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RĀMĀYAṆA Traditional Rāmāyaṇa scholarship has been marked by what Robert Goldman calls a "zeal" (1984, p. 63) to demonstrate that most or all of this epic's first book is late. Books 2–6 are taken to supply most or all of the poem's "'genuine' portions," and the closing Book 7 is taken as axiomatically late. For such scholars, Books 2–6 have presented the possibility that they narrate a largely consecutive heroic story of a man who is for the most part not yet "divinized."

This view has been challenged over the last several decades. Pivotal to this rethinking has been the completion of the Baroda Critical Edition of the Rāmāyaṇa (1960–1975), which this article will use for its synopsis. Most of the key passages that speak of Rāma as an incarnation of Vishnu make the Critical Edition's cut. Sheldon Pollock (1986, pp. 38–42) and Madeleine Biardeau (1997, pp. 77–119) have also introduced a consideration based on comparison with the Mahābhārata and the fruits of its Pune Critical Edition. Up to Book 2, each epic follows a similar archetypal design, with each Book 1 introducing the frame stories, origins, and youth of the heroes, and each Book 2 describing a pivotal court intrigue. This approach can be carried further: Book 3, Forest (in the title of both epics' third books); Book 4, Inversions (the Pāṇḍava's topsy-turvy disguises in Virāṭa's kingdom of Matsya (Fish); Rāma's engagement with the topsy-turvy world of the monkeys' capital, Kishkindhā, in which the lead monkeys play out a reverse image of Rāma's own story); Book 5, "Effort" (udyoga; see Rām 5.10.24; 33.66) made in Preparation for War (by both sides in the Mahābhārata; by Hanumān and all the monkeys in the Rāmāyaṇa) with Krishna and Hanumān going as divine messengers into the enemy camp, where there are attempts to capture them; War Books (Rāmāyaṇa 6; Mahābhārata 6–11), and denouements (Rāmāyaṇa 7; Mahābhārata 12–18). The Rāmāyan's term for its Books is kāṇḍa, meaning a "section" of a stalk of a plant, such as bamboo, between its joints; the Mahābhārata's is parvan, which can mean the joints themselves of such a plant. Together they could describe a complete stalk of a noded plant. Such closeness of design cannot be accidental. This article favors the priority of the Mahābhārata and will be presented from that standpoint, with the corollaries that Rāmāyaṇa Books 1 and 7 are integral to its earliest design and that the Rāmāyaṇa poet is not only familiar with the Mahābhārata's design but intent upon refining it.

Such a relation can be exemplified by the two epics' frame stories, which are opened at the beginning of the first Books and left pending into the denouements. Unlike the Mahābhārata's three frame stories, which present a serial layering of the first three recitals of supposedly the same text that are scattered over its first fifty-six chapters and resumed in late portions of its twelfth Book, the Rāmāyaṇa frame, in only its first four chapters (known as the upodghāta or preamble), presents two progressive unfoldings of the story—the first by the sage Nārada to the hermit Vālmīki; the second by Vālmīki himself, now a poet—that trace its ripening into the third full unfolding, the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa itself.

In the first, in answer to Vālmīki's opening question of whether there is an ideal man in the world today (1.1.2–5), Nārada satisfies the question with a brief and entirely laudatory account of Rāma's virtues and adult life, presumably to date (1.1.7–76). Saying the minimum about Rāma's killing of the monkey Vālin (1.1.49, 55), Nārada hardly hints at anything problematic in Rāma's life and omits both Sītā's fire ordeal and her banishment. Among the great rishis, or seers, that Rāma encounters, he mentions only Vasishtha (29) and Agastya (33–34).

In the second sarga, once Nārada has left, Vālmīki witnesses the cries of grief of a female krauñca bird (probably the large monogamous sarus crane) over the slaying of her mate by a "cruel hunter," and is provoked into the spontaneous utterance that creates "verse" (and thus poetry) out of "grief" (shloka out of shoka; 1.2.9–15). As this verse is said to mark the origins of poetry, the Rāmāyaṇa is called the ādikāvya, or "first poem"—a term that does not occur in the Critical Edition, though it probably should since it occurs in a universally attested sarga where, after Sītā has vanished into the earth, the god Brahmā encourages Rāma to hear the rest of this ādikāvya (7, Appendix I, No. 13, lines 31–39). Now, however, the same Brahmā appears (22–36) to prompt Vālmīki to tell the story he has just heard from Nārada, and gives him the insight to see what he did not know and what is still yet to happen—confirming that his poem will all be true (1.2.33–35). Brahmā thus assures Vālmīki that he will know things omitted from Nārada's encomium. When Brahmā leaves, Vālmīki conceives the idea of composing "the entire Rāmāyaṇa poem (kāvya)" in shlokas (1.2.40cd).

In the third sarga, Vālmīki meditatively enters into this project for the first time and has a sort of preview of the story (1.3.3-28): not a retrospective table of contents like the Mahābhārata's Parvasaṃgraha, but a kind of first glimpse of what his poem will contain. Here he provides the first reference to some of Rāma's encounters with important rishis (Vishvāmitra [4], Rāma Jāmadagnya [5], Bharadvāja [8]). Most important, he closes with Sītā's banishment (28).

Then, looking back upon the poem's completion, the fourth sarga hints at the context in which Vālmīki's Rāmāyaṇa will finally be told by the twins Kusha and Lava to their father, Rāma. Just as information on the Mahābhārata's frame is resumed with further revelations in Book 12, the Rāmāyaṇa's frame will be picked up in Book 7, when Kusha and Lava do just that. The main difference is that when the Rāmāyaṇa frame is reentered in Book 7, it is not just a matter of further revelations about the composition that are difficult to relate to the main story. Vālmīki's dramatic entry into the main story presents the occasion to reveal the poetic heart of the whole poem through its effects on its hero and its heroine.

Vālmīki thus gets a triple inspiration—from Nārada, the krauñcī, and Brahmā. Yet the upodghāta leaves us in suspense as to when Sītā came to his ashram. Was it before or after the krauñca bird incident? The poem never tells whether Vālmīki's response to the female bird comes before or after his familiarity with Sītā's grief at her banishment. But in either case, now that Vālmīki knows the whole story from Brahmā, he could connect Sītā's banishment with the krauñcī's cry whenever she arrived. What we do know is that, having had pity (karuṇa) for the female bird, Vālmīki will compose his poem with pity as its predominant aesthetic flavor (aṇgī rasa) in relation to grief (shoka) as its underlying sthāyibhāva or "stable aesthetic emotion." Vyāsa, the Mahābhārata's author, provides no such developmental inspiration story. The Rāmāyaṇa frame is thus shorter, more focused, and more poetically traceable into the main narrative and the whole poem.

