Ramayana circulates throughout South Asia in many versions. The oldest authoritative version is attributed to the sage Valmiki, who plays a role in the story itself, a common motif in Hindu literature. Researchers sense that, stylistically, Valmiki’s Ramayana was mostly composed by one person, although there were certainly additions to it over the centuries, through the insertion or deletion of words, verses, episodes, or even entire books into the body of the text. ... Thus there are numerous variations on the story, even in its written forms. Valmiki’s Ramayana took shape between 500 BCE and 300 CE, although the events of the story are said to have taken place in the Treta Yuga. (IH, 155)
At the beginning of the Mahabharata Earth (personified as a goddess) finds herself overrun by asuras (anti-gods) and other demons. Defeated by the devas [gods] in heaven, they have taken embodiment among men, especially among ksatriyas, disrupting a golden age. They multiply to such an extent that the Earth can no longer support herself. (In more abstract terms, adharma is in the ascendant.) Tyrannized in this fashion, Earth appeals to the god Brahma for help. He instructs the gods to help relieve Earth’s burden by being born with a part of themselves among men. Thus the cosmic battle against the asuras will be fought out on earth, dharma will be pitted against adharma in the world of men. Most significantly, this entails the ‘descent’ (avatara) of the great god Visnu, who is embodied with a portion of himself as Krsna Vasudeva [or as Rama in the Ramayana]. Here ... a pattern is established in which Visnu makes regular ‘descents’ to relieve the earth of adharma. (The Sauptikaparvan of the Mahabharata, xxix)
Rama’s life and journey is one of adherence to dharma despite harsh tests and obstacles and many pains of life and time. He is pictured as the ideal man and the perfect human. For the sake of his father’s honour, Ram abandons his claim to Ayodhaya’s throne to serve an exile of fourteen years in the forest. His wife Sita and brother Lakshmana decide to join him, and all three spend the fourteen years in exile together. While in exile, Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, the Rakshasa monarch of Lanka. After a long and arduous search, Rama fights a colossal war against Ravana’s armies. In a war of powerful and magical beings, greatly destructive weaponry and battles, Rama slays Ravana in battle and liberates his wife. Having completed his exile, Rama returns to be crowned king in Ayodhya and eventually becomes emperor, rules with happiness, peace, duty, prosperity and justice — a period known as Ram Rajya. (hindufaqs.com)
According to the Ramayana story, Ravana was the son of a rishi, a Brahmin father, and a kshatriya Rakshasa mother, thus attaining a status of Brahmarakshasa. (wiki/Ravana)
Rama and Sita are the protagonists in one of the most famous love stories of all time. Described as being deeply in love, Sita and Rama are theologically understood as Incarnations of Lakshmi and Vishnu respectively. When Rama is banished from the kingdom, he attempts to convince Sita not to join him in a potentially dangerous and certainly arduous existence in the jungle, but Sita rejects this. When Rama orders her in his capacity as husband, Sita rejects it, asserting that it was an essential duty of a wife to be at her husband’s side come good or ill. Rama in turn is assiduously protective and caring for Sita throughout the exile.
When Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, both Sita and Rama undergo great personal hardships during their separation. Sita protects her chastity assiduously, and survives over a year in captivity on the strength of her love and attention to religious values and duty. She is completely unfettered in her resolve despite Ravana’s courting, cajoling and threats. Meanwhile Rama, not knowing who had kidnapped Sita or where was she taken, often succumbs to despair and tears, denouncing himself for failing to defend her and agonizing over her safety and pain. Sita knows that it is in Rama’s destiny to fight to rescue her (she refuses to be rescued thus by Hanuman, who discovers her), but is deeply anxious for his safety and fearful of Ravana’s power.
The ‘Wedding of Rama and Sita’ concerns two entities coming together to form a whole. ... Rama’s marriage to Sita on earth parallels the celestial union of VishnuLakshmi; each deity took birth on earth, and so when Rama marries Sita, he is actually reuniting with his divine consort Lakshmi, Goddess of Good Fortune, who brings prosperity to Kosala. At an allegorical level, the union of Rama and Sita represents the relationship between God and the devotee, with Rama as the beloved divine king and Sita as his devotee. (wiki/Rama and Sita)
The Bollywood Ending
My Hanuman Is Bigger Than Yours
In addition to other, Shakta-influenced expansions already noted, Krittibasa’s Bengali narrative includes many colorful stories ... [including, for the first time] the beloved story of Hanuman’s cracking open with his teeth the gems of a priceless necklace, presented to him by Sita, in an effort to see whether they contain the name of Ram; when onlookers chide him that objects can be valuable without containing “Ram” — one’s body for example — Hanuman tears open his own chest to reveal Ram and Sita enshrined in his heart .... (“My Hanuman Is Bigger Than Yours,” 228-9)
Ramcharitmanas, along with mainstream devotional Hinduism, teaches that the universe is lila, or play, which in Sanskrit as in English means both “drama” and “game.” The idea of lila is closely akin to that of maya, which we may say here refers to the transient and illusory world of forms. I believe that the Ramlila is constructed in such a way as to produce an actual experience of the world as lila or maya.Darshan
The participant not only sees the drama but finds himself acting in it. A vast world is created before and around him. This world is built physically and psychologically performance after performance. The devotee’s days are curved around the necessity of being there. Including transportation, attendance often takes seven hours, sometimes more. The tawdry samsara life pales while the Ramlila world becomes ever more vivid, brilliant, and gripping.
The large space of the Ramlila is extended to a semblance of infinity by the fact that the “play” is set in the “real world.” Our stage embraces town, village, field, forest, lake. Our floor is the earth, and our roof is the sky, often awesome during the moments of transition between day and night, in this season of transition between the rains and autumn. (The Life of Hinduism, 124-5)
The Life of Hinduism, 130-1)
If you ask people why they come to Ramlila, the great majority will say, “To get God’s darshan.” Darshan means “vision.” Hindus take darshan of a holy person, object, or place, believing that its mere presence, particularly the sight of it, conveys blessings. There is a special term for the darshan available at Ramnagar: it is called sakshat, or “direct-witness” darshan. In some sense, one is looking directly at God. The crowned boy with gleaming decorations on his face is not a symbol. But the full experience of sakshat darshan does not occur automatically; it requires the proper attitude and openheartedness on the part of the devotee. (The Life of Hinduism, 128)