Chapter 18

The Ramayana

The Ramayana, one of the key myths of India, not only portrays events concerning its hero, Rama, but also illustrates dharma, the valued life principle of Hindu society.

In this chapter, you learn that the Hindu gods take a personal and sympathetic interest in the lives of humans. The myth's characters—many of whom are deities—grapple with situations that parallel human dilemmas at a basic level. The grandeur and splendor of the story are enhanced beyond that of our everyday lives, as the frequent use of magic and illusion allows the characters to operate on a level far beyond human possibilities. Still, we can see the universal qualities that link their striving to ours.

As you read, notice how the principle of dharma affects the events of the story, providing valuable guidelines for ethical behavior.

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