Although the upodghāta concludes with Rāma, as chief-auditor-to-be, inviting his brothers to join him in listening to the boys he is yet to recognize, he interrupts their narration to question them only once: when he asks them who authored this poem (kāvya; 7.85.19). Otherwise he is the rapt and silent listener. He launches their recital in the penultimate verse of the upodghāta: "Moreover, it is said that the profound adventure (mahānubhāvam caritam) they tell is highly beneficial even for me. Listen to it" (1.4.26d). Who says this? Why beneficial to Rāma? The preamble leaves us with such implicit and subtle questions. In these passages, we see two of the three leading terms by which the Rāmāyaṇa describes itself: kāvya (poem) and carita (adventure), the third being ākhyāna (tale, narrative). Kathā (story) is also used, but with less specificity. These four terms are woven through the upodghāta. It is noteworthy that itihāsa (history), which along with ākhyāna is one of the two main terms to describe the Mahābhārata, is not only unused to describe the Rāmāyaṇa but is absent from the latter's entire Critical Edition. In this, it is like the absence of kāvya in the Mahābhārata's Critical Edition; as if the two texts were in early agreement to yield one of these terms to the other. Neither does purāṇa (ancient lore) describe the Rāmāyaṇa, which evidently places itself outside the itihāsa-purāṇa tradition that Chāndogya Upanishad 7.1.2 links with Nārada as a fifth Veda. Similarly, upākhyāna (subtale) is used only in the Mahābhārata, although there is an interpolated verse in the ashvamedha recital scene in which the twins begin singing the poem and tell Rāma that the Rāmāyaṇa has twenty-four thousand verses and a hundred upākhyānas (7.1328*, following 7.85.20)—suggesting Mahābhārata influence.

Kāvya is used only at the Rāmāyaṇa's two framing points: nine times in the upodghāta, four in the ashvamedha recital scene. It thus has a kind of bookend function of describing the work as poetry, most notably that "it is replete with" all the "poetic sentiments" or rasas (1.4.8). In contrast to kāvya, carita implies the "movement" of the main narrative. Of its four usages in the upodghāta to characterize the Rāmāyaṇa, two present a juxtaposition. The first has Brahmā enjoin Vālmīki to "compose the whole adventure of Rāma" (1.2.30cd). The second, once it is implied that Vālmīki has composed it, calls "the whole Rāmāyaṇa poem (kāvya) the great adventure of Sītā" (1.4.6). This suggests that, although Rāma's adventure is Vālmīki's starting point, the complete poem is also about Sītā's. The "profound adventure" that Rāma prepares himself to hear at the end of the upodghāta would thus include the two adventures intertwined (4.26). Carita is also the main word to describe the Rāmāyaṇa when these adventures are in course (2.54.18; 6.114.4)—and even in the course of hearing it. When the twins begin reciting the poem and Rāma asks who composed it, they reply, "The blessed Vālmīki, who has reached the presence of the sacrifice, is the author by whom this adventure is disclosed to you without remainder" (7.85.19).

Meanwhile, ākhyāna is used four times in the upodghāta. It describes the benefits of hearing the tale's recital (1.1.78), that it is "unsurpassed" as a "tale exemplary of righteousness" (1.4.11), that it is a "wondrous tale told by the sage" that he "completed in perfect sequence" as "the great source of inspiration for poets (kavīnām)" (1.4.20), and that Rāma urged his brothers to "listen to this tale whose words and meanings alike are wonderful as it is sweetly sung by these two godlike men" (1.4.25). It is also the first term to describe the Rāmāyaṇa when the recital of its main story begins: "Of these kings of illustrious lineage, the Ikhvākus, this great tale is known as the Rāmāyaṇa. I will recite it from the beginning in its entirety, omitting nothing. It is in keeping with the goals of righteousness, profit, and pleasure and should be listened to with faith" (1.5.3-4). Ākhyāna can also be used for tales told in course, most notably for the "glad tidings" that Hanumān brings at various points to others (5.57.1, 59.6, 6.101.17, 113.40). Complementary to both kāvya and carita, it links the narrative to the inspiration of poets while also bringing listeners into the poem's double adventure.

The Rāmāyaṇa thus makes very selective use of limited terms. In contrast to the Mahābhārata, they are used strategically rather than as definitions, and they are not used to emphasize the interplay between the Rāmāyaṇa's parts and its whole. Emerging from and flowing back into the passages that frame the Rāmāyaṇa (the upodghāta and the ashvamedha recital scene), side-stories fall within a single poetic narrative that is portrayed as being addressed uninterruptedly (the one exception noted) to Rāma. It does not have multiple audiences in a threefold stacking of dialogical frames (Shulman 2001, pp. 28–33).


Book 1, the Bālakāṇḍa. or "Book of the Boy[s]," begins with the upodhghāta (sargas 1–4), which leads directly to the main narrative, starting with the origins of the Ikshvāku dynasty and quickly narrowing to the one defect in the long reign of the current monarch, Dasharatha: he is sonless. At this time the gods and rishis (seers) are alarmed by the Rākshasa Rāvaṇa, who harasses the seers in their hermitages. With the help of a descendant of the sage Kashyapa, named Rishyashriṇga (whose story is told in the Mahābhārata's Rishyashriṅga-Upākhyāna [Mbh 3.110–113]), Dasharatha's three wives bear four sons, all partial incarnations of Vishnu: Rāma, Bharata, and the twins Lakshmaṇa and Shatrughna. Meanwhile Brahmā directs other gods to take birth as monkeys. Once the boys start their Vedic education, the sage Vishvāmitra (whose story is told in the Mahābhārata's Vasishtha-and Vishvāmitra-Upākhyānas [Mbh 1.264–273, 13.3–4]) arrives (sargas 5–17). He demands that Dasharatha allow Rāma and Lakshmaṇa to accompany him into the forest, and is supported by the sage Vasishtha. Once Dasharatha releases the boys, Vishvāmitra teaches them divine weapons and prepares them for a Rākshasa encounter. They kill Tātakā (a female) and Subāhu, but Mārīca escapes. Vishvāmitra then mentions that King Janaka of Mithilā will be performing a sacrifice at which a great bow will be presented as a test of strength (sargas 18–31).

