Was The Ramayana used as indoctrination and propaganda for the lower castes?

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dftbap eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Religion is the opium of the people.-Karl Marx

As in most “Holy” books, The Ramayana sets out a list or group of goals one should try to attain, and the means by which one should live their life.  The Holy book is a means for a culture to pass on their values and morals.

In the epic The Ramayana, a holy book, Rama was a prince in line for the Kingdom. Of course, he had many riches and wonderful trinkets. He was cast out however, due to one of his father’s jealous wives for a period of 14 years. During this time, difficult trials happened.

However, he kept faith that when he returned in 14 years, no matter what terrible tragedies were happening in the forest, he would be welcomed back, and made King. A demoness came and tempted him, however, he rebuked her and his army beat the Demoness’ army. He returned home and was made King and ruled in an excellent manner.

Perhaps one could argue the story of being an outcast, doing what the government says, always following the rules, and then being greatly rewarded to be a story that would reinforce the Caste idea and especially the lower Caste’s desire to be in a better position.

A generous man compassion shows; On earth no mortal lives, he knows, Who does not oft through weakness fall.

This would give the masses hope for prosperity and happiness if they follow the dominant religious doctrine.

Further Reading:
Read the study guide:
The Ramayana

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