Bhagwan Ram is the central figure of the Ramayana epic. Adi Kavi Valmiki wrote Ramayana not only to describe the glory and story of Bhagwan Rama (the Prince of Ayodhya) but to present to future generations a practical philosophy of life, a vision of truth, by telling how to lead a pious life within the prevailing conditions of one’s existential conditions. It has a pragmatic message for a man on how to go about his daily life to acquire his needs and get what he deserves.
The Ramayana offer insights into rajadharma, statecraft, intelligence gathering, diplomacy and the ethics of war with considerations of good governance, ethical behaviour, and the vision of maintaining a sustainable order. The Rama-Bharata dialogue emphasizes the importance of just, righteous, and responsible rule with a vision of maintaining the state’s harmony and stability and the people’s well-being and survival. The dialogues also emphasize effective intelligence gathering, which helps rulers/decision-makers make informed decisions that align with their necessities and goals. The diplomacy, another recurring theme, can have far-reaching impacts on the security and stability of a state as it contributes to peaceful coexistence and shared efforts toward sustainable futures.
Ramayana in Sri Lanka
Ramayana is one of the greatest epics in Indian history. Sri Lanka shares a distinct bond with India geographically, historically, culturally and spiritually. People in Sri Lanka, through generations, have believed that King Ravana ruled this country. The Ramayana tells the geographic and spiritual journey of the dutiful Bhagwan Ram, Prince of Ayodhya. Rama was exiled for 14 years, along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman from Ayodhya (his kingdom). Sita is later abducted by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka – an act that leads to war and the burning of the capital city of Lankapura. Sri Lanka is the custodian of more than 50 Ramayana sites, such as the place of Sita Mata captivity to the battlefields where vast armies clashed, to the groves of exotic herbs dropped by Bhagwan Hanuman, and the ultimate theatre of war where Bhagwan Rama slew Ravana.
There is an abundance of folklore in Sri Lanka connected with the story of Bhagwan Rama and Sita Mata. Some of these explain place names; some point to special geographical features, others the lay of the land, the position of hills, nooks and bends in rivers, the colour of the soil and various curiosities. The Buddhist version of the Rama-Sita story, as found in the Dasaratha Jātaka, is examined by comparing it with the Ramayana. In Sri Lanka, the people greatly respect the duo of Bhagwan Rama and Sita Mata.
Some important temples of Munneswaram and Koneswaram in Sri Lanka are associated with Bhagwan Rama and Ravana. In Ramayana, Sri Lanka plays an important role in shaping the story and cultural connect. The abode of Ravana is described as an island with homes and palaces made of gold. Lord Rama’s army built a bridge on the sea to cross over. Millions of Hindu devotees visit Sri Lanka every year to pay their respects. Among all the things to do in Sri Lanka, exploring the locations where events of Ramayana took place is an amazing activity. There are several places of key value to do the Ramayana trail in Sri Lanka. In Ramayana, Ashok Vatika is said to be the place where Sita was kept captive. This is also where Lord Hanuman met Sita and later put the entire Lanka on fire. After Lord Ram won his war with Ravana, he built a Shiva Lingam at Manavari and sought Lord Shiva’s blessings. It is known as Ramalingam. Manavari Temple is located in Chilaw, a town of great mythological importance and one of the prime locations for the Ramayana trail. Millions of Hindu tourists visit Chilaw annually. Munneshwaram Temple is a destination of importance to Hindu pilgrims.
The Ramayana endures to fusing a unique bond between faith, painting, and pilgrimage – a bond that provides valuable revenue to Sri Lanka, and its communities whilst spreading the message of Ramayana’s glorious story, where evil is defeated by good.
Ramayana in Nepal
Ramayana greatly influenced the art and culture of Nepal. Bhanubhakta Acharya, the Adikavi in Nepali Literature, translated the Ramayana from Sanskrit to Nepali for the first time. Ram worship in Nepal can be traced back to 608 CE through a Licchavi inscription in Hadigaon. Janakpur, also known as Janakpurdham, was founded in the early 18th century. Janakpur was the capital of King Janak’s Kingdom of Mithila around 12,000 years ago during the Treta Yug. Janakpur, the birthplace of Mata Janaki or Sita, Lord Ram’s wife, is an important religious pilgrimage site in the Terai plains of south-central Nepal for Hindus due to its connection with the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. Janakpur Dham became central to a historic moment defining the cultural ties between Nepal and India for centuries. The relationship has existed in dharmic oneness since the Treta Yuga and comes with great spiritual meaning. That relationship defines the ties between what today are known as India and Nepal. With the great gesture of sending the Shaligram Shila to Bharat for Pran Pratishtha of Ram temple in Ayodhya, the people of Nepal have shown what the Ram temple means to them. The building of the Lord Ram temple in Ayodhya and the growing cultural zeal that binds Ayodhya with Janakpur Dham can play a role in strengthening the relations between Nepal and India. The cultural rejuvenation resulting from Ram Mandir’s inauguration is expected to relieve the Nepali Hindu samaj.