Along the way to Mithilā, Vishvāmitra tells stories: the last of them about Ahalyā. Cursed by her husband, the sage Gautama, for being seduced by Indra (this story is told in the Mahābhārata's Cirakāri–Upākhyāna [12.258] and alluded to in its Indravijaya-Upākhyāna [5.12.6]), she is redeemed by Rāma's arrival at their hermitage—a cautionary tale about marriage and sexuality (Sutherland Goldman, p. 72)—before Rāma learns more about Janaka's sacrifice. Janaka's minister Shatn̄anda then tells Rāma the story of Vishvāmitra's former rivalry with Vasishtha (a topic, again, of the Mahābhārata's Vasishtha-Upākhāyana [Mbh 1.64–73]; sargas 32–65).

Janaka's sacrifice turns out to be Sītā's "self-choice" of a husband, where Rāma wins Sītā by breaking the great bow of Shiva. To unite the houses further, Janaka provides wives for Rāma's brothers. Vishvāmitra departs, and on the way back to Ayodhya, Rāma is confronted by Rāma Jāmadagnya (who appears repeatedly in the Mahābhārata, notably in the Kārtavīrya- [Mbh 3.115–117], [Bhārgava-] Rāma-[12.48–49], and Vishvāmitra-Upākhyānas [13.3–4]). This older Brahman Rāma blocks the new Kshatriya Rāma's path and demands that he break a bow of Vishnu—which Rāma does, making the older Rāma yield. The young couples then return to Ayodhya for happy honeymoons. But Dasharatha sends Bharata and Shatrughna with Bharata's maternal uncle back to Kekaya, the country of Bharata's mother Kaikeyī (sargas 66–77).

Rishyashriṇga's contribution to the four brothers' births, the stories told along the way by and about Vishvāmitra, and the encounter with Bhārgava Rāma have often been viewed as "digressions" or "interpolations" because they depart from a straightforward Rāma saga. But this view overlooks an emerging pattern. The sequence of rishis—Rishyashriṇga (a descendant of Kashyapa), Vasishtha, Vishvāmitra, Gautama (with Ahalyā), and Rāma Jāmadagnya (son of Jamadagni)—has linked Rāma's early years to sages from five of the eight great Brahman gotras, or lineages, whose eponymous ancestors are connected with the composition of the Rig Veda and are regarded as the main pravara rishis—the ones to whom all Brahman families make invocation (pravara) when they give their line of descent.

At the beginning of Book 2, the AyodhyāKānda, or "Book of Ayodhyā," Dasharatha—with the whiff of a scheme—announces his intention to make Rāma his heir-apparent with Bharata away. Kaikeyī's maidservant Mantharā arouses Kaikeyī's jealousy and reminds her that Dasharatha once granted her two boons, which she has yet to claim (2.9.9–13). In a wrenching scene that launches the Rāmāyaṇa's unending skein of pity and grief, the aged Dasharatha hears her two demands: Rāma's fourteen-year banishment and Bharata's installment as heir-apparent (10.28–29). At the news, Rāma calmly says he will honor his father's word, and does so even when Dasharatha urges him to ignore it. Sītā demands to accompany Rāma, who then approves Lakshmaṇa's offer to attend them. Nearing their departure, Kaikeyī contemptuously gives Sītā bark to wear over her sari, and when Rāma has to help Sītā put it on, Dasharatha gives Sītā garments and jewels to cover the bark (sargas 1–34).

The departure is then a long scene of grief from the principals down to Ayodhya's citizens. Crossing the Gaṇgā, the trio heads toward their first destination, the hermitage of the rishi Bharadvāja. When Rāma asks Bharadvāja to "think of some good site for an ashram in a secluded place," the seer directs them to Mount Citrakūṭa, "a meritorious place frequented by the great rishis" (2.48.25). Meanwhile, back at Ayodhya, Dasharatha dies after tortured recollections, leaving a widowed city, and messengers are sent to Bharata (sargas 35–65).

Bharata learns of Dasharatha's death at Ayodhya and grieves, denouncing Kaikeyī. Affirming the Ikshvākus' custom of primogeniture, he tells his deputies that he rather than Rāma will fulfill the terms of exile and orders them to prepare an army to help him bring Rāma back. Following the same route, Bharata reaches Bharadvāja's ashram. Bharadvāja tests him, conjuring up a feast for the army and a royal palace for him. Bharata rejects the royal seat, foreshadowing how he will steward Rāma's throne. Having seen Bharata's worthiness, Bharadvāja again gives directions to Citrakūta (sargas 66–86).

Descrying Bharata's approach with an army, Lakshmaṇa fears that he wants to kill them. Rāma attests to Bharata's trustworthiness. Bharata reaches Rāma alone, leaving the army camped below. Upon meeting, they embrace, and Rāma learns of Dasharatha's death. After long discussion, Bharata agrees to be regent for the exile's duration, and Rāma gives him his sandals. Having worn these on his head all the way back, Bharata leaves Rāma's throne empty and takes up residence in a village outside Ayodhya, where he consecrates the sandals and apprises them before giving any order (sargas 87–107).

Soon sensing disquiet among the Citrakūṭa rishis, Rāma learns that Rāvaṇa's younger brother, Khara, has been cannibalizing ascetics in nearby Janasthāna. The sages retreat to a safer ashram and Rāma moves on to the ashram of Atri, where Atri's wife Anasūyā tells Sītā the duties of a faithful wife and gives her more apparel and jewels. Rāma gets his next directions from the ascetics there, who recommend, all other routes being treacherous, "the path through the forest that the great rishis use when they go to gather fruits" (111.19; sargas 108–111).

With this close of Book 2, Rāma has now been linked with seven of the eight pravara rishis—Vasishtha, Kashyapa, Vishvāmitra, Gautama, Jamadagni, Bharadvāja, and Atri—or their descendants. These original seven, who together constitute the northern constellation of the Seven Rishis (Big Dipper), have pointed Rāma south.

