Rama’s Character

Much confusions are created without understanding Rama’s Character during analysis of Ramayana. Even according to Myth Vishnu is born only as a man and lives like a man. He has all the failings of man as enumerated below. Then why is he treated a hero. It is because every time he does not let human weaknesses overtake him but rises above them and conquers the situation. In this page we are enumerated the ordinary human virtues that Rama displays. How he conquers them and sets for high standard of behavior is all that Ramayana is all about. But as many Preachers (Upanyasakars) give him a godly cover they distort the Ramayana and falsely create a superman like character and thereby defeat the purpose of Ramayana which is written to give us guidance and moral strength to face all our daily ethical dilemma.
Please refer to Characterization of Rama in Ayodyakanda sarga 1 Sloka Nos. 9 to 32

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All Sloka Translations are from the site Valmiki Ramayana


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kaushal Karthik
    Jul 01, 2012 @ 16:38:14

    . “But in the story of Ramayana as Valmiki conceived it he is as human as anybody ”

    but in yuddha kanda it is clearly mentioned that ram is vishnu incarnate. all gods remind him of that


    • mghariharan
      Jul 02, 2012 @ 17:59:27

      Yes but Rama rebuts it. Some such sloka may have been added later as entire balakanda in suspicious as it mentions nothing about Rama.
      You will have to take my other arguments and see that Valmiki wrote it such that Rama is mere human but achieves everything by following Dharma. He is roll model for all of us. If he is god then he can not be a roll model. He is not super man but Superbman


  2. Kaushal Karthik
    Jul 02, 2012 @ 22:44:50

    well i guess then you did not read it nicely if you think he rebuted it. after going around your blog i find that you follow valmikiramayana.net very closely. as such i would use that same site to reflect a few things. first of all that which i have mentioned is in yuddha kanda. since you take bala and uttara to be later edition as such you should have no issues with this. as far as the topic of ram rebuting it here it is. (though i do not exactly believe everything that valmikiramayana translate to)

    “I think of myself to be a human being, by name Rama, the son of Dasaratha. You, as a gracious Divinity, tell me that which I as such really am like this.”

    In the above sentence it is clearly stated that ram is not denying but sayin i know myself as a human being and by your grace i would like to know more about myself.

    it is very common for ram to not know that he is a god as he was to kill ravana as a human being and not god.

    secondly theres not only this chapter, its also said in one of the chapter where lakshmana is hit by ravana and thereafter he recollects that he is a part of vishnu.

    well and there are a few more
    and btw you wouldnt expect valmiki(even if valmiki knew )
    to write that ram was god since this fact was to remain hidden. the reason valmiki wont write is because as you can see in the epic,he is not to write his opinion but what he saw and how the whole incident was going. if he started writing his opinions things would have started getting bias and we wouldnt have this blog as every controversy might have been more or less explained by valmiki in his opinion(whether be it in favour of ram or some other person).

    the last thing of this chapter being added later or maybe some slokas in other chapters where lakshman or ram has been signified as vishnu . well you mentioned in your blog that bala kanda and uttar kanda are to be taken as later addition. so with that rules you begin your data analysis. and wrote various posts. now here you mention that other chapters might have been added later. if that is your argument then i think the entire point of this blog is in vain. because that way you can never be sure what was added later and what was original.
    you took 2-4 slokas to prove that ram was non vegetarian. you went on those slokas literally and word by word . but when the topic is if ram is god you missed an entire chapter and few slokas from other chapter. how is that??
    i guess you used this sloka

    चतुर्दश हि वर्षाणि वत्स्यामि विजने वने |
    मधु मूल फलैः जीवन् हित्वा मुनिवद् आमिषम् ||

    well this sloka can also be interpreted in following way
    I shall live in a solitary forest like a sage for fourteen years, giving up all desires and living with roots, fruits and honey.
    since aamisham also means desire. and in india a true sages foremost attribute is giving off desires . so it is more prominent to say that in reference of sage.

    न मांसं राघवो भुङ्क्ते न चापि मधुसेवते |
    now i am not sure of the translation of this line because the last word has been seriously mistranslated. it is not spirituous liquor but spirituos honey. now if valmikiramayan people can do this kinda of mistake there is probably room for more error. i am not saying that they are totally wrong. but if you are totally relying on them for translation then i guess i have no more serious business here(btw i am not saying i know a lot of sanskrit either).

    all in all i want to say that when you were trying to pacify his human nature you were sure and took every word into consideration but if he is declared god its addition now, that would be biasing.
    Also in that case vali vadh topic of yours become redundant as then there is another possibility that some chapters might have got missed out or lost.


