The Ramayana is one of the greatest epic poems of Indian history. This great epic poem was written by the saint Valmiki and is the story ofLord Rama - the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
The saying goes that Valmiki was a robber and was advised by some saints to write the Ramayana as a penance for his sins. The Ramayana is composed of 24000 verses called Slokas and a complex 32-syllable meter called Anustup. These verses are grouped into individual chapters called Sargas. Each Sarga narrates a specific event. These chapters or sargas are grouped into books called Kaandas. Each kaanda refers to a particular phase of the story. There are a total of six kaandas.
The word Ramayana means Rama's Journey. It portrays the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife and the ideal king. The Ramayana depicts the birth and childhood of Lord Rama and his brothers, the marriage of Lord Rama, His exile, abduction of His consort Sita by the demon King Ravana and how He fights the demon king to get her back. The Ramayana also illustrates the loyalty of one brother (Bharata) towards another.
Although originally written in Sanskrit, the Ramayana has now been translated into almost all major Indian languages. Prose versions are also available. The version composed by Valmiki is known as the Adi Kavya. Other popular Indian versions of the Ramayana include Sri Ram Charit Manas by Goswami Tulasidas and Kambar’s Kambaramayanam in Tamil. There are also various international versions of the Ramayana such as the Thai, Malaysian etc. Thus the Ramayana is a widely acclaimed source of spiritual, cultural and artistic inspiration all over the world.
Many children's books publishers such as Amar Chitra Katha have brought out stories of the Ramayana. These are simple and easy to both read and understand. These books also have interesting illustrations to make the reading more lively. Some television channels have also telecast the Ramayana as a serial.