The first line of Book 3, the Araṇya Kānda, or "Book of the Forest," finds the trio entering the "vast wilderness" of Daṇḍaka. As they move on from a circle of ashrams, a Rākshasa named Virādha ("one who thwarts") looms before them and seizes Sītā. Pained by seeing her touched, Rāma fills Virādha with arrows, and the brothers each break off an arm to release her. Virādha realizes he has been slain by Rāma, which relieves him from a curse. Before going to heaven, he tells Rāma that the great rishi Sharabhaṅga "will see to your welfare" (3.3.22–23). Sharabhaṅga relays Rāma to the hermitage of Sutīkshṇa, who offers his ashram as a residence; but Rāma says he might kill the local game. The trio lives happily for ten years in another circle of hermitages before returning to Sutīkshṇa (10.21–26). Storytellers have now told Rāma about Agastya's ashram and he asks Sutīkshṇa how to find it in so vast a forest (29–30). Sutīkshṇa heads him due south, and along the way Rāma tells Lakshmaṇa stories told about Agastya that also occur in the Mahābhārata's Agastya-Upākhyāna (Mbh 3.94–108). Rāma intends to live out the remainder of his exile with Agastya (Rām 3.10.86), but Agastya, after meditating a moment, says that he knows Rāma's true desire and directs him to a lovely forest called Pancavaṭī near the Godāvarī River, where Sītā will be comfortable and Rāma can protect her while safeguarding the ascetics (12.12–20). These words of the eighth, last, and southernmost of the great pravara rishis resound with forebodings, as does the trio's meeting on the way to Pancavaṭī with the vulture Jaṭāyus, who offers to keep watch over Sītā whenever they are away (sargas 1–13). However kindly, a vulture is normally a bad omen (3.22.4).

At their Pancavaṭī ashram, the trio is soon visited by Rāvaṇa's sister Shūrpaṇakhā. Motivated by her rejection by both brothers to devour Sītā, she provokes Rāma to order Lakshmaṇa to mutilate her, and Lakshmaṇa cuts off her ears and nose. She rushes to her brother Khara in Janasthāna, where he heads a Rākshasa outpost in Daṇḍaka Forest. Khara and fourteen thousand Rākshasas are annihilated by Rāma. Shūrpaṇakhā then goes to Laṇkā and, with talk of Sītā's beauty, inspires Rāvan make her his wife. Rāvaṇa engages Mārīca to disguise himself as a golden deer, anticipating that Sītā will send Rāma and Lakshmaṇa to capture it. Mārīca knows Rāma from Book 1, and tries to warn Rāvaṇa against this plan. But unable to avoid Rāvana's threats, he boards his celestial chariot. Sītā is enchanted by the golden deer. Rāma chases it. Its dying words convince her she hears Rāma crying for help, and she goads Lakshmaṇa to aide Rāma by accusing him of desiring her. Rāvaṇa comes disguised as a mendicant, sprouts ten heads, carries her off by her hair and thighs onto his chariot, and flies away. Sītā calls to Jaṭāyus, imploring him to tell Rāma and Lakshmaṇa all that has happened (47.36). Having slept through her abduction, Jaṭāyus flies up to challenge Rāvaṇa, destroys his chariot, and forces him to the ground. But Rāvaṇa severs his wings. Able to fly without a chariot, Rāvaṇa grabs Sītā to continue his journey. When she sees five monkeys on a mountain, Sītā drops some of her jewels and a garment, hoping they will mark her route. Once in Laṇkā, Rāvaṇa leaves her in a grove of ashoka trees outside his palace, giving her twelve months to yield or be chopped into minced meat for his breakfast (sargas 14–54).

Rāma goes mad looking for Sītā until the brothers come upon Jaṭāyus, who, before he dies, tells them of her abduction by Rāvaṇa and that he headed south. They head south on an "untrodden path" (65.2), passing into the Krauñca Forest, still hoping to find Sītā. Instead they run into a Dānava-turned-Rākshasa, Kabandha ("headless trunk" but also a name for a sacrificial post). He guards the way past him as Virādha did for the Daṇḍaka Forest at the beginning of Book 3 (and as Kirmīra and the Yaksha do at the beginning and end of the Mahābhārata's Book 3). Kabandha is a headless torso with a single-eyed face in his stomach, a huge devouring mouth, and long grabbing arms that suddenly seize the brothers, who quickly sever them. Realizing that this amputation by Rāma ends a long curse, Kabandha tells his story, and after Rāma has asked if he knows anything about Rāvaṇa and has cremated him, Kabandha rises lustrously from his pyre to say that Rāvaṇa's abode may be found if Rāma allies with the monkey Sugrīva, whom Rāma should quickly make a "comrade" or "commiserator" (vayasya), sealing their pact before fire (68.13). Kabandha then directs them to Sugrīva's haunt on Mount Rishyamūka. This path takes them through Mataṇga's Wood to Mataṇga's ashram, where all the rishis have passed away except the "mendicant woman" Shabarī ("the Tribal Woman"). As Shabarī soon corroborates, Mataṇga and his disciples ascended to heaven just when Rāma reached Citrakūṭa, but Shabarī has awaited Rāma's arrival so that she can go to heaven after seeing him. For this, Rāma permits her to enter fire (70.26)—indexing an association between fire-entry and purification that will also apply to Sītā. Rāma now sees Mount Rishyamūka (sargas 55–71).

Book 4, the KishkindhāKāṇḍa, or "Book of Kishkindhā," the monkey capital, begins with Rāma exploring Rishyamūka. Sugrīva, thinking the brothers could be his brother Vālin's spies, sends his minister Hanumān to scout out their intentions. Learning of the similarities between Rāma and Sugrīva's situations (forest exile; stolen wife), Hanumān says Sugrīva will help Rāma's search, and Lakshmaṇa remarks that this help will come with Sugrīva's own purpose. Hanumān brings the brothers to Sugrīva and tells him that they desire his friend-ship. As advised by Kabandha, "Sugrīva and Rāghava (Rāma) entered into vayasya by reverently circling the blazing fire" (5.16). Sugrīva tells Rāma he will recover his wife, like the lost Vedas, whether she is in the underworld or the heavens. He further recalls that he saw a woman drop her shawl and jewels when she saw him and four other monkeys on the mountain. She was crying "Rāma, Rāma! Lakshmaṇa!" while being carried off by Rāvaṇa. Rāma weeps, recognizing the articles as Sītā's (6.1–19).