  3. Kaushal Karthik
    Jul 02, 2012 @ 23:08:34

    jst to point out. i am not declaring anythin and just making a point and am open to debate and opinions


    • mghariharan
      Jul 08, 2012 @ 20:48:27

      Sure I understand But this problem is highlighted when you find in different places Rama goofing and crying. Exactly what we all do. But he inspires us as a great hero by following Dharma come what may. I have still not handled Bharat milap it is really a great battle of morals and ethics, for 3 days. I am not conveniently discarding what does not suit me. If you actually track Valmiki’s Ramayana you will find these extra terrestrial beings really out of place. See my posting Ramayana a Novel story always moves with characters and suddely in Balakanda devas go to Vishnu. the 2 sargas stick out as sore thumbs. My point is if you make him a God you wont follow him, but if you accept his human nature Ramayana will teach us dharma. and how to fight evil forces even if you have to take the help of Monkeys( duds).
      I agree I dont have any proof, only gut feelings.


      • Kaushal Karthik
        Jul 10, 2012 @ 00:12:17

        i see you didnt take into account all my of my post like most things could have been misinterpreted by our translators as so many things are metaphoric and understanding metaphors very much depend on the era you are living. i dnt blame you i made a long reply there. anyways i wil still stick to the strict translation and try to answer.
        i explained the reason of ram crying. its like this, if vishnu takes avatar of matsya, just because he’s vishnu doesnt mean he will break his own laws and go around walking on land. If he wanted to create something like that with no bounds to nature he would have come down himself and done all that needed to be done. The same way if hes born as human he will inherit all the emotions and stuff. Its explained in ramayana that he wasnt to be made known that he is god as he was to slay ravana as pure human.
        you see the same thing in mahabharat where krishna himself says hes god yet when the shakti weapon of karan is exhausted he gets so joyful that he starts dancing despite the loss of bhima’s son and then he explain arjuna the reason that he has been worried because of karan’ss weapon. you see both worried and joy in krishna yet its said hes god. You can treat this as quantum mechanics something that happens but we dont understand or is yet not under our grasp like presence of electron at two places at same time . there are people who dont believe that hanuman could lift mountain cuz they dnt see it happen today and say that most of it is meant metaphorically. i apply the same quantun mechanics sense into them, just because they cant explain a certain thing they discard it but if our scientists say it happens they behave all scientific and rationale people and believe. How do they know earth is round? well because thats what they heard on discovery. that kinda behaviour isnt at all scientific.(though it can be proved by dropping a pencil) anyways i guess i am going off-topic.
        Overall the point is either believe it all or none.
        and as i said valmiki cannot write something which is not going in ramayana and everyone in ramayana will not disclose(even if they knew ram was god) and since thats how the act is going on the fact remains hidden till end.
        moreover i neva talked bout bala kanda or uttara kanda. so why are you bringing them in. my whole point is from the 2-6 book. thats where its said ram is god.

        Though i like your point that if hes god we will not follow him. But to keep that point intact we cannot simply deny hes not god. But if thats truly your mentality then i speak no further and your doing you best as you can. i mean if your following him thinking him as a man , even then its very good and you need not read or answer me any further because then it remains a matter of opinion and i have no right to challenge it. (and proving god instead of following his teachings seems a very bad idea)

        but if more than opinion we want a conclusion then you can read further (not like i am giving a conclusion. but it will be a part in forming one)

        what if ram is a god?? it shows that even if god is to come in human form, there are troubles in life, because life is like night and day. Even he cannot escape this cycle(or lets say he wont obstruct that cycle). But he shows us how to tackle these problems. i mean before students start learning a thing a guru must always demonstrate it once. But wait he didnt know he was vishnu. How did he make the right dharmic choices?? Subconscious? achi sangati (that of vishnu within him)?
        the answer remains a mystery. the only answer i can think is vishnu separated himself into 4 brothers. The one which was found to be most dharmic through his early life was made to fight ravana.(my opinion, nothin genuine).

