The Ramayana Questions and Answers
by Vālmīki

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How are animals viewed in The Ramayana?

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For over two thousand years the great Indian epic The Ramayana, written by Valmiki, has been told and performed across the world. Rooted in Hinduism, The Ramayana continually features the culturally significant relationship between humans and animals found throughout the Hindu religion. In other Hindu stories and The Ramayana alike, animals are used symbolically as reincarnations of Hindu gods and goddesses or a vehicle through which gods communicate with humans. In this sense, animals are deified, worshipped, and treated with respect. As a result, animals play a very central and important role in The Ramayana.


Featured in the tale are animals such as monkeys, vultures, bears, dogs, and squirrels. Each of these animals are given human characteristics, special capabilities, and play a uniquely important role in the story to highlight different values and lessons that Valmiki wants to communicate.

One example in The Ramayana is the story of the divine bird Jatayu. Jatayu is the son of the Hindu Sun...

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