Sugrīva now tells his account of how Vālin wronged him, which is only his side of the story. Rāma accepts it, even before fully hearing it, and promises to kill Vālin (8.23–26). Once Vālin was fighting the asura Māyāvin in a cave outside Kishkindhā and had stationed Sugrīva out-side the entrance. After a year Sugrīva noticed signs of what he thought was Vālin's death, so he blocked the cave to prevent the demon's exit. Back at Kishkindhā, he replaced Vālin as king. But it was Māyāvin who had died, and when Vālin got out, he reclaimed the throne, took Sugrīva's wife, and drove Sugrīva away. Rāma accepts that Sugrīva is innocent, assures him that Vālin sinned in taking his wife, and repeats that he will kill him (9–10). But behind this story lies another, in which Sugrīva discloses why Mount Rishyamūka provides him asylum. Māyāvin opposed Vālin because he had killed Māyāvin's older brother, "a buffalo named Dundubhi" (4.11.7). Dundubhi terrorized Kishkindhā with his horns; roaring like a kettle drum (dundubhi), he lured Vālin from his drunken amours. Grabbing Dundubhi's horns, Vālin crushed him until blood oozed from his ears and hurled away the carcass. But "blood drops from the wounds fell out from its mouth and were lifted by the wind toward Mataṇga's hermitage" (41). Mataṇga then cursed Vālin to be unable to enter his Wood on pain of death. Sugrīva now points to Dundubhi's bones, which Rāma kicks off to a great distance with just his big toe.

Mataṇga's departure thus defines his hermitage, along with Mount Rishyamūka, as a place cursed for its pollution. Though Mataṇga is a rishi, he is not a Vedic rishi or even a Brahman. Rather, his name denotes the "untouchable" just as Shabarī's denotes the tribal. Dundubhi's killing has behind it a buffalo sacrifice—a quite archaic one, with death by wrestling rather than the sword—in which this "untouchable rishi" takes on the pollution of this non-Vedic village rite. Rāma thus forges his "friendship" with Sugrīva in a place that is both cursed and beyond the range of the Vedic rishis, who up to now have marked his trail. In entering this topsy-turvy monkey world, where Vedic practices are distorted at the advice of Kabandha, a speaking sacrificial post, Rāma is all the while being drawn into a sequence of non-Vedic killings of questionable dharma in which he himself is to make Vālin the next victim. Rāma tells Sugrīva to challenge Vālin to single combat and Rāma shoots Vālin from ambush. Against Vālin's complaints that Rāma is a dharma-hypocrite (4.17.18), Rāma has only dubious replies: he acts as Bharata's proxy; princes go about the world guarding dharma, which is subtle; Vālin is only a monkey and cannot understand dharma, yet deserves this punishment for the sin of taking his brother's wife; Rāma had promised Sugrīva to kill Vālin and his truth is unexceptionable (sargas 1–18).

Sugrīva is reconsecrated, and Vālin's son Aṇgada is made heir apparent. With these events the main story enters the monkeys' cave capital Kishkindhā. But Rāma does not. In keeping with his minimal contact with Mataṇga and Dundubhi, and on the pretext of having promised Dasharatha he would not enter any village or city during his exile (4.25.8), he lives outside Kishkindhā with Lakshmaṇa in a cave on Mount Prashravaṇa to await the end of the rainy season, when Sugrīva will summon the world's monkeys to begin searching for Sītā. But when Sugrīva extends his debaucheries, Rāma grows angry and sends Lakshmaṇa to threaten him into action. Sugrīva says he has not forgotten, and summons the monkeys (sargas 19–38).

Sugrīva orders monkey squads to search each direction and return after a month. Noticing that Sugrīva pays special attention to the southern party, which includes Hanumān, Rāma gives Hanumān a "ring engraved with his name" (43.11) to show to Sītā so that she will know whose message Hanumān bears and not fear him. A month later, all parties have returned but this southern one, which now emerges from a magical cave near the ocean. Dejected over their failure, they start fasting to death but are observed by a wingless vulture, Jaṭāyus's older brother Sampāti, who thinks better of eating them and says that he and his son saw Rāvaṇa taking Sītā to . kā, adding that the fierce rishi Nishākara told him to wait in this spot until Rāma's monkey helpers should arrive. Mission accomplished, Sampāti sprouts new wings and flies away. The monkeys then decide that one of them must leap to Laṇkā, and decide it is a job only for Hanumān (sargas 39–66).

Sundara Kāṇḍa, "The Beautiful Book" (Book 5), then begins with Hanumān's leap to Laṇkā. Landing and determined to search for Sītā, he makes his way at night to Rāvaṇa's palace where he sees, sleeping after their carousals, Rāvaṇa, his harem, and a most beautiful woman—Rāvaṇa's queen Mandodarī—whom Hanumān joyfully mistakes for Sītā, until he thinks through the implications, and soon recovers his propriety after taking such fascination at another man's boudoir. Satisfying himself that there was nowhere else to begin looking for a woman, he goes to a nearby ashoka grove and finds a woman surrounded by rākshasīs, looking gaunt from fasting, unornamented and dirty, whom he barely makes out to be Sītā—as if faced with "some Vedic text once learned by heart but now nearly lost through lack of recitation," or "as one might make out the sense of a word whose meaning had been changed through want of proper usage" (13.36–37; sargas 1–15).

As Hanumān looks on, Rāvaṇa pays another visit. Again, once Sītā defies him, his words turn to threats: before she becomes his breakfast she now has only two months to come to his bed. He orders the Rākshasīs to bend her will to his and walks off with one of them, who has begun seducing him. The browbeating goes on until an elderly Rākshasī named Trijaṭā recounts a dream that portends Rāma's reunion with Sītā, Rāvaṇa's death, and Laṇā's destruction. Trijaṭā observes that certain auspicious bodily signs indicate that her dream has encouraged Sītā, and these signs intensify even after Sītā has spoken of hanging herself while "holding the fillet for her hair" (26.17; sargas 16–27).

Hanumān, whose presence these omens register, now reflects that he must comfort Sītā lest she take her life. Not to alarm her, he starts a short "sweet" account of Rāma and Sītā's story, down to her being found by the unknown voice she is hearing (29.3–9). When Sītā sees a monkey above her, she faints and first thinks it is a dream—in which monkeys, she says, are inauspicious according to the shāstras (30.1–4). But verifying that she is Sītā, they intertwine stories until Hanumān shows her Rāma's signet ring. Sītā tells Hanumān to tell Rāma to make haste; she has only two months (35.7). As tokens for Rāma, Sītā tells an intimate story that only she and Rāma could know and, saying she has now but one month left, gives Hanumān a precious hair ornament that she has kept carefully concealed. Leaving Sītā, Hanumān rampages through the palace grounds, killing Rākshasa warriors sent to capture him until Rāvaṇa's son Indrajit immobilizes him with divine weapons. Brought before Rāvaṇa, Hanumān tells him he faces the worst if he does not return Sītā. Rāvaṇa sets Hanumān's tail afire and has him marched through Laṇkā. Making himself small, Hanumān slips his bonds; leaping from house to house, he torches Laṇkā with his tail. Then, thinking of Sītā, he reassures himself that she will survive since "fire cannot prevail against fire" (53.18; sargas 28–53).

