The ''Ramayana'' (; (サンスクリット:रामायणम्), ', ) is a Sanskrit epic poem ascribed to the Hindu sage and Sanskrit poet Valmiki. It is regarded as one of the two great works of Indian literature, along with the Mahabharata. The ''Ramayana'' also plays an important role in Hindu literature('). It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife and the ideal king. The name ''Ramayana'' is a tatpurusha compound of ' and ' ("going, advancing"), translating to "''Rama's Journey''". The ''Ramayana'' consists of 24,000 verses in seven books (') and 500 cantos (') and tells the story of Rama (the seventh avatar of the Hindu supreme-god Vishnu), whose wife Sita is abducted by Ravana, the king of Lanka (current day Sri Lanka). Incidentally the first letter of every 1000 verses (total 24) make the Gayatri mantra. Thematically, the ''Ramayana'' explores human values and the concept of dharma.
Verses in the ''Ramayana'' are written in a 32-syllable meter called '. The ''Ramayana'' was an important influence on later Sanskrit poetry and Hindu life and culture. Like the ''Mahabharata'', the ''Ramayana'' is not just a story: it presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and devotional elements. The characters Rama, Sita, Lakshman, Bharata, Hanuman and Ravana are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India, Nepal and many south-east Asian countries such as Thailand and Indonesia.
There are other versions of the ''Ramayana'' in Indian languages, besides Buddhist and Jain adaptations; and also Cambodian, Indonesian, Filipino, Thai, Lao, Burmese, and Malaysian versions of the tale.
==Textual History & Structure==
Traditionally, the ''Ramayana'' is attributed to Valmiki. The Hindu tradition is unanimous in its agreement that the poem is the work of a single poet; the sage Valmiki, a contemporary of Rama and a peripheral actor in the drama. The story's original version in Sanskrit is known as ''Valmiki Ramayana'', dating to approximately the 5th to 4th century BC. While it is often viewed as a primarily devotional text, the Vaishnava elements appear to be later accretions, possibly dating to the 2nd century BC or later. The main body of the narrative lacks statements of Rama's divinity and identifications of Rama with Vishnu are rare and subdued even in the later parts of the text.
According to Hindu tradition—and according to the ''Ramayana'' itself—the ''Ramayana'' belongs to the genre of ''itihāsa'' like the ''Mahabharata''. The definition of ''itihāsa'' has varied over time, with one definition being that ''itihāsa'' is a narrative of past events(''purāvṛtta'') which includes teachings on the goals of human life. According to Hindu tradition, the ''Ramayana'' takes place during a period of time known as Treta Yuga.
In its extant form, Valmiki's ''Ramayana'' is an epic poem of some 24,000. The text survives in several thousand partial and complete manuscripts, the oldest of which is a palm-leaf manuscript found in Nepal and dated to the 11th century CE. The text has several regional renderings, recensions, and subrecensions. Textual scholar Robert P. Goldman differentiates two major regional recensions: the northern(n) and the southern(s). Scholar Romesh Chunder Dutt writes that "the ''Ramayana'', like the ''Mahabharata'', is a growth of centuries, but the main story is more distinctly the creation of one mind."
There has been discussion as to whether the first and the last chapters of Valmiki's ''Ramayana'' were composed by the original author. Most Hindus still believe they are integral parts of the book, in spite of some style differences and narrative contradictions between these two chapters and the rest of the book.
Famous retellings Kannada POET KUVEMPU's Sri Ramayana Darshanam Mahakavya(Avardee for Kannada Poetry "Sri Ramayana Darshanam Mahakavya" ), Gona Budda Reddy's ''Ramayanam'' in Telugu, Kamban's ''Ramavataram'' in Tamil (c. 11th–12th century), Madhava Kandali's ''Saptakanda Ramayana'' in Assamese (c. 14th century), Krittibas Ojha's ''Krittivasi Ramayan''(also known as ''Shri Rama panchali'') in Bengali (c. 15th century), Sarala Das' ''Vilanka Ramayana'' (c. 15th century)〔https://books.google.co.in/books?id=7LFzfbhmJcMC&pg=PA74&dq=vilanka+ramayana&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDkQ6AEwBmoVChMI3_6MiNqByQIVDo-OCh2EKgwU#v=onepage&q=vilanka%20ramayana&f=false〕〔https://books.google.co.in/books?id=BMyxwk5g3NEC&pg=PT7&dq=vilanka+ramayana&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CBsQ6AEwAGoVChMI3_6MiNqByQIVDo-OCh2EKgwU#v=onepage&q=vilanka%20ramayana&f=false〕〔https://books.google.co.in/books?id=NgeTtWkD0VkC&pg=PR27&dq=vilanka+ramayana&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CD8Q6AEwB2oVChMI3_6MiNqByQIVDo-OCh2EKgwU#v=onepage&q=vilanka%20ramayana&f=false〕〔https://books.google.co.in/books?id=cvE4wF-cfX0C&pg=PA116&dq=vilanka+ramayana&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CEoQ6AEwCWoVChMI3_6MiNqByQIVDo-OCh2EKgwU#v=onepage&q=vilanka%20ramayana&f=false〕 and Balaram Das' ''Dandi Ramayana''(also known as the ''Jagamohan Ramayana'') (c. 16th century) both in Odia, sant Eknath's ''Bhavarth Ramayan'' (c. 16th century) in Marathi, Tulsidas' ''Ramcharitamanas'' (c. 16th century) in Awadhi(which is an eastern form of Hindi) and Thunchaththu Ezhuthachan's ''Adhyathmaramayanam'' in Malayalam.
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