A retelling of the Tamil epic poem which records Prince Rama's search for his abducted sweetheart, Sita.
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The caste system in India is a system of social stratification or segregation. The different groups within the caste system are depicted below. Which group would the "upper-caste Hindus" most likely belong to? (This annotation contains an image)
In India, children are exposed to values and ethics through oral storytelling. The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are the two most significant epic poems that continue to maintain cultural significance in India today.
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
This version of the Ramayana is based on which ancient poet's version?
Watch the introductory video below. It will give you an overview of what is going to happen and introduces the main characters. It is helpful to hear the correct pronunciation of names. (This annotation contains a video)
A key cultural concept that you should be aware of is dharma. This concept states that if each person or thing in the universe does its dharma, the universe functions smoothly. However, when people or things violate their dharma, things fall apart. Look for evidence of dharma throughout this epic poem.
Watch the short video on textual evidence and inferences. Here, in the highlighted text, we can infer based on the positive description of the setting that this is a peaceful, beautiful, and harmonious place to live. Which words or phrases in the passage would lead you to that conclusion? (This annotation contains a video)
What troubles King Dasaratha?
Below is a picture of the Hindu god, Vishnu. As you continue to read, the text will mention Vishnu's conch (pictured in his left hand) and wheel (pictured in his right hand). (This annotation contains an image)
Anga was a kingdom in the eastern part of India in this epic. Its location is circled in red on the map of ancient India below. (This annotation contains an image)
The people gather to watch the princes. What can you infer about Rama based on his questions to the crowd in the highlighted text?
1 - RAMA’S INITIATION
Which sacred river does Dasaratha refer to when speaking to the sage?
Below is a sculpture of Indra, the Hindu god of war and weather. He is also the leader of the Devas or demigods. He is a supreme deity in Hinduism. (This annotation contains an image)
Even though Viswamithra is speaking to the King in the text, what advice does he give to parents and to all adults?
What is the effect of the mantras on Rama and his brother?
Notice the warning that is contained in the description of Mareecha and Subahu. They are "endowed with enormous powers in addition to physical strength;" however, they do not use their skills and powers for good but rather for destruction. How would this go against dharma?
In the highlighted text, we encounter an example of imagery to help us visualize the monster, Thataka. Watch this short video on imagery to refresh yourself on the definition. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the purpose of including Thataka's story in Chapter One?
An avatar, in Hinduism, is a deliberate decent of a deity to Earth; the word most commonly is translated as “incarnation.” Here, we discover that Vishnu is Rama, but it is important to note that the text reveals that Rama is unaware of his identity as Vishnu at the time. (This annotation contains an image)
Here Viswamithra foreshadows, or hints, at the perilous journey ahead of Rama. Watch the short video on foreshadowing below to develop a better understanding of how this literary device can contribute to the development of tension in the story. (This annotation contains a video)
Below is a picture of the Ganges River. (This annotation contains an image)
The Ganges River is considered sacred to Hindus. It is personified, or given human characteristics, as the goddess named Ganga. (This annotation contains an image)
Below is a picture of the Himalaya Mountains in the distance. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Sakara's sons' pits become?
How does the author's inclusion of "Ahalya's Story" contribute to your understanding of Rama? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.
2 - THE WEDDING
Watch the video on tone and mood. The word choice in the highlighted text creates a vibrant, celebratory tone through phrases like "a city of colour and pleasure" and "colourful flags fluttering...as if to welcome a royal bridegroom to-be." (This annotation contains a video)
What purpose does the highlighted sentence serve?
The use of the phrase "slender shaft of love" brings to mind which image?
Watch the short video on similes and metaphors below. Notice in the highlighted text Sita's use of a metaphor to describe Rama's shoulders and a simile to describe Rama's eyes. What is the effect of using each type in the highlighted text? (This annotation contains a video)
Personification is when an author gives objects, like "the night, stars, moonlight, and flowers," human characteristics. Here these objects and even the universe are depicted as being "unsympathetic."
As a warrior with supernatural strength and prowess, whose purpose is to fight evil, Rama is taken by surprise when his heart is slayed by Sita's "bow of sugarcane." In other words, a reversal of what Rama expects to happen occurs; this is irony.
Sita's name in the original Sanskrit word for "furrow" and she is seen as a representation of Earth because of this. She is also an avatar of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and wife of Vishnu. This information helps us to understand that Sita and Rama are destined to be together.
What supernatural feat does Rama perform in Mithila?
Below is a picture of an elaborate palanquin like what Queen Kaikeyi may have been carried in. (This annotation contains an image)
3 - TWO PROMISES REVIVED
What does Dasartha's realization about his age prompt him to do?
Below is a picture of Royal Elephants. Notice the elaborate and ornate details on the elephants' costumes. (This annotation contains an image)
Notice that Dasaratha's words foreshadow a death or tragic event. As your read on, pay attention to how this may unfold. How will it drive the plot?