Hanumān then recrosses the ocean to join his companions and bring them up to date. Nearing Kishkindhā, they break into Sugrīva's honey grove to get drunk. The guardian reports to Sugrīva that they have destroyed the grove, but Sugrīva joyfully senses that this can only mean their mission's success. Sobered and told that Sugrīva excuses their exuberance, the southern party reports back to him and the brothers. Hanumān tells Rāma the confirmatory story, gives him Sītā's jewel, tells him she has but one month left, and poses the challenge of devising a way to cross the ocean.

Rāma clasps the jewel to his heart. Sītā had described it as "born from the sea" (63.22)—perhaps a pearl. Confirming these origins, Rāma adds that Janaka gave it to her at their wedding when it was "fastened to her head" (64.4). When Hanumān presents a fuller account of the jewel's transfer, he says that when Sītā released it from her garment, she "gave me this jewel fit for being fastened (or, for the fillet) around her braid (veṇyudgrathanam)" (65.30). That compound also described the fillet when she thought of hanging herself. She thus seems to send the jewel that she would fasten to this fillet without sending the fillet, which would still be keeping her hair back in an ekaveṇī or "single braid"—a kind of ponytail that signals a woman's separation in anticipation of her husband's return, and in Sītā's case is once said to be "matted" (55.27; sargas 54–66). Left pending, as it were, is the symbolism of fully loosened hair that could denote a woman's widowhood or mourning—or, if one thinks of Draupadī, her Kālī-like anger.

The Yuddha Kāṇḍa, or "Book of the War" (Book 6), begins with prewar consultations on both sides, out of which Rāvaṇa's younger brother Vibhīshaṇa emerges as a righteous, but rejected, adviser. Once the brothers and monkeys reach the seashore, Vibhīshaṇa receives asylum from Rāma. Helped by his advice to call on Rāma's ancestor Sāgara (Ocean), the latter grants permission for a bridge to Laṇkā, which the monkeys then construct. Rāvaṇa seems unable to focus on Rāma or the war until his wise maternal grandfather Mālyavān, counseling peace with Rāma and Sītā's return, says the gods and rishis desire Rāma's victory, differentiates dharma and adharma as divine and demonic, alludes to the (Mahābhārata) idea that the king defines the age ( yuga), says that throughout the regions the rishis are performing fiery Vedic rites and austerities that are damaging the Rākshasas, foresees the Rākshasas' destruction, notes the sinister omens surrounding Laṇkā, and concludes, "I think Rāma is Vishṇu abiding in a human body" (26.31). Mālyavān not only gets it right but provides analogs to features of the Bhagavad Gītā: a theology for the war about to happen; a prediction of its outcome; and a dis-closure of the hidden divinity behind it—in this case, hidden so far mainly from himself. Rāvaṇa will hear none of this (sargas 1–30).

Rāvaṇa orders his warriors into action. Most just go through a routine of boasting, ignoring omens, and getting killed. Exceptions are his gigantic brother Kumbhakarṇa, who must be wakened from his half-year sleep, fed, and toppled, and Rāvaṇa's magician son Indrajit, who immobilized Hanumān. Indrajit figures in the two main episodes that threaten Rāma's side: he nearly kills the brothers with snake arrows until the celestial bird Garuḍa rescues them by routing the snakes; and he lays low nearly all the monkeys until Hanumān returns from the Himalayas carrying a whole peak, capped with healing herbs. The fighting is also interrupted by reminders that Sītā is at stake. Finally, Rāma kills Rāvaṇa and consecrates Vibhīshaṇa Laṇkā's king (sargas 31–100).

Now Sītā, who hears from Hanumān of Rāma's victory and rejoices at her deliverance, is brought to Rāma by Vibhīshaṇa—who relays Rāma's directive that she appear adorned with divine unguents and jewels and a washed head (102.7). She would rather see her husband unbathed, but takes this advice and wears (seems to choose) a white garment (13)—soon a symbol of what troubles Rāma: her purity, one supposes, though white is also worn in widowhood. When Vibhīshaṇa announces her, Rāma is filled with "joy, misery, and anger" (16). As she advances, an "unseemly commotion" (Shulman 1991, p. 91) breaks out as Vibhīshaṇa's servants aggressively clear her way among the monkeys, bears, and Rākshasas struggling to see her. Rāma censures Vibhīshaṇa for injuring "my own people (svajano mama)" (25); since women can be seen in public during disasters, wars, and weddings, there is no reason to shield Sītā "in my presence (mat samīpe)" (28). As she stands anxiously before him, beginning to weep, Rāma gives "utterance to the anger in his heart" (103.1). Barely mentioning her misfortune, he insists on how he fulfilled his honor, acting as a man should. Seeing more tears and hearing Sītā reply that such words are rather less than manly, Rāma's mood further darkens: he fought not for her sake but to remove insults; she is now free to choose Lakshmaṇa, Bharata, Sugrīva, or Vibhīshaṇa! Rāvaṇa would not have left her alone in his own house (103.22–24). Meeting only Rāma's silence after a last appeal, Sītā tells Lakshmaṇa to light a pyre; stricken by these false charges, she cannot live (104.18). Rāma gestures consent. Sītā takes Agni as witness that her heart has never strayed, asks his protection, circumambulates the fire and enters it—as the Rākshasas and monkeys scream (20–27). And all at once Rāma is beset by deities who have come to ask him, their hands cupped in adoration, "O Creator of the entire world and the very best of enlightened beings, how do you ignore Sītā as she is falling into fire? How do you not know yourself to be the best of the host of gods!" (105.5). Rāma replies, "I think myself a man, Dasharatha's son Rāma. Who am I? From whom and whence do I come? Let the blessed one (Brahmā) tell" (10). Whereupon Brahmā names Nārāyaṇa, Purushottama, and Krishna as identities by which Rāma can now know himself as Vishnu; you have "entered a human body for the sake of killing Rāvaṇa" (26). Agni now restores Sītā unscathed (her garment now red) and attests to her fidelity and purity. Speaking in her presence for the first time since his insults, Rāma seems to seize on the outcome to offer excuses: had he taken Sītā back unpurified (avishodhya; 106.12) the good would have considered him foolish and driven by desire; he knew her fidelity all along; he could no more abandon her than his own fame (18)! Shiva now tells Rāma to return to Ayodhya to perform a horse sacrifice (107.6), and announces Dasharatha, now redeemed (tārita) by Rāma, who has come from Indra's heaven. Dasharatha embraces Rāma, and in the embrace of his two sons says, "I am now freed from misery (duhkhād)" (107.15); he now understands that Rāma is none other than the supreme being ordained (purushottamam vihitam) by the gods to have come to earth to kill Rāvaṇa (17); Rāma should see that everyone is reconciled back at Ayodhya. Rāma then gets Indra to resurrect the slain monkeys, and Vibhīshaṇa arranges for the trio to fly to Ayodhya in the Pushpaka chariot—most recently Rāvaṇa's. The monkeys and Rākshasas then persuade Rāma to let them accompany him (110.16–20). Before they arrive, they stop at Bharadvāja's ashram and learn that Bharata has continued to honor Rāma's sandals. Bharadvāja recounts the trio's whole adventure, which he knows by his penances (112.14). From there, Rāma sends Hanumān to Nandigrāma (Bharata's village residence outside the capitol), to tell Bharata their story and to assess his expressions. At last Rāma is enthroned in the presence not only of his rejoicing family and people but the monkeys, Rākshasas, and rishis. Twice it is said that Rāma ruled for ten thousand years (82, 90), the second time in this Book's very last words (sargas 101–16)—surely sounding like a happy ending, as many Western scholars and some Indian vernaculars have taken Book 6 to be.

