The epic Ramayana , dated variously from 5th century BCE  to first century BCE,  is attributed to him, based on the attribution in the text itself. The Ramayana tells the story of a prince, Rama of the city of Ayodhya in the Kingdom of Kosala , whose wife Sita is abducted by Ravana , the demon-king Rakshasa of Lanka. British satirist Aubrey Menen says that Valmiki was, "recognized as a literary genius," and thus was considered, "an outlaw," presumably because of his, " philosophic scepticism ,"  as part of an "Indian Enlightenment" period. Menen claims Valmiki is, "the first author in all history to bring himself into his own composition.
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The epic, traditionally ascribed to the Maharishi Valmiki , narrates the life of Rama , the legendary prince of the Kosala Kingdom. It follows his fourteen-year exile to the forest by his father King Dasharatha , on request of his step-mother Kaikeyi , his travels across forests in India with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana , the kidnapping of his wife by Ravana , the great king of Lanka , resulting in a war with him, and Ram's eventual return to Ayodhya to be crowned king. This is the culmination point of the epic.
It is the most sacred book, and is read by millions of people every year. There have been many attempts to unravel the epic's historical growth and compositional layers; various recent scholars' estimates for the earliest stage of the text range from the 7th to 4th centuries BCE, with later stages extending up to the 3rd century CE. The Ramayana is one of the largest ancient epics in world literature.
Uttar kand which is also read today in ramayan is a part of kakbhusundi garud samvad and is not a part of original valkimi ramayan . In Hindu tradition, it is considered to be the Adi-kavya first poem.
It depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, the ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal husband and the ideal king. Ramayana was an important influence on later Sanskrit poetry and Hindu life and culture. Like Mahabharata , Ramayana presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages in narrative allegory , interspersing philosophical and ethical elements.
There are many versions of Ramayana in Indian languages, besides Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain adaptations. According to Indian tradition, and the Ramayana itself, the epic belongs to the genre of itihasa like Mahabharata. According to Hindu tradition, 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, verses. 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.
A Times of India report dated 18 December informs about the discovery of a 6th-century manuscript of the Ramayana at the Asiatic Society library, Kolkata.
Textual scholar Robert P. Goldman differentiates two major regional revisions: 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 volumes Bala Kand and Uttara Kand 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 volumes and the rest of the book. Retellings include Kamban 's Ramavataram in Tamil c. In terms of narrative time, the action of the Ramayana predates the Mahabharata. However, the general cultural background of the Ramayana is one of the post- urbanization periods of the eastern part of north India , while the Mahabharata reflects the Kuru areas west of this, from the Rigvedic to the late Vedic period.
By tradition, the text belongs to the Treta Yuga , second of the four eons Yuga of Hindu chronology. Rama is said to have been born in the Treta Yuga years ago to king Dasharatha in the Ikshvaku dynasty. According to the modern academic view, Vishnu , who, according to Bala Kanda , was incarnated as Rama , first came into prominence with the epics themselves and further, during the puranic period of the later 1st millennium CE.
Also, in the epic Mahabharata, there is a version of the Ramayana known as Ramopakhyana. This version is depicted as a narration to Yudhishthira.
Books two to six form the oldest portion of the epic, while the first and last books Bala Kand and Uttara Kand, respectively are later additions: style differences and narrative contradictions between these two volumes and the rest of the epic have led scholars since Hermann Jacobi to the present toward this consensus. This "Sarga" section details the stories of Rama's childhood and events related the time-frame. Dasharatha was the King of Ayodhya.
He had three wives: Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra. He was childless for a long time and anxious to have an heir, so he performs a fire sacrifice known as Putra-kameshti Yajna. These sons are endowed, to various degrees, with the essence of the Supreme Trinity Entity Vishnu ; Vishnu had opted to be born into mortality to combat the demon Ravana , who was oppressing the gods, and who could only be destroyed by a mortal.
The boys were reared as the princes of the realm, receiving instructions from the scriptures and in warfare from Vashistha. When Rama was 16 years old, sage Vishwamitra comes to the court of Dasharatha in search of help against demons who were disturbing sacrificial rites. He chooses Rama, who is followed by Lakshmana, his constant companion throughout the story.
Rama and Lakshmana receive instructions and supernatural weapons from Vishwamitra and proceed to destroy Tataka and many other demons. Janaka was the King of Mithila. One day, a female child was found in the field by the King in the deep furrow dug by his plough.
Overwhelmed with joy, the King regarded the child as a "miraculous gift of God". The child was named Sita, the Sanskrit word for furrow. Sita grew up to be a girl of unparalleled beauty and charm.
The King had decided that who ever could lift and wield the heavy bow, presented to his ancestors by Shiva , could marry Sita. Sage Vishwamitra takes Rama and Lakshmana to Mithila to show the bow. Then Rama desires to lift it and goes on to wield the bow and when he draws the string, it broke. The weddings were celebrated with great festivity in Mithila and the marriage party returns to Ayodhya.
