Choose one specific decision in The Ramayana where Rama honors dharma through his dedication to his duties and obligations. Explain the result of Rama's decision. In addition, explain whether or...

Choose one specific decision in The Ramayana where Rama honors dharma through his dedication to his duties and obligations.

Explain the result of Rama's decision. In addition, explain whether or not you would have made the same decision and why.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The decision to accept banishment is one of the most revealing moments where Lord Rama follows the path of dharma.

Lord Rama is the embodiment of "dharma."  He lives his life in accordance to "the right way."  Dharma is the structure that guides his actions and forms the basis of the universe.  This is most evident in his willing acceptance of exile into the forest for fourteen years. Kaikeyi, the mother of Bharata, is worried that King Dasaratha, Rama's father, is going to make Rama successor.  Encouraged by her maid, Manthara, Kaikeyi insists that King Dasaratha honor a promise he made to her years ago that he would grant her a boon.  Kaikeyi reminds King Dasaratha of his promise and says that he must banish his beloved son, Lord Rama, to the forest for 14 years, and make Bharata king.  Broken and despondent, the King agrees.

It is clear that such a punishment is unjust.  Lord Rama did nothing to deserve exile.  Inheriting the throne was not only his birthright but something that the King and all of his subjects wished to see.  However, when Lord Rama is told of the punishment, he shows dharma. He says that his primary duty as a son is to accept and honor the word of his parents.  Even though he would be completely accurate in suggesting that such a decision is unjust, he never questions it.  Leaving his beloved Ayodhya for fourteen years to live off the land is harsh.  He sacrifices his birthright, the comforts of the kingdom, and leaves without any hesitation.  He does not flinch in embracing his dharma as he willingly accepts exile.  His embrace of dharma, even when the cost is so great, shocks his subjects and even the royal palace.

In The Ramayana, Lord Rama establishes a standard of dharma that very few can meet.  He is the standard to which we all should aspire.  Knowing this, I can honestly say that I would not be able to do what he did.  I could not accept the injustice, and channel it into my dharma.  I hope I could. However, I know my limitations well enough to know that I could not possess Lord Rama's singular drive and adherence to dharma.