But the Uttara Kāṇḍa, or "The Final Book" (Book 7), opens with Rāma just consecrated and a series of departures and dismissals. First, the rishis come to his palace—Agastya and the original Seven among them (17.1.3–4). Rāma asks about the Rākshasas he conquered, launching their former near-neighbor Agastya on a lengthy Rākshasa genealogy, with tales of Rāvaṇa's boon and his violations of women. These lead to stories about Indrajit and end with others about Hanumān and the monkeys. Rāma is repeatedly filled with wonder. Then "all the rishis went as they came" (36.46). Rāma also dispatches a hundred kings, and the Rākshasas, monkeys, and bears—Hanumān parting with the famous words: "As long as I hear Rāma-kathā on the face of the earth, so long will my breaths reside in my body" (39.16). Next Rāma dismisses the Pushpaka chariot while keeping it on call (sargas 1–40). And next he dismisses Sītā, who will not remain on call. All these dismissals subtract down to a great unraveling.

There is a time of felicity between Rāma and Sītā, but at news that Ayodhya's citizens gossip about Sītā's chastity in Rāvaṇa's house, Rāma banishes her to protect his royal reputation. Sītā has just announced that she is pregnant and would like to visit some pilgrimage spots, so Rāma orders Lakshmaṇa to take her to the forest on that pretext and abandon her. Painfully, Lakshmaṇa leaves her at Vālmīki's hermitage. Next Rāma hears that there are still some ascetics who live in fear of a Rākshasa named Lavaṇa. Shatrughna goes to tackle Lavaṇa, and stops over in Vālmīki's leafy hut on the night Sītā gives birth to the twins. Vālmīki goes to bless and name the infants, and at midnight Shatrughna hears the good news and comes to bless Sītā and the boys. At dawn he resumes his journey, kills Lavaṇa, and establishes a kingdom at Mathura. Twelve years later he decides to visit Ayodhya. On the way, in a passage rejected by the Critical Edition even though it appears in all the manuscripts collated, he stops at Vālmīki's hermitage, overhears the twins' elegant recitals, and promises that he and his army will keep their birth secret (7, Appendix 1, no. 9; Shah, pp. 26–27). When Bharata sees Rāma, he mentions nothing about Vālmīki, Sītā, or the twins (sargas 41–63).

A Brahman now comes to Rāma's palace gate with his dead son in his arms, announcing that Rāma must have committed some great fault for a child to die in his kingdom (64.9). The narrative thread seems to suggest that Rāma's fault could be his abandonment of Sītā, for which, in order to keep ignoring it, he would have to find a scapegoat. If so, the always clever Nārada provides a fitting cue: Rāma should look for someone unlawfully performing tapas (austerities), a Shūdra who would only be able to do this in the Kaliyuga (65.22), an age yet to come. Nārada knows of a Shudra doing tapas somewhere and recommends that Rāma tour his kingdom. Recalling the Push-paka chariot, Rāma finds the Shūdra Shambūka, who announces his intent to become divine. Rāma beheads him, reviving the Brahman's son and delighting the gods. Following the latter to Agastya's hermitage, Rāma stays there to listen to more of Agastya's stories before returning to Ayodhya and again dismissing the Pushpaka (sargas 64–73).