Which type of figurative language is used in the highlighted text to illustrate Kooni's belief about youth and beauty?
Which scenario below best represents or symbolizes Kooni's role in changing Kaikeyi's mind?
Kaikeyi threatens to commit suicide by ingesting poison. As readers, we recognize that Kooni's words have already "poisoned" Kaikeyi's mind. Do you believe that it is jealousy and resentment or lack of self-confidence and worth that is driving Kaikeyi to try to usurp Rama?
How are the two central ideas of jealousy and honor developed within the scene between Kooni and Kaikeyi and later between Kaikeyi and Dasthara?
We can infer through indirect characterization based on Rama's words to his mother that Rama is pure of heart. He does not harbor any bitterness or anger at his father or step-mother, and he seeks to comfort his mother and to be optimistic.
Watch the short video explaining situational irony (one of three types of irony). We see situational irony in this story here because we expect Rama to be coronated as king. Instead, he is exiled to the forest for fourteen years. (This annotation contains a video)
What type of figurative language is used to convey the kingdom's anguish and sense of injustice over Rama being banished in the highlighted text?
Lakshmana uses hyperbole or exaggeration to emphasize his anger and sense of injustice.
The phrase "blood boils" is an example of alliteration because of the repetition of the consonant "b" sound. It appeals to a reader's sense of sound.
Which characteristic can be inferred about Rama based on his words to Lakshmana?
The arrow is a recurring motif in this text. Rama, the hero, continuously uses this weapon to achieve his destiny of fighting evil. Here, Rama creates a simile and uses the arrow to illustrate the power of words to hurt or heal. (This annotation contains a video)
How does the use of sarcasm in the highlighted text help you to understand Lakshmana's point of view?
Remember that Dasaratha's death was foreshadowed prior to Rama's coronation ceremony. Below is a watercolor and ink depiction of Dasaratha's death dated from 1597-1605. What tone is conveyed by the illustration? (This annotation contains an image)
Which word below would not accurately convey the attitude of the women surrounding Dasaratha in the watercolor and ink illustration of Dasaratha's death (included in the previous annotation)?
4 - ENCOUNTERS IN EXILE
There are common character, situational, and symbolic archetypes in literature. Before beginning Chapter Four, watch the short video on archetypes in literature to develop a better understanding on this topic. (This annotation contains a video)
Below is a picture of the Dandaka forest. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the highlighted text and what you already know about Lakshmana, which archetype's description below defines Lakshmana's role in the text?
What does Sita's radiance or light symbolize or represent? Provide an example of something that Sita does in the story that would support your analysis.
Below is the scene where Lakshmana mutilates Soorpanaka. (This annotation contains an image)
After reading of how Lakshmana mutilates Ravana's sister and viewing the artwork in the previous annotation, which is the most effective in helping you to visualize what happens? Why?
What can you infer about Soorpanaka based on her words to Rama in the highlighted text?
Below is a picture of a scimitar sword. Kara commands his commanders to kill Rama and his brother and kidnap Sita. (This annotation contains an image)
5 - THE GRAND TORMENTOR
Below is an illustration of Ravana. (This annotation contains an image)
What can you infer about Ravana based on his actions of "ignoring all other issues" in order to hear more about Sita?
The monsoon season include and abundance of rain and storms. How does this type of weather best characterize Ravana's mood? (This annotation contains an image)
Here we see further proof that Soorpanaka is extremely manipulative. She is using her brother, Ravana, to accomplish her own agenda.
Below is a picture of the mountain that Shiva's bow is compared to. (This annotation contains an image)
Summarize the highlighted text in your own words.
Notice the use of foreshadowing. Mareecha believes that he is ultimately doomed and will be killed. Read on to find out whether or not his premonition will come true.
Sita must choose between which two opposing central ideas in the highlighted text?
Below is a picture of the instrument called a veena. (This annotation contains an image)
Below is an illustration of Jatayu's defeat by Ravana. Jatayu's sacrifice reveals his loyalty and courage. (This annotation contains an image)
6 - VALI
Before you begin reading, watch the short video on "The Hero's Journey." As you watch, try to pinpoint which stage Rama is at during this point in the text. (This annotation contains a video)
Below is a carving of Ramayana monkeys in Angkor. (This annotation contains an image)
What image below is the most accurate portrayal of Hanuman?
Rama is at what stage in "The Hero's Journey"?
The use of the highlighted simile conveys which tone?
The theme of good versus evil is supported in the highlighted passage. Notice also the reference to Rama's arrows yet again.
Which type of figurative language is used in the highlighted text?
Below is an artistic representation of the fight scene between Vali and Sugreeva (pictured on the left as monkeys). (This annotation contains an image)
Although it is Rama's arrow that stops Vali, which character trait is primarily responsible for Vali's defeat?
Using the highlighted text, identify two dangerous thought patterns or habits which affected Vali, and which can destroy one's character and inner piece. Cite evidence to support your claims.
