Rama

Rama (Ramachandra)
An image collage of Hindu deity Rama.jpg
Rama is a Hindu deity, his iconography varies
AffiliationSeventh avatar of Vishnu, Brahman (Vaishnavism), Deva
AbodeVaikuntha, Ayodhya, and Saket
WeaponBow and arrow
TextsRamayana and its other versions
FestivalsRama Navami, Vivaha Panchami, Deepavali, Dusshera
Personal information
Born
ParentsDasharatha (father)[1]
Kaushalya (mother)[1]
Kaikeyi (step-mother)
Sumitra (step-mother)
SiblingsLakshmana (brother)
Bharata (brother)
Shatrughna (brother)
Shanta (older sister)
ConsortSita[1]
ChildrenLava (son)
Kusha (son)
DynastyRaghuvanshi-Ikshvaku-Suryavanshi

Rama or Ram (ə/;[2] Sanskrit: राम, IAST: Rāma // (About this soundlisten)), also known as Ramachandra, is a major deity of Hinduism. He is the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, one of his most popular incarnations along with Krishna, Parshurama, and Gautama Buddha. Jain Texts also mentioned Rama as eighth balabhadra among the 63 salakapurusas. [3][4][5] In Rama-centric traditions of Hinduism, he is considered the Supreme Being.[6]

Rama was born to Kaushalya and Dasharatha in Ayodhya, the ruler of the Kingdom of Kosala. His siblings included Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna. He married Sita. Though born in a royal family, their life is described in the Hindu texts as one challenged by unexpected changes such as an exile into impoverished and difficult circumstances, ethical questions and moral dilemmas.[7] Of all their travails, the most notable is the kidnapping of Sita by demon-king Ravana, followed by the determined and epic efforts of Rama and Lakshmana to gain her freedom and destroy the evil Ravana against great odds. The entire life story of Rama, Sita and their companions allegorically discusses duties, rights and social responsibilities of an individual. It illustrates dharma and dharmic living through model characters.[7][8]

Rama is especially important to Vaishnavism. He is the central figure of the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana, a text historically popular in the South Asian and Southeast Asian cultures.[9][10][11] His ancient legends have attracted bhasya (commentaries) and extensive secondary literature and inspired performance arts. Two such texts, for example, are the Adhyatma Ramayana – a spiritual and theological treatise considered foundational by Ramanandi monasteries,[12] and the Ramcharitmanas – a popular treatise that inspires thousands of Ramlila festival performances during autumn every year in India.[13][14][15]

Rama legends are also found in the texts of Jainism and Buddhism, though he is sometimes called Pauma or Padma in these texts,[16] and their details vary significantly from the Hindu versions.[17]

Etymology and nomenclature

Rāma is a Vedic Sanskrit word with two contextual meanings. In one context as found in Atharva Veda, as stated by Monier Monier-Williams, means "dark, dark-colored, black" and is related to the term ratri which means night. In another context as found in other Vedic texts, the word means "pleasing, delightful, charming, beautiful, lovely".[18][19] The word is sometimes used as a suffix in different Indian languages and religions, such as Pali in Buddhist texts, where -rama adds the sense of "pleasing to the mind, lovely" to the composite word.[20]

Rama as a first name appears in the Vedic literature, associated with two patronymic names – Margaveya and Aupatasvini – representing different individuals. A third individual named Rama Jamadagnya is the purported author of hymn 10.110 of the Rigveda in the Hindu tradition.[18] The word Rama appears in ancient literature in reverential terms for three individuals:[18]

  1. Parashu-rama, as the sixth avatar of Vishnu. He is linked to the Rama Jamadagnya of the Rigveda fame.
  2. Rama-chandra, as the seventh avatar of Vishnu and of the ancient Ramayana fame.
  3. Bala-rama, also called Halayudha, as the elder brother of Krishna both of whom appear in the legends of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

The name Rama appears repeatedly in Hindu texts, for many different scholars and kings in mythical stories.[18] The word also appears in ancient Upanishads and Aranyakas layer of Vedic literature, as well as music and other post-Vedic literature, but in qualifying context of something or someone who is "charming, beautiful, lovely" or "darkness, night".[18]

The Vishnu avatar named Rama is also known by other names. He is called Ramachandra (beautiful, lovely moon[19]), or Dasarathi (son of Dasaratha), or Raghava (descendant of Raghu, solar dynasty in Hindu cosmology).[18][21]

Additional names of Rama include Ramavijaya (Javanese), Phreah Ream (Khmer), Phra Ram (Lao and Thai), Megat Seri Rama (Malay), Raja Bantugan (Maranao), Ramudu (Telugu), Ramar (Tamil).[22] In the Vishnu sahasranama, Rama is the 394th name of Vishnu. In some Advaita Vedanta inspired texts, Rama connotes the metaphysical concept of Supreme Brahman who is the eternally blissful spiritual Self (Atman, soul) in whom yogis delight nondualistically.[12]

The root of the word Rama is ram- which means "stop, stand still, rest, rejoice, be pleased".[19]

According to Douglas Q. Adams, the Sanskrit word Rama is also found in other Indo-European languages such as Tocharian ram, reme, *romo- where it means "support, make still", "witness, make evident".[19][23] The sense of "dark, black, soot" also appears in other Indo European languages, such as *remos or Old English romig.[24][note 1]