Rāma now tells Bharata and Lakshmaṇa he wishes to perform a Rājasūya sacrifice, but Bharata tells him a horse sacrifice is less destructive and Lakshmaṇa adds that the ashvamedha removes all sins and purifies (75.2). Rāma approves the ashvamedha. He orders Lakshmaṇa to make invitations to Sugrīva and Vibhīshaṇa to bring their parties, and to the regional rishis and their wives, and to prepare a vast sacrificial enclosure in the Naimisha Forest. Bharata is to lead a procession trailed by all the mothers from the inner apartments and "my golden wife (kāñcanīm mama patnīm) worthy of consecration (dīkshā) in sacrificial rites" (19). Sītā thus has a replacement-statue even while still alive. With the sacrifice proceeding, Vālmīki suddenly arrives with his disciples (84.1) and directs the twins to sing "the whole Rāmāyaṇa poem at the gate of Rāma's dwelling" (3–5)—twenty sargas a day (9). Rāma hears the boys sing the first twenty sargas beginning "from the sight of Nārada (nāradadarshanāt)" (11)—that is, from the beginning of the upodghāta on. Once the twins tell Rāma who authored this poem that contains his whole adventure (19), they offer to continue singing it at intervals in the rite (21). After many days, Rāma recognizes them, misses Sītā, and summons her to attest to her purity by oath in the midst of the great rishis, Rākshasas, and monkeys, plus unnamed kings and the four castes in thousands (87.6–7). But when Vālmīki brings Sītā, he attests to her purity himself (19), and tells Rāma only that "she will give proof of her fidelity" (15, 20). No longer demanding the oath just announced, Rāma accepts Vālmīki's word as tantamount to being Sītā's: "Surely I have proof of fidelity in your stainless words. Surely Vaidehī gave proof of fidelity formerly in the presence of the gods" (88.2–3)—who by now have also come to witness (5–7). Indeed, in a phrase that occurs nowhere else in either epic, this conclave occurs "in the middle of the universe ( jagato madhye)" (1, 4). Though not demanded to make an oath, Sītā nonetheless makes one implicitly in her only and last words: "If I have thought with my mind of none other than Rāma, let the goddess Mādhavī [Earth] give me an opening." (10). Rāma, who had hoped for "affection" (prīti) from Sītā (4), has thus accepted the author's word as Sītā's, only to be overwhelmed with grief and horror by what her word—and the poet's—actually is. This is the moment at which he comes to realize what it means to be caught up in his own story, which, if he heard it from the frame on, as we are told, he would know it to have also been Sītā's story and to have been inspired by the grief of a female bird. Rāma now threatens to destroy Earth unless she returns Sītā intact (7, Appendix I, No. 13, lines 18–20) until Brahmā repeats what he told him after Sītā's fire ordeal, that he is Vishnu, and invites him to listen with the great rishis to the rest of this "first poem," which will now tell what is yet to happen (21–40). Once Brahmā returns to heaven, the rishis in Brahmaloka obtain his permission to return for the rest as well (43–49; sargas 74–88). Though the Critical Edition rejects this sarga, it is universally attested. For Rāma, the relation between Sītā's two ordeals seems to be that whereas his first self-recognition as Vishnu emerges out of a human identity crossed with uncertainty and confusion as to his all-too-human emotions, his second comes after he has learned of his divinity and has repeatedly pared his life down to a perfect rule through his dismissals of others, yet without consideration of what this has cost him since the banishment of his wife—not to mention what it has cost her. If so, the poem could be saying that Vālmīki's initial question to Nārada—whether there is an ideal man today—was not really convincingly answered.

Once the ashvamedha ends, Rāma finds the universe empty without Sītā and again dismisses the kings, bears, monkeys, and Rākshasas (89.1). He never remarries, but at all his sacrifices there is a golden Sītā( jānakīkāñcanī; 4). For ten thousand years he rules a harmonious kingdom. Finally Death or Time (Kāla) comes to him as a messenger from Brahmā and tells him they must meet alone; anyone hearing them must be killed. While Rāma posts Lakshmaṇa at the door, "Time who destroys all" (94.2) tells Rāma it is time to return to heaven as Vishnu. As the two converse, the congenitally ravenous sage Durvāsas tries to barge in, threatening to curse the kingdom if he is prevented. Lakshmaṇa chooses his own death rather than allowing that of others and admits him. Durvāsas wants only something to eat after a thousand-year fast, which Rāma happily provides. At Vasishtha's advice, Rāma then banishes Lakshmaṇa as equivalent to death, and Lakshmaṇa, meditating by the Sarayū River, is taken up to heaven. Bharata then advises Rāma to divide Kosala into two kingdoms to be ruled by Kusha and Lava. Bharata and Shatrughna then follow Rāma, who enters the Sarayū and resumes his divine form (sargas 89–100).

The Rāmāyaṇa and the āmopākhyāna

The relation between the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata's Rāmopākhyāna is usually posed as one between just these two Sanskrit Rāma stories, and as a question of whether there is a genetic relation between them. Which came first? Or do both rely on some prior Rāmakathā? On these questions, this article's position is twofold. First, the primary relation is not between the Rāmāyaṇa and the Rāmopākhyāna, but between the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata, which it views as the slightly earlier of the two epics. On this point, it was noted that their similar designs could not be accidental. It is easier to imagine Vālmīki refining kāvya out of a multi-genre Mahābhārata than to imagine Vyāsa overlooking this achievement to spread disarticulation. In this vein, the Rāmopākhyāna opens with material about Rāvaṇa that the Rāmāyaṇa saves for Book 7. It thus cannot be explained as an epitome of the Rāmāyaṇa, since it lacks the structure that the Rāmāyaṇa shares with the Mahābhārata.

Second, this article holds that it is helpful to reflect on how upākhyāna material is used in both epics. As observed, the Rāmāyaṇa uses this term only in an interpolation. Rather than having stand-out "subtales," the Rāmāyaṇa folds all its secondary narratives into one consecutively unfolding poem. This is especially noteworthy in its stories about the eight great rishis encounterd by Rāma, many of which include material that the Mahābhārata relates in its upākhyānas. Other than Vasishtha, a fixture in the Ikshvāku house, the Rāmopākhyāna does not know these rishis. It has no Vishvāmitra, Gautama and Ahalyā, Rāma Jāmadagnya, or for that matter, Vasishtha involved in the stories from youth through marriage; just this: "In the course of time [Dasharatha's] sons grew up very vigorous, and became fledged in the Vedas and their mysteries and in the art of archery. They completed their student years, and took wives" (Mbh 3.261.4-5). It has no Bharadvāja; just this of Bharata: "He found Rāma and Lakshmaṇa on Mount Citrakūṭa" (216.63). And from Citrakūṭa on, there is not a peep from Atri and Anasūyāor Agastya. There is also no Vālmīki, Mataṇga, or Nishākara. It is improbable that the Rāmopākhyāna would have strained out all these figures and episodes if it were a Rāmāyaṇa epitome. Vālmīki would seem to have worked such upākhyāna material into something he claims to be new: kāvya, "the first poem." And this would seem to be the best way to think about what he did with the Rāmopākhyāna: go beyond it to author a poem in which Rāma and Sītā move through their double adventure along paths signposted by rishis who impart Vedic authority as dharma, who represent "all the rishis," high and low, who motivate the divine incarnations to cleanse the world of noxious Rākshasas, and who in turn are represented by Vālmīki himself, who frames all the paths that Rāma and Sītā take as ones that begin with his inspiration to tell their adventures in a poem that will lead them ultimately to him.

Alf Hiltebeitel

See alsoBrāhmaṇas ; Hinduism (Dharma) ; Mahābhārata ; Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata Paintings


Biardeau, Madeleine. "Some Remarks on the Links between the Epics, the Purāṇas and Their Vedic Sources." In Studies in Hinduism: Vedism and Hinduism, edited by Gerhard Oberhammer. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1997.

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