Merwyn: What is Ramayana?
Swami Ram Swarup: There are several writers who have written Ramayana but basically two Ramayanas are famous in India as well in the world. Those are Tulsikrit Ramayana and Valmiki Ramayana. In Ramayana, especially the character of Sri Ram, who was son of King Dashrath, has been described. Tulsidas has written his Ramayana about 500 years ago whereas Rishi Valmiki ji has written about 1 crore 81 lakhs years ago when both Sri Ram and Rishi Valmiki ji were alive, that is Rishi Valmiki ji was contemporary. So learned of Vedas mostly refer Valmiki Ramayana because Valmiki Ramayana is also based on Vedic culture as at that time, present sects and present relgious books did not exist. Only Vedas were in vogue. Secondly, Rishi Narad ji explained all the character of Sri Ram before Rishi Valmiki ji and even thereafter Valmikiji, who was a mantradishta Rishi and Yogi himself saw all events right from the birth of Sri Ram, 14 years exile, war against Ravanna and thereafter when Sri Ram came back to his kingdom Ayodhya and took the charge of king. So Ramayana is lengthy epic but it gives extraordinary preaches to be adopted by all human being to get a long happy life.
Sri Ram was born in Ayodhya. His father was King Dashrath and his mother was Kaushalya Devi. He achieved all education, spiritual as well as worldly from the then acharya (spiritual masters, etc.) He was brought by Rishi Vishwamitra to save him from the daily violenceful activities in forest where he and other rishi-munis used to do havan, Yajyen, yogabhyas and tapasya, etc. Sri Ram killed all the culprits and saved the rishis. Then he broke Shiva’s bow and got married with Sitaji, the daughter of King Janak.
He was awarded the Kingdom of Ayodhya by his father but Sri Ram’s stepmother, Kaikayi objected and sent Sri Ram to exile for 14 years and gave the Kingdom to her son Bharat. During the time of exile, Ravanna kidnapped Sitaji, wife of Sri Ram, for which Sri Ram fought against Ravanna and killed him, and brought his wife Sita mata, back. After completion of 14 years exile, Sri Ram, alongwith Sitaji and his brother Lakshmann, came back to Ayodhya and got kingdom. So this is the shortest view of Sri Ram’s life. Sri Ram was learned of four Vedas and ashtang yoga philosophy. He was like a form of God. Specially Valmiki Ramayan shows his best character, and you know dear Merwyn, uptil now on this earth, nobody has taken birth who has the divine qualities as existed in Sri Ram.
This fact can only be known after studying Valmiki Ramayana, written by Rishi Valmiki ji.