7 - WHEN THE RAINS CEASE
Below is a picture of Kiskinda. Why is it appropriate that monkeys are included in the picture below? (This annotation contains an image)
Identify the literary device or devices used in the highlighted sentence.
Watch the short video on internal and external conflict. While much of the conflict in this text has been external, in the highlighted text, we see an example of internal conflict. Rama is struggling in his head over Sita's abduction. He, no doubt, feels guilt for leaving her. (This annotation contains a video)
Below is a picture of a peacock. Notice that all wildlife seems to be emerging now that the rains have ended. (This annotation contains an image)
What are two lessons or central ideas that you can infer from Tara's words in the highlighted text? Write out each lesson as a statement.
Below is a Sandalwood forest in India. Sandalwood is incredibly fragrant, and it can retain its odor for decades. In Hinduism, sandalwood paste is used in rituals, ceremonies, and to decorate the icons of gods. (This annotation contains an image)
How long does Hanuman have to search for Sita in the South?
Notice once again the reference to arrows through the use of the word "quiver." You can see the quiver, where the arrows are kept, in the picture below. (This annotation contains an image)
Notice that this myth is similar to the Greek myth of Icarus (depicted in Chagall's painting below). Icarus ignores his father's warning not to fly too high and ultimately falls to his death. What do both texts teach listeners/readers? (This annotation contains an image)
Below is a depiction of Aruna. (This annotation contains an image)
Lanka is thought to be the island of Sri Lanka (pictured below), which is off the coast of India. (This annotation contains an image)
Which type of figurative language is used in the highlighted text?
8 - MEMENTO FROM RAMA
Watch the short video on allegory. This concept plays out between Sita (who represents earth) and Rama (who represents God). Their relationship is severed when Sita hungers for sensual gratification and materialism in the shape of the golden deer. Traditional listeners in Hindu culture would recognize the warning against following in Sita's path. (This annotation contains a video)
Sita lives in the Asoka garden in great deprivation and penance. She constantly is thinking of her Lord, Rama. This allegory teaches readers/listeners of the need for spiritual exercise, patience, self-restraint, and a yearning for God.
Hanuman appears to Sita as a messenger from Rama and gives her Rama's ring. What allegorical message is contained within Hanuman's actions?
9 - RAVANA IN COUNCIL
Below is an illustration of Brahma. He is said to have been born out of Vishnu's navel. He is considered a god of creation. (This annotation contains an image)
Indrajit promises to bring _______________ and place them at his father's feet.
Notice that Vibishana has proven to be persistent and loyal in trying to make Ravana see wisdom; however, as readers, we understand the foreshadowing in the highlighted text. What lesson can you infer from Vibishana's words about pride, justice, and fair play?
10 - ACROSS THE OCEAN
Before reading Chapter Ten, watch the short video below. Pay special attention to the portion on cultural perspective. As you continue to read, which details contribute to the cultural perspective in this text? (This annotation contains a video)
What convinces Hanuman that Vibishana is not a traitor to be feared?
11 - THE SIEGE OF LANKA
Based on Ravana's words and actions in this text, Ravana is an example of which archetype?
Angada (the monkey on the right side of the picture below) is instrumental in helping Rama. He is sent to offer Ravana one last chance at redemption. This reveals Rama's deep sense of fairness and forgiveness, but it also highlights Ravana's stubborness, pride, and foreshadows his fall. (This annotation contains an image)
Who has been killed in the battle?
12 - RAMA AND RAVANA IN BATTLE
Watch the short video on tension before reading Chapter Twelve. Pay attention to the ways the author conveys tension in the coming chapter. How does this make you feel? (This annotation contains a video)
Around which literary device does the author choose to structure the beginning of Chapter Twelve (in the highlighted text)?
Notice the imagery appealing to our sense of sound; it helps to build the suspense. However, in spite of the tremendous noise, Rama remains calm, collected, and level-headed.
Which quest is Rama charged with in this text?
Below is a sculpture of Poseidon from Greek mythology. In his hand is a trident. Here, Ravana uses the deadly weapon in his attempt to defeat Rama. (This annotation contains an image)
Rama defeats Ravana by shooting him in the heart. Explain what this allegorical story is meant to teach readers? Pay attention to what is revealed in the highlighted text when crafting your answer.
13 - INTERLUDE
Many characters throughout this epic have threatened to end their lives by jumping into a fire. What do you think this symbolizes in the Hindu culture? Below is an illustration of Sita jumping into the fire. (This annotation contains an image)
14 - THE CORONATION
Which type of figurative language is used in the highlighted text to convey Dasaratha's constant pain and aggitation?
The word "vimana" has several meanings including a temple or a mythological flying palace. Here, it refers to a flying palace, and the use of "Pushpak Vimana" in the "Ramayana" is the first flying vimana in Hindu mythology. (This annotation contains an image)
Below is a more recent picture of Ayodhya. (This annotation contains an image)
How long does it take for the story-teller to recount the tale of Rama from his birth through his coronation?