        Lastly about bala kanda not following the league of other sarges. (though i have in my previous replies never tried to use this kanda. but still i see a very good point as to why this particualr kanda did not follow the tradition and i will say it here)
        Well it could be because of one very profound reason. that is how you start a play. First you introduce how the background looks like and stuff and then you go into the drama itself. The same thing has been done if you see. Though a few chapters seem to have been appended but not many maybe 3-4. A lot many researchers have said it is not a part. But as i said dont simply listen , try for yourself. And go see the begining of second book. That just couldnt be the begining of ramayana. Try to read it. It makes so many things vague. Its so abrupt. A person who in his whole book does a good character and background building started with something so abrupt. Which means there was something before the 2nd book. Ask All those researchers. Although they might argue that the 1st book is not genuine i doubt even one would argue with the fact that the 2nd book is not the starting. Another possibility is later addition. but what if this later addition was by valmiki. He wrote things that he saw. But when compiling he sees that his work has no background information on his hero and as such writes a prologue which is book 1. He couldnt write that at that time becuase then he had to write what he saw but now he is free to write like a narrator.

        Again this last possibility is just an opinion not genuine.

      • mghariharan
        Jul 10, 2012 @ 18:13:06

        I agree with many things that you have said I also have written in many places that Vishnu has born as a human and hence in ramayana he is all man only. No problem and I accept it. But to censor many points by upanayasakars is what has distorted it beyond recognition. Nobody will have the guts to say in an upanyasam that Lakshmana shed pathetic tears and pleaded for Sugriva’s help. So also you will never find Sita telling Rama not to take ‘kodhanda’ into forest It is 2 sargas not one or 2 slokas. and see what happened to Rama. These are for us to learn not to accept Rama and pray to him for our mundane requirement.
        Regarding balakanda I cannot accept ( with any amount of stretching) That Rama was born in 14th Sarga and grew to be 12 year old boy and Vishwamitra comes to fetch him all in one sarga. This is definitely not Valmiki’s style.
        Thanks for your detailed letter

  4. Kaushal Karthik
    Jul 14, 2012 @ 22:39:55

    first of all i do not expect you to consider balakanda genuine. Though if that is your reason i already gave a possible justification, that it could have been an introduction to ramayana added later because if anyone started with the 2nd book he would not be introduced to the characters correctly. As such he might not have seen the happenings of that book in vision in details but wrote just what he knew or heard or his opinions etc, As such they are not that detailed. Under any circumstances the possibility of the 2nd book being the beginning is very low and the 1st book could be the bala kanda we know or something that got lost in the tides of time.
    But i feel the purpose of the 1st book was to bring us upto the pace and then start along with valmiki’s vision.
    I am not saying this just to win the argument but genuinely the two points noted by you dont even come close to proving that “we need not pray ram”.
    Reasons- Lakshmana pleading to sugriva. Well in india it has always been the right of sages to go and ask for help from the ruling king. But here since the king, vali is not dharmic, therefore sugriva is the rightful person they should approach(also instructed to them by a divine being, so it becomes only more natural to approach).
    i Know the above point seems like brewed up to win the debate. So i will approach this one the other way.

    Lakshmana pleaded to sugriva. First of all, Lakshmana as we have seen is somewhat a person that carries very much humanly qualities as well as sarcasm. He has at many times been criticized by rama. Rama was told to ask for help of sugriva. So what should he do??
    See the necessity of the situation and even though a mighty yoddha ask for help from a vanara?
    or become all proud and hessitate to go?
    he choses the former, which is what we expect him to do. Lakshmana crying is only natural, its not like he is crying to just gain sugriva’s favour but it is the natural reaction and tears.
    As for rama taking the kodhanda, well that is completely a bad point to make here.
    we humans cannot weigh of what will happen if a different path of karma was chosen but still lets see this hypothetically.
    Shurpnakha must have still seen rama, would have attacked sita, lakshaman still would have to stop shurpnakha. Ravana would still have gotten angered. So for so good. Now comes the deer. many possibilities here. If the brothers did not had their bow with them then maybe rama would not approach to the deer but in that case the possibility might have also been that seeing them unarmed ravana wouldnt have to put up that play. he might have been able to force his way through.
    So that kind of reasoning isnt very good to prove not to pray.

