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Rama

Rama, alongside Hanuman, attacking the demonic armies of Ravana.

Rama is the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. His adventures, notably the slaying of the demon king Ravana. Lord Rama, considered by many Hindus to be based on an historical figure, is perhaps the most virtuous hero from Hindu mythology and he, along with his wife Sita, are a picture of purity and marital devotion. Further, the adventures of Rama illustrate above all the importance and rewards of fulfilling one’s pious duty.

Rama was born at the end of the Second Age or Treta-yuga and he came into the world specifically at the bidding of the gods to deal with the fearsome multi-headed demon Ravana, the king of Lanka. The great god Vishnu answered the gods’ call and appeared in a sacrificial fire made by Dasaratha. Rama's servant was also the mighty Hanuman.

After his exile Rama did not stay still in the remainder of his exile but visited many sages. Eventually, he ended up at Pancavati along the river Godavari, an area plagued by demons. One in particular, Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana, fell in love with Rama, and when her advances were resisted, she attacked Sita in revenge. Laksmana was the first to react and cut off the ears and nose of Surpanakha. Not best pleased with this treatment, the enraged demoness gathered an army of demons to attack the trio.

In an epic battle Rama defeated them all; however, Surpanakha was not finished with the matter and she persuaded Ravana that Sita was a girl worth fighting for. Accordingly, the demon king sought out Rama’s home, and while Rama was distracted in the hunt for a deer (who was actually Ravana’s magician Maricha in disguise), abducted Sita, taking her back to Lanka in his aerial chariot to be kept captive in his beautiful Ashoka garden.

Rama followed in hot pursuit but met several troublesome distractions along the way. The first was the headless monster Kabandha. Killing the creature, its departing soul proved more helpful and advised Rama that before confronting Ravana, the hero should enlist the help of Sugriva, king of the monkeys. After restoring a throne to a king, the grateful Sugriva gave Rama use of an army and enlisted the help of Hanuman, who besides being an able general was the son of the wind and able to leap huge distances and take any form he wished.

A series of titanic battles between Rama’s forces and the demons followed, but eventually Ravana was slain, Lanka fell to Rama’s army, and our hero was reunited with his wife. Rama was not entirely convinced that his wife had remained loyal to him during her abduction, but Sita determined to prove her honour by a test of fire, indeed the divine fire of Agni, no less. Escaping the flames unscathed, Rama realized he had misjudged Sita, and the couple headed back for Ayodhya where Rama reclaimed his throne and began a golden era of government.

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