River Gandaki in Nepal is the abode of the Shaligram Shila. The deep spiritual relationship between Ayodhya and Janakpur shares and precedes the phrase “roti beti ka rishta”, which is part of the political jargon and is often used by politicians. I hope the change must begin now, and the Ram-Sita ideals should be part of the preserved heritage.
Ramayana in Bangladesh
The Ramayana values are popular in the form of performing art in the Islamic Republic of Bangladesh. Ramayana in villages of Bangladesh is interpreted as a social learning model relationship between family members. India and Bangladesh have a long and glorious tradition of terracotta art, from the hoary past until the present day. The most famous places of early terracotta art in Bangladesh are Paharpur, Bhasu Bihar, and Mainamati, but all these places are connected with Buddhist monuments. Paharpur is the most famous monument of Bangladesh today.
Ramayana Gaan prevails in Bangladesh, where the event is also called “Kushan Gaan” or “Kush’s Song.” Ramayana Gaan is enthusiastically performed and appreciated by Hindus and Muslims in Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country. Significantly, in Ramayan Gaan, Ram invokes Mahashakti (Durga) before his battle with Ravan then defeats the Ravan. Together, these narratives help to explain the combination of Ramayan Gaan and Durga Puja in the Bangla Desh. The close association between Durga and Ram is deliberate in Ramayan Gaan. By invoking Durga’s powerful Sakti or feminine energy, Ram signals he is preparing for a decisive battle to defeat evil. Ram Navami is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Hindu culture and the many traditions celebrated in Bangla Desh.
Ramayana in Bhutan
Buddhism is the official religion of Bhutan and is deeply ingrained in the country’s culture and traditions. Hinduism is the second-largest religion in Bhutan. Hinduism and Buddhism share many traits and general beliefs with regard to samsara, karma, reincarnation, illusionary nature of the physical world and religious epics. Many Hindu stories are believed and narrated in Buddhism, too. One such story is the Ramayana ascribed to the sage Valmiki. In the Buddhist version, Lord Rama features as Ling Gesar Gyalpo and his wife Sita as Sengchang Drumo. The Rakshasa king of Lanka, Ravana, is featured as Horgur Karp Gyalpo. Bhutan celebrates the Ramlilas, which are regularly shown in the festivals of Dussehra and Diwali; these festivals are celebrated as “a victory of good over evil”. Ramleela was not meant only to recall and recreate the episodes in Lord Rama’s life and enjoy the taste of different Rasas that the performance would give the audience, but it makes people realize the message that the life story of Lord Rama and Mata Sita has for all humanity. Dussehra is a national holiday in Bhutan as well.
Ramayana in Afghanistan
Today, Islam is the official religion of Afghanistan, but this has not always been the case. Earlier, Afghanistan was part of an ancient kingdom known as Gandhara, which also covered parts of northern Pakistan. Today, although slightly altered, many of Afghanistan’s province names are Sanskrit in origin, hinting at the region’s ancient past. “Gandhara’s earliest mention can be found in the Vedas, better known for its connections to the Hindu epics, the Mahabharata and Ramayana.” Gandhara is also renowned for being home to Taxila, a city described in the Ramayana as being founded by Rama’s younger brother Bharata, who named it after his son Taksha.
The Hindus in Afghanistan worship Lord Ram and celebrate festivals as per Ramayana. “In the 1970s, there were about 700,000 Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan.” According to The Associated Press, “as of 2021, there are fewer than 700 Hindus and Sikhs left in Afghanistan. With the Taliban at its greatest strength since 2001,” it seems inevitable that there will soon be no Hindus and Sikhs left in the region.
The Ramayana has a strong presence in the Indian neighbourhood and has been incorporated into the cultures of other countries in Southeast Asia. There is no doubt that Ramayana influences at least two-thirds of the world in different forms. From most parts of the world, we can see the pervasive influence of the Ramayana. This indicates that Ramayana is a pillar of the way of life in our civilization. Just the way all the characters in the Ramayana follow the principles of their roles, we should learn our role and follow it sincerely. This is the only way to have a good life and be free from all the problems. The ideals of man are beautifully portrayed in Ramayana. Everyone should follow the ideals and become ideal human beings and citizens. Ramayana reminds us about one’s pious duty to perform in the larger interest of society and the country.
Ramayana’s ethical considerations of warfare underscore the importance of the prudent exercise of violence, promoting stability even in times of crisis. Incorporating these themes and considerations, Ramayana provides significant lessons for international relations.