    So now with my previous argument the question that remains is if ram has all humanly qualities or should i say until he kills ravana he is not supposed to be even aware of who he really is then is it neccessary for him to be vishnu, I mean if he was all in all acting human then why cal him incarnate, after all he is to be a human so why not simply assign a human being to do the job instead of god taking birth. To say that a human without being vishnu himself cudnt beat ravana doesnt seems very satisfying.
    So lets go ahead and analyse this particular qs. first lets assume- A human without vishnu incarnate could have beaten ravana. In this case we will honour the free will of humans and say in that case no god intervention is there ( If you are confused with the term no god intervention. Then one should be able to see that if god had decided our karma then the concept of gud or bad karma or hell or heaven would be finished as everythin is pre-decided. So god although all -powerful can be assumed to honour everyones free will). but we didnt see any humans before rama challenging ravana. but we could reason that, that human was rama. But i say no, because his destiny was pre-determined.
    How so? If he was purely human then going by the free-will god will not interfere with that humans karma or result of his karma.
    but in case of rama we see that during rama’s generation lots of devas came into being. like hanuman(which has been cited to be pavan’s putra), sugriva, etc.
    The divine instructed rama to go seek their help(i guess it was kabandha)
    So here you see just around rama’s birth the whole play was set. Why didnt these come into being before or later?? it is said they came into human form for defeating ravana. but if a human was not there how were they to defeat ravana. and if a human was decided upon even before that human’s birth then that human’s destiny was interfered with, as such he is an incarnate.
    i am not sure if many will approve that kinda reasoning as there are some assumptions. But well that is the most rational and logical way i was left with and cud approach.


    • mghariharan
      Jul 15, 2012 @ 10:29:08

      I wish to deviate a little because you have made many points. All are good and valid. Hinduism itself morphs when under attack. The objection to Prayer is because Neither in Ramayana or Mahabharata or in Manusmrit or in Vedas there is any injunction to pray or any definition of god (or demi gods). There are only Karmas. Rama never prays to any god as a human. Nor is there any mention of praying by anybody.
      Now see this When under attack by Buddhists we incorporated their re birth ideas. When under attack by Jains we incorporated vegetarianism. When under attack by Christians we incorporated Faith and Prayers. Before 1700 there was no Rama temple. Everything that we are doing today as temple worship etc are recent.
      Mind you I am not against faith or praying. Nothing wrong in this. But first we have to understand how our Muni’s had planned society and rules and concept of after death. Everything is covered in manusmriti but for one fact that as Brahmins we have to go in quest of aparavidya. Knowledge beyond this mundane world. That is not defined but to be probed. In this context Ramayana is a great work which tells us how to handle different problems and in the process of creation of situation that each and every one of us will face in different forms. The hero, Ram, goofs and misjudges and creates problem to himslef Exactly like Dharmaputra in Mahabharata.
      One of the bad things that king should avoid is ( as per manusmriti), gambling and Hunting. In five places Rama is projected as vegetarian in forest, living on roots and fruits. Still he hunts. Coincidence may be but everytime Rama says he is vegetarian- to guha to bharadvaj- etc Valmiki shows Rama hunting just a few verses later. What is the meaning of ‘Bahu medaya mrugan hatva’. Killing many animals for what. and finally he is trapped into a long meaningless hunting expedition and bemoans for rest of the story.
      I am mentioning these points to highlight there are many things that we will miss while reading Ramaya if we get emotionally attached to the character Rama. There are so many other gods let us pray to them and let us learn from Ramayana to make our life high value because it will teach you a lot.Thanks for your letter and pinpointing many useful things.


