How does Rama teach the meaning of dharma in the epic?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From the most fundamental point of view, Rama teaches the concept of dharma by representing it in his actions.  Rama embodies the essence of one's righteous duty by never fleeing from what it is he must do.  While there could be other opportunities to take an easier path, Lord Rama is the embodiment of dharma because he understands that his purpose is to embrace what his duty is meant to be.  For example, when he sees his father must live up to his word, Rama does not hesitate in self- exile in the forest.  Rama understands the righteous duty of a father living up to his word and a son respecting the word of his father.  When Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, Rama understands that his duty is to not seek to evade what he has to do.  Rather, he must live up to his duty and rescue his wife from the demon- king.  Rama embodies his dharma even when it comes to great harm for himself.  When his people demand that he test the chaste and virtuous Sita, Rama understands his dharma as a king supersedes his desires as a human being.  Rama is one who teaches about dharma by embodying it to the pureset degree.  The lessons taught and the manner of instruction is emulation, so that everyone in the epic, and the reader, understands that while Rama embodied dharma, others can only try to emulate such a practice in their own state of being.

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The Ramayana

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