerless. Flowers are a sign of natural divine beauty, because they emerge spontaneously from the earth. Additionally, flowers as significant in the Hindu religion more generally; they are frequently presented as offerings to the gods.

Weapons (Motif)

Magical weapons appear frequently throughout the Ramayana. These relate to the central themes of combat, but also indicate the central role of the gods in the text: many of these weapons come from the gods, and are evidence of divine favor.

Rama as the Righteous Soul (Allegory)

The journey of Rama - unfairly betrayed by his kinsman, the purifier of the forest, seeker after his lost wife, conquerer of ultimate evil - is understood as an allegory of the soul's journey. Like Rama, the soul must overcome numerous temptations and obstacles in order to achieve its final goals.

Silks, Jewels, and Perfumes (Symbols)

Sita is frequently described as being adorned by a variety of silks and jewels. Perfume is said to fill the air on occasions when the gods are pleased with an auspicious event. The princes Rama and Lakshmana must give up their silks and finery when they are exiled to the forest on the orders of Kaikeyi. Silks, jewels, and perfumes are signs of wealth and purity, but also of spiritual favor and righteousness. As they delight the eye, so they delight the heart as well.

Rishis and Sages (Motif)

Rama visits or travels with a very large number of rishis and sages, men and women who have achieved major spiritual powers. They remind Rama of his true identity and assist him on his quest. The central role of these holy people indicates that the Ramayana is above all an allegory about spiritual experiences, and should be read as a sacred text.