  5. Kaushal Karthik
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 20:23:19

    I am not sure about where you say “no mentioning of praying in mahabharat or vedas.”
    The vedas are filled with hymns of god (or devas) and how to preach and pray to lords. In mahabharat you see at various points people worshipping.
    if ravana hadnt prayed to brahma, how would he have gotten the boon(i am mostly sure it is mentioned in valmiki ramayan but will check again), or shiva.
    The reason you and many will miss these, is beacuse of the notion of prayer back then and now. Nowadays our lives are busy and praying to god is like the least priority activity. its like 5 min asking for something. back then it was more like a penance. Bhakti meant total devotion. praying for the pleasure of praying itself. Thats the only way they could endure such long periods of tapa. Moreover even in bhavisya purana its said that in kali yuga taking name of the lord would be the only way of praying left to mankind.
    One significant thing to note on yuddha kanda when rama is revealed his identity is that all gods were present, but vishnu. The reason could be because the trinity was completed with ram, shiva and brahma, as such vishnu need not be present.
    That apart, About ram goofing i explained a lot of times already but the only point i want to add here is this- I think translating those verses to english was the worst part. You see english misses out a lot of points. For example there it is said in morning ram and sita went to bath together in the river. the word bath is used. which will again make the ignorants say- then how is ram celebate. The thing is they are doing the morning abhishek. The translation is definitely bath as there is no equivalent word in english for abhishek. I would have preffered hindi as that language is more nearer to sanskrit. Then again the best option is to learn sanskrit and then approach ramayana(though i too have very little knowledge of sanskrit). A considerable amount of controversies would be resolved then. “Ram hesistating to leave ayodhya.” The word hesitation has different emotional meaning and the word that might have been in the original version might have a different emotional meaning. Example- acha and shaabash in english are “good” but the later has different emotional excitement attached to it.
    For the attack on hinduism, i really like your point there. My theory though would be a little different, that of a universal religion. What i mean is instead of what you said that buddhist attacked and we started praying, one could say that hinduism could have been a universal religion(or a subset of universal religion). Through generations various branches came out(subset of hinduism or a universal religion where certain stuff were overlapping with hinduism) which adopted part of this universal religion as to their liking. Even a better theory could be that each religion was complete. Infact we could think- vishnu when took birth in western countries was jesus. and since these were the same being the teachings were almost same. the language dialect, the understanding of people and the solutions teached by god for the specific problems of specifc regions made them into different religion. As such similarity in these religions is bound to happen.
    Did you know japenese and hindi mantras are very similar in sounds??

    But overall i think we have reached a point where there is no point in debating further. i am not able to cancel your points, but can just providing theories at best. So i refrain from further debates. But to conclude even your point fo view is very good and both our points lead to the same conclusion, If we go by your way, you think of rama as a teacher who follows dharma, and teacher(if chosen rightly) is always above all gods. so In that way he is guru-god.
    In my case since i attribute him as supreme god so following him is like a must. So he becomes my teacher.
    Though if you have some other point i would gladly like to discuss.

    Apart from debate after reading your other posts i have a lil something to say which i will say here
    since we have been excluding uttara kanda till now one thing i will say is – many people think ram did bad by banishing sita just becuase a dhobi accused him. Now we say(or mostly have come to know) that uttara kanda is not genuine. So all i can say is we started believing in uttara kanda just because people said it to be true. In that way we acted no different than rama who listened to the dhobi inspite of his faith in sita. Inspite of our faith in rama that he is totally dharmic we still think he would do bad. in that sense we are doing the same mistake. Overall, if you think he did it then he did, if you think he didnt then he didnt. “he is what you think he is”

    Also there is the eradication of our religion, Various things have been altered and new stuffs introduced. Things lost in time. These have created an atmosphere of doubts not only in our religion but in many other religion. The aryan invasion theory though totally disproved(the evidence of the faslsness of this theory are way too concrete) is still teached in schools thanks to british. And there are many other stuffs

    Finnaly the discussion has crossed the length of the original post so in case you want to make a new post out of some of the points of this discussion i would gladly like you to do so.


  6. C.S.Ramalakshmi
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 23:33:06

    I agree Upanyasaks hide a lot of things when they recite Ramayana.I always wondered why Sita Devi obstructed Rama to use Kodanda and other weapons.Some Upanyasaks say she was merciful, and so she said that.
    But as Kshatriya, Ram is bound to protect the weak and safeguard them from villains.I think Sita Devi is missing royal life at Ayodhya.She says, get the deer,I will show it off as a plaything to Bharata when I get back.
    And look how patiently Ram is explaining to her what his swadharma is.Krishna said,swadharmo sreyon Partaha, paradharmat bayavahah.One own’s assigned duty is only meritorious,alien duties are fraught with fear.Ram did it.
    Jabali said,now to go and usurp the kingdom.Ram said, no,I am Dasarati,I respect my father’s promise.Truth is above all virtues in the world.
    I admire Rama’s bravery on battle field..More than that,I admire his bravery in sticking to what he says, in his actions.
    I support the view that Ramayana should be read as a human being’s journey, rather than a God’s benediction.Only then we can assimilate the teachings into our life.


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