After Rama and Sita have been married for twelve years, an elderly Dasharatha expresses his desire to crown Rama, to which the Kosala assembly and his subjects express their support. On the eve of the great event, Kaikeyi — her jealousy aroused by Manthara , a wicked maidservant — claims two boons that Dasharatha had long ago granted her. Kaikeyi demands Rama to be exiled into the wilderness for fourteen years, while the succession passes to her son Bharata.
The heartbroken king, constrained by his rigid devotion to his given word, accedes to Kaikeyi's demands. Rama accepts his father's reluctant decree with absolute submission and calm self-control which characterises him throughout the story. He is joined by Sita and Lakshmana. When he asks Sita not to follow him, she says, "the forest where you dwell is Ayodhya for me and Ayodhya without you is a veritable hell for me.
Meanwhile, Bharata who was on a visit to his maternal uncle, learns about the events in Ayodhya. Bharata refuses to profit from his mother's wicked scheming and visits Rama in the forest.
He requests Rama to return and rule. But Rama, determined to carry out his father's orders to the letter, refuses to return before the period of exile. After thirteen years of exile, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana journey southward along the banks of river Godavari , where they build cottages and live off the land. At the Panchavati forest they are visited by a rakshasi named Shurpanakha , sister of Ravana. She tries to seduce the brothers and, after failing, attempts to kill Sita. Lakshmana stops her by cutting off her nose and ears.
Hearing of this, her brothers Khara and Dushan organise an attack against the princes. Rama defeats Khara and his raskshasas. When the news of these events reach Ravana, he resolves to destroy Rama by capturing Sita with the aid of the rakshasa Maricha. Maricha, assuming the form of a golden deer, captivates Sita's attention. Entranced by the beauty of the deer, Sita pleads with Rama to capture it.
Rama, aware that this is the ploy of the demons, cannot dissuade Sita from her desire and chases the deer into the forest, leaving Sita under Lakshmana's guard. After some time, Sita hears Rama calling out to her; afraid for his life, she insists that Lakshmana rush to his aid.
Lakshmana tries to assure her that Rama cannot be hurt that easily and that it is best if he continues to follow Ram's orders to protect her. On the verge of hysterics, Sita insists that it is not she but Rama who needs Lakshman's help. He obeys her wish but stipulates that she is not to leave the cottage or entertain any stranger. He draws a chalk outline, the Lakshmana rekha , around the cottage and casts a spell on it that prevents anyone from entering the boundary but allows people to exit.
With the coast finally clear, Ravana appears in the guise of an ascetic requesting Sita's hospitality. Unaware of her guest's plan, Sita is tricked into leaving the rekha and is then forcibly carried away by Ravana. Jatayu , a vulture , tries to rescue Sita, but is mortally wounded. At Lanka, Sita is kept under the guard of rakshasis. Ravana asks Sita to marry him, but she refuses, being eternally devoted to Rama.
Meanwhile, Rama and Lakshmana learn about Sita's abduction from Jatayu and immediately set out to save her. During their search, they meet Kabandha and the ascetic Shabari , who direct them towards Sugriva and Hanuman.
Kishkindha Kanda is set in the ape Vanara citadel Kishkindha. Rama and Lakshmana meet Hanuman, the biggest devotee of Rama, greatest of ape heroes and an adherent of Sugriva , the banished pretender to the throne of Kishkindha.
Rama befriends Sugriva and helps him by killing his elder brother Vali thus regaining the kingdom of Kishkindha, in exchange for helping Rama to recover Sita. However Sugriva soon forgets his promise and spends his time in enjoying his powers.
The clever former ape queen Tara wife of Vali calmly intervenes to prevent an enraged Lakshmana from destroying the ape citadel. She then eloquently convinces Sugriva to honour his pledge. Sugriva then sends search parties to the four corners of the earth, only to return without success from north, east and west.
The southern search party under the leadership of Angada and Hanuman learns from a vulture named Sampati elder brother of Jatayu , that Sita was taken to Lanka. Sundara Kand forms the heart of Valmiki's Ramyana and consists of a detailed, vivid account of Hanuman 's adventures. After learning about Sita, Hanuman assumes a gargantuan form and makes a colossal leap across the sea to Lanka.
On the way he meets with many challenges like facing a Gandharva kanya who comes in the form of a demon to test his abilities. He encounters a mountain named Mainakudu who offers Hanuman assistance and offers him rest. Hanuman refuses because there is little time remaining to complete the search for Sita. After entering into Lanka, he finds a demon, Lankini, who protects all of Lanka. Hanuman fights with her and subjugates her in order to get into Lanka.
Here, Hanuman explores the demons' kingdom and spies on Ravana. He locates Sita in Ashoka grove, where she is being wooed and threatened by Ravana and his rakshasis to marry Ravana.
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